biKos : –MuSIc 4 yOuR pOst mOdErn HEaRT–

I wonder if the Czech 5 year-old who sent an email to his uncle, carefully scribing his english into phonetics, really understood his eponymous action. That earnest phonetic declaration would eventually come to name one of the best post modern bands in Los Angeles.

Gabe Pearlman’s nephew closed his email that night, “bikos i love you” instead of the intended ‘because I love you.’ It was that innocent and earnest declaration, that stuck with Pearlman for seven or so years and it was the word, “bikos” that would later be the clear choice when he was tasked with naming his newfound art-audio ensemble.

Pearlman, from Culver City with it’s duality of green lawned homes and famous arts district, was a self-described athlete. In the late nineties, he went to a particular rock show. “It wasn’t just any rock show, it was Elliott Smith”. As Gabe says, “words can’t describe how I felt after seeing that show.” Gabe knew he wanted to play guitar. Hearing Portland’s Quasi only further fueled him.

Nurtured in an environment of music, where his mother wrote finely crafted songs on piano, that could only be described as ‘mystical,’ Gabe’s mother inadvertently extolled the theoretical value of the structure of songs, and immersed him in language, it’s context, even the lyrical sound of words themselves. Later, taken with the allegorical quality of Joanna Newsom’s lyrics and the unmistakeable polyrthymic quality of her music, Gabe learned to play guitar and kept adding to a book of collected poetry. His first explorations into voice training found him signed up for a class “…with a bunch of middle school girls who sang in musicals..” Gabe says with a laugh, ” …but I learned a lot, I sang a Rufus Wainwright song for my first recital”

What happened next could only be called a organic machination with a decidedly serendipitous outcome. Over the years, Gabe continued playing and writing; and as he looked around, he noticed that he shared a similar musical taste with some of his best friends. Gabe had met Austin Wester, Jaron Halmy, at the “Culver-Palms Family YMCA Youth & Government program and Daniel Hur had been a high school friend. The tinkering began, and soon the guys were jamming. The next stage in the lineup was found at a mutual friend’s party. Gabe had heard Dave Jones play and worked up the nerve to ask him to join Bikos. A veteran of L.A. Punk, Dave originally carried the bass duties with the illustrious Magnolia Thunderpussy, and later played with El Vez, Josh Haden, That Dog, and Carnage Asada, (whom he still plays with today). Mustering the nerve Gabe asked Dave to join bikos, and Dave jumped at the chance. In a weird turn, it was later found that Dave, who is a bit older than the others, had been a ‘babysitter’ for some of Austin’s friends when they were young; taking them to Jawbreaker shows and the like.

bikos moved from jamming in Gabe’s room to Dave’s garage playing against a backdrop of black flag, husker du, and saccharine trust posters. Soon the space was filled people, found art, strings of pearl lights, the smattering album covers pinned to the walls and ceilings. A homage to the band’s favorite sounds, and letters. Dave played bass, Daniel growled on lead guitar, Austin pounded the drums, Jaron tapped on the keys, while Gabe sang. A summer conference saw a friendship with Michaella (Miki) Burton and during an ad hoc audition during some down time at the conference, Gabe invited Miki to sing for the voice of “Carmen” in a song the band penned called, “Waldo and Carmen Sandiego”… after working on that song with Miki and hearing Miki’s playful yet mysterious voice, the band implored “well? is she in the band??” the answer was clear, her voice belonged.

The true bikos sound is a handmade occurrence, nothing forced, a post- modern-punk inspired sound that is in love with love, dying to be touched. It uses words, in and out of context, double entendres and signature bikos’ solid songwriting. The wordplay and energy wears an earnest nod to Saul Williams, Aceyalone and wears some of it’s hip hop alliteration on it’s sleeve. Vocally, Pearlman’s voice is playful, manic and yet welcoming with a histrionic quality that only serves to intrigue the listener. The music recalls David Byrne, Pere Ubu, Modest Mouse and Neutral Milk Hotel, to name a few. The Pearlman /Burton unique vocal entanglement gives cause to wonder if the bikos sound wasn’t what the The Brazilian Girls’ were really aiming for after all!

The first record, “Make your Sound Sound” (released in November of 2011) was mixed by Dean Nelson, known for his work with Beck, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Thurston Moore, amongst others, was completed with a successful Kickstarter project. It extols a diverse roster of songs ranging from the staccato post punk rant “You Want it” to “Silhouette Vase” a smartly written punk song that opens with shades of a jangly Cure song and closes with an unexpected punk vibe.

The Second record an E.P., entitled “Let Down Your Avant Garde” was released on April 3rd of 2012 and carries on that eclectic spirited word play. It is a more focused effort with songwriting that seems more confident, punchy and honed. It includes songs such as post punk anthem

“Y3k which includes a punchy post punk rant and Burton’s perfectly layered vocals.

“…too late to round down.
no documents of stay.
the new fate, its coming ’round. yet I’m still in a haze…
“…In 999 we were neighboring carnations but I gave up before the calendar year
It was much the same for y2k
broke it off fearing the end was near…”
“…what are we gonna do in 2012?
It’s said the world, world, world won’t make it through What are we gonna do in y3k,
if I can’t see my time turns into you?”

Ultimately a deftly written and inquisitive diatribe into the uncertainty of our modern times.

“Disobey The Wand” is a serotonin enhancer effortlessly swinging through several time changes with Pearlman and Burton crooning in tandem, “Yours is my favorite face, Your lips are my favorite taste, your body’s my favorite place, it’s silhouette my favorite trace.”

Songs like, “Fun, Fun, Fun at the MJT (Museum of Jurassic Technology) present a melodious ode to stumbling on love and actually “getting it right.”

“Waldo and Carmen Sandiego” is a tongue in cheek, clearly impossible love-rock duet between the two well known kids characters.
A comedic yet longingly human exchange.

See bikos live they’re fresh from recording their second full length record with Dean Nelson and the first record and E.P. are still available.

bikos live is more fun than watching L.A. hipsters eat hybrid “Pizza-Salads” amidst Melodious Vintage electronica, which by the way, is apparently a super common things to do in L.A. these days…

So Raise your serotonin levels with bikos’ post-modern musical idiosyncracy. It’s the sound of vulnerability, the longing for joy and connection, and…Oh yes…a bit of a glockenspiel.

Face Time With Gil Franco – (Post humous post: “A Nuclear Free World”)

Just yesterday I was agonizing about what issue to focus on and write about and subsequently post for “The Trouble With Milk.” There are literally so many political and social issues swirling around in my head that I have probably written ad nauseum about them on Facebook.  My friends and I agonize over a particular political event or bill and it’s very existence, then ostensibly verbally castrate the offending politician in a manner of comments below a status in a lexicological way we find ourselves clever, jovial but mostly “united’ under a cause or idea.  Ultimately we ruminate on ‘the way things SHOULD be and this process usually ends up in a  call to arms to create facebook page that underlines our point.  Two such pages were recently bourne this way, “Hey G.O.P., Get OUTTA MY VAGINA!”  and also the “Todays GOOD news!.”

The first one was a result of Republican party backing of rhetoric that spawned a bill poised to take away the medical benefits for contraception for working women.   The later came from a rant that fostered a virtual tidal wave of people tired of bad news, depressive stories and shock reporting.   One pal and I posited that surely there are more ‘good and hopeful’ stories in our lives than the media cares to highlight, so maybe WE SHOULD MAKE A PAGE!!! of course! of course!  that’s what we do!!!  We are page making activists!  This page would tell the world about all these good things that happen in our world!  I Posted about some photographers’ kind and species accepting encounter with a family of wild mountain gorillas,  My friend posted about the failed abduction of a small girl and the eventual capture of her would-be kidnapper.  I have to say, it did (and does) raise one’s spirits reading all the ‘good outcome stories’ on that page.    As I was looking inward at all the prosaic clutter in my gut and the angst I carry for this world, I actually  heard someone whisper my name in  my ear.  It but a breathy sound and very near.  I’ve been conditioned to disbelieve such things but something told me this was quite possible actually audible!  But who and why would someone say my name?  I did not recognize the voice.  I was all alone and  shrugged  it off not wanting my mind to wander into all things “paranormal” because this would no doubtb ilicit a frantic call about ghosts and hearing ‘sounds’ in the house’ to my poor husband concerned with fighting traffic on his way home.  I picked up my iphone and to my mild surprise it was lit up with the screen  open to ‘Favorites” (I have never seen that screen) it was on the O/S of the phone in the Contacts section.  It read “Gil Franco”  Well, this was my father’s email address!

We used to trade articles via email, messages of hope and status on his condition and mine on the kids and family.   Maybe these were serendipitous happenings meant to put me on a path to think of him i thought.  My father died from A.L.S. better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  In a weird way after he was diagnosed I thought , ‘Gee, one of the biggest craziest baseball fans,  was God was an extremely black humored chap so dedicated to his schtick that even in these dire circumstances we would care to pin such an ironic moniker to this poor man? Anything for a joke.  Or was he an angry god thinking of some earthly misstep my father may have taken? Either way my father looked at this disease as that terrible thing that got him, but at least he was in the company of Lou Gehrig.  I touched the lit up line with my father’s name and email address. The sun had just set and the blue glow set off the entire room.  I selected ‘facetime” just for a lark, half wondering if i’d hit the roof if his face would appear.  What if I actually talk to him!   I stared at my own face as the phone reflected back the words, “calling Gil Franco” and the phone attempted to  resolve for about two minutes, and I let it.  I even posited what  I’d say ” Hi dad!  Did you hear about Mitt Romney and can you believe that Rick Santorum?  Wow!  It’s been one really reprehensible primary hasn’t it!” What do you think about Geraldo Rivera’s remarks on Treyvon Martin?   I was sure my dad wasn’t missing a thing.  He was quite possibly the most well written arm-chair activist in his tiny his corner of Central California penning a column called “Left in America” for The Tule River Times.  Politics were a drama, a game and constant fodder for jokes, but also ideas for change and peace.  He wrote till his heart’s content.  That is until his body lost control slowly and he became a locked in soul.   I turned off the phone and swallowed that little lump in my throat that had begun to form. Immediately I knew what I was supposed to write or at least had an idea.  I had a picutre more like it. Of the box that was the only thing I was given when he died.  I received all of his writing.  His entire library of rants, prosaic letters to the editor that spawned full op ed articles that clearly won him liberal fans in the area.  I retrieved a few of the articles and re-read the first five.  I settled on one about A Nuclear Free World.   I have never been able to supply the familiar friendly word flow that yet can gently turn on a dime and cite facts suporting one or another statements as my father could. while I have a great personal remembrance for political events and their place in our American timeline, my father’s recollection was unparalled.  He also had a photographic memory, a love of metaphor and a passion for a better world.  For these reasons I selected this particular article.  At the time of my father’s writing career, it was just he and an underwood typewriter and although computers came into our homes, he preferred to tap out his ruminations and drive them down to The Times’editor.  Receiving a computer from me a couple of years before he got sick he quickly learned the world of email but still refused to pen his articles on keyboard. Nudging him into cyberspace, and one of his professor friends wrestled some of his better rants from his clutches and  posted them on his “progressive writer’s bloc” website,

where one article remains today, with a note about his passing.   But now, dad…welcome to my blog. I hope everyone enjoys this piece.  Even though it was written in 2002, it is strangely applicable for this time. It is as timeless as you are.


The recent revelation that North Korea, has violated agreements with both the United States and South Korea by failing to end its nuclear program is being interpreted by some as strengthening the hand of the Bush administration to attack Iraq.  These rogue, erratic states that comprise the infamous “axis of evil” obviously cannot be trusted, some say, so let’s stop messing around and just knock ’em out.”

But rather than making a compelling argument for a military solution (or solutions), the new complication in North Korea actually points out the absurdity of seeking military solutions.

The U.S. military is well aware of the horrendous costs of a war with North Korea, and this has, in the past, tempered the military option.  Perhaps this is also why the immediate U.S. response has been measured and reasoned.  Seeking help from our allies in the region to find a peaceful solution.

But what sense does it make to have a foreign policy that says we’ll negotiate with North Korea, a state that is conceivably more of a threat because it already has such weapons, but we’ll preemptively strike Iraq because we THINK it MIGHT be developing these weapons?

Unfortunately, many countries around the world have or are developing weapons of mass destruction.  We can’t possibly go around the world waging selective preemptive strikes against them.

That would, without a doubt, not only signal perpetual war, but also global destruction as attacked nations unleash their deadly weapons not only on our allies but on us as well.

We must also remember that our goal right now should be to break up the terrorist network that attached us on September 11 – not be the unilateral global vigilantes.

The only way to deal with Iraq and North Korea is to use diplomacy, regional pressure and the United Nations as ways to press for disarmament.

In addition, we cannot ask countries to selectively disarm.  In areas of intense , such as the Middle East and East Asia, there must be regional disarmament.

Finally, we can’t continue to say that other countries must not develop weapons of mass destruction while we, by far the mightiest military power on the face of the Earth, continue to refine these deadly weapons.

In fact, we are now developing more ‘useable’ nuclear weapons and have outlines a scenario for their use against Iraq.

To make the world safe from weapons of mass destruction, the United STates must begin to live by the same set of rules we would like to impose on others and seriously embark on a course that will truly lead us to a nuclear weapons-free world.

(Page 4, THE TULE RIVER TIMES, November 7, 2002 )

Some kind of Soul Mining: The music of Tim Easton

Take any John Prine song, A myriad of guitar riffs rooted in blues and folk, some early Dylan, and some plum picking for good measure  and  you  get Ohio-born, Joshua-Tree-living Tim Easton. ”

Easton, driven westward both geographically and musically since his college days in Akron Ohio, finally settled one hundred and forty  miles east of  Los Angeles in the sweet little outpost known as Joshua Tree.  A place where the work of contemporary artists can be found among cactus and creosote, where eclectic and soulful music  is made among the  Ocotillo and the yucca.  Though his  home base is admittedly Joshua Tree honky tonk watering hole Pappy and Harriets, Tim’s toured extensively in support of his four albums to date, landing in Europe and Asia in addition to a myriad of cities in the United States.  A 2006 tour opening for Lucinda Williams landed him at the Pabst theate in Milwaukee, the Ginger Rogers Theater in Medford Oregon, and the Paramount Theater in Austin Texas expousing revealing his soulful influences of Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie.

Easton’s Folk Americana vacillates between the low down bluesey  growl of “Burgundy Red” from his 2009 release “Porcupine” to the  gospel meme hootenanny of “carry me” featured on 2001’s “The Truth about us” “Get What I got” also off Porcupine, offers a post punk downtempo vibe, with a slight nod to CCR  hiding quietly in plain view.  “Porcupine” combines Easton’s exploratory past while welcoming an edginess,that compounds all the elements digested by Easton over the years.

As if making  cathartic blues Americana wasn’t enough, Tim creates inspired folk art paintings that are currently centered on the motif of ‘the guitar.’  Certainly the god’s cannot be so indulgent! as to afford an already great musician an outstanding talent in a second craft,  But oh yes the god’s gluttony exposes them.  Easton’s paintings turn out not to be sophomoric indulgences by any means, in other words, they are not musings stretching weakly into another creative genre. They are  inspired and informed.  True pieces of mature art.  If you ventured out to SXSW in 2009  Tim’s visual representations were on display at the YARD DOG  gallery, as will several pieces from the 500 Individually painted vinyl jackets supporting”Porcupine.”  The vinyl jackets for this album were  paintings combining wood stain and designs of guitars and porcupines.  Tim’s other folk art uses found wood, oils and acrylics, chalk and pastels, and mostly features the guitar as it’s main subject.    If Musician, visual artist, aren’t enough to fill one’s creative palate, the “creatively-voracious” Easton also writes and is the founder and publisher of a community newsletter and ‘zine called The Joshua Tree Republic.”

A Video snippet of Tim Live in Bucyrus, Ohio exposes Easton telling the crowd that ‘the song he’s going to play next is called, ‘Carry Me’ at which time  very drunk woman whom has apparently been very disruptive during the show with a raspy voice finally yells, “SLAYER!!!, SLAYER!!!”  Tim isn’t caught vulnerable, instead he capitalizes on the situation with a deadpan and swift response by saying, ‘the day I play a Slayer song, is the day you get married.”   Easton comically takes interruptions, hecklers in stride.  and with humor, marches on, no bother and begins picking.

This is Real Folk music, an undeniable a romp  through the desert. It’s music about relationships – both coveted and lost.  The beauty and the tragic things too.  This is Americana,  This is the real Hootenanny, this is some kind of rave up, this is Tim Easton.

Find Tim Easton at:


No Marty & Elayne complex here! New Sounds at Taix!

Taix !!!! A place for old post-punk, Waiters, and pork pie hats (old location pictured)

The family name is pronounced like “Tex,”  As in “Tex and the Horseheads” someone might say. Actually I’d say that to help someone with the pronunciation but that’s me.  People have been known to almost come to fistacuffs arguing that the correct pronunciation is “Tays” but Mr. Raymond Taix settled the score many times over if you ever visited Taix.   Call it what you want but it’s the only french restaurant bar in Echo Park.  Dimly lit as the soft focus segment in a dreamy film sequence.  A dream that is real enough to enjoy.   Someone is whispering, “life is better in a soft light, it is to be taken in a slow drag, sitting in a high backed chair and small groups of friends crowded around a glowing table center candle”  At Taix, you could also easily conjure a 1959 Sammy Davis lounging earthily with friends as he enjoyed his stogie alternately flashing his wildly large white teeth.  Yah baby, it’s  “Lux-pack” but with a slight “hideous kinky” 1920’s prohibition aura still hanging like a hard fog.   The restaurant’s beginnings were seen during this tulmutuous time and on any given night it’s denizens can be equally quirky and mysterious.  Take a gander from your generous chair and find Hispanic Dodger fans, gay couples, blue-haired grannies, frivolously laughing and enjoying the vibe.  A few pork-pie hat-wearing, uber-hipsters looking to partake in the slow vibe and listen to music.

In order to guard against “Dresden Room Syndrome”  (Also known as the “Marty and Elayne Complex) Taix has recently employed the booking skills of  L.A. Musician Greg Franco, whom in 2006, L.A. Weekly called an “iconic auteur”  Franco, having earned that moniker as front man for L.A., for alt punk bands: The Blasphemous Yellow (1979-1985) and Ferdinand (1986-2002) and currently the New Zealand famous but L.A.based outfit, “Rough Church,” Franco has been a lover of Taix for twenty plus years.  A friend of the recently passed Ramond Taix,  his cuisine and love of good music.  Punk rockers, No Rockers, Low Brow, Americana Freak Folk, and people anyone with an earnest story and sound, can offer their soul against a backdrop of  realtors in bad suits hissing into cell phones, or Art dealers slunked down low, frock of darkish or silvery hair over one eye. Also skulking are Music industry dendrites, Record store barnacles, people ‘only there to see a friend’s band’ play” invariably mix with the “funky place’  that time forgot.  Some of the waitstaff are from your grandparent’s era some are in incredibly micro miniskirts with tattoos creeping round their shoulders and necks serving  exotic and ridiculously rich and meticulously prepared rattatoullie, or duck salad amongst other quintessentially French fare.  I’ve been told The creme brulee and  tart tartin are Tres magnifique!

If you have NEVER needed any “step’ programs, then you can make note of  this Secret Alcoholic tip!!!!!   At the beginning of the fiscal year, Taix corralls all the extra alcohol that didn’t sell well, and puts it to the right end of the bar!  HELLO LIQUID GARAGE SALE!!!  $3 no matter what time of day! Martini at 10AM?  no problem!  but drinking responsibly will ahem…keep you from having to do those meetings, if you know what I mean.  It’s a little bit like a Bitchen Bordello that doubles as an alt / indy music breeding ground.  The likes of Ferdinand, Patria Jacobs, Rough Church and many other local L.A. bands, singers and songwriters have taken in the french lounge mystique that is Taix and filled the air with song.  Tokyo Police club a darling of the


Tokyo Police Club played a gig here...

indy scene rocked Taix via the Culture Collide event.  Taix is a sonic crib with Escargot De Gourgogne if you will, a place where you run a good chance of seeing ‘so and so’  before they were… you know…signed and living in Palisades or Laurel Canyon trading kitchen remodeling tips with Anthony Keidis or some shit.  Taix is a little bit Vegas lounge  and a little bit  haunted mansion.   It’s definitely a LOT of  rock and roll!   Think High Fidelity with Marie De Salle singing a sweet vibe unto herself nursing some  sorrowful wicked beverage.   A true Los Angeles original.

Booking list coming soon!

There is plenty of street parking or you can valet for only $2.50.

Taix French Restaurant – 1911 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026  Ph: 213.8.1265

~Christina Long

Find the folks mentioned at the following:

Rough Church @

Patria Jacobs @



Taix French Restaurant
1911 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tel: (213) 484-1265

Army of love beats Silence..

The other day I had a collision with mack truck.  Not the type with wheels and a steel chassais, but one no less visually unmistakable and powerful…  and it drove straight into my heart. That mack truck was the emotive story of Trevor Pawlak of San Ramon California.  Currently a student in “K12 – CAVA (California Virtual Academy), the same California curriculum based  “homeschool”  K-12 / CAVA,  that my  son Andrew attends, Trevor and my son have just finished fourth grade.  Along with my son’s report card  this week came an urgency, from his teachers,  to read the last newsletter of the year for CAVA students.  Upon opening the newsletter on my computer, Andrew and I read the typical sentiment from teachers wishing students a wonderful summer, lists of books suitable for fifth grade reading over the summer and  suggestions on being safe and still having alot of fun over the next three months.   There was something more, one last student spotlight.  This spotlight was on Trevor Pawlack.  The story of a speechless boy.

Trevor Pawlak - Victory is certain.

The newsletter’s story is written in first-person-narrative and it would be a shame for me to re-tell it in my own way.   Therefore I have simply printed it in full text here.

This is what his teacher, Diana Davis (CAVA teacher,  San Mateo and Sonoma, CA)  wrote:


Dear CAVA Families,

As the school year comes to an end, we as teachers begin to reflect on how we have made a positive impact on our students and how we can better ourselves for the following year.  This year, however, I do not find myself wondering how I have positively affected any one student, but rather how one of my students has had an impact on me.  His name is Tervor Pawlak and he joined the CAVA family this year.   Trevor is a miraculous ten year old boy who has autism, but does not allow himself to be defined as autistic.  Instead he lives with autism and has shown me a thing or two about life and how each day we must treasure the big and little moments, for each one is a blessing in itself.  One important fact to know about Trevor is that he is not able to speak.  Don’t let this upset you, for he has brokern the barriers and has found his voice through art and poetry.  When I first met Trevor I was so overjoyed.  I thought to myself, “Yes! Here is a student that is literally begging to learn.”  Picture a room filled with CAVA boxes*, you know what I am talking about, and Trevor practically salivating because in each of those CAVA boxes was the knowlede he had been waiting for his whole life.  As I rip open each box, he is frantically typing to his mother, “When can I start learning? I want to do History!” He was moving around so much out of excitement that I swore he was going to fall off his chair.  The “coolness” of having a teacher in his home had vanished, for all he wanted was to crack open a CAVA textbook.  Even while I am sharing this memory with you, I smile.  I simply could not get through the boxes fast enough.  Did I mention that he is hilarious as well as wonderfully sarcastic?  A real jokester.    Thanks to his family, his therapist, K12 and the CAVA staff, I am very proud to say that Trevor is thriving and absoloutely loves the CAVA program.  He has no boundaries with CAVA and is able to thrive in an environment that is nurturing and self paced.  .His story is truly one of success and will inspire for many years to come.   Now that I have come full circle with my story about Trevor, you may be wondering, “why share?” The answer is simple: because there comes a time in every teacher’s life when you have a moment of clarity.  This moment was so great for me that I not only remember the reason why I became a teacher, but I remember the reason why I became a wife, a mohter, a friend, and hopefully a mentor.  Each and every one of my students are special and have taught me many life lessons, however, Trevor’s unique style of communication and learning speak volumes to me and has given me that continued strength to become a better person.  His voice can be heard through the heart and I feel so blessed to share this wonderful and inspirational journey with him.  Trevor’s work has recently been on exhibit at the San Ramon Valley Library and the San Ramon Express wrote a wonderful story about him and his accomplishments.  I wish to share is his biography.

‘My name is Trevor Pawlak and I am ten years old.  I was diagnosed with autism when I was 4 years old I remember knowing that other kids could talk and I couldn’t which frustrated me to no end.  This past year I met my angel in purple, Janna Woods.  She helped me find my freedom thorough typing.  Now I can find my freedom through typing.  Now I can show others how intelligent I am.  My poetries come from my soul.  The deepest part of my mind.  I know I am an instrument of God.  He expects me to lead the way for others who are silent like me.  The road may be long and full of pitfalls but life is a journey to be taken one step at a time.  I hope my poetries lighten your path on your journey.


Trevor Pawlak

Because of his silence, it was assumed by other schools that Trevor was not able to learn nor communicate any thought, academic or ther.  Clearly this is not the case, for Trevor is very bright and proven through the most beautiful methods that he has alot to say.  I leave you with one of the many poems that Trevor has written and hope that his story has touched your heart as he continues and will always touch mine.

– Diana Davis

Army of Love beats Silence

The winter chill fills the air crisp breaths seen outside

The days grow shorter as darkness creeps in.

The time for going inside lies the seeds for spring’s newness lay dormant.

I plan my escape from darkness each day with new resolve.

I live for my intellectual learning now.

Beating back the darkness of silence is my daily battle.

The army of loving hands lift me up

Together we fight this war and victory is certain.

-Trevor Pawlak

Kettleman City – We need another Cesar Chavez.

Big problems In Kettleman City, California – We need another Cesar Chavez!

Kettleman City child with cleft palate

Haven’t read the article in the L.A. Times that appeared last weekend?  Well…you should, and fast. The results from a survey of birth defects in this small migrant farming town halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, were alarming.

Over the first fourteen months beginning in 2007 three babies died as a result of their birth defects.  Just 20 babies were born over that time.  Each baby born during that time was born with a cleft palate.  Two of them are undergoing medical treatment as we speak.

Residents blame the high birth defect rate on a nearby hazardous waste facility — the only one in California licensed to accept carcinogenic PCBs, which is poised to be expanded if a proposition before the Kings County Board of Supervisors is granted.  Residents and Environmental activists are outraged and rightly so.   Even the owner of the site, “Chemical Waste Management Inc., is concerned about the county’s reluctance to call for an investigation into the relationship between the landfill and the consumer health issues.

County health officials claim it is difficult to quantify the relationship between pollution and birth defects, but have not outlined what can be done, even in the face of “difficulty.”  In my opinion, “difficult” does not mean “impossible.”  What are the costs? what are the procedures?  They must be outlined and done.  We MUST QUANTIFY the relationship and STAT.

The nature of corporate growing in this area (which many of the residents are employed by),  must not be discounted as a possible contributing factor.  Growers exhibiting their feverish desire to grow more & more, faster & faster at a grade “A” at least employ the use of varied chemicals with minimal precautions for their workers. But now there is a immediate and heinous dimension to their suffering, this alarming birth defect rate.

“I understand why people are concerned,” Kings County health officer Michael MacClean said in an interview. “But most of the time, when we are talking about small numbers such as these, they are just random occurrences.”

In this author’s opinion, If you do the math, the ratio of births to birth defect occurances in the time span which the birth occurred is well above the national average, alarmingly so.  If this was occuring in Brentwood, would the county claim “difficulty” and leave it at that?

“We will definitely continue to monitor the situation to see if over time the apparent excess of cleft palates continues,” MacCelan said. “If so, I would at that point ask for the state to come in and investigate.” The time is now Mr. McClean.  Children cannot be put at risk and the respect and health of citizens of that town or any town in California, in America for that matter cannot be taken for granted, or pushed aside until more alarming evidence warrants.  This IS ALARMING EVIDENCE!  and we need to quantify it and rule it out if it is warranted.  We then need to study waste management and  farming systems, their processes, their chemicals and how they come into contact with workers.

Last Monday, Kettleman City residents with and without children affected by the rash of birth defects, along with hundreds of landfill employees traveled to Hanford Civic Auditorium,  to hear the Board of Supervisors consider an appeal of the county planning commission’s recent unanimous approval of the expansion.

Supervisors heard from several witnesses well into the evening. A final decision on whether to approve the expansion is expected Dec. 22.

“Health First, Money Last,” read some of the signs demonstrators held.  they gathered on the steps of the auditorium boisterous and angry.

In so many examples Kern County and local corporations exhibit overt and underlying racism toward the migrant workers and this slow-heeled lackadaisical attitude toward children’s health is indicative of it.

Unfortunately these people, the ones that facilitate the process of our food actually making it to the market are treated as pawns, like slaves, and the possibility of chemical contamination of their living environment, though unfortunate, has some root cause and it must be found.  In not investigating it, the county is no better than Toyota looking the other way as people sped to their deaths.

If racism is nefariously playing a role in the County’s ambivalence toward investigating then they must consider the larger “no race” indicator for investigating with rapid alacrity…Obviously something is  happening to the DNA of migrant workers over time as a large group!  The chemicals they are exposed to everyday whether the initiation site is their jobs on the field or their drinking water at home, is more than alarming for ALL people!

How do the County and Corporate Ag get off ripping off a whole race / demographic of workers? WE NEED ANOTHER CESAR CHAVEZ!!!!

The Central Valley is the “fruit and vegetable basket” of California and supplies much of the United States.  Growers and processors have long been charged with treating their workers in a more than sub-par fashion.  Now there is a nefarious mystery and it’s hurting children. The county if it continues to drag it’s heels will be held  responsible for “the maiming their future generations of these migrant workers.”

Waste Management has done the right thing to encourage the County to investigate the root causes of the high incidence of birth defects, But if the County does not react and waits until “further notice”  will Waste Management pay for the investigation themselves? Migrant farm-workers, a good percentage of residents of Kettleman City, have always battled the conditions and treatment of the farming bureauocracy and now they cannot even get the County to quantify the health risks they are suffering in their home environment.   Isn’t it time we stood up for these people?


Schwarzenegger: Send prisoners to Mexico? what the?

Schwarzenegger: Send prisoners to Mexico

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From The Los Angeles Times:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger floated a different approach to trimming down California’s bloated prison budget on Monday: pay Mexico to build new prisons and ship off California’s incarcerated illegal immigrants south of the border.

The Republican governor has pushed to house California inmates out-of-state before — but never in a different country.

“We can do so much better in the prison system alone if we can go and take inmates, for instance the 20,000 inmates that are illegal immigrants that are here, and get them to Mexico,” Schwarzenegger said during a question-and answer session at the Sacramento Press Club. “Think about it.”

It’s cheaper to build prisons in Mexico, Schwarzenegger reasoned, and it’s cheaper to staff them there to boot.

“We pay them to build the prison down in Mexico,” the governor said. “…Half the costs to build the prisons and half the costs to run the prisons. That is money — $1 billion right there — that could go into higher education.”

The idea is not a new one. Jim Nielsen, a former head of the state’s parole board and now a state assemblyman, promoted the idea in the mid-1990s. It never happened.

The governor’s office said no specific prisoners-in-Mexico plan is in the works — just yet. “There’s no proposal,” said Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear. “He was mentioning a creative solution we should talk about.”

— Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

Band Spotlight: The InFlight Nymphs: Chords don’t lie.

At the time they had two albums,  Three girls,  and a foreshadowning of a great band down the line.   Fresno California singer-songwriter Jessica Taylor began her organic career, chaneneling a smoky Joan Baez  by way of a post “Horses” Patty Smith.  While alternately pounding her piano and plucking her guitar, Taylor hit the clubs in 2001.   Interspersing her compositions with Deanna Pierro’s smoky Neneh Cherry-esque  mini-slam verse.   Pierro, though co-conspirator on several songs, soon went on to other projects.  The brooding trip-hop-spoken-word dalliances were lifted out of the bands’ master plan and traded in for the beefed up sound of Janell Brown’s bass.  Audrey Johnson was soon added on drums eventually being known for banging out organic, thick and desperate beats. The Nymphs have an organic sound from the past and represent like a pure and simple powerhouse.  Think Femme Black Keys with an Ani Difranco square of carpet on the linoleum floor.  Okay maybe they would argue that.  But you get the idea.  Hey! you can’t pigeon-hole The Nymphs, but I’m sure I’m not the first to try.  In order to put a “sound” in someone’s mind, (in order to get them to decide whether to go see the band – based on words), you’ve gotta do it.    In reality, there just  isn’t any place to corral them!  Built Tough and real, no lip-schtick needed here.  The Nymphs are pure poetic angst without a bone of pretension to be found.  Real music, Yep.  Fresno?  No. Wait. Really?  yep!….Central California?  Like the place that started out as a sandy / loamy desert?  Yup. Congregations from Fresno Churches at the turn of the century dug the first canals to bring water to the fields.  An African American man and his wife planted the first grapes, giving rise to the areas precious Thompson Seedless variety.  Plenty of people know what it’s like to back down, but the town of Fresno just doesn’t  do it.  How do you turn a desert into the fertile crescent of California?  With hard work.  These folks are   California’s keepers of all the feeding flora.  Inflight Nymphs, are becoming the  “raconteurs du jour”  of the “fresno sound”  Now there’s a real reason to be excited about Northern / Central California’s music scene:  Fres-NO, is slowly becoming, “Fres-YES.   Okay, it’s true that Fresno’s the only town in Cali with air that you can ACTUALLY SMELL!   and whose city government is so brutally out of touch that that when deciding what acts should be put on the coveted  G/L for “special events,”   they actually chose Andre Bocelli to ring in the arrival of the new “Save-Mart”!!!)  At any given moment, The Inflight Nymphs are somewhere between Fresno and San Francisco  and occasionally tripping on over  to La La Land. Right now they are probably sitting at one of their favorite “Fres-no-torious” dives comfy  in  low rise jeans, stringy hair, and Sticky Fingers T-shirt, hashing out another song list for a show.  Gotta plan it, make it right, make it rock. These things matter, Cuz hips may lie, but chords don’t.

P.S. if you didn’t get to Fresno to Andie’s you probably missed The Nymphs again.  Go to “ for future dates.

As soon as I get MP3 links, I’ll load as many songs as I can. Until then…

Cheers!   ChrissylongPicture 78

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