Saturday, August 19, 2006

low rider culture in chicago

Low Rider Vehicles on Parade
and Photographs by Meridel Rubenstein
Columbia College Chicago’s Hokin Annex
October 12 and 13, 2006

WHAT: Crossing Borders will feature a two evening an outdoor exhibition of Low Rider vehicles. Co-organized by Pedro Cisneros III, president of the Amistad Car Club- Chicago Chapter. Pedro states, "I do consider myself an artist. A low rider is an _expression of what's going on inside the owner. " The exhibit will feature 15 Low Rider automobiles and 15 Low Rider bicycles created by 5 Low Rider Car Clubs based in the Chicago land Area. Participating clubs include the Amistad Car Club, Distinctive Lifestyles and the Young Riders bike club. Also on display in the Hokin Annex will be photographs from the Museum of Contemporary Photography permanent collection.
Chicago Low Rider Council website can be found at:

Meridel Rubenstein Photographs: Also on display will be “The Low Riders: Portraits from New Mexico”, a portfolio of twelve photographs created in 1980 by Meridel Rubenstein. The Museum of Contemporary Photography has generously lent the portfolio.

“The symbol of the car at first was just a car to me, but it became a coffin, a boudoir, a phallus. The cars do this sexy hydraulic hopping. They have these plush velvet interiors and wonderful imagery on the outside. I put the color photographs into a red velvet portfolio box lined with silver metallic paper and tied it with satin dice. It was important to me to contain them, especially in a sensual manner, because the cars themselves are containers of so many religious and sexual images. This was the first time I used materials to convey certain ideas.” — Meridel Rubenstein, interview with John Bloom on December 15, 1987
Meridel Rubenstein portfolio info:

WHEN: October 12 and 13, 2006, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

WHERE: Meridel Rubenstein Photos: Columbia College Chicago’s
Hokin Annex, 623 S. Wabash Ave.
Crossing Borders Low Rider Exhibition: The block of 600 S. Wabash

MUCH: Free and Open to the Public.

October 4 – November 8: FOCO: Performance Workshop and Installation with Celia Herrera Rodriguez
An exhibition of Latin American art that culturally examines and visually describes the artistic and cultural movement of Chicago’s Latin American community.
Glass Curtain Gallery, 1104 S. Wabash, 1st floor

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Activist Refuses Deportation, Takes Refuge in Church

By Oscar Avila
The Chicago Tribune

Tuesday 15 August 2006

Taking refuge in a church, a prominent advocate for illegal immigrants publicly defied federal authorities in Chicago who were trying to deport her Tuesday.

Elvira Arellano, who became a national spokeswoman for families facing deportation, had been ordered to report to the Department of Homeland Security by 9 a.m.

Instead, Arellano appeared at the pulpit of Adalberto United Methodist Church in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, vowing before dozens of supporters that she would not return to Mexico "like a coward." She said she would stay in the church indefinitely with her 7-year-old son, a U.S. citizen.

Arellano's move, which apparently took many of her supporters by surprise, recalled the 1980s sanctuary movement, in which many liberal congregations around the U.S. took in illegal immigrants who were fleeing war in Central America.

Her supporters invoked the notion that lawbreakers can be protected in a house of worship, a tradition that dates to the ancient Greeks.

"If Homeland Security chooses to send agents to a holy place, I would know that God wants me to serve as an example of the hatred and hypocrisy of the current administration," Arellano said.

But defying the order also puts Arellano, 31, at risk of even stiffer punishment, including detention.

Because Arellano ignored her deportation order, officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said she is now considered a fugitive. Spokesman Tim Counts said agents have the authority to go into a church or anywhere else to make an arrest.

"We will take action at the time and place of our choosing," Counts said.

Legal experts agree that a church offers no formal protection, but they say it could put the government in an awkward position.

"Just because you are in a church doesn't mean you are less deportable in a legal sense," said Joel Fetzer, associate professor of political science at Pepperdine University. "But in a political sense, it looks very bad to be hauling people out of churches as the camera rolls."

Arellano, a cleaning woman at O'Hare International Airport, was arrested in 2002 during an immigration sweep aimed at securing the nation's aviation system after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Authorities discovered she had been using a fake Social Security number to work and had previously been deported and re-entered the country illegally.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and other members of the state's congressional delegation urged homeland security officials to let Arellano remain in Chicago to care for her son, Saul, born in the U.S., who has ADHD and other health problems. She was granted three stays of deportation starting in 2003.

No longer in hiding, she began to speak openly about her own experiences and became a symbol for the state's 400,000 illegal immigrants.

She took her case to Mexico President Vicente Fox and to the Statehouse in Springfield. She helped found and became president of United Latino Family, a Pilsen-based group that lobbies for families that could be split by deportation.

But some of those sympathetic to her cause, including Durbin, suggested that another stay of deportation would be harder to justify because her son's condition has improved. Immigration officials say that without a U.S. senator's request, they cannot grant such a stay.

"It is an unfortunate truth that scores of people are in the same situation as Elvira and her family," Durbin said in a statement Tuesday. "We cannot fix the injustices of this system with private bills. Only comprehensive immigration reform can permanently remedy this situation."

Now Arellano says her only option is to seek sanctuary.

In a 2003 article in a Harvard Law School journal, law professor Wayne Logan recounted how the Greeks and Romans offered limited protections to criminals who sought shelter in temples. In the 10th Century, England's civil authorities designated sanctuaries marked by a series of crosses, Logan said.

But the tradition faded, and these days, those who invoke sanctuary typically do so as a form of civil disobedience.

When churches and synagogues harbored illegal immigrants fleeing civil war in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s, U.S. authorities charged and convicted several ministers. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 upheld the arrests, saying they did not violate freedom of religion.

But some religious leaders have said recently they are not bound to follow tough immigration laws they consider immoral. In March, Cardinal Roger Mahony in Los Angeles said he would urge priests to ignore a proposed federal law that would increase criminal penalties against those who assist illegal immigrants.

Fetzer, who has researched sanctuary movements, said that as more people face deportation, some may choose to follow Arellano's example.

Carlina Tapia-Ruano, a Chicago immigration attorney, said the defiance might make homeland security officials more determined to take action so they aren't viewed as soft on illegal immigration.

"Any attention given to this case makes the next step unpredictable, whether it is by the agency or whether it is by Elvira," said Tapia-Ruano, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Arellano's supporters say that if agents do try to make an arrest at the church, they want it to be a chaotic scene, much like the 2000 raid in which federal agents seized 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to return him to his father in Cuba.

As her backers offered hugs and kind words, Arellano said she is prepared to pay the consequences of defying the U.S. government.

"If I have to spend 10 or 20 years in jail, I don't care," Arellano insisted. "Because I am going to fight."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Bush's Political Survival Depends on Terror Threats

By William Greider,

The president is trying for the third time to make terrorism his big campaign issue -- are Americans going to finally snap out of it?

An evil symbiosis does exist between Muslim terrorists and American politicians, but it is not the one Republicans describe. The jihadists need George W. Bush to sustain their cause. His bloody crusade in the Middle East bolsters their accusation that America is out to destroy Islam. The president has unwittingly made himself the lead recruiter of willing young martyrs.

More to the point, it is equally true that Bush desperately needs the terrorists. They are his last frail hope for political survival. They divert public attention, at least momentarily, from his disastrous war in Iraq and his shameful abuses of the Constitution. The "news" of terror -- whether real or fantasized -- reduces American politics to its most primitive impulses, the realm of fear-and-smear where George Bush is at his best.

So, once again in the run-up to a national election, we are visited with alarming news. A monstrous plot, red alert, high drama playing on all channels and extreme measures taken to tighten security.

The White House men wear grave faces, but they cannot hide their delight. It's another chance for Bush to protect us from those aliens with funny names, another opportunity to accuse Democrats of aiding and abetting the enemy.

This has worked twice before. It could work again this fall unless gullible Americans snap out of it. Wake up, folks, and recognize how stupid and wimpish you look. I wrote the following two years ago during a similar episode of red alerts: "Bush's 'war on terrorism' is a political slogan -- not a coherent strategy for national defense -- and it succeeds brillantly only as politics. For everything else, it is quite illogical."

Where is the famous American skepticism? The loose-jointed ability to laugh at ourselves in anxious moments? Can't people see the campy joke in this docudrama called "Terror in the Sky"? The joke is on them. I have a suspicion that a lot of Americans actually enjoy the occasional fright since they know the alarm bell does actually not toll for them. It's a good, scary movie, but it's a slapstick war.

The other day at the airport in Burlington, Vermont, security guards confiscated liquid containers from two adolescent sisters returning home from vacation. The substance was labeled "Pure Maple Syrup." I am reminded of the Amish pretzel factory that was put on Pennsylvania's list of targets. Mothers with babes in arms are now told they must take a swiq of their baby formula before they can board the plane. I already feel safer.

The latest plot uncovered by British authorities may be real. Or maybe not. We do not yet know enough to be certain. The early reporting does not reassure or settle anything (though the Brits do sound more convincing than former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who gave "terror alerts" such a bad reputation). Tony Blair is no more trustworthy on these matters than Bush and Cheney. British investigators are as anxious as their American counterparts to prove their vigilance (and support their leaders). The close collaboration with Pakistani authorities doesn't exactly add credibility.

One question to ask is: Why now? The police have had a "mole" inside this operation since late 2005, but have yet to explain why they felt the need to swoop down and arest alleged plotters at this moment (two days after the Connecticut primary produced a triumph for anti-war politics).

The early claim that a massive takedown of a dozen airliners was set for August 16 is "rubbish," according to London authorities. So who decided this case was ripe for its public rollout? Blair consulted Cheney: What did they decide? American economist Jamie Galbraith was on a ten-hour flight from Manchester, England, to Boston on the day the story broke, and has wittily reflected on other weak points in the official story line.

The point is, Americans are not entirely defenseless pawns. They can keep their wits and reserve judgment. They can voice loudly the skepticism that Bush and company have earned by politicizing of the so-called "war" from the very start. Leading Democrats are toughening up. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid uses plain English to explain what the Republicans up to -- using genuine concerns of national security "as a political wedge issue. It is disgusting, but not surprising."

Instead of cowering in silence, the opposition party should start explaining this sick joke. Political confusion starts with the ill-conceived definition of a "war" that's best fought by police work, not heavy brigades on a battlefield. Forget the hype, call for common sense and stout hearts.

All we know, for sure, is that Bush and his handlers are not going to back off the fear-and-smear strategy until it loses an election for them. Maybe this will be the year.

William Greider is the author of, most recently, "The Soul of Capitalism" (Simon & Schuster).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My Father's 70th Birthday

Last weekend we celebrated my father's 70th birthday. Here are some pics from the event.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


The past 5 or so days 90+ weather has hit Chicago with the past 2 days close to 100F!