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Orange Ya Glad?

In Which I Brag on This Issue and Put the Squeeze on Readers


A less modest and less long-winded editor might heed the advice of Elbert Hubbard, who counseled never to explain, explaining further ---as it were --- that “Your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.” Friends of Citric Acid, and even unbelievers, will apprehend the unsubtle point of our celebratory display of photographs embedded in this longish end-of-year note, taken at the legendary Bread and Puppet Theater performance of its “Apocalypse Defiance Circus” at UC Irvine, one recent stop on a national tour.


Founder and director Peter Schumann describes it as a “response to our totally unresurrected capitalist situation, not only the hundreds of thousands of unnecessarily sacrificed pandemic victims but our culture’s unwillingness to recognize Mother Earth’s revolt against our civilization. Since we earthlings do not live up to our earthling obligations, we need resurrection circuses to yell against our own stupidity.” 


An audience of two hundred agreed, including families and children, who thrilled to live music, puppetry, art, dance, and multi-lingual theater examining reparations, resistance, and the resurrection of possibility.

Close on the heels of the visit by a radical theater troupe, another

figure of historical revision and reimagination arrives in Orange County, of all places. We celebrate here the artistic collaboration of

director/choreographer Annie Loui of CounterBalance Theater with SoCal short story writer and novelist Dana Johnson (In the Not Quite Dark) on a multiform production of “The Story of Biddy Mason.” Their show, bringing a founder of Los Angeles to Orange County, opens December 1 at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.

We celebrate further artistic mutual aid in a feature new at Citric Acid, and perhaps just new anywhere, in which introductions offered by writers of other writers both attempt to persuade but also call attention to the beauty of the introductory form itself. Three elegant and smart intros by three UCI Writing MFA writers (Alex Stanley, Kathryn Campo Bowen, Miles Parnegg) of Program alums will convince you to purchase and read novels with an OC connection. Thanks to Michelle Latiolais, who hosted a recent victory lap reading featuring novelists and their introducers.


Our final issue of Citric Acid’s inaugural year is all about lifting up the activist arts, civic life, collaboration, and devotion to community. My own days spent in early November as a local Vote Center Customer Service Representative for the OC Registrar of Voters helped me further appreciate all of the above, if in a new context. As a retired older gentleman, working the polls seemed right, and I assumed would be easy. My engagement with what I anticipated as a lowest common denominator gesture, a simple administering of civic life, was joyfully complicated by the exciting demands and high expectations of what turns out to be one of the best-run vote systems in the nation, in part due to its response to one defining moment from our own perverse Orange County history.

The defining incident, written about frequently by my former OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano, is now written into the bible of poll work, its historical significance acknowledged as the basis of new law to encourage voting and prevent voter intimidation:

From page 114 of the Vote Center Handbook, General Election, November 8, 2022, “6.7 Appendix G: Voter Intimidation,

Electioneering and Corruption of the Voting

Process.” Background


On November 8, 1988, a situation occurred in 20 predominantly Hispanic [sic] precincts in the 72 nd Assembly District wherein 

uniformed poll monitors by one of the political parties to monitor the procedures in the precincts. These individuals were not sent by the Registrar of Voters’ office. In some instances the uniformed poll monitors posted signs regarding eligibility criteria to vote, and in some citizens’ opinions, their mere presence was a form of intimidation to qualified voters. In response to this occurrence, it is now a crime for a person with a firearm or a person in a peace officer or security guard uniform to be within 100 feet of the polling place, except as provided in Election Code Section 18544.


This issue also features Gabriel Zacuto and Sara Zacuto, two OC contributors to an anthology on empathetic and humane parenting, with excerpts and a conversation with its editor. We offer two short creative nonfiction pieces which read like prose poetry, in which Meredith Gordon and Peter Gerrard offer glimpses into everyday life in our County. There’s a gorgeous and thoughtful meditation from young writer and cinephile Max Ney on his time volunteering at Santa Ana’s singular and landmark art house cinema. There’s more artistic collaboration, this from another OC poet and her photographer friend. Lorene Delany-Ullman and Jody Servon’s book, based on their art installation, Saved: Objects of the Dead, is out in January. Look for a Citric Acid-hosted local launch party.


Our in-house political cartoonist Grant Hoskins calls out the famously, yet, comically reactionary school board member from Yorba Linda. A chapter from Dawn Bonker’s novel offers a sly if poignant take on politics, ecology, and property-defined striving in South County. Short story writer Lisa Black delivers a memoir-meets-fiction piece time-tripping back to the UC Irvine 

experimental theater days of Polish director Jerzy Grotowski.

What to say about nationally acclaimed poets Patty Seyburn, Gustavo Hernandez, and Chris Davidson except to thank them for generously sharing their work on this hometown platform? And to preview a few of their artfully self-conscious, celebratory, and ironic lines:

“I name the shadow how dare you upstage me

the evening happy hostage”


“Think of

blood in the body, of all the new ghosts

lined up at the edge of the sun’s western copper.

The things they’d give to be here now.”


“I apologize. I will do it again, both what

I apologized for, and apologize.”


Thanks --- and solidarity --- to the extremely busy union activist and UCI graduate student worker Flynn Mixdorf for sharing a dispatch from the front lines of a local campus campaign that’s part of the largest higher education strike in U.S. history.


Finally, we celebrate the lives of two friends, radical scholar Mike Davis and multi-talented OC literary pal Linda Purdy. Librarian, activist, writer, and longtime Subversity host Dan Tsang shares an excerpt of the transcript (and audio) of an interview he conducted with Davis at KUCI in 2003, when Davis taught at UCI, and writer Nicholas Schou (Kill the Messenger, Orange Sunshine) movingly credits Davis for inspiration, support, and his own writing life. Jonathan Cohen introduces Linda Purdy to this readership, and reminds other friends and longtime fans of her unique, empathetic, sly, and gorgeous writing. We share her poetry and a short story, one of her best, which was included in Orange County: A Literary Field Guide.


I am, you will have divined, quite proud of this issue, our biggest, and of our first year of Citric Acid. We appreciate this journal’s sponsorship by the Los Angeles Review of Books and urge you to subscribe there.


Special thanks to managing editor Jaime Campbell, who performs the hard work of design and formatting, and to our advisory board, especially Mary Camarillo, Michelle Latiolais, and Virginia Shank for their generosity and direction. And, of course, to Lisa Alvarez.


Much gratitude to Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities, an amazing local nonprofit which recently took Citric Acid on as a project, meaning you can, please, make a tax-deductible donation to support our second year. Thanks to Joel Cazares for welcoming us there, and for advising, coordinating, and administrating.


And now, my ask. We’ve got nifty new “Donate” button, no kidding, with gently specific instructions on how to credit your contribution to Citric Acid. Consider monthly support or a one-time donation to get us through next year. I don’t take a salary. All monies raised go to pay our single, and singular part-time staff person and, yes, to provide modest honoraria to our writers.


Thank you. For reading. For sharing this journal with others. For imagining with us, and for reimagining art, history, politics, and civic life in the County of Orange and beyond.  --- Andrew Tonkovich

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