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Resistance Meets Resilience!

by Andrew Tonkovich

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June 2023

Summer Solstice Edition

If there’s a through-line to this issue, our sixth, I am happy to call it resistance meets resilience. Modest, literary, humane, imaginative, and creative, my managing editor Jaime Campbell and I offer our contributors’ gently subversive R & R takes on both the everyday and the extraordinary, sometimes hard to tell which is which. Our recent visit to Chapman University bore fruit beyond the panel we joined, with legendary writer and Citric Acid contributor James Blaylock as moderator. Thanks, Jim! I met a young person wearing this most excellent t- shirt

as well as a handful of creative writing students. Also attending was poet and Chapman professor Anna Leahy, who followed up by sharing four poems which she described, helpfully and, well, poetically, as “two which speak to our landscape here and two which might be characterized as political.”

Another teacher friend, activist and all-around booster, Elaine Lewinnek, introduces a project her students completed, with her encouragement and direction. Zines from the “My Orange County” project displayed in the H. Clay Kellogg House at Heritage Museum of Orange County offered an irresistible and physically real metaphor for intentionality, historical revisionism, empowerment, and community. Dozens of them were hung on colorful yarn throughout the old house, in juxtaposition to and yet somehow complementing the furnishings of an architecturally interesting and fun mansion built in another era, one less likely to have embraced or even acknowledged the diversity and dialectic which animate these zines.

I’m proud of having invented the “Introductions” feature in Citric Acid and pleased to print Irvine Valley College instructor Araceli Centanino’s introduction of our pal Gustavo Arellano of the Los Angeles Times, and once my OC Weekly editor, who delivered the Inaugural Mendoza Family Distinguished Lecture at Irvine Valley College recently to a packed room of students, faculty, and community members.

And speaking of the OC Weekly (and I do, plenty), so glad to welcome work in this issue and next by legendary investigative reporter and all-around OC beat chronicler Anthony Pignatoro who, among other work, produced hundreds of “El Toro Airport Watch” columns that ran in the Weekly in 1997 and played a significant role in educating the public on the proposed airport, and --- no kidding --- helped change the politics of the County. In this issue he visits the picket line to deliver a report on the strike by Medieval Times worker-talent, profiles the heroic Erin Zapcic and, because life is citric, consults our own Elaine Lewinnek (see above and, well, everywhere!).

Returning contributor Ted Fowler shares a personal and historical journey by way of our landscape, and its people, visiting and explaining the past and its hurt. He reports on the internment of Japanese Americans whose parents lived in Orange County. He celebrates the resilience, resistance and recollecting of memory by some whose names you will know from their local and iconic family businesses, still going strong. Linda Thomas, a poet and birder, reports from the natural world, with detail, empathy, wit, and her reliably deep connecting of human life to the practice of human observation of ourselves and our OC surroundings.

Artist Roger Eyes R. and bookseller, cultural worker and empresario Sarah Rafael García are collaborating on an ongoing visual arts and history project called Mapping Santa Ana. Sarah’s Crear Studio and her singular LibroMobile offer the physical, print version (visit the store!) but we celebrate excerpts available online here.

Lisa Alvarez curates the transcripts of the Alan Hostetter pre-trial motions, seeming to ask us how to consider the politics and philosophy of the January 6 defendant from Orange County in the context of a GOP which seems committed to reelecting its provocateur. Our in-house comics artist, Grant Hoskins, elaborates.

Meredith Gordon gets personal, in a tough, moving essay of, indeed, resilience and the limits of reconciliation.

Celebrated short story writer and novelist Rhoda Huffey shares fiction built on both her imagination and her time living in Orange County, also featured in her most recent novel, 31 Paradiso. And writer-teacher Morgan Read Davidson sets a gripping family story high on the trail to Santiago Peak, at perhaps exactly the spot considered in Meredith Gordon’s essay, from the valley below. Serendipity, or only the perfect psycho-geographic locale for insightful convergence in our benighted, if often beautiful region?

Poet Marissa Jacobi offers a Brechtian mini-biography of her long-ago Irvine high school teacher, now perhaps especially relevant and as we resist, together, Trumpism, book banning and attacks on teachers, history, and human rights, especially of LGBTQ folks.

Finally, I celebrate my mentor, and inspiration for this journal, one Peter Carr, and his defining prose poem about summer as a time for engagement with nature, reconnecting with purposeful art and activism, and re-upping for the struggle.

And how about a side order of serendipity to go with all that resiliance and resistance? I’ll close this Editor’s Note with a shout-out to more solidarity, friendship, and insistence, always, on the power of both. Jacobi wrote her featured poem in a creative writing class led by her Irvine Valley College instructor, Lisa Alvarez, who did not have to wonder or ask further about Jacobi’s history teacher, immediately recognizing the poet’s subject as her, our friend, neighbor and a much-celebrated instructor. I love telling this story: When she and I, with our then-young child moved to Modjeska Canyon twenty years ago we were immediately impressed with our postal delivery person. Our mail always arrived early, and Cherry Flores went out of her way to get large packages to our home. Thanks, Cherry. But early on I noticed that my reliably Left-progressive political and literary magazines (subscriptions to The Nation, Harper’s, New York Review of Books, Dissent, among others because I am an easy cartoon of a reader exactly like me as well as an actual reader!) were arriving in our box, yes, but that the small white address label indicated a different address and name. Of course, I walked over to meet the recipient of my own magazines, my doppelganger, one Jim Mamer, who had been getting my mail. He soon became a teaching mentor, political comrade and friend. Jim only recently left Orange County. He writes for Robert Scheer’s excellent ScheerPost on --- what else? --- education and the teaching of American History.

Jim Mamer

And, speaking of friendship and solidarity, I’ve scattered here some photos taken at the recent Women For: Orange County 35th annual Great American Write-In, where so many came together to exercise their basic, elegantly simple, and yet always affirming right --- write! --- to petition our government. Teresa Sears and Felicity Figueroa, two longtime activist friends, met up there, as did Lisa Alvarez and Citric Acid contributor Dawn Bonker. And State Senator Dave Min (D-CA 37) came by. Please share this issue and do contribute to support our non-profit project. Thanks for reading.

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