Modern Protest Literature of the Pacific

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December 16th, 2010 · Uncategorized

Because I thought it was interesting and works to provide support within a Queens community, I thought I would share the following link:

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Experimental Geography

December 15th, 2010 · Uncategorized

Q_ _

A kiss goodnight

And I’m taking flight

Down the road

In a prism of light

Taking me back to 69th.

We move down 80th

And round a slight bend

As the driver speaks

To a passenger named Ken.

Ken from the Caribbean

And who works at the mall

Cooking German food all day long.

I’m not used to the cold,

He says to Flynn,

As he rubs his palms together, trying to warm them.

A couple gets on as the girl

Yells on her phone

A las diez, a las diez!

I will be there by ten!

Her friend wears a backpack

With the North Face emblem

Colored yellow, blue, and red,


I sit back, gazing at the passing Christmas decorations,

And I am lulled by the sounds of background conversation.

This is the best part of the ride.

After a few minutes, I reach for the cord

And I’m dropped off in front of the fancy dining hall.

Owned by the Russian Mafia, my brother likes to say.

I walk down the block,

Pass the Chinese take-out joint and the Korean-run deli

Where you can get The Irish Voice or El Diario or Cadbury Bunnies.

I turn the corner and stop at the house

Where out front hangs a giant lit up multi-color star.

It is made of transparent shells

And arrived a year ago, carefully wrapped and carefully enclosed.

I am home!  This is home!

The star from the Philippines tells me I am home!

I rush in, wishing to be out of the winter cold.

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Post-Project Reflection

December 13th, 2010 · Uncategorized

Cleaning Up Graffiti in Woodside

When we first received the project assignment for this class, I was thoroughly confused as to what I might do with a project like this.  I had never before considered formally effecting change through protest within a small group or a community.  After staring for quite some time at the Topic Proposal handout given out in class, I finally decided to focus on the “Possible Projects” list.  Two possible projects really stood out for me on that list.  One was the idea of doing a public art project in a Queens-based community and the other was the idea of doing volunteer work with a pre-existing community group.  I knew that putting up a public mural in my neighborhood should not be too much of a problem since my I already see quite a few of them around.  I also knew that the group responsible for many of the neighborhood murals is Woodside on the Move, Inc., a community based organization which has been helping the neighborhood of Woodside since the 1970s.

Knowing all of this, I considered what I would want to change about my neighborhood and I immediately thought of the recent increase in graffiti.  When I walk around my neighborhood today I see a lot more graffiti than I used to, especially on houses and local churches and businesses, and this really bothers me.  I grew up in and live in a nice neighborhood but people continue to commit acts of vandalism detracting from the beauty of the neighborhood.  I soon realized that doing this project could help me make a difference in my neighborhood.

I came up with a proposal to contact Woodside on the Move and see if there could be anything done about cleaning up the graffiti under the Long Island Railroad tracks right behind my church.  I also wanted to know whether or not a mural could be put up on the cement walls under the train tracks.  Since this is a community project, I very much wanted to get the community involved.  In particular, I wanted my church parish and the parish of the Korean church across the street to get involved in the project.  Both churches, St. Mary’s Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians Church and Little Flock Church of New York, have been targets of graffiti in the past and I though that as community organizations they would be more than happy to participate in the project.  I thought that as the project progressed local businesses and other members of the community could get involved making this a true community-based project.

After handing in my topic proposal, Professor Lee helped me by pointing out some valuable resources.  He let me know that 311 and the City of New York offer free graffiti clean-up services.  The city has a program called “Graffiti Free NYC.”  People can fill out forms or call 311 to request free graffiti removal services for their house or business or any public space in their community.  Professor Lee also mentioned the Broken Windows Theory by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling.  This theory states that if a broken window is left unrepaired, then it becomes accepted and allows for more windows to be broken.  In other words, if one act of vandalism goes ignored then it projects the idea that the community does not care about it so that one act of vandalism can lead to another.  This is true with graffiti in any instance as one never sees just one act of graffiti but many instances of it either on just one building or structure or around the neighborhood.  It is my hope to prevent any further vandalism or even an escalation in crime, as further suggested by Wilson’s and Kelling’s theory, by initiating a graffiti clean-up as soon as possible.

To give more context to this project, I also watched a little bit of the documentary Bomb It.  The beginning of this documentary discussed the history of graffiti in New York City and how New York City subways used to be huge targets for vandalism.  The subway trains used to be covered in graffiti.  But once the city initiated a program in which all of the trains were washed and cleaned up, graffiti artists stopped targeting the subway.  They no longer saw the point in putting huge works of graffiti on the exterior of subway trains if the city was only going to take the step to clean it up anyway.  After all, the point of most graffiti is obtain fame and recognition.  The city’s clean up initiative was very effective in keeping graffiti artists from achieving the recognition that they sought and as a result graffiti on the train pretty much stopped and we no longer see huge works of graffiti on passing subway trains.  This helps give proof to Wilson’s and Kelling’s Broken Windows Theory and gives me hope that graffiti clean-up in my neighborhood will be a very effective solution to combat vandalism.

I also did some research on graffiti and why the graffiti around my neighborhood can not be considered art.  First, graffiti can take many forms like tags, outlines, pieces, blockbusters, wildstyles and productions.  Pieces, blockbusters, wildstyles and productions tend to be more artistic in style.  Blockbusters and wildstyles are different styles in which the graffiti artist writes his or her name, either in a blocky font or freestyle of interlocking letters.  Both tend to be variations on the tag which is basically the graffiti artist’s signature.  Outlines are painted quickly and can be from one or two letters to a whole word.  They are usually the artist’s moniker, an abbreviation of it or a combination of initials of the members of a graffiti crew.  Pieces are graffiti paintings which are usually signed and can convey a certain character or idea.  Productions are just larger pieces or murals and tend to be collaborations between different graffiti artists.  Pieces and productions take planning as they are more than just a simple act of vandalism and wish to convey more than just a person’s name.  The productions or pieces found around my neighborhood are usually done for local business.  However, the majority of the graffiti in my neighborhood takes form in tags and outlines and is nothing more than criminal acts of vandalism.  This is what I wish to fight.  Where pieces and productions can add to the artistic culture of a community, tags and outlines are nothing more than scribbles on the outside of a building or structure.

My first step in realizing this project was to get in contact with someone at Woodside on the Move, since the organization has experience in cleaning up graffiti and putting up murals to help prevent further vandalism.  I found an email address for the organization and sent them an email explaining my project proposal but never received a reply.   Nevertheless, this did not bother me as I still had my church parish to work with.  And in my experience, the church I attend has been able to get a lot done in the community.  For instance, they have a food pantry and also a thrift shop to help serve the needy in neighborhood.

In order to reach someone at my church, I first sent an email to the rectory’s email address.  The rectory is the residence and offices of the priests at the parish.  However, I again received no reply.  Since emails didn’t seem to be working very well in this project, I then decided to approach a priest at my church after mass one Sunday.  I asked Father Brendan Duggan if I could speak with him about a community project and he told me to call the rectory later in the week to see if I could make an appointment.  Taking his advice, I called to meet with him the next day.  At our meeting, I explained my idea for the project with him.  I handed him an outline of my ideas which follows here:

1.      Involve Parish Communities in a Graffiti Removal Project

2.      Inform Members of the Community of Free Graffiti Removal Services Provided by the City by

a.       Handing out flyers in the church’s weekly bulletin

b.      Going to businesses or residences targeted by graffiti with informational flyers

3.      Request Paint From City or Fill out Graffiti Removal Request Form to Remove Graffiti from Under the LIRR Tracks

4.      Paint a Mural Under the LIRR Tracks to Help Prevent Future Vandalism

a.       Get mural ideas from parish community

b.      Have parish members involved in painting the mural

c.       Spring/ Summer Project

Father Brendan seemed impressed by the idea and thought it would be good for the community.  He then directed me to the teen group which could help with the project.  I left the meeting with the contact information of the teen group leader, George, who I learned also goes to Queens College.

This is the end of the project’s progress for right now as I still have to meet with George and the teen group.  However, I have high hopes of seeing this project through to the end especially since I realize that there are community groups willing to work on projects like these and that are known to get things done.

Obstacles that I faced working on this project were all communication based.  I realized that emails do not always get read and are unreliable if I really want to make connections and get things done.  It is always much better to meet someone in person and discuss projects like this one so that the other person gets a feel for the intent of the project and can decide whether or not they can get involved or do anything with it.  I found this out in my meeting with Father Brendan.  I don’t think my email ever got read but I explained to him everything that was in that email and he loved every part of the proposal.  Seeing Father Brendan in person and discussing my ideas with him really helped to make them more tangible.  The possibility of getting the project done also became more real as Father Brendan not only approved but directed me to work with the church’s teen group which does a lot in the community.

Knowing this, if I could go back I would have definitely made the effort to visit the offices of Woodside on the Move and to track someone down who I could talk to about the project.  But since the project is still in progress, I will have other opportunities to meet with someone from Woodside on the Move and to explain the project to them.  And perhaps later on the organization can even help and become involved with the community project since they have experience in the removal of graffiti and in painting neighborhood murals.

To be where I am right now with this project, I am really proud that I started to make a connection with the people at my church.  Being shy and since I am not very involved with the parish to begin with, I kind of dragged my feet when it came to making the effort to speak to someone in order to make progress.  Meeting with Father Brendan was a big step for me and it was really important because he helped to push the project forward from being just an idea to being something that can actually happen.

For those who have problems with graffiti in their neighborhood, you can visit the following links.  There’s information on the city’s free graffiti removal services and how you can get them:

Graffiti Free NYC

Mayor’s Paint Program

The first link has information on how to get graffiti cleaned up for free if you live in any of the five boroughs and the third link has information on the Mayor’s Paint Program which gives out free painting supplies to community-based organizations that wish to clean up graffiti around their neighborhoods.

Works Cited

“311 Online Graffiti Cleanup Request or Complaint.” 311. Web. 13 Dec. 2010. < Cleanup Request or Complaint&finalSubLevel=3&intentId=E9E66310-8137-11DE-8E9F-96DAE110FEB8#>.

“Anti-Graffiti – Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit.” Web. 13 Dec. 2010. <>.

Bomb It. Dir. Jon Reiss. Perf. Marc Eckò, Cornbread, Valerie J. Hill, Shinzentomotel, D.J. Tony Tone, Isabel Valencia, Darius Jones, Kafre, and Blek Le Rat. 2007. DVD.

“Graffiti Facts.” Graffiti911 – Expert Anti-graffiti Consultation and Tools. Web. 13 Dec. 2010. <>.

“Mayor’s Paint Program – Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit.” Web. 13 Dec. 2010. <>.

Wilson, James Q., and George L. Kelling. “The Police and Neighborhood Safety: BROKEN WINDOWS.” Atlantic Monthly: 1-10. Manhattan Institue for Policy Research. Web. 30 Sept. 2010. <>.

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Graffiti vs. Art

December 13th, 2010 · Uncategorized

This is the kind of graffiti I see around my neighborhood.  The run-of-the-mill tags and outlines:

Graffiti on Houses

Korean Church

Little Flock Church

Cherry Valley Deli

Beveridge Distributor

Auto Repair Shop

I hope to clean up the graffiti and put up murals under the LIRR tracks.

Under the LIRR

Here is the kind of graffiti that would be considered art as it is taken past simple acts of vandalism and works to convey certain characters, ideas, and messages:

5 Pointz Piece

5 Pointz Biggie

Giving Slums a Human Face

Afghanistan Graffiti War

5 Pointz is a factory building in LIC that was converted into an art exhibit.  Graffiti artists from all over the world come over to paint pieces on the exterior walls.

The third link is to photos from a NY Times article about an anonymous street graffiti artist that puts up pieces in slums around the world.

The last link is to photos of graffiti made by U.S. Marines in Afghanistan.

All show examples of what graffiti can be when made into an art form and when not used as a simple means of vandalism.

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End of Semester Goals

November 29th, 2010 · Uncategorized

The process of my project has been a little slow.  However, I finally got the chance to speak with a priest, Father Brendan, at my church today.  He thought the project sounded like a good idea and he directed me to the church’s teen group.  He thinks that the project will do well under the direction of the teen group and agrees that the project should be done in the spring or summer.

So my next step would be to get in contact with the leader of the teen group, George, who apparently also goes to Queens College.  Father Brendan told me that I can meet him at the weekly teen group meeting this Friday.  My plan for now is to meet with George later this week and discuss the project idea with him.

Hopefully the St. Mary’s Teen Group will be on board with the project and once the beginning steps of the project are underway, members can help spread information on free graffiti removal services provided by the city by giving out informational papers to owners of residences or businesses targeted by graffiti.

These would be the beginning steps of the project.  By the spring or summertime, I hope to have all forms requesting free paint supplies from the city to be filled out.  Upon receiving the supplies the teen group and maybe other volunteers can then work on removing the graffiti under the LIRR tracks nearby.

But since the spring is a few months away, I think that from now until then, the teen group and perhaps other members of the parish can work on figuring out what to paint under the train tracks.  And maybe students at the St. Mary’s C.C.D. program can also contribute their own ideas and sketches of how the finished product should look.  I would like for as many people as possible to become involved with this project since we would be working with a public space in the neighborhood.  It would have to be figured out later on how to include, if at all, the neighboring Korean church and local businesses in the completion of the mural.

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Landscape Romance

November 27th, 2010 · Uncategorized

In a short commercial ad, viewers will be bombarded by flashes of romanticized images of the American countryside enticing their senses.  The two most important senses will be sight and smell as viewers see young beautiful people prancing around dressed in cool vintage American fashion in typical scenes of nature from various regions throughout the United States.  Here are the scenes that come to mind:

1.      A sunflower field in Kansas on a beautiful sunny day.  A blue expansive sky, and thousands of stalks of sunflowers taller than the people in the commercial.

Kansas Sunflower Field

2.      A small mountain town in the Rockies.  The clouds so big and close to the ground.  There are huge evergreen trees and fresh mountain air.  There are plenty of colorful wildflowers.

Mountain Town

3.      A beautiful lake in the Northeast.  The America Thoreau wrote about.

Thoreau’s America

The tagline will be:  The intoxicating beauty of America in a bottle.

Product:  Perfume

These images will of course be accompanied by the kind of music we typically hear in this kind of advertisement.  The music will help to create an escalating sense within the commercial until the viewers realize that the commercial is for a new perfume which will be revealed at the very end with the tagline.

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Project Update

November 3rd, 2010 · Uncategorized

Since I first posted my project proposal, I have not been able to get much done.  I emailed Woodside on the Move but never received a reply.  However, I don’t feel discouraged by this.  The project can happen without them.

But within the past few weeks, I really have begun to notice the problem of graffiti in my part of the neighborhood and it looks like there’s been a definite increase in the past couple of years.  There are a few houses and businesses that have been targeted by vandals.  I’m thinking of going around to these places and just dropping off some informational papers about how they can ask for free graffiti removal from the city since many of them might not even know that the city provides such a service.

But to move on with my project, I am planning to talk to someone at my church this weekend to see what can be done.

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Personification Exercise

November 1st, 2010 · Uncategorized

Mr. Uninformed seems to be getting a lot of attention nowadays.  We see him on television, telling us about how uninformed he is.  We see him in the subway, giving out pamphlets and leaflets of misinformation.  We see him in suits and ties, some cheap and others expensive.  We see him everywhere and he speaks to everyone.

Yesterday he was on the news in one of his real nice suits.  He looked like a million bucks.  He stood at a podium cluttered with microphones looking very important.  He had a lot to say about what had to be done and what was right to do and who was wrong and who needed to be done away with.   In the end, he received great applause by his followers but many listening at home were confused.  There was a backlash against what he had to say but he looked important and talked importantly so all the backlash only gave his views more attention.  Mr. Uninformed had made his point to those who wanted to hear it.

And today Mr. Uninformed was seen in the subway in one of his usual spots.  He always chose a place with a lot of foot traffic and today was an especially busy day.  He wasn’t dressed as nicely as before and he wasn’t surrounded by microphones or television cameras so most people looked away and tried to avoid him.  But the few people who did stop, or were stopped, were given pamphlets and an earful about what had to be done and what was right to do and who was wrong and who needed to be done away with.  Most walked away disregarding the bad information.  Mr. Uninformed was always reaching people.

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Alienation Poetry

October 31st, 2010 · Uncategorized

In This House

In this house where we live

Where more than walls keep us separate

Where we find space for ourselves and words of our own

You sit there and speak on the phone,

In a tongue that I can’t even pretend to imitate.

I try to drown you out making the music louder.

Yet the sounds of these words are not nearly as round-

Or strangely comfortable-

As the sounds coming from you.

We are two foreigners living in the same house.

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Personal Manifesto

October 31st, 2010 · Uncategorized

Resistance literature is any form of literature in which the writer tries to undermine the rules or constraints imposed by the dominant in society.  In this class, we see how people have used and continue to use literature and its western form as a way to speak out against colonialism.  For instance, Jose Rizal wrote a satirical novel criticizing the clergy in the Philippines and Spanish treatment of the Filipinos.  He used his novel, Noli Me Tangere, to point out the injustices being done to the Filipinos by both the colonial religious authorities and the colonial government.  This was a way of fighting the Spanish colonial rule.

But resistance literature can take many forms and does not have to be against colonialism.  Resistance literature can be used to fight any ideology imposed by the dominant in society.  For instance, many female writers in the West have resisted the idea that women are inferior to men and therefore less capable or intelligent than they are.  But writers like Jane Austen created strong intelligent female characters in opposition to this view.

One may write resistance literature in many forms.  For one, they can take the form of narratives, as we see with Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere.  But they can also take the form of poetry, as we see with Haunani-Kay Trask.  They can even take the form of songs and chants or dance, as we have seen and studied with Hawaii and the hula tradition and other oral traditions.

And although resistance literature can take many forms, any form of resistance is always stronger when it reaches a wider audience.  This is why I believe that using the language made dominant by society, even though it may not be the writer’s or speaker’s native language, is always advantageous in getting their messages across.  And using the dominant language, the language of the colonizer, doesn’t have to mean discarding the native language.  Language in such situations is only used as a weapon, as a means of getting something done.

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