BEATLICK  PRESS
 

Sherman Alexie, Popejoy Theater

Beatlick Press was contacted by Bookworks recently to announce we had won two free tickets to the Sherman Alexie event at Popejoy Theater. So along with editor Deborah Woodside Coy (a huge Alexie fan) I happily attended.

The full audience by show time was greeted in a Native American tongue by Tara Gatewood, host of “Native American Talking” radio show (KUNM 89.9). Immediately I recognized her familiar voice as I love the Native-American radio broadcast locally on NPR. She told us it was during her sojourn in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she first experienced the “Sherman Zone.”

This being my first event for him I half expected he would be reading from various books, but Sherman Alexie on stage can best be called a comedy performance. He leaned heavily on an Indian theme and racial

discrimination. Alexie is a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian born and raised in the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. His self-deprecating comments put his humanity on the line immediately and made him likeable.

In his opening he told how he acclimated himself to our area by going on a green chile splurge which conflicted with his “Salmon Boy” stomach and cancelled any site seeing he might have wanted to accomplish while in

town. After some more jokes localized for familiarity, like trying to merge in Albuquerque traffic, (I’m fairly sure that joke works in every city) he jumped on his first theme of dark skins vs light skins.

He calls himself “ambiguously ethnic.” Alexie made so many politically incorrect jokes that coming from anyone else’s mouth could have really been offensive, but coming from him the indigenously mixed crowd took them all in good-hearted stride.

Themes included the Navajos versus the white people, insecure pale Indians, and casinos. One stereotypical jokes: There will never be a Native American suicide bomber, they would never be on time.

Next was an impersonation of the brown people’s head nod of acknowledgement, barely perceptible to the naked eye. He commented on the banned books about Indian and Hispanic culture recently banned in Arizona.

Then he shared the conflicts he has experienced at Border Patrol and his ultimate approach to avoid hassle.

He is the personification of the “insecure pale Indians” of which he mentioned. When you are not identified internally as Native-American it creates insecurity, he said, and in his own mind as a youth he created his own race,

to cope. He self-proclaimed to be “an indigineous whore.” Alexie seemed to want to confess. Because he is a light-skinned Indian and can “pass” acceptably past many barriers confronting darker skinned people, he is conflicted now with the privilege of his success.

“Post 9/11 racial discrimination increased,” Alexie said. “In Seattle, I have experienced road rage from white guys in a Prius yelling, ‘Go back to your own country.’” And then he paradoxically shakes his head in question

toward the audience. He regaled us time and again with his stories, reminding us story telling is one of the oldest human activities. He sees himself as a storyteller who got lucky.

But he hasn’t batted a thousand. His had more than the average share of shakedowns with airport security in lieu of his heavy travel schedule. All the while being complimented on his packing skills, he said.

He had quite a few tales about trying to get through airport security with his kind of looks. In his skit he takes off his shoes talking about his airport security routine and then left them off for the rest of his performance as he sunk into a more comfortable posture and kept relating his stories

His strategy is to not stand out in a crowd. “Be uniform,” he advised, “so that you are not that important. Be alike in the security line, be the same. And afterwards get weird.”

Alexie wanted to acknowledge all the Indians in college now and asked of the audience who was in college, who was graduating, he praised them all and asked them to stand up and be recognized.

Alexie claims Indians could do more to emphasize these successful students and would like to see more ceremonies for them incorporated into pow wows and dances. He calls for more political activism within this group as well.

He holds great distain for the “Casino Indians.”

“When an Indian tribe gets a casino, they've officially declared that they've lost the war. It's the final submission,” he has said.

“We become our own peer group. Indians have forgotten the reservations where they now live are often not their traditional lands, but a place where they were put through an act of war. They are often not even in a spiritual place.”

“I've spent very little time on my reservation in the last twenty years. Personally, there's too much pain. I actually think I'm more traditional as a writing nomad than people who never leave the reservation,” he has said.

“Be kinetic as Natives, love your traditions, but create new ones. All traditions were new and scary at one time. Be new and scary.”

“We grow afraid of what we might forget,” he said. “We will find peace and value through community in knowing that we belong to each other.”

It was an ironic twist as Deborah and I walked out of Popejoy Hall to pass the last remnants of a large group of marchers protesting the racial discrimination and use of force by the Albuquerque Police. Discrimination is alive and well.

I applaud Sherman Alexie for using his platform to speak out, raise human consciousness and call for equality instead of just reading from a book, which was what I expected. He educates and conjoles with humor, an excellent experience for us at Beatlick Press.

 


 

Publish the deserving!

BEATLICK PRESS

45 GARDEN PARK CIRCLE NW

ALBUQUERQUE, NM 87107

beatlickpress@ yahoo.com

Click on underlined names to find more.

Writers published
by Beatlick Press:

Terry Alvarez

Reed Adair Bobroff

Joanne Bodin

Gary L. Brower

Wendy       Brown-Báez

Pamela C. Drapala

David Coy

Deborah Coy

Hanna Coy

Mary Dudley

Catherine Ferguson

Olivia Gatwood

Jennifer Givhan

Larry Goodell

Taylor Graham

Kenneth P. Gurney

Dale Harris

Brian Hendrickson

Kathamann

Jennifer Lynn Krohn

Maria L. Leyba

Adrian C. Louis

Anne MacNaughton

Amalio Madueño

Alissa Magorian

E. A. “Tony” Mares’

Robert Masterson

Les Merton

Merimée Moffitt

Carol Moscrip

Jules Nyquist

Suzanne Ondrus

Susan I. Paquet

Margaret Randall

John Roche

    Georgia       Santa Maria

Beatlick Joe Speer

Paul A. Speer

Teresa Speer

Mia Kirsi Stageberg

Marilyn Stablein

Richard Vargas

Binah Waite-Williams

Stewart S. Warren

Neal Wilgus

Richard Wolfson

Jerry Zimmerman 
 
*    *   *

Writers published in Mo' Joe Anthology

Sam Abrams

Francisco X. Alarcón

John Ashbaugh

Steve Aushermann

Hakim Bellamy

Larry Belle

"Laughing Larry” Berger

Julie Blue

Joe Bottone

Rich Boucher

Sarah Brinklow

Richard Broderick

Julie SuZaNNe BroKKeN

Michele Brown

Monty Campbell, Jr.

Alan Casline

Teresa Mei Chuc

Norm Davis

Susan Deer Cloud

Steve Coffman

Timothy J. Cook

Anne C. Coon

Deborah Coy

Craig Czury

Carolyn Czarnecki

Michael Czarnecki

Jim Daniels

Martha Deed

Steven Deridder

Lori Desrosiers

Sean Thomas Dougherty

George Drew

Nicolas Eckerson

Jesse Ehrenberg

Michael C. Ford

Philip Frisk

Teresa E. Gallion

Brian Garrison

Geoffrey Gatza

Lisa Gill

Kimberly Glemboski

Vincent F. A. Golphin

Larry Goodell

Dane R. Gordon

Steve Greene

Kenneth P. Gurney

Vijali Hamilton

William Heyen

Pamela Adams Hirst, a.k.a Beatlick Pamela

Patrick Houlihan

Doug Holder

Tom Holmes

Amy Jackson

Mary Strong Jackson

Kitty Jospé

Kathamann

Herb Kauderer

Danny Kerwick

Michael Ketchek

Mary Elizabeth Lang

Gayle Lauradunn

Alice Lee

Wayne Lee

Stephen Lewandowski

Lyn Lifshin

Gerald McCarthy

Robert E. McDonough

Karla Linn Merrifield

Les Merton

Michael Meyerhofer

Basia Miller

Merimée Moffitt

Carol Moscrip

Bill Nevins

Simone Nikkole

Lori Nolasco

Bruce Noll

Maril Nowak

Jules Nyquist

Mark W. O'Brien, aka: obeedúid~

Sarai Oviedo

Chad Parenteau

Don Paul

Teresa Peipins

Pat Pendleton

Carla Perry

Rick Petrie

Colleen Powderly

Randy Prus

Margaret Randall

     Lynette         Reini-Grandell

John Roche

Charlie Rossiter

Helen Ruggieri

Jane Sadowsky

    Georgia        Santa Maria

Joe St. Martin

Wanda Schubmehl

Gretchen A. Schulz

G. E. (Gerald) Schwartz

Peggy Seely

Adam Sinesiou

Diane Smith

Jack Bradigan Spula

Eugene Stelzig

Eleanor Grogg Stewart

Paulette Swartzfager

Steve Tills

Martha Treichler

George Wallace

Stewart S. Warren

Judy Wells

Bart White

David White

Fred Whitehead

Dwain Wilder

A.D. Winans

Patricia Youngs

Leah Zazulyer

Ryki Zuckerman

 

Writers published in VALUE Anthology

 Mikki Aronoff

Meg Baldrige

Joanne Bodin

Dee Cohen

Deborah Woodside Coy

Sylvia Ramos Cruz

Mary Dezember

Mary Dudley

Teresa A. Gallion

Thelma A. Giomi

Dale Harris

Pamela Adams Hirst

Gayle Lauradunn

Merimee Moffett

Carol Moscrip

Susan Paquet

Sharon Pines

Denise Weaver Ross

Janet Ruth

Barbara Shaffer

Mia Kirsi Stageberg

Betty Lou Williams

Judy Wells

Holly Wilson

Emma Wisdom