Fall Update “All They Will Call You”

Hello dear friends,

I know it’s been a little while since I’ve updated this, but so much has been happening since the release of “All They Will Call You” back in January of this year. The book has been getting out far and wide, and readers have been responding with so much love to this story, and to my efforts of tracking down the families of the passengers. Not to mention, my own personal life situation is such that I am now permanently living between two cities/ spaces: the borderlands of El Paso, Texas and the agricultural mecca that is the San Joaquin Valley. I work while on the road for the most part, in hotels, on airplanes, in my truck at rest stops or diners, in my office at UTEP whenever I can, or from a kitchen table in Fresno.

But back to the book…over the summer I got to meet Pete Townshend of The Who in Los Angeles. He read my book and wanted to meet up, so we did. He’s a nice man, and a brilliant visionary from what I gathered. He expressed interest in doing something with my book, so we’ll see how that develops.

I also got to meet Fred Ross Jr., who expressed he read my book and loved it. He and Tom Dalzell invited me and my daughter Rumi to lunch in the town of Modesto in early August. In case you don’t know who Fred Ross Jr. is, look him up. His father Fred Ross is a legendary man who should be on everyone’s history shelves.

As for the documentary, we are still working on that. These things take time, I’m learning. You think the book process takes forever, film seems to require the patience of mountains. The good news is we’ve recruited another filmmaker to work with us on the editing. Her name is Laura Bustillos Jáquez, and she’s from Juarez/ El Paso. She’s done some great film work along la frontera, and I’m really excited that she’s on board. We’re aiming to have the documentary completed and ready for a “soft release” by January 28, 2018–the 70th anniversary of the plane crash, and the release of “All They Will Call You” in paperback.

That’s all I have for now, y’all. Enjoy the fall. Be the example. Stay human.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

“All They Will Call You” RELEASE DATE & Other News

Hey Friends,

As I’m writing this update, filmmaker and poet Valentin “The Butcher” Sandoval is sitting across from me cutting up the footage (editing) for the documentary, “Searching for the Plane Wreck at Los Gatos.”The film is a behind-the-scenes look at the research that went into my book, “All They Will Call You.” True to the nature of this whole project, the documentary itself has been a collective undertaking. Videographers include everyone from myself, to Missouri resident Ken Leija, the young videographer Sandy Cano from Guanajuato (who traveled with me throughout central Mexico), at times my own mother Lydia Z. Hernandez took footage with her iPhone, and Fresno based musician Dayanna Sevilla even got some footage for us. Most recently, Valentin has taken some excellent footage of various locales and interviews, including our recent trip to Rough Rock, Arizona. While in Mexico I had traveled around with a driver named Armando Sierra Razo, and of course, my brother in spirit, Guillermo Ramirez (grandson and nephew of two of the passengers). And then back in 2013, musician Lance Canales and Carlos Rascon of the Fresno Diocese were instrumental in helping me raise money to install the memorial headstone. Too, the amazing team at the University of Arizona Press has been critical, and well….I could go on and on, but the long story short is that it’s taken a whole lotta kind hearted people to make every aspect of this project happen, and I believe the world is better for it. I can’t believe it’s all finally coming to fruition, and I can’t wait to share these beautiful and heart-breaking stories with you all!

For now, we’ll be releasing a series of book trailers that feature portions of the documentary between now and the book’s release, January 28, 2017.

 

###

Here are a few kind words about the book from some amazing people I admire:

“There’s something miraculous about the storytelling feat Tim Z. Hernandez has pulled off in ‘All They Will Call You.’ With great compassion and patience, he has immersed himself in a long-forgotten episode of California history, and uncovered a multi-layered epic of love, injustice and family fortitude stretching across generations and borders. This is an intelligent, empathic and deeply moving work.”

—Hector Tobar

Author of Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the

Miracle That Set Them Free

“In his lyrics to Plane Wreck At Los Gatos, my father, Woody Guthrie, asked a simple question, ‘Who are these friends?’ and finally someone has answered that question. Through Hernandez’s amazing work, I now know who these people were, their lives, their loves, and their journeys. “All They Will Call You” is a heart wrenching read for anyone who cares, and the names–now etched in stone in a far off graveyard– have become friends who will travel with me as long as I am walking.”

-Arlo Guthrie

 

An important and moving book, exploring the theme of identity and loss and disenfranchisement — topics that have never been more urgent than they are now. Hernandez has illuminated the present with this original and riveting examination of the past.

—Susan Orlean

Author of The Orchid Thief

 

“Woody Guthrie must surely be smiling, wherever he is.  All They Will Call You completes the sad, yet compelling story outlined many years ago in his song “Deportees.” Thanks to Tim Z. Hernandez, the souls of the migrant workers lost in that 1948 plane wreck can now rest peacefully.  Required reading for true Guthrie fans.”

—Robert Santelli, Grammy Museum Executive Director

 

“Tim Z. Hernandez is the real thing. This epic, tragic story is finally being told, and it is in the best possible hands.”

—Luis Alberto Urrea

Author of The Devil’s Highway

 

“Hernandez’ loving detail and authentic knowledge of The Valley continues to plant him firmly in Steinbeck and Saroyan country while forging his own path. Part documentary part thriller Hernandez’ voice rings true nearly breathless with new information and a certain justice now rising like smoke from the wreckage in the canyons of his beloved and mysterious San Joaquin.”

—Richard Montoya,

Actor/ Producer, Culture Clash

 

“A scrupulous writer and researcher, Hernandez has changed the course of America’s musical history, as well as it’s immigration history.”

—Will Kaufman

Author of Woody Guthrie: American Radical

 

AVAILABLE JANUARY 28, 2017

FINAL VERSION

Down at the Santa Fe Depot: 46 Years Later

 

April 22, 2016

IMG_2138

Photo credit, Victor Trejo, 2016

Today we are meeting on the concrete steps at the Santa Fe Train Depot in Fresno, California. Twenty-one living writers and seven forbearers. We’ve agreed to meet up to re-create a photograph that has been legendary since it was first taken in 1970. Many of us weren’t even born then.

 

The original photograph, taken by Tom Peck, graced the back cover of an anthology of “new voices” at the time, titled “Down at the Santa Fe Depot: 20 Fresno Poets.” The editors were two Armenian-51VDABY0VGLAmerican poets David Kheridian, and James Baloian. The photograph includes a handful of poets who would later go on to become influential in American letters: Philip Levine, Omar Salinas, Lawson Inada, and William Saroyan—perhaps Fresno’s most internationally recognized writer. In the photo, the group looks aloof, casual, and yet, at least for writers in Fresno, this single image has become somewhat iconic. At the time they were first, second and third generation Chicanos, Armenian, Japanese, and anglo. American writers, all of them.

David Kheridian: “The idea for the photo came from my understanding that place was one of the most critical elements in the nature of poetry. The word itself, when used to name a person or place, became the very embodiment of that thing. This is the power that poetry can convey: the microcosm when named becomes the universal, spring to life.”

*

What brought us together is Fresno’s first ever LitHop, a day long gathering of more than 100 writers in over 30 venues. It’s the brainchild of Lee Herrick, Fresno’s current Poet Laureate. If not for this event, there would’ve been no other reason to get us all into one place at the same time. We had to seize the opportunity.

IMG_1982

Juan Luis Guzman (Poet)

Today, as each of us begins to arrive, despite the rain, there is an electricity in the air. At first it’s me and Michael Medrano. But then Brian Medina shows up, and then Joseph Rios shortly after. He tells us he just got in on the Amtrak from Los Angeles. Says he wouldn’t have missed this. Minutes later, stepping off of the local bus, Fresno’s first city Poet Laureate, James Tyner, appears. One by one they arrive, and each time another walks toward us, the electricity grows. We feel it. We’ve all come to this photo-shoot keenly aware of the homage we are paying to our own literary forbearers, and to our dear friends who’ve since passed on. The rain pours harder, and still they come.

IMG_2141

Andre Yang (Poet)

Andre Yang swaggers up and slaps hands with each one of us, and then Devoya Mayo and Estela Sue emerge from the behind the building. Because it’s now raining hard, we begin to duck under a tree. But then David Mas Masumoto walks up and he’s carrying a shovel. He’s a farmer after all. And he sees us, and sorta laughs, then tilts his head back and lets the huge drops of rain splash against his face. “This is what we want to happen!” he says. And he’s absolutely right. This agricultural region that has fed and nourished us, that has brought many of our families here in the first place, and that has been in a drought for years, WANTS rain to happen, NEEDS rain to happen. We shuffle out from the under the tree and let the rain come down on us. Since we’re all curious, I ask Masumoto what the shovel is for. He replies, “It’s my work tool. It’s what I do.” Of course it is, we say, having a good chuckle over it. Later on, over beers, Joseph Rios and I will talk about Mas’s shovel. “If Fresno writers have one thing in common, it’s that our books do work. Like Mas’s shovel.”

IMG_2014

Mas Masumoto (Non-Fiction), Me, Andre Yang

By 4:45 everyone has arrived. There are twenty-one of us. Anglo, Latino, Armenian, Hmong, Nissei, African-American, Palestinian-American, and Korean. Sometimes, some of us will get asked, why Fresno? Why do so many writers come out of Fresno? I’ve even heard it referred to as “The Fresno School,” which seems kinda funny to me. To my knowledge no one among us has ever taken this question seriously. Sincerely, maybe, but not seriously. What does it mean to have a “school” anyway? The mere thought of any kind of limitation makes me cringe. Limitations are boundaries, borders. And for me, borders have no room in art. A school? Sure, we sometimes share our work with one other, or in small groups over food and drinks, or perhaps a phone call. Of course we champion one another’s work, and celebrate—and we celebrate heartily— when one of us has penned a new book or landed an award. But ask each one of us individually about what makes a place like Fresno a fertile breeding grounds for poets and you’ll likely get a different answer. Fresno, a city of more than half a million people, which consistently ranks first place in nearly every major national survey on topics such as, Worst Cities in America. Worst Pollution in the U.S.. Least College Degrees. Highest Illiteracy. Most Impoverished Counties. Poorest Job Market. And the lists go on. How is it possible that a single region with minimal resources and even lesser hope, has consistently produced some of the greatest literary names to ever have the privilege of occupying space on bookshelves?

IMG_2004

Aris Janigian (novelist), Daniel Chacon (novelist)

Brian Turner’s award winning book, “Here, Bullet,” took the poetry world by storm, because never before had a war veteran wrote so compelling and boldly honest about the realities of war. And then there’s the young Andres Montoya, a friend to many of us, who died at the age of 30, just months before he would get to hold his first book in his hands. He never saw his own first book get published!! We used to say. What a tragedy! But his namesake is now a major award, launching the career of many new talented writers across the country. The Andres Montoya Poetry Prize is synonymous with “new groundbreaking poet rising.” Ironically, no writer from Fresno had ever actually won the award, until this past year. A young, fierce Chicano, who was a student and dishwasher in Fresno, finally brought home the prize. His name is David Campos and the dude has no intention of slowing down. There are others too who’ve paved the way, such as, David St. John, Larry Levis, Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel, Victor Martinez, Dixie Salazar, Roberta Spear, Gary Soto, and numerous others. This city has produced two back-to-back United States Poet Laureates, National Book Award winners, National Book Critics Circle awards, American Book Award winners, Children’s Book Awards, screenwriters, songwriters, and playwrights. It is for this reason that today we are carrying the photographs of these forbearers. The fiction writer, Daniel Chacon is carrying his best friend, Andres Montoya. The poet, Devoya Mayo is carrying the image of William Saroyan. Poet, Juan Luis Guzman is carrying Larry Levis, because they both hail from Selma. Poet, Kenneth Chacon is holding up the crazy gypsy, Omar Salinas. Estela Sue is holding up her uncle, Victor Martinez. James Tyner is carrying Ernesto Trejo. And I’m holding Phil Levine. Today they are all here with us. In our writing, and in spirit.

IMG_1987

Estela Sue (Poet), Michael Medrano (Poet), Soul Vang (Poet)

What’s going on in Fresno you ask? Maybe it’s the open brooding sky choked out with methane. Or the drought. Or the rain. If there is a school, then the endless fields are our classrooms. Our chalkboards the blank page. Definitely no rulers or other delineations here. Only comradery. Only support, championing the other. We have place in common. We all know its history. How remnants of the dust bowl Oklahomans who came to this great valley to work the fields can still be seen on the faces of the people 75 years later. We don’t have to look hard to find the Armenian bakeries, and the Hmong gardens amidst the concrete and potholes, or the campesinos who still bend and pick like they’ve been doing here for eons, up and down the dogleg of Highway 99. And I think maybe it’s with this understanding that we’ve all taken a kind of silent vow, in one way or another, to write our collective and individual histories and herstories out of the fields, the margins, and onto bookshelves. The Hmong American Writers Circle is probably one of our best examples of this. Up until 60 years ago the people of Laos didn’t even have a written language! They told stories, sang songs, recited poems and tales, and documented their existence in their beautiful art. Poets like Andre Yang, Mai Der Vang, Burlee Vang, Soul Vang, Anthony Cody, are a generation of outriders, beacons for their communities. They are the vanguard, making waves in literary circles across the country, and yet, they are as American as Walt Whitman. In fact, Mai Der Vang just received the highly coveted Walt Whitman Prize! They are all from here. We are all from here. Brothers and sisters in story, word, and community.

If there is any school at all, this is probably it. Poets, novelists, immigrants, activists, all with vastly different ideas and aesthetic interests, yet, all in a kind of unspoken vow to writing as a way to “Live a life without borders,” as the current U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, recently said. “What’s going on in Fresno, they ask me,” he bellowed to a crowd of more than 400 at Fresno City College, “I tell them, don’t you know? Fresno is the poetry capital of the WORLD!!”

51BwE-S+n7L._SL500_SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

IMG_2138

Photo credit, Victor Trejo, 2016

(Bottom row, L – R) Tim Z. Hernandez, Aris Janigian, Daniel Chacon, Kenneth Chacon, Randa Jarrar, Marisol Baca, Devoya Mayo.

(Second row from bottom L – R) Lisa Lee Herrick, Lee Herrick, Michael Medrano, Connie Hales, Soul Vang, Estela Sue

(Third row up from bottom, L – R) Juan Luis Guzman, Andre Yang, Joseph Rios, Bryan Medina, David Mas Masumoto

(Top row, L – R) Steven Church, John Hales, James Tyner

Missing: Juan Felipe Herrera, Margarita Luna Robles, David Campos, Mai Der Vang, Anthony Cody, Sara Borjas, Alex Espinoza, Tanya Nichols, Jefferson Beavers, Mia Barraza Martinez, Liz Scheid-Blau, Dixie Salazar, Jon Vineberg, Marx Arax, Margarita Engle, Blas Manuel de Luna, Destina Unica Hernandez, Michael Jasso, Aideed Medina, Shane Scurvy, Meta L. Schettler…

ALL PHOTOS CREDITED TO VICTOR TREJO, 2016

All They Will Call You

Today at 10:40 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time) marks the 68th Anniversary of the Plane Wreck at Los Gatos Canyon. This time last year, I was sitting in a circle with the families of Guadalupe Ramirez Lara and Ramon Paredes Gonzalez in Charco de Pantoja, Gto to honor their relatives by sharing their stories. This year, I am releasing the teaser for the documentary we have been working on throughout this endeavor (see below).

10669045_10153055064084914_4588303284551868966_o

For those who’ve been following this journey, you might be aware that the book is but one of several components that I’ve been working on around this subject. For this reason, I’m happy to provide you with the following updates on how the whole thing is coming together:

The Documentary

IMG_8166

Click here to watch the teaser for the documentary Searching for the Plane Wreck at Los Gatos

Over the course of the past five years, I’ve had the privilege of working with a handful of filmmakers and videographers who’ve generously given their time to this project, all to toward the common goal of eventually turning this footage into a documentary. To this end, thanks goes to Sandy Cano, Ken Leija, Teresa Flores, Lydia Z. Hernandez, Kitama Cahill Jackson, and especially Valentin Sandoval. Valentin and I are releasing this short teaser today, in honor of the anniversary of the crash, and we hope you enjoy it. I’m grateful to him also for being committed to working with me on editing the documentary, and filming on location to capture a few more interviews and shots that we need to complete the narrative. We are currently seeking funding to finish this project. To find out how you can help with this, please email me at tzhernandez@yahoo.com

The BookFullSizeRender

Throughout this whole endeavor I’ve worked to finish the book, All They Will Call You. I’m happy to announce that at long last it is finished!! I am currently seeking a publisher for it, and hope to have some good news for you all within the next couple of months. It is a 300 page account of the plane crash, the individual lives and stories of the passengers, and the aftermath, all told via interviews, documents, photos, and re-enactments.  Among all the noise-rhetoric surrounding immigration, my hope is that this book is a breath of fresh air.

The Research

Since 2010, the goal was to find the correct names of the passengers, and as many of their families as I possibly could to collect their stories, photographs, and records, as well as, to find the true story of how the song itself took flight. In this effort, I’ve traveled across California, Colorado, the Najavo Nation, Jalisco, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Texas, and upstate New York. I’ve documented hours of interviews on video and audio, and discovered photos, documents, and hand-written letters.

DSCN0856The Headstone

In 2013, I worked with my good friend Lance Canales, and the Fresno Diocese, as well as an international community of donors, to raise $14,000 to install a new headstone at Fresno’s Holy Cross Cemetery. We installed it with a big celebration on September 2, 2013. The Gonzalez and Paredes family continue to visit it every Dia de los Muertos to pray, sing, and leave flowers. Visitors from all over the world have been making pilgrimages to the sight.

The Humanities

One of the mission’s of this project has always been to share this story with communities everywhere, and to facilitate workshops on the subject of gathering stories. To this end, the story has been told but in academic panels, in live music, print media, and in social media. Also, Lance Canales, Joel Rafael, Carlos Rascon, and communities and musicians everywhere have continued to share the story far and wide. And for this, the families are grateful.

The Archives & Curriculum

Ultimately, the goal has always been to generate a range of multi-media resources on this subject, so that future generations (scholars, teachers, students, and historians) have photo (7)access to this research from any part of the world. Both the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as well as the National Library of Congress Folklife Center have expressed interest. While I’m still weighing the options, I’d really like to see this work housed somewhere in California’s central valley, where it all took place. More on this soon. I’m grateful to Professor Dana Walker at the University of Northern Colorado for taking on the effort of turning my research and book into a full blown curriculum for Middle and High School grades. It will include Mexican History, the Bracero Program, American Folk Music, Oral History, and investigative research among primary topics. We’ve just begin this process, so more on this soon. Stay tuned!

All love, Tim Z. Hernandez

 

Plane Wreck at Los Gatos Book & Research Website Coming Soon!

Hi friends and supporters!

I just wanted to let you know that a website dedicated solely to my work on this project will be coming soon. Now that I have completed my research (is it ever really completed?), and am just about done with the writing of my book, I’ll be able to dedicate time to building this resource. My vision is that it will be a sight where educators, scholars and curators who are interested in the subject of the Plane Wreck at Los Gatos, the song and the history, can come for accurate information. It will be interactive, or at least engaging, and will include so much of the work I’ve accumulated since beginning this work in late 2010. Ideally, it will have background information on each passenger, photographs, audio and video interviews I conducted with their families, all the old newspapers I’ve gathered, letters, and other artifacts. It will also include information on and about Martin Hoffman, the musician who took Woody Guthrie’s words and created the beautiful melody to the song we know and love today. Also, I’ll be working in tandem with a curriculum expert on creating a curriculum for Middle and High School students based on this subject. In the meantime, now that the book is just about there, I can’t tell you how excited I am to share it with you all.

Oh, and I’ll be updating this blog with a few journal entries I wrote while searching for the families of the plane crash victims in various parts of Mexico this past January. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and again, I thank you all for contributing to the Indiegogo fundraiser to make it happen.

all the best,

Tim

Happy 2014 to You and Yours!!

2013 has been a year that has changed my life forever. Magical and brutal. I learned far more than I taught. I recieved far more than I gave. For every highlight, many bruises. Each bruise a very real blessing. Looking forward to 2014, I gave myself only two concrete goals: 1) To find a permanent teaching position at a University. 2) Learn to let go. In truth, I worry about making any resolutions at all. This time last year I promised myself I would not fill my plate with so many projects and responsibilities, but looking back I realize how laughable that is. Here is a shortlist of some things I was involved with this past year:

1) Began an effort to raise $10,000 for a memorial headstone, which included letter writing and organizing a benefit concert
2) Released two books
3) Traveled to approximately 17 cities across the U.S. promoting both books
4) Facilitated approximately 22 interviews around the plane crash book project, including one fortunate interview with Pete Seeger (click here for archived blog post on this)
5) Attended Bea Franco’s funeral service only two weeks after she held a copy of Mañana Means Heaven in her hands (click here for archived blog post on this)
6) Met with the Woody Guthrie Center archivist regarding my research around the plane crash
7) Became a mentor for Prescott College’s low res MFA program
8) Wrote two grants to help fund this work (received none)
9) Taught poetry to local teens at Boulder High School
10) Wrote external reviews for three publishers
11) Transferred both of my children to a new school
12) Made a long overdue and vital reconnection with family
13) Found myself constantly asking, “How did I end up here?”

As the new year begins, I have been meditating on this photo. Mostly because it recently re-emerged in our family a few weeks ago. It was taken in the fields of Wyoming in 1974, the year I was born. I am on my father’s back while he and my mother are working. They were only 20 years old at the time. Neither had ever made it past the 9th grade. They were young and scared, but driven by fierce ambition. I like to think that while they were looking forward, into the future, I was there, bound to them, with my eyes on the past. And it only occurs to me now, as I write this, that maybe this is how I “ended up here.”

Peace to you all in this coming year. Let us continue the work of strengthening our ties, through art, dance, poetry, music, and the sharing of stories!

You can contact me at: tzhernandez@yahoo.com