Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kids on Ponies

Deby Miranda, Los Angeles, CA
There used to be this guy ... he'd come through the neighborhoods with a pony and a set of child-sized, mythologically-correct cowboy gear: the hat, vest, chaps, sometimes a bandana.  And he'd smooth-talk the parents while the pony charmed their kids: a picture, just a few dollars, every kid's dream.  Remember that guy?  More importantly, remember that pony?

It's the iconic American Childhood photograph: a kid, somewhere between three and twelve years old, seated on a generic pony.  Sometimes frightened and cowering, sometimes living the fantasy with a yell or a waving hat, the children vary by age and ethnicity, but the theme is always the same: Wild West!  Cowboys!  (Injuns!)

I have two of these photographs.  In one, I am sitting with a broad grin, but fairly sedate.  That's the cover of Bad Indians.  In the other, much faded, I have my left hand raised in a proud "V," giving the peace sign.  This second picture makes me think that my father was the adult who put me up on that pony; he loved encouraging the Brown Power Fist or the Peace Sign.  Or, perhaps he was already gone by then, and I was signaling to his absent spirit, far away in San Quentin.  Either way, that second picture has my dad's flare for the radical flashing across my face.

Because the Peace Sign photo was too faded to work well on a book cover, I used the sedate version for Bad Indians.  But you know which one is my favorite.

 Do you have a Kid on Pony picture of yourself?  Send it to me at and I'll put it up here.  

Two of my sisters have already started off the collection with their contributions!
Louise J. Miranda Ramirez, Seaside CA

Patricia Miranda Maldonado, Seaside CA

Send me YOUR kid on a pony moment!

Tiara Ramirez, San Jose CA

Terry, Grand Rapids, MI

Susan, Columbus OH

Mickey, Seattle WA

Johnny and Jenny, Butte Montana

Timmy, Los Angeles CA

Katrina, Albuquerque NM
Joshua, Chicago IL

Margaret, Portland OR
Rosa, Tijuana Mexico

Chris, Kansas City MO
Ku'ualoha Ho'omanawanui says,
 So this is "riding a pony Hawaiian style." That's me on the right, one of our old time paniolo cowboys Keoki Ka'eo, a rodeo legend back in the 1950s on the left, my sister and our friend Tina in front. Keoki's horse's name in Manyana. The horse I'm on is Peso Bar. This is about 1972.

Rosie (Age 5) and German Gonzalez (Age 2), Photo: Recuerdo Del Parque Agua Azul, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, August 21, 1970.


Mira L.  Love the photo of a photo that's happening here!

Here is mine. Was going to use it as my back cover photo on my next novel (my first novel Yellowbird won the NWCA first-book award. my second novel--Dragonfly, Walking Stick just out). Cheers, Judy Smith

  "As you can see from attached photo, I also rode the range at a young age—perhaps 20 years before you did—watched over by my own Jewish mother.  Having so much in common with you, I look forward to attending your 17 Jan reading at California Historical Society, especially to hear about aspects of your life that differ from mine." - Harvey Hacker

Jacqueline Marx on the middle pony in Morristown, Tennessee - now Cantor at Temple Emanu-El in New Jersey.  She's a secret writer, folks; just wait till her book comes out!  If it's anything like what I've seen so far, it should knock your socks off.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 16: Comfort Food

Comfort Food

My mother made one hell of an apple pie. 
She was always the first to suggest a raid
on Old Man Franklin’s orchard, fill paper bags
with the fruit of his tangled trees.  Other days,
I’d come home to find strips of soft noodles
hanging from chair backs and curtain rods,
air of our small trailer humid with chicken broth.
Once, I remember hiking up the hill from the busstop
on a wave of Bisquick cinnamon coffee cake,
exotic and crusty with brown sugar.  But best
of all were her enchiladas, rich with Old El Paso
sauce, cheese from the Food Bank, cheap
hamburger stretched with cut-up potato.  To this day,
I can’t make them any other way.  The truth
is, even Campbell’s Tomato Soup was heaven
if Mom made it: love in a can, saltines on the side. 
The truth is, all I ever wanted was to receive 
whatever she could give, and sometimes all 
she could give came from that silver saucepan, 
her battered skillet, aluminum pie tins.  The rest
she kept to herself: measurements, ingredients, 
recipes she’d inherited, stories best not passed on.
The truth is, she left us with a hunger
no recipe can cure.

Friday, April 1, 2011

UCLA Interview About "Bad Indians"

In 2007-2008, I was a Fellow at the UCLA Institute of American Cultures, with the Native American Studies Program. In November 2007, the Institute of American Cultures (IAC) hosted a Fall Forum and Welcome Reception in honor of the 2007-2008 Visiting Scholars, Postdoctoral, Predoctoral, & Graduate Fellows, and Research Grant Awardees.

Tritia Toyota, Ph.D., award-winning broadcast journalist & adjunct professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies, interviewed 2007-2008 IAC Visiting Scholars, Ellie Hernández, myself, and Amy Sueyoshi, about our research projects. (Dr. Winton was unable to attend the IAC Fall Forum as she was researching and teaching in Ghana)

At that point, my project was called "The Light from Carissa Plains: Reinventing California Indian Identity." It has since come to be titled "Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir." This interview gives you a good idea of the project's scope, even then, when I was still figuring it all out.

Please note: At the interview, I was so nervous that I said J.P. Harrington's consultant was named "Isabel Ramirez," confusing Isabel Meadows and Laura Ramirez. Ooops!

To view: lick on the photo below [you'll need RealPlayer]; the link takes you to the IAC website.  Once there, scroll down to the second interview. Click "view Deborah Miranda interview."  Enjoy! [I'm aware that the link hasn't been working, but IAC sent me a new link that fixes the problem.]

UCLA Interview about Bad Indians