Tuesday, November 28, 2017

KTEP radio host interviews Diana Washington Valdez

Louie Saenz and Diana Washington-
Valdez at KTEP studio. (File photo)

Listen to the KTEP interview here Recording of radio interview with Louie Saenz, host of "The Weekend" program. It aired November 25, 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Poem: "Retrospect"

Copyright © 1997, 2017
By Diana Washington Valdez


At the transit station
People huddle
While a drizzle
Chills the soul
The heart yearns;
Through a window
A face peers back
Past the gray fog,
A smile breaks;
Doors burst open wide
Rushed masses disembark;
I stand back frozen,
Held back by a thought.

Poem "When Cesar Chavez Died"

Copyright © 1997, 2017
By Diana Washington Valdez
Cesar Chavez (Verso/Tumblr)
When Cesar Chávez died

Dusty sandaled feet,

Darkened faces seared by sun,

Hands scarred by thorns,

Wounds and overuse;

The arrow of death flung

Stilled Cesar’s soul today,

Stunned farm workers

Arrayed in stony disbelief,

Leave fields with stout hearts crushed,

Gathered, stare at each other,

In unbearable quiet silence;

Their hot tears and mine combine,

A river of grief begins to flow

Watering the soil across the land,

From the grape yards of California,

To the apple groves of Pennsylvania.

[Cesar Chavez died April 23, 1993.

He and Dolores Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers Union.]

Friday, June 30, 2017

International fashion and style over time

Diana Washington Valdez interviewed by reporters in
Mexico City. (Courtesy photo)
My fashion sense over the years ...

Diana Washington Valdez/DZN

If someone asked me if I have a sense of fashion, then I would have to say probably not. If it's a matter of style, which is personal and subjective, then yes, I have that and so does everyone else.

Recently, I read that we ought to determine and let everyone know what our "uniform" consists of, especially in case of becoming accident victim or dying unexpectedly. What could we be known for wearing that would help others to identify us quickly and positively?

After giving it some thought, I decided that blue denim shirts are my favorite thing to wear. My next favorite, for dressier occasions, are Asian-style jackets, like the one in the photo at left. I own two other such jackets that I will be glad to show off in later photos.

Dolce and Gabbana?

I never was the most informed person when it comes to fashion. This was more than evident when friends in Los Angeles told me that Dolce and Gabbana was a major sponsor of an event with Hollywood people that was going to include an excerpt of Lorena Mendez-Quiroga's film, "Border Echoes," in which I appeared. I asked the friends, 'What is Dolce and Gabbana?' They paused for a moment, and one of them politely responded, 'a fashion designer.' I went home later that day and mentioned this to a teenage niece, Rebe (pronounced ReeBee). The niece laughed at me, and said she had Dolce and Gabbana shoes.

Another time, I bought five identical shirts because I fell in love with the plaid pattern and soft pink and green colors, a combination I also use to paint walls and for bedding. For four days in a row, I wore a fresh pink and green identical shirt to work. I did not wear another one on the fifth day because I realized the night before that my fellow workers probably thought I was wearing the same shirt every day. No one said anything to me, but I can imagine what others in the newsroom were thinking.

There was another occasion when my fashion sense was challenged. I got up for work one morning, and I got very dressed up. I looked in the mirror and thought I was perhaps too dressed up. I headed to the car and after I opened the door to get in, I changed my mind and went back inside the house. I proceeded to "dress down" a bit. After that, I felt comfortable with myself and drove on to the office.

I must say that my mother, who lived next door, could see me leave the house from her front yard while she watered her garden. I caught her once nodding her head after waving goodbye to me, and after checking out my 'wardrobe.'

Diana's "chola" or "biker" look
First TV gig

The first time I was going to be on television, for an election-related panel, I knew better than to trust my fashion instincts. I sought my sister Maria's advice on what to wear. Maria was very attractive, and always dressed up. She was a head-turner when it came to the guys. 

She looked in my closet and picked out several items. I was to call the TV studio beforehand to ask what color background the studio was going to use. What my sister picked out for me to wear that day was perfect.

I've lost count on the number of international TV and other film documentaries I've appeared in over the years. None of them portray me as glamorous. Fortunately, my mother hasn't seen most of them .... You have to figure that my idea of clothing is limited the "Basic Editions" line sold in Kmart stores. For example, I would go into the store, pick out five of the same items in the same size, except in different colors. 

That doesn't mean I don't possess a style of my own; actually, it varies depending on my mood and the occasion. At the top left, is a picture of me that was meant to display a "chola"  look, although others commented that I looked more like a "biker." I couldn't find any fake tattoos in stores to finish the look, but maybe next time. Whatever. I thought it was pretty cool myself. I will post other "looks" in the future. In the meantime, consider what it means to develop your own style, and don't be afraid to experiment ....

Your unfashionista guru,

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The real UFO scare

My UFO scare, Part I

I met an interesting resident of El Paso, Texas, who wanted to share her experiences with me about alleged unidentified flying objects and alien abduction. After hearing some preliminary details about her encounters of the third kind dating back to childhood, I hesitated.

I’ve personally never seen any evidence of the existence of aliens from outer space. I’ve read plenty of articles and books, and like countless others, viewed numerous documentaries and movies about the phenomenon.

One of my favorite Hollywood movies centered on the topic is “Encounters of the Third Kind,” a 1977 release starring Richard Dreyfuss. The scene with him and the mashed potatoes is hilarious. I’m also a huge fan of “The X-Files” movies and television series with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, a made for TV match if there ever was one.

My reluctance to meet with this woman did not stem from my desire to scoff at these things. Friends and I have kicked around the UFO question for years. Are they real? What would we do if we encountered something strange like this? Why do so many people believe in what they claim to have experienced.

 As a journalist, I was reluctant to tread into something that would ultimately harm my professional reputation. Of course, it would not be the first time I was tempted to take a risk that might hurt in the end. It would be like writing about ghosts and things of that nature.

But even that was not the reason for my not wanting to meet with this woman. She was thoroughly convinced about what supposedly had happened to her in South El Paso over the course of several years. Her earliest recollection of allegedly being abducted by aliens and medically observed for this dated back to her childhood. She also believed the aliens had inserted an implant in her body to keep track of her. And, she had witnesses – other children – from the old neighborhood that “saw” her taken away.

She was active in the Mutual UFO Network MUFON, and spoke at forums and conferences about her experiences, and was supportive of others with similar claims.

Finally, I set a date to hear her out in greater detail. I grew more nervous as the day approached. I discussed my qualms about this with friends.

When we met, she showed me her album containing a feature news article about her experiences, which I believe the former El Paso Herald-Post had published. She also had drawings in which she described the beings that took her by force, along with the craft. Her story was typical of what other “abductees” have related, including medical-like procedures on her body. She also claimed that the aliens communicated telepathically.

At some point, she said, after rumors regarding the UFO’s began swirling through the neighborhood, the military sent doctors to examine her and the other children that alleged the alien encounters. The visitations in the low-income neighborhood had occurred decades ago. My source said that in the end, the doctors scolded the children and asked their families to stop spreading the UFO rumors.

The source said she was convinced about what happened to her, and I was convinced that she was convinced. I tried not to judge her but I couldn’t validate her story objectively. But, that wasn’t why I hesitated to meet with her in the first place. I’ve been in many scary situations and meetings which posed potential safety threats.

I’d met sources, including corrupt Mexican cops, after midnight in Juarez, Mexico, during my research into the drug cartels and other matters. Etc. This was different though. What if on the off chance this was real? The truth is that in my mind, on the possibility that her story was real, by associating with her, I could become a target for the aliens or government operatives or whatever they are, and maybe later begin to experience the bright lights and rattling at home that some have reported; or, maybe get whisked away along with her by a flying saucer. The fear, the trepidation, over this was real: it is the fear of the unknown. I could deal with the known far more easily. This was much harder to process.

I can report now that after listening to her fascinating story, nothing happened. No little grey men showed up in my life, and the source went on with her life and I went on with mine.

(In the next installment on the same subject I will share another interesting experience that took place in the newsroom.)

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