Writes of Spring

 Bill Shaikin, national baseball writer for the Los Angeles Times, talks about his experiences at the Times at a packed Wray Theater, April 20, for Writes of Spring.

Johnathan Meza

Bill Shaikin, national baseball writer for the Los Angeles Times, talks about his experiences at the Times at a packed Wray Theater, April 20, for Writes of Spring.

Danielle Anzures, Reporter

Rio Hondo’s annual two day event, Writes of Spring, which celebrates writers and writings at the Wray Theater took place April 19 and 20. The free event featured Lissa Price, Gustavo Arellano, and Phranc on the 19, and Siel Ju, Bill Shaikin, and Jeff Garvin on the 20.

Price, an author known primarily for her two novels, “Starters and Enders,” spoke at 8:05 a.m. Later Arellano, an editor for the newspaper the OC Weekly and author, spoke at 9:40 a.m. Phranc, a musician and artist, finished the group off and spoke at 11:15.

Ju, a writer known for poetry chapbooks: “Feelings Are Chemicals in Transit” (Dancing Girl Press, 2014) and “Might Club” (Horse Less Press, 2014), spoke first. Shaikin, who worked at The Times since 1997 and has covered baseball in Southern California since 1889, spoke next. Garvin, an actor and now author of his debut novel: “Symptoms of Being Human,” spoke last.

As the speakers began, it was phenomenal to see how they each connected to the students in their own way. Arellano started out with a short introduction on who he was and then started at the beginning, talking about his parents’ lives and how they each got to America. Some of the students could see the parallels of their parents’ immigration stories and Arellano recognizes that his story is not a unique one and how it can resonate with a majority of people.

Arellano brought up how he went from wanting to work in film to starting his career as a journalist on the OC Weekly. He talked about how his involvement with the newspaper began; he jokingly sent a fake letter to the editor which landed him a shot writing for the newspaper. He says he likes being able to help people and expose bad guys with his writing. Along with his investigation work, he also ran a joke column called “¡Ask a Mexican!,” which became a hit and was later turned into a book. Since then, Arellano has worked on two other books and a cartoon show that ran for a one season.

Some advice Arrellano gave was to not be afraid. Arellano said that he is actually a shy person, but if he let that get in the way he would not have had the chance to do all the things he has gotten to do, and if you do fail just get back up and throw yourself back in.

Phranc, who introduced herself as “the All-American Jewish Lesbian Folksinger,” talked about growing up in a household that wanted a more traditional lifestyle for her and how she rejected it, and went off to live her own life full of music and art. She started out learning how to write songs at The Feminist Studio Workshop at the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles, and later moved to San Francisco where she joined the punk scene.

Phranc said she was “angry and I wanted to be in a band.” She later got her wish when she was approached by a band called Nervous Gender to join them. As time went on, Phranc noticed people wearing armbands with the swastika on them, this led her to write an acoustic guitar song called “Take Off Your Swastika.” For her, singing with acoustic music was necessary so people would hear the words. After that Phranc went solo and made her first album, and later she made four more, that made it possible for her tour with other bands like The Smiths and Morrissey. She believes that great art gets made by doing it yourself.

When her brother died, Phranc went back to visual art because she couldn’t stand to be in front of people. Her art was and still is done with cardboard, paint, paper, glue sticks, and a sewing machine. Her advice to young artist is to always be prepared and have your portfolio ready.

Many of the students found the event to be an interesting experience that taught them about people in career fields that interest them. “It was inspiring to hear about his life and career and how far he’s come,” said Rio Hondo student, Nickomi Martinez about Arellano.

“She gave me the courage to go after my dreams, to not be afraid. That’s what she showed me” said Denise Toscano about Phranc after her part in the event.

This response is common for the event as many of the students come up afterwards to the tables in front to say how glad they are to get the chance to see these writers and other creators talk, according to Tom Callinan, one of the main coordinators for the event.

“[There are] students who are moved and changed by what they see,” Callinan said, also adding that many speakers will still have students contact them about their speeches at the event. The event and the speakers tend to leave an impression on students that sticks for a long time.

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