The YBG Festival has slowed down its schedule this week. The next free concert is on Sunday. While you’re waiting for Sunday to get here, you can learn about the YBG Festival’s mascot, Bearnice…
This is the beginning of the tale of Bearnice, the Rambling Bear, which is what everyone who knew Bearnice used to call her, back in the day, as they say, yes, long, long before she appeared one sunny summer afternoon in the South of Market, San Francisco, fluffing up her fur with her little paws and plopping her little bear self right smack down in the middle of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. She just showed up one day, they say, and that was that.
And how did all this come to pass, the stuff before ‘and that was that’?
It all began in Paris, where Bearnice lived. It was the ’60s.
Bearnice was young and in love with Bearnardo, who came to her one day and told her that he was going to leave Paris and he wanted Bearnice to join him. He told her that Paris just didn’t have enough to keep a young polar bear happy. He said he longed to see distant lands, he longed for the freedom of the wild west, he longed to follow the sun.
“I want to go where I can see the sun dip slowly into the sea,” he told her.
“Oh Bearnardo,” she said, “that’s beautiful. I will follow you anywhere.” She was bearly 18, and she loved Bearnardo.
He told Bearnice: “We’re going to America!” And off they went.
Bearnice and Bearnardo lived for a short time in New York City when they first arrived in the States. But they weren’t comfortable there. The country was in the grip of a huge economic bust. Everywhere in the Big Apple people were cursing the stock market bears.
Bearnice and Bearnardo felt worried for their safety. They decided to get out of town.
Bearnice and Bearnardo moved to Chicago, because Bearnice liked the names of the baseball and football teams. Also, the winter weather was very convivial for polar bears.
As soon as summer hit, the two discovered that Chicago was not the place for them. With such thick fur, Bearnice suffered terribly in the awful heat waves of July and August.
The vast Midwest of the Great Plains surrounded the City of Big Shoulders, and Bearnardo felt hemmed in, suffocated. One day, Bearnardo woke with itchy paws and told Bearnice that they had to keep heading west, following the sun, following his destiny.
More to come…
Sometimes inspiration is contagious. Which may explain why in one day we came across two poems moved by music. The poem below was recently emailed by board member Elaine Elinson to the YBG Festival office. It was written by her friend Leticia Pavon, who had attended last week’s son jarocho concert here at YBG Festival. A couple hours later, poet Oscar Bermeo (in the video) was here at the YBG Festival Poetry Tuesday speaking of the influence of and references to hip-hop in his writing.
Before we get carried away with sharing tangents, experience the poetry for yourself, beginning with these words from Leticia…
Here’s a decima (10 lines, should be 8 syllables each) based on my impression of the event. Mainly, how hurried we are, how music slows us down in the middle of crazy downtown, listing what delighted me visually (participant Cassandra who danced with Dr. Loco, organizer Maria de la Rosa, Antu is a young Chilean guy who got on stage and did “La Iguana” (surprised me – he’s very quiet). Tocotin is an old musical verse form from Sor Juana’s time (and it sounds nicely like clocks), and Huitzilin is the hummingbird, Aztec sun symbol. Antu’s name is also a sun god in Chilean Mapuche. Putting SF gives it local flavor, as well as colonial religious fiesta feeling. Poetic translation…Jarana, pandero, y violin,
Sol, prado, viento – a danzar!
Relojes – dejen de avanzar,
En San Francisco – un Tocotin!
Mediodia – zumba el Huitzilin,
Al Antu le sale un reptil,
Maria Rosa luce huipil,
Cassandra estrena vestido.
El tiempo ya suspendido,
Mi alma se vuelve ductil…Lute, tambourine, violin,
Sun, grass, wind – to the dance!
Clocks – stop marching forward,
San Francisco celebrates a Tocotin!
At midday, the hummingbirds buzz
Antu transforms into lizard,
Maria Rosa in Oaxacan huipil,
Cassandra in a sundress
Time detains it’s steady advance
My spirit softens…
~ Leticia Pavon
Now that you’ve experienced these radically different poems, here is a cool fact that will boggle your brain: the really good decima poets would occasionally battle each other, rap battle style! Really! We have it on authority from music historian John Santos.
An example of a decima battle that John Santos shared at last night’s My Music is Who I Am lecture:
Hey everyone. It’s Raul, your YBG Festival Administrative & Social Media Assistant. I recently returned from an amazing trip to San Antonio on behalf of YBG Festival as a participant in the National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures (NALAC) Leadership Institute. In this two-part blog I thought I’d share some photos and tell you about the awesome arts scene in San Antonio, a little bit about NALAC and the Leadership Institute, and some information in the event you or anyone you know is interested in participating the leadership program.
NALAC is an arts service organization that focuses on advocacy for and development of Latino arts in the U.S. One of their programs is the Leadership Institute, a one-week intensive program of classes, lectures, and workshops designed specifically for arts administrators and artists. The activities are meant to develop skills in areas such as strategic planning, budgeting, arts management, marketing, and the one I was looking forward to – grant writing. Yes, I’m a nerd like that.
The Leadership Institute brings together artists and arts administrators (often people are both!) from around the country to participate. This year for the first time there was a participant from Puerto Rico! As amazing as the classes and the faculty are, the greatest value of the Institute is meeting your fellow students. Amongst my class of 25 were representatives from the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and Center Stage in Baltimore to name a few.
NALAC gave us a taste of the San Antonio arts scene! Our first visit was to Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, a community organization founded in 1987. Their building holds a performance space on the second floor and an exhibition space on the ground floor. They present musicians at various other venues around San Antonio. They had an art exhibit going on that day entitled “FRACKASO!”, featuring art documenting the fracking process that gas companies are practicing in Eagle Ford, Texas.
I’ll post a Part II about two more San Antonio art and music spots to visit if you’re ever in the area, and I’ll have more information for those interested in applying.
Instead of talking with one of YBG Festival’s performing artists, today we put the spotlight on an audience member. There are many faces that we see regularly in the audience, and we like to call them our super-fans. “John the Dancer” has been one of our favorite and most fascinating people to watch in attendance at a concert.
Occupation when away from YBG Festival
Working at Golden Gate University Law School
Oldest YBG Festival memory
Don’t remember. Started coming to YBG Festival 8–10 years ago.
Dream YBG Festival program
Back in ’99 had tickets to Tito Puente’s SF concert, but sadly Tito passed away shortly before that date. To see Tito Puente play in San Francisco (have seen him perform in other cities) would be a dream come true.
What’s your Yerba Buena?
John turns 42 years old today. Happy birthday, John!