A History of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines
With Arturo Ernesto Romo
Interview with Sesshu Foster in Collidescope
Aug 9, 2020
Sesshu Foster discusses ELADATL:
ELADATL was intended to be a collaborative project between a group of artists and writers in East L.A. But they all dropped out! Even before we got anything done! Have you ever tried asking people to write for you? I had this idea that I would collectivize my writing process and invite the community in. But I think most people consider writing to be a lot of unrewarding toil, and rightly so. Anyway, the last ones standing were me and artist Arturo Ernesto Romo, though I was able finally to include pieces by a few friends, too. Arturo and I drove all over East L.A. for years, researching little known events, histories erased by gentrification, local mysteries and personalities. Some of that made it into the website ELA Guide, "your guide to walking and driving tours of East L.A.," though some of it, like our proposed interviews with musician Ruben Guevara, the murals of East L.A., and a Chinese history of East L.A., never made it onto the website. Besides driving all over the Eastside and interviewing people, Arturo and I organized magazine-format panel presentations at universities and community centers that he called "Recent Rupture Radio Hour" where we interviewed activists such as Rosalio Munoz, leader of the Chicano Moratorium in 1970 when 30,000 people marched in East L.A. against the Vietnam War, artists like Iraqi-American Rheim Alkhadi and Sandra de la Loza ("The Pocho Research Society"), and urban farmer Reies Rodriguez, always a favorite for his accounts of growing (and butchering) your own chickens and livestock. When the Smithsonian asked me to send them a poem about Latino-Asian American collaboration, I sent them a video Arturo and I made while driving around East L.A. about Guy Gabaldon, a Chicano orphan raised by Japanese Americans in Boyle Heights in East L.A., who used his homegrown Japanese skills to capture 1,500 Japanese troops single-handedly during the Battle of Saipan in World War 2. The main difference between ELADATL and Atomik Aztex, then, is that collaboration, based on this research, these performances and community interventions that Arturo and I improvised and conducted, with the participation of others.
Arturo Ernesto Romo, LA TIMES
Jul 23, 2020
Arturo Ernesto Romo, co-creator of ELADATL, reconceives of new monuments to reflect Los Angeles's people and history. "The incident at Sleepy Lagoon is born from a series of interrelated events," says Romo, who, like De la Loza, also creates work that engages the history of Los Angeles (albeit in fictionalized ways). “To reduce an incident like that down to an individual thing, it doesn't do justice to the way that any human experiences and events play out.
Interview with Sesshu Foster on PoetryLA
Feb 23, 2020