“Eulogy” by Alan Valle Monagas

Our homes were mutual, as blood brothers,
Despite not having spoken to one another
For over fourteen years. Destiny ties a lace,
Between the children of a growing race.

Always sickly, as a child in the academy.
A black sheep, our brother, our friend.
Playing foundations to lay down grooves,
When we reunited over the moon.

A pragmatic idealist, always carrying gifts,
Whose actions nobody could ever comprehend.
A trust, a lack of concern, that lasts for days.
Degrees could not measure your mentality.

When we reunited
You gave me a reminder, a life lesson:
A forgotten gesture of kindness.
A treasury of forgotten memories.
Imagined by our innocence.

And then,
A closed casket.
A prayer for our forgotten brother.
A stare from his widow,
An invitation by his sister.

Why are we still here?
Dominated by our fears.
God, that art in Heaven,
Why are we all so fucked up?

Alan Valle Monagas

“Snake” by Alan Valle Monagas

You can never change who you really are.
You were born with a track.
You cannot stray too far,
You are the wise snake in a sack.

You are at peace with what you have become,
Without regrets in your fake independence,
To sign those papers and away goes the trance!
Four years that have been drowned in rum.

Would it be sane to envy that which slithers?
Whose humanity has withered?
To succumb to the vices of the Blind One,
And wield the weapons of Ba’al?

A bullet has been delivered.
Now continue to slither.

Alan Valle Monagas

“Foreword” by Alan Valle Monagas

Immoral and lawless,
A state of constant vigilance.
Witch-hunts, secret police,
No freedom, no independence.

Your body, your mind, your soul,
All belonged to the state.
Monetary libertinism,
In techno-feudalism.

Geniuses are conscripted,
To strengthen the divide.
More weapons and gadgets,
And expensive medicines.

Cameras and microphones,
Propaganda and drones.
They stole our culture,
And murder our home.

We are the voices of the Earth,
Carrying sparks of consciousness,
Boundless and infinite
Atomic reactions.

Suffering without regrets,
Clouded with cigarettes.
We are what we hate,
And whatever we repress.

Satisfy your desires.

Alan Valle Monagas

A Review of Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park



My motivation behind watching Paranoid Park was multifactorial. A former friend, who meant a lot to me, left me a collection of their favorite movies on my drive. A person who was always difficult to stereotype or fit into a box, an incredibly bright person who happened to be a skateboarder. They left me these other films: MirrorMask, What Dreams May Come, Milk, Ed Wood, Rebel Without a Cause and The Secret of NIMH. However Paranoid Park and its fascinating title enraptured me, the film caught me at the right time of my life.

Paranoid Park was directed and adapted by Gus Van Sant, the same individual responsible for Elephant, one of my favorite films. The film features many Van Sant staples: symbolic dialogue, tracking shots, uncomfortable close-ups and social commentaries on sexuality.

Before researching the film, I believed the title alluded to a neurotic’s state of mind while wandering in public. However, the film is about a boy’s initiation into manhood. The story follows a skateboarder, Alex, who deals with immense manifestations of guilt, after a traumatic experience. Alex was spending time with outcasts at Paranoid Park, when he takes off with someone and something terrible happens.

Like his name, Alex’s gender is ambiguous. He has long hair, angelic facial features and wears earrings. His appearance and demeanor make him identifiable to audiences of all sexes, a fact which helps us interpret Paranoid Park as being symbolic in nature, or an allegory. You might be tempted to ask, an allegory for what? The answer might please you.

In the film, Jared, Alex’s best friend, chews him out for buying a new skateboard without consulting him beforehand,

JARED: What’d you get a new board for?

ALEX: Because I wanted to try something new.

JARED: Why didn’t you tell me about this?

ALEX: Why would I tell you, it’s just a new board.


JARED: I can’t have some fag board riding next to me.

Jared stereotypically acts like a girlfriend who stereotypically complains to their significant other for not consulting them before making important decisions. Our next shot features Jared seductively staring at his passenger seat, at Alex. To further solidify the possibility of Paranoid Park being a queer allegory, Alex deflowers his girlfriend and shows no pleasure while doing so. Alex’s little brother even talks to him about a scene in Napoleon Dynamite, where Napoleon’s grandmother is at the dunes with her girlfriend, but tells her grandchildren she’s with a man.

There are numerous homosexual references in Paranoid Park, anyone familiar with Van Sant’s filmography knows these references are there for a reason. However, I want to argue that Paranoid Park is not simply an allegory for homosexuality, rather an allegory for initiation into a subculture, and the guilt and paranoia provoked by these experiences.

… parents get divorced. There’s other problems, bigger problems, like people dying in Iraq, starving kids in Africa. … You know what I mean, the little problems, they are all just so stupid … I just feel like there’s something outside of normal life, outside of teachers, breakups, girlfriends, like right out there, like outside, there’s different levels of stuff. (Van Sant, 2007)

Besides being a beautifully shot film, Paranoid Park helped me understand skater culture better. The film made me understand why friends believed me to have a skater’s flow, despite not even being able to ollie. As Alex’s dialogue states, skaters tend to be woke and rebellious. They are critical of mainstream culture, warfare, and  the privileges we have because of others’ suffering.

Our relationship with our parents will forever change the way we act inside of society, they are our authority figures and representatives of mainstream culture. They either give us free reign to do as we will, or they pressure us until we explode in rebellion. If we rebel, we learn to do things by ourselves. Paranoid Park is not only an allegory about teenage homosexuality, it is an allegory about teenage rebellion. We all go through experiences which shape us, and make us different. Things we need to hide from our parents, that make us who we are. This is when we become adults.

As a cultural piece, Paranoid Park expresses incredible ideas. “They built the park illegally all by themselves. Train hoppers… guitar punks… skate drunks… throwaway kids… no matter how bad your family life was, these guys had it much worse” (Van Sant, 2007). Anyone outside of society’s approval is an outcast. Paranoid Park expresses how a dysfunctional family life can bring children into the light, which is to say, reality.

We were children who were forced to mature early, exposed to the darkest sides of society, with difficult choices to make. We could “follow our bliss” and struggle in the jungle, or we could follow the paths made for us by our parents; to live a long, boring, yet comfortable life.

Arguably, Paranoid Park’s most pivotal moment is when Alex decides to “ride a train” with a friend by the woods. Alex’s decision to “ride a train” can be interpreted as an initiation experience, when a person makes a choice which will forever change who they are. Certainly, the phrase has a certain homoerotic element to it, with the train being a phallic symbol.

These teenage initiation experiences can be innocent acts which help us find ourselves and to bond with other people. Our first sexual experience, our first time smoking reefer, our first time skateboarding together. They can also be more sinister acts which bind us together: our first time beating another person, our first act of armed robbery, or even an act of unintentional murder. Everyone who carries out an act which differs from the norm gets branded as an outcast. They become dehumanized and become paranoid, because becoming paranoid means becoming an adult in our sick society.

Secrecy is required for our safety. Notice how the skater who was with Alex during the accident never talked to the police. The entire ordeal made Alex an outcast, a member of the park, and simultaneously separated him from mainstream society. The events of the film could even serve as an allegory for a gang initiation, but it works best as an initiation into a subculture.

If you keep frequenting a place like Paranoid Park, eventually something will happen to you. What happened to Alex was one of the worst possible outcomes, his life changed forever as a result. He became disconnected from society, from school and the park claimed his life. As you might or might not have guessed, my friend’s sexuality was an eclectic mystery. She was quiet, and I wonder if she ever went through an experience like Alex’s in Paranoid Park. I can safely say that I did, and I attest to the fact that “nobody’s ever ready for Paranoid Park” (Van Sant, 2007), we just make it there.

“Cats” by Misareliz Rodriguez

She sat there motionless, a million memories rushing through her mind like a flood. Her hands, white and cold, did not move from her dark and long skirt that hid her feet. She was dressed in a long sleeved shirt that hid her figure completely. It was the same color of her eyes, eyes that did not waver. She heard the whispers, felt them touch her skin but paid no attention. Her mind was elsewhere. The court was full, strangers filling the hallways and seats, an air of awkwardness moved through the whole place. Everybody was scared but curiosity killed the cat and Tammy Monroe had killed many of her own, or at least that is how the rumor goes. She moved into the small town when her parents died, but unlike with her parents, the town saw Tammy as a pest.

It was not like that at the beginning, the townspeople did their best to welcome her in. They made a welcome party which she did not attend. They visited her home, brought her food, invited her to church but she refused it all. The town was perplexed with her attitude not understanding why she acted that way. They branded her as rude, ill-mannered, a person to not surround yourself with. Things only got worse after that; Paul Stuart, son of Jamie a well known farmer, noticed how every Thursday night she would pass by the park where he practiced and walk all the way into the small forest that surrounded the park always dressed in a red shirt with black trousers. He found the ordeal to be quite strange and told his mom about it, who told Linda- that had questioned weeks ago why the amount of stray cats were starting to diminish.  The seed was planted and the rumor grew as high and mighty as the imagination of the people permitted it to. It did not help that with her arrival the crops in the town, their main income, were starting to wither and die. People started getting sick and their economy plummeted. All fingers pointed to her and her late night walks. The annoyance turned into hate and fear of what she could do. Years past and the attitude did not change. The people feared her and stayed away closing their curtains when they saw her. No one dared pronounce her name or look at her while she passed on the street, a clowder always surrounding her. Until one frightful day when a small child appeared, as if out of thin air- dressed completely in white without any bags or shoes- and walked all alone to the house and did what no one else dared to do, knock on Tammy Monroe’s door, who took her in no questions asked. She was white as a cloud, her hair ginger red and was always dressed in white. In school, she sat in the back and never went out to play, always sitting alone staring at the walls. On Thursday they would walk hand in hand into the small forest. No one dared get close to her, let alone touch her; the kids knew they had to keep their distance if they did not want anything bad to happen. That made Tommy fear for his life, who had tripped making the small shelf behind him fall on top of her, bruising her. He went home not telling his mom anything, praying fervently to be saved. The next few weeks he expected something to happen, but she did not even look at him when she passed the front gates of the school. He felt relieved and went to tell his mother who relish on the information, telling everyone what had happened.

Tommy felt a kind of victory, not fearing for his life he started to push her enjoying her reactions. Sometimes she looked surprised other times hurt but her expression would always return to that of neutrality. The other kids saw what he was doing and joined in, years of being told how Tammy Monroe ruined their little town, caused them to take out that anger on the girl. A girl who never said anything nor tried to fight back. The adults turned a blind eye to all that was done to the girl, who unlike Tammy Monroe, was starting to be seen as a defenseless monster. The years went by, the town shivered when Tammy Monroe passed down the street but they would all put their feet out to trip the girl who walked behind her, it seemed that the only witnesses were the cats, that would hiss and show claws whenever she got hurt. They questioned why Tammy Monroe did nothing to defend her and saw her as a bad caretaker, a witch, a monster. A whisper would pass through her ear “Freak!” another stumbled its way out of Tommy’s lips “Witch.” Words would flow gently from others tongues and land on the girl as a tattoo. Some started to believe she was not human. What human child would react that way to being attacked? It was odd, weird for her not to fight back, but this did not make them stop, only worsen the way they treated her. Her, who on a Sunday morning ran down the street of the town, screeching, covered in blood. The sight of her made the townspeople shiver in fear. Her white dress was ragged, parts slit, and it was almost completely red. Her hair was matted with blood and her feet left red footprints as she ran. She held her hands out to the crowd as if begging for something; her ragged breath was the only thing you could hear, the town surrounded her, as she threw herself to the ground to weep. It was a pitiful sight. No one dared enter the house; the police was surprised with their findings. Blood covered the whole house. The walls, stairs, kitchen top, bathroom, every inch of the house had been marked, the foul smell of death brought the police a sense of dread. The house was dark and inside they could hear a faint voice and the purring of cats but Tammy Monroe’s body could not be found.

“Will you answer the question?” The girl looked back at the lawyer, she was unrecognizable. Her long red hair had been completely cut of; her once fair skin was now blemished, full of marks. She looked side way holding her hands closer to herself. The crowd was attentive moving to the edge of their seats, as if that would make them hear better. “I will ask again,” the lawyer spoke breaking the spell the crowd was under, “What occurred on the seventh of Saturday? Where is your caretaker?” She had been looking at the judge who urged her to answer. The people held their breath and cried at the sound of her voice. A voice never heard before, that sounded like the wind and thunder, each word she pronounced brought them closer to insanity. Images flowed through their minds of cats and a small white child. They all screamed out for mercy, falling to the floor. Her words became a jumbled of sounds to their ears, all of them writhing with pain. Tommy who felt hands pushing him down crawled through the floor pushing bodies out of the way, some looked as if they were dead while others convulsed on the floor, he took hold of the handle of the courtroom door and looked back to see her still sitting, her eyes moving from face to face looking at each of the citizens of the town as a small tear fell from her right eye falling on her skirt staining it red.

Misareliz Rodriguez

“Irreversible” by Bryan Marrero

People always think happy endings are the real reason for living. For us the reason of living is enjoying every second, enjoying the present ignoring the future… giving everything until the last seconds. I’m Ryan Wolves, owner of my family’s great marketing companies in Miami.

Recently, I have been planning my wedding with a beautiful woman called Jade Brook. Last week, my fiance asked me if I could go to the doctor with her, but the family business doesn’t let me be there. Instead, went to the doctor on her own. I was setting things right in the company so Jade and I could go to our last vacation before the wedding. Surprise was on its way. I, as always, gave her a special day, giving her a lot of beautiful laughs, smiles and made her happy because nothing was more special than seeing the woman of my life happy. After dinner we decided to take ride in my newest and most modern motorcycle. On our way to the beach an unexpected nightmare started. A truck at high speed lost control and impacted us. My precious woman fell apart and vanished, and I slowly saw how my life and fears mixed together, losing everything in a matter of seconds. Our motorcycle was destroyed and we fell unconscious on the ground bleeding.

Two weeks later I woke up in the hospital. I was desperate, screaming for Jade as I cried with all my forces as I never have in my life. Shadows cover my seconds, broken were my dreams in minutes, speechless were my hours, and depression hugged the fears that I never knew I had. My family told me that she could not survive the accident. The beginning of the darkest day started for me because this heart knows how much I love her. Nothing could be changed, everything was irreversible. After my recovery, I rode my motorcycle so fast and drunk, to relieve my pain on my way to the beach to ask for answers. I was so drunk that I ended up where the accident happened. I saw some kind of medical analysis. I started opening it and saw that it was from the day where I could not go with her to the doctor, because of my office adjustment. The analysis said that she had terminal cancer, the tears start flowing in a tremendous way through my eyes and I started running without a direction, ending up in a beach. There was the gorgeous sun, shining strong, like the light that Jade gave to my life. Jade smiles ends every fear in my life, her look in those eyes created a path to the right way and now I’m here with you, keeping my promise that we will always be together, by your hand no matter what.

Bryan Marrero

“Trying to be Different” by Shaed Zapata

There was a city full of selfishness, sadness, fears, anxieties, and a lot of darkness. Above all of that, there was a young guy trying to fight all this darkness, which was an immense one. This young guy was different from the rest of the people; in his heart he had a tiny light which made him strange to others. He was tired of how society lived their lives, and he wanted to change it. Thanks to this style of living, he was afraid of his self.

He didn’t know how to start changing his life, his feelings were a mess. The young guy was longing for someone who could help him get out of that horrible hole he was living. No one wanted to help him, thanks to their fears. They didn’t have that tiny light in their hearts, so they wouldn’t understand the struggle of the young guy. Tired of looking, he decides to stop. His light was disappearing, he didn’t know how to keep moving forward, the darkness was consuming his last hope.

For the first time in his entire life, he was giving up his dreams, he was letting go of his goals, he realized how tired he was of fighting, deciding to follow the stereotypes that already were stipulated. The joy was leaving his heart more and more, and the tiny light was getting even more tiny than before. “This is the only way I can survive,” he said to himself.

Losing his light slowly was the worst feeling he could ever experiment before. Being like everyone wasn’t helping at all. “Why do I have to live like this? I don’t want to be like everyone in here,” he said with anger. Suddenly, a ray of light came from the sky. The young guy was impressed, he couldn’t believe what his eyes were seeing. The beam of light enveloped his entire body, feeling a warmth he had never felt before.

He didn’t understand it at first, but then he remembered the light from his heart. He remembered the dreams he had before, his passion to be different from others, his goals, his joy. For the first time, he realized how important it was to be himself. How important it was living without a mask, lies, and fakeness. It was a signal!

The ray of light transformed into a young girl. She was completely radiant, any darkness was inside of her. Her smile, her joy, made him feel a happiness he had not experienced before. “I’m going to help you, I came here to save you from this hell.” She took his hand and started to walk towards the horizon. They walked and walked, until they reached a beach.

At the end of the beach, there was a ruined temple. The young guy did not understand what that might mean, but he felt that he had to trust the girl fully. They approached the ruined temple and noticed that there were names written on one of the walls. The young girl smiled, an action that confused him. “Why did you smile?” He asked. “I smiled because this is our story, this is our future together.” She smiled again and gave him a hug. Finally, for the first time, he felt complete. Thanks to this feeling, all his darkness disappears, transforming into a radiant light.

Shaed Zapata