I AM NOW WRITING THE FIRST ENTRY in the New Improved Unapologetic Mexican Blog. I’m writing it knowing it will not be seen for another week or so. I’m writing it on the Fourth of July. I’m writing it looking at WordPress Backend Powder Blue. I’m writing it listening to Tracy Chapman telling me not to eat of a bitter fruit and that all I have is my soul. I’m writing it drinking something that apparently is 25% FRUIT JUICE and feeling a bit of shock, as I had thought it was 100% fruit juice. Hm. Well, aside from the pepper vodka in it, that is.
I’m writing this waving an adios at my old blog.
Goodbye old blog! Goodbye pretty burnt paper loaded-to-the gills with graphics blog! Goodbye, Train to Tezcatlipoca! Goodbye story after story after story.
It served me well. It served me well for about two years. I learned a lot in there. Talked a lot with you. Started out with what Carmen calls the “scratchy voice” and schooled myself. And sometimes was schooled. And sometimes schooled others. Tore apart everything from my early school days and home lives to Tom Tancredo’s Tirades to the Living With a Skinhead Summer to My Big Ten Inch Record of Koufax Love to Nezua’s 2006 Colonizers of the Year Award to The True Front of Progressivism to the birth of my film reviews to the Let’s Have Nexus series to the Nezua Crashes (the Last) Yearlykos Convention to the application and winning of a place on MTV’s 2008 Street Team to the Sweet Hopey campaign de Obama. Hell, I could keep linking like this for a full page, with all the heavy writing, thinking, feeling, and plática that went on in that blog! Wow. And all that is exactly why it took me so long to leave that particular blog. Although—as I’ll outline a bit later—I first had the urge about one year after it was made.
And now we turn the page.
Why did I make this change? Well, it might not matter because we are here now, but for the sake of ritual and closure let’s Go There. And let’s take our time. The old place had lengthy, meaty posts (wow, is that a bass drum brigade or is Dr. Freud pounding on the door with three fists?) and I want to begin this one with substance, as well. So welcome back to the type of post that has more than enough power to devour your hour.
a) I built elgrito a while ago. And I don’t think you can really have any idea how much gutting and rewiring I did in that bad boy. First of all, I built it on an older blog’s framework, a blog called It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (How Can the Sane Mind Hope to Survive?) that has since been locked up (I gave one amigo access to it because they were reading it when I shut it down, and he asked me and sometimes I even hear XP running around in there knocking things over and posing with the mannequins!). And Madworld (as I call it to myself) was gutted and rewired from an even older blog (also locked up now) called Lookingglass.
So the point is that in building these blogs, having no training or real understanding of how to code one from the ground up in 2003 (which is when I made Lookingglass), I simply tore things out and replaced them, tweaking, experimenting. Inventing ways to do things I didn’t really know how to do. Just like as a teenager when I made an alarm for my bedroom using a pressure sensitive plate under the rug next to my door…and built all from remote control parts and radios and stuff. Of course, once in a while you run into trouble with this type of method, the spurious and ambitious life of an amateur reverse engineer-er.
The trouble I ran into was lots of things getting buggy and going wrong as time went on and upgrades were made. I didn’t really get as wild on anyone else’s blog that I created. But as you can see, UMX 1 (elgrito), is hella tweaked. Front to back. I can’t even point to one single part of that blog that remains the same as the original (bland) template. And I added a dozen features, at least. Just the many stylesheet choices in and of itself was a massive amount of work.
An aside: Support forums have since been created for Movable Type, but when I began using it, it was a blog software app that was used by techies and the blogs were amazingly dull and ugly. No almanac or history book will ever note that I was pretty much the only one at that point online turning MT blogs into an artist’s haven. (But who cares.) I actually loved how blank and undeveloped they were. I saw them as total scratchboards on which I would build. Even now, I choose rather minimal themes that I can skin and tweak to my satisfaction. Anyway, since then, SixApart (parent company) has grown a lot and tried to bring their blog software up to speed, and I was with them for a while on that. But they seem to be having problems across the corporate board, across the net, with different apps/companies they own, and I don’t see the activity or energy in that company that WordPress has by any means. In fact, Movable Type has petered out since first firing up with the release of version 4, which finally brought it out of the dark ages.
But even being intuitive and determined to learn and a good self-teacher, I’m not a coder at heart. I never even wanted to learn how to do any of that end of things. More a matter of control. Like when I learned to bleed my 73 Chevy’s brakes at 19. Cuz I had to. More a matter of poverty. (They say necessity is the mother of invention and long ago I added “and poverty, the mother of necessity” because not having the cash to do things as easily as I’d like, I’ve often been forced to improvise…and to good ends.) As I was just the other day (Thursday the third) approached with someone wanting to advertise on UMX (if it came through, it would be an ad I do “take responsibility for”; that is, I do support the message, I’m not selling space for random ads here), and I didn’t want to mess with the ad appearing strange ways in random browsers, I got in touch with the actual author of the original theme on which I built this new, glossy version of UMX and paid him to make a few structural changes all proper-like.
Another aside: I don’t have the money or advertising income to blog the hours I’d like. As it is, I’ve been working on this second iteration of UMX for weeks. I grab hours where I can, and they are often sullen and red-eyed hours, indeed. I really would enjoy making money in that way so that I could actually spend time on long posts again. I’ve made the first “issue” of posts here well, meaty. But again, it’s stretched out over time. For instance, I’m no longer drinking pepper vodka mango smoothie. I’m now drinking coffee, and that was yesterday.
From the start, this blog has been a fruit of me simply putting energy from my heart and mind forward, and an unexpected and unquantifiable synergy resulted when all of you began coming around and adding your energy. So thanks. We are changing the world, one advertisement at a time.
But it had become insane. The bugs, the errors. You don’t even know. And it wasn’t just my having a Frankensteinien masterpiece on my hands. It was also due to the database or something. The MySql situation, or something. Unknown errors and glitches you can’t fix.
– On El Grito, you never see trackbacks. Why? Because MT just can’t work it out. Or at least MT on my server wouldn’t work it out. I tried for months to fix that. Finally just gave up on it. Now, there shouldn’t be a problem.
– On the old blog, every time I left a comment or posted a post I had to rebuild the post sometimes multiple times, and the front page of the blog and it made the whole experience less and less worth it. If you’ve commented and then seen a strange error, you have a taste of what life behind the admin panel has become like, but all the time. And you’ve endured the full-time moderation (which I don’t like in general) because the blog became so it was impossible for me to use plugins to filter spam or force a one-time moderation. The plugins, Trusted Commenter or whatever just didn’t work anymore. Now? Just register one time with the blog, and no more moderation. How sweet.
– With the rising instances of smart phones, I wanted my blog to be lighter on loading time and more accessible to as many platforms as possible. The pages of my old blog were weighted with code, some of it old, some obsolete, some patched together, and all these things made the blog less able to travel further. And I see no point in getting in my own way like that.
A final note on the crux of my web designy skills etc, for any thinking of hiring me; as time went on and I got busier with business out here, I specialized. It makes sense, it’s less headache, it’s fairer all ’round. I now only do the art and illustration and conceptual design end of things. I leave the coding to the developers. So for example, if you want a blog designed or illustrated, please have someone on hand who can do the backend work with coding, implementing my design and grafiks. (Here is the latest example of my designing a site and creating grafiks as I work in tandem with a web developer who then puts them into place.)
All those problems are not the reason I created this new blog. But they became the catalyst for me to do what I had been feeling as an important impulse to follow for some time now—to draw a line between one phase of this roadtrip and another.
WEBGRAFIX IZ OIL PAINT THAT NEVER EVER DRIES
You spend years painting or drawing with pigments, and years printing fotos in darkrooms where you burn, dodge, expose, print, mix, spray, blend, brush tonality and chromatic gradients; where you deliberate over the slightest change in luminance or chroma. And then you satisfy yourself and finish the drawing, or foto, or painting. And feel more or less confident that aside from those factors in each person’s mind you cannot account for, everyone will see the same image.
And then one day some entrepreneurial upstart named Al Gore builds an Internet, and perhaps at first you are only using it to display or make available your art to a larger crowd than you could before, but eventually if you are an artist, you are knee-deep in photoshop and illustrator and HTML or Dreamweaver or whatever, and making art in the digital environment. Even when you are only making webpages to show your art/music/writing, you find that what looks perfect to you can look ugly as hell in the next room, on another monitor, another computer, another browser, another color profile, another platform. There go your fine tunings, there go your choices of color, there go your careful structural arrangements. Welcome to an unstable new world.
I created the design and art for UMX, and made no safe choices. I wanted old school gothic lettering, detailed illustrated pages and lots and lots of images. I wanted little compression on those images so they retained their crispness and depth and color. Mmmmm. I wanted people to fight to resist carving out pieces of the screen and pouring chocolate syrup on them and eating them like cake. And I wanted them to fail at resisting!
So I made it like that. I used lots of font choices in case a person didn’t have on their computer what I had (another webly consideration that never comes into play in the non-virtual world) and I built my palace and ignored the deviations that would appear cross-platform. It was hard enough to build the blog and all its mechanisms, but again, I don’t make money from my blogging and I own a Mac, and for me to test every change on different platforms and browsers for Mac and PC would have rendered the entire idea impossible. I chose to make myself happy, and painted myself a blog that I felt was beautiful. Damn the slow browsers! Damn the odd screens! Damn all the constantly-changing variables that make web design and web art so daunting.
That worked for a while, but then I got more readers in time than I really guessed I would when I began.
I began blogging at The Unapologetic Mexican because I had to begin specifically yelling about the anti-Mexican sentiment rising all around me or burst. And to explore all things Xican@. It was a personal impulse and need and I thought very little about readers for the most part, had a small amount I brought over from the last blog, and had no idea that I’d be getting 1000 to 2000 hits a day by June of 2008, and almost 600 people subscribed to a feed of the blog (counting email subs por supuesto)
When I did, I began to get pushes to offer less inconventional sizes and styles of font and colors. Now, at first I was thinking like the old artist I had been before the Intranix, and the requests felt like an offense. Change what??? To me, in my old school pre-internet mind, it felt like you looking at a painting I made and saying “Really sweet, Nez. But…can you please make all the gold shades a darker tone? And increase the size of that eye right there? I really appreciate it.”
But it didn’t take but an hour or two before I realized it wasn’t the same thing at all. And even though I knew a person could just Hit Command+ or Cntrl+ to make it easier to read, I wanted to make it easier for people to read my words.
I’ve always felt that way about what I make, art or music or words. It’s why I used to make no money, but hand deliver about 25 cassettes every time I made a new album (I know, huge rural throng of listeners, say my name, or something). On materials I paid for. Because my thought was that “wow, people want to dig my work, so I want to help them do it.” And that’s the same reason I changed the feed for this blog to full text instead of just summaries of each post. Because I was asked and, well. What I just said.
And so I created about ten stylesheets or so that offered varying sizes of font and color and graphic load.
But even so. When I lived on 1051 Whatever Street in Springfield, I went downstairs and used a Linux machine. And wow. Suddenly my site was butt-ugly. You know. Because you can deny how low your bank account is by not checking it. But that doesn’t mean your money is any good to anyone else.
My fonts got destroyed and I realized that many people never got to see the cool Gothic lettering, but very often something like this, instead:
And worse, the blockquotes too often lost all their hip factor on a less Nez-Blest machine:
Okay, yes. More legible! But not what I really planned for my design. Of course, who asked me to design with Copperplate font? I could have used all caps with a short font that was more popular. But I went balls-out for exactly what I wanted, and no compromise. That’s me, I’m just crazy like that. I take those risks so we can one day all live in peace.
And then there were the comments, which on my machine were a warm goldish olive on a yellowish background (and it worked)…but on the Linux? Seriously, I threw up in my fontdrawer just a little.
Now what good is someone saying “Brilliant commentary” if they are going to have rotten split-pea breath when they say it? Exactamente. My illusions were shattered. I was like, get away, hobo.
THE LONG AND WINDING RADISH-STREWN ROAD
So how does this all relate to the content of the blog and its author and where we where and where we are now? It actually relates quite gracefully. The choices and upgrades in software and design that I have made through the experiences I have had online in this time have shaped a stronger mechanism and platform that is more stable, more efficient, and more considerate of not just the creator’s situation and seat, but also that of the reader’s. In this change no sacred ground is given up, but instead greater power gained in different areas and functions, and at times more clarity. Whereas once, the blog functioned without a thought to how you might see it or experience it, in time it seemed reasonable and right to take into account how others meshed, benefited or suffered in that exchange, and how I felt about that. Yet, the core message is uncompromised, remains the same, perhaps even refined and truer and more tested. And yet we have moved forward and are in a new place. The blog and myself.
Here’s the funny part. Did I mention this? I think it was just after the first year of that blog passed. I was done with that phase. I felt it. I had done so much learning and talking in that first year. It was so valuable. It was a foundation of sorts. I wanted to walk away from the UMX blog. Completely. I wanted nothing more to do with Nezua, with these conversations, with the glosario, with the arguments and alliances—with the whole realm. It had done what I wanted it to do. I think it was probably a period where I was needing to sit back and ingest and integrate all I had done and read and written and learned and been.
But a blog does not really allow those sorts of spaces, pauses.
Sooner or later, if you are in need of rest, rest will take you. Despite all protestations of your blog. Recently this happened to me. I felt I was juggling so much and trying to make so many people happy, and one day I looked at the blog interface and was like…and then there I was shutting it down and telling it fuck you I won’t be back stop asking. I was about to lose my mind. Yeah, it was this whole Obama vs. Clinton fight that was in it’s eighty first round. I felt like some shot of adrenaline just wore off completely and I was dimming down into a couch quicker than I could wave goodbye.
So I kept on. And I think for a time my direction was challenged. Because I was just moving due to a base of readers and friends that I hadn’t counted on accumulating. But my own reasons felt obsoleted.
I have this funny habit of comparing parts of my life to the character of Siddhartha in the book by Hesse. I don’t know if its silly, presumptuous, idiotic or common, I don’t care about that part. I just noticed that I do it. Actually, a grant interviewer remarked upon it in 1998, happily feeling they had guessed the answer to a question about religion that I declined to answer earlier in the interview (I did get that scholarship by the way.) I guess I have always related to his tale and his yearning and the purity of that yearning and the painshadow made stark by that light, and in all of that found him beautiful. But there is that moment in the woods where he leans over the river, where he feels bloated by material reward and indulgence, and wants to die. He is stuffed full and overflowing with Maya. He is empty and has lost himself momenatarily in illusion. This phase precedes the dawn of new awareness. It is a shape that plays out in many fables and stories and maxims, because it is a true one.
There are one or two more stories I have to tell and finish telling, to finish some of what I’ve begun on the last blog. Things like my guest blogger stint sprints, my journey with understanding the culture’s misogyny and my own entrenched and poisonous thoughts as related to women through exploring the various oppressions, and related ideas.
Now on the other side of this “line” I draw here by beginning a new blog, I feel I stand in a place where I can look into and examine some of these things.
The Nezua Crashes Yearlykos documentary. The story of being an MTV Citizen Journalist and how and when that ended.
We will do those things soon.
AT HEART, ALL DIVISIONS ARE NOT RELIABLE AND IN AN IMPORTANT SENSE ILLUSORY and yet, we create external symbols to reflect changes in the less- concrete or -physically-realized terrain of our experience. So that we have markers and shapes around which to shape our paths and movement. And so it is with this new blog I return to this endeavor with a sense of renewed purpose and motion.
And that realization sharpened itself almost all at once, you see. Or felt as if it did. I won’t tell all of the story now, because I’ve gone on long enough.
Despite all other things I feel are best to take into consideration, even today, I ignore the advised lengths of blog posts, because well, no matter what, I’m going to use this for the things I do best. And those who dig that will do so and those who do not will not! For me it’s more about a rhythm. Knowing when to take off the captain hook hat and put on the ritz.
But it was rather amazing. Just as when I talk about nineleven and how everything in my life at the time sort of sparked, swung, met in the middle and exploded, so did a number of physical events recently coincide to mirror and represent emotional and internal realities. And not in a way where I caused them due to my internal reality (see WTC talk above), but where it seemed the universe was visible to me for moments at an angle previously unseen. For a few moments. You lift up your eyes and see everything holding hands, moving in sync, working just the way it should, on all levels and at once. (And the walls don’t even start breathing!) It doesn’t mean “positive” things are happening (nor that “negative” things are). It just means that boundaries between the little and the big are not ones which separate synchronicity and meaning.
I will tell that story in pieces. For now use the marker George Carlin Didn’t Go Anywhere; Did You Get a Piece, Too? George Carlin is not, of course, the focus of that story. His individual consciousness here on Earth ending is but a marker in that story.
The story is about not fucking around. And being able to both laugh and kick ass. And being true.
SO! Perhaps that is all terribly dramatic and grand a story for us simply moving from Movable Type to WordPress (ah, a new game!) but hey, the stories are why you come around.
Let must just finish up by saying that in bringing over my blogroll, I cut blogs that were either dead (404, etc) or who haven’t written in six months or so. A few for other reasons, varied reasons. Mostly, I wish the blogroll could be broken up into different columns, instead of stacking up and pushing the footer down so disproportionate to the rest of the lower area(s). It forces me to keep it very slim. I may make a secondary blogroll on its own page. But if you feel you were cut unjustly, write me and speak your peace. Also, please add the new URL for theunapologeticmexican to your own. RSS feeds have been switched over, so those who subscribe need do nothing new.
And…what do you think? Will you miss the old place? Will you even care? Do you love the new joint? It’s a new geography, a new feel of space. Take a spin through the pages and the navigation. Do you feel comfortable? Will you bother to register so you can comment? Do you resent my flouting length of post conventions and putting you through these longass posts? (Don’t worry, there will definitely be shorter and less thoughtful posts!) Will I see you at Denver this year? Will I see you on the beach this year? Will I ever get back to the Christing beach????
¡Hola compas! Bienvenid@s tod@s, welcome one and all to the new Unapologetic Mexican blog! My Spanish sucks, but my will is strong! It’s good to be back, and here with you.
Now let’s roll.