UPDATE: (from amigo robvato) ICE has put out statements that it will not arrest anyone at any checkpoints and that the undocumented should evacuate along with everyone else. And it’s not just NOLA, but the entire region. Some Spanish language media is sending the ICE message out.
The scared elites on their sparkling shining heaps use all they can out there: media, distraction, propaganda, general ignorance, and all means of misdirection and misrepresentation to continue the war on the Brown®, the poor, the “meek”, some might say. I wouldn’t say. I would say that the fringe elements of this society surround the center, eh? Not so meek. Combined, las mujeres, the brown, the black, the golden, the gay, the women—all those who are not accounted for in the “UNIVERSAL”, in the default setting, make up quite a lot. Or maybe the “center” of this growing weave is not ‘whites’, but just those without honor, without heart, without sensitivity, without integrity. And the fringes…we’re bones and emotion. We’re fire and grito. We’re seeing things for what they are.
But either way, that’s always the aristocrat game. Divide and conquer the rabble.
Like this article, hey, it’s even titled Immigrant raid divides a Mississippi town.
LAUREL, MISS. — Fabiola Pena considered running away from her factory job when she realized she was being targeted in a federal immigration raid. She was deterred when she noticed the helicopters hovering overhead.
But helicopters were not what shocked Pena the most on her last, fateful day at Howard Industries, the largest employer in this small Southern town. It was the black co-workers who clapped and cheered, Pena said, as she and hundreds of other Latino immigrant laborers were arrested and hauled away.
“They said we took their jobs, but I was working from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” said Pena, 21, a day after the raid last week that resulted in the arrest of nearly 600 suspected illegal immigrants. “I didn’t see them working like us.”
Just listen to the ungrateful invader, eh? Coming in here and working so hard, putting down all those lazy blacks. Grrrr. And now, listen to the Angry Blacks:
“They need to go and do this in every little town,” Tonya Jackson said.
Jackson, who is black, said that over the years she had applied numerous times for a job at the locally owned manufacturer, which employs about 4,000 workers. Jackson, 30, said she never received a callback. The raid, she said, was a welcome purge of illegal Latino laborers who had taken jobs they didn’t deserve.
“We’ve been here all our lives,” she said. “And it seems like they have just arrived and are getting the nice cars and the good homes.”
Well, I won’t get waylaid into laughing my ass off for an hour until tears start falling; tears for the children ripped from their parents. Tears for the lies infesting the “news.” Tears for the ignorance and apathy of so many. Tears for the tired families living with lack and only to work, tears for citizens yanked from their lives and made to die in cages. Tears for families living to work our produce, and making no extra except our suspicion and hate, always strangers from comfort, sleeping next to railroad tracks; tears for corpses in the streets and in the detention cells and in the fields. Tears for the sick who are being secretly deported when they need medical attention. I won’t get into reminding everyone that the Mexicans—the Indians, that is—have been all over this land for hundreds and even thousands of years. I won’t get too deeply into the Bracero program or how since Porfirio Diáz’s crushing agendas, México has been under the heel and the thumb of American labor and resources needs.
Because that’s sort of what these pendejos want. They want me to go head to head, and they want it to be with the blacks who are my friends. While they write these filthy essays determined to divide us, we really ought to simply remember the FIELDS.
Who has worked THE FIELDS? Who dies in the FIELDS?
THEM? Or your people and mine?
They seek to divide us. They seek to impress upon us their own Model of Scarcity (sombrero tip a Theriomorph), their own fears of losing the ability to suck up all the resources, their own fear of the hordes of Others coming to steal their treasure. They want us to adopt it so we fight their fearful battle and they keep their polished hands well-softened. The elites, those with batallions of fears marching in on their piles of wealth, armies of advantages at their command, even actual armies and private armies and five houses, hundreds of thousands or millions of dollares.
You and me? We have nada. But no—
We have hope, we have love, we have familia, we have pride. We have our histories, and our herstories and all our stories. We have heart. Let us remember this, it is all we have. So many give theirs away or leave it sitting cold and unattended, or woo it with a hail of coin.
Let us keep ours whole and in each other’s keeping. This storm won’t last forever. We will be the ones standing.
Just last Monday as the Democratic Convention was getting underway the largest immigration raid ever took place. 595 people were arrested. This post is a call for help.
If you can, please do:
PLEASE SEND THE FOLLOWING ITEMS OR MONETARY DONATIONS TO:
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Father Ken Ramon-Landry
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Hattiesburg, MS. 39401
I HAD A ROUGH DAY in Denver. My second to the last day. I don’t have time to write much out, as tomorrow I leave for the RNC. But I traveled another mile in this journey I walk, the one that began with El Grito back in 2006. It was a good feeling, a good realization, a good mile. But it hurt. And I just about broke Twitter with sheer fury that morning. The moments kept adding up, you see. Day after day. From the bus rides and the racist attitudes of a handful of whites around me who wouldnt stop offering their ignorant views, to the agenda of the MSM. One moment was when a latina activist and amiga was used by a WaPo reporter who she trusted. But Vargas, the slimeball, put words in her mouth, added Latina Stereotyping to the article, and changed her very political stances.
Another moment was when ICE was raiding mississippi with the biggest raid yet, families were being destroyed, labor workers were cheering—cheering cheering cheering. I kept hearing cheering On the news everywhere was cheering and laughing and confetti falling for a multimillion dollar party. On the bus was sneering. So we speak of MLK and a brand new day and hope and hope and hope for change. And everywhere I looked, arrows and daggers and walls are closing in on people. Chota on the streets with bats and bullets and beatdowns for the people who dare to stand up and speak to the State. Abuse and control, not in any new way, perhaps. But it wasn’t change I can believe in. And so I removed myself from the lobby and sat out in the sun by the pool and cried.
And I wasn’t interested in standing with sardines, wasting hours in line to go watch the big scripted event. (Which is why Kai and I took the route we did.) I was left empty in the belly with this “representation” and the Hope of the Day and the Story of the Day. It wasn’t my Story of the Day, you see. And it did not give me enough hope.
It’s funny. I had a bit to do with the formation (and all of the design) of The Sanctuary. That, in part, came out of my disappointment with Ykos 07. (A XOLAGRAFIK documentary not yet made, but it will be, footage is all digitized.)
While I was in Denver, someone from an org sent a carom shot through someone else to attempt to tame my voice, or teach me framing. As if. You see why they didn’t waste their time and come straight to me, but put it in someone else’s ear? Well, they know it’s a waste of time. Although it’s not the last time an org or org person mentioned the same.
But oye, I don’t frame. I don’t “Frame” and I don’t FRAME. I speak my heart and mind. I do not do it for some dull or dry or ideological reason, nor to be an Ally or a friend or a Political Activist. I do it like I would stand in front of my mother or mijita or mi amor if a threat showed up. I do it for Lucha, and for Felipe. For Jeno and Alejo. For Juanita and Vicente. Mi familia. Mi gente. And nothing you say speaks to me louder than their voices.
And anyway, I’m doing it for me. And I already know how to speak my heart.
But to add injury to insult, the types of groups that imagine they somehow deserve the bullhorn for Migrant Advocacy? They equivocate, say one thing, do another, or just turn their backs when it counts, like the blanquitos they wish I would be. Nobody at the DNC—aside from my little posse of sanity—was talking about the raids in any way that mattered.
It’s you and me, gente. We are many and we are strong. Let us not be convinced otherwise. Let us stand together.
I SHOT THIS and edited it at the DNC, and I had a real raw setup there and was always on the move, so there are no titles or anything, and it’s very short and simple. I have more footage, but as my last post makes clear, I have no time! I’m off to the next convention, and though I’d really love to edit for days and make about five videos with much more finesse, that will have to wait. As most of my film ideas lately have to wait. But there is no doubt that the streets are not safe anymore for those of us who believe in true power to the people, in democracy and freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
Tough shit. We ain’t goin nowhere. Beat us down, beat us back, raid our homes, steal our computers. Desperate governments resort to desperate means. But as one of my favorite movies puts it, “an idea is bulletproof.” So let’s keep writing that idea over and over and over, let’s take it to the fore, let’s not keep it in their fenced in zones, and we can leave it to the flabby-headed bourgeoise to adopt the idea that all political action should happen in a swivel chair or a tent with people checking credentials. Some of us still believe in bringing it to the street, being loud, throwing tea. You know, that American stuff.
Members of Recreate ’68, The Troops Out Now Coalition, Unconventional Action, and the People’s Law Collective give a Press Conference informing the public of the previous day’s actions and abuse perpetrated by the Police, as well as the Denver Police Department’s refusal to honor the lawful permit held by Recreate ’68. Pepper spray was used by the Police, and according to the spokesperson featured in this video footage, so was unwarranted violence.
CAN’T IMAGINE who thought booking these two conventions next to each other by only two days was anything but cruel to the people who are supposed to bring some news home.
This post lacks links where they would help because I am on the verge of exhaustion and if it’s going to be written, it’s going down like this. I’ll tag later, I’ll categorize later, I’ll link later, I’ll style it later. Consider this an early draft until this sentence is no longer advising you to do as much.
Police pulling SWAT team junk on college “hippie” kids? Busting down the door (check glenn greenwald at salon) and stealing people’s computers and files? Because they planned to protest??? All to fluff the nut of the GOP. Twittergente tell me that the cops knew it was pointless (and they asked then “Who’s pulling strings?” and if that’s the question, I’d imagine there’s really only one person’s campaign who would do that. Surprise Surprise. We invent reasons to advance authoritarianism. Also I’ve been told that the producer of Democracy Now had a gun pulled on them? I’ve yet to look it all up and know for sure, but as I said, that’s how we do now. Bubble. Bubble. Boil. The RNC 1800 were the first mass arrests of their kind. But not the last.
Dig it. Now they don’t even wait for you to actually break the law.
Needless to say I”m a bit anxious, as I’m off to the RNC Monday morning at five am. I may get swept up if they begin arresting everyone and I happen to be shooting. So this is my public statement that I am simply going to document, not to interfere and not to antagonize. Maybe it’s being hyped more than any tangible presence will be found, but I just don’t feel very good about these premptive raids on young people for being politically involved. It’s scary. And angry-making.
I still have so much to write. I’ve been importing footage, audio, video, fotos, for all day. I’ve been up since four or so and I’ve been unpacking-repacking which is a TOTALLY new thing for me. It’s like the suitcase never goes away, it just lies there, gulping, yawning, waiting for the next load of goods that you will then lug around the airport and down halls and into elevators and airport shuttles.
I probably shouldn’t even be writing because I’m nearly hallucinatory with exhaustion. This was crazy. I am thinking positive as often as possible so as not to get sick or more hoarse, and I am sacking out right after I write this. Tomorrow I will recharge all batteries, clean all lenses, pack clothes, buy laptop cord, install FCP, test out system for video input and editing, and then write two blogs, or finish editing video on iranian art and spanish language reggaeton/hiphop/traditional band. (If there’s a genre, I just dont know it, it sounds/feels like a fusion of these). AND immigration. Yeah, I know it sounds like too much to put together. I think it works so far, we';ll see. Don’t know if I”ll finish it tomorrow, as there’s a lot to do, but I will try.
And then I’m off to the RNC. It annoys me mostly because I really need time to process all the experience I just had. But I don’t have that time. So, off we go and perhaps I’ll bring a blank book to write in. I feel like writing. I feel like being alone, all alone, with my thoughts.
And I feel like falling over, buenas noches gente.
SO I DIDNT BLOG AS MUCH as I thought I would but this keyboard makes it tough. Tonight I will be home and plan to write a little. And I think in the next two days (before I leave for the RNCC) I will have a lot to write on. I have so much in my mind and belly and heart…and on my memory cards and tapes too.
Right now I am in the shuttle on the way to the airport and am rather glad to be out of the hotel. I was the last of our crew to check out and being alone still there felt very silent and odd as the event was so filled with the everpresent noise of my POC-posse’s laughter and spirited dialogues.
Right away I can say only that I have great love for my friends, friends who do not need convincing or explaining or justifying when it comes to understanding what it is like to be a poc and living in this culture and all that this means. And I want to thank las mujeres, mis amigas y mis maestras Kety Esquivel and Maegan la Mala Ortiz for their patience with this vato and his male lens. Also big propz and thanks to mi amigo Kai Chang for being so very very cool. Circle of Sanity rules.
SO THIS IS THE FIRST DAY of political activity. Yesterday was simply a day for getting into town, paying NINETY DOLLARS for a cab to the hotel, meeting up with some peeps, being served beers by a referee, and running around town with Kai–who brings me back to my twenties with the level of energy and nighttime schedule.
Maegan (http://www.vivirlatino.com) and Kai and David and Michael (bloggers for Kenneth Cole Productions) are still at the hotel chilling in the sunny breakfast room, as credentials are just being handed out now. I’m sure we will get going soon and the political goodness shall begin. Meanwhile, CNN is on in every room bar and lobby, I await with all my audio and video gear, and blog on my iPhone.
Remember to check my Flickr page, the Kenneth Cole Awearness blog (I’ve already posted there), and hook up with my Twitter account for more soon!
AFTER MY LAST POST on how to keep in touch or keep tabs on me while at the DNC and the RNC, I’ve investigated a few things and realized it will be easier than I thought to blog without my own laptop, as WordPress has an iPhone app that allows you to blog directly, and so are there Flickr iPhone apps, so it won’t be hard to use Flickr after all.
In light of all this, and wanting you to have clear directions to tag along, I will list here very simply the ways to tap into this Neztronic flow.
• UMX for your regularly scheduled unapologetic goodliness when it happens. (RSS feed here)
• House of Nezua for simple, unpolished, personal jottings and goings on usually fashioned for a more intimate-sized crowd. (RSS here).
• Twitter for realtime blurbs from now until the end of the RNC convention (requires requesting to be added, no big deal.) My public Twitter stream that you can lurk at, or add without requesting being added. [This link was given incorrectly yesterday, this is correct.]
Okay! All we’re missing now are my GPS coordinates and you’ll have to talk to the NSA for those.
If you are blogging from Denver, please feel free to leave comments here, too, so people can choose to keep an eye on you. I think it’s really wild, so many eyes and ears going and feeding back news. Completely smashes the format of packaged NEWS® product, but look at all the info that will be flowing. I don’t know how useful it all will be! But it sure will be spread out nicely, and wild and varied and from many viewpoints and not polished, and I think it’s really cool. Virtual Verite on the move. I sort of wish ole Stoney were still alive…I think he’d get a huuuuge kick out of what’s happening with “Citizen Journalism.”
Okay. I think I’m all ready, as far as my technology. Batteries charged, lenses cleaned, clothes washed, numbers taken down. Must print airport paper thing, something something.
Oh yeah, the alms bowl, as Kai puts it. If you got ’em smoke ’em. And wish me buena suerte on these planes that get my nervous system so jacked up.
UPDATE: This post does have a distinguished fotograph or two, not to mention very salacious suggestions on what albums you should be playing, but if you want a clear, thorough, updated list on how to stay in touch whilst I be doing the DNC and RNC gigs, please see here.
The Denver Pepsi Center, by bartlec
AND JUST LIKE THAT, Denver is upon us! Wow. So let me get on in here and recap, as i’ve been away from our little stucco joint for the last few days (thanks for keeping things funky around here; the gold shag did not escape my notice!)
Your humble narrator (whoa, that was a good one though I almost choked getting it out) has been selected/accepted/extractamented as an officially credentialed blogger covering the 2008 Democratic National Convention Center extravaganza this year. I hear all the riot cops are really looking forward to the whole thing, as well as the local…trees. Look at that picture. It seems not much exists in Denver aside from this building. I KID! Please. Joking. Clearly there is some kind of tower on the far right as well as a bridge center left.
Anyway, I’m going as official videographer (and all-around-good-time-blogger) with the Culture Kitchen Clashionista team, which also includes the funktastic web guerrillera Liza Sabater (who put the deal through) and the man with prose and insight like a well-honed and time-tested blade, Kai Chang de la Zuky.
Checking my emails and such I see that at some point I will be lunching with Howard Dean? Is that brunch or lunch? This must be resolved. And I sure hope Mister Dean is a good cook.
I think even more exciting than that will be the Special Side Journey and I’m Sure Very Enjoyable Evening with Friends of Kai’s. Stay tuned for that!
Some other junk, too. Special access tix to Big Tents or Digg Tents or Pig Pens as well as a Culturekitchen cocktail party or something magical, I don’t know! Come along, we’ll play it by ear. Basically, I am bringing my 35mm DSLR, and my good videocamera and my sound recorder, too. And Im going to be ready for anything that goes down around me. If I’m not too busy carrying it all.
Anyway, to sort of echo or affirm Kai’s post, I too am approaching this thing with a relaxed (except for the airplane) and unpretentious and unworried lean. That’s the great thing about getting access or voice when you were doing your thing; not altering or bending your voice to get that position. You get to stay who you are doing what you do. You are not in a strange element pretending to be something you are not.
Well, not to say that when I post for the Kenneth Cole AWEARNESS blog in my official capacity I will be writing quite the same as right here at UMX. That’s what’s great about being home, man! You just stretch out.
Did you hear that little jingle chime? That didn’t mean turn the page. That was a clue as to where you can find some more of my blognacious utterings during this whole #dnc08 biznass. And gracias to Kenneth Cole for the fine breakfast croissants I will eat in your honor. Tu piedra, it has been said. Tu piedra.
Here is the foto I used for the Kenneth Cole bio. The funny part is that I really didn’t consider this as one of the serious choices. It makes me laugh that it ends up my bio pic. But…the one I was going to use wasn’t preferred by the two people who looked at it and were given a chance to say, so I figured I was missing something. So be it!
This character will soon be featured as one of the "Top 100 Online Voices" (by an unnamed-for-now source). Watch UMX for news after the conventions on how Nezua is infiltrating the system by impersonating influential blogger types
(This character will soon be featured as one of the “Top 100 Online Voices” (by an unnamed-for-now source). Watch UMX for news after the conventions on how Nezua is infiltrating the system by impersonating influential blogger types)
I don’t know. I hear “Lunch with Howard Dean” and all I can think is “Frank Zappa. Why isn’t it lunch with Frank Zappa?” But you know what They say. These are the sacrifices required today in supporting this fine political machine we’ve inherited. All I can do to make it right, I think, is hum a snatch of Broken Hearts are for Assholes while supping with the fine and esteemed fellow. (This is actually pretty funny if you try it. Humming that song. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)
Clue #2 I will be dropping some Tweet on the street ovah hyeah. If you are not knowing what The Twitter is, I don’t think you’ll need to worry about it. But if you are on the scene, just request an add (as my updates are protected) and you TOO can stay attuned to fresh nez flyin straight outta #dnc08 (is that the hashmark we are using, people?). If you don’t want to bother with the protected updates/request, you can add my less-used but public twitterstream.) [UPDATE: this link was wrong. I’ve fixed it.
So! To sum up:
If you wanna hang out and see how things go with me, Kai, Liza and Friends, watch Kenneth Cole AWEARNESS Blog for text (and I hope video), hook up for realtime notes withTwitter,and while I do have a Flickr account, it is mechanically easier to shoot quick pics with my iPhone and upload them to House of Nezua then it is for me to use my 35mm digital camera with Flickr. (Though I will be shooting a lot!) So watch House of Nezua for fotos on the go. (I will also upload iPhone fotos (not a bad lil lens, all things considered) to my Twitter stream. I don’t know how viable it will be to use flickr because Kai and I are sharing a laptop for this venture. We won’t be able to do everything all the time.
Also watch UMX of course, for at least quick and unpolished blog posts. I won’t be hovering over a blog post for five hours. But I will try to shoot out some quick updates.
UPDATE: I have hooked up my iPhone to both Wp blogs, so now it won’t be a problem at all to update both, and with pics. Oh yeah! Technology. But if I have time for a couple paragraphs, I will try to hit UMX, once my Kenneth Cole obligation is done (that is first priority; they paid for my plane and hotel!)
Finally, give Sheik Yerbouti a listen. It’s a classic album.
Now that that’s all done, I do have one final request. I’ve thrown this out casually before and I’m very grateful to the people that were able to chip in. This time I’ll be plain, because the finances are not very casual! They are a bit unnerving, actually. So this request for any last minute donations goes out simply to those who can swing it and feel this shindig and reading along is a worthy cause. (It should also be noted that I am flying to St Paul only two days after I get back from Denver to cover the RNC convention. Talkaboutmemories…)
Anyway and either way, I’m glad to have you reading and I know it will all work out and be a blast. Good to be back, too.
OH, one last thing: if you are in Denver and want to get in touch on the odd chance we’ll bump into one another (and even if you already sent me something, email gets buried here quick) send out a simple note with ya info to nlxj[remove this]@theunapologeticmexicanDOTorg. You know. But change the DOT and, oh nevermind. You don’t even know what Twitter is. Sheesh!
THERE IS STILL A LOT GOING ON in the world, and every day, and many thoughts in my mind, and much moving through my heart. But I seem to have pulled back a bit, once again, from the flow of news and commentary. I’m sure it’s like a circuit breaker to keep me sane. On that: to all bloggers and news junkies I heartily and TOtally recommend “And now, the news” by Theodore Sturgeon. I really, really recommend it. It’s a fiction story and I think you’ll get a big kick out of it. Wait, let me recommend it one more time. Okay, there we go. Thanks.
Anyway, I’m not going anywhere. Just doing some work. Soon to be posting some interesting stuff I’m sure, as I’m gearing up for Denver (and of course any helping hand is welcomed!) and I’ll be doing a wee bit o’ the bloggy from hyar ta thar for sure. I’m still reading regularly but sporadically. And I’m sure I’ll be back here before long. In the meanwhile, feel free to peruse my finely-tuned blogroll. It’s pure velvet.
How about you? What’s on your mind, on tu plato? Anything worth repeating?
IT BAFFLES THE MIND to meet some of the mindsets in our country about migrants and the lives they lead, and the pains they go to to find work that will sustain them. The way some xenophobic individuals speak, you’d imagine Mexicans (because it’s always Mexicans to these people) stroking long luxurious mustachios and plotting which part of the USA they will reconquer, just exactly what excellent careers they will steal away from us, and how much of their fat moneyroll they will squander on coyotes. It’s always Mexicans to the haters because for them to acknowledge out loud in one rational conversation that people are coming from Mexico, from Cuba, from Guatemala, from Central America and South America would point to a huge economic crisis and imbalance that any rational person would have to connect back to U.S.
And how gross it is, once you realize how much these people are suffering, to think that rich, empty-headed, soul-rotted zombie elitist freaks like Mitt Romney knowingly and personally exploit this labor, drink up the sweat of the persecuted and desperate—and then turn around and talk trash about them, turn around and puke up speech that only makes the environment more dangerous for these already destitute and desperate humans. Fiends like John McCain turn around and talk about harsher laws and more punishment. Powder-bottomed pendejos like McCain are able to rack up eight houses, walk around in $500 shoes, eat all the rib round, tomatos and fresh fruit their cess-filled hearts desire, trot around in well-air-conditioned homes in fine linen undies and then talk about building laser-equipped fences to keep these “illegals” out of our pretty Green Zone.
These politicians are devils in human form. And they are our “leaders.”
These other ones? These men and women in Lecheria? They are merely human. And mostly forgotten.
Click the picture above to see and hear an audio slideshow shot and recorded by Photographer Jake Price, who spent a day beside the tracks in Lecheria, a poor inbetween town outside Mexico City, where migrants ride the rails in hopes of escaping to a better world.
LAW, while designed to create and maintain order (and so manifest an aspect of Truth) is sometimes, and by necessity must be, a cruelly powerful and unjust weapon.
Did you like that first sentence? I can do things like that with the English language. I can do many things with the English Language. I can roll it into a flashlight shape or smooth it into a soothing taste or pack it up into a tiny grain of deadly poison that smells like green apple Now & Laters. I can stretch it out into a ropeladder or whittle it down to an awl. I can hollow it out and pump it up into a vehicle that can navigate canyons. I can drive it into a hole.
Taking Spanish classes in 2006 wasn’t easy. I had to leave my friend behind. My friend, my magical power, my lifeboat. The English Language. I had to agree, for an hour at a time, to get out and walk. To know nothing. (Or very little.) To be quiet. Or I didn’t have to agree to be quiet. But for once, there was no other choice.
I learned that there is an ongoing process in my mind. My brain files with rapid speed, chooses between phrases and words and word usage, compares adjectives, discards cliche, seeks original combinations, checks them against ones previously used, and ultimately chooses the best way to say what it is I have to say.
This process brought me to a halt in Spanish class.
The rule in Spanish class was to Just Say It. Say it in the most awkward way you can, say it wrong, but just say it. That way maestra could quickly correct us, and get the sound in our brains right.
My process was catching at nothing, gears were spinning, teeth were whirling, files were being checked and summarily declared invalid. I could not arrive at the Best Way to Say It…because I had no choice. There was no Best Way and I knew it. I only had the Fumbling Way, the Incomplete Way, the Inarticulate Way, the Foolish Way.
I could not remember the last time in my life I had to choose those ways. I don’t do that. If The Process can not choose the Best Way, then I don’t bother.
Is that being Cool?
I read recently about how the birth of cool was with blacks in the USA. How “Cool” was a way, basically, of keeping pride and self-worth in the face of threat. That made sense to me right away.
I remember one time a kid said something he thought was funny and that I thought was insulting to me. And I looked at the kid and said “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.” I mean, I was little. I was a kid, too. And the kid’s mother (who knew me) laughed and said “[Nezua] is cool.” I wasn’t sure then if she was laughing at me or laughing with me.
All I was doing was keeping a lid on myself. Or on the moment. Because I didn’t know how to react to the threat. To the poking. And rather than bat back or freak out, well….have you ever known people who couldn’t shake off their mad until they made someone else cry? Like, people who hit kids with a belt or something and just aren’t happy until the kid breaks down and cries? I’ve known people like that. They feed on that reaction, on that indication of pain. It lies somewhere on the same continuum where you’ll find people digging at you verbally to get a rise out of you. So a kid can learn how to be “cool” at a young age, maybe, given the right set of threats.
But I wasn’t young in Spanish class. I was in my thirties. I showed up knowing a handful of words, knowing how to almost count to 100 (dieciséis always slips away from the memory!), and being able to replicate the sounds of the Spanish accent, as I had heard them at a very young age. But along with my magical stepladder, I had to leave my Cool behind, too. I had to expose my unknowing, my ignorance, my inability, my vulnerability, my desire to be more than I was at the moment.
I took away much more than new verbs to conjugate, or new phrases I could string together. But it was not easy.
I remember when I first walked out on the mat at my dojang. I was about 27. I talk about my training and competing days with Tae Kwon Do as if I’ve done it all my life. I haven’t. And the intensive part of my training was only about 2.5 years. But it was something I wanted to do all my life. Ever since I was a young kid. And fighting became something I was terrified to do. Because since the beginning, “fighting” really meant violence delivered one way in a very lopsided match. Even walking out on that mat, with pads on and sparring a friend. My mind was in high alert mode. I could think of nothing more terrifying, given my own life experiences, than actually walking into a fight, looking fists in the eye and deciding you could move quicker, or withstand the punch. I could see flying into a fury. I could see losing my temper, and I’d stood my ground with a few different instruments in my hand against someone much larger.
But walking onto that mat was a whole other story. In fact, walking up to the dojang that first day was not so different.
Nor was calling that number for Spanish Classes the first time.
LAW is like a language all unto itself. It is English, but the rules all change. You can’t just use words the way you normally would. You can’t just talk your way through something. The words have to come at the right time and in the right shape or they mean nothing. They mean worse than nothing, the become contempt. They become considered extremely dangerous. They can be met with violence. They can be met with an entire army.
There is a hearing I must attend. A paper came in the mail that told me this. It was signed by a judge and by lawyers. Normally, I relish the thought of dueling with letters. I just shake up my language bag and grab a few words, pinch and stretch them into plutonium gossamer, weave up a dew-studded summer spiderweb, stretch it across an indigo moonbeam. But law is not the same English.
In fact, it makes even the smallest conversations very difficult.
I called up the lawyer and told him I wasn’t going to be in the state that day. Nor for a few days. But I was happy to attend the hearing later. He had no problem with that, but it wasn’t that easy. I had to file a paper with the city court. I had to use the right words in the right order. I had to say it the right way and bring it to the right people in the right amount of time. And I did not know any of these things. And everyone told me they were “not allowed to give legal advice.” And there was no way I could afford a lawyer, nor would I want to for such a small thing.
I said to the woman in the city law library “You’d think it would be easier to simply ask to postpone a hearing.” She agreed. I scanned those fat books and hardly knew how to read them. And they were in English.
After talking to a friend and asking many people small questions and consulting with Google I put together a form in Photoshop that I had adapted from a related form. I made it look just how it was supposed to look. I typed it up and signed it and brought it to a city court clerk.
I felt pretty fine that day. I felt pretty damn competent. I had amazed myself, even—no easy task!
The LAW, always around you, always over you, always able to whisk you away and keep you hidden forever it it came to that, and here I had grabbed a piece of it. I had made it work for me. I had walked out on the mat. I had learned a new way of speaking, or at least a few choice phrases. I felt pretty powerful.
There, in the city court building, at the window ahead of me was what looked like a Mexican family. Well, I’m sure they were Mexican American, but there are communities here that have not been in the country long. There are gente, and these were some, who have an appearance and lack of English that puts them in danger of being hassled and considered aliens in today’s racist and xenophobic climate.
The man had gotten some kind of parking ticket, but couldn’t understand or speak English well, so a woman was translating for him. She may have been his wife, or maybe just a translator. They left the booth and I walked up and took care of my business. Filed my Motion for Postponement.
It didn’t take long. And then I was at the elevator.
In front of me was the man I had just seen at the window and his son. The man shook his head. In a strong Spanish accent, he said,
“Man. You have trouble here, too?”
I smiled. “Yeah.”
“Man,” he said, and shook his head again. Smiling. Then he turned to his son, who was busy with his Nintendo game. The man pointed to the stairs and doors, the ones I look at longingly each time I’m in that building. It looks like a quick and simple easy way back onto the street. But you are not allowed to leave through those doors. You need to walk downstairs and through the metal detector and then outside.
The man’s son wouldn’t look up and the man didn’t understand why he had to wait for the elevator when there were stairs and a sunny glass door right there.
In my mind I frantically reached for the best way to tell him that you couldn’t leave through those doors. Then I just looked for any way at all. I couldn’t believe I couldn’t remember. This always happened to me.
Salir? Salida? …Solo, Solamente? How do you say ‘enter”???? I can’t remember ‘enter!’
I just smiled and made a weird scrunchy motion with my finger that was intended to mean “You can’t actually leave through those doors, you can only enter through them” and probably looked more like “I now scrape the halo off of this invisible angel hovering beside me.” Even I didn’t understand what the hell that motion was supposed to mean.
We rode the elevator in silence. Well, near-silence. The giddy sounds of Nintendo filled the small space. Nobody made small talk.
And then, on the first floor, I walked out the doors and into the sun again. I felt on top of the world. Master of my own fate. I smiled. And for once I didn’t feel a helpless molecule under the crushing tide of law….or fate…or other people’s unjust wielding of the law.
The Mexican family walked by just as I was getting into my car. I smiled at the man.
“Suerte!” I said.
He looked confused. Surprised? Puzzled. He smiled.
TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY ARE FUSING at such a fast rate there’s not enough time even to consider all the ethical and sociological implications. But an obvious one is that there is no longer much of a separation between Them, Us, and It.
Here’s one of the better uses of YouTube and best examples of creating a short only from computer screens and still shots that I’ve come across lately.
One thought that rises in my mind is at the end when the video talks about all those things that we have to rethink…”borders” should have been a word. We see that the way we see “borders” is a construct of the past. And yet some are stodgily, dinosaurusly talking about laser concrete super-robot fence-walls. And in the face of today’s desperate migrations from a place of economic strife that our economy has worsened with imbalanced dealings! As if walling off the people but keeping the practices in place can accomplishing anything. Because their minds cannot imagine a world that treats a border differently than the ways they’ve imagined in the past. It reminds you of the old SciFi books where they would try, unsuccessfully to imagine the future. Sometimes you’d see devices that seemed futuristic to a mind from a past time, but revealed the confines of their mental arena. Like in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation (which is a brilliant and unique series), wherein generations of people set themselves to a task of writing a multi-generational encylopedia for the future generations as they feel history will be lost. It is a wiki, in fact, before wikis. But they imagine it written on paper!
Mexico City’s own Alfonso Cuarón (director of Y tu mamá también) puts it well.
“I enjoy doing children’s films and I enjoy working with children, but in every single film I’ve done, the people I care to communicate with are young people,” [Alfonso Cuarón] explains. “I don’t know how good a communicator I am with older people in the sense that I just feel more comfortable trying to communicate with young people. For me, that’s where hope resides.”
The way he sees it, evolution has moved at lightning speed when it comes to technology and knowledge, but at a snail’s pace when it comes to ethics and politics. His hope is that this will start to change with the generation behind his own. For while he acknowledges that plenty of people of his generation and older are struggling to address issues such as global warming and immigration, he has no faith in the politicians.
Cuarón points to the tale of two walls as an example, recalling that when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the democratic world celebrated. “Because walls don’t work. Now the conversation is, ‘Let’s put a wall between Mexico and the States.’ Everything’s going into very archaic solutions, very archaic ways of seeing things,” he says.
“I do believe in the younger generation, people that were born in this reality,” he adds. “Part of the problem of the older generation is that everything is a regressive thing, ‘Let’s go back to this paradise.’ That’s not going to happen. The younger generation, they know that this is the world they are living in. They have to transform this world.”
Yes, The Cloud. It’s a liaison “area” that connects your computers together, owned by Apple. Or Apple/AT&T, think of it almost as a room that has been installed…a pipeline or valve that connects all your information to itself so you can access that valve anywhere. And remember there are other parties sucking from that valve.
Tell them what you are about to do from moment to moment with Twitter. Share all your documents and business cards gained and receipts kept with the text-scanning and foto-scanning Evernote. Take fotos of your environment as you move about and Geotag them with Flickr. Instant message the dialogue all your ongoing relationships with AIM. Let everyone know where you are and where you spend your cash with Whrrl. And all the while we are watched by the Google Eye Mapmaker Gods. And every day new modes of surveillance are proposed or enacted. Drone planes, border towers, razor wire, laser skies.
Are we feeling safer yet?
We imagined the telescreen and got the Essence right. But the Symbol we did not. We didn’t see that we’d not have them as TVs, but as computers. And we imagined them bolted down. And we never imagined they wouldn’t be mandatory, but sought after as prizes and status symbols. And we didn’t imagine we’d not try to slip out of their sightline, as Winston did, but that we would strip down naked and dance in front of them at nearly every opportunity. We imagined generations compiling databases of information….but didn’t see that we’d be using them to construct these databases for the government, and not for the People. Nor that this great new technology would be used for the building of new walls, when the global information highway so obviously erases so many barriers.
IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT and the simplest things we forget. So much energy poured away, or stones carried far and then dropped down in our own path and with our own hands. When I look at the world and the trouble in the world and this governments responses to trouble and too many parents’ responses to their childrens’ challenges, the criminal justice system and the razor rifts in our relationships, the rising hate crimes the war of terror the increasing militarization of culture…
I think of that story I was told as a child about the sun and the wind competing to make a man remove his coat. I think about how poorly most people respond to punishment or control tactics. I think of how quickly and easily the human being jumps into arguing, condemning, judging, fearing, negativity, and how easily we forget to breathe, relax our muscles, drink water, take care, nourish positivity.
I think of how good we can be at pushing people away when we want them to be near, or stoking our own anxiety when we want to be free from fear. I think of how quickly we can deny another what it is we most want ourselves.
I think of the “immigration issue.” How much easier it seems to be for people to stoke up fear, talk about jails, talk about walls, operate as if we need to protect something from people, when they are part of all we are, when we can all help make each other’s lives more full and beautiful and nobody has to lose. And yet, it seems it is so much easier to get people to fear and hoard than it is to convince them that they are safer when giving, sharing, taking care of others.
This human and stubborn negativity-attracting dynamic is only one of the obstacles The Sanctuary has to work against. The mainstream media and too much of the mainstream blogosphere: either absent from the moral conversation, vitriolic and opposed to anything except persecution, punishment, deportation or maybe just unaware of how to help. But even by remaining silent in the face of so many wrongs, Good People help the climate of fear and racism and xenophobia grow more dense and pervasive as it scoops up even well-meaning people and drops them down a horrible hole. ICE operates outside the law and under the radar and none of that much matters because who’s gonna protest?
And yet, insultingly and depressingly, this imbecilic calculating political conversation rattles on, like a cracked shit-peanut inside a skeleton’s head. Talk of Harsher Enforcement and More Walls and moreraids! No matter how many children the aggression hurts or how many people it drags down into degradation pain or death; no matter how many families are torn into pieces or how much of our own social fabric is compromised by our insistent return to a duller, paler age when we thought we had to kill everything in our path, run from it, or hoard it before someone stole it right out of our cave. Still, we celebrate fear. Still, the fierce wind of ignorance rages and we wonder why this world can be so cold.
EARTHLINGS need to know that I don’t feel interested today in a long post on any given topic. Yet—dammit—the planet requires my input on certain subjects and I’m not going to stand in between humankind’s need for that input and…me. Because that would just be selfish. Aside from spatially impossible.
1. Firstly, the illo above does not appear in, but spins off of (black and white) art I did for Gods, Gachupines, and Gringos: A People’s History of Mexico, a book by a fella who’s been a reader at UMX since back in El Grito days, Richard Grabman over at the MexFiles. You’ll see comments from him usually under some variation of “El Pinche Guero.” We’ve banged heads a few times, but anyone who stays my friend can give and take lumps with the best of ’em!
2. The Sanctuary. You may have heard of this group that I’m a part of. If you search this blog you’ll see that we are getting more mediaattentionlately, and this is because we are taking on some issues head on. Issues like human rights, even as they apply to measly ole Mexican migrants, and because we have a core group of smart, dedicated, passionate people. We could use all hands on board, so if you feel that you want to get in on the act, speak out, join the community, write diaries, please come on by. And if you’re not ready to do that, and even if you are, please visit this page I’ve created to grab a badge for your sidebar and help us spread the word and show solidarity.
3. On the topic of Stinking Badges, you know I’ve already offered you a page where you show your UMX love. But now, in the hopes of recruiting even more of you to give Nezua your very best link-love, I’ve made another page with even juicier badges. They are shown at full-size (200px wide) for those with the newer, wider sidebar you see a lot of lately, but they are coded to display at no wider than 150px, for the thinner sidebars that still are the standard. If you want them to show in all their wide glory, just strip out the piece of code that says width=”150″ and in its place, make sure there is only one space between the remaining attributes. If you paste the provided code as-is, the badge will simply show as 150px wide. Included are AlienCholo, the No-Boundaries icon, the Calavera Cosmica, Sailing el Sexto Sol, and The world-famous Melting Pot image. Grab ’em while they hot!
And if you are a site or blog or business that wants a page like that, so you can offer your readers badges and code and make it very easy for them to use, drop me a line, I can cook up one of these pages to match your current theme/logo/colors (prices vary depending on how much art I am creating/do you have your own art, are you a non-profit/business/personal).
4. Anthrax. Do you buy this stuff about Ivins? I don’t, not for a minute. Granted, I haven’t read the evidence. But the story as presented? Dunno. It feels real thin. A number of details jumped out at me right off the bat. For one thing, people who plan violent massacres with shotguns (and statistically most males) do NOT SUICIDE WITH PILLS. I don’t say this out of guessing. I did spend some time being educated on matters psychological and was a counselor for a short time. Sure, that statement is nothing more than circumstantial. Men still do kill themselves with pills. But a homicidal maniac? I’m sort of laughing at the idea. Anyway, Tylenol??? A brilliant scientist with scientist friends can’t secure anything better than Tylenol to off himself with? Thats too much. And we could go on. Did you read about some of the FBI’s tactics? Showing up at a mall when he is with his family? Bullying him and scaring his family? “Do you know your father killed someone?” Bribing his own son with millions to testify against him?? Sorry, folks. This is not an investigation. This is mob tactics. The USGOV sent out its goons to threaten and scare this man and make it clear that they were going to set him up, that they were setting him up and there was no way out. Government needed a fall-guy. And for now, that’s how I’m writing it, that’s how I’m filing it. Why? Because you know what this government has earned from me in almost eight years of holding power?
5. Email. Do you ever feel like there is a certain amount of your email that just goes into a hole in the sky? Letters nobody replies to that you don’t follow up on because you are sure they didn’t reply on purpose. So you let it go. But maybe they just never got the email and somewhere….somewhere there is a massive clustered orb of ballpoint pens and unanswered emails and they are dancing with the blackboxes from the planes that disappeared on 9/11, and the whole party will be joined before long by our melting ice caps which will make Indian Santa shed tears of acid rain down upon all our thirsty oil derricks.
6. The McCain Ads on the site. A person has complained on one of these posts. A friend has alerted me through Twitter with a four-fire alarm. THERE ARE MCCAIN ADS ON YOUR SITE!! It made me wonder if I should be more upset. Do I support McCain? No. I think he is a fool and a dangerous one. Do I think he has the right to advertise? Sure. Have any ads brought UMX more money than McCain ads so far? Nope. Do I want them there? Well….nah. Not really. Two people have inquired lately about ads on UMX and I don’t mean to ignore them, I will be speaking with you this week. I’ve been really really nariz to tha grind with illustration job above, and my administrative assistant thinks her law school education is more important, lately, than assisting me so some things have got slacky. But I am guessing I will be replacing some of those google ads with ads I feel better about soon. Just give me a little time. Come on, you know Johnny McCain smiling at ya makes you feel like buying a ninth house and bombing Iran!
7. The Continued Sadistic Behavior of our Police.You do know what they are after? The same thing that our government is after with their insane and brutal GWOT tactics. Nobody really expects these things to “work.” The idea is simply to terrify people—as well as get their rocks off, of course. They use the “non-lethal” weapons as pain compliance, as “told ya so”, as “fuck you punk”, as “I can get away with this” weaponry. They rarely if ever are convicted for it, just like the twisted old men in government office who have carried out crimes against humanity so far have escaped their rightful due. And they want you to carry in your mind that this could happen to you at any time, and that there will be no recourse available to you. It’s part of the War on Freedom. The most successful war ever launched, unannounced, and enforced daily. They want you to begin treading lightly, shutting up, bowing down. They want to look at you and have you flinch. They want no more protests and no more free speech and the fact that some people can be punched senseless, tased to death, blackholed, tortured, disappeared, spied on…it all lends itself to better controlling people. I’m not saying “THEY” all get together and plan this. But certain mindsets desire certain outcomes and this informs certain actions and not even one of them ever has to articulate their sick condition for it all to work just so. Tasers. And now they are talking about putting them in schools? Giving taser guns to police in schools? Oh, that sounds like a good idea.
Someone needs to design an underclothing that sends that shock back to the sender. Make the triggerfinger think twice.
8. Denver. I’m still going! I think. I mean all plans are on. I still need to take care of a few things. I am lucky enough to benefit from the brains and hard work of Liza Sabater (an amiga who is both involved with The Sanctuary, as well as the publisher of CultureKitchen, where I sometimes blog) and the monies of Kenneth Cole. I am an officially credentialed blogger for the DNCC under those auspices, and as such, have been given a grant that is making hotel and airfare possible. (I am the official videographer on this gig.) I am very grateful, because that is 95% of what is making this possible. A couple generous and very cool readers here at UMX have also sent some donations, and if you would like me to suck an olive in your name, please chip in and know that I will make this happen. You have my word. (Related, I’ve been accepted as a blogger for Huffington Post’s Off the Bus, and will soon be setting up that profile. Will drop links when ready.)
9. Batman. I came home after seeing it and was so overwhelmed by the feeling that GWBush had been praised by proxy that I typed a writeup that focused on that. I got a little pushback and not that in and of itself that warrants a stutter-step, but because I did feel it was an enjoyable movie with a lot going on, and because it was written without notes or review, I also felt it wasn’t fair to just leave it at that. So it will take me a few days to finish viewing and taking notes and then gathering screenshots and polishing up a second review, but lo! I have been working on it, and we will soon have a new first for UMX, and that is a second pass at one movie. I did play with the idea for a few of my reviews, but this time it shall be done!
Most of Juan Felipe Herrera’s many books evoke at once the hardships that Mexican-Americans have undergone and the exhilarating space for self-reinvention that a New World art offers. The child of migrant workers and now a professor at the University of California, Riverside, Herrera began to publish and perform verse in the late 1960s and early ’70s, amid the Chicano cultural ferment of Los Angeles and San Diego; he has been, and should be, admired for his portrayals of Chicano life. Yet he is no mere recorder of social conditions. Herrera is, instead, a sometimes hermetic, wildly inventive, always unpredictable poet, whose work commands attention for its style alone.