Thursday, April 27, 2006

“Today Is Her Birthday...”

Mi mejor amiga has a birthday today. She'd probably kill me if I mentioned her true age so let's just say she's older than she used to be but not as old as she'll be this time next year.

Anyway, she's been a big help to me this past year. I hope she has a good year.

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Why I Am Not a Chicano

I suppose I could call myself a Chicano if I wanted to. After all, I am an American of Mexican descent, and that's what Chicanos essentially are -- Americans of Mexican descent who, like me, were born in this country.

But I never really wanted to call myself a Chicano.

And while I respect the achievements of the Chicano movement and their fight for the rights of people like me, I can't help but sense a sad irony in a movement that fought for the rights of people of Mexican descent -- yet seemed to treat the word “Mexican” itself like a dirty word.

I suppose if I had grown in an environment where the word “Mexican” was constantly being used as a suffix to words like “dirty,” “lazy,” “crooked,” and “evil,” I'd hate the word “Mexican” too.

But I didn't.

I grew up in the company of Mexican immigrants who did not call themselves “Latinos” or “Hispanics” or “Spanish people” but instead called themselves MEXICANS. Why? Because most of them were either born in Mexico or were descended from people born in Mexico.

Most of my Mexican relatives did not necessarily brag about being Mexican but they didn't act like it was anything to be ashamed of, either. Indeed, for many years, the strongest and most positive influence upon my life came from my Mexican relatives, not my non-Mexican relatives.

And in many ways, my Mexican relatives will always influence my life.

I suppose I should call them my Mexican-American relatives. After all, many of them were born in this country like myself and some even served in the US Armed Forces.

But most of my relatives tended to refer to themselves as being Mexican for the same reason many of my mother's Polish-American relatives referred to themselves as being Polish -- it was easier.

Anyway it doesn't really matter what you call yourself as long as you're proud of your ancestors and, more importantly, act in such a way as to make your ancestors proud of you.

As for the sad individual who feels the need to put down somebody else's ancestors in order to make himself or herself feel better... Well, neither Spanish nor English has enough cuss-words for me to say what I think about that type of person...

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“Those Were The Days, My Friend...”

I'm missing my hometown of Detroit something awful this week.

For that matter, I'm missing my father's hometown of San Francisco del Rincón a lot too. San Francisco del Rincón -- or San Pancho, as its residents sometimes call it -- was the town where I met my first girlfriend. She was the type of girl that could turn a guy's head -- and why I lost contact with her, I'll never know.

I'm really tempted to kick myself sometimes...

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mi Familia, Parte II

I was going to post some photos but I'm experiencing technical difficulties.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Mi Familia, Parte I

My nephew, Luis Guajardo, has a blog of his own.

Not only that plus he and his band had two songs included in the new movie, The Hills Have Eyes.

I don't know whether to be a proud uncle or just jealous. But he's my nephew and I love him anyway...

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Happy Easter

I wish a happy Easter to all of you who read this blog. Unless, of course, you don't celebrate Easter. In which case I wish you a nice day...

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Declaring The Pennies On My Eyes

I'm doing my taxes this week. I hope to have my form in the mail by Thursday morning.

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More Quotes I Like

People look for themselves in books and movies. They count on those touchstones, not so much for gospel as affirmation that others have walked the same path.
--Lily Burana

And still -- he was happy. For happiness, he told himself, is not in being loved -- which is a satisfaction of the vanity and mingled with disgust. Happiness is in loving, and perhaps in snatching little fugitive approaches to the beloved object.
--Thomas Mann, “Tonio Kruger”

I stand between two worlds. I am at home in neither, and I suffer in consequence. You artists call me a bourgeois, and the bourgeois try to arrest me... I don't know which makes me feel worse.
--Tonio Kruger in Thomas Mann's “Tonio Kruger”

I have taken Caliban's advice. I have stolen their books. I will have some run of this isle.
--Richard Rodriguez, The Hunger of Memory

Through my reading, however, I developed a fabulous and sophisticated sexual imagination. At seventeen, I may not have known how to engage a girl in small talk, but I had read Lady Chatterley's Lover.
--Richard Rodriguez, The Hunger of Memory

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When You're Poor, You Wait...

When you're poor, you wait. You wait for a job. You wait for a ride. And most importantly, you wait for medical attention.

Of course, rich people gotta wait to see the doctor as well, but their waits are never as long as a poor person's wait.

And if you don't have insurance, you definitely have to wait a long time. You wait if you're hungry. You wait if you have to take medication. You wait if you're hypoglycemic and about to pass out because you don't dare go get a sandwich while you're waiting for your name to be called.

You just plain wait.

Of course, someday the US might have socialized medicine and things will be different. For starters, the waits will be longer...

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Why I Love Country Music

Okay, the Dresden Dolls isn't exactly country music, but then neither is a lot of the music I listen to. And yet more and more the radio stations I turn to most are those which play country music and the CDs I'm most likely to buy are by country artists.

Author Lily Burana once explained the appeal of country music with this quote:

“I've come to love country-and-western. I used to hate it, but now between the deft storytelling and open-heartedness, I'm hooked.”

And this quote:

“I need the formula for conveying heartache that country does best. A world-weary voice, stark and plaintive against the weeping of the fiddle, a steel guitar coming in to address the grievances of the strings, and then a crescendo that brings the three together, pulsing with emotion and blood -- taste and restraint be damned.”

No doubt that's one reason I'm also a Lily Burana fan...

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Come To The Punk Cabaret, Old Chum

I've been listening to the self-titled album by the Dresden Dolls a lot lately. Not exactly an album I'd recommend for family listening, but close enough to my current mood to be suitable to me. The group specializes in a brand of eclectic music that has been characterized as “punk cabaret” -- plenty of frenzied piano-playing and some sweet melodies on the most unlikely subjects.

I first got hooked on the group when I heard the song “Coin-Operated Boy” on the PA at a local record store. It was a simple novelty tune and yet more than a novelty tune. I'm tempted to call it the “Imaginary Lover” of the 21st Century because it covers similar subject matter. A girl -- who is lonely -- purchases a -- well -- a coin-operated boy. You can guess the rest of the story from there.

There was a time when I turned up my nose at this type of melodrama, but lately I've acquired a taste for it. It might not help me understand the world but it can help me tolerate it.

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With Apologies to Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins

I looked on food from both sides now,
From binge to starve,
And still somehow,
It's food's illusions I recall.
I really don't know food...at all...


P.S. I binge-ate when I was in my early-twenties and I starved myself in a fit of pseudo-anorexia when I was in my mid-twenties. I would like to think I have a saner attitude toward food today -- but only by comparison.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

“Love Has No Pride”

Actually, love has a lot of pride. Too much, in fact.

Love is inevitably too proud to admit it made a mistake. That it's aimed at the wrong person. That it takes place at the wrong time. That it's motivated by the wrong emotions. It can be motivated by pity or sorrow or lust or even greed -- and yet be too proud to admit any of that.

Perhaps Patty Smyth of the group Scandal said it best:

Sometimes love just ain't enough...”

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

“That's Funny, You Don't Look Hispanic...”

Heh. Queen Sucia aka Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez has produced the best answer to that type of comment that I've heard thus far.

I also like this comment.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

“Immigration--It's a Complicated Subject...”

At least, that's how one Hispanic co-worker put it.

And I must admit that I agree.

After all, I actually met a former illegal alien once. And I also met a Hispanic veteran of the US Army. Interesting enough, they were one and the same person. And somehow I doubt that was a rare example.

Of course, I can't help but wonder how many illegal aliens I know that I don't really know to be illegal aliens. After all, my late paternal grandfather was a migrant worker. My late father was a naturalized citizen whose first job involved helping his father pick cherries in northern Michigan. I'd like to believe that both he and my grandfather came over legally -- after all, my grandfather was supposedly involved with the bracero program -- but sometimes I wonder...

And that's one problem with the illegal alien debate. It's easy enough to go on about the faults and vices of “those” illegal aliens; after all, most of them aren't saints. But once you start dealing with them on an individual basis, the whole question of who or who isn't an illegal alien becomes more problematic.

And yet just sticking with the status quo doesn't seem like an adequate solution either. Every time I hear the same old cliché about illegal aliens only taking jobs that Americans don't want to do, I can't help but think about the black-owned janitorial service that gave me my first job back in the 1980s -- and what the people who own that service must think about the Walmart janitorial scandal a few years back. After all, janitorial work wasn't considered a “job Americans don't want to do” back in the 1980s. Why is it considered that way now? What happens to the Americans who used to do it? And how many Americans have quit doing it because they couldn't afford to compete with firms that employed illegal aliens?

And why don't those Hispanics who defend illegal aliens ever seem to consider the questions I just asked? Would we be as quick to defend illegal aliens if they were, say, Irish? Or Nigerian? And if not, why not?

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