Bar Poems II: Lupita at The Tap
Early autumn evening,
entering he leads the way
escorted by gust of wind
she closely following,
small child riding on her hip
all sweatered up against the chill.
a rising chorus of groans as
the door can't hold the wind,
they settle in the farthest booth
and finally, the door slams shut.
almost lost in a corner behind
the bar stands San Martín Caballero
framed, leaning from his horse to share
his cape with Christ disguised as beggar.
the universal patron of Mexican barmaids
wherever they may be, Martín
is alternately cajoled or threatened
depending on the need.
in a new twist, a small statue of Lupita stands
beside San Martín, her eyes fixed on the cape.
The repairman's head rises slow
from the belly of the jukebox
silent, now he stuffs a fiver in the slot
while the young mother stands at the bar
coaxing a quarter's worth of peanuts from
the machine, the kid still riding on her hip.
Soft chords grow in volume, a flickering ceiling
light turns incandescent and the jukebox glows bright
in perfect timing to illuminate her exposed back
completely covered by a tattoo in living color
as it should be - unlike the tattoos of Guadalupe
on the backs of aging members of the fearful Tiny Dukes
from the Hazard Projects of East L.A., monochrome
india ink matching the tear drops falling from their eyes
no, not here, here she is surrounded by golden rays
that almost project beyond the young mother's back,
here is Lupita as she should be, a mother honored
as the one who erased the fear from juan diego's heart,
vita and dulcedo from spes humanity's
In counterpoint, the jukebox is now playing
at full volume, Led Zeppelin's anthem "Stairway to Heaven"
copyright © Jesús B. Otxoa 2012
My favorite Tweet to start the day - a huge victory for we the people - "Trevor Timm @trevortimm - Huge thanks to @nathanLfuller of @SaveBradley for giving up his press pass for today. @FreedomofPress has a stenographer in the media room!
In Turkey, They Protest to Save a Park: In El Paso, 13% Bother to Vote, but 20,000 Pendejos Turn Out for Yet Another Street Festival to Celebrate What?
As has been pointed out all over the web, the protests started because of the projected razing of some trees in a small park in Istanbul, and then moved to a larger venue, also a park.
Bit by bit, the protests grew and are now occuring throughout the country, and as of this writing, are targeting any number of actions by the government deemed to be intrusions into the lives of ordinary citizens.
The conventional wisdom was that only when labor weighs in will the government be in serious trouble, and that would bode ill for Turkey's relationship with the United States as a "stable" democracy in the Middle East.
The labor unions have now not only joined the protets, but have called for a two day general strike. The goverment has been accused of commiting acts of "state terror", according to the westerm press, and is now desperately seeking meetings with the protest organizers. Repercussions could, in the long term, prove more damaging (or liberating, depending on your point of view) than the "Egypt Spring."
A professor of political science at the University of Istanbul has come up with a quote that is spreading across the net.
"First there were 70 protesters and the police tear gassed them. Then there were 700 protesters and the police tear gassed them. Then there were 7,000 protesters and the tear gassed them and shot them with rubber bullets. Then there were 700,000 protesters, and the police fled."
I wish I had the original attribution, but I do not. Some sites are crediting Amy Goodman and Juan González over at Democracy Now.
Meanwhile, Back In Our Drought Striken Border City,
Today, Tuesday, June 4, marks the second day of early voting for the run-off election. Without question, the most important race on the ballot is the choice in District 7 between Lily Limón, an experienced and committed educator with a long history of civic involvement, and a non-practicing lawyer whose New Mexico license is listed as "inactive."
She does not appear to be a member of the Texas Bar, and her experience in civic endeavors is limited to her being hand-picked by the County Judge to sit on Commissioners' Court, where she has functioned as the robot she was chosen to be, a properly cloned hand maiden to the Judge with no mind of her own, apparent or real.
Her newly acquired interest in local politics appears to be motivated by receiving a salary for voting the right way, with a gasoline expense allowance thrown in.
The choice for District 2 is truly depressing, being between Larry Romero and Jim Tolbert. The latter, a Republican, was hand-picked by Susie Byrd to succeed her. Romero, who has been around forever, and formerly associated with the "Hispanic" Chamber of Commerce - those militants for employees' lack of rights - is either a conservative Democrat or a Republican, take your choice.
Both are supported financially by the far right Republican rich. It bears mention that Romero is in the run-off only because of his name, so perhaps he'll remember some of his beginnings, but I'm not holding my breath.
Carl L. Robinson, who committed to truth and didn't drink the kool aid offered by the morning Slimes and the raze City Hall dolts, faces an unknown in the run-off for District 4. It is difficult to imagine that he will be upset. In his first term, he has truly stood for his district and for the people of El Paso and not for the mega rich hell bent driving El Paso into bankruptcy court.
El Paso - Where It's All Good (For Nothing) - Act I
Important: from my friends Sonya, Bill Addington -
Oscar Leeser for Mayor
Friends, we're hearing from some voters that they're experiencing difficulties and inconsistencies when voting. Please make sure to double check your ballot before casting it and if you have a problem voting please tell the precinct judge and contact our office immediately at 999-1250 or TeamOscar2013@gmail.com.
A couple of months ago, I received a letter from my friend Carlos Marentes, who runs the Farmworkers' Center Sin Fronteras over at 9th Street right near the border. I urge you to click on "letter", and, if you will, act accordingly.
Other than forward the letter to some friends, I waited to publicize it because I was trying to chase down the identity of certain City officials whom I'd like to see removed from public employmemt, and to the devil with any claim that they were only following orders. Unfortunately, my sources are fearful of retaliation, and as it turns out, they have every reason to be leery.
The story goes like this. There is a young teacher much loved by his students in one of the high schools in the lower valley. Over the years, the teacher has put on a "car show" featuring the low riders favored by many in the Chicano-Chicana community.
The shows have always taken place, with permission, in one of the parking lots of the high school. Never has there been an incident of any nature.
The last car show brought in almost $1,500.00, all of which was donated to Sin Fronteras. Those of us who are familiar with the Center know that this amount of money really doesn't stretch all that far, and that most of it goes for food.
Enter your City and mine.
This year, the teacher was contacted by a City official. The conversation went something like this.
"Hey, bro, we hear you put on a pretty good car show, and we'd like to offer you the chance for one sponsored by the City, downtown, and you know how our street shows draw good crowds."
"Yeah, sounds really good - Yeah, I'm interested, but can you tell me what percentage would go for the farmworkers?"
"Farmworkers? (chuckle) No, bro, you get the publicity but all the money goes to the City."
"To the City? Sorry, man, but you're talking to the wrong guy. Adios."
Next thing he knows, the teacher is called into his principal's office where he is told that the school district has banned further car shows on school property. Too risky.
Dirty, friggin' greedy City bastards. They truly think they own the rest of us.
A couple of emails (one accusing me of having gone 'round the bend and the other of having no consideration for the rights of others and telling lies to boot) prompted me to turn the hovel upside down in search of what I now call "the gorilla papers."
So here is the stuff, straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. Actually, it's from an article in the April 14-20 edition of the El Paso Inc., tabloid, under the by-line of one Robert Gray, an apparently good man and true. And parts of it are reprinted here under that lovely "Fair Use" doctrine of American Law.
But first, let's reprise the imploding of City Hall, an outrage that will forever tarnish the City Council that made it possible, for although it was born in the mojitos fueled brain of the City Manager, it was a bought and sold by a majority of Council which placed its imprimatur on the process. Led by a doofus mayor, the politicians bought the tripe put out by the Paso del Norte Group and some rich folk who wanted to buy a kid a baseball team (but not a really good one) hook, line and sinker.
And now to the El Paso Inc. "The gigantic banner hanging atop Ciy Hall proclaiming 'It's Happening' which was to be destroyed with the building . . . is the beginning of a marketing campaign . . . including a gorilla and flash mobs . . ." See? I wasn't lying.
At the time of the explosion, the banner had been blown back atop the building
by a westerly wind.
By José Antonio López (via Prof. Roberto Calderón, North Texas University) - 30 - This site is best viewed with either the free Firefox or Chrome Browsers
At the momment of the explosion, the wind suddenly shifted to the east. The crowd of official onlookers, savoring their early morning drinks atop the building next to the Plaza Theatre, scurried for cover as a thick cloud of dust and debris (asbestos) engulfed the building, catching a few of the onlookers who didn't make it to cover. Like so many cockroaches?
It is known that no representative of the City, of the Paso Del Norte Group, of the Mountain Star Sports outfit, dared to honor the tradition of symbolic participation in the bringing down of a building. Only the technicians in charge of the demolition actually pushed the buttons in the absence of the people who made the demotion possible. Cowards.
My friends and I had been watching the proceedings from the 17th floor of the Camino Real Hotel. A pal asked me, "sure you didn't put some kind of an Aztec curse on this nonsense?" I grinned and said no, first off, I'n not a Mexica, but I can't speak for my other brothers and sisters who honor the tradition.
On September 18, 2012, I had been in line, waiting to address council, standing behind well fed Veronica Soto, who heads the Downtown Management District. The DMD is "funding the marketing campaign" starring flash mobs and the gorilla mentioned in the first paragraph above.
Soto spoke for the baseball project, including the prospective demolition of City Hall. When she brought her children into her statement, saying more or less that the baseball project would enrich her children's experience in growing up in El Paso and without which they would be deprived, she burst into tears, real ones, to accompanying sobs.
In spite of my embarrassment, I almost asked her if she was alright, but she composed herself, telling council that it was their duty to approve the baseball deal if downtown was to survive. The only things she failed to mention were God and the flag.
I remember thinking, where the hell do we get such people?
"According to Soto," the DMD "launched the nearly $26,000 marketing campaign" - a campaign that's low cost (!!!!), unconventional and often unexpected . . . A person in a gorilla suit is going to show up randomly at Downtown events wearing a t-shirt with the 'It's Happening' slogan and colorful hard hat . . . 'I can't wait to ask (City Manager Joyce Wilson), 'would you wear this colorful hard hat and take a picture in front of the new City Hall,' Soto says.'"
Earth to Soto: don't settle for half. Ask Wilson if she's willing to don the gorilla suit, please. And be sure to specify which new City Hall. There's several of them downtown, no? Here's a pix of a real one to inspire you. Matter of fact, I bet he'd work for peanuts if the guy in the suit doesn't show. Lord, one really can't make up this stuff. Word, dogs.
Tejano History Barely Dodged the SB 1128 Bullet
SAN ANTONIO, May 30 - Texas State Republican Senator Dan Patrick seeks to lessen Tejano history's value in college credit.
He is clearly following his unwise, ultimate goal to keep Mexican-descent students from learning about their long-ignored ancestors in Texas. In formulating his Senate Bill 1128 to enact Arizona-style, anti-Mexican culture legislation on this side of the border, the Senator wants students to learn only post-1836 Texas (Anglo) history and not early Texas (Spanish Mexican) history. Because of opposition by groups of concerned Texas citizens, he has decided to temporarily halt the processing of his bill; at least for now.
Senator Patrick's ideas are the proverbial "slap in the face" insult to Tejanos (Spanish Mexican-descent Texans), most of whose pedigree goes back to the very foundation of Texas. Clearly, the Senator needs some remedial instruction. Before he re-introduces his repulsive bill, he should attend a Mexican American Studies college course right there in Austin. First, he will be gently reminded by the professor that Texas is in New Spain and not New England. Also, he'll learn that New Spain in the U.S. is over twice as large as New England. Then, he will learn that Texas history does not begin with the 1836 Battle of the Alamo. Most of all, he will learn of the basic set of core values that students study in these classes - faith, family, justice, industriousness, and patriotism. Yes, this is the same core value system that our ancestors put in place in Texas before the arrival of Anglo immigrants from the U.S.
The Senator from District 7 should bring his staff along, as well as the Republican representatives who sponsored the equally repugnant HB 1938. They need the special schooling as much as he does. Among other things, the instructor will be sure to remind them that our rich pre-1836 Spanish Mexican heritage is the main root of Texas history. It is this one element in our long story in Texas and the Southwest that allows us to celebrate our unique "American" culture year-round. That is, not just during Spanish Heritage Month in September, that was designed to recognize Hispanic and Latino "immigrant" groups in the U.S. They will also learn that about 15 to 20 million Mexican-descent U.S. citizens originating in the Southwest are so distinguished from our other sister Hispanic groups. Simply stated, the fact that we (Spanish Mexican-descent Texans and Spanish Mexican-descent citizens of the Southwest) are not immigrants to the U.S. is the part of our history that makes Anglophiles apoplectic, quite simply because they neither understand nor accept it.
Indeed, it's quite ironic that Republican Governor Rick Perry had the honor of dedicating the Tejano Monument on the grounds of the State Capitol Building last year. (Quick to display his beaming sonrisa (smile) from ear to ear, he appeared to relish this Tejano-flavor moment just as much as anyone else present.) That should have settled the matter once and for all, but it didn't. Even after the ceremonies were concluded, most Republican elected officials in Austin failed to grasp the Tejano Monument's significance. They continue to do so at their own peril. My sincere invitation to them is that they visit the Monument during their lunch break. I ask them to especially read the bronze plaques, each telling a chapter of Tejano blood, sweat, and tears.
Additionally, I ask them to notice and join in the myriad ongoing events that are initiating what I call a Tejano Renaissance. Infusing bursts of much needed nitrogen into the Tejano family tree are: the awesome Hispanic Heritage Center of Texas, based in San Antonio, whose impressive goal is to make Tejano people, places, and events part of mainstream Texas history; the annual reenactments at the Spanish Governors Palace recalling the signing of the first Texas Declaration of Independence on April 6, 1813, the yearly commemoration of the August 18, 1813 Battle of Medina, the PBS film, "Texas Before the Alamo," and the recent reading of Texas House Resolution 709 sponsored by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, calling to mind the 200th Anniversary of the signing of the first Texas Constitution on April 17, 1813. The list of Tejano events honoring the memory of our ancestors steadily grows every year.
For much too long, pre-1836 Texas history has been dismissed, diminished, and distorted by mainstream Texas historians and others who refuse to accept Tejanos as the founders of Texas. Many Anglos and Northern European descent folks forget that it was our Tejano ancestors who invited and welcomed their ancestors to Texas. It is for that reason that this has been the topic of several articles that I've written for the Rio Grande Guardian. In brief, what all of this means is: "¡Aquí todavía estamos, y no nos vamos! (We're still here and we're not going anywhere!)
Curiously, Senator Patrick is attacking the preservation of Tejano history at the same time that the Spanish Mexican population in Texas is growing. In particular, the following statistic should prove a sobering reality to the Senator: Spanish--surnamed students have now surpassed Anglo students in Texas schools. From personal observation as a mentor and lecturer, Mexican-descent students are beautiful, bright, and fearless! Senator Patrick, this is not a good time to keep these future leaders of Texas from learning about the true Spanish Mexican roots of our state.
Hence, I ask Spanish Mexican-descent Texans who vote Republican, "no se olviden de su herencia" (don't forget your heritage). If you want a shot of inspiration and reminder of what makes us descendants of the first citizens of Texas, you too must visit the Tejano Monument in Austin. You should be just as concerned as those of us in the frontlines daily fighting to preserve the memory of our ancestors. Further, I ask all our many allied Anglo brethren who are Tejano history aficionados to help us keep Sen. Patrick and other bigoted politicians from tinkering with Texas School Board of Education policies. Regardless of your political views, you must contact your elected representatives and tell them so. (Note: although Senator Patrick and his supporters have temporarily withheld their ill-advised bills in committee, that doesn't mean they have given up their objective to rob the majority of Texas school children of their Tejano inheritance.)
In the final analysis, my advice to Senator Patrick and those who fear Mexican American Studies is as follows. Your intolerance has no place in an increasingly diversifying Texas. So, you have two choices. Either you accept the certain re-browning of Texas and teaching of Tejano history or you move back east of the Sabine River. The truth is no one should be afraid of learning Texas history in a seamless, bi-cultural, big picture perspective. In the words of FDR, a Democrat that Republicans love to hate — Senator Patrick, you have nothing to fear, but fear itself.
By José Antonio López (via Prof. Roberto Calderón, North Texas University)
- 30 -
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