English has for the most part been a force to reckon with. As I look back at this site, I realize that this language has been a harbinger and a cleavage that tears apart me. I chose to ignore this site. I chose Spanish as my language where I would deposit my ens, whether it be in Spanish, English or Swedish. I leant latin my soul. Many an unbilingual will not understand this tear, where does one lean on as such? And here I am, a lost son, returning home
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– What’s that noise?
– It’s the chopper, órale! Run!
– Hide by those bushes.
– I can’t, their too low, and there isn’t much to hide in.
– Chale homes! You got the cast light on you…
– What? I can’t hear you? What did you say? It’s too bright!
– Damn, here comes the migra now… fuck! just lie low…
The barren soil didn’t have much of anything on it. It’s famous for its arid terrain and the refusal of the US government to allow any building to be built there. For years the only thing in sight from this side of the border was what seemed to be a car lot. As the years went by my imagination concocted more serious and credible theories, drug smugglers came in handy to depict that parking space, maybe even crooked INS agents dealing in smuggled and stolen cars, who knows.
Between the thin wire netting, no-man’s land, were littered sniff-glue bags, filled with dried yellow glue popular back in the 80’s an d90’s. Broken bottles and rags strewn about covered with hundreds of cigarette butts lay strewn. The soil is dry, and the wire that separates the countries was full of holes; the marines set up other measures now. Tortilla curtain was the response from indignant neighbours. I was born less than a kilometer from this other country, Tijuana.
– State your citizenship. – American
Our eyes met, usually they looked at you from the very depths of their eyes to see whether you lied. Sniff, sniff seemed more like it. Bean sweat, not hamburger or saurkraut nor cole slaw, anything smelling near like maize was suspicious. “American Citizen”. The badge on his shirt spelled his name, I noticed there was an absent accent in the o of his last name. I laid my eyes on it, to see if he was raza, my lips uttered some words: ‘American Citizen’. The hand waved me away not seeing another citizen such as he, but rather more like a nuisance, laws must be abided, an undesired though with ‘rights’. I slid across, like always, my xicano look helped me over. ‘Go ahead’, the migra said, ‘pásale,’ I heard. I took a leak by the nearby toilets, like every time, my confident act; the luggage detector passed countless of bagage. I veered off and left my mark in those prison like toilets, metal urinators and metal toilet seats. They seemed like nice bathrooms, clean. I took a drink of water, something you can’t do in México’s government buildings. The hospitality greets you even when they’re assholes. I never looked back. I smiled, the red San Diego Trolley pulled in. It’s a wonderful view, like coming home. I walked forward but voices could still be heard from where I was: state your citizenship; what was the purpose of your visit to Mexico?; Are these papers for real? I went in to Mickey D’s as the voices drowned in the background
I always wondered why was it that the INS allowed, for what my suspicious eyes detected as criminals, to thrive so near the border, la línea, right next to them. I spotted them right away, you knew those people weren’t up to no good, there they were, pulling in people right smack in the middle of their faces to board buses towards Los Angeles or selling fake papers with the right connection. I mean I even sold papers there my self! I’m sure that doesn’t happen anymore, but that’s how it was, right next to them, those light green colored vehicles couldn’t figure out what those thicked mustached people were talking about or doing standing there all day and yet dress so nicely, so Mexican. Stereotypes and what people want see, that’s what made it possible, preconceived notions of what other races are like. Off course the INS was a federal institution but come on! Couldn’t they at least observe a little what was going on right there? So I grew suspicious with time, you know, the lonely citizen that watches its surroundings but is powerless to do anything about it? That’s me, not that I would rat on my own brethren mind you.
I never payed to travel on the Trolley back then. It used to be that one would declare itself illegal rather than pay those hefty fines and best yet, back then the gringos bought one’s name no questions asked, so many files on illegal immigrants in the archives of the old INS bear names like Pedro Infante, Vicente Fernandez, José Alfredo Jímenez, Chapulin Colorado, Lola Beltrán, Juana Inez de la Cruz or Paquita del Barrio, you never knew what the raza might come up with to avoid giving in one’s real name. So I travelled for free, whilst I wondered whether I should stop and visit my Aunt who lived on 8th and National or whether one should by a refeer in Chula Vista, mostly though one would rather go to San Diego’s porn shops. Though Tijuana is a sin city it had very little or not at all porn shops in the 80’s, off course why visit those shops when you can be part of a real live sex scene? It made sense for some, though for the likes of me, sex went beyond the flesh and fornication of the open prostitution markets of Tijuana’s Coahuila sector. I wanted to see naked güeras and best of all, those fancy underwear that look so delicious and tempting, lingerie. Now that was worth a run for the border.
Update: For those of you that know Swedish Eva Zetterman has placed on the web a little bit on art and media related to chicanos: Att skapa ett vi – gatukonst i Kalifornien
She has also done it in English, so there is no need to panic: Signs of Identity Processes – Street Art in California Eva Zetterman. And get aload of the title of the pdf file: haina_6_zetterman.pdf
First published: December 31, 2006 @ 21:36
Finally. I found this paper I knew was cooking because I spoke several times to the researcher myself. I managed to ask her once, right smack in the middle of her research if it was possible to see her work but that proved be a no-no and ever since then I have been out of touch from the lovely gal. Either way here is an excerpt of her work and if it interests you one can download the frigging thang here.
Author: Jonsson, Carla
Title: Code-switching in Chicano Theater: Power, Identity and Style in Three Plays by Cherríe Moraga
Keywords: code-switching, Chicano theater, Chicano, Chicano discourse, power, identity, language ideology, third space, style, hybridity, code-mixing
The thesis examines local and global functions of code-switching and code-mixing in Chicano theater, i.e. in writing intended for performance. The data of this study consists of three published plays by Chicana playwright Cherríe Moraga.
Another proyect on the go is by an old professor of mine at Stockholm University, she herself is mexican and has lived many years in Aztlán.
‘Food and Identity in Late Twentieth-Century Chicano Literature’
Even though the importance of food in the individual and collective identity of a group of people already has been studied in detail by the social sciences, literary criticism has paid little attention to the presence of food and drink in literature in general, and, much less, in Mexican and Chicano literature. Still, the presence of these everyday elements in literature in not arbitrary, it is an important part of the literary work; by the use of factors related to food (such as the preparation of dishes, the ingredients used, and the very act of eating), the texts attempt to help the reader understand the association with the Chicano identity discourse.
Mexican identity shows itself in various ways in a great deal of Chicano literature. The Aztlan myth is a fundamental element that both Mexicans and Chicanos have in common. Both groups can be considered as one, since the search for the Aztlan of the Aztecs has been and still is an important factor for all descendants of Mexicans. Aztlan, a mythological place that occupies an important part of the collective consciousness of all Mexicans (including Chicanos) cannot be placed geographically. Thus, what is ‘Mexican’ cannot be defined as something that only exists south of the border, but something that all descendants of Mexicans have.
Sounds rather interesting to me and I can wait to get my hands on this one. I never really gave much thought to food issues in Aztlán so this paper ought to wake ones appetite quite exquisitely.
Lastly, I want to mention a few other goodies. Firstly, Chicano culture is making headlines overhere and in proper Aztlán too!
You see, here — as in other parts of Europe — Mexican food was not brought over by Mexicans at all. Rather, it was introduced by American TV shows and movies. That explains why there’s a “Gringo Special” on the menu at the Taco Bar, a Swedish fast-food chain, and why nearly all the Mexican products in the grocery stores — “Taco Sauce,” “Taco Spice Mix” and “Guacamole Dip” — are labeled in English.
Beleive it or not a swedish blog got mentioned in the article so it made the rounds quite nicely.
Lastly, this blog is linked in a wiki paper! No kidding joe…
I was walking towards the bus stop. I had decided for a new route and while this new-old routine paved the way for what am about to detail what made it special was a series of incidents, curious ones at that. I had left work a bit too early to rush downhill as I usually do. I tend to time the time I take to make it just in time with a few minutes to spare while the bus arrives from its departure point to my spot. So I ventured on a different venue risking somewhat the time space I usually have for this daily chore. On my way I recall being hesitant about an idea that was lurking behind my head and persisted in convincing me to go to some After Work event. This rather insistent idea was no doubt brought upon a news advertisement I had earlier seen in the morning paper where said organized venues for debauchery of these sorts are held. Mind you, not that I don’t myself engage in the pleasures of Bacus but I often tend to resist the mingling that accompanies said public displays of ethylic atmospheres preferring instead to do so before the written word. Either way, like always, I can never convince myself to go or I can never muster enough gull to venture in a pub to drink a few good old beers in company of others.
I felt thirsty and I stopped at the local kiosk, as they are called here in Sweden, to purchase something to quench my thirst. These sort of huts serve as the local junk food provider for the vicinities as they too tend to sell all kinds of disturbing media for my mexican catholic eyes as well as the local gossip yellow press. I stopped to form a queue and while I was awaiting my turn to buy my pop soda a small boy was buying candy. Now, I only have so much time to play around with so I couldn’t help but feel stressed at the little boy’s patience as he decided with intense interest over the candy he wanted to buy. For a moment I just stared at the boy and looked upon the clerk who tended the boy’s taste and choice of candy erstwhile the child verbally pointed out to the clerk what he wanted. It seems to me that he must of have named like fifteen different sorts of candies all by their name before I finally heard that there was but 50 öre left in the purchasing thus calming my impatience somewhat. This made me reminisce if I ever also once long ago knew the names of my candies.
I even entertained the thought that I perhaps felt somewhat jealous at this ability to name candy by its name. I bought my soda and went along but I can’t seem to forget this incident, however weird it was, and yes, I made the bus too.
I believe I just shook the living lights and faith foundations out of a European or Scandinavian as they prefer themselves to be known. I don’t normally like to engage in this sort of intellectual bouts with any human being beside the blank pages that the Internet offer at the disposal of those who are in the know to use said device to churn out intellectual waste such as mine. I say so because I don’t consider my intellectual output to be of the most pristine sort, indeed, I deem it pretty much low carb if you will as it is very light in many respects and albeit with as little substance as possible though its appearances might at times indicate otherwise or right out deceit the eye though I intended not to do so.
I confessed to a person who is being tested on its friendship. Said person seems to be friend material both intellectually and spiritually as well. The outpour tested his beliefs as I pitted my beliefs against his. I flatly renounced all judeo-christian faith right in his face. This rendered asunder all faith platform said friend material stood upon. One might very well wonder what sort of being would test a friend on an intellectual basis and I would readily answer, I. However, this is a point of contention that we shall quibble further on as I proceed forward on. The gist of my spiritual platform resides on the idea that Christianity is an alien form of spirituality to Native Americans. The voices of my ancestors are still to be heard inasmuch as their voice still lingers on both in the flesh as well as in the past because it hasn’t been more than 500 years since the Christian alien force invaded our shores. This very much baffled our guest at hand. Even moreso as I called his faith a malignant virus. Though the malignant adjective was left out in the conversation but was rather implied as being such.
In retrospect I am glad I came clean about my religious beliefs to this honest to God earth man. I wish not him to believe me a man of the Church though I may convey so in our conversations. Hopelly I managed to come across as a man with not much to hide. After all, I did spoke of my spiritual convulsions during my puberty. This I speak not lightly off to anyone, in fact, not too many people in my life know of my spiritual crisis as a young pre-puberty years. Yet said person now knows of this. A gift I was willing to hand to a person I deem highly in spiritual terms. I hope he understood that.
I seem to recall Bartleby, that old Melville character that so baffles many of us in this so called modern world, whenever I cherish the idea of entertaining thoughts on Chicanismo. I feel am so way beyond that that the mere thought entails and automatic I prefer not to.
I believe I have lost my English voice and I do not know how and when this happened and worst yet why. It seems as though Spanish has taken sole control over what I say, communicate and invent via the written and oral means of parlance. Mind you, this area used to be the sole realm of English hence my bafflement. As soon as I am done with the day’s rant or keyboard orgy of thoughts I am done for whatever reason and pursue only that thought in all the vanities that entail being a blog writer and in Spanish. What is up with that? One reasonable explanation is that Spanish provides a more rewarding exchange. I noticed this when I began communicating with other English writing bloggers. I could never identify with them due to some odd chasm of sorts whereby what would otherwise seem to be on the surface unity factors created deep underlying differences. Mostly because the 2 or3 years I spent peeling off propaganda from my Xicano identity Read the rest of this entry »
I don’t think many mexicans care much about the aid but rather care about were that aid will end up. Many mexicans in my generation have known for years about the crookedness in the upper echelons of our society so it is not surprising that we tend to resist any help from the US. This resistance tends to be misread by the media at large which still holds a sway on a narrative that belongs more to the better half of the latter 1800’s than the 2000’s.
We know, for example, that the leaders of our political elite will rather distribute the goods amongst themselves rather than see the needs of the nation. Those elites are like hungry beasts that require feeding to be appeased. The US happily provides the chow for them. In return, the US is content with exploiting a situation that benefits them although shortsightedly, ignore, at their own peril, the dangers it treads upon as if those dangers were more of a nuisance rather than a prevention plan in action. So the US pays a hefty sum of money for a return that consequently only creates more problems rather than offering a solution for the best buck.
Hence, pouring down money into mexico’s elite will only help the US gain incentives and create more resistance to US ideas in Mexico. While in the short run this would seem the ideal thing to do, history will repeat itself. Friedman’s Shock and Awe economics are coming to a halt and sooner or later the democratic system we all favor will have its day in Mexico. At this point in time, I suggest that the US await for more friendlier attitudes from the population in México for its help. As it is now, the US is going over the heads of the mexican population. Remember, Calderón is considered an illegitimate government, whether Americans like it or not and those are the rules of a democracy.
Hold tight to those purse strings Washington, the day when we really need you is yet to come. After all, it isn’t as if we don’t care for those territories we lost back in 1848.
One does after all feel as throwing the towel. I do feel that I am losing it. I never had trouble dealing with two languages. Yet being so far away from the center of gyration that rules my bilingualism has caused an atrophy of sorts.
One can not complain after all, it has been little over a decade since I partook of the nourishing soil that bore fruit to my bilingual status and here I am now struggling with the fruit of being a trilingual. Curiously enough I posed this very same problem to the spanish community in my Spanish blog and as a result my head got chewed and spitted. I was being too much of a show off.
I have never been to good of a peacock. I flaunt feathers yet unbeknownst to me people react mysteriously aggressive to it. In English there seems to be less care for the language realm, one can be multilingual and be no reaction to it. Either way.
Swedish has become a nuisance. There is too much noise for me to make sense of it at times. Like watching the war of the ants. Like noise interferes with English and Spanish rendering nonsense and leaving me speechless, for what else is there left for us bilinguals that must store several languages in our brains?
I have come to the conclusion that I don’t like wordpress. IT makes it difficult for me to save and I find it too troublesome to do anything with it. For example, the tags I use for technorati disappear everytime I edit the post. Perhaps I should learn to wait for the tags until am thoroughly through.
Another thing is that I don’t like my categories. I restrained myself somewhat so I now don’t know what to do except that starting all over makes one lazy at the sight of the very idea yet I see no other solution.
the lips I once
the moment I caress the calaca. It pleases me to no end to see you satisfied you got the best of this life.
Yes, that smile of yours, that repressed smirk, will have its day,
it’s gaudy day:
when I bite the dust.
I know you await the day my lips are sealed forever.
Something is happening to my English.
I am becoming more aware of it. Ever since I took on the job of learning Swedish this change has been brought upon me through a very surreptitious way that, sutil.
Though I insistently argue that Spanglish is my first language due to ideological reasons, and more importantly because of environmental reasons, I was born, after all, in Tijuana, I cannot deny the fact that Spanish has been a determinant in that equation given English a sort of an uncomfortable second place in lieu of the fact that I cherish English so. However, this reasoning has its flaws because English ceases not to amaze me in contradicting the above specified. Evidence towards the latter have surfaced via real acts of isolation which would produce a deteriorated quality in the English I posses yet this has failed to materialize.
[astute language freaks will notice the running sentence there …]
Yet this fallacy has yet to pass a crucial test because I have managed to, much to my ignorance, succeeded in learning Swedish, albeit, it took ten years, but nonetheless.
I try not to convince myself too much of the achievement because my standards are too high to fully declare victory over the Germanic language of the swedes.
We bilingual people hold very high ethics what separation of languages are concerned because if there is anything we most be honest about it is about the capacities of our own capabilities regards language. There is a systematic order in keeping the two languages at hand separate for all kind of needs.
Would it just be possible to somehow churn out something in English these days? Frankly speaking, I am at a loss, have I abandoned the I which speaketh the Bard’s tongue? And do tell, why is it that I harbor no animosity towards Shakespeare yet I do so towards el Manco de Lepanto? Isn’t there anything for me to contribute to this language called English these days?
I believe that Chicanos in general ought to stay clear out of politics. And if they must they should not use chicanismo as a tool to said enterprise. Chicanismo ought to be as American as American Pie. For example, no one questions white folk their background, do they now? Yes smart aleck, there is some questioning but not in the sense that it insinuates that one is not American. One is American, one need not explain why one is American, one is, period. It should not be up to negotiation. With it I mean one’s chicanismo. If one is to live to said standards one must also live accordingly, that is, not live as if one is American but as an American does.