Well, my latest piece on Tj is up and running at the SDReader. Go check it out.
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Meanwhile, back in Gotham City …
I have always had trouble believing am a Xicano. No matter that the evidence points to the fact that I am just that.
This has become even more apparent for me here in Europe. the Nordic corner, isolated from Aztlán. Being away from the motherland has proven a sky that raineth a manna of ideas. I started out by declaring myself a prop. 187 exile. The first Xicano in exile driven away by Pete Wilson and his conservative tirade of this and that of the likes of me. Then I wrote. I wrote and I discovered the real Xicano in me through the written word. I did this both in Spanish and English.
This has proven quite productive because xicanismo is closely tied to language. I am fortunate to love language so in the process of peeling the core that I had in proper Aztlán, using language as a peeler, I discovered layers of myself that I figure I would not have otherwise managed to put in evidence to the naked eye of the I.
Through my language [read: English, Spanish, Spanglish, Espanglish, the southwest dialect] I learned who I really am. I found my roots. Being away from the American psycho identity dominatrix that usually sadomasochistic fellows like me tend to bed with gave airs of freedom unbeknownst. It was a breath of fresh air away from the stars and stripes which hangeth upon the xicano ens like a Democles sword.
We xicanos tend to prefer the gringo in us because it is just the gringo in us which makes us. And because some of us only understand that side, and use our mexican heritage like a mourning gown we never take of, we react defensively to anything that threatens this ‘identity’. Though this theory is hardly embraced because it means that Aztlán lieth not in one nation but precisely in the being of two de facto lands. So don’t expect people to nick away in approval at the latter exposed idea.
Little is known about the degree of gringoness in each and one of us. We discuss this not because doing so would mean too much differentiation rendering atoms a mere metaphorical image. So while we spouse in all glory all México we seldom do so our American side. Yuck say some. Too pocho, too gabacho. Yet it is this very aspect that we tend to let radiate most in us.
We don mexican heritage like a perennial día de los muertos affair, in all earnest, we live a past and live the gringo present. Although some xicanos drape themselves in their mexicanness like a fashion gown, alas! their appearance or self image, shallow like a dead river bed. This gringo alienates us from one another because as gringo nature is we feel different. The kind of different that says am better than you. An am and you world which builds canyons the like of the Grand one. It is a fact which cannot be denied. Tis easy to lay claim to Aztec culture and ignore the rest. Tis easy to lay ink to flesh temples of the Maya when Geronimo, so close yet so far away from Quetzalcoátl, remains in the sands of the Sonora Desert surrounded by the silence of time.
I, for example, have been excluded from my so-called brethren from both sides. My brethren xicano infected by Manifest Destiny from Los, desperately trying to integrate to US society after more than 150 years of ‘integration’ and by my xicano brethren infected by over 70 years of mexican nationalism who are yet to realize how xicanos they are because one tends to cease to be mexican once one ceases to be present in México or adopts strange customs. Never mind those customs have nothing to do with, say, Tijuana.
I feel the difference like a slight scent of garlic because am not fully Mexican and because am not fully American, that is, I lack the papers on the one side and I lack presence on the other. That is my most natural state. A state that perhaps ensued in me a quest for learning to command the whip which castigated me the most, language. So I learned to command what the land gave me as a birthright. And this difference became even more apparent. I went below the shallow.
I was born in Tijuana, raised in Southwestern traditions from the San Francisco Bay Area to San Diego County. Of recent I have reached a sort of compromise with myself. I say am a xicano tijuanense. Un xicano de este lado. That is, a Xicano which is not born in the US.
By adhering to this formula I allowed myself to become closer to my own surroundings. That is, I saw that which nurtured me whilst I breathed Geronimo’s sand through nostrils filled with muck from other lands. Santa Ana winds cleared the way and I now spouse the indigenous in me and do not let myself be fooled by common Chicano semiotics.
Off course it still irritates me to be xicano in the vicinity of my gringo cousins because though I speak english I am not a US citizen. Here in Sweden they a saying about Germans: there is a little Hitler in every German. I can say this about my gringo Xicano cousins: there is a little migra in every US born Xicano.
I recently put this WTF blurb over at technorati.
Tijuana has for the past several years been a constant source of talk. If it’s not politics, police, music or arts Tijuana is doing what it tends to do best, get wasted.
Tijuana is a city which lies on the furthest northern area of México. It borders the USA and i’s neighbor is San Diego. It faces the Pacific Ocean. There is an incredible amount of business going on around Tijuana both legal and illegal but its usually the illegal sort of business that tends to attract the limelight. Specially the drug related kind which is so powerful that it tends to corrupt every form of institution on both sides of the countries, the US of A and México.
Native population of Tijuana is rather small. We are referred to as tijuanenses and tijuanenses tend to be bilingual, that is, we speak English and Spanish though this might be lopsided as there is an incredible amount of Mixtecos, people from Oaxaca, México, native to Tijuana too and whose own language is preserved so tijuanenses can be and are probably trilingual as well.
It has a population of about 2 million with a floating population of 500, 000 give or take.At the present time Tijuana is governed by a notorious person whose reputation is questionable, Jorge Hank. This man of politics belongs to one of México’s richest families and has several dark rumors always following him. It is rumored that he has mafia ties and that he is the intellectual mastermind behind the assassination of a journalist from Tijuana. May people dislike him and one can imagine he is getting a bad rap. He will soon leave office to run for governor of Baja California.
Tijuana recently became a bit of world wide news because the federal government in México ordered the military to take the town by storm, and that they did. They came and attacked the police! That’s right, when the federal government sent the men in green they didn’t go after the bad guys they went for the local police. They disarmed them, had them fingerprinted and left the city without a police corps for nearly a month. The police decided to ridicule the federal forces so they started to fight with rocks and slingshots …. Funny thing is that for a while not having the police armed proved to be a sort of blessing in disguise, crime went down and the city was calm. The federal police are still in Tijuana but the bad guys seem to have grown restless so everything is back to the same smut as always.
Tijuana has always been a little clandestine for puritan güeros from the US. Americans have been coming to Tijuana since the prohibition era to get shots of tequila down south and the stream of gringos hasn’t let up since then.
Tijuana, however, has also been getting loads of news from an unusual front, its arts.
As always, the cultural duality that permeates its citizens is the source of admiration both abroad and at home. There are writers whose lingo is well admired and a source of admiration for many. Many Chicanos hail from the city, Luis Alberto Urrea and Lalo ALcaraz are some of them. The tijuanenses which tend to embrace its mexicanness tend, however, to ignore its American side due to indoctrinated ideology of refusal for anything gringo. Spanish writers from Tijuana are the likes of Federico Campbell and Luis Humberto Crosthwaite. Yes, with last names like that they still insist in being an all mexican or nothing lot.
we’d like to proclaim the Mexican City of Tijuana as the new “center of the art world”. Henceforth, we think that all trends in contemporary art should be set by those artists residing in Tijuana, and that international artists should trek to the city along the U.S./Mexico border in order to find inspiration, make connections (and of course sales), and study and work with some of the finest artists in the world.
There is Yonke Art as well.
Musicallywise there is world acclaimed Nortec, Julieta Venegas and a host of other people which escapes my mind now.
There is a blog culture as well but seems quite dormant these days.
what this decade needs foremost
is a Richie Valens
This article is not an attempt to reverse all of these popular assumptions about Tijuana, but rather to supplement and complicate them, and to describe our rather boisterously fun bar crawl. Tijuana deserves some of its press. It’s largely considered one of the most corrupt cities in Mexico, but at the same time, it’s one of the richest. (Of course, San Diego is one of the most corrupt cities in the U.S., as well as one of the richest.) TJ is not just the touristy border town it once was, but it’s because it’s a border town – perhaps the most border town-ish of all border towns – that has made it so exciting, liberal, raunchy and wonderfully bizarre. Partying in Tijuana, in gay Tijuana, is, well, boisterously fun, but being gay in Tijuana, living gay in Tijuana, is more complicated. According to gay men living in San Diego who were born in Tijuana, their hometown is a terrible place to be gay. At the same time, gay men living there now have a different view.
I have always found spanish media a tad cumbersome. They inform the public, period. Rarely do they call to agitate. Tijuana spanish media always has this ‘miralos, miralos, pinches gringos, ya ni la chingan’ attitude. Probably party line stemming from Mexico City. It is inherent in our society to have echelons. So this is also plastered in the news. Hence nothing ever gets too out of proportion.
Most spanish newspapers go from the perspective that people are just plain dumb altogether. There is a sense that they are doing the people a favor. But let me back up some. When I say they inform I mean they pass on the information as if it had nothing to do with the community. It is always somebody else doing the action, unknown actors so far removed from the community as posible that it bears no resemblance with us to the extent that they even seem unmexican. Stories also tend to have no secondary sources or opinions being consulted to confirm or back up the ‘truth’ of the story. One must wholy rely on the integrity of the reporter that tells of the news, reports it. That is it.
A newspaper has so many facets. So I am just gonna be referring to a greater extent to the news that concern border issues which often tend to be matters of state. This in turn always leads to finger pointing of the worst kind at all levels of government administration. Just as well, rarely or seldom at best, is there a public reaction to anything, the San Andreas Fault could come loose and tijuanenses would be the last to know. There is no sense in the population to bring accountability to the powers to be . This goes back to the echelons I bespoke of before. Power stems from the top down and not the other way around.
Tijuana is a city populated by immigrants, which at any given time, constitute the majority of the population. So the spanish media more often than not has to address this crowd, not the native population. The latter has to do with second rate publications, plain old gossip or look to San Diego or L.A. for deeper analysis that concerns their region. The immigrant population tends to also be less educated than the native tijuanense. Immigrants have different customs and traditions. They come with a sense of human relations that is almost alien to the native tijuanense.
Immigrants tend to respect those in power. They revolve around power like sycophants. Immigrants tend not to question authority [feeling of not belonging what not] and those in power are looked upon as a hierarchy that is unremovable, except, off course, every three years which is when Tijuana has to go to the polls to elect a new mayor. This explains rather well the misunderstood feeling that native tijuanenses feel every three years.
It is not that there is apathy running amok in the city. It is the general lack of interest for the city as a whole. Tijuanenses in general do care for their city but because immigrants carry with them this sense of feeling that Tijuana is not their city and that they will not be staying in Tijuana too long no matter what, [they are just passing by] why vote. If they do vote it is so because they get something in return. It gets them something that puts food on the table. Immigrants outnumber tijuanenses and politicians understand this very well and fully take advantage of it. But I digress.
People born or raised in Tijuana tend to have a higher degree of education not because they attend institutions of higher education in masse but because we are bombarded day in and day out with all sorts of information from two language sources. Sadly enough there is also a brain drainage from the city. Educated tijuanenses are ill understood because we do not have the more mexican accepted customs in our sociological view of the world. This tends to askew the mexican view of how the world ought to be and which thereby tends to loath independent thinking. This makes for poor readership and least to say, leadership. This makes the many educated and well raised look elsewhere for a better future for themselves, for their personal development and their own good. Forget about the mexican diaspora, what about the tijuanense diaspora? Lalo Alcaraz, Luis Humberto Urrea, beisbol players, arquitects and a whole lot of other people that are later ‘forgotten’ by the city’s leaders or populace because they left the city. They may have left the city but the city never left them. They proudly say where they come from. But I digress once again.
On the other hand, whenever I read American anglo newspapers detailing news of Tijuana one is often struck with a sense of awe at the portrayal of heroism that a few mexicans seem to acomplish, read: it is laudable to be able to see ourselves in the mexican character because someone did something Anglo America can identify itself with which in most cases tends to mean progress. Progress is always a headline whenever Tijuana or México are talked about in the San Diego news media. It is news whenever we seem to be moving forward. The kind of ‘forward’ anglos seem to be abe to relate to.
News articles about Tijuana, or México, are designed to make us english speaking mexicans feel good. We like to hear and read about the bastards down in México, who did us wrong, get in trouble. They also tend to be articles that cause ‘indignación’ that is, these pieces of information are made to cause public reaction. Speacially concerning border issues. They agitate, they are a call to do something about the current situation at hand and that will inevitably affect the lives of our people for generations to come.
This has very much to do with the anglo American sense that Washington just can’t get away with anything it wants. It must have and does have opposition to its will. There is a price to be paid for messing with public opinion not so in Tijuana, México.
So this tends to create more news. This off course has more to do with the ‘business mentality’ of our gringo neighbour than anything else. More news means more stories, which in turn means more readers and more newspapers being printed and sold, so these articles tend to be follow-ups which in turn creates a loyal and interested readership. Everybody loves a good a fight specially when the big guy is getting knocked down.
This ‘indignación’ is far different than that from mexicans that are not from Tijuana where ‘indignación’ is often toothless and damped with a sense of resignation and powerlessness. The articles tend to be more informative with third party involvement. They are often small pieces of investigation, or so it would seem, though I suspect this is more rutine than ‘investigation’. The difference is a legal one. In Anglo America they are afraid of being sued for libel, so they have to get their facts straight. Besides, at the local and civic level, the code of ethics is much higher in San Diego than in Tijuana. What matters is to get to the truth regardless of who is affected by it. In México, people can also be sued for slander and libel as well but differently.
I imagine it is very hard to get people to talk or express their opinion or professional opinion on any matter that may affect them because they fear retaliation.
I wrote the piece long ago, for my few english readers who insisted that I write something about environment and border cities. The few readers that then subscribed to the rss flow even offered me an advance payment in the smal sum of 3 dollars and 25 cents to encourage me. I gladly accepted the offer because in essence, it was my first paid piece ever and besides, I needed the dollars to start my pay pal account. I have now clipped and pasted the story for my spanish readers though I suspect many will just open and close the page as soon as they see english written all over their screen. I did it because the original buyer’s of the story never claimed any rights on it and besides, when is art ever really finished?
Though am not to mention the act without merit because that would be unchristian and least to say an offense to my english readers. I mention it because I am reminded of a cruel and dire reality.
As I was re-reading the piece I came across the very notion that most people in San Diego have very little idea how poverty stricken some of their neighbours are. People actually have to steal electricity in order for them to suvive. They do it by placing cables on the live wire. They are called diablitos, little devils.
Though the border is one were affluence is most seen as equitive, the truth is that people have to resort to stealing basic things as electricity to make it through the day. Now this is food for thought
Can you see a smile in my face? It’s right here, next to my dimple …
Tijuana is a city that goes above “violent & chaotic”. Is volatile like the souls that utilize it as a springboard to jump accross to the other side, thru the river or the desert. It is a mixing bowl of cultures. It is the bar & whorehouse of the gringos. She is inocent & perverse. She is the battle line, the microcosm of what is and will become Mexico, the beachhead for the Hispano-American wave that will reach all the way to the tip of South America. It is the city that scares everyone. She is considered terrible, everyday we become more Americanized, but the United States also becomes more Hispanized every day. But who will assimilate who? What would be the name of the nation which has as its base this new breed?
It’s a long ass post but men! It’s full of goodies get more popcorn, please
Dios mio, like finding the Holy Grail:
LV: The problem is very deep here. And I hope that in this interplay, as we get cultural exchanges and we get more aware, that Mexico will begin to see it’s own reflection in Chicano works like we see ourselves in Mexican works.
VP: And is that already happening?
LV: I think there’s a great deal of dialogue that’s happening. It’s a flow. I think San Diego/Tijuana is one of the key joints in the whole mechanism here, because there’s a steady flow here. And there’s really in some case very little distinction between a Chicano in Tijuana and a Chicano in San Diego.
Híjole, this is huge.
Buoyed by Elena‘s enthuastic encouragement I downloaded the google map program. I inmediately went to Tijuana: Amazing. I just took a peek at the serpent like metal fence that separates our two countries across my native birth state of Baja California. I was awed. I even took a trip down memory lane and headed to Redwood city, I looked at some old neighbourhoods. I am delighted. Thanks Elena for the tip esa.
I have always wondered why the mexican government hasn’t really taken advantage of the bilingual population that it has alongt its 3000 kilometer long border con los gabachos. I mean it’s an increible asset right? people who actually understand bilateral communication, but no, few, like counted in the fingers of a hand, can say they actually work as they wish or could to their utmost potential for the mexican government. The fact is that ideology still permeates to the hilt the relation between the native of the Baja or for that matter entire 3000 border population and the centrist macho I am mexican at all costs burocratic employee in Los Pinos.
Such is the case as well in the US of A.
It seems as though that the English love affair with China and India has more than seeped into the anglo gene, I mean, you’d think that América Latina would stand in priority A one list over at the Washington offices, but no, last if not the very end of a reminder thought like a comets tail it is seen that América Latina is here, on our backyard or should I say home?
As far as Xican@s are concerned the matter is far more important than matters should suggest.
Ten years have now gone since The Tomás Rivera Foundation sponsored by the Stanley Foundation in collaboration with The Tomás Rivera Center gave out a little pamphlet called Latinos, Global Change, and American Foreign Policy Report of a New American Global Dialogue Conference October 7 – 9, 1994.
I have always reckoned that the ‘new’ in that sentence has always meant the introduction of Mexicans into the close-knit circles of the anglo Washingtonean spheres.
Here are some ideas that the little pamphlet highlighted for the reader:
”…to promote an exchange of ideas … about the current and future role of Latinos in US foreign relations”
”…because of this new environment, Latinos may increase their influence over the direction of American global activities.”
”…regional and group agendas have come to the forefront to displace the national perspective of the past.”
”…many Latinos are already substantially involved in the foreign relations process”
“One of the more daunting challenges for Latinos is making explicit the common interests that may unify them.”
“The chances for unification are better as Latinos understand that their domestic converns are directly linked to global issues.”
“Latinos are uniquely suited and situated to link the United States to emerging Latin American markets.
That was then, the matter is that things remain more or less the same. Latinos are still seen as nothing but canon fodder either for the war machine that Washington greases its power like a liftweighter might with steroids or as a little gimmick to the rest of the world that the US of A takes into account all of its race sectors in its now in serious doubt democratic society; in which case we are but the less for it and far away from the 15 minutes Warhol stated everyone has a right to.
Remember my post unscathed and alive whereby i related a blogsphere incident regards Tijuana identity? What i failed to take into account and just dawned upon me to tell my Xicana/o readership (is one allowed to use indiscriminately the suffix –ship when one but speaks of two? you’re damn right one can!) is how ignorant and prejudist seven headed eels reared their ugly electronic binary assumptions in monolingual and monocultural Mexico.
The assumptions ran from feeling pity for uprooted mexicans who found themselves in a cultural limbo (the link leads to a text in spanish written by Burgues) to people who radically complained about the constant memorabilia shopping spree we engage once on mexican soil like local Tijuana writer Rafa Saavedra says: Pochos who never learn to speak spanish y que vienen a comer tacos with mucho guacamole and to buy some galletas and cobijas pa’ taparse del frío racial en su home.
Inded, there is a belief that mexican natives have of Xicana/os that teeters on the border of despise. For local boys and gals in Tijuana all chicana/os and Xicana/os are nothing but pochos. Unlike we who like to distinguish between a pocho and a Ch/Xicana/o, local folk on mexican soil fail to differentiate the latter by any means. There is a common thinking best expressed succinctly by another blogsphere intellectual from Hermosillo Sonora named, after the blog, Humphrey Bloggart according to him Xicana/os romanticize México and long after the motherland. The conclusion is that we are basically bastards whose father constantly denies our existence and nothing more.
But that wasn’t really what i wanted to write about today though be that as it may it did spring out of another thought that just dawned upon me, yeah, it dawns like crazy today!
i sudddenly realized a parallell betweeen the mexican culture and our Xicana/o culture: we both deny an integral part of our reason for being; this thought also, by the bye’s, came into being due to my cuatro de julio post from yesterday.
We deny, in as much as we can, our American aspect in the same manner Mexicans deny Cortes.
Ain’t that something now?
The sad truth is that I might be the only one advocating Aztlán in Tijuana, but like in the movie, if you call them they will come. You think there is resistance to America still in Aztlán? truth be told I haven’t the slightest idea. I suppose that with every generation of Xicanos, Chicanos, (jainas included there too ese!) there is a new rallying cry for something, mine happens to have Tijuana see itself in the mirror a little more deeper. I just come from a cultural war of sorts on the Tijuana blogsphere front and oh boy did I take a beating, on the other hand I got them to think somewhat about their role in society and the labels they attach themselves. I hate the word “fronterizo” which many had started using to call themselves in Tijuana (many Julio? They were only four!) and I inadvertadly unleashed the mother of all blogsphere posts after posts diatribe against me, but I took the volley of rethoric and insults fairly well if I might say so myself. I more or less came out unscathed and left the matter at a stalemate, or, impasse as I said, man, I tell you, it was just little ol’ me there fending off some 7 blogs all against me, snif. There is so much resistance to America that it borders on the xenophobic, specially to us who have the guts to call themselves Xicano, and in Tijuana, the frontline of cultural wars, alas! civil strife is what it is but it only because the gringo there plays no role whatsoever. I supoose that it is here where Xicanismo fed itself, you know, the resistance from our abuelos, our parents to American dominion, in my youth days (when the Bionic man was popular and Wonder Woman made me tingle all over, yeah, that old ese!) when the rallying cry was “assimilation is assasination”. So it is with my fellow citizens in Tijuana. They adamantly refuse to see that they are assimilated into the Xicano culture in more than one way. We. i.e, Xicanos, stopped long ago, I believe, denying our americanness, mostly due to the english language and because many mexican americans got fed up and stood up against these derogatory rumors about being this less or that more, lacking that or being this from those filthy tongues coming from México ideology about the Other.
So yeah, that.
I consider myself a Xicano, with an x mind you.
A Xicano from Tijuana or a Xicano mexicano as I see it in order to disntinguish myself from my brethen on the other side of the border, Californios and all. But in reality am no more than a minority. Not everyone in Tijuana has this vision that Tijuana is a part of Aztlán. It does not matter that Aztlán is only a geographical area in the imagination of Xicanos, though it be a palpable one.
That is why I am utterly surprised at this sudden surge of interest (again?) in the border. I for one haven’t the slightest idea what the border might mean because in Tijuana there are just too many interests and mexican natiolistic jingoism at play to consider the border as nothing more than a political boundary; a divisionary line which has nothing to do with Tijuana nor San Diego for that matter.
The history of Xicanismo begins when he or she reaches the border and it is the darling theme of san diegans and certain minorities from Tijuana. University posers who want a quick shot at stardom as if it were a buck away from your local quickmart. These very same souls that are neither interested nor know nothing of Xicanismo because their prejudice is the greatest divide.
It isn’t necesasary to explain that we are hated because we don’t know how to speak spanish, the proper and correct way as some are quick to remind us. More oft than not we are loathed because we are a race that has its own vocabulary and use the languages that permeate Aztlán to forge a unique identity. We are a race apart and clearly a threat to those ideologies that Washington, Madrid and México promulgate to ostent an identity which has nothing to do with Aztlán (read: Tijuana). So please, do tell, what is the Aztec Emperor doing in Tijuana’s boulevards when Baja California has its own indeginous population? And don’t even go near Jefferson nor Lincoln, what do those bastards have to do with the Californias?
Truth be told these concepts, which no one questions and which permeate the identity of Tijuanenses all over, is swallowed everyday no questions asked. So how are we to ask Tijuana citizens what is it to be a Tijuanense? What does the border mean? This is more than a slap in the face, as our good fellow Manuel says, this is a kick in the balls that runs up deep in the ass.
Am not about to entertain the idea that I might offend someone with these letters, yet these mamadas de Tijuana Tercera Nación is just one more ideology thrusted upon our throats from México City to squash the notions that Tijuanenses (at the very least those ones I know, my Tijuana that I see, saw and will keep seeing) have and who they really are but no one dares speak of, we are more mexican-american than ordinary mexicans.
It is like that directive that came straight from the centralist government more than a score ago. It demanded out of the local city government that they stop registering children with anglo names, so yeah, suddenly we were not that free to choose, or when we are encouraged to spend more pesos than dollars or when we are told that evangelists are a thing of the devil (mind you, in Tijuana when people say 3pm they mean 3pm, not 3:20pm like a good catholic might understand it) or that it be denied that there is a small but growing bilingual minority in Tijuana (even unwanted, when will they put Lalo Alcaraz or Luis Alberto Urrea in the Paseo de la Fama in Tijuana?). In other words, this is more centralism to stamp the cactus and the eagle in our foreheads and nothing more. These are ideological wars that attract people because the money is good. Just imagine, a spaniard is behind all of this! Antonio Navalón Sánchez, a representative of the Prisa group and a member of the spanish consortium Santillana, hmmm, one wonders indeed what these fellows want, conquer Aztlán?
That world renowned artists might attend this exposition and that they come to speak about their vision of the wonders that Tijuana is is another story because truth be told they have her all figured out in very romantic terms. As always the real Tijuanenses shall remain in the dark until all the reflectors, both from the US and México City, are gone. Only then can we begin our daily trek of criss crossing from one side to the other without being hailed as the 8th wonder of the world for being so tolerable to others.
I sincerily hope that this proyect becomes a resounding success, after all there are many Tijuanenses involved here, believe me I hold no deep grudge. I long ago realized that Tijuana has many realities nowadays. Here I only try to iron out that this is repression, like it always has been, and that is the repression of the bilingual Tijuanense, the catholic/protestant Tijuanense and above all, the mexican american Tijuanense. Truth hurts, I know.
I went to the beach in Tijuana. It was crowded on Sunday, it was sizzling hot. So yeah, there are we, strolling, me and my friend. So I tell him, let us go to the fence. It was already corroded, the sea salt did it and the stupid army surplus material which was used to build the fence up is rapidly deteriorating. There were some kids on the other side of the beach the so called, otro lado. The migra came to them because they were having conversations with Mexicans on the other side. They asked for identifications and those were provided. But suddenly one of the migras asked if we had not seen the paletero. The migra wanted a Mexican ice cream and the little crowd that formed to see the agents do their job, with jeers and boos tried to be friends. The paletero came and he bought an ice cream, I could not resist asking if he did not have pesos on him. I do not need to he said. Why not I answered back, we carry dollars with us, right?
So I was there, giving the agent a hard time, those poor souls in those green uniforms, under this heat, seeking out a threat among us, this is Aztlan I told him, as I pointed to the both sides of the land, separated by a corroded fence, he craving for an ice cream and I craving for an anger to be let loose, it was after all, safe therapy.
The relation between me and the arts has been quite diffuse at best. I like to go to museums which tend to house large numbers of paintings because I admire painters and curiously enough I’ve been to several cemeteries and seen some tombs of quite a number of famous writers. History then is a big part of this acculturation process that seems to be an integral part of my life. In my head, a number of writers have significantly influenced me while others I just like them because of their lifestyles and their convictions which have moved me; painters on the other hand have moved me by the motives they’ve chosen to depict and curiously they seem to express their political motivations in them, a few of them have even written about it such as Salvador Dali’s Dali by Dali originally given out in French and in very quixotic terms and thoughts that house contradictions, a trait I seem to be very fond of lately.
Although some paintings are well renowned for their active and forceful depicting of gross human affairs, like Picasso’s Guernica, other ones, mostly Germans, do it through a curious way that interpretation is done almost exclusively for and by academic circles. Paul Klee’s Revolution des viaduktes is the most recent example I have in mind. This type of protest is subversive at best, hidden and difficult to manifest itself in the public eye. This sort of art leaves one wondering about the belief some painters have regarding the interpretations the unconscious has on the rest of the self which consciously reacts to what the unconscious digests in secret. Yet as I recall my infancy, during my elementary school years in Tijuana, in the Alba Roja school by Third Street now a school long gone and replaced by some ugly modern contraption I remember seeing a deer with a human head in my first grade classroom, years later, when I had become acquainted with some of my own culture’s treasures, I realized that what my child’s eyes had seen was Frida Khalo’s el Peque?o Venado (1946) am almost dead certain that it attracted me because to a child a deer with a human head would most indeed catch ones attention, specially one that has been pierced with 9 arrows.
Paintings however are a new sort of inculcation for me, what really got my brain wondering about the importance of culture has been literature and the ‘classics‘. I wonder where did this admiration for famous books got started. Did it start by reading comic books? Did it start in school, elementary? How did this avid interest increase, did I became enthralled by what I read and by what others said about said books? No doubt there was an interest awaken when somebody else highlighted the importance of those works of letters. I fear, however, that social status had also a hand in this …
My interest for the classics arose most certainly due to an influence a friend of mine placed on me. His name is José and he used to hang out at a bookstore that sold second hand comic series and other cheap novels that folk in México tend to wharf down like hot salsa tacos after painting the town red. In the store that housed series after series of all kinds of Revistas as they are called, and where folk have a stop in their routine chores like buying milk and other stuff, he sat (or stood) there and read for free the used and very much reread purple novellettes. Inevitably, as I spent more time with my best friend I came to hang out there too. It must’ve of been through conversations were the ego is mostly exposed to such showmanships that I was impressed about the knowledge that it was necessary to have in order to have a good conversation or at the very least sound interesting to others. An ear being the most important object in peoples lives, I wasn’t about to let myself go unsurpassed, I wanted attention too, surely, I guess, that’s how it all started.