Running around the motherland busy with music video reshoots, nights and afternoons at the Macondo literary conference (more on that later), and hitting as many San Anto taco joints as possible...leaving me, of course, with little time to post. Strangest sight I've seen, so far, is a table of real, live gringo Texas Rangers -- 50s, silver hair, Tony Lama boots, white Cowboy hats, nickel plated revolvers -- sipping frappuccinos at a Starbucks. They all wore ties over their starched Western shirts. I overheard their conversation, a debate on the merits of an iPod vs. a Zune. I kid you not.
In any case, a real live Chicano actually makes the New York Times Op-ed page. Northern California fiction writer Manuel Munoz (see post below) ruminates on what it means when Brown people named Trujillo or Zepeda are named Kaitlen and Brandon. I once knew an Ashley Ontiveros so I know of what he speaks. Interesting piece on what Munoz calls the potentially "corrosive effect of assimilation," as well as learning to "assert the power of code-switching in public." While I quibble with the romantic nostalgia Munoz gives to losing "real" Mexican names like Heraclio or Eugenio (not to mention a questionable thematic hover near Richard Rodriguez Hunger of Memory territory ) the essay, is, nonetheless, a must-read.
In other news, Wal-Mart crosses the border, south, fusing their dubious stateside labor practices with the Mexican tradition of not paying grocery baggers a salary. According to the Newsweek article, the Mexican custom has always been that teen grocery packers work for tips. A Wal-Mart flack justifies the practice by pointing out the fact that they "didn't invent it." (A primo of Alberto Gonzales, perhaps?) Still, "the 4,300 teenagers who work in Wal-Mart’s retail stores free of charge
dwarf similar numbers laboring unpaid for Mexican competitors like
Comercial Mexicana (715) and Gigante (427)." Not clear from the company flack if Wal-Mart has also revived the Aztec custom of human sacrifice. Wal-Mart "is Mexico’s largest private-sector employer in the nation today, with nearly 150,000 local residents on its payroll." The reverbs of Nafta continue.
Love to pontificate more, but the light is fading and I have to get a shot of the very badass Acapulco Drive-In Sign before it gets dark.