Early October 2021
I have spent more time than I wish to concede in the search for authentic Mexican literature, i.e. poetry, about Christmas. This Noël, I’d wanted to perform a dramatic reading, in Spanish, for the Spaniards, especially those Spanish in heart, among us.
The Gringo Navidad out there is oppressive. It’s as if the monotonous song, Feliz Navidad, is just about all there is in terms of a Spanish Christmas celebration in America. And José Feliciano is Puerto Rican, not Mexican. He is quite accomplished in what has been described as Latin pop, soft rock, and bolero.
Not exactly zarzuela.
In fact, most, if not all, of the food and presumed Mexican culture, north of the border, with the truly mixed-cultural exceptions of Tex-Mex, are gringo-ized, homogenized versions of whatever Americans in any given region believe Mexican food and culture to be. There are huge exceptions, of course, but they are few and rare. The reason why the few and rare exception is huge is because it’s authentic. There’s an undeniable zest (mercifully impossible to corporately copy) with which the spice is applied to the real thing.
Drinking milk is highly advised to temper those highly activated taste buds. As for literary spice, there are linguistic problems, indeed, within the Spanish language, even among the various nations that the Spanish Empire once claimed; and within the country of Spain itself.
The dialect divergences exist well beyond the Catalans and the Andalusians and the Basque. A native of Madrid once informed me that written Spanish can be quite different from the spoken tongue. And, even then, the writer has the benevolent freedom to alter the wording, and the accent within the terms, as he wishes, upon the spot, upon the paper.
I, with my ingrained sensibility of the French language, whose rules of grammar, syntax, pronunciation, and usage are set in concrete — I felt aesthetically appalled!
All I’d really wanted to ascertain was which dialect in Spanish my fictional character, Riego, in THE SILENT HEART, would use! I queried my Madrid artist-friend if the nickname, Babieca, for him and his horse would be correct.
“No man should ever have to bear such a name in life,” was his somber reply.
“Well,” I quipped. “Riego and his horse bear it. And well!”
In the United States, especially in modern Hollyweird, the indecently insulting racial-izing, or typecasting, is:
“Stick a sombrero on him, a mustache, and slather on some pancake makeup No. 6 in Latte, or maybe try #7 in Toasted Wheat, add in a heavy accent, and shoot. The film, that is.”
I grew up in a part of northern New Jersey where refugee Cubans settled, before moving, at some point in their lives, to Florida. Many of them awaited their return to Cuba. If that blessed day of reunion with a beloved homeland did not transpire, before the Cuban expired, the headstone instruction was to state, in anticipation of the anticipated Fall of Castro:
“I am buried here. Please return my body to Cuba.”
My very dear friend in my grammar and high schools, Alejandro Pérez, called Alex, sang tenor to my soprano in the highly selective choir of our regional high school. His love of music was profound; his sense of justice was even deeper. He knew that I was being mistreated in terms of vocal recognition (which, back then, was not a form of FBI technology).
During our junior year in that government school, he re-located with his family to Florida; and I’d believed I’d never see my friend again. Wrong.
On the day that I was to graduate from that educational institution, Alex returned there, to sign my yearbook. He was a bit emotional as he informed me that he intended to embark upon a career in music. He wished to teach music the way we knew it had not been communicated: as a way to unite people. He wrote some very complimentary words in my yearbook, ones that I cherish to this day. And I do follow his advice, to never stop singing.
He went on his way; I went on mine. I have not ever forgotten his passion for the beautiful sound of pure music; for the sincerity of the human voice raised, in sublime emotion, to a Higher Power; and for the power of music, itself, to transform lives, and to join people — friends as well as strangers — together, in love, as a method of rebelling against the haters among us.
Alejandro Pérez knew that music is the universal language that transcends all barriers, especially the intolerant bigoted ones.
I believe the songs that Alex and I learned, at the same time, were strains of melody and harmony that we shared — because the mere fact that two individuals experience the same thing at the same time does not, of necessity, mean that they have shared anything. Only two souls in harmony can partake of a silent awareness that can bond them in a sensibility, one that is transcendently artistic in nature.
I shall search no longer online, or in any remaining printed books sold in California, for authentic Mexican literature. This Golden State of politicians, who promote themselves as the ferocious champions of the people of brown color, they’re making a killing on intolerance — of many people and things. The natural tolerance of the human immune system to the Wu-flu shall not be tolerated by the vaccine sluts and their pompous peddlers of Mainframe Mainland Pharma, the US version of the CCP.
The rest of us in California know a racial rip-off when we see one. We shall await bona fide Spanish and Mexican products, including the unadulterated expressions of their cultures. The very term “Hispanic” is an insult to any nation where the conquistador once plundered his riches and made his mark, in ways the Americans cannot comprehend, much less market to ignorant fools.
Don’t be gringo. Reject, with passion and through the sword of justice, the hombre blanco crass cool-whip blending of cultures for corporate plunder from harvesting cash, ballots, and power.
Rebuff and repudiate the advertising ploy that mangles the morality of ancestry and the dignity of heritage to cook up a pudding of put-downs — for the obscene purpose of cynically trying to hawk gimcrack merchandise and pop-culture garbage.
That commercialized American commodity is
so condescending, it’s a miracle, el milagro de Dios, that the United States are not viewed by all
foreigners as the bastion of profitable narrow-mindedness.
Last week, Dear Husband and I lunched at a local Mexican restaurant. I was joyously impressed by the delicious food, and by the knowledge that this eatery is owned and operated by Mexicans who have come to America to live a dream. Thirty years ago, foreign-born individuals were more often the ones serving the food, not owning a chain of successful restaurants.
And in Placer County, no less.
That statistic is one that the professional race-pimps haven’t counted on in this American experience of all the people: todas las personas.
How very little those racialists know about the true races of the world, populated by people who know, in their hearts and in their minds, it’s a small world after all.