Monthly Archives: June 2009

A Word From Management

Mack is on vacation until June somethingorother.  Mack is pleased to be away from the Nashville area since one more drop of rain and he may have gone postal.  Mack is both encouraged and angry with the election results in Tehran.  Mack cannot believe that a Congressman referred to an escaped gorilla as “one of Michelle’s relatives.”  Mack will likely post something from his vacation hideaway, but is not contractually bound to do so.

A note to Melody Singer:  I’m pretty sure you can buy a plantation for around 80k….

A note to Demo:  Thinking about you.

A note to my house sitter:  If I’m not back in 10 days…sell the horses.  Eat the dogs.  The cat doesn’t give a shit.

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FGF 2: The Promotional Series

For Meeeester Lamb:

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FGF-Sticking Close To My Roots

The Primary Wife and i caught these guys at The Mercy Lounge…I have NEVER seen guitar work like that.  Amazing!

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Soy Mexicano

This post over at Andrew Sullivan’s blog raised many questions for me, questions I alternately feel obliged to consider and frankly a bit uncomfortable thinking about.  I have little doubt that the flap over Sotomayor’s comments regarding her ethnicity was created by her political opponents, a desperate argument leveled at her in an attempt to scare white voters.  But, the conversations I have read have morphed into something that may just be too important to overlook….when is assimilation complete?  What is expected, and is it reasonable?

I’m just as sick as anyone over the “victimization” mindset so prevalent these days.  We are all victims at one time or another, and i would argue that most of the time we are blissfully unaware that we are so.  Thats a subject best covered another day.  I do, however, feel that there are some dangerous trade-offs made in the assimilation process, OTOH, the process itself is fluid and will likely look different as the country’s demography changes.  I know more than a little about being thought of as “less than.”  I’ve talked about that here at The Chronicles from time to time.  But, my experience was nothing when compared to what my parents endured.  There were times when any public display of your Hispanic roots could get you beaten or killed on the streets of Los Angeles, and not by rival gangs, but by police officers or soldiers.

So, does assimilation, as the end, justify the means?  If I become more like you, but do so under duress, have you really integrated me, or, are you likely to cause me to quietly cling to the very things that make me different?

I’m embarrassed to admit that when I was young, and being accepted by my peers was everything, I often tried to make a distinction between being Mexican and being Spanish.  In my mind, being from Spain was somehow better than being from Mexico.  Maybe I thought having Spanish roots would make me just seem “exotic” (and maybe a little European) whereas having ties to Mexico would make me less acceptable to people. I even remember passing for Italian on a number of occasions, and did little to sway that belief.  I’m pretty sure that, subconsciously, at least, I was ashamed of being the little Mexican boy down the street.  To be fair to myself, though, I can’t tell you how many times that is how I heard myself referred to by neighbors and my friend’s parents.

The thing is, except for my brown skin and dark hair and eyes, I didn’t really look Mexican.  I almost never wore a sombrero, or khakis, and I didn’t grow a mustache until i was in my 30s.  I didn’t sound Mexican either.  I don’t have a trace of an accent, except to say that I unconsciously mimic the accents around me.  On the phone, I can pass for a Southerner, born and bred.  I have to think that because we were the first Mexicans to move into an all white (but ethnically diverse) neighborhood, we just stood out.  I don’t remember having this conversation with my older siblings, but, if i had to guess, I’d say that their experience was probably even more intense than mine.

Fast forward 40 years, and here I am, raising a family in a small Southern town that at one time was a Klan stronghold.  We arrive just as the immigration debate starts to get heated.  I experience things that I thought I left behind decades ago.  Whispers behind me.  Clumsy attempts to determine our ethnicity, which, because I’m 12, I intensify by claiming to be Swedish, just to see the confused looks on people’s faces.  (It should be noted that I got this idea from my brother, who, out of sheer boredom i think, used to answer the phone at work with a heavy accent, then greet those same customers in person with his normal speaking voice) These days, its just how I mock the ignorance.

Then, not long ago, my daughter experienced a bit of racism firsthand.  Her reaction really surprised me.  Where I sought to deflect and diffuse as a youngster, she engaged.  Where I might have attempted to distance myself from my heritage, she embraced hers.  I found that courageous.  My daughter is now aware that she is different from most of her classmates.  I can’t help but feel a little bit sad by that.  Had you asked me prior to that incident, if my kids were fully assimilated, I would have answered in the affirmative.

I didn’t start this post thinking i was going to break any new ground, or offer anything that hasn’t been thoroughly discussed elsewhere.  I’m just trying to get my head around the fact that since i had it better than my parents, I expected my children to have it even better than me, and that may not be the case.

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Dear Companies

WHAT JIM SAID!

There are talented people out there that could do this for you, and do it well, and cost you next to nothing, comparatively.

I gotta say, “from asleep to hysterical in a nanosecond” is one of the best descriptions of the web I’ve ever read.

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The Scorpion And The Frog

Not crazy about this.

Knowing the car business like I do, it seems ripe for exploitation.  Lets, for a minute, assume that I am the guy in the tower “penciling” this deal.  A customer shows up with a trade that qualifies.  Lets say he or she is trading in an old clunker, and it is a V-8 with lots of miles.  Not too much to worry about there, as the customer will be tickled to get a voucher worth 4500 bucks.  So, I place a value on the trade, of say, zero.  The trade will likely be sold at auction for 500 dollars or less.  But the customer will never see that money, not will that value be credited in his deal.  Like i said, $500 in a car deal is pretty small potatoes.

What if the trade is clean, and has acceptable mileage?  If i know the customer is desperate for that voucher, i am going to low-ball his trade by as much as possible, in fact, much like early lease deals, I’ll probably try to “swallow’ the whole trade, which means I’ll structure the deal in such a way that the customer never knows the value of his trade.  It is done everyday, and to otherwise smart people.

There are other issues, like what is really being saved energy-wise when the trades will likely be sold to someone else.  But this bill is a license to steal.

Its the nature of the car business.

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FGF- If Music Be The Food Of Love

Then laughter is it’s queen…

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Calling It What It Is

This is a good read.

Much has been written about this cowardly act, and for good reason.

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Kwai Chang Caine, R.I.P.

“How is it, old man, that you know these things?”

“How is it, young man, that you do not?”

I really liked the Kung Fu television series.  I never thought any of the Carradines were great actors, but David seemed perfect for this role.  I’m sure many people will feel that his passing is a tragedy, but, really, at 72, perhaps he was just ready.  Go gently, Grasshopper.

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Observations Of Monday Past

Monday was comprised of choices.  Three opportunities to stay engaged in community matters lay before me.  It was “Progressive Blogger Day On The Hill.”  More about that shortly.  It was also Graduation Day for 5 women who completed the program at Thistle Farms, or, rather, Magdalene House. I wanted to be there to support them and congratulate them.  Finally, there was a press conference at Lowes Vanderbilt for CEI, (Coalition for Education about Immigration), and, since a friend needed a favor, I elected to attend the press conference .  (It should be noted that I also support CEI’s goals as well)

I arrived on time and was glad to see some new faces, as well as some familiar ones, from TIRRC.  I was amused to find out that a local attorney-friend is, like me, enjoying persona non grata status at the 287(g) Advisory Council. I also had a nice conversation with Avi Poster.

The press conference started a little late (surprise!) and then the usual suspects said a few words.  Don’t get me wrong, I think much of what was said needs to be repeated often, its just that I have sat through my share of these and I got a little antsy midway through.  Then the Rev Sonny Dixon spoke.  The Earth moved.  The Angels wept.  (Don’t you just love hyperbole?) Seriously, I damn near ran up to the podium and hugged him.  It isn’t so much that he offered anything new, at least to me, but that he said it at a press conference.  He talked about a larger conversation that must take place first, one that addresses our guilt as a violent nation, and one built on the backs of exploitable labor.  He talked about why we are suspicious of others, and that it stems from our shared experiences, our shared history of exploiting and being exploited.  In street terms, if you are “gettin over”, you automatically assume everyone else is as well.  He talked about the expectation foisted upon us that we accept the exploitation of others as necessary to fully assimilate into mainstream American culture.  The African slaves were stripped of their culture and their language, and others learned to make necessary trade offs in the assimilation process. He’s right.  Immigration reform may never happen until we have the guts to have a painful nation-wide conversation about our collective guilt.

Before I offer my thoughts on an event I did not attend, but read about in local blogs, I have to mention Bubba Wells, of Well’s Shoe Shine Service.  On my way out of the hotel, I noticed a young man tucked in a corner, brushing a leather dress shoe.  (Watch, as I deftly weave this together with Blogger Day On The Hill).  As someone raised by a father that placed a high premium on personal appearance, I was appalled by the footwear worn by most of the men I met on The Hill.  I can overlook a cheap or ill-fitting suit.  Oxford style collar with a suit?  Forgivable.  Lapels that are as big as a hang-glider, or a tie that completely misses the mark, or, probably the most common fashion malady infecting our State’s elected officials, a belt that is a different color than the shoes are all irritating but understandable with this group.  But shoddy, unshined shoes?  Sorry, I can’t take you seriously.

I decided to sit down with Bubba and commiserate a little over the state of footwear in this country.  I was hoping to establish a bond, a, uh, brothers-in-arms camaraderie that two men can form when confronting a shared enemy, in this case, unshined shoes.  He was having none of it.  He came up in the business under the tutelage of one Herbert Taylor, who shined shoes for two decades at the Belair Barber Shop on 17th ave North.  When Taylor died in 2005, Bubba took over his clientele.  Bubba has lived here his whole life, and he and his wife Leslie are raising a daughter, Whitney, on what he earns in the shoe-shining business.  And business is good.  Yes, he admits that shined leather shoes are not nearly as common these days, but apparently that also means that his competition has faded away.  I asked him if he worried that the next generation may not wear dress shoes at all.  “Nah, I clean up their Timberlands and Air Force Ones’.  (A Nike tennis shoe, for those of you hopelessly removed from the street)  It seems he has perfected a way to clean suede.  “Heck, I clean everything except flip flops and house shoes”. He even offers a pickup service around metro Nashville with a five pair minimum.   I had to inquire about his famous clients…the name that he uttered first?  Dan Marino.  Now, I love football, and Marino is a giant, a legend, a man among men, but I think i might have mentioned first that I shined the President’s shoes.  When Barack Obama came to Nashville for the debate at Belmont, an aide brought his shoes (Cole Hahn, size 11) to Bubba to shine.  He dismissed me with this: “I don’t care if you buy your shoes from Payless or Gucci….I cleans them the same.”  Amen.

It appears there was a little drama on the Hill on Monday.  I think I read that some of the Democrats admitted that they had to tack right to stay electable in their counties.  My response to that is always the same, then why should I vote for you over the Republican?  Hell, if you and Josh Evans are going to vote the same way, I might as well let Josh cast that vote, at least it will keep him from screwing up something important in the private sector.  I think I read that some of the local bloggers felt patted on the head.  I can relate.  And, apparently, one legislator managed to piss off the women bloggers. I can relate.  He was probably half-right, but probably shouldn’t have offered his thoughts on the matter without having his words thoroughly vetted first.

He said something along the line of not seeing women activists on the hill except when an abortion related bill is being considered.  I know what he was trying to say, but had he asked me I could have told him to avoid that minefield.  Nothing good can come from it.

Like it or not, any slice of the public that is not currently in power or at least in the majority IS A SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP.  Not by choice, of course.  And it is nowhere near fair or just.  But it is what it is.  In a couple of decades, Hispanics and Latinos will make up the majority of the American population.  Chances are good we will still be a special interest group.  That will remain true until our concerns are given voice by those that are not Hispanic or Latino, and when their numbers rival ours within our organizations.  That will simply not happen when we continue to scream racism when someone who essentially agrees with us utters something insensitive or simply chooses their words poorly.  Hispanics need white supporters, lots of them.  Women need men supporters, lots of them.

Let me offer an example.  Mike Huckabee getting Sotomayor’s first name wrong?  Not racism.  Perhaps he just never met a Hispanic woman that wasn’t named Maria.  Not taking the time to know the full and proper name of the first potential Hispanic member of the Supreme Court?  Insensitive, and a bit of a rookie mistake to be sure.  But clearly not racism.

Contrast that with this, written by a man named Marcus Epstein:

“Diversity can be good in moderation — if what is being brought in is desirable. Most Americans don’t mind a little ethnic food, some Asian math whizzes, or a few Mariachi dancers — as long as these trends do not overwhelm the dominant culture.”

That is racism, and he should be shamed and ridiculed and never considered relevant again.

Now, as Progressives, we don’t want Epstein’s followers.  We do want some of Huckabee’s followers.  We are going to alienate Epstein’s people by merely being here, but I know some good people who like and admire Mike Huckabee and I’d like to appeal to their better angels on a whole host of issues. Calling their guy a racist pretty much guarantees an uphill battle on every point.  Its politically counter-productive.

Bah.  I don’t care to rehash the whole Favreau thing, but dammit it comes to mind.  And,  I recently discovered some evidence to my assertion that I AM FAVREAU:

boobies

This was clearly a teachable moment, missed.

Hah, can you tell I get paid by the word now?

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