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Rumination « Ted's Polish-Mexican Page


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Published on: June 4, 2016

I’ve been reading a lot of quickie tributes to Mohammad Ali, and many of them talk about how difficult it is to imagine what a big deal Ali was in those days. One big reason is that boxing isn’t the cultural force it was when Ali was in his prime. My first years of being aware of the world around me came after many of the controversies around him subsided. He even had a Saturday morning cartoon by that point. It also came after the peak of his powers. That didn’t stop us from rooting for him. We had to, he was the greatest, right?

I can’t remember if we actually watched the Spinks fight at the house (my dad was a boxing fan), but I knew the result and we talked about it the next day at school. We were in third grade, so we weren’t the most keen analysts. We were just ticked off that someone would dare beat Ali.

I didn’t know what a divisive figure he was until later. I knew he was Muslim (the first one I was aware of). I just thought of him as a hero. Of course, as I grew up, I learned that many of those things that made folks uncomfortable with him made him even more of a hero.

At the Democratic Convention in 1992, Ali appeared at an event for Martin Luther King III, who was running for office that year. I couldn’t get in, the place was packed. I don’t think all those people were there to see MLK’s kid.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Not to excuse the Donald, but…

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Published on: September 21, 2015

A guy called me today at the office to inform me of a crime spree I hadn’t yet been aware of: Mexicans, he said, are going into our hospitals and stealing babies.

The method of theft is to hide the babies in oversized purses (he didn’t say “oversized,” but it’s the only way this would work, right?) and make an unobtrusive getaway.

“They are just putting them in purses and they walk right out,” he said.

I suppose I could have asked him for details of this scheme. Heck, it might have been fun. Is this organized or some sort of leaderless resistance to perceived Anglo tyranny? What do they do with the babies? How do they have room for stolen babies with so many “anchor babies” that they have just to collect welfare? How is Raúl Grijalva involved in this?

I didn’t do that. Instead, I thanked him and assured him that the councilmember will give this news all the attention it deserves.

The other day, I was on a panel at a forum on issues facing the elderly. A woman I wasn’t sure I recognized got up and started to talk about fraud being committed against older folks. Then, things turned more sinister when she started talking about Mexicans being the main perpetrator of this. It was about then that I recognized her as a woman that rants at mayor and council meetings about Aztlan (she thinks that’s an organized group rather than a concept of aging Chicano activists, apparently) and the Catholic Church plotting to wreck America in some way or another. Sure enough, that’s the direction she went.

Even if she had a marginally sane point, she went on way too long. I don’t know why the person holding her mike didn’t snatch it away and give her a curt “Thank you.”

Eventually, she finished. I looked over at the fire chief, who was also on the panel, and he looked at me, both of us with a silent, “You want to take this one?”

The person holding the mike looked over at the panel and said “Do any of you have anything to say?”

I was thinking of mentioning my time in MEChA (Aztlan was part of our name, after all) and letting her know that most of our time was spent raising money for scholarships and get togethers at South Tucson restaurants. I thought better of it.

Everyone else had the same idea. It was a mix of motives: the impossibility of addressing her bizarre allegations and the hope that silence was the best answer.

Really, confronting her would have wrecked the whole event. Instead of having what could have ended up a screaming match and a lone bozo considering herself a martyr to free expression and her rather twisted version of the truth, we ignored the comments and talked about things like hearing aids, transportation issues for people who no longer drive and senior poverty. Basically, we got to talk about what we showed up to talk about.

It’s a tough line to draw. The loudmouth uncle shows up at a family gathering and talks about what the queers are doing to our precious bodily fluids and you stop yourself because the confrontation might be uglier than what was being said. You wave and say a nice hello when walking by the house with the confederate flag and the “Hands off, Barack” sign.

Of course, like everything in politics this Summer and Fall, this brings us to Donald Trump. None of this excuses Trump, who seemed to be showing agreement with the ridiculous comments that a man made at his “town hall” meeting last week. Civility doesn’t mean saying “right on” to every hateful thing somebody says. Could Trump have just said “next question”? Yeah, probably. I think his response says that he’s now being led around by the monster he’s created.

How are the rest of us supposed to handle nonsense like this? I try my best to confront when I can. “Dude, when you say spick, you are talking about my mom,” is among my favorites. One of the reasons we’ve come so far over the last fifty years or so is because plenty of people have said, “Hey, that’s not cool.” Still, this can end up being a big game of whack-a-mole: we spend all our time finding outrage and we’re left with little time to get the important work in front of us done. Maybe that’s the strategy of the Trumps of the world.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Jury Duty

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Published on: April 23, 2015

On jury duty today, so yes, I am typing this from one of those computers they have in case we get bored.

So, I show up promptly at 7:25 and I’m asked to put my bag in the plastic box and empty my pockets of all metal objects. I manage to get through the metal detector without a beep (I set it off at the board of supervisors the other day), and I watch my bag go through the metal detector.

“Sir, could you take out your harmonica?”

My what? I had forgotten it was even in there.

“Are you kidding?”

“You need to take it out and claim it later.”

Who knew?

I didn’t have my melodica, which would have been harder to squirrel away in a bag. I know from personal experience that it’s contraband at both RFK Stadium and the StubHub Center.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Self Reflection

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Published on: February 17, 2015

I was waiting to exit a parking lot, and a kid, probably 18 or 19, crosses in front of me. He had black boots, tight worn out jeans and a denim jacket with a half dozen patches for punk bands. Oh, and a big cloth emblem safety pinned on the back. One must have that. I didn’t recognize what group that was for.

He also had a mohawk. Looking at the whole ensemble, my first thought was, “Dude, 1982 happened. Get over it.”

Moments later, a Clash song came on the radio. I turned it up.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

The Dubious Honor of Being Someone’s Hobby

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Published on: November 7, 2014

I spouted off on that darned Rum, Romanism and Rebellion blog for nearly eight years. The thing that was most shocking was despite everything, I actually earned the respect of a couple of Republican readers.

Weird, eh?

200px-D&DTrollsI also had my share of…um…special commentators. For some reason, I only earned one comment from notorious anonymous poster and soon to be ex-elected official John Huppenthal. There was one local jackass who posted a threat to a city judge, a son of a state official who didn’t quite get that I was not my brother and a guy who has been engaged in low level stalking of a friend of mine off and on for about seven years. Even with all that, I only banned one guy from commenting.

I’ll leave his name out of it.

Internet comment sections are notorious for how quickly they descend into ridiculousness. Changing the way comments worked on my blog back in the Blogspot days was so controversial that I actually got a mention in the Tucson Citizen. If I had it to do over again, I’d ditch the comment section entirely.

That said, I did okay. No rape threats (probably because I have no uterus) and for the most part even the Republicans that posted just wanted to make their point and move on. This guy, the one I banned, would comment just to throw his feces around. I wanted to ignore it, but my liberal friends wanted to engage him. Things would pretty quickly descend into stupidity.

Finally, I realized that he was rarely addressing what what was in the post so probably not interested in conversing. So I quietly blocked him.

It wasn’t long after that that I got my current job and stopped blogging over there. He posted here once to complain that I banned him. I haven’t heard from the guy until this week.

He sent me a Tweet gloating about the election. Okay, whatever. Well, now he’s sent me another Tweet. I don’t know if it will develop into anything.

This is the most minor of irritations. What’s weird is, I don’t know who the hell the guy is. Apparently, he felt “violated” by my opinions (his word) and thought I should be “damned.” All I know about this friendly gentleman is that he lives in Tempe or Phoenix and claims that we went drinking together once (which is further evidence that we never met.) Why he bothers, especially now that I’m not blogging, I don’t know.

There were folks, Republican and otherwise, that wanted to discuss, then there were those that wanted to throw mashed potatoes and carrots. I’d get two kinds of food fighters who would post on R-Cubed: the stereotypical “pajamas in the basement” types for whom this is the only form of political activity and professional operatives or activists who, for some reason, would take time out of their schedules of doing actual political work to tell me what a big poopy head I am. By the way, this is a non-partisan characterization. I had plenty of lefties and one “radical centrist” that were just as bad.

My trouble was that most comments, far from being actual engagement, were an exercise in…God…who knows? Insulting the writer of a political blog has as much to do with political engagement as yelling “Yankees suck!” while sitting on your couch has to do with playing baseball.

Like I said, I don’t have any idea who this guy is and what his motivations are. Two Tweets in a week likely don’t constitute a pattern, and I’m really not that concerned if he keeps on with it. It’s more a waste of his time than mine. Why folks get themselves all riled up to do this sort of thing is beyond me.

One thing I do know: I know that there is a part of me that is a bit healthier now that I don’t do regular diatribes.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Robin Williams

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Published on: August 12, 2014

I’ve been reading a lot of reactions like this one from my friend Paul Goebel, a comedian in Los Angeles:

I am not shocked that a comedian was wracked with depression. I think had it been someone a bit more acerbic, whose observations dripped with sarcasm, I don’t think people would have been surprised. But Williams seemed to like the objects of his jokes. So why this guy?

Yep, successful and well loved…but still depressed enough to end it. What caused that? No one thing did. We need to get away from the premise that an “event” is necessary to cause depression. Also, we need to get away from blaming depressed people for their state. I’ll not pile on Shep Smith for the butt-stupid thing he said. I’ll chalk it up to the guy for being a bit angry that Williams chose to leave us. Still, what he said is a good demonstration of our culture refusing to recognize what depression actually does to a person. We’d rather the troubled would paint smiles on their faces because it makes everyone else feel better.

I was going to write a long rant about comedians I’ve known that are dealing with some major problems, but the folks at Cracked did a much better job than I could. I’ll just leave you with how they ended their article:

Rest in peace, Robin. You’ve given us a chance to talk about this, and to prove that this has nothing to do with life circumstances — you were rich and accomplished and respected and beloved by friends and family, and in the end it meant jack fucking shit.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

An Arizona Tale

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Published on: July 16, 2014

My mom can come back later and correct me on the details, but well over a century ago, there was a fellow named Esteban Rivera who lived out in Cochise County. He was my grandfather’s godfather, and family referred to him as “Tata Rivera.” Those of you that grew up Hispanic know that that basically made him part of the family.

Rivera was born in Sonora in an era when Mexico still had the institution of debt peonage. This meant that he and his family were living as near slaves.

When he was very young, the hacendado Esteban’s family worked for was putting together a shipment of supplies to a business partner in Arizona. An uncle looked at this as an opportunity to get Esteban out of bondage and hid him in the wagon that was heading north. He made it up, and ended up working at a Chinese restaurant in Tombstone.

Funny thing, Arizona welcomed him.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Is there an effective date on that?

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Published on: April 30, 2014

I’ve been watching the Donald Sterling nonsense for the last week or so. What offends me most is his comment that people like him “make the league” and he’s doing his players a favor by, you know, paying them and stuff. It’s talk that you would have heard from a 19th century robber baron. Given who makes up the bulk of his players, the term “plantation mentality” comes to mind. It’s pretty disgusting.

Okay, that doesn’t exactly put me out on a limb. Hey, that’s some progress right there.

The excuse I’ve heard on a couple of occasions for Sterling’s reptilian behavior is, “hey, the man is eighty.” Really? So, if you are a certain age, this is okay? I even heard this put forward by W. Kamau Bell of all people.

Could we stop with this one? We just celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington. That means that Sterling has lived most of his life in a post-Civil Rights movement age. The comments of Cliven Bundy were made by a man who has lived his entire adult life after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

“Age” and “growing up in a different America” ceased being an excuse long ago. Quit laughing off the racism of that weird uncle. He’s young enough to know better.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

It Just Gives Me the Vapors!

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Published on: February 10, 2014

I caught wind of the news about Michael Sam on the internet yesterday (thanks to a retweet from Gay4Soccer). Interesting that the reaction we haven’t heard is that somehow a gay player would be a poor moral example for the children in America’s Game.

(Heaven forbid that the sport of football, with its beefy men in tight pants grabbing at each other, become a homoerotic spectacle!)

No, we won’t hear any “what about the children?” moral arguments. I think after years of stories of date rapes, violent outbursts, drug use and cover ups of possibly debilitating health risks, no one thinks that the NFL is a credible arbiter of what is good family values.

These guys that don’t want Sam to play know that we won’t buy that kind of argument these days. No, the folks around football are worried that Michael Sam will be a “distraction.” Précis: “We’re not bigots, but we are worried that other people might be.”

Somehow, being accused of sexual assault is not a “distraction.” Ben Roethlisberger is still a member in good standing of the Pittsburgh Steelers despite twice having been accused of rape. I haven’t yet read questions about what will happen to Jameis Winston’s draft possibilities despite his recent brush with sexual assault allegations.

Heck, Plaxico Burress’s off-field stupidity kept him away from training, but he got to keep his $1 million signing bonus and still has a career.

The locker room will tolerate an awful lot, it seems. Judging from Deion Sanders’s reaction, the players may be a bit more open to the guy than the anonymous NFL and team officials so bravely quoted in the press. Sanders, by the way, played a big chunk of his career for the Cowboys, a team that has arguably the most socially conservative fan base of any pro team in the nation.

The thing to remember about NFL players is that they are young. The oldest of them are Gen Xers who grew up with Will and Grace and Ellen on TV, the vast majority are even younger and have more liberal attitudes about homosexuality than their older peers. 70% of people under the age of 29 support gay marriage, for example. My intuition tells me that a typical football player is a bit more conservative than other people his age, but I can’t imagine that he’d be that out of sync with his generation.

The “we’re worried about the locker room” reaction says more about older generation attitudes that still hold than the reality among the players.

Somehow, Sam’s college teammates had no trouble accepting him. I guess they are more mature than the aging sports writers and NFL honchos who claim to be worried for him.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Today’s Saga

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Published on: April 29, 2011

I had a long talk with someone last night. I think the call got done round about 10:30 or so. I wasn’t close to dozing off when the phone rang again. It was my friend Natalie to tell me that Sami was stuck on the East Side.

Sami is blind, so he counts on the public busses. The number eight gets a bit weird at night, and Sami was stuck. He wasn’t that far from where I’ve been housesitting, so I was happy to give him a ride. I’ve been driving my father’s truck lately, but it was low on gas and I was low on cash. I took my Beetle. A fateful decision, you will soon learn.

The drive to pick up Sami and drop him off at his house (out by Grande and St Mary’s) was uneventful. I got home and parked the car. No big deal, right?

Because of where I was last night, it’s a good 45 minutes to work. I got up early and did all the morning stuff and got in my car to go. I got about a block when it became obvious that something was wrong. I checked, and the right front tire was completely flat.

I keep a air compressor in the trunk. It’s in there with other items of less frequent utility like a packet of water purification tablets and a folding shovel. This is the legacy of a father who was an Air Force survival instructor. I called work and told them I’d be late. There are no students today, so it was no big deal.

I got the tire filled up, and was on my way. I cut down Pima because I figured if I’d be late anyway, I might as well take a detour to grab something from my house. I got to Pima and Swan when I started hearing that “thumpity thump” that tells you your tire is flat. I pulled into the parking lot of the SMART building.

I bet you didn’t know that was the name of it. My brother won a contest to design one of the stained glass windows in high school, so we attended the opening.

I happen to have more of a passing familiarity with two of the tenants in that building. Gabrielle Giffords’s district office is there, along with local political and public relations consultants SIMG. Giffords’s office is moving, and with that and today’s launch (since scrubbed), they probably have a bit more to worry about than having me hang out in their lobby. So, I bothered the folks at SIMG and hung there. It happened that Tom’s shift was over at around that time, so he came and picked me up.

He took me to my parents’ house (where I’m housesitting) and I ended up driving the truck to work. If I had done that in the first place…

No, I didn’t have a spare. The spare blew out back in February and I didn’t buy a new one. Yes, I should have, thanks.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

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