"Remember El Alma" First On-site Performance Challenging the Alamo, March 2010

"Remember El Alma," First on-site performance
challenging the Alamo
original poem written by Barbara Renaud Gonzalez

Adapted by Virginia Grise; Produced by Bihl Haus Arts, Kellen McIntyre, Ph.D; Performed at Luminaria!
San Antonio, Hemisfair Plaza, San Antonio, Texas, March 13, 2010; 5 Actresses, 1 Musician
A cast of beautiful women, all ages and colors, from
all over San Antonio
; Foto Credit: Joan Frederick @2010

Monday, January 01, 2007

My New Year's Resolutions for San Antonio: Dare I?

Ok, so it's January 1st and I'm inspired by the powerful Virgen painting (previous blog), and who am I to disobey her...

I believe in New Year's Resolutions, they work if you aim deep, not high. So, without miedo or mierda, here they are:

1. Find the words to write about how fat San Antonio is in a way that doesn't get people defensive. I'm lucky, my father raised me to be athletic and discouraged me from finishing my plate. My ex-husband studied nutrition, and explained how to beat-back fat and sugar addictions, how much more we have to exercise as we get older, and how to eat lots and lots of fresh vegetables. But this is easy to say, hard to do. The first thing people tell me when they visit here from out-of-town or out of the country is why is everybody so fat? It hurts so much because I know how spiritually, culturally and physically beautiful we really are.

2. Find the words to write about how our cultura, like the Fiesta one in the photo, which proves we won the pop-culture wars, but haven't figured out how to use our tamales and tacos to gain social justice. Seventeen white men run this city, according to Maria Antonietta Berriozabal, a former city councilwoman who came within a half-second of winning the mayorality in the 90s - and men like UTSA President Ricardo Romo (a homeboy who once was a major track star) are the puppets of the powerful. Romo was photographed by the San Antonio Express-News in late 2006 waiting at the tarmac to greet Vice-President Dick Cheney. By all accounts, he's a nice man - but what can he or will he do for the barrio that spawned him?

3. Find a way to write about the Spurs so I don't get killed. They are immensely popular here, another reason we're poor - all those tax dollars that went to build their fancy arena - but the media hype is so overwhelming that it's like if you don't watch them you need to leave the country or something. I once shouted to a crowd of men at the HEB supermarket right before a game why a city of men who on average are barely my height of 5'7" support a team of super-tall basketball players. "That's why!" the chaparrito answered.

The Black thing I'll reserve for next year's resolutions, don't ask for that now, I have my plate full, for once.

4. And, speaking of the HEB, everytime you buy something at my inner-city store, they offer you a deal of three candybars for $1.00! What a deal, huh? Get your diabetes on! HEB is of course, owned by a former classmate of mine from Corpus Christi, the scion of the Howard E. Butts family, and on Spurs-nights, the stores sell two six-packs of beer for $10.00! So this is another resolution - how do I write about HEB as the monopoly they are - the only supermarket chain in town and their irresponsible, vampire marketing tactics? HEB buys big ads in the San Antonio Express-News, they support the Spurs ad-infinitum, you get the picture. Plus their tamales are awful.

5. Finally, I have to find a way to tell very nice, middle-class people who live in the suburbs or in Alamo Heights (a zoned-in neighborhood) how they are one major key to the reason this city is so poor, badly- educated and - vulnerable to obesity. The middle-class complains alot to me about how poor the people are here, how fat, how provincial. In Texas, property taxes pay for public education, and in a complex formula of rich vs. poor, the raza left behind in the city gets the overflowing classrooms, the over-stressed teachers, the overworked single mothers, more gangs, etc. etc. etc. As soon as they can, they also leave the city for the suburbs, and the cycle continues. While the suburbs are constructed by destroying trees and risking the Edwards Aquifer, the second-largest aquifer in the world.... This is going to be a very hard resolution, I can tell already.

6. Last fall, some of the neighborhood kids came to my door selling candy for some school project. They were overweight, of course, and I sent them off with a note to the principal about the merits of using junkfood as a fundraiser. A teacher called me about my letter, and got all huffy and - defensive. Which takes me back to Resolution # 1.

7. Find the words to write about how beautiful the people of San Antonio are - not in-the-mirror kind, please, there are ten women far more beautiful than Eva Longoria at my nearby high school. Our cuisine, our music, our architecture and traditions are the reason the tourists come - but we don't hold the copyright, the powerful men in this city have taken that away from us. And we have to get it back. We need more museums, libraries, cultural events. Why can't we transform the militarized Alamo to a Wall of Peace; why can't we have museums about Las Mujeres Fuertes; Tejano Culture; The Westside. And that's just the beginning. When we know who we really are, we won't let television or the HEB or this Fiesta Bullshit tell us who we are, what to eat, and definitely, to shut up if we don't like it.

8. Last resolution. Try not to get in trouble. But then I can't do the others. I'm doomed.


And now some music that my friend Michelle Garcia, a journalist doing a fellowship in El Salvador, sent me. I know this song well, and despite all the struggles, I give thanks for living in San Anto...the most beautiful place on earth, my home.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyOJ-A5iv5I
photo credit:  www.utsa.edu/today/2006/04/

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