"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
When I was in my twenties, I was fresh out of a graduate program, newly married and totally stupid about professional men in the office. Daddy just didn't prepare me enough, as I suspect happened to Anita Hill. Sad but so true.
It was the late seventies, and my boss, who headed a non-profit organization in Austin, Texas, said so many things I don't know where to begin. Here is a sampling:
1. "I'm gonna sleep with every woman in this organization." (I guess this included me).
2. "Did you have good sex over the weekend with your husband?"
3. "Can you get her for me?" (On a return trip from Washington D.C. to Dallas)
4. "We call you Miss Prim and Proper." Because I had told the young women in the office about
the sexual harrassment legislation, how they didn't have to sleep with him or any other "boss."
5. "Your problem is that you aren't nice to the boardmembers." (Mostly men and mostly lechers) And here is when I should have sued immediately:
6. "I don't want blood in this office." My boss's sexualized culture was such that one of his underlings had posted a newspaper cartoon of the increasingly bikini-clad Texas A&M cheerleaders -- with their behinds totally Barshamian-naked -- this creative guy had written my name on one pair, and two other female colleagues, each got her own nalga. Because I had the support of one of my colleagues -- the third woman, a secretary who was enthralled by him would not, could not, pobrecita, though she was silenced by the incident. Since there were two women complaining -- my boss took the photograph down, refused to give it to me -- he was a graduate of Princeton, after all, and that's when he stated that "he didn't want blood." Of course he was as glib and funny and charming as Herman Cain. In his early thirties at the time, married, with two daughters.
I wish I had sued him. I'm this close to giving you his name. Hell with it, his name was Pedro Ruiz Garza, and he owes me an apology. I never slept with any man in my office, nor did I encourage them in any way. I think the real story about sexual harrassment is how millions of women can't tell their story cause they're afraid of losing their job, or what does it mean? Am I a puta? Did I ask for it? My story isn't new, it's the oldest story of all. And it happens to millions of women, especially in their twenties and thirties. It's happening right now.
There are lots of Herman Cains out there -- and many times their wives are the last to know. This is a story of men because they have privilege -- and I suspect that brown and black men are more easily snared in the dragnet of race. Of course men are gonna fight back, who wants to lose this kind of power, this sexy thrilling fantasy that men have made for themselves -- because we women let them.
I'm sure that Pedro has raised his daughters to fight back, but he owes me and every other woman he worked with an apology for his abhorrent language and falta de respeto. I"m sure he's taught his daughters not to put up with men like him.
But it's my fault too, because I should have sued the bastard.
Fluffie, the maltese-poodle mix, escaped the Dog Pound some weeks ago: He was my dog, cause after the Dog Pound picked him up -- looking like a rastafarian with very bad hair, it cost me $50 to save him from death row at the Pound. Why do you want this dog, lady? Fluffie isn't tame you see. He's Street. Not a bad type, just keeps a safe distance from people. At the pound, on Death Row, I explained my whole year of trying to catch this cabron. So, they felt sorry for the little hellion, and he got registered, neutered, shots, micro-chipped, and shaved down to his nakedness.
I guess Lady Destiny had something to show me, cause when I went to get him the next day, he slipped under his collar and ran for the hills as he was getting into the back of my car, thanks to the help of a Dog Pound staffer who thought I was abusing Fluffie who was doing some twisty-tango moves. It wasn't all my fault, I asked the Dog Pound Clinic to make that collar tight, the assistant swore he'd never get out. I've seen this dog on the street for a year, I told her. Tried dog traps, barely legal drugs, and weinies. He takes the weinies, eats the drugs, ignores the traps. This dog came from a family that ran with the mustangs. He's the boss of the barrio, trust me.
The dog will not be able to get out of this collar, she repeated. Five minutes, later, he was running across the lot toward the Food Bank, at the corner of 90 and 151, on the far westside of town.
The dispatchers came out, the big guys with the bigger hooks, who all ran toward the lot after a dog that weighed maybe 15 pounds and bare-assed. I didn't even try, had to go to work, and cried myself that night with guilt, anger at ACS, Fluffie, and my checkbook.
The next day I got on the phone and called everyone I could at the Dog Pound and blamed them. Got a personal call from the Director, the Protector and Killer of Dogs, depending on how you look at it, and he assured me that the Dog Pound had two dispatchers looking, a trap set up outside the Dog Pound, that Fluffie would be back, they always do. Don't worry, ma'm, we're gonna catch this dog.
Yesterday I got a call from Michael, from Fluffie's barrio, Ruiz and San Jacinto, way across town from the Dog Pound. "Hey, I barely recognize him, you really shaved him, didn'tcha? Sure good to get him back."
Fluffie travelled about fifteen miles through traffic, scorching heat, and big dogs that could mistake him for a live weinie. Gave him some smoked ones today, and said hello. He's happy, and I have to figure out what to do now. Here's the before and after pics:
This is Fluffie, a dog from the Westside that I've been trying to catch for a year. He's a mustang-poodle. I've tried dog traps from the Animal Defense League, dozens of weinies, and almost illegal drugs. Nothing worked. He's a sweet dog, but afraid of people. Two days ago he finally got trapped in a yard on Colorado Street, and Mike, a man who was my lookout called me and I went right over the next morning. He was already on Death Row, curled up in a corner. I paid to get him fixed, his shots, microchipped, the works. I went yesterday to get him, ready with weinies, a training leash, a collar and leash. He's a Maltese Poodle, apparently, but who knew? Weighs about 15 pounds, so the dreadlocks weighed more than him. I told the woman in the Clinic to please make the collar tight so that he wouldn't get away, told her he was a wild one. She told me that no way could he get away from the collar, though it wasn't as snug as I would have liked, but these are the people who work with dogs, and maybe they know something? I walked out slowly with the Fluffie and he dragged, then walked some, let me pet him a little, let me carry him a little before he made signs he wanted to bite me, got back on the ground, then dragged and started wrestling with the leash. A guy came out to help me, and we walked to the car where I opened the back, and by this time because Fluffie was wiggling like the little maniac he is, slipped out of the collar that was supposed to be "tight" and got away. Went under the van, and the guy called for help from ACS but no one came. Then Fluffie was about to take off to the freeway, but the guy did some kind of football defense-move, and cut him off. Fluffie ran off to the dried grass between the ACS and the Food Bank. Finally the ACS truck came and they told me they would find him for sure and call me. Of course they haven't. The really sad thing in all this is that they are blaming me. They get paid to save dogs, and some of us just do it because who could resist el Fluffie? If they only knew how hard I tried. Now he's buck-naked and furless out there, I hope someone can trap him and save him. He's a good little dog, with some weinies and patience, he can make it. He's two years old according to my ACS papers. They say he could've been abused in the past, and that's why he's so skittish around people.
Ay, let's come together andbehold the cemented and unforgiving mind of our Governor in Texas. There are pregnant teenage girls everywhere, sometimes you see girls with a baby and pregnant again. Sometimes you see them on the bus with three children. These are girls who look like they're 14, 15, 16 years old.
Can't get birth control in Texas, thanks to our Governor who wants to be President, and says our abstinence policies work -- well, they worked for him.
The only reason I didn't have sex in high school was because I was afraid of Daddy's wrath -- but even that doesn't stop the young from the conspiracy of nature and hip-hop.
I'm a Chicana, a Mexican-American, an American citizen born in this embarrassing land called Texas who is rendered almost speechless by the continued impoverished, dream-toppling politics of the chosen tribe they call conservatives in this state. Are these people on drugs? Only legal ones, probly. But they're living in the dreams of the past, the myths, the legends, the belief they would always have Texas as theirs, when, surprise! It belongs to all of us.
I have not been able to write about it cause the continued legislative hate is worser than a tsunami, a Joplin-category tornado, a Gulf Coast oil spill, it's been a series of Katrinaesque pendejadas coming out of that big-hair empty-headed Governor Perry and his ilk that make me....wanna cuss and spit.
So I will. Like who could possibly vote for a man who is proud of giving us a state when we could be the next silicon valley, but instead we're building more pulgas and jails? Of course corporations like to come here, we don't like unions and if you want to spew your basura, go for it. And get a gun while you're at it, and take it to college too. We've now returned to the past behind John Wayne, and it won't be over until somebody shoots at this movie. Bam-bam.
Is that progress or what?
This tribe of fear and John Wayne wannabes have beaten me up. Yes, I am bruised, battered, poor for daring to write in a state that dares to deny children the love of reading, denies the best immigrant-born children the right to go to college and treats them like criminals, and if they could, they'd deport me too. But I'm not out yet.
Confession: My birth certificate was misspelled in the fifties when I was born -- they don't know how to write French names in this state -- and if my late mother hadn't sworn on a stack of Bibles in Austin that yes, she remembered my birth and the midwife, as I was getting my passport, who knows, who friggin knows what the next legislature will do.
Where to start talking about Texas? How to stop? We're at the bottom of everything, you name it. Pollution. Education. Millions in prisons and we spend zillions for that. Obese, a nice word for gorditos. We have the biggest guts and that's because we won't tolerate mass transit so we can walk. Hell no! This is Texas, and real men have trucks. If it wasn't for all the Mexican immigration, legal and otherwise, I don't know who'd work on our tires, roofs, restaurants and clean our hotels, but let's pretend the brown ones aren't over 40% of the state population and that your children and grandchildren will be brown too. Dream on...And what kind of state will we become then? Ask Steve Murdock, the demographer whose work I admire and if the legislature can't read, then why bother? We don't have a state insurance tax now, depending on property taxes, and live in the dark ages with our regressive sales taxes. I probably pay more taxes than the Governor, cause he gets loopholes.
I could go on, but I won't. I do know our oppressive laws may blunt the inevitable changes, but change is comin'. Like it or not, baby. I got my degree outside this state no thanks to Texas, and
there's just enough of us who can write and think and have also read the Bible and agree on the profound story of it, unlike our Governor, who has turned it into a prop and carries it with his coyote-killing gun. Or maybe the money he's made stealing this land for himself and his cronies gets him real good hairspray. Or maybe he's got just enough Mexican or Black in that hair, and this is what happens when you forget how we are all descended from the same tribe.
It is the inchoate fear of the increasingly virulent language and actions of the right-wing that led to this "senseless" shooting in Arizona today of the Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the killing of half-a-dozen people, including an aide and Judge Roll, along with injuring more than a dozen others.
After listening to Limbaugh, Palin, and their arch-conservative cohorts, it has been clear to me they have encouraged hate, fear, and violence in their attacks against the President, with lies, distortions, a total ignorance of the U.S. Constitution, all with a crucifix around her neck.
I want our Democratic leaders and our President to call this for what it is: Fear of how the world is changing, and how it must change, how it was destined to change. In the next days, you will hear about the "senseless" killer(s). Not true. Everything is connected -- and the fearmongerers in this country who are making millions for their lies and hypocrisy need to be challenged by our leadership who understand that we must be tolerant, peacemaking, inclusive.
But of course, many of them won't -- they want to appeal to the "mainstream" who is also afraid of the changing demographics in this country, the economic and cultural impact of globalization, climate change, the aging economics of this country -- but please, they don't want things to change right now.
So it will be up to us to call our representatives and demand that they take a stand on this shooting that is not senseless at all.
Better yet, I hope that women around the country take these guns away from the boys and the girls who think that being a boy is somehow special, once and for all.
Power doesn't come from a loaded gun, Ms. Palin. It comes from a woman who recognizes that we are here to heal the world. A woman who stands up for Peace, Love, Forgiveness, Healing. That kind of woman is truly fearless, it is not weak at all. And that kind of woman is inside each and every one of us if we're not afraid to listen.