Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Amigo Country...

...apparently has set up shop here in the US. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 30.7 million people in the US are of Mexican origin. 19.3 million of those were born here, and 11.2 million are foreign born, like me.
Mexicans represent 65.7% of all Hispanics in the US, estimated at 46.8 million, and 37% of all foreigners. Hispanics are now 15.4% of the total population of the United States. So más respeto, vatos.
These numbers are huge. They are radical. Mostly, because considering how many Mexicans we are, we certainly do not have the political influence or make the noise we should be making (compared to the four Cuban cats who have held US foreign policy hostage from Miami since forever, for example). We are way too silent. Too busy working to complain. But that's because most of us have little education and even less money.  With these numbers, we should be seriously influencing immigration and foreign policy, among other things, both here and south of the border. We can no longer be ignored by both governments. And wait for the Census results...
There are many important corollaries to these significant numbers:
1. Are these numbers to blame for the recent improvements in Mexican food in New York City? You bet. Is this why we can now buy churros at the subway? Indeed. Is this the reason for the recent ascendancy of chipotle flavored everything? You gringos are very lucky.
2. I work in Hispanic advertising. It has always frustrated me that someone always asks whether the Dominicans, the Puerto Ricans, the Cubans or the Ecuatorians understand expressions that come from Mexico. Frankly, who cares? If they don't understand them now, they will soon, just like the Korean deli owners and anybody who works at a restaurant now speaks Mexican inflected Spanish.
I have always said that Mexican Spanish should be the Spanish used in national Hispanic advertising by virtue of its majority. Period. Number one, it is pretty good Spanish. Number two, I don't care if you think this is arrogant. Me vale madres.

 These numbers are from 2007. I rest my case.

3. I suggest that we scrap 5 de mayo, which is a bullshit holiday and celebrate instead September 15, which is our Independence Day. 
We seem to have taken back the territory that Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana sold to the US in the 19th Century. Karma.
Speaking of which, I was informed through Facebook that there is a petition going on to declare a national holiday honoring César Chavez, the Mexican civil rights dude who  originally coined the phrase "sí se puede", yes we can. I say, why not?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And I Believe in the Easter Bunny

Warning: I am about to tear the Catholic Church a new one, so if you feel that this may offend your religious sensibilities, stop reading now.

The Catholic Church is the longest lasting criminal mafia organization in existence.
It continues operating unimpeded. This latest child abuse scandal (one of many) is the tip of the iceberg of centuries of criminal behavior. Inquisitions, persecutions, expulsions, crusades, plunder, violence, graft, corruption, slavery, extortion, (remember the selling of indulgences that caused Luther to start the Reformation?), siding with evil in recent history (Hitler, Mussolini, Franco). The catalog of evils is endless.
In the United States, lay child molesters are ostracized and persecuted even after they've done time in jail, but priests, with the approval and abetting of the Vatican, are allowed to continue their duties unmolested in other parishes. All the Church cares about is covering up scandal. This is the fallacy of religion, that somehow clergy people are more pure or that the rules that apply to everyone do not apply to them because they have a closer relationship to God (as if). In fact, they take advantage of the trust of the faithful and abuse their power over them. This is evil. This is how organized religion, and particularly the Catholic Church, the most powerful and richest religious organization in the world, has literally gotten away with murder for centuries. The harm, violence, poverty, murder, enmity and catastrophe it has caused is in plain view in the history books. 
Contrition, repentance and forgiveness, boy do they come in handy when you are caught committing unspeakable acts against innocents, don't they? The sheer gall of using humane concepts preached by Jesus to get away with murder. But it won't do. If your child is abused, do you want the rapist to repent and ask for forgiveness with a pat on the hand, or do you want him to face justice? Priests and nuns and any other clergy of any other religion who engage in what constitutes criminal behavior in civil society need to be brought to justice in this world, not the next.
Church officials seem to think that expressing remorse is more than enough. In the case of the priest who molested deaf boys in Milwaukee, his remorse wasn't very convincing. He made all sorts of rationalizations and justifications for his indefensible behavior (accusing the kids of being homosexuals, thinking that the kids were enjoying it because they were allowing it). These people live in a bubble of supposed sanctity that totally warps their moral and ethical instincts. And with all due respect, the parents who put their children in the care of these monsters should by now, know better. It is amazing to me, reading and hearing from Catholics everywhere that there is pervasive, day to day knowledge of abusive priests and nuns, not always sexual, but always damaging, yet everybody looks the other way, in particular this awful Pope. Why are people willing to give such appalling leeway to religious people?
Have you read about the Catholic Church in Ireland? It's a catalog of terror. When I read Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes I was taken aback by the way he portrayed the supposedly charitable societies that humiliated and punished the poor with unusual fervor, even glee. That a modern country could tolerate such blatant mistreatment and abuse for so long is amazing to me. And now the Pope is telling the Irish 'tis their problem. I hope that at last their eyes will finally open. For those with strong constitutions, I recommend the harrowing movie The Magdalene Sisters, directed by Irish actor Peter Mullan. Unbelievable injustice and cruelty.  And these convents were closed only relatively recently.
There may be some orders that do good here and there but the institution of the Church is rotten from the top. It also seems to be utterly out of touch with current reality. In our modern age it doesn't start wars and crusades anymore, but the evil it does is no less harmful to millions of people, like their campaign against the distribution of condoms in Africa to stop the spread of AIDS, and their intransigent stance against contraception. 
The ascendancy of this Pope illustrates just how out of touch the Vatican is with the reality of the world today. In Europe and America nobody goes to church anymore. Traditionally Catholic countries like Italy and Spain, and now Ireland, have had enough of Church abuse. The majority of the faithful now live in less developed countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Instead of choosing someone with Third World credentials, someone who could excite people back into a Church more engaged with the real problems of the world, they pick a cerebral German former Hitler Youth who obsesses about ancient Church tenets and seems indifferent to human suffering. They deserve everything they got coming.  As a Jew (and I do blame most of the severe problems of the Jewish people since 1 A.D. on Christianity) I have to say, that watching the Vatican squirm gives me endless pleasure. I have always loathed the Catholic Church. And I'm lucky to live in a secular world in which I don't get to be burned at the stake for saying it. 
Is ending celibate vows the answer? I don't think so. Some priests may marry women, but what about the gay priests? Are they going to marry women too? This opens a whole fresh can of worms. So no. I doubt the abuse of power one way or another will ever stop. This abuse of power is not exclusive to the Catholic Church. It is part of the human condition, since organized religion of any kind is the greatest racket ever invented by man and has been a refuge for conmen since time immemorial. The only inoculation against it is to have strong safeguards in the separation between Church and State. Religion does the most harm when it is chums with political power. This is why it ran rampant in Ireland. And in countries like Mexico, where it exploited people until enlightened leaders like Benito Juárez all the way back in the 1850's said basta and separated church and state, giving rise to a nation with secular laws.
I don't have a beef with personal faith. Knock yourselves out believing in whatever gives you comfort. But be aware that there are those who seek to take advantage of your faith because to them, and in opposition to everything you believe in, it makes you vulnerable, not stronger.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Where evil thrives unrestrained

Headline in the front page of the New York Times:

Vatican Declined to Defrock Priest Who Abused Deaf Boys

Looking for pure human evil? Check the Vatican.

To our Health!

I've been watching the passing of the health care bill from the sidelines because I'm exhausted from the topic. I'm glad (and rather suprised) they passed it, it's not what we deserved or demanded, but it will have to do. It's better than nothing.
I hope that Obama takes this opportunity to hold on to his cojones and continue enacting sweeping reversals to the Republican policies that have harmed this country for so many years. It is obvious that bipartisanship is a fantasy, so let's drop the pretense and get things done without it.
After reading the comment section on this interesting article in the NYT that says that the health care bill amounts to a redistribution of wealth, I realized that sane people in high income cities like New York are going to end up paying for the health insurance of the trailer trash idiots that think this bill is marxist and that spit on Black Civil Rights leaders and hurl insults at gay congressmen.
As Obama said in his pep talk to Democrats before the vote, we are doing this for the very people who don't want it. If it was up to me, let them fester with incurable illnesses and no insurance until they cry uncle. They deserve every rotted tooth, every spotted liver, all the diabetes and obesity and heart disease and inner putrefaction that calamity can visit on them. If possible within the the next 4 years, before the bill actually starts working.
And then Sarah Palin's "Don't retreat - reload" comment, what the hell is that? Hankering for a lynch mob, perhaps? Someone muzzle that Nazi bitch already.
All this mass tea bag hysteria is nothing but white racists in a panic. They can complain about taxes, and socialism and their America and whatever you like, but the actual subtext is "the uppity Black man is coming to get us. It's his payback time and we are scared. Plus, we just can't suffer the idea that he is in charge". It is a serious mass delusion with very disturbing roots and it is about time we stop treating it as  ridicule. It needs to be condemned and rejected, not just laughed at. 
It is up to the rest of us, which I'd like to believe constitute the majority of decent, sane, lucid and sensible people in this country, including moderate Republicans who should be dying of shame and anguish, to repel and repulse, ostracize and shrink these lunatics and their media cheerleaders to an irrelevant, inconsequential sideshow.
The Republican Party, I insist, has made a gross miscalculation, and has allowed the criminal, lunatic fringe to rule the roost. The loonies have taken over the asylum. The Republican leadership thinks this will win them votes at the polls. Perhaps on those moronic red states. I believe that their abandonment of moderation, sensibility, responsibility and reason will continue to cost them dearly. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Taco NYC

I'm very happy that my purported compatriot in Aztec Jewishness, Tizoc Schwartz, found me, because I have just found him and he is performing an invaluable service for the citizens of this fair metropolis by going to and documenting every taquería, fancy and not, that exists in the five boroughs. I nominate Tizoc for the Nobel Peace Prize for making me want to schlep all the way to any of the other 4 boroughs for decent tacos. The man is an angel.  And he is now on my blogroll.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Department of Offensive Foodstuffs

The Health Department should ban this revolting thing. I found it in Dumbo, the only place in NYC where there is no decent food to be had. Grimaldi's, Schmimaldis. Pizza doesn't count. Jacques Torres doesn't count. Hecho en Dumbo, the only good place in the foodforsaken neighborhood was only open at night, and it has moved to Manhattan (YAAAAAAY). Best Mexican food in town.

Ground beef, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and RANCH DRESSING? What the hell? Where's the taco part?  This dish manages to mortally offend both Italians and Mexicans.  Let's declare joint war against American shit like this. Avanti popolo!

Poor, noble, genius taco. I'm still waiting for Americans to understand the concept.
By the way, not to cast aspersions and weaken our budding Italo-Mexican alliance, but any humble taco kicks any pizza's ass.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

From the Enchilada Files: Omigod: Houston Galleria Closed on Easter Sunday

Originally published 4 years ago, every impending Easter this post gets resurrected by concerned readers, in accordance with the season. Please note the one comment. It cracks me up.

This is the most concrete example I can find on how this here country is going to the gods:
As my sister Small Enchiladita and I look forward to meet for an exciting weekend shopping trip, I get the following, very disturbed email:

NOTE: I reproduce this without her permission (and pray for forgiveness). The literary adaptation is mine:
The Galleria will be closed on Sunday 16 (Easter Sunday). I'm traumatized!!! That means that EVERYTHING is closed? If that's the case, it doesn't matter, for we shall hang out together more, but tell me it isn't so. I was so excited about going shopping. You think Target will also be closed? And Barnes and Noble? What's the deal with Easter Sunday?
I cannot begin to convey to you the utter desperation of the original Spanish of that last phrase: ¿qué pedo con Easter Sunday? Literally: What fart with Easter Sunday?
Please also note the heartrending inclusion of a bookstore.

What can I tell you, my adored, fraternal sister?
I am as disillusioned and disappointed and as flummoxed as you are.
How dare they close the Temple of Shopping on a holiday weekend? What are they thinking? Do they realize that by doing so they squash the dreams of thousands of affluent Mexicans, who dream all year long of their traditional shopping pilgrimage to the Land of Plenty?
Is it possible that Texas has become a de facto Evangelical state?
That in the birthplace of Enron the Almighty has actually become more powerful than the Almighty Dollar? The horror.
But what can you expect of a city whose international airport is named after George Bush?

We shall overcome, Enchiladita, even if it means spending all of Easter Sunday splashing around in the tiny, iffy-looking covered pool of our hotel, mixing the chlorinated water with our tears, trying hard to forget all those hours we could have spent shopping.

What the hell else is there to do in Houston, Texas?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Alert the media!

I can't find anything to kvetch or rant about! What is happening to me? Heeeeelp!

I could comment on Rush Limbaugh's broken promise to get the hell out of here and go pester the poor Costa Ricans, but not even that is getting my goat nowadays. These pompous hypocritical, drug addled, fat assed balloons of fetid, putrefying right wing air are so stupid it's almost pointless to make fun of them.
What happened to our healthcare bill? I don't understand the dynamics so I've stopped caring. Where are we on this? Anybody?
By the way, listen to this. I made an appointment to the eye doctor because I think I need new glasses. Can't see, can't hear, quickly becoming an old fartette. Hence, appointment.
They tell me that if I want a new prescription I have to pay $40 extra, because my insurance (which charges a $50 copay) doesn't cover a prescription. What fresh hell, to quote Dorothy Parker, is this? It's like going to the ice cream parlor and they can sell you the cone or the cup or the sprinkles, but not the ice cream.
This country has become an insane asylum. Nothing makes any sense any more. Which is why I am going to Chinatown, to my beloved Mott St. Optical, to get my prescription. This is where I got my bifocals (see old fartette, above), and the saleswoman told me: "You are going to love them. You are going to see everything!".

Perhaps you can enlighten me: why do rich people have reality shows on TV? A world in which the rich behave with even more abject vulgarity than the poor thoroughly depresses me. There are no standards anymore.
Same goes for fucking Lady Gaga. I saw her video with Beyonce (she does not depress me, somehow). Call me an old fartette, but no I didn't like the video. I like the song, but the video's trashy aesthetic is all over the place. What really disgusts me is that it's product placement central, what people in my farkakte business call, with no hint of irony or shame, branded entertainment. That even a music video today has to have product placement makes me gag. So did Virgin Mobile pay for this extended musical masturbation? Or what? Look, motherfuckers, I ain't drinking this Kool-Aid, okay? (unless you pay me handsomely to do it. I'm in advertising after all).
I saw Logorama, the animated short that won the Oscar. This is our world now, and it is not a good thing.
Hey. Looks like I got my kvetching-ranting mojo back.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Shrinks for Nations

I think nations need shrinks, just like people. The shrink would study the past and present behavior of the nation in question and about once a month, or depending on need, would publish some mental health advice for the nation. For each country has their very own particular mishegoss.
Shrinks would have a field day.
For instance, the shrink treating the United States would have to be an expert on bipolar disorder, and multiple personalities (and addiction, and bullying, and delusional narcissism, and an inability to deal with reality etc, etc.). He or she would help America understand that not everything is black or white, red or blue, good or evil. She or he would introduce us to the concept of gray areas. It could be very therapeutic.
The shrink treating Mexico would have to cope with self-hatred, lack of self-esteem and a tendency to rely way too much on improvisation. The shrink could ask: Why do you think you are so corrupt? Why do you treat your own citizens so shabbily? What is this about?
The shrink treating Canada would be bored to tears, since Canadians don't have problems.  
Many countries share similar issues, so shrinks could compare notes. Corruption is not the exclusive province of Mexico. Countries like Russia, China, India, would find they have a lot in common with every country in Latin America, where graft is the oil that lubricates everything. Finding that we have similar shortcomings would bring nations closer together.  There could even be group therapy for specific national conditions (all countries with big alcoholism rates, say I!, or a support group for developing countries that haven't been able to get their act together for the past 200 years).
Israel and the Arab World could benefit both from individual counseling and couples therapy. It would be painful, but they could air their respective grievances and find a middle ground, since they are sleeping in the same bed.
But the catch is that countries have to listen to the advice. They can't say they prefer to go to confession or their religion disapproves or they don't believe in shrinks. And no drug therapy. They have to do the work.