Re: that fucking wall

Anthony Bourdain wrote:

“Americans love Mexican food. We consume nachos, tacos, burritos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales and anything resembling Mexican in enormous quantities. We love Mexican beverages, happily knocking back huge amounts of tequila, mezcal, and Mexican beer every year. We love Mexican people—we sure employ a lot of them. Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, and look after our children. As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs.” But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position—or even a job as a prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, probably, simply won’t do.

We love Mexican drugs. Maybe not you personally, but “we”, as a nation, certainly consume titanic amounts of them—and go to extraordinary lengths and expense to acquire them. We love Mexican music, Mexican beaches, Mexican architecture, interior design, Mexican films.

So, why don’t we love Mexico?

We throw up our hands and shrug at what happens and what is happening just across the border. Maybe we are embarrassed. Mexico, after all, has always been there for us, to service our darkest needs and desires. Whether it’s dress up like fools and get passed-out drunk and sunburned on spring break in Cancun, throw pesos at strippers in Tijuana, or get toasted on Mexican drugs, we are seldom on our best behavior in Mexico. They have seen many of us at our worst. They know our darkest desires.

In the service of our appetites, we spend billions and billions of dollars each year on Mexican drugs—while at the same time spending billions and billions more trying to prevent those drugs from reaching us. The effect on our society is everywhere to be seen. Whether it’s kids nodding off and overdosing in small town Vermont, gang violence in L.A., burned out neighborhoods in Detroit—it’s there to see. What we don’t see, however, haven’t really noticed, and don’t seem to much care about, is the 80,000 dead in Mexico, just in the past few years—mostly innocent victims. Eighty thousand families who’ve been touched directly by the so-called “War On Drugs”.

Mexico. Our brother from another mother. A country, with whom, like it or not, we are inexorably, deeply involved, in a close but often uncomfortable embrace. Look at it. It’s beautiful. It has some of the most ravishingly beautiful beaches on earth. Mountains, desert, jungle. Beautiful colonial architecture, a tragic, elegant, violent, ludicrous, heroic, lamentable, heartbreaking history. Mexican wine country rivals Tuscany for gorgeousness. Its archeological sites—the remnants of great empires, unrivaled anywhere. And as much as we think we know and love it, we have barely scratched the surface of what Mexican food really is. It is NOT melted cheese over tortilla chips. It is not simple, or easy. It is not simply “bro food” at halftime. It is in fact, old—older even than the great cuisines of Europe, and often deeply complex, refined, subtle, and sophisticated. A true mole sauce, for instance, can take DAYS to make, a balance of freshly (always fresh) ingredients painstakingly prepared by hand. It could be, should be, one of the most exciting cuisines on the planet, if we paid attention. The old school cooks of Oaxaca make some of the more difficult and nuanced sauces in gastronomy. And some of the new generation—many of whom have trained in the kitchens of America and Europe—have returned home to take Mexican food to new and thrilling heights.

It’s a country I feel particularly attached to and grateful for. In nearly 30 years of cooking professionally, just about every time I walked into a new kitchen, it was a Mexican guy who looked after me, had my back, showed me what was what, and was there—and on the case—when the cooks like me, with backgrounds like mine, ran away to go skiing or surfing or simply flaked. I have been fortunate to track where some of those cooks come from, to go back home with them. To small towns populated mostly by women—where in the evening, families gather at the town’s phone kiosk, waiting for calls from their husbands, sons and brothers who have left to work in our kitchens in the cities of the North. I have been fortunate enough to see where that affinity for cooking comes from, to experience moms and grandmothers preparing many delicious things, with pride and real love, passing that food made by hand from their hands to mine.

In years of making television in Mexico, it’s one of the places we, as a crew, are happiest when the day’s work is over. We’ll gather around a street stall and order soft tacos with fresh, bright, delicious salsas, drink cold Mexican beer, sip smoky mezcals, and listen with moist eyes to sentimental songs from street musicians. We will look around and remark, for the hundredth time, what an extraordinary place this is.

The received wisdom is that Mexico will never change. That is hopelessly corrupt, from top to bottom. That it is useless to resist—to care, to hope for a happier future. But there are heroes out there who refuse to go along. On this episode of “Parts Unknown,” we meet a few of them. People who are standing up against overwhelming odds, demanding accountability, demanding change—at great, even horrifying personal cost.”47180743_10161065587235514_5300303815826735104_n

Original Post by Samantha Rose on Facebook.

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Who to blame

A conversation on FaceBook (modified for clarity)

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J: Except many people didn’t vote because they were mad about Bernie.

K: Then, they gave their votes to Trump because they didn’t vote against him. They are as responsible for his election as the people who actively chose him.

J: I agree. But this graphic forgets that.

J: I don’t blame Bernie Sanders. But I do blame a lot of his followers who were too stubborn to vote for Clinton

 K: I don’t care WHY they didn’t vote. They didn’t. Now, we have to live with that choice.

J: Well yes, and no. I mean understanding why people don’t vote is a step toward getting them to vote?

J: I’m starting to wonder if we should have compulsory vote like they do in some countries.

 K: Part of the problem is the Electoral College. And no Republican Congress is every going to kill that evil entity because it keeps giving them elections they didn’t win popularly.

K: I think the 2 party systems is a problem, too. And it will take a HUGE grassroots movement for an extended time to change that. Because it will have to come from very local elections, first.

K: And, no. Understanding why they didn’t vote isn’t a step to getting them to vote. That’s like a vegetarian going to a dinner at a barbecue restaurant and letting their friends order for them.

J: I don’t understand your analogy

K: As a non-eater-of-fowl-or-mammal, going out to dinner with some people has been difficult. Especially when then change in diet was fairly new. Even dining at a place called Beef O’Brady’s, I can find a meal. Not what I would have chosen in someplace like Living Kitchen, but adequate for my immediate need.

K: Voting can be like that. You don’t get what you want. So, you do your best to make the least bad choice.

K: And not voting is like telling a waitress at Beef O’Brady’s to pick a meal out for me.

J: Ah, I see what you’re saying.
L: Or not eating.
K: That’s where my analogy quits working. In the case of voting, not ordering means you get a plate that you must eat no matter what your preferences are. Even if it’s a shit sandwich.
 K: I hold non-voters as much responsible for this as the people who actually voted for the Psycho in Chief.

Conversation with 20-something

Them: If someone’s entire ideology is based around the idea that people like me and people of color have to be violently expunged from existence, even a violent response is self defense. To say otherwise is gaslighting.

Ergo: bash the fash.

Me: What do your peers say is the reason they don’t vote?

Them: “if it were possible to vote away their wealth, the rich would never allow you to do it.”

Typically it’s a pretty in depth analysis of how utterly broken and vile every elected official has been, and how their time is better spent organizing their own communities, and exemplifying direct action.

Me: Do they not know they can do both? And that who they vote for locally is significant?

Them: They despise the government on an even local level.

Me: They will never change it without using the voting booth as one of their tools.

Them: Tbh they’d rather have an actual revolution. Changing the system from within is a joke.

Voting for who is going to not represent your interests bc the other person who won’t represent your interests to a marginally noticeable degree more seems pointless to people who want to burn the entire system down.

Some more literally than figuratively.

Me: This does not give me hope.

Charlottesville

It’s been a strange time at our house. I’m training for my new position and working 8-4:30 M-F. Being off work on the weekends is really weird for me. Last weekend, we went to Kerr Lake with a couple of friends who have a house there. When we came back, we found out about the Charlottesville debacle.

There were posts on FB about vigils in support of the protesters and I went to the one in our county seat. Our state senator and representative were there. There were half a dozen speakers who talked about supporting each other and caring for everyone in our community for an hour. And they had us introduce ourselves to the people around us, with the intention that we would discuss what we intend to do going forward.

When we were dispersing, someone announced that they hoped we would show up at the Orange County School Board meeting on Monday where the Board was expected to make a decision about Confederate flags on campus grounds. I didn’t go back to check the time because I expected that I would be able to find it online. I was wrong. So, we just went out for dinner and I didn’t have to try to get my fumbling thoughts arranged into something coherent.

I found out on Tuesday that they have banned Nazi, Confederate and KKK symbols on school property. Hallelujah. Why did this even need to be discussed?

I despise Donald Trump and I am enraged that our political system allowed that buffoon to be elected to the highest office in our country. I kept waiting for someone to put a stop to this farce and they haven’t yet. Instead, things get worse and worse. How far down do we have to go before people say “Enough! Too much! This has to stop!” loudly enough, with enough conviction, to be heard?

I keep thinking of Maya Angelou Tweeting “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” These people are saying “I hate you and I am dangerous.”

thoughts about feminism

http://sites.middlebury.edu/middmag/2012/03/15/gender-violence/

“‘[Gender violence issues] affect women at every level, but I am here to say that the very fact of just calling these issues ‘women’s issues’ is in itself part of the problem.'”

I have been unhappy with the word “feminism” for as long as I have known there was a gender-caused imbalance in the world. In my mind it makes issues related to gender only the problem of women. And men are as constrained by gender stereotypes as women. It usually (often? sometimes?) expressed differently, though.

It is expected that women will be raped and the victims of domestic violence. Men who are raped or beaten by a domestic partner become feminized by the very fact of having the act perpetrated on them. And “feminized” means weakened. Particularly in this context. So, they may be less likely to do something about it. You know, something like report it and get it prosecuted.

Parents doing childcare is a whole other bag of worms. Women are asked if they intend to come back to work after giving birth. Staying home to tend to children is a valid option for us (as a group, not necessarily individually.) Men who choose to be the one giving up a paycheck to do the homefront heavy lifting are often (usually?) required to justify it. Men who actually participate in parenting are praised, as though that isn’t something that should be expected. Who would say to a woman “Aren’t you a good mom bringing the kids to the playground?” Or to a man “Does your wife help with the kids?”

That’s not fair to anybody. Everyone should be allowed to care for their family, Everyone should be allowed to feel safe and to speak up if they aren’t. And language matters.

Racist, homophobic and sexist language is hurtful. Reducing someone to a body part is hurtful. Words like Nigger and Bitch and Dick are slap-in-the-face verbal violence. They all say very clearly “You are less than human. You are a lesser creature than me.” Those are obvious and easy to call out. There are more subtle microaggressions in our language that need consideration and adjustment, too.

I am a gender communist. From each according to their abilities to each accord to their needs. This, until a better word is devised, is what a feminist looks like.