Jan 2, 2010, 11:56 AM
Post #1 of 21
In an earlier thread, I posted a comment about paying my paper bill and giving "money for nothing." It was a cheeky comment and not really true. I continue to be impressed by the level of reporting that comes out of the Dallas Morning News México Bureau and, in particular, Alfredo Corchado.
Flowers in the Desert
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Alfredo is a border boy - born in El Paso. So it shouldn't have surprised me to read this outstanding article on the front page of the paper this morning about a cheekily named band comprised of Anglos, called "Los P**ches Gringos." These four "white guys," who live in the Texas Big Bend, play Mexican corridos, cumbia and norteño music with heart, and bring together people of vastly different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, as only music, passionately played, can do. You can get a sample of the magic they conjure here.
As for those of you who are having the vapors and need to break open your smelling salts over the band's name, I think their lead singer explains that pretty well:
"After being called 'p**che gringo' by so many, so often and in so many ways," quipped lead singer Ted Arbogast, 57, "the name just stuck."
The article continues the explanation: "The Gringos know their name raises eyebrows – "shock value," they say – but they won't have it any other way. They concede that their name and music may not sit well in cities like Dallas, San Antonio or even liberal-minded Austin.
[snip]And at a time when the Texas-Mexico border and the issues it represents – illegal immigration, drug trafficking and violence – are highly politicized, the Gringos say they are reminding people that for many, band members included, the border remains a "hell of a place to live."
Terlingua sits in the shadow of Big Bend National Park, with its brilliant blue skies and deep canyons, a rugged region known for its natural beauty and the quirkiness of its residents.
"People here have a sense of humor," said Mike Davidson, the band's guitarist and executive director of Brewster County Tourism Council. "You have to laugh, or otherwise you go crazy with the way the border is portrayed by the 24-hour news folks and conservative commentators."
Los P**che Gringos appear like una flor en el desierto - magical and miraculous for the environment in which they thrive. At a time when everybody, whether en el Norte or México, querido y lindo, is busy pointing their fingers at somebody else for the various messes that we have all made, it seems to me that what we desperately need are a few more menders, bridge-builders and gardeners, willing to pick up the pieces, lend a hand, and quietly make the deserts bloom once more.
I thought about the conditions necessary for life to bloom in improbable places like Cd. Juárez, Culiacán, Terlingua, East. St. Louis, southside Chicago, Detroit, and the anonymous sterile suburbs of Orange County, Collin County, and southwest Connecticut. And what I concluded is that it requires each of us to have both the desire to improve our neighborhood and the inability to tolerate the status quo. Each of us has to say, "no más; no more."
The readers of MexConnect are particularly well suited to make the deserts bloom, as you have "seen both sides now." Similarly well situated are many of my friends, neighbors and co-workers here in DFW and across the USA, who have made the journey north from México or lands south and east of there.
As I thought about this, I did some surfing, and came across a post on the subject of flowers in the desert, by a very wise and thoughtful writer from Argentina, Rafael Castellano, an organizational and human performance professional. I thought it was an apt description of our current condition and the actions needed for change. Following is my translation of parts of his post:
"My idea of a desert is an eternal agony, plotted by the fury of the aridity, by the implacable confusion of a sun which, trampled by the wind, melts with the sand, until there is no other landscape than the sand dominating the sky, the ground, the wind. There is no voice that can be heard in the fury of the desert, swirled around and blind. Threatening or non-threatening. Who can tell the difference? The desert is not a good place, and the storm is not a good moment to notice the difference. The routine of the sand repeats inexhaustibly. The sands rise up for no other reason than to fall back down again. Each grain of sand falls in some place, whether far or near to its previous location, in a landscape that has, essentially, not been changed. The primordial emotion that I associate with the dryness is impotency, a desperate resignation.
"The society in which I live, I believe, suffers a growing desertification. Every day, "word storms" rise up, angry epithets, acts of "declared corruption," criminal neglect, and other number-less calamities that do nothing more than terrorize, in short order, the landscape of nothingness, and the eternal repetition.
"The warning that I try to remember, every day, is to resist the advance of the impotency, of the insensitivity, of the desperation, of the nihilism. Of the nausea. Is it possible? How?
"It is possible. Each time, unpredictably, a flower in the desert appears."
Rafael then goes on to talk about the life of Rosa Parks as an example of such a flower. At the end of his post, he concludes:
"Rosa was the flower in the desert. She was a shoot, but there were gardeners willing to care for it, protect it and grow it.
"I know that in our modern desert there are flowers. My challenge is to not lose hope that the garderners will appear."
I have been impressed with the examples of such gardening I have seen by many of the contributors here at MexConnect. I'd like to encourage you to spread that passion to others around you. In time, we can make the deserts bloom. Peace.
(This post was edited by ken_in_dfw on Jan 2, 2010, 3:10 PM)