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Carol Schmidt


May 12, 2005, 5:01 PM

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What is "phony"?

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While I was out walking, enjoying all the differnt kinds of people around town, I asked myself what makes someone or some place phony? Say there's a Houston native, raised on a cattle ranch, served in Vietnam as a medic, likes to BBQ big steaks, and in San Miguel he stillw ears his cowboy hat, drives a Suburban, and orders big meat at the gringo restaurants. Is he genuine in Houston but a phony in San Miguel? What if he switches to huaraches and Mexican wedding shirts and Panama hats, does he become more or less phony in San Miguel?

Say there's a Houston native who was a Peace Corps volunteer for a year in Honduras but had to come home to take care of an ailing parent who died. To keep sane the Houstonite taught English as a Second Language to kids sometimes. This Texan went away to that famous art school in Chicago, learned to make deep dish pizza, never was really good at painting, taught art and Spanish in high school instead, and retired to SMA and still volunteers at the Biblioteca teaching English to Mexican kids and takes a few painting classes once in a while. Is this Texan more authentic in Houston, Honduras, or San Miguel?

Kicker: The two are the same person, different sides. Which one is phony, and where, and how many people will know all those sides? Judge not.

Carol Schmidt



Clementine

May 13, 2005, 6:12 AM

Post #2 of 14 (2106 views)

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] What is "phony"?

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Everyone should read Carol's post every once in a while to keep from becoming smug and self-righteous. Wish everyone had her built-in, well-honed BS detector.


Gringal

May 13, 2005, 10:43 AM

Post #3 of 14 (2071 views)

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] What is "phony"?

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One positive thing about b.s. is that it fires up some lively discussions and sometimes even alters viewpoints. The gas keeps it all aloft.

Labels lead to ill will and many of the other miseries of mankind. Sadly, we seldom have the strength to spend all of our journey on the high road even when our intentions are good, so we fall into self-righteousness, smugness and intolerance on occasion. It's the major cause of "mouse-in-mouth" disease. For this, we need moderators with the well-honed b.s. detector. Keep up the baloon-popping work, Carol. You're viewpoint is needed.


Bubba

May 13, 2005, 3:31 PM

Post #4 of 14 (2034 views)

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] What is "phony"?

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Well, I can answer your question, Carol.

The Houstonian (not "Houstonite") is clearly a phony in all of his guises from pretentious cowboy hat to SUV to Panama Hat to Mexican Wedding Shirt to phony stent in the Peace Corps in Honduras to pizza schlepper to "art and language" teacher and painting instructor. Maybe when your friend matures he can decide what he would like to be when he grows up. This person is the perfect example of the type of clown often attracted to San Miguel (and Ajijic). Now, don't get me wrong, there are lots of wonderful and sophisticated people in San Miguel but the town attracts these worthless hangers on who have nothing better to do than relate to you their fantasy lives.


(This post was edited by Bubba on May 13, 2005, 3:41 PM)


Gringal

May 13, 2005, 4:41 PM

Post #5 of 14 (2025 views)

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Re: [Bubba] What is "phony"?

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A different answer to Carol's question:
I say that a "phony" is a person who pretends to be what he or she is not, excluding actors and clowns. I wouldn't villify an honest diletante, in or out of costume. Remember fun? It's what we have when we don't take ourselves too seriously.


(This post was edited by gringal on May 13, 2005, 4:49 PM)


Carol Schmidt


May 13, 2005, 8:42 PM

Post #6 of 14 (1988 views)

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Re: [Bubba] What is "phony"?

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The person I described is a compilation of all the multi-faceted people I know who you would probably call phony, but who are genuinely all the aspects they present. I'd hate to have you look at my bio and judge whether I am a phony or not because I had a lot of jobs, looks, careers and interests.

I think I read that people today can expect to have five or seven careers in their lifetime, and we know we all move much more today, and all sorts of hobbies and volunteer opportunities and "looks" are available now.

If you don't stay in one place, keep the same religion, marry once and keep in the same job all your life and are totally predictable, are you then a phony? Existentialism: at any moment one can choose to do something totally out of "character," you are always a blank slate, making yourself new by what you choose. Even Catholicism: you always have free will.

Are there people in San Miguel just as in LA and every place else I ever lived who lie about their credentials? Certainly--we joke about the "border upgrade," where someone who was a bookkeeper is now an accountant, and the head of accounting at a small company is now Chief Financial Officer of a much bigger company, and the AA degree becomes a BA or MBA.

But is there something genuine about each of these people? Didn't you ever upgrade your resume or try to impress a prospective girlfriend or father-in-law? Big deal! What's in the person's heart right now?

Why do we have to judge anybody as legit or not? Brings to mind the way society used to call kids without fathers married to their mothers "illegitimate"--the kids were real kids, human beings, whoever their parents are, whatever their roots, they are legitimate. Not phony.

Can you tell, I really resent the labels of towns with art centers as phony, of towns that draw lots of new people starting new lives as phony. Hey, I lived in LA for 17 years!

For that matter, are people who write one thing but admit later that they really meant something else phonies?

Carol Schmidt

(This post was edited by Carol Schmidt on May 13, 2005, 9:58 PM)


Bubba

May 14, 2005, 12:41 PM

Post #7 of 14 (1947 views)

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Re: [gringal] What is "phony"?

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I really liked that "honest dilitante" comment Gringal. I wasn't trying to attack Carol or Carol's composite character or the obvious shallowness of our made-up Houstonian example. I knew her motive was honest and her comments thoughtful. My point was that one can take any set of characteristics and paint any picture desired. For example, I detest Republican principles and will use Republican characteristics and values to skewer them but I also know that I need them because without them I have no basis for comparison to measure my own values. I also know some Republicans I really like and respect. I like to give them the benefit of the doubt because they are my friends.

I just don't see how anyone can live in Houston and still retain even a modicum of self-respect.


Gringal

May 14, 2005, 3:30 PM

Post #8 of 14 (1932 views)

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Re: [Bubba] What is "phony"?

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Blameless little babies are born in Houston daily. Or maybe you're trying to stir the pot again and bring down all the Houstenaros on your head. Betcha you'll get a big hair mamma with a temper on your case this time.

Here's a true non-composited story of an acquaintance who could be accused of being a phony, but who's having so much fun doing it that I can't fault him. He spent most of his life as a "tin man" selling aluminum siding and window bars to the poor folks in East L. A. After being blessed with a small inheritance and a few rentals, he took a sabbatical and some watercolor lessons. Loves painting; knows he isn't very good. He moved down to Alamos part time and sits in the square being an "artiste" with straw hat, little beard and French easel. He's invited to the best parties now. Ladies want to be his special friends. What can we say? He's having a ball in his old age and nobody is getting harmed. He seems to have plenty of brothers-under-the-skin S.O.B. with more hutzpah than talent. We can condemn them or just giggle. Are you a "phony" if you know exactly who you are and don't believe your own b.s., or do you have to become your own groupie before you deserve the title?


Miguel Palomares


May 14, 2005, 4:16 PM

Post #9 of 14 (1920 views)

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Re: [Bubba] What is "phony"?

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I just don't see how anyone can live in Houston and still retain even a modicum of self-respect.


How utterly silly.

Actually, aside from the abysmal summer weather, Houston is a wonderful place. It´s changed a lot in the past decade. It´s the fourth-biggest city in the United States, has first-rate art museums, restaurants, theaters, cultural activities of every stripe, and is a magnet to people from all over the world, which is what I like best about it.

It has neighborhoods in which you feel you´ve stepped directly into Mexico, or Vietnam, or China, etc.

It is so big and sprawling that you can find whatever you want there. You can be a cigar-chawing crooked businessman (or woman), an effete intellectual snob, an average Joe, a Klansman, a Communist, a New Ager, a yuppie, a cowboy, silly banker, gay, whatever. Houston welcomes them all.

There is an amazingly beautiful Hindu temple, a Buddhist monastery, and any other kind of religious outlet that draws your attention. And great gospel singing.

There are long streets to "nowhere," and grassy, tree-lined residential boulevards that don´t resemble the stereotypical Texas in the slightest. I could ramble on and on. The downtown skyline is stunning on clear nights.

Houston has it all. It´s great. (Except for those sweltering summers.)
From Tzurumutaro, Michoacan, "The Village of the Darned."
_______________________________________

The nuts and bolts of moving to Mexico:
http://michaeldickson.blogspot.com/
The dark side of living in Mexico:
http://mexicopeeks.blogspot.com/
Scintillating life in a Mexican pueblo:
http://tzurumutaro.blogspot.com/
http://tzurumutaro2.blogspot.com/

(This post was edited by palomares on May 14, 2005, 4:17 PM)


sfmacaws


May 14, 2005, 4:31 PM

Post #10 of 14 (1913 views)

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Re: [palomares] What is "phony"?

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Let's see, Houston is big, sprawling and diverse. Kind of like LA but with horrible weather, no ocean and full of Texans. (not really trying to insult Texans, some of my best friends use Livingston as an address and so do I)

Lately I've heard jokes that the Texas state symbol is an orange construction cone. Houston ring roads were a miserable mess last fall when we came through. I don't think there was one freeway in the metro area that wasn't under construction. Of course, they are getting a lot of federal money these days so they might as well use it while they can get it.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




Miguel Palomares


May 14, 2005, 4:47 PM

Post #11 of 14 (1905 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] What is "phony"?

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Yep, you got it. The improvement is continuing. It is hard to build a highway without making a mess. The good thing is that it is temporary.

Sure, there´s a ocean. It´s just up the interstate in Galveston. But they call it the Gulf of Mexico.

Weather is not horrible except in summer. Winter, spring, fall ... all just fine.
From Tzurumutaro, Michoacan, "The Village of the Darned."
_______________________________________

The nuts and bolts of moving to Mexico:
http://michaeldickson.blogspot.com/
The dark side of living in Mexico:
http://mexicopeeks.blogspot.com/
Scintillating life in a Mexican pueblo:
http://tzurumutaro.blogspot.com/
http://tzurumutaro2.blogspot.com/

(This post was edited by palomares on May 14, 2005, 4:49 PM)


wendy devlin

May 14, 2005, 5:20 PM

Post #12 of 14 (1900 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] What is "phony"?

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There is I understand, a Mayan philosophy stating that every person has two faces:
One in which a person's actions are governed by their nature. These are their 'inborn' personality characteristics or traits so to speak.

(Ever seen the BBC documentary, "SEVEN UP"?

Based on the premise, "Give me a child of seven, and I'll show you the man", the documentary started filming the daily life of a large group of seven year old British youngsters about thirty years ago.

The film crew has since returned every seven years and re-contacted a core group of the original participants.

They have re-interviewed this core group of individuals and asked them about how they were living their lives and how they felt about subjects (like Career path, family values, individual achievements and disapointments etc.)
that they had mentioned were important to them when they were younger.

The crew then films them as they go about their daily business, probably to add authencity to the documentary.

During the last installment I watched a few years back, the individuals were then 35 years old. I had watched the same documentary at the ages 14, 21, 28.

It was extremely interesting how they lived and how they felt about their lives and how it compared with their earlier thoughts and feelings. ( And how it tended to support, the idea about how 'formed' we are as individuals before the age of seven)
(ALthough I'm just enough of a sceptic, to wonder if they edited, out any individuals in the study who's behavior did not 'conform' to the theory model.

Back to the Mayan philosophy:)
The other 'face' is the one, that a person develops, in order to interact with the society of one's time.

The work of one's lifetime...is in this belief system...to develop a balance between these two faces...in order to develop one's true 'face'.

Coming across this idea, has helped me, to be a little less judgemental of people as I meet them.

Where as before, meeting people who were 'two-faced' used to drive me wild or to anger.

Now it's a more, I go by "people are people" on a tolerant day or a 'what face are they showing today?"
and doing the old social soft-shoe around them.

One of the coolest aspects of Mexican culture in my opinion is meeting people who seem so purely, to 'be themselves'.

And the acceptance from them, for me, to 'be myself'.

However in any culture, these people seem to be few and far between.

And I've pretty much given up on influencing anyone, beyond the age of seven:)


Carol Schmidt


May 14, 2005, 6:01 PM

Post #13 of 14 (1884 views)

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San Miguel/Guanajuato, not Houston, Please

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At least once in a while wind back to Mexico, okay? Or I feel a lock acoming.

Carol Schmidt


Royer Yonson

May 14, 2005, 10:43 PM

Post #14 of 14 (1843 views)

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Re: [wendy devlin] What is "phony"?

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Wendy: That may be the best thread I've ever read in a forum. I'd like to learn more about that Mayan saying. Carol's post's on this subject are not too far behind.


(This post was edited by Royer Yonson on May 14, 2005, 11:01 PM)
 
 
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