A Week in the Life of Gustavo

"Seems to think that if he fails to write, la migra will find him."--OC Weekly More merriment available at ronmaydon@yahoo.com

sexta-feira, agosto 09, 2002

I am at home and I am happy. I had plans but I dropped them because I wanted to read. Could I possibly be any nerdier? I don't give a damn. Here are two letters written to the Weekly this week regarding an article of mine. My response will be personal and was not published in the paper...

In an otherwise competent piece on the gawking at the Runnions (Gustavo Arellano’s "When Memorial Becomes Spectacle," Aug. 2), there is a glaring error on a key point: Erin Runnion is culpable for her actions contributing to the circus. Perhaps she only "lamented her child’s fate," but she also did so very—in fact, spectacularly—publicly. At any time, Ms. Runnion could have simply asked the TV folks to leave her family alone. She could have politely suggested people get off her neighbors’ lawn and stop leaving teddy bears and flowers all over the sidewalk for departing TV crews not to film. Then she might have—if she were interested at all in downscaling the spectacle—considered courteously declining to be on Larry King Live. Finally, she could have offered a soft, gracious, thanks-but-no-thanks to Crystal Cathedral representatives (whose idea was that, anyway?), explaining she wished to have a quiet, family-only ceremony to bury her daughter. The media will cover the stories it must—as the OC Weekly’s own investigative work shows—but public spectacles will be fewer and farther between when individual members of the public don’t get the ball rolling by making spectacles of themselves.
In closing his article, Arellano leaves us waiting "until the next missing child." He probably should have written "until the next missing middle-class Caucasian female child."

Both are valid points that I chose not to bring up in my article. With the first letter, I didn't want to kick Erin Runnion while she is down. Besides, she knew exactly what she was doing with her handling of the case, as exploitative as we may deem it.

The second letter does bring up the salient fact that most of the children who get national attention are "white" children. But in an effort to immediately tie this into race, the person who wrote the letter forgot that Runnion came from a working-class background. That said, I felt that race had nothing to do with how quickly the American public forgets abducted children. If this constant obsession with "white" children ends so quickly, imagine what would happen if the child was of another race? Oh wait, they're not even reported--which I might even argue is better. Better to have not been remembered at all than remembered so vapidly.

The following is a comment about the new picture that adorns my site. AH said it...

Nice choice for a picture. The black and white representation of you works, don't ask me why. Just like with the Verizon wireless guy I just see this.

Thanks. I seem to be a very black-and-white guy for my adherence to a deconstructionist life philosophy. BTW, AH, my name is Gustavo, not Gus. Not to me rude or anything, but I'm very particular with the names people give me. Only certain people can call me certain things.

The following is the two picks I did for the Weekly this week. Since the links for our Picks of the Week get erased with each new week, I shall post them here in all its glory. Here's the first one...



An already-bad year for Argentina worsens every day: its beloved fútbol squad didn’t get past the opening round of June’s World Cup for the first time in 40 years; a recent New York Times article revealed that ex-president Carlos Menem allegedly took a $10 million payoff from Iran to cover up the country’s role in a 1994 Buenos Aires Jewish center bombing that killed 85 people; and a poll taken in anticipation of next year’s presidential race found an electorate so dispassionate that the leading candidate got only 7 percent of the vote.

So what is the dozen-member group Los Auténticos Decadentes doing to help their compatriots? Same thing they’ve done for the past decade: party hardy to forget. Staying true to their name (come on, carajos: Spanish doesn’t have to be your mother tongue to guess the translation, "The Authentic Decadents"), Los Auténticos’ joyous "anarcotropical" fusion of football-chant-like vocals, ’60s British horns and ska has always offered respite for long-suffering Argentines. Underneath the looniness, though, lie tender, almost tragic, lyrics. For example, one of their best songs is "El Dinero no es Todo" (Money isn’t Everything). Over a jubilant beat, lead singer Cucho Parisi recounts how he is broke and cannot find work. His grandmother advises him with the title of the song, but Parisi responds with Lennon-esque bitterness, "¡Pero cómo ayuda!" (but my how it helps!).

I feel so much for Argentines. I still think they're a bit arrogant, but how could you not call them Latinos as so many of my Chicano brethren have insisted? To me, "Latino" signifies a constant struggle against oppression and next to Mexico, Argentina has been one of the most fucked-up nations in Latin America. That's why you have such great music coming out of there, like Gustavo Cerati, Bersuit Vergarabat, and Enanitos Verdes, just to name my favorite. You don't hear any great music coming from Costa Rica, for example. And strangely enough, nor from Guatemala, though you'd expect otherwise.

The next is a bit personal. Yes, I do exaggerate, but exaggeration is not synonymous with lying...



When I find the woman of my dreams (that is, one who’ll go out for cigarettes and actually come back), I’m going to plop her on a piano and tickle out the only tunes I ever learned to tinkle: those of George and Ira Gershwin. I’ll wow her with my rendition of "Rhapsody in Blue," scare her by singing the bittersweet "They Can’t Take That Away from Me," then finally ask for her hand in marriage after belting "Our Love Is Here to Stay" complete with the little-known prologue.

But I’ll go alone to this Saturday’s Gershwin Showcase at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Part of the Pacific Symphony’s Summer Festival and featuring Alain Lefèvre as the guest pianist, the event is sure to touch on all of George’s symphonic pieces ("An American in Paris," the aforementioned "Rhapsody in Blue," which—despite United Airline’s co-opt of the song—is still one of the great American works of art, and the Concerto in F) and Ira’s superb libretto (the operatic faves of Porgy and Bess and the ones I warble in my dreams). Plus, with fireworks at the end and a pre-concert picnic opportunity beforehand, it’s the perfect romantic evening. Or for people like me, it’s a perfect place to cry.

Yes, I can play those songs on the piano, although they're horrible renditions of it. But I won't be going alone; in fact, I won't be going at all. I'll be going to a house party hosted by a fellow Weekling. That's where I'll be crying.