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

ter├ža-feira, janeiro 28, 2003

More letters keep coming in, and I don't make any of them up. Let's start off with some true appreciation...

I have been an avid reader of OC Weekly for a number of years, especially since you've jumped on board. I really enjoy your articles because I can actually relate to them. I too despise the way Nativo Lopez plays the race card, and I also know what its like to ride in a packed truck to TJ. To be honest, I have been a fan since you wrote that article on those day laborers who wait for work outside of Home Depot, it really put things in perspective for someone whose parents are Mexican Immigrants. Anywho, thanks for giving a voice to a lot of OC Chicanos/Latinos who live an acculturated life, and thanks for being frank and honest, oh, and for also giving JUMBO some love (my fav band!)

My response...

Thank you so much for your kind comments regarding my articles. You sure seem to know my articles if you can reference four of them into one letter!

What's your background? Are you a student? parent? radical? proletariat? I'm always curious as to the makeup of the Weekly readership. Keep in touch and let me know if you know of any worthwhile stories.

Jumbo rocks but Zurdok RULES!

No, I'm not trying to hook up with yet another reader; I'm actually curious to see how this fan found me and under what perspective they've come to appreciate me.

The following is a critical piece by my mentor Sam Quinones regarding my article on why Chicano cinema sucks and Mexican cinema rules. This article will live beyond my years...

i read your column about mexican and chicano cinema at LATINOLA.com

again, it's really good stuff.

however, i'd argue with you on your essential point that somehow chicano cinema is less because it deals with middle-class issues of angst, etc., and not with a community, I can't remember how you put it, "under seige" or wordds to that effect.

i think a cinema that deals with middle-class issues is one that is facing reality, not hiding from it, particularly in the US. these emotional issues, and less political ones, simply show that many Chicanos are part of the middle class and that's not bad.

the guy who made Y Tu Mama Tambien got enraged at a french journalist who asked him why he wasn't dealing with the issues of poverty, etc. why his movie was about middle class concerns.....i agreed with him. why must every movie deal with the great political/class issues to be good?

now whether some of these movies are any good is another question. I've been down here too long and haven't seen a lot of what's come out. but the concept of dealing with middle-class issues is a valid one, i think.

My response...

In response to your email...I guess one of my biggest critiques of Chicano cinema is the usage of the term "Chicano". To me, if you self-identify as "Chicano", you are accepting the responsibility that comes with the term, mainly that of having a revolutionary perspective towards everything. Perhaps this is an oversimplification on my behalf, especially considering the fluidity of ethnic labels. But I'd nevertheless make the argument that anyone who identifies as Chicano is aware of the "stigma" that comes with the terms. If they're ashamed of that term, then they'd probably identify as something else like Latino, Hispanic...or plain ol' American.

That said, I'd expect any "Chicano" cinema to address issues more mundane than dating or the trials of the middle class. It's true that being able to say you can be part of the middle class is an accomplishment, but is this really a goal for filmmakers? I majored in film in college, and I always found cinema that addressed issues of class, race, and politics--no matter how obliquely--as the most entertaining. That's why I loved "Y Tu Mama Tambien", which despite being a road trip/teen sex romp with upper-class boys as the main protagonists nevertheless managed to weave in a heavy undercurrent of politics.

That's why I also enjoyed "Real Women Have Curves". In the article you read, I disparaged the film much too harshly. I wrote a previous article for the Weekly praising the film for its brutally-honest depiction of female relationships. But I was disappointed the film didn't deal more with sweatshop relations. I guess that's the radical in me that comes out once in a while...

Here's a really weird one from the Jupitersciples crew. Goes to show you can't please people even if you try your best...

Brian asked that I reply to you on behalf of our group in accordance to how we received the article. Overall we're thankful for the oppurtunity for exposure, and the fact that someone out there is reading about us and our musical existence is dope to us. If anything the article seemed to reflect how you received us as people, our personalities our spiritual beliefs and the nature of the music we make. From the humorous to the seriousness of our state of beings. However it struck as quite a blow from the title of the story to the jokes made about "G-zeus" and the implications made that we are "saints in a sinful world". For in all actuality we are far from being saints and we feel as if our beliefs were poked fun at and unfairly magnified in comparison to the ratio between the GOD we spoke in the interview and all the other ideals that we shared with you in the limited time we had to express ourselves. I apologize that at the time of the interview I came off as almost rude and uninterested, for I have many things going through my mind at this point in my life, and I hope that you do not take this reply as an overexcessive unnecessary monologue on my behalf. Whether my saying that we are like "gangster rappers who really arent gangsters" was taken as negativity on my part, when this group is supposed to be something I should be positive about, nevertheless it is the truth. And it was said in hopes that you would not portray us as "saints in a sinful world" , for the effect on the reader most likely will be that we are of the "holier than thou" breed ,when in all truth only the one and only Almighty God has the right to judge. But I also know that you had no ill intentions when writing the article, and that your purpose was to shine light on a group that you felt deserved it. Thank you for that, and your article that brought to the surface the truth of where we are as spirits and where we need to be. I hope that you would receive this as a reflection of how we received your article and not a picking apart of the work you do. Overall we thank you for the opportunity, and the lesson learned that our words must be more succinctly formulated in the future. Thank you. Peace and blessings.

My response...

I apologize profusely if I offended the group with my story. Part of the hallmark of the Weekly is to have an offbeat approach to stories--hence, the remark about "G-Zeus" and his posse. I did not mean to malign your beliefs or somehow pass your group off as self-righteous Christians. My point in the irreverancy was primarily to inject some humor into the article; obviously, it didn't work. But as for the "saints in a sinful world" comment, that was my observation regarding Jupitersciples' status in the current hip-hop scene. I truly believe that the group stands out so much that such a comment is warranted. Due to my demarcation of the passage in my story, readers should be able to understand that such insight is my opinion and should not reflect on the beliefs of your group. If anything, the direct quotes I have from you and Brian shows that you would never assume such a mantle, that your beliefs and humble nature are above such thoughts. My intents with the story was to promote Jupitersciples as something fresh, exciting, and even inspiring--something that people usually don't get from hip-hop anymore. I hope that readers got that. I apologize profusely once more and wish you the best of luck in the future. Please keep me up to date on any new releases you might have.

I'm going to reserve any other comments. But this exact problem happened with Enjambre. I feel that sometimes people forget that the Weekly is the Weekly. I do feel bad if a band doesn't like what I wrote about them. At the same time, however, they should realize that an article will have the nuances of the writer all over the paper. As long as the story is correct, a band should be happy for any publicity--especially when it's good.

No one called today. I'm getting impatient.