". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, July 13, 2014

El Paso 3 - Saturday

It wasn't predicted at 8 AM when I looked at the forecast.  Nevertheless, I am having a fine view of a spectacular thunderstorm rolling in fast over the mountains now at 3 PM MST.  Thunder cracking, and lightning, lightning whips reflected in the windows of the hotel's wings on either side of our room.

And now it's over. So fast, it's as if the storm never happened.  The pavement didn't even look wet.  As hot as the pavement is, the rain must have turned to evaporation upon impact.  The temperature was 96º, with a 'real feel' of 101º when the front rolled over us.  The southwest!

Among the events hosted by the hotel today is a bachlorette party. Evidently Mexican culture does these parties very differently than we see in the movies? Because there wasn't a cocktail in sight -- but the desserts were so luscious one gained ten pounds simply by looking at them.

The bride must have hundreds of female friends and relatives, as the dining room was entirely given over to the party and every chair was occupied.  The guests celebrating the bride were of all ages, from very elderly women to tiny girls in the cutest clothes and hairstyles, who behaved even more cutely (can one use that usage?

 Those little girls -- there were some who were maybe three years older than the littlest ones, and like -- I assume cousins everywhere, the older girls are adored by the younger ones, who follow them everywhere, and hug them every chance they get.  The older girls are careful and tender with the littler ones. Latin culture does inculcate that sort of attitude of children to each other.

Turned on the tv for the first time, to see what is up in that.  It maybe because this is a hotel, but the screen resolution was poor, particularly as used to high def and so on as I am from watching solely online. Commercial breaks as ubiquitous as ever.  But imagine the shock when thinking I'm settling in on a PBS overview of the Presidents of the U.S., from Washington to Lincoln.  Narrated by Newt Gingrich, co-written with his wife Calista, Rediscovering Religion in America (2007) proved how fundamentally religious each of the presidents was, and how they believed religion was more important than government to government. Religion here means protestant christianity only, and specifically evangelical protestant christianity.  The program was interrupted with endless, lengthy commercial breaks to sell many kinds of insurance from many insurers to senior citizens.  This is not a PBS as I have ever seen it.  This must be PBS in Texas ....

Gotta say: the women of El Paso are poised and stylish, with that extra elegance and bounce that is part of a latina woman's culture, from whichever hispanic background she hails.  A woman seated at my table at the theater tonight, now retired, used to own her own clothing design business.  She told me that fashion was really big business in El Paso, meaning designers as well as fabricators and manufacturers, though in the last ten years it went pfffffftttt, which is why she's now retired.  But the influence of it once being a big part of the city's economy and cultural life is still evident whenever you see a young or youngish woman, or a little girl.

However, there is still El Paso Fashion Week. I've met many women who worked in fashion in NYC, or whose daughters are now working in fashion in NYC, or who are going to NYC this fall, to study fashion or design at Pratt, FIT, NYU, and so on.

Most of the oxygen today was taken up by preparations for tonight's performance. Which paid off.  It was revelatory.  Las Vidas Perfectas continues to evolve, and shall for as long as it is performed.  The amount of talent assembled on that stage was breathtaking.  The amount of work, perseverance, faith and skill -- as well as the creative and artistic talent -- by so many individuals, to make this so successful can't be measured.

Super Moon, El Paso, Saturday, July 12, 2014
The first performance was a spectacular one, though the performers are all complaining about what was poor, what went wrong, how they effed up, etc. Artists are never satisfied with themselves.  It was spectacularly received too, and I know so, because I heard what audience members said.  For example: a young man, dressed in universal young hipster style, after the first section's applause died down, sighed to his companions, "O, I feel I've gone to New York.  It must be like this all the time there!"  (Ha!  It sure as heck is not, at least not anymore. But I remember what it is was like when I lived in Albuquerque, and artists from Europe or the coasts came in.)

In other words, it was an event worthy of an El Paso super moon!

Tomorrow night, Sunday, with the performance in Mexico, in the Museo de la Revolutión, will surely be even more so, as Ciudad Juárez is entirely Spanish-speaking.  As well, in the latino world, the arts and intellectual pursuits are far more respected than in the U.S.  Artists and intellectuals are part of the political discourse -- the entire spectrum is far more lively than anything you find in the U.S.  Print magazines remain important and vital in the nations south of us, whereas here, it's all gone online, whatever is left, and it's all about entertainment. If something takes longer than 164 characters to look at, make fun of it and dismiss it.  Unless it's filled with non-stop mindless violent action.  Then we can stare at it for days at a time, and so we do, getting to ever higher levels of The Game, whatever The Game may be.

However, in so many parts of some of these countries, violence is a way of life and politics that artists, intellectuals and the people themselves are desperate to change, particularly since so many of them are specific targets of the violence.  It's not a Game.

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