Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, May 10
With apologies to Cornel West and Gustavo Arellano, the best writing about race being done today is by the staff of kickass think tank World Wrestling Entertainment. I'm still basking in the reflected glow of my son, whom I took to a WWE Smackdown event in San Diego last night, the centerpiece of which was the homecoming of heavyweight champion Rey Mysterio, a small, agile grappler who wrestles bare-chested while wearing an elaborate mask—just like Donald Rumsfeld in his college days. Rey is Mexican, and when his image is shot up on the big screens inside the Ipayone Sports Arena, the crowd, which I estimated at 70 percent working-class Latino—the other 30 percent being the contractors who hire them and the lower middle class who hire the contractors—goes deafeningly crazy. But Mysterio is not the first to make an actual appearance. No, that's wrestler and designated white devil “JBL,” who couldn't be any whiter, Texan-er or condescending-er when he greets the crowd as his “Ah-meeg-os” and says Rey displays a lot of “ma-cheeeese-mo,” paying mock respect to Mexicans' work ethic, just like they do on the floor of the House of Representatives. When the crowd chants “619,” the San Diego area code, to show solidarity with Rey, JBL says, “I'm surprised you can say the numbers in English” and goes on to lecture them on respecting the American flag, like the one he's wearing as a warm-up jacket. By the evening's conclusion, WWE writers, who must have studied under Athol Fugard, have placed JBL, Rey and African-American wrestler Mark Henry in the ring together. Henry and Mysterio slug it out under the pleased and patient eye of JBL. When Henry is about to pin Mysterio, JBL steps in and says it's time for a “rich white man” to finish the job. The crowd is beside itself, and it occurs to me that unlike the plays I've seen over the past few years, where you can measure the median age of the audience in millennia, these theatergoers are young and old and completely taken up in the moment—my son was screaming “Si se puede!” to encourage Rey, though his mouth's movement was restricted by the Mysterio mask he was wearing—all of them well aware that what they're seeing is both scripted and yet very, very real. The lesson, young playwrights: write what you know. Write what is real, what is all around you. And, as Aristotle taught us, it never hurts to include someone getting brained with a metal folding chair.

Thursday, May 11
So I'm driving on the Garden Grove Freeway (22) again, and I notice that most of the work going on here has nothing to do with actually improving the roadway but instead is about beautifying the soundwall with these massive concrete reliefs of oranges on the vine. This raises the question: At what point does the whole orange grove motif become self-parodic? I mean, the orange groves were laid to rest a long time ago, their demise made possible by the freeway that now stoops to celebrate them; a circumstance either cruelly ironic, pathologically nostalgic or just plain ig'nant. The orange groves are gone, man. We chose strip malls and gated communities instead, and now we're on the 22, plodding along at 17 mph, gazing at the concrete-relief relic of another place that should more accurately be entombed in amber. This is home now, bucko, deal with it.

Friday, May 12
Nothing wrong with love.

Saturday, May 13
We learn this morning that Huntington Beach can officially call itself “Surf City, USA” because the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says it can, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's time apparently being unencumbered by work that could actually benefit mankind. Huntington Beach has wished to call itself Surf City for quite a while because it figures such a cool name will attract additional tourists who will brag that they got their skin rash and/or respiratory complaint in Surf City, USA, and got crazy laid. Standing in the way of this noble designation was Santa Cruz, whose heart never seemed to be in the fight, as if it was still trying to figure out how to get off its mom's couch in the basement. Victorious, Huntington Beach officials say they plan to put the moniker on beach bags, T-shirts, bicycles and furniture. That's nice, but none for me, thanks. I've already sent in my U.S. Patent and Trademark Office form to be officially designated as “Dr. Party.”

Sunday, May 14
Happy Mother's Day! It's on this, the holiest of days, when we think of all the wonderful things our mothers have done for us—birth being a nice starter—that causes us to wonder: Do the Angels, who lose again today to go 16-22 record and drop to last place, kinda suck? Just asking, Ma.

Monday, May 15
George W. Bush
delivers a 20-minute address on immigration, outraging many who don't agree with the president's policy of pre-empting King of the Hill reruns on Fox—the network so bold it ran for president of Mexico and won. He tells the nation he is deploying 6,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border because nothing calms a testy situation like heavily armed men. To calm fears, Bush says he is “not going to militarize the southern border,” and what kind of idiot would think sending 6,000 armed troops to a region would have anything to do with the military? In fact, I have it on good authority that the Guardsmen's time will be mostly taken up with cultivating native foliage and collecting oral histories along with the occasional search and destroy roadie. Bush adds that “Mexico is our neighbor and our friend,” and people still talk about the last time a bunch of U.S. friends—Marine reservists—showed up at the Texas-Mexico border and, real friendly-like, mistakenly shot and killed a Mexican-American shepherd in Presidio County, Texas. That was 1997—anybody care to guess who was in charge of Texas in 1997? Bush also takes the time to answer concerns that deploying 6,000 National Guard troops to the border will weaken the U.S. effort in Iraq or make states vulnerable during times of natural disaster. He assures the American people that the U.S. has more than enough National Guardsmen to fight overseas and keep Americans safe in times of catastrophe, and if there's one man Americans trust to intelligently execute a war and provide competent relief in times of natural disaster, that man would be George W. Bush. Bushie, you're doin' a heck of a job.

Tuesday, May 16
This is nice. Reading the LA Times article on Bush's speech, I come across this paragraph toward the bottom: “On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security opened a 500-bed facility in Texas specifically for families caught crossing the border.” This is funny because when I heard a commentator say that Bush's speech was “dramatic,” I thought he'd said it was “Germanic.” And then I realized my mistake and then I read we've built a camp where we can concentrate whole families at once and then I realize maybe it wasn't a mistake after all.


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