I get the strangest, most beautiful letters regarding my book, Orange County: A Personal History, and I probably got the best one yet last week from a middle-aged lady who lives in the San Gabriel Valley. She had long heard me on the Orange County round table that airs every other Thursday (not this week, but next week) on KPCC-FM 89.3's AirTalk with Larry Mantle, but only recently began reading my articles after receiving my book as a gift. Her dad told the woman I was their distant cousin, so she got in contact with me so we could share family trees.
The dad was right: we are related, from my mom's side of the family, meaning they're part of the diaspora from my mami's hometown of El Cargadero, Jerez, Zacatecas, the tiny village that has sent thousands of people to Anaheim over the past century. The middle-aged woman included the professions of many of her uncles, siblings, cousins, and nieces and nephews in her family tree to show that not only do wabs come to this country with no education and learn fast, they also become Air Force vets, thermonuclear scientists, and professors that teach everywhere from Fullerton College to Brown University.
Included in that list, under the category “some more of the grandchildren” as an afterthought? Hollywood sexpot Jessica Alba.
As it turns out, the grandmother of Jessica's father, Mark, and my grandfather were first cousins. Our great-grandfathers, hermanos Plácido and Juan Miranda, used to work together at the Morenci Mine in Arizona during the early 1900s. The shared ancestor of Mark Alba and I is our respective great-great grandfather, Victoriano Miranda. This makes Jessica Alba my third cousin once removed, which I think is far enough to ensure those fantasies I had about her years ago on Dark Angel weren't that perverted.
I was going to write about the actress' supposed insistence that the reason her family advanced in life as Mexis in America were because they dropped their ethnic culture and Spanish language, but I can't find definite proof Alba said some of the Mexican-bashing things people say she uttered (it's called “checking your facts,” Perez), so I'll end this post with this: you know Alba's big forehead? It's a genetic trait from El Cargadero (along with light skin, eyes, and hair) that most of its residents possess, this nerd sadly included. Guess the saying is true: you can take the wab out of the rancho, but you can't take the rancho out of the wab.
Also? Hey, cuz: got a script I want to talk to you about…