When the Big Macs Are Hawked at Casa Azul

Under the Volcano – Power of the Glory (Part 1)

It’s better to die upon your feet than to live upon your knees!

– Emiliano Zapata1

100,000 Years of Mystical Magical Realism Inside the jade-eye of the Jaguar

Election Fraud. Narco-terrorism. Neo-liberal Shock Doctrine. Disaster Capitalism. The one of the One Percent Running Roughshod on the Entire Culture. The Brazilianization of La Gente. Total Infrastructure Chaos. Marginalization of Academics. The Highest Bidder Wins the Resource Lottery. Thuggery. Peasant Culture Imploded by High Fructose Invaders, the Plastic People of the West — and endless spewing internal combustion hell.

One massive gusano sucking the languages to their knees, to the bottom line of business, selling souls and lifting products. One giant skeleton rendezvous around the bonfire of the One Percent’s vanity, as cultures flare into the putrid air of nationalized-privatized PEMEX spewing gasses from Tampico all the way to the Gulf of Mexico’s stilled waters of BP’s Corexit bleed. The alchemy of Chac mool catching the tears of slaves, the entire carnival of peasant life mixed with the ripped up DNA of invasions and rapes, that history, that Mexican hope for a destiny of peoples who listen to iguanas and feel stars in their bones, those folk who had entire planned and sophisticated cities of 2100 years before the present, when Homo economicus of the East were flailing around pitch and peat fires mortified by eclipses, they are the fodder of the neo-liberal syphilitics.

Que capacidad! Viva Mejico.

Asked about his book on Mexico City, John Ross told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, the war and peace report, this about the book’s title:

El Monstruo, because Mexico City is a monster of a city, largest megalopolis in the Americas and possibly in the world, 23 million people living on a piece of land that does not really support them, where there is no water, where there is very bad air — no air — and their struggle to stay on this land, I think, has been epic. And the city is a monstruo in itself.

The Aztecs actually characterized the beginnings of El Monstruo, it was called Tenochtitlan, as an animal itself, and as the population grew, it acquired this name, El Monstruo. But it’s our querido monstruo, it’s our beloved monstruo, and this new book is really a defensive place of a totally indefensible place.

He lived and died (Jan. 17, 2011) with the daggers of Mexico deep in his spleen. Each and every child ripped up from the soil. 20,000 tons of garbage hauled or tossed each day in the big city, Mexico DF. Those ancient corn lines, the very gods and corpuscles of the people of Mexico, thrown into the conveyor belt of engineered and split DNA. Monsanto’s thugs scrap Mexico’s soil like the mouths of rapists tested for their crimes.

The soiled image of mother, La Malinche giving the Conquistadors the very key to the people’s identity. The very whoring of a nation by Cortes and his steel, guns, cross, germs and syphilitic genes. La Llorona and her endless tears as she drowns her children – Mexico – for the chance at death riches of the West, the invaders, us. She haunts waters, rivers, scares the crap out of children, as her wails are heard over the rumble and drone of endless bulldozers, cement mixers and speeding taxis.

Raped by Catholicism. Brutalized by ricos. Sodomized by the West. Yanqui invasions. The spasms and fornications of French, Spaniards, et al and their empirical blindness leading them to their albino gods.

Mexico. The Memory of Fire. The twisted root, the flawed giant clam, the shark tooth stuck in the side of Cabeza de Vaca.

One guy years ago – at the edge of a reef, on the Quintana Roo coast, right before we toked a wet joint, right before we headed into star-spinning blue endlessness, with the pact of holding in that big, long toke and exhaling at a hundred and twenty feet, before the deeper dive at the 230 foot level, at the spleen edge, the drop off of 1,500 feet, or more, he told me that Mexico – his country, the place where he lifted brass orgasm from his fugal horn and traveled coastlines, into Costa Rica and Panama with salsa bands, where he made extra money in Acapulco as a diver for tourists and then as gigolo for the cruise ship wanderers — he told me the stories of myth and history and blended political science and revolution and pathetic despotism and machismo; told me that the apparent miasma of eternal and internal pain I was writing about as a journalist a la dive bum, all of that undulating psychological mysticism I was internalizing, all the shit and crap and suffering of his people, of the mountain tribes laid to waste by corrupt cops, federalies, soldiers, governors, presidents, all those indigenous ones living on cactus roots and peyote and hidden green waters of the xenote who were rounded up and slaughtered, he said, for so many blessed years, the pacification and violence, all of that, the distraction from what really needed to be done to expunge the white rats of empire, well, the numbing and pacification and rioting come from all the cheap booze managed by the government and retailers, the endless fiestas-festivals-carnivals lighting up zocalos and village stockyards, and Catholic self- flagellation and prostration and penetration by bishops who flick the pendulum of torture to the meek and poor and the smart and strong. The state, controlled by the group of 300 or 3000, controlled by the G-8, held hostage by the world of enterprise and the Chicago Boys and those Chinese timber and soy lovers, all those entrances into the country of Mexico, from Baja to Jalapa, from Creel to Palenque, they are waiting with their gas guns and chain saws and earth eaters.

The fucking oil eaters leaving the detritus of our vaunted little children and our children’s children’s lifestyles of the lascivious. It is me, it is you, it is Yanqui.

Tu madre … chinga tu madre … madre mia.

Teacher-Teacher, Just Go Away

Consumer culture, a culture of disconnectedness, trains us to believe things just happen. Incapable of recalling its origins, the present paints the future as a repetition of itself; tomorrow is just another name for today. The unequal organization of the world, which beggars the human condition, is part of eternity, and injustice is a fact of life we have no choice but to accept.
Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World Eduardo Galeano

I wrangled a trip to Mexico, DF, August 6-13 to not just attend the Tenth bi-annual conference of Committee on Contingent Academic Labor (COCAL), but to begin the push to organize adjunct/part-time/precarious workers. Teachers in community and technical colleges. In four-year small liberal arts colleges – non-profits. In state universities and in Research One institutions.

Get this – UNAM, National Autonomous University of Mexico – is part of the neo-liberal plan of eviscerating education at the highest level. More than 70 percent of faculty are precarious, at-will, perennially part-time, making one-fourth the income, or less, than full time faculty.

This country is looking at 50 percent of all faculty as part-time with an added 20 more percent as precarious in their full-time teaching loads with no vetting, no tenure, no guarantee of work beyond a year or two contract.

That’s 1.5 million faculty in the USA lumped together in this treadmill world of administrators and bean counters lifting education from schools and replacing it with servicing – customers for the giant Bezos-Boeing-Bill Gates drone factory of consumption and endless obsolescence.

It gets worse – academics is top heavy with administrators and useless PR folk, many, many deans and VPs and department heads of endless internal research organs. Sports, total chaos in terms of the mission of education when it comes to the top heavy brass and a few super-star highly paid faculty.

Put into the mix those for profits like the Art Institutes of the world or University of Phoenix and another 28 big ones that have been bilking federal education loan programs, the GI-bill system, and the students they lure into crappy classes, dead-end academic advising – worthless credits — and a numbing experience of no contact with human beings in the three-dimensional world.

We are all being primed for the giant plug-in – collective servicing the digital world, every waking and breathing day planned out by algorithms and out of orbit planets of silicon.

Oh yeah, these for-profits hire hucksters whose job is to lure students into the viper pit of student loan hell. Even Iowa senator Tom Harkin in his most recent two-year investigation of these shysters had some blood curdling verbiage in assessing the damage these for profits – run by bloodless hedge fund and investment schemers – have done to families, communities, the very fabric of our culture.

Welcome the traitors of the nation – money-grubbing power trippers who have sold common collective power of the people to the One Percenters and their flabby thinking who have over the past decades transformed politics into a knife-throwing contest of the sleaziest kind.

Welcome their clones in Mexico, who feed off their billions and send their slicked up children to Ivy League master training centers on the very system that will eat their people inside out, like a cancer regurgitated from the shadow of Cortes and his lunatic bastard children.

Hell, the time is now to pry open the termite hives of adjunct faculty and teachers and coaches and librarians and counselors and the entire range of part-time academic workers in those places one might never associate with part-time labor: language schools, driver’s education, adult education, community education, the performance arts, heck, even part-time is the new green for administrators and boards when it comes to their own ilk. Part-time college presidents, AKA, Human Resources directors as guns for hire.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Cuidado. This is a multi-part exploration, bigger than my unexplored brain can tackle in one mere session, so stay tuned for part two here at DV.

Again, Galeano:

There are successful countries and people and there are failed countries and people because the efficient deserve rewards and the useless deserve punishment. To turn infamies into feats, the memory of the North is divorced from the memory of the South, accumulation is detached from despoliation, opulence has nothing to do with plunder. Broken memory leads us to believe that wealth is innocent of poverty. Wealth and poverty emerge from eternity and toward eternity they march, and that’s the way things are because God or custom prefers it that way.

Fecund Ferocity of Children of the Sun, Corn, Tomato, Chile, Cocoa

“There are two ways to lose you sanity in Juarez. One is to believe the violence results from a cartel war. The other is to claim to understand what is behind each murder.”
― Charles Bowden, Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields

I’m building a bridge to that next part of this story, where the collusion of cartel after cartel – not just the colluders of cocaine and meth and heroin and their deliveries and peddlers, not just the cartels of white-brown-black-yellow sex slavers, not just the middle men of wanton environmental rape cartels , not just the three-piece suited white Mexicans of oil-gas-mineable rock cartel, not just the thugs in uniforms and guns tequila and mescal hardened cartels, not just the Wall Street insider job boys who are their own cartel within a cartel, not just the post-industrial military complex cartels or the Karl Roves and slack mouthed tea bagger cartels — is up against the forces of light, some dramatic last stand, people, artists, revolutionaries, teachers, archeologists, people who want earth to never bleeds from murder-rape-immolation.

This is a story about to begin around what is Mexico, what is light, and what is the mud of their passage away from solidarity with squid-armadillo-quetzal-poinsettia-vanilla-flattened corn-habanera-the shrieking parrots. Education. The reason why we are learning from Mexico, Puerto Rico-Germany – we all are the precariate – the new word for precarious worker and proletariat. Marginalized. Flexible. At the will-whim-wishes of the one percent. Contingent-broken-forever slave waging for more of that consumer crack.

For now, a poem. Mine:

Solstice at Tulum

Roberto swore by the postcard
signed by Sgt. Dan Crowe, USMC
patina light from Havana’s Avenida de Maceo
old Dodges and Chevys in the background

“Buddy, we made it all the way to Cuba. One heck of a drift
dive. Something like five days. Caught incredible currents. Tony and Juan
they have it all covered. Snuck this out with some missionary. Mormon.
No bad blood I hope, Roberto. You showed us the reefs with style. Man, black coral
like my aunt Sylvia’s Christmas grand fir. Never will forget that barracuda school

you turned us onto. Even Cuba doesn’t have schools that big. The sponge, whatever you called it, it’s an 8×10 above this paint-peeling hotel room. Man, the women, here, the life, the food, everything here, even with Fidel, it’s one fucking amazing dream. The bullshit back home, the bullshit in schools. They taught us wrong, my amigo friend. No hard feelings, man. We shall return to Cozumel one day. We didn’t die like those Japanese anime freaks. If there’s anything we can do to take the heat off, well, you know the routine, senor divemaster – we are incognito.”

endless night dives, parrot fish like pit bulls, lobsters blazed
by our lights, and Roberto, at midnight, or closer to the next
tourista trip to the reef, he went on and on about those
Marines, floating deeper and deeper. An impossible 280 feet
gone, breathless, Roberto flecked with the twinge of nitrogen
as he banged and banged knife to tank … until the three vanished in
the ink of the reef drop.

I met him a second time, and he believed me for what I was
nothing linked to Norte Americanos, broken but not dispirited
by my birth nation
called me socialista — the butterflies coming from his mouth
his Russian pretty impressive, the military tattoos
on his broad shoulders … lifting and packing
each depressurized chamber where he put sheaves
onto three kilo tubes, stuffed into the scuba tanks
held down with a paraffin barrier

tanks destined for the cruise boats, destined for LA, San Francisco, Miami, Seattle
his little secret with the island’s cartel
his little dive shop and trips to Russia and Italy
his poetry books and the photos of Roberto and his Refrescos salsa band
on this and that cruise ship
the bottles of fake air filled with coke
his only lesson in materialism
supply and demand

how did those three guys make it from the reef lid of Cozumel
all the way to Cuba, Americans, ex-Marines, no less
some hoax, some funny guys freaking Roberto out
fake postcard, something just to make him more paranoid
of the drift dives, the night dives
people spending money and their souls for a taste of the Caribbean

the hammerheads and dorado, all those reef fish
like a water heaven, Roberto, reading Marx and Kant
the very essence of his mixed blood – Spanish-French-Oaxaca-Zapotec
what the ladies from Houston and Denver lust for
in their five-day sojourns away from air conditioned
Subaru’s and fifty cubic inches of freezer space
some break from their money bags husbands
the football loving Hooters boys
some wild fling with a partial Indian

Roberto, who knows all the reefs, who even has had
actresses and singers in the Biblical way
the Mexico of his dreams so far from the neon Senor Frogs
and bottomless Margaritas
flaming shrimp served to flaming blondes and their
pectoral heavy beaus

old ladies, Mayans, just out of the glare of the parties
waiting for Discos to close so the putrid toilets get cleaned
men carrying wet cement on backs, waiting to fill the holes
punched and kicked by the Yanquis during drinking contests
all those people listening to the reverb of Yanquis
all those “where did all the Mayans go” people
cruise ship folk think are for hire, or for photo shoots

they watch ships, the nuclear light show of a Princess line
triple-decker – all those thousands upon thousands of Yanquis
floating by, waiting for the next shopping port, the next bottomless
Daiquiri, they too know when lunar light pulls the sperm
from millions of squid, or where the shoals of sardines
go after a storm

the sacrifice is still, like a kid, a shivering white goat
these monsters with credit cards, their suburban souls
trapped in endless confusion and caloric ecstasy
they wait too, for some heaven to come crashing on them
each day like a renewal, while the memory of Mayans, all
tribes, is passed on, deeper into the channels of time

If the thing really happened that way, three ex-Marines
back from Honduras, back from Desert Shield, back from
the coca fields of Columbia, taking a vacation in Mexico,
ending up with Roberto of all people, even if they made it to Cuba
something Roberto will always believe, the rest of us
just consider impossible – physically and oceanographically –
the story gets told and retold, with each disembarking and embarking
from and into all-you-can-eat buffet, the sweat, all the ham fisted hugs
caught in the eye of Mayan storm, one more story of magic realism
they bring back to their lawn parties, another brown man
trapped by the weight of mysticism and the birth of Yanqui

imperialism

  1. As quoted in Liberation Theologies in North America and Europe‎ (1979) by Gerald H. Anderson and Thomas F. Stransky, p. 281. []

Paul Kirk has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. Read other articles by Paul.