The Gatekeeping of the Alamo
Like the sturdy and indefatigable Hidalgo showing up those snooty inbred Arabians on their own turf, Queque likes to revel in its American exceptionalism. Fairest of all? No. Longest in the leg? Not. But crafty. Loyal. Big-hearted and tenacious. Just like the mongrel — always the best pick at the (no-kill ... 2012, the year of our Quetzalcoatl) pound, free of hip dysplasia, tail-chasing, and hemophilia.
Mixta, is what we’re saying. Which is why Say-Town author and philosopher-king of Mestizo John Phillip Santos is a personal hero (we don’t even blush when we say it). But, lo, the hard limestone reality of life on the Alamo set. And how deep the irony runs at the ghostly gates of the aforementioned shrine, subject of Stephen Harrigan’s One Book One San Antonio 2007 honoree.
Much as Mexicans preceded Anglos on the holy turf itself, Santos’s Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation preceded Harrigan’s hefty tome as the 2006 inaugural city-wide reading assignment, a fact that was perhaps unknown to the security guard, and in any case did not discourage him from telling Santos that he must stop interrupting the red-vested Official Alamo Guide with inconvenient truths and observations on the hypocrisy of our current immigration debate. (We’re not making this up.) How did the Latino gendarme feel about safeguarding a resolutely Anglo version of history? “You can’t fight them here.”
If not here, where?
“These are really interesting points of cultural struggle for us ... the way history is performed in public space,” says Santos, who went astray at the former Misión San Antonio de Valero while trying to unite with a group of Latino MacArthur “genius” grant alumni. “One strategy is to take advantage of these opportunities that arise in everyday life at the Alamo.”
Pour me a stiffy
Reconquista was in the air last week, and the pink brigade made haste to Joe Blue’s, scene of last month’s anti-gay (or at least boys-in-make-up-averse) art censorship, where it put the Tom in the Collins, the Harvey in the Wallbanger, the “guerilla” in Guerilla Queer Bar.
Local organizer Richard Reams took some heat for the venue selection. The troops were divided along that deathless battle line: Outside the tent pissing in, or inside the tent pissing out?
Wait, wrong battle.
Fight for change from the inside (where the drinks are served, chingazos, and the A/C is cranked)? Or vote with your dollars?
“This is our way of saying that if you’re scared of there being too many `gays` in your bar, well, on this night, there are going to be too many `gays` in your bar,” Reams said. “I wish that our friendly invasion would be some part of a learning process for him.” `What is this about? See “Too gay for Joe Blue’s?” on sacurrent.com’s CurBlog.`
Marching to his own beat
Joey Villarreal, the don’t-ask-don’t-tell owner of Joe Blue’s, seemed sanguine the following day when he stopped by the Current’s free-beer booth at SoSoFlo’s Saturday SMART Fair (where we raised $417 in donations for the event from you, readers. And they said you’d never pay for a beer you could drink for nothing). Perhaps, being a religious man, he remembers that when God closes a door (don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out, amen), he opens a window somewhere. You just have to find the fuckin’ thing.
And so it goes for former West Campus High School color-guard instructor Oscar “Scar” Natal, whose unrequited affection for free speech and assembly has cost him his job. (Perhaps he’s old enough to have attended school back when we were selling those ideas. Hardly his fault then, indoctrinated by the proto-Communists we used to let run things.)
Natal, who has worked for several years with area districts on a seasonal contract basis, joined West Campus high-school students on the Columbus Day (Stop! Irony ... overload!!) holiday to protest the rumored closing of their school, which was partially flattened and soaked by floodwaters (read: poor drainage) in mid-August. Although the daily reported that the school’s insurer is ready to move forward with restoration that could reopen West Campus in time for the spring semester, the district has been dragging its feet, and the students fear that their “temporary” relocation to South San High School will become permanent. Not exactly baseless fears: South San Super Ron Durban used an October 9 special meeting to make the case for consolidating the schools (bottom line: $3 million in short-term savings).
(Let us pause to observe: Is a school not asking to get screwed in this town when it names itself West Campus High School? Sí, pero “Alamo Heights” was already taken).
(And: Is a man not asking to be trampled like a dropped banner in a UIL competition when he sticks out his neck?)
Following his Monday appearance with the student protestors, Natal was confronted by his immediate supervisor and told that his activism had cost him future employment with the district. Later in the week Natal was told he could work the two weeks remaining in this year’s contract if he kept mum. Natal declined, and now he’s waiting to see if he gets paid. Which leaves him the warm-and-fuzzy comfort of knowing that he may never work as a color-guard instructor again, but he’s surely inspired at least one student to lead a life of flag-waving of another sort. •