Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Anniversaries, natal nuptial. Guest columnist: Michael Hogan. On-Line Floricanto August’s Final Tuesday
Click here for a Route66 soundtrack.
When I turned 55 I laughed at the odd coincidence that my age matched the speed limit, and didn’t think much beyond driving my age, the “double nickle.” Today, with August 31 around the corner, I'm humming Route 66.
I also celebrate my wedding anniversary on August 31. Barbara and I were married in 1968. My 23d birthday. Two months later I get my draft notice. Four months later I’m on the bus to Ft. Ord. I spend our first anniversary on a mountaintop in central Korea. ¡Talk about high adventure for newlyweds!
A short story by Daniel A. Olivas
They say that he lived to be nine hundred and sixty-nine years old. Which is why, of course, we have the expression, “as old as Methuselah.” Genesis tells us – I think you’ll find it in chapter five – that Methuselah was the son of Enoch as well as having the distinction of being the grandfather of Noah. What a hell of a curse, if you believe it’s true. To live so long. To watch your offspring, and your offspring’s offspring, and so forth and so on for almost a thousand years dying and you just keep on going like that pink Energizer Bunny. That poor pendejo, cursed like that.
I don’t really know much more about Methuselah because, to be honest with you, I’m pretty much an atheist so I never was much on reading the Bible. I tried when I used to travel on business and stay at the Holiday Inn. I’d go through the drawers of all the dressers the moment I checked in just in case someone left something really valuable there. Never really found anything worth anything except one time I found an unopened bottle of Jack Daniel’s. That was pretty nice. I got pinche borracho that night. Not that I drink all that much but I just went through a goddamn ugly divorce so I guess I was entitled to drink a little. Anyway, I sometimes would thumb through that Gideon Bible.
Those Gideons were something else. About a hundred years ago, they made it their mission to make the Bible freely accessible to all people. And they did. Those pinche Gideons! I give them credit, though. Single-minded and successful at meeting their goal. Anyway, I would thumb through that Gideon Bible and sometimes it would almost be interesting to me but usually I got bored within five or ten minutes and I’d put it back and pick up the Yellow Pages to see if there were any good escort services in town. A habit, I admit, that led to the divorce. Ten years with Veronica down the tubes because I needed different snatch every time I went on a business trip. Black, brown, Asian and white. All kinds. My dick was a veritable United Nations. And I’m nothing but a stupid asshole who let my beautiful Veronica down hard. I should have stuck with the Gideon Bible. Not as fun, but fewer repercussions.
But, no, I’m not too religious though I do have a beautiful plastic replica of the Virgin of Guadalupe standing about four feet high in my backyard by my fig tree and to the left of my enclosed Jacuzzi. No Mexican can get through life without the Virgin even if he’s an atheist, agnostic or a born again Buddhist. La Virgen. Dark like los indios of Mexico. Appearing like she did to that little Indian, Juan Diego. And proving that the mother of Jesus was there for the indigenous people and not just for the white Spaniards. But I don’t believe it. Not a word. But it’s a helluva story, you’ve gotta’ admit. A helluva story. And the Virgin stands out back by my huge fig tree with her hands stretched out looking down to where Juan Diego should be down on one knee afraid to look up. But I didn’t buy him. I just wanted her all to myself. Always a ladies’ man, I guess.
Yep. The story of the Virgin is a great little piece of fiction. Like that Methuselah story. Goddamn amazing and truly unbelievable. It would be nice if it were true, I suppose. What would I do with all of those years? ¡Dios mío! I’m thirty-five now. Imagine! Nine hundred thirty-four years to go! First, I would figure a way to make it up to Veronica. But, I really don’t know how. Giving her the clap I got from that hooker pretty much buried any chance of reconciliation. She screamed at me over the phone when she found out – we were already separated by then but there was hope – and she asked how I could be so stupid because it could have been worse like AIDS. And I cried and apologized over and over knowing that it was useless to deny what I already suspected when I found that sore on my dick the week before. I remember that I prayed to La Virgen that if it were the clap, that I didn’t give it to Veronica.
But what a thing to say to La Virgen! A prayer that will never be published in any holy collection: Oh holy Virgin. It’s me, Enrique. Enrique Fonseca Silva, your humble servant. You know, I think that one time I forgot to buy rubbers and I had sex with that whore in the Holiday Inn, the one in Bakersfield? You know, that Asian one who did those amazing things with her pierced tongue? Of course you know. You see all. Well, I got the clap and I’m real afraid that I gave it to my wife, Veronica. So, please, oh holy Virgin, please, spare Veronica the clap. Don’t do it for me. I deserve what I got. But please spare her. Thank you.
Now that was a pinche prayer.
Anyway, maybe with a long life like Methuselah, I could come up with a way to make it right with Veronica. Perhaps I could spend a lot of time devising clever ways to heal her pain. But, maybe time wouldn’t help. I’m not clever. Maybe I’d just have more time to fuck up her life further. Well, I guess it doesn’t much matter, after all. I should be thankful that it was only the clap. And I should be grateful that Veronica and I never had kids. That’s the story of my life: being grateful for lesser calamities. Nine hundred and sixty-nine years of my life would be no blessing. I thank La Virgen that I’m not Methuselah. It can always be worse, can’t it?
[From the collection, Assumption and Other Stories (Bilingual Press).]
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Colombians are up in arms about Luc Besson’s new flick, Colombiana. PorColombia, a nonprofit group made up of 12 Colombian college student chapters in the U.S. and Canada launched an anti-defamation campaign against the movie with a message to Hollywood: A Colombia se le respeta! They also came up with an alternate publicity poster, changing Sony Picture’s slogan “Vengeance is Beautiful” to “Colombia is Beautiful” and replacing the gun Zoe Saldaña is cradling between her hands with a bunch of flowers.
According to the Colombian magazine Semana, the movie inspired Colombian publicist Carlos Plaza to come up with “La otra cara de la moneda,” a New York campaign that shows Colombia’s “other side” via a promotional pamphlet that features the country’s positive aspects such as music and culture. He took to the streets with a crew that passed out thousands of pamphlets at theatres in Queens, Manhattan, New Jersey, Brooklyn, and Long Island. “The campaign is a protest against stereotypes,” he said.
Participating organizations included Colombian Cultural Center, Plataforma Colaboro, Queens Chamber of Commerce, and Afro-Colombia New York. The co-director of Afro-Colombia Nueva York, Naila Rosario, helped pass out pamphlets. “We’re not against the movie, or against Zoe Saldaña, but we want to show the other side of Colombia,” she said. “It’s not only war and drugs… There are many positive aspects.”
Colombians tend to be diplomatic. So I’ll be the one to say it. Stay away from this movie. Do not patronize it. Why? Two really good reasons. One, it’s a terrible movie. Two, it’s a slap in the face to my country. What is the purpose of rewarding Hollywood for hyping a stereotype of Colombia as a violent drug-dealing country?
The plot is simple: a nine-year old girl witnesses the murder of her parents and schemes to get revenge. The killing, which (supposedly) takes place in Bogotá, is orchestrated by a sinister drug dealer and his collaborators. The girl makes her way to Chicago, where her uncle teaches her to be an assassin. She’s 24-years old when the film shifts to her as an adult. By now she is methodically killing. A lot. She uses black lipstick to etch an orchid on the body of each of her victims. This is a sign to her parents’ killers that she’s after them (and by now, they’re in New Orleans, under protection by the CIA).
Her name is Cataleya Restrepo. Her father placed his gold chain with an orchid dangling from it around her neck. “Never forget where you come from,” he said to her, as he bolted off to his death.
Zoe Saldaña, a New York-born actress of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, is the big star. Cataleya is a cold killer who shifts into a myriad of disguises, crawls through vents, and even swims with sharks to get her victims. She also has a secret lover, an artist, on the side. But do I care? Not at all. Her character is underdeveloped. There’s not much to say about her, except that she sucks lollipops, dances by herself, and nibbles on Chinese takeout.
Some may think that “vengeance is beautiful” and consider Saldaña a sexy femme Nikita, but I don’t. She’s constrained by a script that relies heavily on splashy explosions and vivid images without taking the time to fully realize any of the characters. The movie is almost a farce, except that it’s not even good enough to be a farce. The plot is predictable and none of the characters, ranging from FBI and CIA agents to Colombian criminals, are meaty enough to bite into.
If anyone shines for a second, it’s Amandla Stenberg, who plays nine-year old Cataleya. She sits still at the kitchen table, eyes wide open, a bowl of fruit in front of her, as her parents are murdered. Then she stabs one of the killers in the hand with a hunting knife and runs for her life. There’s a brief bit of humanity and curiosity in the first few minutes of the film, but overall this is a boring and unconvincing story.
Then there’s the other weighted issue, which is that there isn’t a bit of Colombia in Colombiana. The movie was filmed in México, Chicago, New Orleans, and Paris. They didn’t even bother to Photoshop Bogotá’s mountains into the scenery. There’s not a trace of a Colombian accent anywhere. Cataleya’s name, which comes from the Cattleya orchid, Colombia’s national flower, is not a known name. Restrepo, her last name, is common (and happens to be one of my family names). The chances of Cataleya being Afro-Colombian from Bogotá are slim, as Bogotá has a relatively low population of African descendents. More believable would be if she hailed from Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena or el Chocó. And how well does Saldaña fly as a Colombian? Well, she doesn’t, because she’s not. There’s nothing Colombian about Cataleya’s character.
So why is this film entitled Colombiana while being absent of anything Colombian? Because someone thought that riding the violent-drug-dealing-Colombian-machine would help rake in the dough. There is no other reason.
“Just to use the name ‘Colombiana’ doesn’t make any justice to Latinas or Colombian women at all,” said Carlos Macias, the president of PorColombia. “We’re very disappointed that Hollywood is using the Colombian armed conflict again as cheap propaganda for its profit; it shows its total lack of creativity.” I second that.
The Wall Street Journal asked Zoe Saldaña what she thought about PorColombia’s campaign against Colombiana, and the organization’s belief that the movie portrays Latinos in a negative light. Her response? “Shame on them? I don’t know, I wish I knew how to address stupid unintelligent comments but I don’t, I’m not a stupid person… She could have been from Puerto Rico, she could have been from Goa, she could have been from China. But Luc Besson just wanted her to be from Colombia.”
And why would he want that, I wonder? What would Saldaña think if it was entitled Puertoriqueña, about a girl named Coqui from Puerto Rico? Where everyone is a dealer, mobster and murderer?
She continues. “Once you watch the movie, it has nothing to do with drugs, it has to do with violence. But violence lives in every city in every corner in every part of the world. So that said, PorColombia, are you kidding me?”
I’m not kidding. Don’t go to this movie! Watch Gun Hill Road instead. Now that’s a great Latino movie with intense characters that make you shift in your seat.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
As Teresa Puente, a journalist and blogger on the faculty at Columbia College Chicago and editor and publisher of Latina Voices, states:
"Of the 3,000 people who perished at the Twin Towers, around 20 percent were born outside the United States, according to FactCheck.org. You can read about them and other 9/11 victims in the New York Times' "Portrait of Grief" series.
"There also were dozens of 9/11 victims who were Muslim. President Obama reminded us of this fact and that we are not at war with the Muslim people who are overwhelmingly peaceful.
"There were 14 undocumented spouses and children of workers killed at the Twin Towers who sought permanent residency after the attack, according to the New York Times."
9/11 affected the world, including the Latino world, and in observation of its upcoming 10th anniversary, La Bloga received the following message from Denver reader and artist Robert Maestas:
"You are cordially invited to a “Tribute to 09/11/01” art exhibit at the Chicano Humanities & Arts Council (CHAC) Gallery, 774 Santa Fe Dr. in Denver from August 31 – October 1, 2011.
"As one of the 5,201 official entrants for the World Trade Center Memorial Competition, this exhibit has a very special meaning for me. My artistic tribute is my way of presenting an opportunity for the people of Denver and greater Colorado to recognize, reflect and continue to show their support for the 09/11 remembrance in the upcoming 10-year anniversary."Please inform your family, friends and colleagues and thank you for your support of the arts"
Robert Maestas, Artist
Es todo, hoy
Friday, August 26, 2011
What's going on
Ya, what's going on
Tell me what's going on
I'll tell you what's going on - Uh
Right on baby
"What's Going On" written by Renaldo "Obie" Benson, Al Cleveland, and Marvin Gaye.
New books from not-so-young writers, new TV about an old master, performance art by old farts, and old agit-prop in a new bottle. It's goin' on.
Before the End, After the Beginning
Grove Press - November, 2011
[from the publisher]
Before the End, After the Beginning is an exquisite collection of ten stories by Dagoberto Gilb. The pieces come in the wake of a stroke Gilb suffered at his home in Austin, Texas, in 2009, and a majority of the stories were written over his many months of recovery. The result is a powerful and triumphant book that tackles common themes of existence and identity and describes the American experience in a raw, authentic vernacular unique to Gilb.
These ten stories take readers through the American Southwest, from Los Angeles and Albuquerque to El Paso and Austin. Gilb covers territory touched on in some of his earlier work—a mother and son’s relationship in Southern California in the story “Uncle Rock,” and a character looking to shed his mixed-up past in “The Last Time I Saw Junior”—while dealing with the themes of mortality and limitation that have arose during his own illness. The collection’s most personal story, “please, thank you,” focuses on a man who has been hospitalized with a stroke, and paints in detail the protagonist’s relationship with his children and the nurses who care for him. The final story, “Hacia Teotitlán,” looks at a man, now old, returning to Mexico and considering his life and imminent death.
Short stories are the perfect medium for Gilb, an accomplished storyteller whose debut collection, The Magic of Blood, won the prestigious PEN/ Hemingway Foundation Award for fiction in 1994. Before the End, After the Beginning proves that Gilb has lost none of his gifts, and that this may be his most extraordinary achievement to date.
PEN/Hemingway Award–winner Gilb’s 10 new tales, many written as the author recovered from a 2009 stroke, take on family ties, poverty, labor, and prejudice at the country’s borders, but defy racial and geographic boundaries even when they provide the principal conflict. In “Hacia Teotitlán,” a Mexican immigrant raised in L.A. struggles to resolve his dual identity; “Uncle Rock” finds an Americanized child trying to bond with his mother’s culturally naïve boyfriend. Financial divisions abound, as in “Willows Village,” where the shiftless Guillermo visits a wealthy relation, and the wonderful “Cheap,” the prescience of whose subjects—immigration policy and underpaid laborers—is rivaled only by the explicit address of Arizona’s immigration crackdown in “To Document.” And yet the most affecting story may be “please, thank you” for its depiction of a proud man recovering from a stroke and working his way back into language, as Gilb himself was forced to do. This new collection (after The Flowers) demonstrates that the author has more power than ever in addressing the conditions and contradictions of being split across cultures, and reminds us that every American, native or immigrant, is the product of a society that must learn to share or risk losing its founding graces.
From This Wicked Patch of Dust
University of Arizona Press - September, 2011
[from the publisher]
In the border shantytown of Ysleta, Mexican immigrants Pilar and Cuauhtémoc Martínez strive to teach their four children to forsake the drugs and gangs of their neighborhood. The family’s hardscrabble
Spanning four decades, this is a story of a family’s struggle to become American and yet not be pulled apart by a maelstrom of cultural forces. As a young adult, daughter Julieta is disenchanted with Catholicism and converts to Islam. Youngest son Ismael, always the bookworm, is accepted to Harvard but feels out of place in the Northeast where he meets and marries a Jewish woman. The other boys—Marcos and Francisco—toil in their father’s old apartment buildings, serving as the cheap labor to fuel the family’s rise to the middle class. Over time, Francisco isolates himself in El Paso while Marcos eventually leaves to become a teacher, but then returns, struggling with a deep bitterness about his work and marriage. Through it all, Pilar clings to the idea of her family and tries to hold it together as her husband’s health begins to fail.
This backdrop is then shaken to its core by the historic events of 2001 in New York City. The aftermath sends shockwaves through this newly American family. Bitter conflicts erupt between siblings and the physical and cultural spaces between them threaten to tear them apart. Will their shared history and once-common dreams be enough to hold together a family from Ysleta, this wicked patch of dust?
One reads From This Wicked patch of Dust and can only pause for a moment to say, ‘Yes.’ Sergio Troncoso writes with inevitable grace and mounting power. Family, in all its baffling wonder, comes alive on these pages.
Crossing Borders: Personal Essays
Arte Público Press - September, 2011
"On good days I feel I am a bridge. On bad days I just feel alone,” Sergio Troncoso writes in this riveting collection of sixteen personal essays in which he seeks to connect the humanity of his Mexican family to people he meets on the East Coast, including his wife’s Jewish kin. Raised in a home steps from the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas, Troncoso crossed what seemed an even more imposing border when he left home to attend Harvard College.
Initially, “outsider status” was thrust upon him; later, he adopted it willingly, writing about the Southwest and Chicanos in an effort to communicate who he was and where he came from to those unfamiliar with his childhood world. He wrote to maintain his ties to his parents and his abuelita, and to fight against the elitism he experienced at an Ivy League school. “I was torn,” he writes, “between the people I loved at home and the ideas I devoured away from home.”
Troncoso writes to preserve his connections to the past, but he puts pen to paper just as much for the future. In his three-part essay entitled “Letter to My Young Sons,” he documents the terror of his wife’s breast cancer diagnosis and the ups and downs of her surgery and treatment. Other essays convey the joys and frustrations of fatherhood, his uneasy relationship with his elderly father and the impact his wife’s Jewish heritage and religion have on his Mexican-American identity.
Crossing Borders: Personal Essays reveals a writer, father and husband who has crossed linguistic, cultural and intellectual borders to provoke debate about contemporary Mexican-American identity. Challenging assumptions about literature, the role of writers in America, fatherhood and family, these essays bridge the chasm between the poverty of the border region and the highest echelons of success in America. Troncoso writes with the deepest faith in humanity about sacrifice, commitment and honesty____________
"Touching and intelligent, this book shows what it's like growing up an intellectual on the border of the US and Mexico. It's often painful, often funny, but always precise in expressing how rich and challenging life can be, how sometimes moving away from home can bring you even closer to your family and heritage." --Daniel Chacon, author of And the shadows took him and Unending Rooms.
"Sergio Troncoso takes us on his journey from El Paso to New York, from child to husband, and student to father....and it is worth our while to witness this journey from native son to the bloody birth of a public intellectual." ---Kathleen Alcala, author of The Desert Remembers My Name.
The award-winning documentary Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice, about the trailblazing jurist who was the first Latino appointed to the California Supreme Court, will be broadcast on public television during 2011 Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, 2011. (For a complete listing of airdates and stations, please visit www.reynosofilm.org/broadcast.
During his extraordinary life, Cruz Reynoso has been one of those rare individuals who not only were shaped by history but made history. As the child of migrant farm workers, Reynoso understood injustice and as a lawyer, judge and teacher, he has fought to eradicate discrimination and inequality. Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice was produced and directed by award-winning director Abby Ginzberg. It is narrated by Luis Valdez; Ray Telles (The Storm that Swept Mexico) served as Consulting Producer. The one-hour film was funded by Latino Public Broadcasting and the California Council for the Humanities.
Born into a large Mexican-American farm worker family, Cruz Reynoso struggled to earn an education; he graduated from Pomona College and then received a law degree from UC Berkeley in 1958, where he was the only Latino in his class. In a career marked by a number of firsts, he was the first Latino director of California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), which provided legal aid to California’s rural poor during the early days of Cesar Chavez’s farm worker movement. As the film chronicles, the CRLA came under fire from then Governor Ronald Reagan, who saw the CRLA’s efforts as counter to the interests of his agribusiness supporters.
Reynoso was also one of the first Latino law professors in the country, beginning his academic career at the University of New Mexico Law School. He next became the first Latino justice on the California Supreme Court, appointed by then Governor Jerry Brown. Later, as Vice-Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, he provided leadership in the only investigation of the voting rights abuses which disenfranchised thousands of Florida voters in the 2000 election. He received the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President Bill Clinton for his lifelong devotion to public service. Today at 80, he continues to teach law at UC Davis Law School and actively participate in community organizations throughout the state of California.
About the Filmmakers
Abby Ginzberg (Producer/Director)
Abby Ginzberg has been producing and directing award-winning documentary films since 1983. Her work has focused on character-driven stories, racial and gender discrimination and social justice issues, and has been shown in film festivals and broadcast on public television networks nationally and internationally. Her previous film about another trailblazing jurist, Soul of Justice: Thelton Henderson’s American Journey earned several awards and was featured at film festivals around the country and broadcast on public television Thelton Henderson has been the judge responsible for the reform of medical care for those incarcerated in California's maximum security prisons. Ginzberg has won numerous awards for her work including five CINE Golden Eagles, two Silver Gavels and in 2008 she was selected as a Gerbode Foundation Fellow.
Ray Telles (Consulting Producer)
Ray Telles recently produced The Storm that Swept Mexico, a two-hour documentary about the history of the Mexican Revolution, which aired nationally on PBS. Telles is a veteran producer of many award-winning programs including The Fight in the Fields, the biography of Cesar Chavez; Inside the Body Trade; Children of the Night (Frontline) and Race is the Place. He has been a producer and director for NBC’s Dateline, ABC’s Turning Point and Nightline, PBS and Univision. Telles has won numerous awards including three Emmy Awards, the DuPont-Columbia Gold Baton and two PBS Programming Awards for News and Current Affairs.
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
MacArthur Fellow and Border Brujo Guillermo Gomez Pena
A once in a lifetime opportunity to see two titans of Chicano performance face off.
Expect a "dual exploration of their collective trans-border despair...humor, satire, intelligence, a jalapeño uzi and a chain saw will be weapons of choice, to name just a few".
Museo de las Americas y SU TEATRO presentan.....
|SATURDAY - SEPT. 3
Su Teatro @ The Denver Civic Theater
721 Santa Fe Dr.
Denver, Colorado 80204
$20 gen. $17 stu/sen
COMADRES! $12/ 12 or more
Special pricing for groups of 20 or more
COINTELPRO 101 is the title of the one-hour film to be shown in conjunction with a panel discussion on Saturday, September 10, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., at the nonprofit El Centro Su Teatro located at 721 Santa Fe Drive in Denver. Panelists will be longtime Chicano activists Ricardo Romero, Priscilla Falcon and Francisco “Kiko” Martinez. The film will introduce viewers to the basics of understanding the history of COINTELPRO (acronym for Counter Intelligence Program), the formal program of the FBI and a more general war by U.S. Government agencies to target activists deemed “subversive” by the government. At one time, mainstream groups like NAACP and nonviolent activists like Martin Luther King were targets of COINTELPRO. The history is told in the film by several activists (Kathleen Cleaver and others) who experienced COINTELPRO firsthand. The film’s intended audiences are people who did not experience the social justice movements of the 1960s and 1970s. COINTELPRO may not be a well-understood acronym, but its meaning is central to understanding the U.S. Government’s repression against people working for social change. COINTELPRO was – and still is – an orchestrated effort by governmental departments (local, state, federal) engaged in spying and related activities within the U.S. Compared to 1970 when the COINTELPRO budget was $6 billion, funding for COINTELPRO type programs grew to $75 billion in 2010. Admission to the September 10th public event is $7.00 per person.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Un nuevo libro ilustrado para niños aborda el difícil tema de las pandemias y lo que puede hacer cada cual, incluso los más pequeños, para ayudar a combatirlas.
Amadito y los Niños Héroes del folclorista nuevo mexicano Enrique Lamadrid destaca el rol heroico de los niños durante las epidemias de viruela e influenza de siglos pasados.
Publicado en edición bilingüe, el libro es parte de la colección "Pasó por aquí" de la editorial de la Universidad de Nuevo México, cuya misión es recuperar y preservar la herencia literaria nuevo mexicana.
Lamadrid relata la historia de José Amado "Amadito" Domínguez, un niño nuevo mexicano de nueve años que junto a su familia busca protegerse de la pandemia de influenza de 1918.
A su madre le preocupa que los remedios tradicionales que han utilizado por generaciones quizás no sean lo suficientemente eficaces para prevenir la influenza.
Ante el peligro de la epidemia, Mamá Virginia "movilizó a los niños para limpiar toda la casa con jabón de lejía", escribe.
Aun con su rico repertorio de remedios tradicionales, como poner una cebolla morada debajo de la cama del enfermo o tomarse un té de chamizo, Mamá Virginia se siente inútil frente a la influenza.
Sin embargo, recuerda que un siglo antes su bisabuela, María Peregrina, quien para entonces tenía nueve años, había llevado la vacuna contra la viruela al mismo pueblito de Chamisal.
Mediante el relato de la Nana Peregrina, Lamadrid explica el ambicioso plan conocido como los "Niños Héroes", una cadena humana mediante la cual se inoculaba a niños sanos que se convertían en portadores de la substancia milagrosa.
"Se les rascaban las crucitas en los brazos, y se les vacunaba con el suero de la ampolla del niño anterior", explica Mamá Virginia a sus hijos.
"Así, de ese modo, diez días después, se les formaba una nueva ampollita en el mismo lugar" y así pasaba de niño a niño, de pueblo a pueblo, por toda la Nueva España.
Mamá Virginia había preservado costras de vacunas viejas y con ellas el conocimiento de cuánto tiempo remojarlas para reactivarlas, cómo esterilizar una navaja y cómo administrársela a su familia.
El relato viene acompañado de coloridas ilustraciones a cargo de Amy Córdova que reflejan la historia con un aire de antaño.
Además de un glosario y referencias bibliográficas, el libro incluye un ensayo de Michael León Trujillo sobre las pandemias y los remedios tradicionales.
Desafortunadamente, el ensayo aparece solo en inglés, pero incluye reproducciones de fotos y documentos históricos.
El personaje de Amadito está basado en la vida real, José Amado Domínguez, quien llegó a convertirse en el primer médico nuevo mexicano en el condado de Taos.
En el epílogo, Lamadrid explica que durante 50 años de servicio a las comunidades rurales, Domínguez ayudó a centenares de personas hasta su propia muerte en 1999.
Fue también, explica, el último doctor que realizó visitas a domicilio en las placitas del norte del estado donde se crió.
Lamadrid explica que la Nana María Peregrina, aunque basada también en un personaje de la familia de Domínguez con ese nombre, es ficción histórica.
Sin embargo, al integrar la historia de ambos protagonistas, separados por poco más de un siglo en el mismo pueblo en las montañas de Nuevo México, Lamadrid rescata un relato esencial del folclor regional.
(AMADITO Y LOS NIÑOS HÉROES. Enrique R. Lamadrid. University of New Mexico Press. 59 páginas).