Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Stories of Obligation

Originally Posted on March 25, 2007

In preparation for the return of the rigors of classroom meetings, the readings become more intriguing. For example, Richard Rodriguez’s Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father. The purpose of this reading is to kick off a series of discussions on various issues around ethnicity, language and culture in the context of home.

The reading itself was engaging. The Sacramento-native Rodriguez takes you through a journey of discovery to balance his identity as a basis of a place he calls “home.” On one hand, he is an American of Mexican decent. He questions whether he is Chicano or not. He also questions whether he is indigenous or Hispanic, challenges his Catholicism, and argues between his American self and his Mexican self. He even questions his sexuality.

Many questions lead to not an identity crisis, but a self-actualization this journalist undertakes through his ventures on several continents and communities.

This is not a post previewing the issues Monday’s discussion will look into. Inside of this tapestry that Rodriguez wove are some gems of stories. Stories that just stand out to be embraced and recalled. It pays to know a lot of references, locations and history the author uses throughout his book.

When he discussed his tour of California’s Missions ahead of a Papal visit to possibly beatify Father Junipero Serra, Rodriguez retold an old forgotten tale. When Joseph Alioto was Mayor of San Francisco, his wife at the time “disappeared” for a few days. It turned out that she rented a limousine to take her on a similar tour of the Missions. She dressed up in a mink coat with the collar turned up and wore sunglasses. She paid for her tour in cash.

This is the stuff of legend! Herb Caen must’ve had a field day in his column over this one!

Why would Mrs. Alioto do such a thing? No clue. Yet, as Rodriguez would imply in his book that San Francisco is just like that. Perhaps, as Alec Mapa said it himself: “a whole bucket of crazy.”

I can go dissecting every aspect of his arguments, but I will save that for class. Just thought I throw that anecdote out there as we return from break.

And, don't be surprised if Carlos Mencia "shows up" in class!

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