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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Lifestyles of the Rich and Barely Ethnic

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My friend, Robin, and I are sitting at Crepevine in Rockridge.  She says she doesn’t know Oakland, but she sure has her Ph.D in Rockridge.   She has, like, seventeen different favorite cafes there. One of them is NOT Bica. But her reasoning is solid.  “It’s not really homey.  I don’t really like working there.”  She’s right.  If the owner hadn’t lived in Cascais and presumably passed my great-grandparents’ farm on the way to Lisbon every time he went into the city, I’d probably never look twice at their rickety tables.  But he did, so I love Bica fervently. And I’m as ass-shocked to find out who is Filipino as she is to find out who in Hollywood is Portuguese.

Rob! Sensitive Naked Filipino!

“Rob Schneider.”

“No way! Rob. Frickin.  Schneider!?”

“Yeah- his mom is.”

“I thought he was like all Jewish.”    I’m not an airhead!

“He is, it’s that stereotype.”

And she shakes her head shamefully.  I have a feeling she’s BEEN that stereotype.  But I have no idea what it is.

“What stereotype?”

“Jewish guy-Asian woman!”

“That’s a stereotype?”

“Um… yeah, don’t you always see that?” “Mmmmm…. NO?”

I had no idea that as I seem to attract the infantile and pathetic males of the Jewish community to myself like a moth to a flame (if you count three or four in fifteen years a flame, but those are basically my only boyfriends), I’d have even better luck if I were Asian as well.  And not only that, as a white Catholic who was once blonde, I have much more interesting competition.

Well, accidental competition, because I never fall into that hole on purpose.  But  come on, it sounds awful to say it, but as Europeans, have men really gotten over the fascination with human female vestibules of Chinoiserie in the last 160 years?   Judging from Robin’s story, hell to the no!  So we can all acknowledge that Asian girl cool beats White girl cool any day.   Plus if you are Filipina, you already have Catholic in the bag.

“Lou Diamond Philips is Filipino.” *

“Tom Hanks is Portuguese.”

“No way, he’s from right over here!”  Yes, he is from Oakland.   Not that this has fixed the potholes in the streets!

“And Jada Pinkett Smith.”

“But Jada Pinkett Smith is black!?”  She says, incredulous.

“Well, a LOT of Portuguese are half.”

“Phoebe Cates.”  Filipina.

“James Franco.” Portuguese.



Pic of katy Perry naked.

Not. Really. Doing it for the "sensitivity."

“Well, he’s only part.  And Katy Perry.  But I don’t like to wave that one about.”

“Well, she’s also a whore.”

“Yeah, she’s a bit of a puta.”

“Puta? ”  And she laughs.  “I think that’s a Filipino word.  My mom used to say……”  And she says something that sounds like “Putain de merde” in French said by a very angry Filipina who is sneezing. “That means something like ‘goddamn it.'”

Yep.  The bad words are always the same.

“A lot of Perrys are really Perreiras.  Like Joe Perry from Aerosmith and that dude from Journey.”

“What dude from Journey?”

“The one who got kicked out and was replaced by a Filipino.”

And the circle is complete.

* Some of these Filipinos may have been gleaned from Wikipedia because I was too busy outing Katy Perry as a puta to remember who she said was Filipino.   Except for Rob Schneider.  She definitely said him!   Maybe next time I’ll shut my mouth and actually listen.


Sweden Ate My Portuguese Radio

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So today I’m in my car, as usual.  I swear, I moved up to the Bay Area thinking I was going to spend a lot of time reading on BART (the metro that doesn’t do hardly what a metro needs to do) and instead, I end up listening to NPR in my Toyota.  Exactly.  Like. In.  Southern.  California.  Except there is more street driving and less time on the freeway. I firmly believe street driving is more stressful.

So anyway I’m in my car, and miraculously, I get the Portuguese station from San Jose.  “WOW!!! I never get it this far West/North!!” I think, while squirming with joy in my seat.

So for about five minutes, I drive down the street, happily listening, careful not to mow down some overly aggressive Bay Area bikers.  I mean, I can’t get back at the ones who ran my friend, her dog, and me  off the sidewalk just 45 minutes before, can I?  Can I???  What if I just go for scares and get lucky and find the exact same three bikers, who weren’t wearing helmets and had a VERY GENEROUS  bike lane not two feet away???

While I’m trying to avoid manslaughter charges, I listen to a nearly intelligible story about nurses.  I’m pretty proud of myself.  Usually, when I listen, I pretty much only understand that it’s going to be so-and-so’s funeral, and that he or she had about four million grandchildren, give or take ten or twenty.    No, this time, I could nearly tell you what they were talking about.   My grandmother is beaming from Heaven.

Eh.  Not for long…..  I turn off the street  into 7-11 because I am thirsty and I have somewhere to be in 15 minutes, so I can’t go home and properly guzzle water.

Apparently the signal is blocked by the thick layer dirt on the stucco of the 7-11 itself.  I think some kids last week tried to dig to China in it.  No joke.   As I turn the corner, I hear the Nice Portuguese Public Health Lady fight mercilessly with a really hopelessly crappy nineties tune.

Guess who won by the time I parked?

I, I saw the sign.  And it opened up my eyes.  I saw the sign.  No one (listen to me when I tell you this!!  I mean it) is going to drag you into the light.  Where you belong.  Oh, where do you belong?

When the spell lifted,  Portuguese time was over and Vietnamese time had begun.   Within the two minutes I spent in the store, I lost the ability to ever know what happened to those nurses.

What the….. I blame Sweden!!

Ok, I’m A Donkey.

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I just wrote this scathing dress-down of Tim Pawlenty and his infamous quote from the recent Republican debates in New Hampshire.   I said he was catering to the lowest common denominator, who sees international politics like a tank game.  Or  something like that.  How dare he!

Then, five minutes after posting, I see THIS.  I only care about the first three or so seconds.

What.  The.  Hey.  I threw in a twenty and two weekends to elect this guy; that’s not cool!  But alas, it’s heavily edited.  I doubt Obama really specifically ran out and said “The good news?  We’re not Portugal.”    What was the original statement?

Well, you can fight the notion that Portugal isn’t important.  But you can’t deny it’s in a financial crisis.    I’m not sure, however,  that to the uninformed ear, Portugal sounds any less like the Black Hole of Calcutta.  And that doesn’t help any more than Pawlenty.

I wonder what the Greeks are saying.

Tim Pawlenty Now Can’t Use John Philip Sousa Tunes in His Campaign Without Irony

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There is nothing like a Portuguese-American who is chafing inside upon hearing  Portugal being defamed by snickering hordes laughing at its small stature.  Judge my ancestral homeland by its size, do you?    And every time you poke the bear of the Portuguese community, at least for those who are chafing, it is no joke.   It’s a personal shot heard ’round the world.  Remember THE FINLAND VIDEO?

I found link to this  floating around in my PL Facebook feed.   It’s a response to a remark  by  2012 presidential challenger, Tim Pawlenty, by the head of the National Organization of Portuguese Americans (NOPA), a non-profit that serves the political well-being of the Portuguese community in the United States.

Sorry I missed this in June, but I was hopped up on  painkillers and watching Vingança after having surgery. Anyway, Pawlenty said this little juicy morsel the New Hampshire Republican debates:

“This president is a declinist. He views America as one of equals around the world.

We’re not the same as Portugal; we’re not the same as Argentina”

If you don’t believe me, watch it!  You can do the whole 14 minutes of glory, or just speed to :43 and listen to Tim stammer and then say the above quote.  Woo hoo!

No, you’re right, Tim, Portugal is not the same as America.  But I found this out at eight years old when I went to Portugal, and realized that black and white tiled patterns in the sidewalks were cool.  And that my cousin Suzette’s Gomes de Sá beats Ronald Mc Donald any day of the week.  I realized it the first day I was in Portugal with my grandfather, and we went to the first cafe outside our apartment building, and he bought me a bica and a pastel de nata and told me how he this was part of his ritual every day after work.

You realized this when some aide handed you a paper of talking points to vomit.

Every Portuguese  defensive PR statement falls back on Portugal’s history.   But I’m not going to beg anyone to realize what Portugal or Portuguese-Americans are worth; NOPA’s open letter did that quite nicely.   No, I am talking about common decency and not propagating the prejudice that “foreign” means “less worthy.”   It certainly means “less power” sometimes.  But Pawlenty didn’t bother to qualify that, because frankly, the people to whom he is appealing really do not care and are wont to look at world politics as some sort of sick Super Bowl with tanks.

America is also not the same as a herd of wildebeests because it’s not destined to be eaten by a cheetah, or sticky ghostly ectoplasm residue (bear with me while I’m silly) because it isn’t a dead individual.   But that didn’t need to be pointed out, either, since it’s not anyone’s business to throw wildebeests or ghosts into a psychically harmful statement where the subtext is obviously “These entities are inferior.  Everybody laugh at what they are at the core: less legitimate and less worthy than you.  GO!”

And you know, you KNOW that he and his little test marketing committees tried to find the least offensive countries with an “inferior” reputation.  He’s not throwing around Ireland, who also has the same damn fiscal crisis as Portugal, because he would no longer be able to sit on a float at St. Patrick’s Day parades during his campaign.  But he’s figuring bolo de leites aren’t generally televised in the US, so why the hell not use Portugal?

In the end, the question is this: do you have to use Portugal to make a grossly inflammatory comment?   Whatever party you’re in, whatever you believe about our current President, do you have to use the country where my mother was born and whose culture has informed most of my life choices and really means something to my heart and soul to prove that my President is Sir Wussypants?   Can’t you slam Obama without using anybody’s country?

I’m deadly curious to know to what the Argentinians think.