No Bombs. No Fast food. No Crime families.
This is what separates the Portuguese nation from the recognition that would get it a doll in “It’s A Small World.” Or an ethnically-themed movie entirely in English starring Marcello Mastroianni. That and the simple fact that Disney rooted out the old ride in favor of putting its own characters in instead of dolls, and Marcello is watching me blog him into my movie with disgust from the sky.
But back to Bombs, Fast Food, and Crime Families. It’s the Guns, Germs and Steel of why in the American landscape, the Portuguese barely exist. It’s not because there aren’t enough accomplished people here of Portuguese origin. They’re just too busy and not focusing on what it takes to get some notoriety in America. Watch me as I break it down for ya:
Of course, the Portuguese have criminal enterprises all over the world. Don’t tell me that no one in Galt has a meth lab or the exclusive night clubs of Lisbon never feature any bathroom blow. But it’s quiet (except for THIS). It’s a fact of life. Nobody puts a horse in anyone’s bed. And nobody does it on cue for the camera. In Portugal itself, all the crime that would get us a PADRINHO movie is blamed on the gypsies. Not. A. Smart. Move. When Portuguese people immigrate to the US, most of them were too busy tending to cows or fishing or (like my mom) studying with the fear of God in them to care one way or another if they could challenge some RICO laws. Not. Very. Interesting.
Tacos. Pizza. Sausages. Empanadas. Kung Pao Chicken. Sushi. Fish ‘n’ Chips. Pho. Bagels. Samosas. Spaghetti.
Does the ethnic origin NOT pop to mind with each of these?
What do we have? Nothing. You can’t eat Gomes de Sá out of a paper box. I guess you could…. but it’s hard to sell that to the MacCheezedoodle crowd. And the people who would appreciate it are vegetarians. I found this out when I made and took Gomes de Sá to a class potluck. I ate a lot of cod that week……
If people can’t stand in front of your food shack and make ethnic jokes about you, usually while they eat your food, how will people know you?
This one is the most important. If America bombs your country, it means something. Lasting memory by virtue of daily soundbites. Immigrants that everyone notices. And restaurants, yes, restaurants. People dread being sent to your country. Details filter back in letters, emails, blogs….
And since the U.S. military um……. operates a base in the Azores, so I’m pretty sure that Jerónimos is safe. The lusophone world might have its own inner conflict (you should hear my cousin roil about how they’re going to have to spell “actor” like the Brazilians after last year’s spelling reform) but there isn’t going to be a profile-raising war anytime soon.
These might be lovely places we all deserve to hear about, but it won’t happen….. There’s no oil or WMD’s. Well, there’s oil in Angola, but haven’t they suffered enough over there?
SHOULD WE CARE???
Why should we care? I’ll tell you – the number nine. It’s how many people are currently enrolled in my Portuguese 1B class, and it will probably be cancelled. I’m a documentary filmmaker who wants to produce work about the lusophone community.
So where does that leave me? Leave my work? If nobody cares to take the class, if nobody teaches the class, the nuances of my grandparents and mother leave my life. That part of my life dies. And I am not ready to let that part of me die yet.
Update: In January 2011, class was cancelled. Arrrgh. Damned budget cuts. I guess we’re going to have to try one of the above….
Update: Fall 2011, the WHOLE PROGRAM was cancelled. You can only experience the wonderful and awesome Deolinda Adão through her BCC Spanish classes. Unless you live close to CSU San Jose. I don’t.