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A Happy Ending?

Max Powers - 12 hours 38 min ago
Your State Representative, Lina Ortega, and State Senator, Jose Rodriguez, are going after massage parlors. You know...those places in shopping centers that advertise foot massages with the windows completed covered-up. Yeah, those places. So they both filed legislation - HAPPY ENDING - to regulate these places a bit more. They... Max Powers
Categories: Local Blogs

So much for heritage

ElPasoSpeak - 15 hours 42 min ago

Take a look at the architect’s rendering of what the new fine arts building at El Paso High will look like:

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

We Interrupt Today’s Podcast/Blog Post

EPN - Border Analysis - Sun, 02/17/2019 - 11:00pm
We interrupt today’s regularly scheduled podcast and blog post due to a knee the size of a watermelon. […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Gaspar del Alba’s latest book belongs in the Latinx literary canon

Borderzine - Sun, 02/17/2019 - 2:37pm

In 1999, the Mexican poet Sor Juana Ines de La Cruz began her transformation into becoming a Chicana.

The 17th century Hieronymite nun, one of Mexico’s best poets, was already dead by about three hundred years before the term Chicana came to be used, but nonetheless, with the publication of Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s ground-breaking novel, Sor Juan’s Second Dream, she became a Chicana feminist icon.

Today Chicana intellectual activists know who she is and how important she is to Chicana identity and resistance. She was too brilliant to want to get married to some “hombre necio.” She wanted to develop her mind and resist convention.

Gaspar de Alba’s novel may have been part of a late 20th century Zeitgeist that liberated feminine images from male historical narratives and redefined their socio-political significance, like Sandra Cisneros did for La Malinche, but it is certain that de Alba’s book influenced Chicana feminist interpretation of Sor Juana’s life. Her story became about self-determination, empowerment, the narrative of a mind so great she could not be held down by the confines of patriarchy.

Sor Juana became a Chicana.

In her latest novel, The Curse of the Gypsy: Ten Stories and a Novella, Gaspar de Alba may very well do the same thing for a relatively unknown historical figure, the Catholic Saint Liberata Wilgefortis, the bearded woman.

This novella within Gaspar del Alba’s new book has the epic title, “The True and Tragic Story of Liberata Wilgefortis Who, Having Consecrated Her Virginity to the Goddess Diana to Avoid Marriage, Grew a Beard and Was Crucified.”

It creatively takes place during the Roman empire, when Christianity was still emerging as a rebellious religion. The legend, as Gaspar de Alba tells it, starts with a rich and powerful woman, the Governor’s wife, who gives birth to nine daughters, all of them born with “birth defects;” for example, two of them without hands, one of them a hermaphrodite, and one with fur all over her body.

The hairy one is Liberata Wilgefortis, and she is the only child the Governor’s wife lets live. She orders her midwife to drown the other eight. She would have killed all nine of the girls, but the midwife, Basilia, pleads with her to let at least one of them live. Basilia then prays to the goddess Diana about the fate of the other eight, asking her for direction in making the fateful choice that will drive the story.

The goddess Diana is, of course, a Roman God, but she has remained a relevant deity for goddess worship even today, taking the role some indigenous women might give to Tonantizin, the Magna Mater, the Mother God.

The fact that the protagonist of the story, Basilia, a midwife –a profession that is itself an archetype of feminist spirituality – is close to the goddess Diana suggests that this is a story of female spirituality. There were many other Roman gods, masculine deities like Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, but they have little or no place in the story of Wilgefortis and Basilia.

In fact, Basilia feels close to a trinity of world goddesses, Bridget (Ireland), Isis (Egypt), and Minerva (Etruscan), which reflects her mystic strength in that she was not tied to a national or regional religion. Instead, she feels connected to goddesses that she believes rule and influence the various worlds, birth, love, and death. Well into the story, a man witnesses Basilia’s wisdom and charity, and he suggests that she should become a member of the new religion, Christianity, but she responds, “I shall never give up on my goddesses, sir.”

The governor’s wife orders the midwife to kill all nine of the girls, but Basilia convinces her to keep the most “normal,” the hairy baby, and she promises to drown the other eight in the river, which she does not do, even though she is commanded to do so by her spiritual leader, the MAGE, a patriarch. She finds families for the girls, who grow up to be happy young women. They will never marry, because of their deformities, but this does not seem to impede them from living full and meaningful lives. All is well, for a while.

I won’t tell what happens to the girls, but the story comes to an inevitabile, heartbreaking conclusion. The narrative of course is focused on Liberata Wilgefortis, whom the governor’s wife raises as her daughter, although she mostly hides her from the governor, who would kill the girl if he saw how hairy she is.

The midwife feels an affinity for little hairy Wilgefortis. But her Mage condemns her to isolation from other humans for letting the other girls live. The two are separated for 12 years.

During that time, Basilia lives in a cave. She eats nuts and berries and placenta from the birth of the nine girls, and studies mysticism and science and the occult, reads all night long, and takes walks in the forest during the days, sleeping on rocks.

To find wisdom in a cave is of course a powerful and oft-evoked symbol of great mystic narratives, like Moses de Leon, who in 1213 in Spain found the Zohar in a cave, the primary text of the Kabbalah, not to mention the cave of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.

In fact, an important aspect of the book is its references to different mystical and spiritual incantations and rituals. The stories provide us with details that could only come from painstaking research, or like the writer Tim Z Hernandez tells me, “Geeking out on the research.” There are specific and accurate details about Roman and Gypsy spiritualty, customs, and language. 

 As Basilia was living like a mystic for twelve years in the cave, Wilgefortis grew up, and the hair on her body disappeared, but she was skinny and ugly, and for that the father hated her. He wanted to marry her off as soon as possible, but who would marry her? He finds the only man willing to do so – a decrepit old man, decades her senior, who just wanted a young woman with whom he could breed.

Like Sor Juana Ines, Wilgefortis does not want to get married. She may lack the intellectual vigor of Sor Juana, but she has an incredible insight into the spiritual world, and even communicates on a regular basis with the spirit of her dead brother. She, like her midwife, has access to the spirit world.

After 12 years, Basilia emerges from the cave and becomes the nurse for Wilgefortis. And they become very close. When the father tries to marry her to the old man, she resists, and the midwife cannot help but help her.

Through incantation or prayer to the goddesses or simply through fate itself, Wilgefortis grows a beard, so no man will ever want to marry her. The beautiful irony surfaces that in a time when women only wanted to get married, Wilgefortis only wants to NOT get married. Like Sor Juana, she wants to determine her own fate.

 What makes this book an important part of the Latinx literary canon is that it reinterprets this mythical Catholic figure through a Latinx feminist perspective. Wilgefortis becomes Chicana.

But perhaps even more important for the reader of fiction is that at the root of these stories, one can sense the love of the writer has for writing. Along with the story of Wilgefortis, Gaspar de Alba writes interconnected stories about a gypsy girl named Margarita, who is impregnated by the poet Garcia Lorca in Granada, Spain, a story which organically ends up years later in El Paso, TX.

Gaspar de Alba loves to tell stories. Every detail is packed with the desire to welcome the reader into this real world of the imagination, every detail bursting with the spirit of sharing:

“Once her house (Basilia’s) had been a free-standing dwelling, a round house in the Celtic style, the woven branches of the round walls daubed with clay and dung, and a high sloped roof touched with rye.”

And if a writer loves to tell a story, the reader is going to love to listen to this one.

 

The post Gaspar del Alba’s latest book belongs in the Latinx literary canon appeared first on Borderzine.

Categories: Local Blogs

City stops posting interim financial statements

ElPasoSpeak - Sun, 02/17/2019 - 7:33am

Would you like to know what the city’s interim financial statements look like?

Good luck

This is what the city’s website presented when I tried to look up a current statement the other day:

While they used to post a report each month it looks like they have not done so for almost a year.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

RumpToons No: 120

EPN - Border Analysis - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 11:00pm
I hope you enjoy RumpToons No: 120!
Categories: Local Blogs

Paying Attention to America's Forgotten Eastern Land Border

US Immigration Reform Forum - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 6:07pm
Paying Attention to America's Forgotten Eastern Land Border

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We keep hearing about America's southern border, the one with Mexico, and some...

Categories: Local Blogs

The Spending Bill Won't Solve the Border Crisis ? It Will Make It Worse

US Immigration Reform Forum - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 6:07pm
The Spending Bill Won't Solve the Border Crisis ? It Will Make It Worse

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This bill follows the pattern of nearly every other congressional ...

Categories: Local Blogs

Bees lead researchers to trailblazing ecological partnership with Texas city

Borderzine - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 4:42pm

SAN ELIZARIO, Texas – What started as a project by Auburn University to study ways to protect a unique ecosystem of bees in the Chihuahuan Desert has lead to a series of pioneering environmental renovation projects for this historic frontier city on the eastern edge of El Paso County.

While fewer than 10,000 people live in San Elizario, the area is special to researchers because it is home to one of the largest diversities of bee species and bee pollinated plants in North America. Auburn University researchers began working with the City of San Elizario in studying the bees in 2017. They soon realized there was more going on that deserved further study.

“We were very much bee-centric and now we actually think much more in terms of the ecological interactions between plants and insects. We think about it in a much more systematic way than we used to,” said Bashira Chowdhury, a pollination ecologist at Auburn University.

Sphaeralcea, a plant popular with bees, is protected in San Elizario by city ordinance. Photo by Laneige Conde, Borderzine.com

The discoveries the researchers made lead the city council to pass an ordinance protecting three types of plants. The plants are baileya, which is a natural insecticide; sphaeralcea, a plant that feeds bees; and portulaca (purslane), a vegetable that can be domesticated to become edible. San Elizario is the first city in the United States to pass such a biodiversity ordinance, according to Chowdhury.

“The biggest part is educating people that all these things around us are beneficial to us,” said San Elizario Alderperson David Cantu. “And, if we recognize and know how to distinguish the difference between a plant that’s viable from a plant that’s just a nuisance, we can really do a lot.”

The three plants are excluded from a city nuisance ordinance aimed at reducing weed growth. This protection allows them to grow as they normally would. Violation of the ordinance by disturbing the plants is a misdemeanor offense, with a maximum penalty of $2,000 per occurrence.

In addition to passing the biodiversity ordinance, the city also has initiated several projects that it says will benefit both residents and the plant life in the area.

Raise beds at Parque De Los Ninos willl serve as research plots for Auburn researchers, farmers, and San Eli Wild students. Photo by Laneige Conde, Borderzine.com

One such project is Wild San Eli, where middle school students engage in science and scientific research. They are shown and taught some of the scientific techniques that the Auburn scientists have been using to to conduct their research. Students also learn about new agricultural careers that they can go into.

“Agriculture has become so much more than what a lot of people think is the traditional farmer,” said Maya Sanchez, San Elizario city administrator. “It’s not just putting a seed in the ground and it grows. It’s utilizing the latest in technology, drone technology, GPS tracking. All of this is already a part of current-day agriculture and so our students are learning that indeed they are jobs that can start at $300,000 a year in this field.”

Parque De Los Ninos is being renovated to be a space for recreation, research and community gardening. Photo by Laneige Conde, Borderzine.com

Another project will renovate a children’s playground, the Parque de Los Ninos, into a combination playground, research area and community garden. It will serve as a training space for the Wild San Eli students and the Homestead Science program, where families can learn to grown their own plants.

The research will begin by focusing on growing portulaca (purslane), a flowering succulent used as a decorative plant in desert landscaping. It is often considered to be just a weed in the wild and has a bitter taste. However, when cultivated correctly it can be made edible. The USDA has certified it as high demand crop and the National Institutes of Health reports it has high nutritional value.

“I can’t think of any other city that is thinking this scientifically forward in how to use science to drive economics and improve the economic outlook of San Elizario,” Chowdhury said.

By studying purslane cultivation, Auburn University researchers hope to learn more about growing high nutrition plants with less water. Purslane is ranked as a C4 plant, which has a different metabolism than most plants and has adapted to arid environment.

Auburn University researchers and San Elizario city officials working together on urban agriculture and environmental conservation. From left, Octavio Hernandez, David Cantu, Alan Jeon, Bashira Chowdhury and Maya Sanchez. Photo by Laneighe Conde, Borderzine.com

This academic, municipal collaboration model puts San Elizario at the forefront of urban agriculture research.

“So it’s not just that we’re coming here and we’re bringing something, San Eli has actually brought a lot to us and sort of opened our eyes to we can do as scientists, and really opened up some new frontiers for us,” Chowdhury said.

The research plant beds in the Parque de los Ninos are expected to bring valuable data that can benefit city agriculture efforts far beyond San Elizario.

“This is a lesson that Phoenix is going to have, Tuscon, you know, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, everyone can use the research that we are doing here,” Chowdhury said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post Bees lead researchers to trailblazing ecological partnership with Texas city appeared first on Borderzine.

Categories: Local Blogs

Open line Saturday

ElPasoSpeak - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 5:00am

Dare we open the blog to discussion about our national situation today?

Please keep your comments clean and don’t get personal.

Can we discuss the issues without getting partisan?

Let’s try.

We deserve better

Brutus

Categories: Local Blogs

U.S. Citizens Sue Border Patrol Agent Who Detained Them for Speaking Spanish

US Immigration Reform Forum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 6:03pm
U.S. Citizens Sue Border Patrol Agent Who Detained Them for Speaking Spanish

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Categories: Local Blogs

Democrats' Wall Funding Fiasco

US Immigration Reform Forum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 6:03pm
Democrats' Wall Funding Fiasco

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Categories: Local Blogs

Twitter Ads Rejects Tweets for "Hateful Content"

US Immigration Reform Forum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 6:03pm
Twitter Ads Rejects Tweets for "Hateful Content"

Bryan Griffith
February 15, 2019 - 11:52am
Source: [url=https://cis.org/Press-Release/Twitter-Ads-Rejects-Tweets-Hatef...
Categories: Local Blogs

Trump's Emergency Action on the Border Wall Stinks All the Way Down

US Immigration Reform Forum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:03pm
Trump's Emergency Action on the Border Wall Stinks All the Way Down

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President Trump has just announced ...

Categories: Local Blogs

The Perils of Trying to Use Emergency Powers to Build Trump's Wall

US Immigration Reform Forum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:03pm
The Perils of Trying to Use Emergency Powers to Build Trump's Wall

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Categories: Local Blogs

A Trump-Made Emergency

US Immigration Reform Forum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:03pm
A Trump-Made Emergency

The president decides that fulfilling a campaign promise is more important than respecting the separation of powers.
Source: [url=https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/opinion/trump-national-emergency-border-wall...
Categories: Local Blogs

The Fine Print in the Spending Bill: EB-5 Is Renewed, VAWA Is Not

US Immigration Reform Forum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:03pm
The Fine Print in the Spending Bill: EB-5 Is Renewed, VAWA Is Not

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While most of the focus was on the fate of the Wall (or maybe the Fence)...

Categories: Local Blogs

Fake Family Units at the Border

US Immigration Reform Forum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:03pm
Fake Family Units at the Border

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If we fingerprinted and photographed all minors who were apprehended by the Border Patrol, the U.S. govern...

Categories: Local Blogs

Beto Is Kinda Full of Shit

Max Powers - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 7:16am
So now Roberto O'Rourke wants to remove the border fence between El Paso and Juarez. Okay. Fine. Maybe you agree with him. But it begs the question - Motherfucker, you were in Congress for three-terms, and you did sweet-phuck all about it? You have to wonder if this is an... Max Powers
Categories: Local Blogs

The Real Problem With Trump?s National Emergency Plan

US Immigration Reform Forum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 5:04am
The Real Problem With Trump?s National Emergency Plan

The fact that the president may have the authority to throw away billions on a foolish campaign promise is itself scandalous.
Source: [url=https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/opin...
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by Dr. Radut