by Fanny Howe




A little south of Ensenada, beyond the Gigante market, and west to the edge of the sea, are a series of trailer parks, some gated and some wide open, a fertilizer factory that reeks of fish, and tenements whose windows are black-stained around the edges. There is no way you can turn, at any hour, without encountering another human being--child or adult, on a bike, on foot or in a car. Even at five a.m. with the full moon unravelling loops of cloud-forms, footsteps pass along the sandy roads.

There seems to be no escape from human catastrophe. The beach is littered with plastic cartons and bright-colored objects tossed up or over onto the dunes, dog carcasses with teeth bared to the sky and sharp new-broken glass from beer bottles. Horses meander along, saddled and ready for tourists and an occasional four-wheel r.v. careens at the edge of the surf.

The Americans who have bought trailers down there are drop-outs, drunks, addicts, ex-military people, party-hardy types, people in recovery, gun-carriers as well as kind retired people who work in orphanages and shelters. One of them says Mexico is the same as the USA was in 1941. It will be fine.

At no moment is the phenomenon of law-and-order liberty of America more dazzling than when you pass the border from Tijuana into San Diego County. An irresistable wave of gratitude and pride at "being born American" gushes through your veins as you speed away from the anarchy that lies along those ravaged shores. In San Diego the choices are all in the effects -- neat lawns and streets separating one person from the other and luscious gardens colorizing the desert shapes.

Pride and good luck are the cheery messages that churn through your veins, no matter how harshly you criticize the association. A sense of completion falls over the luxurious green hills and even as you glance to the left, spotting slate gray naval vessels in the bay, for several minutes you can pretend that you are safe from the difficulties that lie behind.

But is it possible to rest easy with such imbalance close at hand? How can pride spread except as crime and/or revolution? Where can a person locate the source of the corruption? Isn't it finally time for the Sixth--or is it the Seventh--Internationale? It looks as if such a time has come for Mexico, and likewise for all global barrios, to organize and unite against united organizations. But this century has been hard on belief, hope and energy. Humanity doesn't much like itself. The enormously wealthy seem to conspire to produce a class of poor people who are not corrupt, in order to have someone to care for and admire.

The days are this full of irony. Jesse Jackson's keep hope alive in such a context is revolutionary.

Fanny Howe




 Text © 1998 by Fanny Howe

Fanny Howe is one of the United State's most prominent and prolific authors. She has published more than 20 books of poetry and fiction, including Saving History, Famous Questions, and The Quietist. She is a professor of Writing and American Literatures at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), in La Jolla.

 Original Graphic © 1998 by Jim Davis-Rosenthal



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