West Side Story

So, the city next door to me has a half-assed thing going on where they want their police department to enforce immigration law. This is a terrible idea. It means more work for the cops, more risk to them from freaked-out illegals, and near total loss of any leads they might otherwise get from people with bad immigration status and good information. Plus, any illegal pulled over for a minor traffic violation is going to floor it and run now. And so on. This is right on the heels of the city closing the job center for day labor, as though by removing the official and clean and regulated place for workers to find work they can make the “problem” go away. Have they been to the parking lot of the Home Depot lately? Now, as they voted in the new rule for local policing, they had a demonstration and disruption at the council meeting.

Costa Mesa is a divided city. The east side is wealthy and mostly white, and the west side is poorer and mostly brown. It’s not as poor as Santa Ana, but it’s not an episode of “The O.C.” either. To put it in street terms, you can buy pot and coke in Costa Mesa but you need to go to Santa Ana for heroin. White Costa Mesa mostly dislikes the Hispanic immigrants on racial grounds and tries to hold them down and away. Brown Costa Mesa mostly just tries to hold down a job and get the kids through school.

The po’folks I know from West Costa Mesa are mostly upwardly mobile, hard-working, conservative family people. They’re in Costa Mesa because it’s the best ghetto in the county and their kids go to better schools and have less risk than in Santa Ana or points north. The only reason they’re shat on by the city government is race. In every other way they’re what that city has always been: lower middle class workers, small businesses, and middle-of-the-road Babbitt conservatism.

I noticed that the protester who was arrested calls himself “Coyoti Tezcatlipoca”. Nice. One problem I’ve noticed with the hardcore Mexican-American protest crowd is their in-your-face Mexican patriotism. When there were demonstrations near my job in L.A. about the Belmont school issue, for example, the marchers had a huge Mexican flag and waved little ones, and the Mexican national colors were everywhere. One small problem: the neighborhood was almost entirely Salvadoran, Honduran, and Guatemalan. The locals didn’t appreciate the Mexican invasion, and there were some minor dustups and a few ripped-up flags. It’s strange to see the activists making the same mistake that those in power do and equating “spanish-speaking immigrant” with “Mexican”. The best part was the (local) Salvadoran activist council walking carrying the huge Mexican flag banner. A coworker of mine at the time who was a Mexican citizen told me that story and spat in the wastebasket next to her each time she said “Salvadoran”. No love lost there.

We can’t all get along. Sorry, Rodney.

11 thoughts on “West Side Story

  1. Closing the Job Center? Sounds like a pretty messy situation, with much stupid. There’s a little of that goes on in NYC, at least in Brooklyn, but it never seems to be quite as charged. Now, Long Island, I understand things have been getting vicious, with the white population delighted to make use of illegal labor but squeamish about having said illegals living anywhere they can see or hear.
    Apropos the NRSK, good on you! How are you liking the new album?


    1. Closing the job center is almost entirely a function of people not wanting the “dirty mexicans” near pricy real estate. They like cheap lettuce and home repair, though.
      I like it. On first listen it’s kind of derivative — I hear a different band in each song — but it’s derivative of sounds I like.


      1. Ya, it’s a particularly vicious form of nimbyism.
        With New Radiant Storm King, the derivative question is tricky, because they’ve been around so long that it’s hard to tell sometimes who was first. F’rinstance, Robert Pollard has admitted that his inspiration for “I Am A Scientist” came from repeated listens to NRSK’s “The Opposing Engineer (Sleeps Alone).” They later did a split 7″, covering each other’s tunes…
        What derivations do you hear? I’m curious.


      2. Nirvana/Foo Fighters, Mission of Burma, Pavement, Pixies, Joy Division. The opening of “Scuttled” *is* the opening of “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, for example.
        It’s good stuff but I don’t hear anything musically interesting, just well-made songs. That’s rare enough to get a tip o’ the hat!


      3. The earlier influences, I agree, Burma in particular. I can see what you’re hearing with regard to Nirvana/Foo Fighters, but with Nirvana I think it’s more a case of both bands looking to similar sources (after all, the Pixies taught Cobain half of what he knew about song structure.) and I can’t see FF as a NRSK influence, since NRSK had three albums out before FF had released anything.


    1. And where did your people come from?
      One doesn’t hear much complaint anymore about people showing up with Irish flags… now. But a century ago an Irishman couldn’t even get his name printed in the papers when he died.


      1. Agreed. My confusion was more over the organization trying to get Salvadoran immigrants to wave Mexican flags, which is nearly as bad as trying to get a Catholic Irishman to wave the Union Jack.


      2. There’s a similar dynamic here between Puerto Ricans and Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans and Dominicans; not sure what the Dominicans think of the Mexicans. But one does not mix them up. Giving Salvadorans Mexican Flags? Teh stupids.


      3. India and multiple European countries (including Ireland). Still, I can’t imagine Indo-Canadians ever demonstrating under an Indian flag.
        And to wave the flag of a neighbouring country seems really bizarre to me. You have race-baiters saying that there’s an invasion of disloyal immigrants, and that just gives them evidence. Not to mention what substitute said about the pan-Hispanic issue.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.