Sunday, June 01, 2014

Chale con Chipotle: A Few Smoking Thoughts

Olga García Echeverría

The truth is, we're too good for Chipotle. I'm referring to the “fancy” Mexican fast food chain, not the actual chile that has long been hijacked. That chile is still delicious, and it has its roots in indigenous Mexico.

Originally from the Nahuatl, chi (for chile) and potle (for smoking). Chiptole literally means el chile que humea or smoking-hot chile.

More and more I've been thinking that the kind of literature I want to see cultivated is so smoking hot that it would never appear on a corporate cup. I'm thinking of something short and queer, like an excerpt from tatiana de la tierra's poem “Queer it Up” (from her chapbook tierra 2010: poems, songs & a little blood)

I have a queer dream
or should I say, a queer reality
I am in a circle of queers
we are queering in the rain
parading in a queer-nival
doing queer-gonomic things
drinking queer beer
bar-b-queering with our friends
playing a street queer named desire
publishing with queer-laca press
researching the art of in-queery
documenting a tale of queer cities
traveling to the queer-ebbean
settling in nova-squeer-tia
tucking our toddlers into bed:
twinkle twinkle litte queer

forni-queering, like I said, then announcing it
I'm queering, I'm queering

we're commie queers
camouflage queers
quantum queers
coatlique queers
queering the canon
getting pedi-queers
deep-fried queers
going for a swim in lake queerie
knowing that the grass is always greener on the queer side
and that all the good stories begin like this:
it was a dark and querry night

Yeah, that (even with its exclusion of cunt words) is way too queer for a Chipotle cup. Just like a short, powerful excerpt from Our Word is Our Weapon would be way too political. I'm thinking of these particular poetic words by Subcomandante Marcos:

Can I speak? Can I speak about our dead at this celebration? After all, they are the ones who made it possible. Can someone say that we are here because they are not? Is that permitted?

I have a dead brother. Is there someone here who doesn’t have a dead brother? I have a dead brother. He was killed by a bullet to his head. It was before dawn on the 1st of January, 1994. Way before dawn the bullet that was shot. Way before dawn the death that kissed the forehead of my brother. My brother used to laugh a lot but now he doesn't laugh any more. I couldn't keep my brother in my pocket, but I kept the bullet that killed him. On another day before dawn I asked the bullet where it came from. It said: From the rifle of a soldier of the government of a powerful person who serves another powerful person who serves another powerful person who serves another in the whole world. The bullet that killed my brother has no nationality.

The fight that must be fought to keep our brothers with us, rather than the bullets that have killed them, has no nationality either. For this purpose we Zapatistas have many big pockets in our uniforms. Not for keeping bullets. For keeping brothers.

And if you like it extra spicy, here's a smoking hot link to this excerpt read by political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal (from the Big Noise film Zapatista)

Yeah, those words would never ever show up on a Chipotle cup. I guess my question is what's so hot about Chipotle? So they have a Cultivating Thought literary cosa where they (oops) forgot about the Mexicans. What's new? Chipotle is just a microcosm of this country's tendency to make money off “Lo Mexicano” and simultaneously “F” the Mexican. I do find it insulting, ironic, and very telling that they excluded Mexicans/Latinos from their literary project (and I don't buy that our writers are so scant that they are impossible to find), but in the end, I don't need Chipotle para nada. I can cultivate my own critical and literary thoughts. I love Toni Morrison, but I don't have to go to Chipotle to read her, and because I grew up in a Mexican family where my parents and later my siblings and I cooked regularly, I can make my own damn burrito at home and trust me, it will be better than anything Chipotle can mass produce.


Amelia ML Montes said...

Orale, Olga. Tatiana y Comandante Marcos speak it! Gracias for bringing us their poetry, palabras hoy.

Maria said...

Well written, said, manifested Olga! We don't need no stink 'n chafa Chipotle to validate our words and our existence. I've been a bit perplexed at how quickly our now established and perhaps mainstreamed literary community organized themselves around this issue. I'd prefer our efforts be directed towards more meaningful endeavors. Perhaps I've said too much, too soon, too prematurely, but why expect a capitalist, profit driven entity to respect anything or anyone....let alone their cows and chickens. We're no different.
Con respect, Maria :)