by Ernest Hogan
Summer hit Arizona like a nuclear attack. July has just started, and the zombifying heat is causing people to walk the streets with expressions on their faces usually reserved for those stunned with a ball-peen hammer. I'm feeling funny, and can't tell if I'm suffering from the latest virus, or my brain is being cooked like an egg on the sidewalk. (Yes, you can actually do that in Phoenix in the summer – only the Chamber of Commerce frowns on it.)
I'm seeing strange things and can't tell if they're real. Giant inflatable Uncle Sams, American Eagles, Godzillas, King Kongs, and T-rexes are standing guard at the car dealerships. An old guy drove down the sidewalk on a scooter that was customized to look like an airplane, complete with a spinning propeller. A horde of Native American women piled out of a bus labeled REDSKINS. Was there always a giant cow skull across the street from Costco?
Maybe it's all real, maybe the heat and rain has caused the levels of peyote and datura pollen in the air to rise to psychedelic critical mass.
Is Donald Trump really running for president? Did he really say that Mexicans are rapists, then have his words echoed by Dylann Roof a few days later when he massacred those Christians? Are black churches really burning?
Did the Supreme Court really make same-sex marriage legal nationwide, and okay tax subsidies for health care? There are some people here in Arizona walking around with steam coming out of their ears, even in this killer heat. You have to be careful at these times, in this state, with our Wild West gun laws.
And why are all those Confederate flags disappearing? It's not that any kind of law was passed about it . . .
I'm hearing that Trump has triggered what is being called a Latino Spring, even though it's summer, but then you wouldn't want to lose the Arab Spring reference. The Donald has managed to unite a group that is larger and more diverse than “Anglos.” Right after we became a majority in California.
There's usually a lot of talk about Latinos/Hispanics being a factor in the presidential election, but we usually get swept under the carpet early. The Democrats act like they won us in a craps game. The Republicans talk about reaching out and even courting us, but they never follow through . . . or at least that's the way it was in the past.
Note that they aren't talking about Mexicas or Nican Tlacas. These mainstream Americanos don't know about the diverse subcultures of La Raza Cosmica. Yet.
Meanwhile, I wonder what it would be like to be a factor in the election, instead of another “minority” that they can ignore. What would it be like to be courted by politicians? To have them actually ask about and care about our concerns, instead of just coming into selected barrios to do photo ops in sombreros?
It's all so unreal. I keep expecting it to vanish like the mirages on the streets, or to evaporate like water splashed on the scorching pavement.
Ernest Hogan, the Father of Chicano Science Fiction never seems to get as much done in the summer in Arizona as he intends to. It must be the heat, and the online coverage of the running of the bulls in Pamplona.