In the face of our worst nightmares staying with us when we are awake, I’ve tried to keep on with my regular life and schedule, which includes writing for La Bloga, working on my new book, and promoting my last book. It’s difficult. How can I create escapist fiction, even if I consider what I write to be a form of social protest, when the nation of my birth is going to hell at a remarkably rapid rate? There are many reasons for the lack of ambition I am experiencing, but chief among the causes is the realization that Trump is not going away, that he is doing exactly what he said he would do, and that millions of people are okay with what he is doing, and, in fact, applaud what he is doing and want more.
The old paranoia about being brown-skinned and obviously Mexican in an anti-brown, Mexican-hating nation has returned. That feeling is something that I had managed to tuck away, not completely, of course, but still I thought that the worst was probably over for me, at a personal level. But I find myself at age sixty-eight looking over my shoulder like the high school kid I once was, outnumbered and outgunned by white men who didn’t want their daughters talking to me, or cursing like the college student I once was when I was confronted by fraternity idiots shouting racial epithets as I walked the tree-shrouded paths of my university, or so on and so on. Or I flash on more serious situations such as the “No Mexicans” signs that used to hang in several Colorado small towns; or the racial bullying that existed in the classrooms and playgrounds of my hometown and that was directed at anyone darker than the “norm.” And so on.
|Genaro, Henry, "Hank" Ramos|
My father worked hard all of his life. He believed in his family, his union, and his country. He held onto those beliefs although he suffered because of discrimination, racism, and stereotyping. He was the smartest man I ever knew, as well as the hardest-working, so he understood what was going on in the United States, and he knew that he paid a price for his ethnicity and nationality. But, know what? He was not a bitter man. He took whatever opportunities he did have and he made the most of them. He encouraged his sons to work hard, to value an education, and to achieve. In his own way and on his own terms he stood up to the bastards.
At an early age I understood that he voted Democratic – I remember him talking about Adlai Stevenson and Ike Eisenhower, and there was never any doubt about which one he chose, although Stevenson lost twice by landslides. My father and the liberal, privileged intellectual had very little in common except for their belief in basic decent humanity, but that was enough. The Democrats were for the working man, according to my father, and they got his vote.
I don’t know if he ever felt betrayed by the Democrats. I do know that Corky Gonzales once described the two-party system as a two-headed snake. And I know that at an early voting age I decided I was an Independent, and that hasn’t changed. Apparently, chingos of working-class voters deserted the Democrats to vote for the billionaire reality star. My point being that the causes for and answers to our current crisis are not black-and-white, but one thing has to be said: the Democrats deserve their share of culpability for the mess we are in. Now they face the test of standing up to Trump and his right-wing cronies and henchmen.
More importantly, we the people are standing up. The party hacks, from both major parties, play their games while the masses take the streets. We need more than that, of course, and folks have committed to do what is necessary to not only protest but also to resist. I can't say for sure that we will get what we need, and that freezes me when I try to return to my murder mysteries and noir stories. All I can do is shake it off and remember that my father never stood still, not when he was doing well or sick or injured or laid-off or retired.
|Laborers' Union Hall in the Henry Ramos Building, Colorado Springs|
Moving on ...
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16TH
Preview Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place, meet the artists, and enjoy music, dancing, festive snacks, and a cash bar featuring specialty cocktails.
MEET THE ARTISTS
Energizing and vibrant artworks will be presented by Carmen Argote,
Jaime Carrejo, Gabriel Dawe, Claudio Dicochea, Daniela Edburg, Justin Favela, Ana Teresa Fernández, Ramiro Gomez, John Jota Leaños, Dmitri Obergfell, Ruben Ochoa, Daisy Quezada, and Xochi Solis.
Denver Art Museum’s Frederic C. Hamilton Building
100 W 14th Ave Pkwy
Denver, CO 80204
DAMC Members $20 | General Admission $27
Available online at denverartmuseum.org or by calling 720.913.0130
I have two reading events scheduled for this month:
February 10: 8th Annual Neal Cassady Birthday Bash
Mercury Café, 2199 California St., Denver, 8:00 p.m. The Neal Cassady Birthday Bash is held each February to celebrate the birth and life of Neal Cassady – who described himself as Denver’s unnatural son. Cassady was the archetype Beat writer, the protagonist of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, muse for Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe, and driver of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters’ bus Further. Performers and readers at the 2017 Bash include Neal’s son Robert Hyatt (who just published his first book, Beat Bastard), Denver author of Chicano noir fiction Manuel Ramos, poets Ed Ward and Jennifer Dunbar Dorn, Zack Kopp (author of The Denver Beat Scene), and singer/songwriter Marty Jones.
Free, open to all ages. More info at http://www.nealcassadybirthdaybash.com/.
February 15: Epic Brewing Company
The plan is for me to read samples from my books that match the brews. Epic Brewing, 3001 Walnut St., Denver, at 7:00 p.m. to help celebrate the launch of several new "dark, sour beers that are funky and tart." Beers and books will be plentiful. Check out http://epicbrewing.com/
Future events at the Denver Public Library, Texas Tech in Lubbock, and Adams State in Alamosa.
Manuel Ramos is the author of several novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction books and articles. His collection of short stories, The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories, was a finalist for the 2016 Colorado Book Award. My Bad: A Mile High Noir was published by Arte Público Press in October, 2016