I hereby admit to having neglected to mention the second and third definitions included hereinbelow when I wrote that Gaucho story. The official RAE Spanish dictionary says gaucho also means 'distinguished invidivuals' (2) and 'badass' (3).
But on my new radio show Real Gauchos, which started today, I only interview distinguished badasses, so it pretty much evens out!
My first guest was Gaucho Joe O'Brien, who used to psych people up at UCSB basketball games in jeans and a Batman t-shirt back when we could beat the best team in the country and such things were still possible.
Real Gauchos is available everywhere at all times, but first on Sundays 1-2pm on KCSB 91.9fm in Santa Barbara and online.
As a Santa Barbara man about Goleta, I’m never the first to know what’s going on downtown. When Ablitt’s Spanish rook finally went up on West Haley Street years ago, I walked by it six times before I saw it there, a pint-sized posh parking lot palace.
Apparently Casa Blanca (two words = White House, one word = city in Morocco) opened at 330 State Street six weeks ago. It’s a Mexican food place in a Jeff Shelton building. They have a regular menu, but they also have a weekend menu (Fridays from 3pm, all day Saturday & Sunday) that they call the Happy Hour menu.
When we got there Friday at 6pm, there was a wait for dinner tables, even though there were a ton of empty tables in the dinner sections. The Happy Hour section was slammed, but they let us in anyway.
We sat there for so long before spotting a server – and so long again before tackling one and tricking her into helping us – that I was beginning to wonder if I wasn’t actually in a misspelled Moroccan Casablanca. These people were taking forever on purpose! How authentic!!!
The Happy Hour food is nothing special, but fair-ish-ly priced. I’ve no idea about the regular menu, since they wouldn’t sell to us from it.
The Happy Hour menu does bear one bad omen for this white Moroccan house: they spelled tacos wrong.
Tags: bad english, bad spanish, casa blanca, casablanca, bradlee van pelt sighting, how do you spell tacos
I owe Gabriel Grosvald so big, I invited him to be my houseguest. And I live at my wife's parents' house!
Shortly after I met Gabo in Buenos Aires in 2007, he invited me to perform in the stand-up comedy show he was headlining at El Bululú. For 11 minutes, I made light of everything I'd experienced in my 1.5 years as a half-gringo half-Mexican non-native speaker of Mexican Spanish living in Argentina. People laughed.
The first comment on YouTube said, in Argentine Spanish, "This [perjorative name for a Spaniard] has less talent than an ugly whore's cunt," but I clicked on his channel and saw 50 commenters calling him a prick for insulting people. So either he was trolling, or he's a dreadfully honest guy with phenomenally bad luck such that everytime he clicks on a video it really, really sucks.
By the way, the reason I owe him so big is not because he believed in me artistically as an illegal foreign worker making fun of the host country, but because my stand-up comedy experience is the first thing interviewers want to talk about when I apply for real jobs.
Tags: gabo, grosvald, ezequiel campa, malena pichot, el bululú, real gauchos, gallego, poco talento, concha de la lora, stand-up, Argentina stand-up boom
I started using this as my everyday bag because I wanted to appear alarmist. Just because I can't be bothered to assemble a disaster kit that could save the lives of those closest to me doesn't mean I want to sit by idly while others make the same mistake. As I've said here before, I'm big on the idea of disaster preparedness.
At first, I didn't even notice this was a bilingual bag. But when I did, I feared the worse, and rightfully so. One quick look at the website reveals one accent error and three mis-capitalized words in the only prominent chunk of Spanish.
Good thing no local native Spanish-speakers will read it! People who need this crucial information in Spanish don't have the resources to sit around searching for it on the Internet anyway, so this particular Spanish hack job by the City of Goleta is really a victimless crime.
The thing about badly written Spanish is that it usually only bothers non-native speakers and snobs. A lot of native Spanish-speakers here can't spell stuff because they haven't had the benefit of 13 years of free public schooling. But there are two kinds of spelling errors: those that matter because they change meaning, and those that don't.
An example of the latter, which I came across as a California half-Mexican in Buenos Aires translating handwritten employee statements in an American pizza labor dispute, is the word manaller, a Spanish misspelling of the borrowed English word manager. To Spanish-speakers, manaller is a phonetically accurate spelling of an inaccurate pronunciation... but it's still wrong. After all, the offender must have worn a name tag that said MANAGER WITH A G, right? But it doesn't really matter, because either way we know there's a manager involved.
An example of a misspelling that could potentially matter quite a bit is one that changes the meaning of a phrase like "BYOB!" to a completely different phrase like "Beers on me!" Unfortunately, that's exactly what's happening with this Goleta disaster preparedness disaster announcing ¡Compré Su Equipo!
The goal here was ¡Compre su equipo!, which means "Buy your gear!" This would have been a pretty good approximation of the original English, and it doesn't have any nonsensical capitalization of letters. But the Goleta bag says, "I Bought Your Gear!", which just isn't true, not to mention sloppy.
I want to help local Spanish-speakers prepare for The Big One, but isn't carrying the bag enough? How long until a guy who can read Spanish comes up to me and asks for one of these free disaster kits I'm giving out?
Also, why not just say kit? Not only is kit in the official Spanish dictionary, but I hear it used all the time on Radio Bronco, a station popular with local Mexicans, where a woman called Celestina, operating out of a city she pronounces "Ohsnard", runs frequent ads offering anti-witchcraft services and el kit del amor.
Next time, Goleta, just say Salsipuedes and let the Mexicans fend for themselves! Or, pay the international going rate of $0.005/word for proofreading.
When are institutions going to learn that bad Spanish is worse than no Spanish?
Tags: Goleta Spanish hack job, embarrassing institutional Spanish, bad Spanish translations, next time just hire Rivas Cultural Services
Twelve weeks ago, I couldn’t swim 26 yards. I could swim across the pool the short way, in the shallow end, but I had to walk back to catch my breath before going again. Then I found a program to go from zero to a mile in six weeks.
I got coaching from my wife at home and the guy at the pool who I almost crashed into on the first day after he’d invited me to split the lane and I didn’t get it. I watched YouTube videos and I asked everybody I talked to for two months what they knew about swimming. If you were one of those people, sorry, and thanks!
It took me eight weeks, but I finally swam a mile in the leaky UCSB Campus Pool, the very pool where I’d taken how-not-to-drown lessons as a young landlubber.
My wife, on the other hand, is a born swimmer. Three weekends ago, with no training, she did the Semana Nautica 3-mile ocean swim down by the Cabrillo bathhouse. The next week, she did the 6-miler from Goleta Beach to Hendry’s in monsoon conditions; saw a jellyfish two feet wide and almost had to rescue her rescue paddler from hypothermia.
I had a lot of reasons for wanting to swim better, but what made the whole thing necessary was my wife signing us up six months ago for the 2011 Vineman Ironman 70.3 in Sonoma County, California last weekend, "one of the most popular and highly competitive triathlons in the world." It’s a 1.2-mile swim in the Russian River, a 56-mile bike ride past about a million wineries, and a 13.1-mile run past a few more wineries.
Have you heard of the Ironman, where they go 140.6? Well this is the Half Ironman, and we’d never done a triathlon before.
I spent the last 12 weeks swimming at lunch three days a week, playing basketball one day, biking+running one day after work and longer on Sunday mornings, and sometimes biking one other day. I rested one non-swimming day per week until the last couple weeks, when I rested quite a bit. My wife swam much less frequently and ran more frequently. We did the bike+run days together, although not at the same pace. I trained 12 hours per week, which amounted to a total time commitment of probably 20 hours per week after stretching, transportation, and having to eat one more meal per day in order to keep going.
There were 2094 finishers in the 2011 Vineman Ironman 70.3: 1400 men and 694 women. Running for Team Rivas Cultural Services and wearing a Paraguay headband, I was the only man in the race who had claimed Goleta on his entry form.
I swam the 1.2 miles in 41:44, averaged 17.4 mph on the bike and had to walk the last three miles of the run due to excessive cramping, but I finished in 6:56:55, three minutes ahead of my estimate. My wife finished in 7:22:16, a full hour ahead of schedule, even though her chain came off twice, including right before the big hill. On a better bike she might’ve beaten me!
For reference, our times put us in the bottom 10% of our 30-34 age groups.
We’re the softest of the hard core!
Tags: vineman, ironman, 70.3, swimming, how to train for a triathlon, how to train for a triathlon if you can't swim, first triathlon, guerneville, windsor high school, sonoma county
Jim Rome spoke at Campbell Hall Saturday night in an Arts & Lectures event that was also part of the UCSB All Gaucho Reunion. If you were there, congratulations on witnessing a great moment in Gaucho history. If you missed it or you're just not clear on who Jim Rome is or what his deal is, well, that's what Rivas Cultural Services is for.
Rome was a typical privileged white kid who graduated from UCSB in 1986, back when Halloween still meant riot police and anybody with a pulse was admitted. He lived in the notorious Francisco Torres dorm as a freshman, and his first act as a Gaucho was to sign up to work massive amounts of hours free for 91.9 KCSB Sports. He began his monologue by saying, "I have not been here since Soc 152A," the Human Sexuality class that fills UCSB's largest classroom every quarter.
He got three D's and an F his first quarter, which he explained as a product of his living arrangements in FT, where it was not unheard of to find tapped kegs in elevators.
"We had kegs, we had quarters, we had chron, we had sex, we had fights. And we had it every weekend. Nevermind 'How'd I stay in school?' How'd I stay alive that first year?! I was the Jamarcus Russell of FT."
After being passed up after graduation for a KTYD job he thought he'd earned that went to a "functional illiterate", he moved home to L.A., where he failed at three more jobs, including the family business. In desperation, he called The Palm himself, John Palminteri, for whom he had once interned writing news copy free at 4:20am and who was also in attendance Saturday. The Palm got him a 30-day gig reading traffic reports for $5/hour.
There was no traffic in Santa Barbara back then, but the station manager wanted traffic reports, so Rome took to making up crashes and reporting that they were "in the clearing stages". He was invited to stay on past 30 days, and was eventually enlisted to host a pre-hipster, pre-Groupon coupon program called Radio Mall, where callers could buy scrip for local goods and services at discounted prices.
Then the San Diego radio station 690 AM went to an all-sports format, only the second really national radio station to do so. A real sports nut, Rome was smart enough to know that he'd never be a professional athlete and that working in sports at all was statistically very unlikely. He did the math and determined that would have to bring something different to sports radio in order to make it.
"Content is king," he advised students in the audience. "How are you different? Why you?"
Even in his early days on 690, Rome instructed his callers to, "Have a take and don't suck." His distinctive style of passionately and fearlessly backing the sports figures he felt deserved to be supported and calling out those he felt deserved to be railed on won him national attention, and his show soon became nationally syndicated. He now does a four-hour radio show and a one-hour ESPN television show daily, where he trumpets the UCSB Gaucho cause at every reasonable opportunity.
On the way to national prominence, Rome was famous tackled by NFL quarter Jim Everett during an interview. Rome assured the crowd that the event was not staged, and revealed that he and Everett have still never talked about it. He did, however, apologize for having provoked the incident, even though everyone involved had acknowledged that the provocation was a condition of Everett's participation on the show.
"I'm sorry I did it. Not, 'I'm sorry if I offended anybody' - I'm sorry I did it. I'm sorry I said it. I'm sorry it happened."
More recently, Rome was in a high-profile beef with "that bitch Katie Couric".
He's not all mean, though. He's also a Gaucho legend who remembers how he got to the top and realizes that there are UCSB students today who want to be like him. He quoted the great Walter Capps telling him, "You shape public opinion," but he also repeatedly cited a professor nobody in the room had heard of, who said, "A new bike won't change your life. Relationships matter."
In response to a question submitted by a UCSB student athlete, he ranked giving the eulogy at Pat Tillman's funeral second behind being invited to speak to a room full of Gauchos in Campbell Hall.
I have no use for five hours of sports talk daily, but for an hour last Saturday night, Jim Rome turned in an epic Gaucho performance.
Tags: jim rome, ucsb gauchos, campbell hall, a new bike won't change your life, relationships matter, all gaucho reunion, francisco torres, ft, that bitch katie couric, sbsports, UCSB Arts & Lectures
Cash was king on Earth Day at Alameda Park, where there seemed to be as many ATMs as recycling containers. People needed cash not to buy beer in plastic cups, as this photo suggests, but to buy tickets that could be exchanged for beer in plastic cups.
Tags: earth day, atm, cash is king, alameda park, no cash bar, santa barbara, sblifestyle, beer gardens of babylon
Janet Jackson's in town. She played the Santa Barbara Bowl last night and will do so again tonight. If you go tonight, hopefully you'll get more than the hour of music we got last night.
The show was historic, and awesome, and the dancing was even awesomer, but the night ended just past 9:30, including numerous film and tv clips, and Janet didn't put on any of the 'badass outfits' that the Black women behind us were demanding. Instead, she went with a fly-mom-picking-her-kids-up-from-junior-high-in-the-nineties look, with white jean jacket, black tank, charcoal jeans and diamond skull belt buckle.
One of the dancers looked just like my sister's classmate Mollie Helmuth and every member of a prestigious east-coast women's college co-op. Or, as two nearby fans combined to say, like 'a perfectly normal white woman, but with a dykey vegan edge.'
Discerning fans concluded that the Janet show didn't even sniff the NKOTB show a couple years ago, but even skeptics like me could feel Michael's presence during Scream (pictured).
Tags: janet jackson, santa barbara bowl, perfectly normal white woman, white jean jackets, music, michael jackson, dykey vegan edge
The eight-man Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro de Cuba killed it last night at Campbell Hall, whipping a crowd of high-paying white people into a rhythm-less frenzy.
The performance earned the Don Francisco de Goleta seal of approval, the highest honor that a Latin American musical act can hope to garner on a visit to Santa Barbara. Don Francisco was especially impressed with the singer who took over the microphone in the second half of the show, remarking, "He's playing the fuck out of the maracas, too." Goleta's other musical genius was also excited to see such impressive use made of the Cuban tres, a guitar-like instrument with six steel strings strung in pairs that sounds like a harpsichord.
It was great to see local leftist VIPs Dick and Mickey Flacks, Nick Welsh, Marty Blum and Salud Carbajal in attendance, but let's remember one thing: anybody can shell out to show solidarity when high-profile Cubans come to town, but it takes a real subversivo to rock a Cuba hoodie on the regular.
Tags: subversivo, cuban tres, maracas, bongos, bolero, rumba, son, septeto nacional ignacio piñeiro de cuba, don francisco de goleta, sbnews
Meet Lyric Kuanu Madden-Sanchez, my newest cousin on my dad's side. He's the 28th one of us, I think. Our matriarch, my Grandma Martinez, aged 78 years, is now a great-great-grandmother to Lyric. My cousin India, who was always just my cousin, is now Lyric's grandma. Which makes me not Lyric's 'grandcousin', as one might guess, but his first cousin twice removed.
Lyric Sanchez, Lompoc scion, fruit of four generations of teen pregnancy, is 3/8 Mexican, 1/4 Black, 1/4 Hawaiian and 1/8 Irish. His mother could have played college soccer and his father is a hip hop artist. His grandparents' contributions to his legacy include bilingualism, multiculturalism, a master's degree, middle class financial stability and military experience. Both sides of his family have relatives in town, some of whom, like my grandma and aunt, have been raising children almost their entire lives.
Lyric seems destined for a life of love and fulfillment. Check back here in 20 years to see if he has a kid yet.
In the meantime, please enjoy Glad to Have a Little Baby Boy, the latest joint from Lyric's father, my first cousin once removed, Thomas Sanchez. And if you want more TMOE, check out his twitter profile, where he says, "HIT ME UP ON THE FB! IM ALWAYS DOWN TO COLLAB!"
Tags: tmoe, glad to have a little baby boy, grandma martinez, matriarchy, lompoc, teen pregnancy, vicious cycle, multiethnicity, cousins, california, lyric kuanu madden-sanchez
On the big schlep, we took a city bus to Pablo Escobar's gravesite at a cemetery on the edge of Medellín. It was just another horizontal stone flat on the grass, like a business card on a green bulletin board, and it could have belonged to anybody's grandpa.
Pablo's Hippos tells the story of Escobar Gaviria and his cartel from the point of view of the 30 hippos living it up on the ruins of the free private zoo at his Hacienda Nápoles today. He sold 11,000 kilos of cocaine in 1983 and 70,000 kilos in 1993, but in 1985 Medellín was the murder capital of the world. He was the seventh-richest man on Earth, was the first to offer casino-like insurance on cocaine shipments and had three candidates killed in one election. He was also a congressman and built his own jail, from which he later escaped.
In addition to documentary footage of bad dudes having good clean fun at the Hacienda Nápoles, Pablo's Hippos features an animated storytelling hippo and new interviews with Escobar's photographer El Chino and the two or three ex-badasses from those days who weren't killed.
There's also the wacky story of the hippos themselves, who multiplied from 2 to 18 to 40. The locals call the macho of the herd Pablo and say that hippo meat is delicious, like steak. The Colombian government can't find anybody to come get 30 hippos, but can't afford to send them away, either. They tried shooting them but only wasted one before caving to protesters. If only I'd known about the hippos on the schlep!
Oh, and Medellín was plenty safe when we went in 2007. There's 100 cartels pushing 750,000 kilos this year, but it's totally safe.
Tags: sbiff, c2sbiff, santa barbara, film festival, sbiff 2011, pablo escobar gaviria, pablo's hippos, the big schlep, drug zoo, antonio von hildebrand, estilo escarface, el chino
"How can I live here and not be an asshole?" the gringo named Dean asked himself. "It's not easy to do."
Land, the documentary by Julian T. Pinder, explores recent attempts by gringos to develop the Nicaraguan coastline by buying up plots of dubious ownership and building high-rise resort condos where once there was forest, agriculture and baseball fields. The bitch of it is that the only locals who are down with this are the officials taking the bribes to make it all happen. The film shows the attitudes of folks on all sides of this land grab, the most resonant of which come from the beer-drunk Dean, who's not a developer but just another white man keen to live amongst the savages.
"You know what, I don't much care for gringos, but I was born one," he laments. "What the fuck do you want me to do about it now?"
Dean calls the worst offenders in these development attempts "land whores and dirt pimps". A Nicaraguan poet's assessment that the consequence of this development is that the local people are being forced to "vivir sin vivir". And scenes from Nicaraguan beer league rodeo disasters show that this is a land governed by different rules than those by which the American invaders are accustomed to playing.
To find out what happens, go see Land Thursday 2/3 at 4pm at the Metro 4 or Friday 2/4 at 7pm at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, or go to Nicaragua.
Tags: sbiff, c2sbiff, santa barbara, film festival, sbiff 2011, land, julian t pinder, land rape, land whores, dirt pimps, vivir sin vivir, beer league rodeo