English-language audiences are about to start hearing regularly from Father Alberto Cutié. The popular and controversial Latino priest is set to launch a new television talk show on Fox sometime soon, called “Father Albert.”
The first time I opened the pages of Moacyr Scliar’s The Centaur in the Garden, I was already skeptical about both life and literature. I had become immune to magic realism, tired of obvious multicultural lessons that burdened rather than enriched stories, and just plain sick of the representation of “otherness" as an optical problem: merely the way others saw us, with redemption always possible when we looked inside and saw we were exactly the same.
But what if we weren’t the same? And what if we found our Zen precisely in what made us different?
Those are some of the central questions in Scliar's wonderful novel, The Centaur in the Garden. The story takes place in provincial Brazil, on a farming colony established by a Jewish philanthropist. That part isn’t fiction: at least two different European barons tried to relocate Jews persecuted in the Old World to the new one, in the hope of creating a Zion in the Americas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In Scliar’s tale, one of those newly arrived families is further dislocated when their youngest son, Guedali, is born a centaur.
There’s no disputing the numbers: Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel had an overwhelming victory in an election that – while not quite as big as had been anticipated – brought a higher percentage of registered voters to the polls than any other municipal campaign since 1995.
Emanuel won the heavily white, Jewish and gay lakefront by more than 60 percent of the vote, scoring nearly 75 percent in the 42nd, 43rd and 44th.
Rahm also won four of the ten Latino majority wards: the 26th, 30th, 31st, 33rd and 35th – all north side wards, each and every one far away from his good buddy Juan Rangel’s sphere of influence (in other words, though Rahm may be giving him a shout out, there’s no way Juan, based on the southwest side, had squat to do with those victories).
But most significantly – and perhaps most crucial to avoiding a run-off -- Emanuel won every single African-American majority ward in the city: the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8
It’s such a ritual, this thing we do today.
We trudge out to a neighborhood school or senior center or library and stand in line, sign our names and make a choice.
Sometimes we’re thrilled about our choice, sometimes indifferent, sometimes downright disgusted.
But, in the end, we get to exercise this rare right and privilege that is voting.
Today, the headlines from halfway around the world can only remind us how very fortunate we are that when we transition from one government to another, from the old leader to the new, our way is so safe and banal.
And tonight, when the votes are finally counted, Chicago will be a little more democratic.
Every time I see or hear Gery Chico’s commercial targeting Latinos I’m always amazed. In it, Congressman Luis Gutierrez looks straight at the camera and talks about what a great guy Chico is and how he will get things done. It’s a peculiar bit of theater for a number of reasons.
First, there’s the Gutierrez endorsement itself. Mainstream media bat it around as if Luis could snap his fingers and deliver all 15 percent of Chicago’s Hispanic voters. It actually means a lot less than it seems, and it has a lot more to do with Gutierrez than with Chico.
Let’s be clear: Gutierrez is backing Chico because he needed a horse in this race and the other three were out of the question. Rahm Emanuel is anathema to Luis because of his role in the Obama administration’s regressive immigration policies, Gutierrez has been around long enough to know exactly how unreliable Carol Moseley Braun is, and he and Miguel del Valle – both Puerto Ricans – have been nursing schoolyard grudges since the early 80s.
You’ve probably seen the video that Chicago Public Schools students put together, attacking Rahm Emanuel and supporting Miguel del Valle for mayor. When it debuted on YouTube a little over a week ago, a lot of folks began to wonder if maybe it wasn’t really all that grassroots, if the professionals at del Valle’s campaign had nudged the kids to do their bidding. It’s an awfully well done piece of politicking.
Well, it turns out that one of the counseling aids at Roger C. Sullivan High School, the video’s home base if you will, is a former student and friend of mine. I asked Jacquelyn Rosa to tell me a little bit about how the video came about. This is what she said:
“Roger C. Sullivan High School, located on the far north side in Rogers Park, is where I work. This neighborhood Chicago Public high school, like the majority of high schools in Chicago, accepts all students. Sullivan High school is not a selective enrollment school, there is no lottery; there are no admissions requirements. There is, however, a lack of resources; there are fights in the hallways, and high dropout rates.