Tuesday, September 12, 2006

All posts were moved (11/2006) to http://mexfiles.wordpress.com

Twist and shout!

Mexicans love their Independence Day -- so much so that they make it a two day holiday. Padre Hidalgo rang the church bell either late the 15th or early the 16th of September 1810. He called the people to church to hear a rather ill-thought out impromptu sermon on... among other things, Napoleon Bonaparte, the evils of atheism and the perfidity of the Spanish. What, exactly he blathered on about wasn't all that important. The Padre had a boffo finish: "Kill the Spanish! Viva Mexico!" At which point the locals did kill the Spanish. And then were killed by them... and ... killed the Spanish... who killed the Mexicans... who killed each other... who, ten years later, ended up with a pro-Spanish Mexicans rebelling against pro-Mexican Spaniards to join with pro-Mexican Mexicans. Quite the sermon! Silly Maximiliano de Absurdo... er, de HAPSBURGO... who had some strange ideas of how to get people to take him seriously (he took himself seriously),rounded up the royal court, hauled them out to Delores Hidalgo, recreated an edifying version of the Padre's patriotic "grito" and then bored everyone with an interminably dull lecture on the need for Mexican patriotism and good relations with Spain. Ok, Max, can we go to bed now? OK, good idea, bad execution. Porfirio Diaz, realizing that "Hey, it's Mexico's birthday... well, it's my birthday too!" had a better formula. Like Max, he wasn't out to kill the Spanish, and -- for all his faults -- was a real Mexican. If you're going to keep people up all night -- HAVE A PARTY! If you have to give a speech (and Porfirio did), get it out of the way. Porfirio learned from the Padre - the speech itself is unimportant. Just have a good closing. And no need to invent one: that VIVA MEXICO works is a sure crowd pleaser. SO... every 15 September since then, at 11 p.m., the President (and State Governor, and Municipal President and Alcalde) goes out on the local government palace balcony, rings a bell in honor of the Padre's churchbell, gives a (generally upbeat, "ain't I great") speech and starts the grito... Viva this, Viva Mexico! Viva that, VIVA MEXICO, viva the other thing, ¡VIVA MEXICO! The best gritoistas can really string it out. You start Viva-ing along for mom, tacos and Manzana "Lift", and before you know it, you're shouting for the long life of... Pemex, the "Corridor al Pacifico" rail-toll road project and the Algamatated Sheet Metal Workers Union Local #345 (or the Mexican equivalent thereof). And, of course, vivaing Mexico. ... or, as Vicente Fox (a master gritoista) puts it... VEEEEE- VAAAAAAAAA MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE - HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE- COUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU! AND then, PARTY TIME. Slaughtering Spaniards being passe, the worst any foreigner can expect is to be silly-stringed by passing patriots. Consuming mass quantities of patriotic national products -- Coronoa, Dos Eqqis, Modelo... If you can't fight em, join em... which is why you need the whole next day off as well. What could be better than a national party? TWO NATIONAL PARTIES, of course. The "virtual president", Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, never one to let a chance for a theatrical performance slip through his fingers, will be giving a counter-grito on the Zocalo the same time as President Fox. This will be ... interesting. May the grittiest gritoist win. ¡VIVA MEXICO! (twice).


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