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Bikers, Mexicans and Trump

Sammy'sThis political season, I had originally intended to keep my political musings off my Facebook page. And I was certainly not going to write about politics on my blog.

Last time I delved into politics on Facebook, I lost a few friends. One was an old girlfriend that left in huff because of my political postings. She left stammering after my logic defied her. It wasn’t pretty and I felt the loss. This year, I decided to keep a low profile.

Having said that, even though I’ve attempted to avoid politics, politics have found me. And like many other things, it came through my stomach. Let me explain.

Today is primary day in Arizona. Evidently, this past weekend there were many rallies in Tucson and throughout the state. At one rally in particular, a Latina co-owner of a Mexican restaurant held up a sign saying, “Latinos for D. Trump.”

It turns out the woman holding the sign, Betty Rivas, was the co-owner of Sammy’s Mexican Grill.

Sammy’s was my “go to” Mexican restaurant when I first stumbled into Tucson, Arizona with my lonely and hungry heart. I often mentioned to Betty that her carne asadas were so good because she always made them with love. Love, I told her, always makes the difference. She always laughed and seemingly agreed.

Betty’s husband, Jorge, always took my order of six carne asadas and, suspecting I was on a tight budget, in his goodness allowed an extra carne asada to find its way into my take out bag once or twice.

Moreover, Jorge indulged me as I tried to practice my Spanish with him even though he spoke English. They were good people and they were good to me.

This was especially true the first year I came to Arizona. During my first year in Tucson, about four years ago, they in fact moved from a shared location to their own restaurant. I was happy for their success.

Fast forward a few short years later and I hear from a friend that Sammy’s is being boycotted by people because of a sign held up by Betty at the Trump rally in Tucson. These were my restaurant friends and they were being treated poorly. Politics had found me.

Betty evidently caught Trump’s attention and was brought up onto the stage. Trump said he loved her sign. This public display of support was enough to trigger a landslide of reaction against Sammy’s owners.

People took the time to flood the internet with negative restaurant ratings which could significantly and negatively impact the economic stability of Sammy’s. I didn’t think this was fair. They also called Betty and Jorge and made threatening remarks. Sad. Has our civil discourse come to this?

Now, I’m not sharing with you my political leanings. Everyone knows, I am a Catholic and my politics are impacted by my faith. This, however, tells you very little about which particular candidate I like the best this year. And, I will keep that private.

It’s like my sexual orientation. I have one. I’m just not going to share it with you. Those who need to know. Know. 😉

I digress.

Back to Sammy’s. I feel that a person has the right to articulate their political leanings as a private citizen without it adversely impacting them economically.

We live in a community and while I might disagree with you on a political issue, I’m not going to undermine you in a malicious way because of our differences. At the end of the day, we all live in the same community together. We all share an equal dignity and worth. It seems to me, we can agree to disagree if need be. Living in community means living with differences.

With this attitude in mind, I decided to go to Sammy’s with a friend for lunch to show my support for Betty and Jorge. We drove up to the parking lot in Catalina and began to look for a parking space. The place was packed. We, apparently, weren’t the only ones interested in supporting Jorge and Betty.

I parked my car in the lot and was immediately approached by a classic Arizona Harley Davidson biker dude. He had on the expected blue jeans with a leather jacket adorned with assorted motorcycle related patches. His chest was broad, his legs were thick and we could certainly call him a strapping Arizona man.

I looked at him and he returned my gaze somewhat sheepishly and shyly almost as if he was not only a biker dude but also a taciturn cowboy. And then he said to me, “Are you here to support the owners?” I responded, “Yes, I don’t think it’s fair what people are doing.”

His demeanor noticeably changed and a broad smile came upon his face as I transformed from being a stranger into an ideological friend. He promptly extended his thick five pound beefy hand and shook mine. He then exclaimed, “That’s why we’re here too.” As he said this, his strong calloused right hand came affectionately down upon my chest in a hearty and friendly THUMP!

He damn near knocked me over with biker dude enthusiasm as the palm of his open hand struck my chest. I felt he might next invite me into his club but I was so dazed by the “friendly” pat,  all I could do was to try to keep myself upright. I puffed up my chest in an attempt to look tougher but I think he knew I was faking it. I wasn’t really a tough guy.

The friend I was going to lunch with arrived about the same time I did and saw the whole interaction with my biker friend. As she approached me after my encounter, she did everything in her power not to burst out laughing.

The encounter was really so comical to watch. It was kind of like Easy Rider meets Barney Fife. “Yeah,” with a snort, a sniff and a tug on my belt, “I got some bullets in my weapon,” (which everyone knew was a lie).

My friend was kind of like Andy Griffith smiling with an affectionate and knowing smile, shaking her head and then saying, “Let’s go Barn. We’ve restored justice here. Let’s call it a day, before you get hurt.”

As quickly as he arrived, my biker friend disappeared into the restaurant heading in for some good Mexican fare celebrating the gift of free speech. May we all live together in mutual respect and peace.

O Mio Babbino Caro – Oh My Beloved Father

Starting, I’m told, is always the hardest part in any endeavor. So, it would seem, with this first blog post, I’ve passed through “the hardest part.” We shall see if that bit of wisdom holds true.

Music, my father, and love are the themes that will be discussed in this blog post.

As you will see from the embedded video link, and I do hope you have listened to and watched it, this blog entry will initially involve some discussion of classical music.

I present this music video to you because the music by Puccini – as performed by Joshua Bell – is the most beautiful piece of music I have ever heard performed and is my most favorite.

Although I am no expert and hardly know my andantes from my adagios, I do know I am transformed into a better person and transported into a better world from the very first note of this aria. Does music do that for you at times? Why, I wonder?

On a certain, far more hum-drum level, I’m hoping my writing might help me and you to become a bit more transformed…going from where we are to where we might be.

Art in general and Italian opera in specific often help a person transcend the present reality and enter more deeply into a different reality. The story behind this aria does this and is most touching to me.

This evocative melody was written for an Italian opera and is sung by a young love smitten girl, Lauretta, after tensions with her father and the family of the boy she loves reach a point that Lauretta might be separated from her beloved. This song of tender devotion captures Lauretta’s love for her firm Italian father and a plea for him to show mercy.

The name of this aria in English is, “Oh My Beloved Father.” The title gives you insight into the story. It is particularly touching to me, and perhaps to others, because, like in the operatic story from whence it comes, I, too, have experienced “tensions” with my father and now, like the beauty of this music proclaims and the name it carries, my heart feels nothing but love and tenderness for my beloved father. How good it is to be transformed.

IMG_0050My father is now elderly and a stroke from a few years ago has perhaps slowed him down and softened him a bit. As he walks his last few miles (a great heartbreaking distance from me), I think of him often, pray for him regularly, thank God for him near daily and delight in the great gift he is – especially as I listen to Joshua Bell perform this magnificent rendition of “O Mio Babbino Caro.” My beloved father, indeed!

So, as I begin my meanderings and musings in the blogosphere, I introduce you to my favorite piece of music, share with you the love I have for my dad this music evokes, and ask you to consider what your most favorite piece of music is and why.

Joshua Bell is one of my favorite performers and I share this music with you to elicit a response and to dedicate this song and my blog writings to my beloved father.

And so, with this post, I have started my blog. Enjoy the music video again, and please share, if you are so inclined, what your favorite piece of music is and why?

Greetings from the Desert!

Welcome to my blog! In the coming days I will share thoughts and ideas inspired by living in the desert.

In this blog, I will write about my personal journey, thoughts about faith, general experiences in our culture, and what it means, to me, to be a human person in the modern world. All of these themes, and others, will be written from the perspective of the desert.

Thanks for reading!