“Tomorrow dawns like a suicide.” U2, Sleep Like a Baby Tonight
Not having time to piss away, I didn’t watch the first GOP debate, either the Kid’s Table version or the Main Event. The whole thing is contrived and ridiculous and serves only to show how skilled our political schemers are at making a total mockery of democracy. From what I gather after skimming various media sources, bluster-king Donald Trump was the big “winner.” Most of the candidates made at least one patently absurd statement, and none of them talked about important issues like climate change, income inequality, race relations or prison reform. Classic! Just ignore what you don’t want to talk about and poof! it ceases to exist.
Over the next ten months or so Trump and Walker and Rubio and Bush and Paul will pound on one another, shove one another further right, spew all manner of blatantly false and stupid gibberish, while the talking heads on the tube will jabber about poll numbers and campaign coffers, which horse is surging and which is fading. Substance, depth, historical context? Forget it. Facts and coherence are completely optional in this day and age; Fox News requires neither. The candidates will bang on about illegal immigration, border fences, abortion and Planned Parenthood, Iran, their love and fidelity for Israel – all distraction issues. The GOP has spent the past six years obstructing every proposal, idea, or suggestion made by the White House, a stance which has paralyzed the government at a time when people, real people, are in need of help, and the most pressing issue of our time, climate change, requires real action.
Meanwhile, it’s Fiesta here on the American Riviera, Old Spanish Days, that magic time of year when white people make fools of themselves by donning sombreros and shawls and shouting “Viva La Fiesta!” at every opportunity. For five days the inconvenient fact that the Spaniards were brutal colonizers is ignored. All the local pols ride in the Fiesta parade up State Street (billed as the largest equestrian parade in the nation); they wave, blow kisses, point and smile to people they know, make sure they are seen by potential voters, photographed by the local papers. The best moment of the parade for me was when Nick Welsh, the Angry Poodle columnist at the SB Indy, tossed a cascarone (an egg filled with confetti) that barely missed County Supervisor Salud Carbajal.
De La Guerra plaza is a sea of vendors selling tacos, tortas, burritos, churros, roasted corn, soda, water, funnel cakes and lemonade. Grills hiss and smoke rises into the sky. Across the street at the beer garden – which I am renaming the Gabacho Pit – 20 and 30 something’s look for hook-up opportunities and cough up $6 for a plastic glass of beer. The guy I was standing next to nudged his buddy and said, “Man, all this fine architecture is making me rethink my wedding vows.” Have at it, pal. After one beer, my wife and I became bored and bailed from that scene.
The real Fiesta happens on the east side of town, off Milpas Street, at Our Lady of Guadalupe church, where the food is as authentic as the crowd. You will see pale faces at Guadalupe, but for the most part it’s a Latino crowd, people with deep roots in Santa Barbara, family ties, history. Long lines at the food booths and plenty of private security to make sure matters don’t spiral out of hand, lots of children, elderly people with knowing eyes, trinkets and wares for sale. Guadalupe is the place to be.
If only the presidential campaign were as short as Fiesta.