Crystal Passion minces and flits around the ring in a thong leotard with along white tassels and a blonde wig, and it’s a performance so ridiculous that I think it must be satire—’this is what an ignorant making fun of a cross-dresser would look like.’ The emcee screams, “He’s gay!” Which is a conclusion the alternately laughing and jeering crowd has already come to. Passion is big, muscly, and what looks around two-fifty, and although the suplexes and slaps are there, the main attacks seem to be nonconsensual kisses and a generalized threatening-with-gayness.
Being a Peace Corps Volunteer means getting sick. No matter the strength of your stomach, illness will strike early—at the least, and I mean the very least, you’ll have traveler’s. It’s your body’s way of announcing that you’re into a new gut biome and an in-country delicacy has brought a batch of local bacteria to roost. Traveler’s Diarrhea is mandatory and the slate of gastrointestinals explodes from there.
Mexico has what even Mexicans call Moctezuma’s Revenge, a catch-all for waterborne stomach ailments. We’re told that the source isn’t inadequate water treatment, as you might expect, but improperly sealed pipes that let in ground germs. Depending on where you live and how you get your water, it might be totally safe or liable to give you an amoeba infestation—hard to detect and dangerous—or giardia—usually from drawing your water downhill of someone else’s latrine, identifiable by crystal clear water jetting from where it oughtn’t. My potables seem safe here, so far, but anyone near standing bodies of the stuff is at risk for worms and other, larger gut parasites.
The Mega down in the city has a whole aisle for anti-parasitics, so I assume one or two volunteers have had to tangle with them. Beyond the named afflictions, all of us are familiar with the two-day bouts of crippling chorro that come and go like cramped and unwelcome ghosts in the night.
I’m short on time for writing this week, so I’m putting up a piece I wrote for Erin Riordan and Kat Kelley’s creation, Feminists-at-Large last summer.
Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir has turned out the most fauxned-in diatribe you’ll read all month. Pretend-outraged rants against masculine values have to be the new lazy-man’s response to art. In the same way that early critics of Lolita’s ‘pro-pedophilia’ message were both ignorant and misguided, O’Hehir’s review of The Conjuring managed not only to miss the point, but portray the work’s message entirely backwards.
The Conjuring tells the story of the Perron family, mother, father, and four girls who move out to a house in the country. Soon enough, they discover an ominous boarded-up basement, and a standard possession-haunting scenario develops, with flying pictures, creepy sleepwalking, and terrifying apparitions. Coming to their aid are the Warrens, a husband and wife team of ghostbusting paranormal experts, with Ed Warren playing the academic and his wife the strong-willed psychic.
O’Hehir imagines the film’s politics to be reactionary, but his is the only retrograde thinking in taking a feminist dream and writing it like a nightmare. He claims that the women in the movie are the fount of all its evil, and he’s right, but only because the women are the only important characters in the film.
We walk in with different attitudes. Trey is eager, I dubious, Alejandro, alert. He’s pretending to be an old hand. Trey has been talking about cockfights for months, and we’ve strolled in on his pesos—I planned not to have enough for this. We are tight from earlier and hoping not to sober up fast. We aren’t sure we have the money to stay this way, and at one-thirty in the morning, tomorrow’s workday looms. I spent last night with Lupe, so it’s two vigils in a row, though the focus is more on death tonight than what comes after.
Alejandro tells us we’ve missed the first set of fights and we keep our seats through a half-hour of arcane Mexican lotteries. Trey’s itching to put money on a bird, but he’ll wait until the raffle girls have finished. I expected a farmyard smell but it’s the same here as outside, the air untainted but as wet and heavy. The arena is tiered and while there are chairs around the broad flat top, most are sitting like us on the concentric concrete ledges that circle down to the pit in the center.
A pudgy campesino looks to be the referee, pacing in a sweatstained button-down open to his navel, stopwatch hanging like a narco medallion. Serious characters make the innermost ring, elbows propped on the retaining wall. They whisper to each other in confidence under black felt Stetsons wearing pressed jeans and entertaining girls who are either too old or much too young to be out this time of night. When the birds come out, they are thinner than I expected, looking more like young chickens than the roosters who strut through town. Svelte their whole length, most of their combs and dangling flesh has been shaved off.
The first is in the arms of a thin young man from the countryside, his plaid shirt tucked into too-light jeans that climb towards his armpits. It seems like his only bird, and he cradles it, talking and combing its feathers with one hand. The other owner’s is white, one of what seems like a big stable. The man looks drunk and his guayabera is open and discolored. A third man brings his contender into the ring to rile up the fighters. He shoves his bird at them, and then the owners hold them by the tail while they charge each other in place, feathered cartoon bulls.
The man and the kid turn and start to prep the birds. A slow process. Bandage from the lockbox, trim and cut, first one half on the leg and then the other. Their assistants open the knifeboxes and both owners consider one before taking another. They press them to the birds’ legs and start to bind them on with colored floss, green for the kid’s corner, red for the man’s. What the fuck, says Trey. They’re putting razors on ‘em. I shrug and nod.
It’s a bloodsport man. I expected some blood. Alejandro adds that without the knives, the fights would be too long.
Se necesitan las navajas.