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A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of human-kind as the foundation of democracy: we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powetful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them, because this is a journal of free voices. SINCE 1954 Publisher: Ronnie Dugger Editor: Louis Dubose Associate Editor: James Cullen Production: Peter Szymczak, Diana Paciocco Copy Editor: Roxanne Bogucka Editorial Interns: Margaret Boyer, Julie Kotz, Vicki Mayer, Miguel Rodriguez. Contributing Writers: Bill Adler, Betty Brink, Warren Burnett, Brett Campbell, Jo Clifton, Terry FitzPatrick, James Harrington, Bill Helmer, Ellen Hosmer, Steven Kellman, Michael King, Deborah Lutterbeck, Tom McClellan, Bryce Milligan, Debbie Nathan, Gary Pomerantz, James McCarty Yeager. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Austin; Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, El Paso; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Dave Denison, Cambridge, Mass; Bob Eckhardt, Austin; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham, N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, Austin; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Fort Worth; James Presley, Texarkana; Susan Reid, Galveston; Fred Schmidt, Fredericksburg. Poetry Consultant: Thomas B. Whitbread Contributing Photographers: Bill Albrecht, Vic Hinterlang, Alan Pogue. Contributing Artists: Michael Alexander, Eric Avery, Tom Ballenger, Richard Bartholomew, Jeff Danziger, BetliEpstein, Dan Hubig, Pat Johnson, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Carlos Lowry, Gary Oliver, Ben Sargent, Dan Thibodeau, Gail Woods, Matt Wuerker. Managing Publisher: Cliff Olofson Subscription Manager: Stefan Wanstrom Executive Assistant: Gail Woods Special Projects Director: Bill Simmons Development Consultant: Frances Barton SUBSCRIPTIONS: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Any current subscriber who finds the price a burden should say so at renewal time; no one need forgo reading the Observer simply because of the cost. INDEXES: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. copyrighted, C 1992, is published biweekly except for a three-week interval 477-0746. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE TEXAS OBSERVER, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Whose Border? Miguel Bedolla-Gonzalez’s review of Laura Esquivel’s Como agua para chocowhich appeared in your June 18 issue strikes me as a much too literal criticism of the literature as well as a too-narrow interpretation of border life. The critic, in his efforts to homogenize the border according to the practices, foods and linguistic nuances of his own family, fails to take into account that if there is anywhere in this part of the world where you find diversity within an already diverse culture it is within the interaction that takes place on the frontera, on both sides of the banks of the Rio Grande. He criticizes the foods and the language of Esquivel’s novel as being falsely representative of typical borderlands, yet he fails to recognize that the author focuses on one border family, a family that like many others, and through many generations may have been influenced by the introduction of new family members from other places and cultures. Not all border families intermarried. Perhaps a high-bred Mexico city uncle insisted on having his favorite meals. A French-Mexican aunt, a Sephardic Jewish-Mexican grandmother, or a Native American criada could have had much to do with how the family cuisine and linguistic patterns developed. Through the years, however “watered” down any one of these new family member’s idiosyncracies unusual phrases and preparations of food in families may have become, they can still be traced back to the origin of that introduction several decades earlier. Having also grown up on the border with family on both side of the River in Pharr and Reynosa, I witnessed a linguistic heterogeneity reflecting the ranchero life style as well as the less rhythmic, less blended city dwelling language of the merchant class. With varying levels of competency of both English and Spanish all within the same family, not only do these two languages generally combine with varying degrees of creativity but there are words and phrases still in everyday use along this somewhat magical land that would be considered archaic anywhere else. The film brings this diversity across beautifully and authentically with the various accents and intonations spoken by the different characters. We hear the sing-songing rhythm of the Norteflo Mexican, the more elegant European Spanish of diplomacy, the unique vocabulary and inflections of the Mexican Indian, as well as the pronounced accent and code switching of an educated Anglo speaking Spanish. This is the stuff great novels are made of, with distinct, multiple voices emerging from various social groups, all interacting with each other yes even within one family household. This heteroglossia is likewise translated into the various dishes we see prepared before our eyes. The critic would do well to appreciate the richness of his culture as well as how that richness of diversity can be interpreted into great works of literature and film. Leticia Garza-Falcon Sanchez Austin Get It Right Your recent article about the election of Kay Taebel in Arlington was less than accurate and somewhat self-serving. Since Kay and I grew up as journalists, we know that the first rule of reporting is to get the name right. Given the distortion in the article, it might be a good thing that the name was It’s true that the campaign was a grassroots effort, but it crossed partisan lines and appealed to a wide variety of constituents from every political perspective. That is what we mean by “grassroots.” In contradiction to a quoted statement that Kay “ran against the mayor and the entire Republican establishment,” that is totally false. Indeed, our campaign sought to bring in a wide spectrum of voters, and we ran “against” no one. The chairman of the local Republican club wrote an article praising Kay’s volunteer work, and we used in our advertising the laudatory comments of Mayor Richard Greene. Although she may have been endorsed by Texas Citizen Action, we never used it in any of our mailouts, and our feedback system never indicated it to have much impact. Rather, we found that teachers , and university people, and several other groups were the backbone of our support. I am not sure whether the election was “as significant as those of the new Austin city council members Brigid Shea and Jackie Goodman” since The Observer sometimes takes a rather provincial view of other cities in the state. As long-time subscribers to The Observer who have contributed additional money beyond our subscription fees, we had hoped that it would be used for more effective investigative reporting. Unfortunately, our hopes and confidence have not been met. Del Taebel Arlington DIALOGUE 2. SEPTEMBER 3,1993