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3601 S. Congress off E. Alpine Penn Field under the water tower check our site for monthly calendar i It Ruin Hain International Headquarters Come Visit us for LUNCH! In addition to our organic coffee, pizzas, empanadas, pastries and pies, we now prepare made to order sandwiches, salads, and even black bean gazpacho. REMEMBER THE DATE! Do your holiday shopping at The Texas Observer’s 50th Anniversary Gala Warm-up fi Silent Auction Friday, December 3, 2004 at The Old School, 1604 E. 11th St. in Austin Here’s a sneak preview of the many tempting gifts, goods, and services that will be on display *Ticket for 2005 weeklong Nation cruise *Celebrity-autographed acoustic guitar *Domino *Weekend for five at Seven Bluffs Cabins on the Frio River *Lunches with Jim Hightower, Molly Ivins, and Sarah Weddington *Luxury accommodations at The Four SeasonsAustin *Gift baskets of Texas music, Texas, wine, Texas Books *Beautiful jewelry, fine art, and gift certificates for fine dining and more! come to believe Swoboda has swallowed the diamonds and is carrying them in his spectacular gut. Carmen takes this news as if she’d gotten a winning lottery ticket. If the Russian were dead, and if they sliced his belly open with Goyo’s razorthe diamonds would be theirs. Hers, that is, if she can just get her wimp of a husband to help her. This is the strongest of the film’s various threads. In its ghoulishness, it seems the most improbable to a U.S. audience not used to really dark humor a la Bunuel. In a country where Bad Santa seems almost evil, the idea of having the barbers butcher their client for his swallowed diamonds would simply never occur to anybody. “Who’s the audience going to root for?” But here it works, because the filmmakers simply take for granted that life in Mexico City is dog-eat-dog, and they deepen the material by taking it to its logical extreme. And the old-fashioned decency that veteran character actor IncIan wears on his face gives the scene a moral grounding that keeps it from tipping over into absurdity. There is also a moralistic streak \(again in the style of Bunuel, who was no the Ritchies and Tarantinos. The film doesn’t celebrate bad behavior. In fact, punishment is swift and sure, and it comes even to the character that Hollywood would most certainly spare. The only characters to survive are those who have not been completely corrupted by the social and moral collapse of the 1990s in the great city. I can well imagine the crime-beleaguered Mexico City audience enjoying a good laugh every time one of these very recognizable crooks meets hisor herrichly deserved fate. David Theis is the author of Rio Ganges, a novel set in Mexico. He lives in Houston. Emergency, continued from page 19 an infection.” “There’s a balloon in my bladder.” A woman who has been hovering around the desk for several minutes stretches her arms across the counter, thrusting clasped hands into one nurse’s face. “Listen,” she says. “My husband’s having a heart attack. He can’t breathe. He’s throwing up.” The nurse freezes, her hand in midair above a stack of papers. “He has heart failure?” “Yes.” The woman turns around and beckons to her husband, who is sitting down. He stands up wearily and comes forward. He is a massive man, both tall and wide. She puts her arms around him as far as they will go. Sweat stains stretch from under his arms all the way across his chest. Beads of sweat roll down his temples. “Have you been diagnosed with heart disease?” the nurse wants to know. He nods. “Are you having trouble breathing?” “Yes.” “Do you have pain right now?” “Yes.” “Where?” He puts his hand over his sternum, makes a circle from his throat to the middle of his chest. “All over here,” he says. “What’s your number?” “Forty-six?’ She looks down at her clipboard, at all the names ahead of his, blinks, and makes a decision. She pulls up a blank patient information screen on the computer. “What’s your name?” she asks. Five minutes later, an aide comes out and leads the man into the back. He may not see the doctor right away, but he is through the first hurdle. Those not fortunate enough to be having a heart attack still wait, hunched in their seats or pacing in the halls. The wait will be many, many hours. But they will wait, because, while they are not all equally sick, they are all afraid. Everyone, in fact, is here because of an emergencythe emergency of a broken leg, or the emergency of having nowhere else to go. 11/5/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23