Political Theater Of the Absurd
By Gary Singh
THIS WEEK, an acid rain shower of absurdities for y'all. The Anti-Man-About-Town (AMAT) infiltrated San Jose City Hall once again last Tuesday to witness the spectacle surrounding the council's decision to rename part of Story Road "Saigon Business District."
Usually AMAT has no difficulty entering City Hall and overseeing the circus, no matter what issues are being thrashed out, what bones of contention lay on the table or who isn't allowed to wear roller skates. For example, if William Garbett is at the podium addressing the council, I can usually weave and bob my way through the snoring audience and find a seat to collapse into.
But not this time. I couldn't even make it to the bloody elevator, as the entire place was overtaken by a shrieking battery of Vietnamese-Americans who wanted to name the stretch of Story Road "Little Saigon" instead. In fact, "battery" barely even described it, really. It was hard to navigate through it all and I had to swim upstream and hightail it out of their way.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for witnessing hundreds of folks verbally abuse the City Council, especially when they have bullhorns and especially when it's in a language I can't understand. But due to the overwhelming masses, there was no way for me to even get my foot in the chambers, so I ventured elsewhere.
With all due respect to both sides of this confrontation—and it is a confrontation—I cannot help but willfully debase the entire dialogue. Look at it this way: San Jose first belonged to the Ohlone Indians, then to the Spanish and Mexicans, and then to Thomas Fallon and then to Tom McEnery, who still thinks it belongs to him.
Nowadays we have both a thriving Mexican-American and a Vietnamese-American community. What's the big deal? I love it all.
How about this: 30 years from now when 200 Iraqi-American businesses exist on Lincoln Avenue between Willow and Minnesota, should we rename it Little Fallujah, Ba'ath Party West or the Fifth Dynasty of Ur? In fact, I'd love to see the looks on faces of Willow Glen residents if that actually happens. I hope it does.
And then some of the protesters at the City Council meeting had the audacity to call Councilmember Madison Nguyen a communist for not supporting their particular side. Give me a break.
Look, in my day I've been called a "communist" by more than a few right-wing Bible-thumping bigots, so I know what it feels like. I may be a post-Nietzschean anarcho-Taoist beer mystic, but I ain't no stinking communist.
And neither is Madison.
Now some of these same folks want to recall her. Since the entire charade has degenerated into nothing but an irrational farce, AMAT will now describe the spectacle as a revamped version of le Theatre de l'Absurde, a la Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, since the French trying to reoccupy Vietnam is partly what created this whole stinking mess in the first place.
As Beckett famously said, "To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now."
Anti-Man-About-Town over and out.