Los Angeles–Back from Cedars Sinai Medical Center, which has ushered into this veil of whatever it is a veil of the world’s most advanced and meritorious granddaughter, the only credible evidence for Darwin. Helluva baby. A military-minded friend said I should regard her as “a howitzer round fired eighty-five years down-range.” See below for specifications.
Ava Carlyle Vernier, her own self. Eight pounds seven ounces, all systems go. A major advance in biology. The evolutionary progression: Al Sharpton, the Great Apes, Neanderthals, Cro-Magnons, Ava Carlyle. Estimated IQ: Low four figures. Nobility: Obvious. Does not look like every baby ever born. If respiratory capacity may be judged by volume of outraged squalling, she may have the best lungs on the planet. (“Where is this? I don’t like it. I’m hungry. Put me back. Give me something to eat. Now.”)
Meanwhile I have been studying the Latino population of Los Angeles, something I have wanted to do for some time. Ever since the US set about merging with Mexico, I have wondered: Are Latinos going to form a separate country within the country, hostile to the white population? If so, God help us. Are truculent whites going to force them into said status? If so, also God help us. Or, since they are not going to go away, is amicable accommodation possible? To investigate these vexing matters, I and Violeta (my spousal unit)–spent many hours over two weeks of walking the streets of Van Nuys, Sherman Oaks, East LA, and the like.
I had forgotten how much I liked California. The relaxed open friendliness appeals. Things work, it is usually warm, and nobody seems upset about anything. You could get used to ti.
Anyway, profound anthropological observations: Anglos (which here means all whites) and Latinos get along well, apparently without much noticing that they are Latinos and Anglos. Browns work in stores, restaurants, drive cabs and trucks and do the ordinary things of life. No one seemed to think this curious. I saw no trace of wariness or resentment. (If you live in southern California this will sound hopelessly naive, but I haven’t been here much since hippy days.) There is no Knockout Game. Shoe stores rest comfortably by night.
This easy association may not exist in Arizona or Kentucky where the people are different. A friend in Winchester, Virginia tells me that Latino students in the high school do not get along well at all with the circumambient Anglos. California is not Winchester.
Now, spaceships. We must never forget spaceships. Ava Carlyle’s dad, Alex, makes them at SpaceX in Hawthorne. It is the kind of thing you would expect of the father of such an advanced life-form as Ava Carlyle. Think Lara, Jor-El, and Ava. Anyway, we got Alex to give us a private tour. SpaceX doesn’t allow photos or the taking of notes and says don’t talk about what you see, so I won’t, other than to say “Hooooo-aaah!” It was nice to see that at least some young Americans can do difficult things right despite the best efforts of the schools.
A space ship coming home. What Ava’s dad makes. Photo stolen from SpaceX.
I noticed a lot of Latino techs, one of whom was named Jesús, pronounced in Spanish approximately Hey Zeus. Many of his coworkers pronounce it Anglo style, Jeez Us. I imagined conversations at the local bar, “Yeah, I was at work, and Jesus told me….”
We saw Cici, I will call her, a high-school classmate of Violeta. Now a citizen, at age eighteen she entered the US illegally along with about twenty young men (men being the criminal sex, young the criminal age) in harrowing fashion. She managed to get a job in a shoe factory, rose to be supervisor, dropped out to get married and make two babies, then got on as kitchen staff at a school and, taking English classes at night, and rose to be head of food management. Very middle class. Worse things have happened.
Over lunch I asked her whether there was friction between white and brown. “No.” This confirmed my observations and those of friends who live in LA and, for that matter, many other places. How about problems between Latinos and the police? “No,” she said, then added that the gangs and narcos had problems but, she said, that was because they were criminals, not because they were brown.
As in almost everywhere, the Mexican cartels are neck-deep in the drug trade and spend much time shooting each other. This is unlikely to change. America has a voracious appetite for drugs and somebody is going to service it.
The politics of the immigrants get complicated. Cici has no objection to illegals, since she was one, but she has strong opinions about those Hispanics, of which there are too many, who come to live on welfare. “I work and pay taxes to support them while they do nothing?” Of course, a country stupid enough to support freeloaders is not in a position to complain that it is supporting freeloaders.
Then there are the well-employed Latinos who oppose immigration because the newcomers will take their jobs at lower wages. Where have I heard that before?
I concluded, for what it’s worth: If you figure that since the Latinos are not going to go away whether you want them to or not, it is a good idea to have them be part of society, then LA is promising. If you detest Latinos and want to get rid of them, or to avoid mixing, LA is bad, because the Latinos are not being suitably intolerable. Mass deportations would require a lot of political support. Ain’t gonna happen.
And a real problem for racial purists is the hypothetical but common Anna Gonzalez, aged nineteen, born of illegal parents in LA and therefore a citizen. Anna speaks unaccented Californian English as well as Spanish. Or, increasingly, wretched Spanish. She works at the International Foods Market as a sales clerk. She is pretty. (Hey, I’m a guy, and anyway it has assimilational import). She doesn’t think she is a Mexican. Mexicans don’t think she is a Mexican. Because she isn’t There are more of her every year.
The time for preventing Mexicanization of the state is long past, methinks. We can want to expel Latinos, or say we should have, but as a practical matter we are not going to throw out American citizens who sound like us.
The proud mother, Emily Anne, age seven. If you feed them all sorts of curious things happen, such as Ava Carlyle. The above wasn’t child-abuse: She has a solid top-belay and the wall is indoors. She actually got over the overhang.
Ava’s mom was instrumental in our demographic studies. Very short and very pregnant, she looked, said her friends, like a wrecking ball on sticks, bur nonetheless drove us around in her Jeep, a huge monster. She says it is like driving a pit bull. I suggested she use it to hunt Vovlos, and crush them.
We went to East LA, a huge and almost entirely Hispanic enclave, and walked for hours. I had been lectured by various nativist websites that Latinos throw trash everywhere, which they do not in Mexico, so I was interested to see whether they did in LA as claimed. Yes, they do. Both Eastlos and Van Nuys are liberally strewn. Why in LA and not in Guadalajara, I don’t know. Maybe the strewers are Central American, or maybe the illegals are dirtballs.
I wondered whether there would be more hostility when Latinos were in overwhelming numbers, as they are in East LA. No. In los callejones, the alleys, we found narrow streets lined with stalls selling clothes, toys, boom boxes, sloes. Dense throngs moved through, music came from countless stereos, children held their parents’ hands, and all was sound and color and life. Infrequent gringos or couples flowed along with the current, and no one seemed to care. Don’t try it in Detroit, amigos.
Conservatives are often horrified b y this sort of thing, though I am not sure how walking through a crowded alley and buying toys for the kids portends the end of civilization.
The cultural difference is real. Americans are Nordic, efficient and good at space ships. They invent things. They are not good at flavor, flair, liveliness, and are usually described as chilly and distant. Norway doesn’t do flamenco. Yet there is a distinction between intolerable cultural differences, such as looting malls or not letting girls go to school, and differences that are merely differences, unfamiliar, or annoying, like listening to loud mariachi music too late at night.
So where are these people heading? Into the middle class, most of them, eventually, is my guess. It will be rocky at times. They aren’t studious and government wants to turn them into welfare parasites or impose damn-fool things like bilingual education. Immigration wasn’t a great idea in the first place, and wasn’t necessary, but what is happening, at least in many places, is a hell of a lot better than what could have happened.
Of course I was wrong once, back in 1927 I think it was, and maybe I’m due now.
And now off to help satiate a small localized famine. The kid grows like an unnecessary federal program. A most promising howitzer round.