My paternal grandfather was born in Bergamo Italy, my paternal grandmother Algiers Algeria, my maternal great-grandmother Vancouver Canada, and my paternal great-great grandfather Norway. What does this mean to me, John Vasoli, a middle class, white kid from a Philadelphia suburb? Nothing really. It means I was exposed to somes things other weren’t; in school I ate sandwiches with sopressata instead of turkey, at Christmas, I ate seven fishes instead of turkey (basically I missed out on turkey, which is a shame, because I like turkey in all its incarnations- sliced, baked, fried (my god!), pattied- more than all seven fishes my aunt prepared for christmas or any cured pork product.) But John, don’t you love wine and cheese, don’t you talk with your hands and pronounce silent vowels. Yes and no. I’ll take Tastykakes (a philly thing but I refuse to say Hotess, more on refusing later) over cannolis, but soccer over football. I love baguettes but I buy them from Harris Teeter.
But this should sound familiar to the average American, familiar to anyone really. What is the difference between someone eating a baked brie and having the last name Crusseau or Smith? Joyuex or Johson? If Crusseau has been eating baked brie (or as he would know it brie en chaud) his whole life, does it become a part of his soul, does the brie en chaud feed his idealogical I, his cultural scripts? or does he just shit it out like everyone else?
I’m for the latter; call yourself what you want, eat what you want, talk however you want, just don’t expect it to mean anything to anyone. Ahhh, the point emerges, the hidden thread of intent comes undone- Anzaldua really bugged me with her pretentious ‘new’ language. Yes, your name is amazing and when I am old and senile and my children come to visit me and ask me if I remember them, I will sit in my old rocking chair and just repeat, “Anzaldua, Anzaldua”, but I, as a reader, should be given the respect of having a shot in hell of understanding your whole message.
But wait John, you too shout gibberish Italian whenever someone cuts you off on the Crosstown. Yes, this is true, and maybe I have been ignoring it for too long. Maybe its time I stopped bending over backwards for
A academia by writing under ‘their rules’. No more. You can spatchia la nunsa getacho bal formaddi! Formage!