Gringolandia

Here’s a YouTube series you obviously haven’t heard about. It’s called Gringolandia.

Netflix picked it up. Maybe you’ve heard of Netflix.

It’s about a Chileno in New York City.

You must be outraged.

5 comments

  1. Within the context of the overall conversation it’s not exactly complimentary of the US (e.g. “Gringolandia”). The show is based on a Chilean webseries about an apparently somewhat goofy Chilean entrepreneur (the actor who plays him has been called the Chilean Cantinflas) who follows a U.S. woman back to NYC. That sounds fine for a comedy, and certainly might resonate very well among Latin Americans and Chileans specifically but it’s still a little problematic when a politician like Rodriguez decides to attack young people who leave then choose to come back for trying to import “Gringolandia”. If Rodriguez wants to go to the comic strip and do a routine that’s one thing, but as one of those younger people who left and came back I expect a little more respect from him when one of the big pushes from all politicians for years has been trying to stop the “brain drain” of kids going off to college and never coming back.

    How do you expect to stop that? By insulting those who decide to come back to try and change things and make them “better” (or other folks who are trying to attract that demographic)? Maybe he doesn’t agree with them on what “better” means but at least he could have some respect for the interest in our community and try to find other ways to make things “better” that more people can get behind. Right now it’s a losing battle because so many people had written off large chunks of downtown for years and even Rodriguez is just focused on stopping things from happening. He certainly never stepped up to improve the crappy housing in the area. He never took steps to improve those old vacant buildings that are just rotting away. He’s jumping on the bandwagon now to get his face in front of the cameras and as far as I’m concerned he can take that bandwagon and ride it into retirement because I’m not voting for him again.

    That’s one thing I find offensive about Grossman and the UTEP faculty jumping in at this point. I live downtown and I never saw them give one damn about the bad living conditions or substandard housing or abandoned buildings. The only time I ever saw anyone care about downtown was when someone else wanted to tear down a building designed by Trost. Then they’d come out and complain about it and how horrible the owners were for destroying our heritage and then they’d go back to enjoying their versions of “gringolandia” and forget about the slums out here.

    It may not be fair to say that they never did anything but if they did it was kept so low-key and under the radar that now it looks like they just came out of the woodwork to attack anyone who doesn’t hang up a Mexican flag in their house. It’s ironic because this fear of people bringing in “gringolandia” partially forgets that one thing that “gringolandia” has (albeit mythically) going for it is the reduced reliance on overt government corruption. Of course it (clearly) still exists but Latin America is far from sunshine and roses in that regard. Especially for those of us who grew up here we remember how bad some aspects of it can be (mordidas like there’s no tomorrow) and I would suspect that some folks accused of advocating for “Gringolandia” are also advocating for a more just government. Maybe some of the things that happen aren’t to everyone’s liking but it’s somewhat different than having to actively bribe someone to get a building permit or pass an inspection or get out of a ticket etc.

    I don’t think it’s a surprise that the major government corruption scandal at the County was exposed around the time that much of the downtown revitalization stuff was really gearing up. I think some folks with the means to do so decided that enough was enough and they started to, quietly at first, do something about it. Some people see it as an attack on their culture and heritage but no matter how much I may have missed being back home when I lived elsewhere I never missed substandard housing or vacant buildings rotting away and I never considered those to be part of my culture or heritage but I guess some people do. Otherwise why not fight to protect the actual communities that they claim to value (keep people living close together, find them safe and healthy housing in the area.. if that’s even possible) and forget about the brick and mortar that doesn’t belong to them and that hardly anyone acted like they cared about for decades?

    1. Your criticism of the supporters of Duranguito could just as easily apply to the speculators trying to revitalize downtown. Where were they when all those businesses were moving out? Why weren’t Mr. Restrepo and Mr. Assael maintaining their properties? Oh, yeah, they only bought them to tear them down when the City came calling. They weren’t interested in maintaining them, and the City wasn’t interested in making them.

      And now you’re asking where the preservationists were when all the buildings were falling into disrepair. Wasn’t that the City’s responsibility?

      I don’t think the exposure of the government corruption was a revolution. I think it was a coup. We just traded one set of corrupters for another, slicker, more legal, set of corrupters. Frankly, I think I liked the previous set of corrupters better. They didn’t cost the taxpayers as much, and the exodus has accelerated since the new set took over. If you base your analysis of policy on results, the prior set was clearly superior.

      You seem to think that El Paso should be grateful that you came back from Gringolandia Disneyland. I think we made a mistake when we let the people who don’t like El Paso decide its future. You had your chance, and it’s not working out. I could even live with that, except all that money we’re spending on the failed plan could be used for significant improvement for El Paso, generating real economic benefits for all El Pasoans and not just a leisure class who are generally disconnected from everyday chuquenses.

      Success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan.

      1. Taking care of buildings falling into disrepair is the owner’s responsibility. It’s not up to the City to make that call and in Texas it can be difficult to get too far into someone’s business when it comes to their property. Preservationists could have been more proactive in either encouraging owners to look at grants and other forms of aid or encouraging investment in those buildings (much like the architects who were featured in this week’s El Paso Inc.). Even now I don’t hear people complaining about how the City isn’t preserving old buildings, I almost always hear people upset about the streets in their neighborhoods (usually not downtown).

        I don’t think El Paso needs to be grateful that I came back (and I don’t think any of the younger folks who do come back feel that way either) but I think Rodriguez is a narrow-minded asshat if he thinks that all these you folks coming back are just coming back to destroy El Paso and our culture. In general I think people come back because we see the value and potential in El Paso and we want to be a part of that. Throw in family connections and El Paso isn’t a bad place to be, but it has a lot of problems that have been ignored for a long time. The quality of our medical care is horrible (and I speak from experience in that regards), job availability is much more limited than in other places, and there is a lot of resistance to trying to make changes. I’m not one of the people who is trying to remake the city, I’m just trying to make things a little better as I can and I’m taking things that I learned in other places and applying them here to make things better (or at least making them better in my opinion).

        Your attitude in referring to where I’ve been as Disneyland shows how limited your own view is. El Paso isn’t everything and you can learn a lot in other places. Hell, I would argue that the people who come back are the ones who really care about El Paso because we’ve seen other places and experienced how other cities do things and we chose to be in El Paso. Someone who has never left and never really made a go of it elsewhere doesn’t know that they would want to come back here if they left. Be it for school or for work, seeing how things are done elsewhere can be valuable for El Paso. I think that’s what really makes great cities as great as they are. They draw in people from other places and encourage the growth of the best ideas and solutions. They don’t get bogged down holding on to “this is the way we’ve always done it” unless it has some value.

        I think our culture and heritage has a lot of value and is worth preserving, but that has nothing to do with substandard housing or rotting buildings. If someone wants to fight to preserve those then fine do that, but don’t be an asshat and pretend like you care about the people who were living in squalor for all those decades. That’s what I find most disingenuous about Grossman. He’s the exact opposite of most people living in Duranguito and until this fight came along he only seemed to care about the buildings. However, this time around he saw a chance to wrap himself in “democracy” and the “will of the people” and he ran with it, but he’s doing it to preserve the buildings, not to help the people. He knows that at the end of the day arguing for preservation alone wouldn’t get him anywhere because most of El Paso doesn’t give a shit about it. Some of us do, but the vast majority of people don’t care about it one way or another and you would never win anything arguing that side of things.

        1. Actually, I think the City has a legal obligation to see that buildings that people live in are up to code.

          Am I wrong?

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