Showing posts with label Al Carlos Hernandez. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Al Carlos Hernandez. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


More from my guest Al Carlos Hernandez.

A dog day afternoon … at the DMV.
By Al Carlos Hernandez

SAN FRANCISCO (Herald de Paris) - I spent the longest seventy-five minutes of my life at the Department of Motor Vehicles the other day. I viewed it as penance for not using new media and/or paying attention to snail mail directives. One would think that I had learned my lesson by now after the trauma I suffered that time I had to come back six times in one day to register a late model Fleetwood during my Superfly days.

The DMV is a place where everybody on both sides of the counter is angry, off the rack, unkempt and ready to rumble. They construct a DMV like a Russian union hall - stark, officious, and brooding in such a way as to punish working people for having used cars and lacking the ability to negotiate a Kafkaesque phone appointment system.

Thankfully most of our DMV business is handled on-line. I can now renew a car registration during an NBA time out. This time, however, it was different. I had to pick up license plates for my wife’s new car because they never sent them. She was right. You can only have those paper plates on the car so long before the neighbors think you stole it.

I knew there was going to be a problem when the DMV parking lot was filled with cars sporting homemade tinted windows looking like they needed salvage titles.

Once inside I was immediately sentenced to a snaking conga line of broke folks babbling in sixteen dialects, several of which I discerned where English. I waited to be issued a number and my fearful religious assumption was the number was going to be 666.

The procedure is simple: everyone lines up and goes to the information booth. You explain to them how stupid you are. They tell you where to go and wait. Make no mistake, everyone in the house has a problem, some of which include personal hygiene.

They issue you a number which determines the clerk who specializes in your particular problem. The bigger your problem, the meaner the dateless clerk to which they assign you.

I felt sorry for the holistic woman clerk, who’d given up on makeup, and whose AA degree had failed her, working the window. Distressed, hating her career counselors, and filled with angst, she curtly got on the phone and reported to someone that there were sixty-five people in our twenty-three person line. Somehow, up through a trap door or something, there appeared this rude woman who looked like the heifer that shot Selena. She was busting the line, slinging orders, handing out forms, and growling that the wait would be at least one solid hour.

The only people in the building happy to be there where the teenagers, who practiced their smiles for their first time driver’s license photo. I wanted desperately to inform them that they should not smile for the picture. It should be the intention of a driver’s license picture to convey to a potential arresting officer that you always look shot to the curb and somewhat faded. If your bright eyed, bushy tailed driver’s license picture looks dramatically different from your everyday mug, they are going to ask you to step out of the car. Believe that.

Bought the ticket, took the ride. My number: C81. I looked at the TV monitor. They were on C48. Could have been Si 48 for all I knew. Keeping my posture on the down low, I was standing next to a wall in the back since all the chairs were taken. Behind me was a house shoe wearing, gum cracking woman, babbling to someone on a cell phone and peppering her conversation with inane profanity. It occurred to me that mathematically there is a gum cracking equation. The louder you crack your gum, the greater the popping intervals, the lower the IQ. Based on her proficiency I was amazed she could walk up right. She didn’t consider her cracking an annoyance but rather as an attribute. Like working five hula hoops at once.

As a man of action, I decided to apply my knowledge of upper division math. I knew I had plenty of time to leave and go to the post office, the house, get something to eat and check email. I returned to the DMV thinking I beat the system and . . . they were on C53.

This time I stood on the other side of the room away from “Gumbalina” and listened to a cross section of tri-lingual conversations while gazing over a bouquet of faces colored with a general malaise. Slowly, one by one, numbers where called and people scurried to the counters to plead their cases Others quickly filled the booty-warmed plastic chairs. Time dragged on.

Then it was my turn. C81 at window 10. Now. Naturally, like a dork, I was standing next to window 23, so I had to walk as fast as I could - without running - across the facility before another number was called. If you start running, everyone else will run with you. Don’t ask me how I know that.

At window 10 was an auto registration veteran, who was clearly detached from the sullen madness all around her. She simply worked one procedure at a time and fixed my problem.

We all could learn a lesson from her.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dancing with a Dweeb: A Love Story

Congratulations to Charmaine Gordon and Lillie Ammann for being the winners of an autographed copy of Dead Witness. Ladies, please contact me privately and I'll send you your copy. Thanks again to everyone who stopped by and left a comment during Blog Jog Day. Thank you Carol Denbow for organizing such an exciting event.

Now back to work...

I'm pleased to introduced Al Carlos Hernandez. If you can read this love story and not laugh out loud, well...

Dancing with a Dweeb: A Love Story
My body simply does not multi-task when it comes to physically expressing myself to music

By Al Carlos Hernandez, Contributing Editor
Published on LatinoLA: April 10, 2009

Embarrassingly, I am so inspired by the TV show Dancing with the Stars that I have to tell my own story about tripping the light fantastic.

I am one of the few full-blooded Latino males who cannot dance. It's not for lack of trying or the lack of resources to hire professional trainers. My problem isn't genetic and has nothing to do with race. My parents, especially Mom, were great dancers.

We grew up raised on radio, nurtured in a music filled environment as my dad was a weekend musician. My sisters dance. I'm not sure how well, since I've never danced with them. Maybe if I had, they would have told me, in no uncertain terms, how much I sucked. This could have saved me years of humiliation.

My brothers, one a Harley biker, the other a successful Porsche-driving attorney, are somehow socially bound not to express themselves in a festive and physical manner in public. That leaves me to distinguish myself as the Dork of the Dance.

In the early years I was successful in doing the slow strut vato loco two-step. It didn't matter what song was being played. The girls thought I was a brooding, troubled romantic. However when disco came along I had no shame in my game and took to virtually running in place while snapping my fingers in the air. I've been told I looked like a commercial for the Cholo Special Olympics.

Then there was the time I was strutting my raggedy stuff down a Soul Train line at a house party in Oakland and almost took a beat down because my moves were so stiff and lame. Luckily, I faked a platform shoe ankle injury and escaped with my permed Afro intact.

When salsa music hit hard, I was a program director for a Spanish radio station in San Francisco. We would co-sponsor the biggest and baddest salsa concerts the West Coast had ever seen. Women would drag me to the dance floor only to try to lose me during the timbale solo because my moves were so spastic and whack. After a lady would dance with me, her girl friends would hit her with their purses after she got back to the table.

Believe it or not I thought I had it going on. I thought that by amending my aerobic disco-jog by kicking my feet off to the side, then flapping my elbows like a rooster getting ready to jump over a barn, it was salsa. It wasn't salsa. It was sorry. Friends and family, through an intervention, convinced me to limit my club participation to buying people drinks and court-supervised slow dancing.

Ironically, I met my wife, a great dancer, at a salsa club. It was during a radio station sponsored Halloween party. I spent the whole night trying to convince this gorgeous conservative Latina business executive that I was not the convict-looking, pinto vato loco my costume made me out to be. But my headband kept slipping down and blinding me to the point where I felt like smashing a piñata.

I growled at dudes who asked her to dance, scaring them away. I then took courage and asked her to dance myself. The room got quiet as I limited my movements to very subtle rhythmic steps while keeping my arms near my waist, avoiding flight. As confidence grew I began walking around in circles while moving my shoulders to the music. The radio staff was no help. Soon everyone in the club knew that I was trying to dance again. All eyes were on me, waiting to bust a gut at my murdering of this traditional art form.

Mi vida quickly read the situation, discerning the glee that my free-loading entourage was getting at my painful attempt to salsa dance. She took pity on me and led me back to our table. This gorgeous, intelligent woman realized that I endured public scorn by trying to make her happy. We have been together ever since. 25 years married in May.

Enamored, I confessed to her that I was not a dancer and, although I can play some conga and bass guitar, rhythm somehow has no way of getting to my feet. My body simply does not multi-task when it comes to physically expressing myself to music.

We agreed to do all of the slow dances together. Then it would be my job to commandeer the best and usually most effeminate male staff members to dance with her during the up tempo tunes.

It has been years since we have danced in public. The whole experience falls under the "been there, done that" category. If we got to a club nowadays we'd see that what passes for dancing used to be considered a misdemeanor fondling morals charge.

I have learned through trial and error how to accept my social limitations. I am happy to have had such good friends who cared enough to tell me how much I blew at dancing. My inability to dance never cost me any money. It did teach me a certain humility and probably qualified me to run for public office

About Al Carlos Hernandez, Contributing Editor :
Al Carlos is somehow now really famous in Paris, France
Edited By Susan Aceves
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