The final chapter.
It may come as a surprise to many Zacatitans, but I really don't think Zac is a problem to be fixed. Read the post title again. Just wasn't my cup of tea, that's all, and that's life. Adults understand and accept that life is a far cry from that of a big one-for-all and all-for-one Kumbaya circle-jerk. Sure, I could have toughed it out to see how it would be like in "winter" with full occupancy, as I was advised to do. But I think I got taste enough of that via the 500 member Facebook group.
I found Zac far too tightly nit, high-school clique like, and intransigent—reminiscent of some Sovietesque zeitgeist born of diasporatic origins; but modernized...dominated by various forms of politically correct and progressive thought, adjudicated by uppity white connected women with plenty of husband money...where dissension is not tolerated from outsiders, with bromides like "community" tossed about as endless admonitions—such that insiders get to evade the fact that they're really being chided and chilled into conformity with what's expected; a cage of their own design. Or, they don't get invited into pretty cages, euphemistically called parties.
I have no need of solidarity or conformity in my life. I associate with whom I please; don't much care about others...until I do—because they've become meaningful to me. There's no such thing as a group, community, or social "conscience." Only individuals possess that faculty, exercised individually; and in terms of reason, the individual mind is a reality integrating organ, not a reality creating device.
The most oft-cited argument counter my assault experience by blindside—if you could even call it argument—was that 'everyone in the community thinks [x, y, and z] about you,' not even realizing it's a blatant argumentum ad populum fallacy. It's like saying that 1+1=3 because everyone says so; or, that the universe really did revolve around the earth until Nicolaus Copernicus and Giordano Bruno changed enough peoples' minds to physically alter the cosmology of the heavens.
It's rubbish, shoddy "thinking," and it's pervasive in that place. Near as I can tell, near everyone tows a small-circle-concentrate party line on just about everything; at least from my perspective as an outsider, on issues affecting me—such as the initiation of violence over words. I reiterate: there are exceptions, and beautiful ones I wish I could elaborate upon; but those people have the right to not be associated with me to their ultimate detriment. These are some amazing folk who've learned to adapt to the surroundings—thrive even—and do just fine. And many are pioneers of the place, 30 years and running. Part of me envies them.
...And then there's the taking of offense over my style, shtick, and approach toward strangers in being very blunt and direct (i.e., juxtaposed to the automatic lying everyone engages regularly, euphemistically known as being polite).
But, it's my way of finding solid friendship!
Consider the Nigerian 419 truc that nets the scammers $13 billion per year. The emails from the son of the prince or bank president that go out are purposely misspelled, have grammatical errors (English is the official language of Nigeria), and contain obviously scammy language. That's so they filter out 90-95% of people right away, without even hearing a peep from them, so their time is spent exclusively on the true suckers. But it works in reverse, too. Being way, way more than yourself, as I enjoy toying with, filters out all those without the sensual nuance necessary to hear my message beyond my messaging style. Very efficient.
The last time I pulled this gig was in new construction urban lofts (63 units) in downtown San Jose, CA. There was an email list for basic coordination of all stuff pertinent to a new building in the final stages of construction, coordinating social issues, complaining and ranting, etc. I was every bit as direct, abusive, blunt, dickhead—however you wish to characterize it—as I was on the Zac FB group, and more.
I once posted: "Fuck you and your pussy-ass husband," responding to a complaint to the "community" that my wife "interrogated" her husband in the elevator, when all Beatrice did was engage in friendly and engaging "lets get to know each other" banter, as is her bubbly, smiling self. But the woman wouldn't back down, even after my wife explained it to her, so I did what I love to do. Well, they never became our friends—avoided me like the plague, in fact—but it sure got me lots of other friends. Made me famous, or notorious, take your pick. There was no other phrase as often repeated with a laf at the 350 Lofts.
Then there was Robert, who parked in my wife's spot—literally on the eve of our departure for a 3-week auto-tour of France, Spain, and Italy. And, he was nowhere to be found, because he'd just left for a week to NYC. I went off on him publicly, even questioned his manhood, when he had the temerity to post about what a great time he was having in NYC, rather than spending his days in penance in some confessional, or minimally, a dark Irish pub, attentively listening to drunks tell him stories.
That was 9 years ago, and since about a couple of months after that altercation, Robert and Julie have been our best friends, bar none. Countless dinners at each others' places—many being works of collaboration—trips together, playing partners spades till all hours of the night (where Robert and I normally kick their asses).
There are many other examples, but perhaps you get the idea. The last thing I need in the world is the burden of a bunch of "friends" who require a quotidian dose of smoke blown up their asses. I'll leave that job to the Zacatitans, collectively and mutually.
I miss a world where people aren't so hypersensitive over words and ideas, or at least, quickly come to realize they're just words, individual ideas, and there may be a message underlying the messaging style.
"...and political correctness is the oppression of our intellectual movements, and no one says anything anymore in case someone gets offended. 'What happens if you say that and someone gets offended?' Well they can be offended. What's wrong with being offended? When did sticks and stones may break my bones stop being relevant? Isn't that what you teach children, for God's sake? That's what you teach toddlers." — Steve Hughes
For more lafs, see this 1986 Crossfire episode where Frank Zappa addresses the issue of words that people find offensive.
...As I've written before, Zac, to me, is like an American suburb, but it's in Mexico. Everybody gets to go to hell in their own go-cart, of course, but I was really hoping for something less homogenized in terms of American conformity—and relaxed ideas about recreational drug use, "free love," nude prancing about and such are mere window dressing. Ideas and their flamboyant expression are what matter to me the most.
While there are a number of reasons I decided to pack it in, the watershed moment came last Monday morning. For two weekends in a row, I found myself at the Hotel Mar de Cortez in San Lucas. Nice little inexpensive villa-style place with clean rooms, working AC, and a deep pool that stays reasonably cool—unlike all the 3' deep resort pools. But most importantly, the clientele are 80% middle class Mexicans on holiday themselves. So I get to mingle with the indigenous population and culture, chat them up and such.
And this is my norm. When I lived in Japan for 5 years in the '80s, I was the only gaijin in Hayama. Then, when I lived in France in the early '90s, 100% of my friends were French, and I was never at a loss for a cocktail, dinner party, or soirée to attend. Now, I'm at a loss, with myself, as to how I so miserably failed to draw this distinction before committing to moving to Zac. With rare exception, the only locals you experience near home are the hired help.
So last Monday morning, I'm taking a final dip in the pool, when I overhear 6 French people of college age. I chat them up. Turns out that one of the young men grew up only a few blocks from my flat in Toulon. Le monde, il est petit.
And in that moment, I understood what it is I really want to do in terms of living a nomadic life abroad: make a list of French-speaking countries and start crossing them off, one by one, a month visit at a time, see where it goes. Rather than dive into learning Spanish, get French rehabilitated instead, to where it was 25 years ago when I read literature—such as Victor Hugo—in the original and discussed issues of theology and philosophy with Catholic priests for fun. Unlike most American clergy, they're perfectly unthreatened discussing my take on theological/biblical contradictions (my first year of college was divinity school) with an abrasive atheist—especially over a scotch whiskey and ciggie, or two.
Now I'll briefly address some of the other reasons that contributed to the departure. I've already addressed the assault here and here, but in addition, I now find there's outright lies being spread (go figure...if you read those links, especially the 2nd one with all the updates). I address it in comments between a Zac resident who goes by Dr. Dave (David L. Racette, MD) and myself, that begins here.
Now let me disabuse you of this:
“You have done something similar to herb and his fiance. And that was ok because he knocked you down in a bar when u were drunk and rude. ummmm no.”
First of all, it’s just plain silly to equate word usage with initiating physical violence. Not even worth discussing.
Second of all, I didn’t have a gram of alcohol in me and once I left their table, after Herb slapped me, I ordered a drink and before taking a sip, I got knocked over with a blindsided roundhouse to the neck and left. The next day, when I had dinner with Paul, Al, and Al’s son and paid my bill, there was the 80P ticket for the drink. I’m not petty about small change like that, so this is the first time I mentioned it, as it’s properly in context.
Third, I was not rude. Never raised my voice, never said an unkind word until he slapped me and I excused myself.
Fourth, no need to take my word for it, ask Paul, Angel [the proprietors], Michelle, and Herb. I ran into Paul over at Mega a couple of days later. He was very friendly with me, didn’t make any judgments whatsoever. He told me that Michelle emailed Angel “This is not on Richard.” Moreover, Herb drove up to Paul & Angel’s next morning and apologized to them, saying he’s the one that was drunk and went off.
Go ask Paul yourself. That’s essentially verbatim what he told me. So, once again, you make false assumptions, or you’re just plain lying.
Dr. Dave just confirmed to me that he was repeating what he heard from someone else (GO due diligence). Nevertheless, he doesn't care, as he's been continuing the same campaign, most recently on the Facebook group. You'd shudder at the utter carelessness in terms of being intellectually consistent, non-dissonant, avoiding logical fallacies, etc. And the man was a surgeon for 27 years, near as I can tell.
Of course, my departure is being conveniently, unfalsifiably characterized as being 'run out of town,' but nobody with a functioning brain seriously believes that. But lies in Zac, including those to one's self, are as ubiquitous as cacti in the desert.
I found it impossible to do meaningful work, which involves lots and lots of writing (the gut microbiome book project and another as-yet secret one). At an average temperature of 90+, combined with 80%+ humidity, combined with an onslaught of bug bites and stings...even constant exposure to the hot wind of a fan and a dozen cold showers per day was no exceptional relief.
The house I rented, while amazingly quirky-chic from November through April (I visited mid-April before deciding to rent), becomes essentially uninhabitable in June through September, for most practical purposes. For instance, when it storms, your bedding gets wet unless you've stowed it away—mattress and all—as a blue skies precaution. A 5-minute downpour can develop in minutes. In a bad storm, like tropical, with high winds and flying debris, you have to go outside to access one or the other of the toilets. There's more, but you get the idea. A summer house there needs two things critically: one small room with an AC and solar/battery system to support it, with a propane backup generator that kicks on automatically (this place has neither), and a small freshwater pool. Minimally.
My car was getting rattled to death, in spite of the body lift, wheel adapters, steel wheels, tires, and suspension mods totaling $4,000. I considered selling it and getting the go-to old classic 4-Runner beater that's one of the top vehicles of choice around there. Virtually indestructible. But I love the Beemer, more than any driving machine I've ever owned. While 9 years old at this point, by virtue of working from home most of that time, it has only 125,000 miles and is in great condition. I became increasingly agitated with compromising its value to me, on a daily basis, on washboard, pot-holed dirt roads, with endless trucks kicking up dust that becomes a coating throughout the interior. Add to that, no carport to shield it from the desert sun.
Saving the most important for last, I missed my wife and doggies terribly, in spite of the every-night FaceTime where she'd run around the house, chatting up the doggies. "It's daddy," and every perk of the ear I saw was a knife to my cold, dickhead heart.
Originally, Beatrice and Rat Terrier units were coming along until the end of summer, when school starts at all wheres. But a new job in the district running a junior-high career and academic counseling program she'd developed 8 years ago—but was defunded after three years due budget cuts in the economic downturn, so she she went back to the classroom—came to life again, and she couldn't resist, and and it's her passion. So what can a dickhead say but, "you go for it, wife unit?" Actually, I didn't say that, but this dickhead came to understand that not only are her passions as important to her as mine are to me, but that this one is particularly important. So I ask you: what kind of dickhead would stand in the way of that? Certainly not this one. She makes her marks in life differently than I make mine. This Latina and I have managed to get along for 20 years now, and it's a lot more than just one other some thing to me.
This set in motion a chain of changes that precluded her coming along. And even a visit via aircraft without dogs became increasingly unlikely as she just had to rescue another dog she'd had her eyes on for nearly two years. She even made a 6-hour round trip drive to visit Choncho once. But he's 10 years old, so not a hot commodity in the dog rescue arena. About a year ago, we rescued little Scout after 15-year-old Rotor died from kidney failure. That's two then. We don't care about accolades.
Truth is, my nickname for Scout is butthole, but this dickhead says it out of love for the hilarious clown that can't help but be a total bag of clowning. Nanuka "Nuke" is my baby girl I most often refer to as "Nuke the cat," because she's the most independent and aloof dog I have ever known and the only domesticated canine I think might have a shot at wild living on her own, like a feral cat.
...When I arrived back in San Jose, CA—a scant 1,500 miles and 48 hours after I left Zac at 2PM last Wednesday afternoon—Beatrice had not arrived back home yet, from being out and I had the extreme pleasure of Scout and Nuke going apeshit at my return, with Choncho barking at me as a stranger.
We worked it all out. He's a sweetheart lovebug, common for Rat Terriers, if you know the breed characteristics. I really adore him and understand why Bea was so insistent upon his rescue from a very nice place that rescues dogs all the time, but at 4PM, they go into kennels and aren't dogs again until the next morning.
We'll be fine. Doing a move to a place 3.5 miles from Bea's work and downsizing to a cute little 1BR/2B, with a million $ view...Tyranny of Assets style.
YHBT. But, with a few exceptions and they all know who they are. To my disposition and proclivities, no troll bait I've ever encountered deserved it more richly, and sorry to end on a sour note. This is the literature of life, not children's stories or even, smoke up aged asses for community points.
This is the final post. Any new info will be appended as updates. In fact, I already have one for tomorrow that'll blow your mind. So check back.