En boca cerrada, no entran moscas . . .

I hate it when I have nothing to say!

But via InstaPundit, I found a story about a former teacher -- which has overclocked my mental CPU's internal clock:

And today, the cold, gray Wednesday after the November election, there is this: the school's recently deposed dean, sitting in a Castro coffee shop, offering a postmodern sociosexual justification for using the word "bitch."

"As a gay man, in the Castro in San Francisco, and camp such as it is, we refer to ourselves in very gendered terms," says Tomás Almaguer, who spent 4 1/2 years as dean before resigning this past fall amid accusations that he created a hostile work environment within the college. "You might notice that my e-mail address is 'tomasa' -- it's a play. Have I ever referred to myself and my friends as bitches? All the time! I've been referred to as Queen Bitch of the Universe! Megabitch! That's one of my identities."

Almaguer, 56 years old, is a thin man with short white hair and a fastidious mustache. Soft-spoken and tentative one moment, animated and effusive the next, he has an academic's tendency, in the face of a scandal, to retreat into cautious generality -- an individual, for example, becomes a sexless, anonymous "they" -- lest he wind up in someone else's lawsuit. As described by his constituents at the College of Ethnic Studies, he is either a monster or a titan -- either a sexist and possible racist who played favorites, called a lecturer a "bitch," and only further calcified the rifts in the college; or a visionary who whipped a flabby program into shape. "It's this Rashomon thing," says Jim Okutsu, the associate dean and a friend and supporter of Almaguer. "There's not one story that fits."

"The truth and context," Almaguer goes on, "are the first things to evaporate from any retelling of the situation. I've been accused of using the b-word. I've been accused of using the n-word, only to have that be proven a total, total, total lie. There's nothing I've not been accused of having uttered. So when the PC patrol comes in and tries to paint me as this woman-hating, gay, macho Latino, it makes me sick. It's repugnant to me. ... If the truth were known, and what the politics were, and what the lay of the land was, and what I had done, and what people wanted to revert back to, it would be a very different story. It may sound like some arrogant, elitist, woman-hating gay man from the Midwest comes in and runs roughshod, but it's repugnant. It's really ugly."

There's a lot more, and I'm stymied because I have nothing to say. And that's not because "the truth and context" have "evaporated." It's just that I respect people's privacy, and I was one of Tomás Almaguer's students in the 1970s.

I also managed Berkeley's only gay, um, "health club."

Mayan Health Club: Also known as the Mayan Health Temple, later became the Steamworks in Berkeley. Long after it was the Steamworks, they kept the pseudo ruins look to the place with the pilars, statuary, etc.
Tomás Almaguer was a radical Chicano firebrand in those days -- when "teaching" all too often consisted of things like calling for the assassination of Richard Nixon.

Definitely not "gay."

Times change. And while I never betray confidences, considering the article, I think I can venture that I'm not surprised -- without revealing anything of a confidential nature.

Sigh.

posted by Eric on 02.04.05 at 02:39 PM










Comments

Sounds like a real man, and a great teacher, as you admire him. I remember some of my teachers, too, particularly Mr. Scruggs, who refreshed my memory about a lot of Classical and Norse mythology.

That Mayan temple sounds very good. I love the _style_ of Mayan and Aztec architecture.

So, if you can't tell us more about Pr. Almaguer can you tell us more about this "health club" you were managing at the time? ;0

Flea   ·  February 4, 2005 6:28 PM

Actually, I remember all of my teachers, all of whom were good.

Calling for the assassination of President Nixon? That's against the law! WARNING: If you assassinate the President, you will get the electric chair!

Thanks Steven. Nick, I was never into orgying or public sexuality, which made me perfect for the job because I paid attention to things like fixing the plumbing, laundering sheets and towels -- stuff like that. Most people who'd work in places like that would get distracted by what went on, but I found the atmosphere most conducive to inner peace. Once you see beyond the sexuality, it's very impersonal and liberating, and a perfect place to work. Dark, private, free to think your own thoughts-- even daydream --without having to deal with someone's emotional bullshit (because they're all distracted with the sex). Plus, the work was easy. And if you've a dark sense of humor as I do, why, some very funny things went on. (Unfortunately, I'd be pushing the envelope if I wrote about them here....)

Eric Scheie   ·  February 5, 2005 1:08 PM

I've never been in such an institution, though I have been to some SMBD parties of the Society of Janus in San Francisco.

Reminds me of Rev. Victor's Mission of the Son of Man (founded by Rev. Jim before he went astray): openly "a church by day, a bath-house by night", men reveling in "the glorious liberty of the sons of God", saved by grace not by works "lest any man should boast". What a MAN!

I'm not man enough to be a MAN'S MAN. I'm still reveling in the glorious captivity of the sons and daughters of the Most High Goddess, still worshipping that exquisitely pulchritudinous picture of holy Dawn that Professor Nick Packwood put up on Ghost of a Flea a few months ago. I've got to link to that Goddess on my sidebar soon. I'm still writing a long post on 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional spectrums, and after I complete that, I've got at least one more big spectrum thing to write.

Huh?

EssEm   ·  February 6, 2005 11:15 PM

I like the Steamworks, but wish it was more Mayan, less industrial. I luv to have a soak in the jacuzzi, & always end up chatting with interesting people (including an Academy Award winner).

jeff   ·  February 7, 2005 2:48 PM

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