NY Magazine on the Puerto Rican Day Parade

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I finally finished reading last week’s New York Magazine (I borrow it from my roommate, thanks Mari!), the one with Steve Jobs on the cover. In was pleasantly surprised to find an article on the Puerto Rican Day Parade, titled "Watching the Parade-Watchers" in the Intelligencer section, with the subhead reading “The police were on edge about the Puerto Rican Day Parade, even if the city’s ritziest neighborhood wasn’t.” Maybe I read the headline too fast, but I was expecting colorful, outsider’s observations on the biggest parade not only in our city but in the country. My bubble was quickly burst. Instead, NY Mag opted to focus, just like the 6 ’o clock news and every other publication, on the violence that occurs during the Puerto Rican Day Parade and the mass arrests that we’ve come to expect that day.

I know the writer, Maruxa Relaño Tennent (who is from Spain, btw) and the editors wanted to condemn the NYPD for their absurd arrests and the overall exaggeration and rumors regarding this massive event. But by hitting the same nail on the head, they just helped perpetuate the stereotypes, and well, it was just boring.

I’ve come to expect from New York Magazine funny, intelligent, irreverent commentary on pop culture and urban life in this frikin’ city. It’s what I read in the subway and before passing out at night, but in this case, it disappointed!!! As someone who grew up in a middle class suburb of San Juan, the Puerto Rican Day Parade is a shocking, otherworldly, colorful mélange of classes, music, cultures….its just fascinating what happens there for 6 hours, great piece of anthropological observation. So I can’t even imagine what it must be like for a WASP, a JAP or a Barcelona-born journalist to observe. Maybe too much to take?

I should’ve known. Publications like New York Magazine, The New Yorker and The New York Times are still not ready to cover stuff as plebeian as the Puerto Rican Day Parade in an intelligent, humorous, non-stereotypical way. That’s why we did so in Remezcla, (see “Perspectivas de la Parada Puertorriqueña” and “Reflexiones Post-Parada”) although now I wish I had written them in English and not in Spanish, to bring another perspective to the discussion and tell the folks at NY Mag to read up. But at the same time, why should I change the language used by me and my friends, so the gringo might understand, if he or she even decides to read on it? Maybe I will translate them and post both versions here on the site. In any case, I did email the NY Mag editors, and told them to read our articles on the Parade, and to brush up on their high school Spanish along the way.

PS- As I’m posting this, New York Magazine editor Adam Moss is on Charlie Rose talking about how he wants to write more about the "under class" even if that means limiting the magazine’s audience, that he’s really proud about a story about an immigrant who had 28 rommates, and the one about a day in the life of  a kebab vendor.

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