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[center][b]1. Michel LeBlanc[/b][/center]

It wasn't until years later, after the collapse of Canuckistan and his subsequent retirement to rural mediocrity and personal defeat, did Michel LeBlanc come to realize that his life was a lie. Born in Viniland, from an early age LeBlanc was seduced into politics by the nascent moralist movement. When the Tahoe Republic took over British Columbia, he and his fellow moralists mobilized to fight for British Columbia's independence and the creation of a moralist libertarian state. The early moralist movement was comically disorganized and incompetent, and even with their pretenses of militarism the Tahoan state barely took notice. Ignored and ineffective from the beginning, the moralist movement in Tahoe suffered from member malaise and a steady attrition attrition.

When it became clear that the northern British Columbian protectorate was making moves towards independence, LeBlanc and a small cohort of moralists relocated there, hoping that the new state could be moulded towards moralism before its political establishment calcified. This was the beginning of Michel LeBlanc's many compromises. Northern British Columbia was only half of the moralist state LeBlanc dreamed of, and a far less populated half at that. Canuckistan, the new state, had the trappings of a liberal democracy and despite their hopes of building a new nation on moralist principles, the idea of political activism in a liberal democracy motivated the moralists far less than the idea of fighting on the crypto-fascist Tahoan empire.

Again, the moralists found themselves unable to spread their message or energize their tiny base. By that time Michel LeBlanc had married and was expecting his first child. The life of a marginal revolutionary could not support a family. It was time for another compromise. The radical LeBlanc betrayed the revolution in the worst possible way and joined the Canuckistan military. A steady job, housing and benefits were all it took for Michel LeBlanc to push his moralist dreams aside.

After such a betrayal of principles, it was only fitting that an irony follow, for while in the employ of the Canuckistan military, an opportunity presented itself to actually affect the change he fought so anaemically for previously. The Canuckistan government collapsed and the military moved in to restore order. As the commanding general of the forces that stabilized the capital, LeBlanc found himself suddenly in the seat of tremendous power. Allying with two other military leaders (General Babul Ganoush and Admiral Grundy Balzac), LeBlanc formed Canuckistan's provisional military triumvirate. Again, this was a compromise of principles. Canuckistan did not become the moralist libertarian utopia LeBlanc had envisioned, but the total opposite: a military dictatorship. The provisional government was in fact less moralist than the previous one.

The militarism of the triumvirate was concealed with what appeared to be lip service to democracy and civil rights, while that lip service was tempered with appeals to the need for law and order and deference to the state, all in the language of militarist conservatism - disquietingly fascist. But none of the triumvirs were authoritarians at heart, and with their help LeBlanc was able to steer the post-martial law state back toward libertarian moralism. In the first election following the dissolution of the triumvirate, Michel LeBlanc was elected First Citizen (the new constitution's chief executive) and the liberal Free Canuckistan Party dominated the legislature. LeBlanc was finally positioned to enact his moralist vision.

Their prospects never being better, it was inevitable that the ill-fated moralists would suffer yet another setback. No sooner had LeBlanc been elected First Citizen then the plague of government collapse revisited Canuckistan. Unable to reestablish control like he had after the first government collapse, LeBlanc, tired of setbacks and failures, abandoned the moralist dream and abandoned his homeland. He moved his family to the former United States, looking for a quiet place to retire in defeat.

[center][b]2. The Curse of Spinoza[/b][/center]

In North America, and indeed much of the world, one could travel between countries with little hassle. States rose and fell, were annexed or made into protectorates with such frequency that it wasn't necessary to concern oneself much with government. Only when a state appeared particularly oppressive was one advised to take special care.

After some travel Michel LeBlanc and his family settled in Spinoza, Nevada, a small rural community largely unheard of and ignored by the transient governments of North America, bordering what is at the moment, the Republic of Novus Niciae.

Spinoza was first settled seven years after the Mexican-American war by former Mexican soldiers and their families - their leader, Jose Maria Garcia Espinoza, would give the town its name. A tiny and irrelevant victory for American propanganda, the founding families of Spinoza (then Espinoza), enticed by the promise of America, settled in the lost Mexican territory of Alta California at precisely the moment one expected Mexicans to leave. Supporters of liberal democracy, but soldiers of the Mexican kleptocracy nonetheless, the heads of the founding families saw in the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo an opportunity to make and live in a free state. Despite the corrupt, undemocratic, and imperial bent of the United States at the time, Alta California's switch from Mexican frontier to American frontier, in their eyes renewed the territory as a land of opportunity. Their idealism was misguided, as they should have known, the promise of opportunity in the America frontier was not open to the races of its former claimants. Non-American inhabitants of coveted lands were not a part of the American blueprint, but obstacles that needed to be removed before construction could begin. American settlers - the families of small time Southern slaveholders escaping the destruction of their livelihood after the American Civil War - arrived in Espinoza and displaced the Mexican founders. Though the founding families were allowed to stay and not completely exiled from public life, the best land was taken for American families and public administration of the town monopolized by their patriarchs.

But if the early history of Espinoza (renamed Spinoza by its first American mayor) appeared to set the scene for racial violence and division fuelled by unfulfilled promises, this nascent conflict shortly fizzled out. Their defeat in the Civil War had drained the American settlers of any ideological ambition. All they wanted to was a quiet peace. They took the Mexican settlers' best opportunities, just as their government had taken Mexico's land and later the slave owners' human property, but the Americans were through with conflict. The fighting spirit of the Mexican soldiers who founded Spinoza in search of freedom and opportunity might have manifested itself in violence, but their protests were met with concessions, and the risk of losing everything if they did not accept what could be seen as a reasonable offer from the Americans was less palatable than the bitterness of compromise and deprivation. The Mexican settlers thus avoided penury and expulsion for a small consolation as a quasi-underclass.

Over time, the necessities of economics and frontier life, along with the beginnings of the semi-egalitarianism that went with the compromise, the distinctions between Mexican and American become increasingly irrelevant. Compromising ambition and principle and the blurring of race seeped from the practices of everyday life, into the consciousness of the town, into the soil and into the groundwater. The dream of Spinoza, suffocated in its cradle, imprinted itself across generations as a curse. For the young the suffocation of identity and vision began in the womb; the war reaching its climax in adolescence, when the resignation to mediocrity inevitably triumphed in early adulthood.

Spinozan boys volunteered and fought valiantly all over the world for the imperial ambitions of the negligent governments that rose and fell around them. But for the most part, Spinoza was neither influenced by nor bore much witness to history. Its own history became such a repetitive series of birth, entropy marriage, and death that it was hardly worthwhile to keep the passage of time. When Michel LeBlanc arrived, Spinoza had long been a ghost town that hadn't quite died. Undead, shambling, faded, dusty, it seemed to straddle the border between reality and mirage. As if they were thirsty and delusion, those who stopped in Spinoza were seduced and infected by the spiritual resignation born in the natives. Even if they left, the curse followed them, tethered to their souls and tugging them back. Though in the case of Michel LeBlanc, little persuasion was needed. His spirit long defeated, he found more of a companion in Spinoza than a master.

Less of a compromise and more of another personal betrayal, LeBlanc had plenty of money from his time as a military dictator to keep him from needing a new source of income in Spinoza, which was just as good because employment was hardly lucrative. His wife, Julliette, opened a French-style cafe, which was unexpectedly popular among the youth not yet suffocated and still dreaming. Their son, Michel, attended and graduated from the Catholic high school founded by the Mexican population in the 19th century. Upon graduation, the youth of Spinoza, to stave off the looming sense of defeatism manifesting inside of them, would typically leave town to experience the world and find themselves. It was considered a right of passage by the town's elders, and despite affirming otherwise, the youth would always return home to settle.

An awareness of this pattern was the only public acknowledgement of any facet of the Spinozan curse, but the details were only as deep as the whimsy of it. The pattern was more fine-tuned than anyone realized. After high school, the youth would leave, sometimes to travel or work in the few stable economies of North America, sometimes to school and sometimes even to war. Those who went to war died in numbers disproportionate to populations from other towns, but there was no one keeping track to notice. The rest, though they experienced an initial liberation, would find themselves overcome by nostalgia and a dullness of the senses. When they returned to visit, as they invariable did sooner than later, they would find old friends arriving at about the same time. With the reunions amplifying and satisfying their nostalgia, the pull of the Spinozan anchor increased. Some could leave again, but it was harder than the first time and increasingly so with each consecutive visit. The strong willed lasted longer, but eventually, everyone came back, married and settled.

The young Michel LeBlanc, not as defeated as his peers or his parents, planned to break the cycle, though he wasn't the first to believe he could. The elders joked no one could ever stay away, but few believed the curse was serious, and some maintained the possibility that some had managed to leave, and live and never return; those people were only forgotten to maintain the myth. Michel believed he would leave and visit but never stay, to prove his strength of will and live up to the myth of his father, the famous general.

For the elder LeBlanc, though resignation had saturated his soul, he still held hope for his son. Whatever Michel chose to do he prayed it would be principled and that he would see it through. During his son's absence, LeBlanc sank into an eccentric depression he hoped would offset his son's success. He spent his days more idly than usual, rarely bathing, often donning an old uniform, sitting on the porch and staring into infinite horizon of the desert. He drank heavily, as he always had, but switched from scotch to gin, the latter being a drink he believed for commanding men, which he no longer was. Juliette, accustomed to her husband's perpetual state of an absent presence, focused her attention more and more on the cafe. For LeBlanc, the growing gulf between he and his wife was another propitiation to the Fates overseeing Michel's success.

Michel returned after two years away, bringing with him a young woman in a wheelchair, who introduced herself, in Parisian French. The elder LeBlanc disappointed that his son's return was sooner than he had expected, he tried to assuage his fear of failure by offering the two a drink.

Michel thought for a moment and announced, "I believe I'll have a scotch."

A distant and forgotten emotion swept through LeBlanc and then he remembered his manners, "and for you, Mlle Valentin?"

"I'll have a scotch too," she answered somewhat tersely, and adding politely, "if you don't mind."

Edited by Sal Paradise
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[center][b]3. Simone Valentin[/b][/center]

Simone Valentin was not just a moralist, but a communist and increasingly an anarchist. In France, she and her colleagues, had tried to recreate the nation as a decentralized, less bureaucratic communist state, one that set labour rights on par with political rights and focused the role of the state on the protection of those rights instead of the manipulation of the economy. As the Revolutionary Federation of French Communes took shape, however, the ideology fell victim to the self-rationalization of bureaucratic creep. Unable to square the revolution's minarchist-communist bent with the federalization of politics, the revolutionary French government fell apart.

The experience of failure in France caused Valentin not to quit or compromise, like it did with Michel LeBlanc, but to re-evaluate. By her analysis, as architect of the revolution, the project failed because [i]she[/i] failed to understand the full implications of moralism. Grafting moralist foreign policy principles onto the revolutionary ideology created the need for the stronger state that corrupted the decentralization project - and created the absurdist Greatest Nordic Empire of West Korea. In the years after the collapse of the Revolutionary Federation, Valentin tried to synthesize communism and moralism. She travelled the world, studied theory and debated academics. When she met the son of general Michel LeBlanc, she felt she knew enough to restart the revolution. All she needed was a place to start it.

Simone Valentin was an atheist and a strict materialist. She did not believe in fate, transcendent emotion, or that everyday coincidences could be anything more than just coincidences. As a Marxist, she rejected the teleology of some of its theorists and did not believe in the scientific analysis of history. But even she, cold and rational as she tried to be, couldn't divorce from her mind the thought that there was something unnatural about the young Michel's personal magnetism. Later she would dismiss it with a naturalistic explanation she knew wasn't adequate.

They met in a coffee shop in Austin, Texas, where Michel was employed and Valentin had stopped to do some reading. When he came to her table to refill her cup, their eyes met. The curse of Spinoza, which had been following Michel since he left the town, magnified and he felt his body being washed away in a wave of nostalgia, a peculiar nostalgia for a woman he had never met. Spinoza, not for the first time, hooked its tendrils onto a stranger who had never been to or even heard of the town. The pull Valentin felt towards this stranger was for the town, but having never known there, she associated the manifest desperation that came with the curse with Michel. As Michel turned to leave Valentin's table, an terrifying anxiety gripped them both. They urgently and simultaneously sought to renew their brief company; Michel swung back around and returned to the table. Few words needed to be exchanged before both recognized their mutual attraction and they agreed to meet later that night.

For the rest of the day, Valentin was able to ignore the lingering sense of unease her peculiar first meeting with Michel had given her, but when they met for their date, those strange feelings resurged. When she found out that Michel was the son of the famous Canuckistan moralist, General Michel LeBlanc, she found the convenient reason she needed to explain away her attraction: she saw more of a resemblance between Michel and his father than was actually there. Obviously, she thought, his resemblance to his father, somewhat of a personal hero of hers, triggered a feeling of deja vu, which would explain the floating eeriness she re-imagined she had experienced. The fortuitousness of meeting such a person, at random in a coffee shop in Texas, escaped her consideration.

In the two weeks after their first meeting, their conversations centred around politics and Michel's inexhaustible ability to describe Spinoza: his family's home, the great expanse of desert wasteland, main street with its Mom and Pops, the schools, the gorge, the dilapidated industry and the abandoned mines. Valentin was enthralled with Michel's descriptions of Spinoza and the more she learned the more she wanted to visit. She believed that Spinoza would be the perfect place to set into practice the theories she had been developing, and Michel agreed. It was isolated, partially developed, already somewhat communitarian and the residents valued their independence. Michel quickly rationalized for himself that there would be no shame in returning to Spinoza, abandoning his goal but returning with a new one of politically and economically revitalizing his hometown.

It was obvious that Michel would visit his family upon arrival in Spinoza and Valentin insisted on coming along: first to pay her respects to the great General LeBlanc, and most importantly because she believed it was with him that the first seeds of the Spinozan revolution should be planted.

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[center]4. [b]Over Scotch[/b][/center]

Since arriving in Spinoza, Simone Valentin's interest in the young Michel LeBlanc began decreasing inversely to her growing affection for the town. She had taken to Michel with a school girlish infatuation that even surprised herself and had predicted that the emotion would wear off eventually. But there was something special about this one, she told herself, and then wondered how many times those innocent words had been uttered in the past, by herself likely a handful of times. Still, though normally cynical, she found herself hanging onto that experienced lover's hope easier than usual. And so she was slightly surprised, though not entirely unprepared, when her feelings began to wane. Spinoza was the new passion taking her, and it would prove inexhaustible.

She came to realize her declining affections part way through her and Michel's conversation with Michel's father. Bored with the pleasantries and small talk that only occasionally made courteous attempts to include her, her mind wandered into the future. Spinoza loomed large in that vision, not just what she would make of it, but simply the town itself - the stores and streets, hills and people she had seen while briefly driving through. Michel's role became less and less prominent and the daydream finally broke when she realized his conspicuous absence from it. It suddenly occurred to her that she might be using Michel, that his father and his hometown were what she was really after, and that he was just the intermediary between them. That initial romantic interest in the general's son was a misplaced [i]Romantic[/i] interest in her revolutionary project. The revolution, she thought to herself, with self-satisfied remorse, is a lot like love.

Reflecting on the reason she had insisted on seeing General LeBlanc compounded her cynicism. Trying to ignore the ironic implications, Simone Valentin had realized that the revolution needed capital. She found out that Michel's father was rich and, even better, sitting on those riches. A moralist himself, General LeBlanc could be persuaded to part with that unused money for the cause. The revolution also needed some kind impetus in leadership, not a party vanguard - she tried to distance herself from any whiff of Bolshevism - but a figure like Paris had in Louis de la Rue, someone to stick his head out his window and yell into the crowded streets of the every day "aux armes, citoyens!" and then like Cincinnatus resist the temptations of power. She couldn't reproduce a king of the street like Louis, but she could create an influential town elder in General LeBlanc to wake the town into collective action. Every situation was different.

The conversation eventually turned more intimately to Valentin, and her past as a revolutionary in France and a brief leader of the Revolutionary Federation of French Communes was revealed. The General listened to this with some distraction, expressed disappointment in having not followed the news over the years, and then moved the conversation back to Michel's life in Texas. At one point, Juliette LeBlanc suggested that Simone and Michel take a tour of the town and then return for dinner. They took up the suggestion. to the detriment of Valentin's declining affection for Michel, and Valentin bought a bottle of scotch to present as thanks for her host's hospitality.

After dinner, and Michel and Juliette LeBlanc enjoyed a light conversation over trivialities, while General LeBlanc excused himself to the porch for a cigarette. Valentin followed him, though she had quit years ago.

"I feel terrible asking you for a cigarette M. LeBlanc," she said to the general as he passed her a smoke. Owing to the young Michel's upbringing in the English world, his French was inadequate. The conversation at dinner had been in English, but now both Valentin and General LeBlanc conversed freely in their native tongue.

"No need, no need at all. You're a guest and a friend of my son's."

"You and your wife have been very generous," Valentin reached into the back at the back of her wheelchair and pulled out the scotch, "would you allow me to repay you in a drink?"

LeBlanc looked at the bottle and then drifted into the same distraction as earlier. He hadn't had a scotch with Michel and Simone when they first arrived. He stuck to his gin.

"Are you not a scotch drinker?" Valentin thought she had misjudged the general's tastes, "I should have gotten gin, yes?"

LeBlanc snapped out of the nostalgic reverie that had overtaken him, "oh no no. I do drink it. Just not lately," his voice trailed and then picked up again, "well get a glass then. Oh yes, I'll get the glasses. I won't reject a fine bottle like that." LeBlanc got up and returned with two glasses. Valentin poured some into the glasses and they drank on the porch watching the orange sky give way to twilight over the Nevada desert.

"I was wondering," Valentin said between a drag of her cigarette, "what is the political situation in Spinoza?"

Normally LeBlanc avoided political talk, but he felt unusually at ease in that moment. "The town barely has any political organization. There are town hall meetings. No mayor, no taxes, except sometimes when a foreign government claims control of the territory. Town administration is paid for through donations. Most property owners donate as if it were a tax, I believe. I do, to keep up appearances. Very little is needed. Spinoza is practically a libertarian utopia when there's no foreign state around."

"Some of the communes in France were run the same way. They had the benefit though of being part of the national economy. It looks like Spinoza has no economy."

"Hardly any, that's true."

"A better economy would require a stronger government, wouldn't you say?" Valentin was attempting to gauge the general's political orientation. Though she was familiar with LeBlanc's career and some of his writings, his time as a military dictator in Canuckistan left some things ambiguous.

"I suppose if Spinoza experienced an economic boom, it would probably facilitate more government, which would lead to more taxes and control."

"It would be a shame that this paradise were sullied with government, but even a greater shame that it has to languish in poverty."

"Some would say its lack of government results in its poverty."

"Does government create prosperity, General LeBlanc?" this was the first time Valentin addressed the general with his title. He was nonplussed. In fact its sudden injection into the conversation seemed natural.

"No, certainly not. But it's not so simple as to say the opposite is true as well."

"What if Spinoza had organization and prosperity without coercive government? What if it continued to be maintained through voluntary donations like it does now?"

"That's anarchist nonsense," the general seemed animated.

"It worked in France. The only problem was the scale and oppressive weight of history. Spinoza is tiny and without history." She was wrong on the history, but the general was as ignorant as she was in this matter, "I bet," she continued casually, "that with a little initiative, some capital and some leadership, Spinoza could grow and keep its informality."

General LeBlanc grunted and sat silently sipping his scotch for a moment. The conversation picked up again along political lines, with LeBlanc only half-seriously engaging Valentin in her prodding repartee. She could not convince him of her anarcho-moralist ideas, even indirectly. LeBlanc, it seemed, was a libertarian with an unconsciously ironic authoritarian bent. As the stars began to appear, intoxicated by his preconceptions of scotch, LeBlanc became less inhibited and more like the general he once had been. Though he had known Simone Valentin for only a few hours, he had become comfortably disarmed around her. The conversation moved on to family matters and here LeBlanc gave Valentin her in.

"Tell me, Simone," he had dropped formalities shortly after Valentin upped hers in calling him 'general', "what do you know of my son's plans?

Valentin paused to think for a moment. During the course of the conversation she realized that politics interested him but couldn't stimulate him into action, but he seemed to be hiding some anxiety over his son's future. "I'm not sure, but he mentioned to me that he wanted to return to Spinoza."

LeBlanc was silent. Valentin could see the disappointment wash over his face. She continued, "to revitalize the town. Pull it out from its complacent mediocrity, he says."

"Oh?" LeBlanc perked up, "what exactly does that mean?

"Well, you'd have to ask him, but he told me that this town needs a political and economic awakening, that the people needed to become more responsible for their condition."

"Hmm, just as you've been saying. Spinoza is a town that suffers from a kind of blissful ignorance. An apathy for change or improvement. They think they have enough. Like they tolerate a necessary existence until they die."

"Do you think they have enough?"

"I have enough," LeBlanc said pausing to drink, "but you young people should always be asking for more," the walls had come down, "don't resign yourselves like so many do here... like I have done. Your life isn't over yet. This town suffocates. Hmm, if you want to escape it you need to turn the tables on it."

"Suffocate the town before it suffocates you?"

"Ah, not the best analogy," LeBlanc laughed, "suffocate whatever it is that suffocates the people in this town, I mean."

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[center][b]5. José María García Espinoza[/b][/center]

In the Spinoza town square, overshadowed by a WWI cenotaph stands a sculpture of two men engaged in an expressive discussion, they are both casually pointing westward, with the taller of the pair resting his non-pointing hand on the shorter one's shoulder. The taller man is Calvin Randall, the town's American founder and the other is José María García Espinoza, the Mexican founder. The symbolism of the statue was lost and though various interpretations existed, no one was committed to any of them. At best, most people believed it symbolized the ethnic unity of the town, but history would not bear this out in the lifetimes of the sculpture's subjects. Owing to the town's initial discrimination against its original Mexican founders, the fortunes of the two men differed greatly.

The Randall family had gone on to considerable prosperity. Calvin Randall was careful to amass for himself the best land expropriated from the Mexican settlers. Most of this land came from José García - he being no saint himself - and included the best agricultural land and the most productive of the gold mines. The Randall's were generous with the money, both with themselves and the town. Calvin Randall funded the construction of a town hall, a church (Baptist), a few main roads and the town square that would later bear his statue. For himself he built the expansive Randall estate, in a neoclassical antebellum style, which employed throughout much of its glory days, exclusively Mexican servants. José García's family remained one of the most prominent of the Mexican families, partly owing to his fame as a founder and the business sense of his descendents, but José García himself only succeeded in establishing a moderately popular saloon. When it came time to construct a Catholic church in town, the Mexican families could not rely on the patronage of a rich founder, but on collected donations. Though the Baptists chose modest architecture for their place of worship, the Catholics had no other option.

Social life for the Americans centred around their church, the town hall and, for the exceptionally important, Calvin Randall's estate. Mexican social life centred around the Catholic church and José García's saloon. Though the Mexican settlers resisted their complete marginalization and succeeded in not being excluded from town politics, the damage done to the economic well-being of the Mexican families was lasting. Civil affairs were strictly business affairs. The town patriarch's ignored both poor Americans and poor Mexicans alike. Their first deprivation made the Mexican poor more numerous, though José García's family was not among them.

José García had eight girls and one boy, Randall seven boys and no girls. This chromosomal abnormality didn't not escape notice, but like the statues, interpretations were numerous and indecisive. Some believed that God wanted to keep the two people's divided and so symbolically separated the founding families along gender lines. Others believed that God had chosen sides in the Mexican/American dispute - rewarding Randall with boys and cursing García with girls. Another theory similarly suggested that García's weakness gave him girls and Randall's strength gave him boys. And a more optimistic theory declared it a sign that the two families should intermarry and make Spinoza a model of racial harmony.

The one theory that no one acted on was the latter. Though the town maintained a sense of racial harmony, people chose to stick with their own kind, at least for a few generations, and the peculiar circumstances of the founders' progeny confirmed whatever personal bias was convenient. José García's lack of male heirs spelled the eventual end of the family name. His only son, also José, died young and childless. The girls married into three families: the Quesadas, the Cabreras and the Bangueras, all of which, owing to their famous connection to the town's Mexican founder remained prominent in the community. Not the least because José García, realizing the future demographic eclipse of his name, actively affirmed his familial continuity with his daughter's new families. His name past to his grandchildren's generation, and then proceeded no further. Having more than one daughter in each family, José García cultivated himself as co-patriarch of the Quesadas, Cabreras and Bangueras - to the original patriarchs (no less the matriarchs) understandable distress. As their mothers- and fathers-in-law aged, the senior García women sidelined their husbands and dominated their in-laws like new world viceroys. The Quesada family especially, owing to the haranguing and monocratic personality of María José García Pérez de Quesada, José García's eldest daughter, and the early deaths of both its founding mother and father, became the power centre of the colonizing García family, imperially coming to dominate the families of María José's younger sisters.

Indeed, if it weren't for his daughter, José García's pretenses of patriarch-hood would have come to nothing. As proprietor of the curiously named [i]Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción[/i] saloon, José García was a moderately successful businessman in the early days of Spinoza. But his Quesada, Cabrera and Banguera rivals were not pushovers. Quesada succeeded, despite the efforts of the Americans, as a cattle man. Cabrera was in hardware and Banguera was one of two town doctors. The newly married, María José García Pérez de Quesada, unimpressed with the prospect of life as a cattle rancher's wife, ignored her husband's family business and took an active role at her father's saloon. Resigned to mediocrity, José García's saloon, though popular, had become stagnant. María José sought to revitalize the family business and expand. The intended expansion into spirits and hospitality business never came. María José quickly realized there was an untapped market in Spinoza for more seedy services.

María José's brothel and gambling establishment never had a name, but its patrons (and detracters) called it [i]La Niña[/i], in homage to the Columbian name of its front the [i]Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción [/i]saloon. The name applied to the establishment and María José herself. Business boomed and through the money made, María José was able to fund the enterprises of her sisters, her husband and her husband's siblings, slowly building up the respectable business base with dirty money. María José's refusal to bend to any suggestion of domination by her husband made her and her patronage the true source of power in the Quesada as well as her sisters' families, and importantly in the Mexican community. Though a disciple of self-help capitalism, María José had a charitable streak. Conscious of the source of her wealth, in here declining years she funded the reconstruction of the Catholic church.

Diversifying into legitimate business, allowed García's descendents to maintain their wealth when the town outlawed gambling and prostitution - and even when the US government briefly outlawed alcohol. But when the ban on gambling was lifted following the state of Nevada's own legalization of gambling, [i]La Niña[/i] never recovered. The business ventures of José García's descendents likewise stagnated during the Great Depression and only recovered to self-sustaining levels thereafter. The then elderly María del Pilar García Perez de Cabrera, fourth daughter of José García, established the [i]Santa Clara[/i] casino in 1932 but was barely successful. After that first generation, no Quesada, Cabrera or Banguera ever had any of the ambition of their Garcian matriarchs. When the last daugher of José García died finally in 1946, Spinoza had completed its work in suffocating his line. The Quesadas, Cabreras and Bangueras would remain prominent families in town (the Quesada's especially) but hardly did anything noteworthy.

Edited by Sal Paradise
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