Tailor Shop - Sastrería

"Tailor Shop - Sastrería," 9" x 12", watercolour on Arches 140 lb. cotton paper

$75 + $10 S&H in North America
One of the best parts about living in Southern California is the bilingual culture.

Spanish is particularly alive and well and knowing even a bit of it can open doors to vistas otherwise overlooked.

One of my kids is in a pilot "dual immersion" Spanish-English program at school, the fruit of Prop 58 which overturned a mingy 1998 measure which required Californian schools to teach exclusively in Englsh, with very little transitional instruction for recent arrivals.

The school doesn't rank in the league of tiger parents but we love that it takes another culture besides English seriously, in the process decentering and confusing who is and who is not privileged.

I wait in line with my little ones and for once the chattiest parents, the most assured and confident, are the people generally behind leaf blowers and floor polishers all day.

Over the years I've done a fair amount of translation work. I found this in the preface to a bilingual volume of Italian poetry. It's about the translation process but I think it applies more broadly.

British and American publishers have reaped the financial benefits of successfully imposing English-language cultural values on a vast foreign readership, while producing cultures in the United Kingdom and the United States that are aggressively monolingual, unreceptive to foreign literatures, accustomed to fluent translations that invisibly inscribe foreign texts with British and American values and provide readers with the narcissistic experience of recognizing their own culture in the cultural other.

These days there's lots in the news about regions with distinct languages and cultures wanting to detach and go it alone. I both understand and am discomforted by the whole business, especially because it can't seem to happen without a lot of Kool-Aid drinking, i.e. nationalism.

But I can't help think that one day even such middle powers as Spain, Italy, Belgium, Morocco, and Turkey, challenged by their various sub-regions, will take their cue and direct a similar militancy toward the ultra-homogenizing English world.