Just Cruzing

At first, I thought this was a joke, but sadly, it is all too real. For those who thought Joseph Conrad’s 1897 novel The Nigger of the Narcissus too harshly racist, there is now The N-Word of the Narcissus, all properly cleansed of that “offense to modern sensibilities” that appears so boldly in the title and text.

Seeing this book for sale at Amazon.com immediately raised two questions. First, have we all collectively lost our minds? I mean, yes – Conrad’s title contains one of the foulest, most evil words in the English language. But that was what the man wrote a century ago in times very different from our own. Have we become so fearful of offending people that we must now speak in a secret code?

In any case, the second question raised by this publishing abomination, What ever became of Cruz Bustamante? If you recall, back in February 2001 then Lt. Gov. Bustamante “slipped” and dropped the old N-Bomb on top of 400 African-American trade unionists in Emeryville during a speech on, of all things, civil rights leaders. He apologized profusely, but the story never really went away.

Anyway, Bustamante has been out of office since January 2007, when his second term as Lt. Governor ended. I asked around the office, but no one seemed to know where the guy ended up. After a quick Internet perusal, I found the answer: he’s running Bustamante & Associates, an Elk Grove-based government consulting firm that has, at best, enjoyed mixed results.

In May 2008, the Irwindale City Council rejected a proposed $60,000 contract (with an additional $6,000 in expenses) with Bustamante & Associates “to provide consulting services,” citing the city’s “current financial status.” But six months later, National City’s council approved a smaller $36,000 contract “to perform government affairs consulting services” with the firm.

-Anthony Pignataro

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  1. John Seiler
    John Seiler 5 January, 2010, 19:33

    That novel is one of the greats of Conrad, or anybody. I urge everyone to read it. In the novel, the character is a young black sailor from the Caribbean who gets tuberculosis. The crew’s efforts to keep him alive make him, in effect, the soul of the ship.

    Conrad’s introduction, discussing his art, also is a classic.

    You can read it online here, in an unbowdlerized version:

    http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/ConNarc.html

    And don’t miss Conrad’s “Youth,” a classic novella that will, if you’re old enough, remind you what it’s like to be young, even if you didn’t spend weeks trying to save a sinking ship:

    http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/ConYout.html

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  2. John Seiler
    John Seiler 5 January, 2010, 19:43

    It’s also good to see Cruz has landed on his feet. The last time I saw him was at The Register in 2006, where Steve Greenhut and I, and the rest of the Reg editorial staff, met him during his campaign for…um…oh, yeah, insurance commissioner. There was a scandal, in which he took campaign contributions from the insurance industry, that ensured Poizner’s victory.

    Cruz’s main campaign platform was his weight-loss program. I’m not kidding. His campaign motto: “I want to become an example to others to lead healthier lives by losing weight myself. Obesity in California costs $7.7 billion a year.”

    I guess the idea was that, if we all slimmed down, we could solve the state budget crisis.

    In our meeting, Cruz mentioned that he wouldn’t mind losing not just the flab, but the election, so he could go into the private sector to make the big bucks to send his kids to college. Looks like he finally made good on *that* one.

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