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

Tags assigned to this article:
Cruz BustamanteJoseph Conrad

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