It celebrates the Battle of Puebla, when the Mexicans kicked some French ass.
Incidentally, it was also the day Napoleon died, which prompted Alessandro Manzoni to write a massive Ode to the great men.
Italian kids are usually forced to learn it by heart at school: if you want to force flashback on a bunch of unsuspecting Italians just shout at the top of your lungs "Ei fu, siccome immobile !" - they will not be able to resist, in this respect we are much like the cartoon characters in the Who framed Roger Rabbit movie.
On May 5, 1862, a force of 2000 relatively inexperienced Mexican soldiers under General Ignacio Zaragoza were able to defend their fort in the state of Puebla against 6000 French soldiers, who had invaded Mexico in Napoleon III's attempt to put his puppet Maximilian of Austria on the throne of Mexico. The French army was considered one of the best in the world, and the Mexican victory was heartening for the defenders of the country, although the war against the French continued for some time afterward.

According to Tampa Bay area magazine the Weekly Planet, the celebration of Cinco de Mayo in the U.S. by non-Mexicans is the result of a 1980s publicity campaign by the manufacturers of Corona beer. Although Corona is a Mexican product, Mexican celebrations of Cinco de Mayo are not the commercial drinking fiestas found north of the border, and in fact are largely limited to the region around the battle site. Some other U.S. organizations do try and use the day to educate about the history and culture of Mexico.


10:15 AM She's just gone to anesthesia, walking down the hall with Nurse Lisa and the anesthesiologist. She's already had one bag of fluids and is about to start another.

In my other life I am a mild-mannered veterinary technician, and right now I feel like all the slightly lost human doctors and nurses who come into our office with sick kittens. There are a thousand questions on the tip of my tongue, things that I feel like I need to know even though I might not fully understand them And can't do a thing about them anyway. It's hard to accept that this is not my operating room and there is nothing I can do but hold my wife's hand. I wonder if it's okay for the IV to be flowing so fast, but of course my wife weighs more than my average patient. I wonder what they are using for the epidural, but I'm sure if won't be anything I'm familiar with. Animals don't get epidurals - we just knock them out and intubate them.

I don't even know what normal human vitals are. The feeling of almost knowing important things is extremely frustrating. I'm trying to go with the flow and let the pros do their work without me being a nuisance.

10:32 it's time for me to join her in the OR. I feel ridiculous in the baggy paper scrubs they gave me, and wish I'd just worn my own scrubs. I would have, but I didn't want to be one of Those Clients, the ones who think they can second-guess the doctor because they Googled their pet's symptoms and watched that episode of House or fucking Grey's Anatomy. Did you know that there's a Grey's Anatomy line of scrubs now? There is. Because TV is our god, and the people on TV are its prophets, so universally adored that even people whose job it is to save lives every day feel unfulfilled if they don't emulate the sexy people who play doctors on TV, I guess.

There are seven or eight people in the OR. There's a surgeon, a surgeon assistant, a surgical tech, a pediatrician, a couple of nurses, and the anesthesiologist. None of them are wearing the Grey's Anatomy scrubs, as far as I can tell.

To give you an idea of how different things are on the veterinary side of things, when we do surgery, there are exactly two people in the OR: the doctor, and me.

They've already started by the time I get there, which feels vaguely insulting but I know why they didn't wait. It's okay. My wife is, somewhat freakishly, wide awake while three men are opening a six-inch hole in her abdomen and stretching its edges as wide as they can. And this is just the overture. When they really get going, she starts groaning, but between the anesthesiologist being on the ball and me holding her hand we make the sensation bearable. Just joking, anesthesiologist. You rock!

10:49 Out she comes, all long legs, long toes, curly red-gold-brown hair, eyes clenched angrily shut. Two of the staff, whose functions I have already forgotten, whirl her over to the baby unit, and now I don't know where to look. My wife is on my left, with several doctors still busy working on her, and the baby we've been awaiting the last nine months is on my right. Is she healthy? Is she normal? Is she a horrible mutant with gills and webbed fingers?

Okay, since none of the doctors are wearing Grey's Anatomy I think I can trust that they know what they're doing and stop watching them for five seconds. I look to the right.


She looks exactly like our first daughter, from her hair down to the long, skinny toes which curl under each other. She will be able to do weird things with those toes. They will be useful if she ever takes up residence in zero gravity or decides to work in the circus. They will not look good in sandals. I know all this, just as I know she will be able to curl all her fingers on top of each other in either direction like her big sister, because they are my toes, and my fingers. She has my toes, fingers and hair. Everything in between is her mother's. Now I have three beautiful girls.

The doctors get busy tying things up, cauterizing, suturing and doing other neat-looking doctor things that my wife doesn't feel because the anesthesiologist is still doing his thing. Blessed are the anesthesiologists. Meanwhile, the pediatrics are working on Cinco de Mayo Girl. A few minutes later, they let me hold her and show my wife what a beautiful baby she's made.

12:30 Back in the birthing room, Nurse Lisa starts my wife on a pain management drip on a fairly low flow with a Jesus button. She's not feeling any pain yet, but I'm sure she'll need the button eventually. I have the most important job in the world -- feeding my wife ice chips. Go on, laugh, I double dare you. CdM Girl is nearby under a warming lamp, quiet and calm most of the time, letting out occasional squawls for attention which the nurse explains don't actually mean anything.

2:30 PM I leave Savta to watch the new mother and go down the street to fetch Spawn #1 from her school. The look on Spawn's face when she actually gets to hold the baby is pure rapture. Savta is proud as a peacock. Mummy looks about like you'd expect, like a very tired and very happy mother on some really good drugs.

It's been a long, rough war for independence. The French Army are no pushovers. The pregnancy was a nightmare for all of us. We've buried a father and a brother in the last year. Bills keep piling up, the neighbourhood is going to hell, and the house needs more work every year. Tomorrow the revolution will go on.

But today is Cinco de Mayo.

it's cinco de mayo, and i'm smoking a cigarette with a latino outside. the fireworks are blazing, showing LA's true colors, more spectacular than the 4th of july. a helicopter circles with its spotlight above the fireworks, and above them the planes blare into LAX. so many lights in the skys, it's more beautiful than the stars with all the wild colors of amber and purple and scarlet. it seems like there's more to life than the stars, the constructs of humans.

i've drank all the booze in the house, and i'm still not drunk. i'm too buzzed to walk out and get some more, my neighborhood is filled with people who are cool in the daylight and threatening in the nighttime. i'm just another piece of white trash who's gonna get mugged. i light another cigarette, and talk to my neighbor. cinco de mayo is all around us, and revolution is in the air. we talk in broken english and spanish about the shit happening in TJ right now, he has a sister that he doesn't want to visit because of it. I light another cigarette. I knew i shouldn't have tried to curb my smoking by changing from filters to lights. i can barely feel that i'm smoking anything.

the helicopter's spotlight glances over me, and i think what do i deserve to get the limelight. i came to LA with a passion for making movies. i'm just another drunk, out of work director with more ambition than talent, trying to say something that's been said before, but still thinking that it's new and unique.

Just another fuckup waiting for the hand of God to touch him and make him great. what am i saying, i stopped believing in God when i was in high school. i just keep it up so my parents don't get depressed and anxious. maybe i was all wrong when i gave him up, but it's too late now. I light another cigarette, and feel sorry for myself. Another countless fuckup in this city of fuckups. maybe if i become a drunkard and write something amazing, people will look back when i'm dead and agree that i was an artist. a shitload of good that will do me then.

i've argued on the phone with this protestant girl who i fucked, about how catholics are right, and you can't just accept Jesus and be saved. you need to strive for perfection in all that you do, and only that way can you reach salvation. it's a pity i am the way i am. buy the ticket, take the ride.

It's damn shame.

I go inside and drain my glass. I need something to fill this empty void. I need religion, real faith. I go outside and light another cigarette, thinking things will change. It's like Ghandi said, I must be the change i want in the world. I would, if I wanted everyone to be artsy drunkard fuckups like me. I don't. I wish I could change. The world changes everyday, but mostly, just stays the same. Idealists come and go, but wars are here to stay. Plato said once that only the dead have seen the end of war. I light another cigarette, and shake his hand. I don't wish I was dead, I just wish I didn't have to make the desicions. Fuck it. Fuck it all. A unexamined life is not worth living, Aristotle said. I've examined my life, and it's still not worth living. But it's worth something. Not living, but maybe it's worth something to someone else.

I walk back inside and masturbate to some pictures from a website. It takes a lot longer to come than it normally does. The buzz from the wine is wearing off. I need something more. I should have not tried to get drunk when I didn't have enough booze. I drank too much last night, now I don't have enough to finish what I started.

I go outside for a smoke, and end up smoking four. I'm almost done with the pack that I bought this afternoon. I never figured myself for a pack a day guy, but it's getting there in a awful hurry. God damn these marb lights. I should have got some fucking pall mall filters like normal. I was a fool to think i could wean myself off the strong stuff. I'm a smoker. There's no denying it now. Fuck. I was just going to be an artistic smoker, now I'm a cancer stick fiend. I thought I was just drink now and again, but now I'm a drunkard. What a fuckup.

I just can't take life in moderation. I'm scared that I'll kill myself before I can produce something noteworthy. I want to be completely adsorbed in the worlds I create. My only hope is that what I create can mean something for someone else. Otherwise, when I die, there will be nothing left. I don't understand how non-artistic people cope with the idea that when they die, nothing will be left of them. Having kids shouldn't satisfy that need. America is fucked.

I go inside. Tom Waits is playing. I don't remember putting him on, but there he is. He growls to me about how the world is not his home, he's just a-passing through. I wish I could say the same.

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