Killing in the Name (of a local radio appearance)

Kind of an odd or arguably fortuitous confluence of events last night: The Associated Students council at San Diego State voted on a resolution to retire the Aztecs nickname, and just minutes after the resolution was voted down, I was on local sports radio trying to speak coherently about that and other things (stadium).

Oh, lord. If I’d known this photo of Monty Montezuma the Aztec Warrior was going to accompany the show link I would’ve been like, “Never mind, get rid of it. The nickname is colonialism.”

Mighty 1090’s John Gennaro generously invited me to join him and the tireless martyr of San Diego sports broadcasting, Craig Elsten, as they guest-hosted for the vacationing Chris Cantore, who himself just supplanted U-T columnist Kevin Acee in the 6-9 p.m. slot. That happened only a few weeks after Cantore + Steven Woods were unceremoniously dumped from their drive-time morning show on 94.9.

Basically anyone still in media or journalism is a martyr.

The appearance on terrestrial legacy border-blaster AM 1090 seemed to go well enough. I guess it was fine. Like anyone I hate hearing my own voice, so upon listening to it had multiple critiques of my vocal and rhetorical performance. Compared to the hosts practiced, smooth delivery, spoken from their diaphragms right up to the mic, my speech was raspy, trailing off, inevitably inserting “um” and sometimes responding in one-word agreement without offering thoughts of my own. Worse, I forgot or didn’t manage to fit in some important points I had about the issues I was there to discuss! Quelle horreur.

Note to self: bring notes.

These media appearances are an interesting and weird exercise of mental juggling. In the past, for the handful of times I’ve been on TV or radio, I usually brought some typed notes as a “script” or simple outline to bring up key points. The producer or host has told you what you’ll be discussing, so maybe have some idea of what you’ll try to sputter out of your pie hole.

When I sat at a morning news desk across from a TV anchor a couple years ago I didn’t really look at the two pages I had in front of me, but I’d looked them over while I was waiting with butterflies off-camera. At my latter appearance on now-defunct San Diego 6, I even gave them a little shuffle after I said thanks and the segment ended. Something to do with your hands! I brought a Chromebook to the recent VOSD podcast and just my phone to this radio appearance, and neither are really sufficient, fumbling around with a login or scrolling some page while trying to not go blank and forget your own name on live radio.

Partial list of things I forgot and hoped to talk about:

  • The land we’re on, and are discussing how to scour and re-exploit, is ancestral Kumeyaay land, home to indigenous people for thousands and thousands of years. THOUSANDS. I should’ve acknowledged that at the outset in all respect and humility. Europeans only began plundering this land and people in earnest less than 250 years ago. Then it was New Spain and after that Mexico, when most current San Diegans’ ancestors weren’t anywhere near here.
  • The very station we were speaking from is a Mexico-licensed radio station, good old XEPRS pumping out on 50,000 watts from a transmitter in Rosarito.
  • I attended Sammamish High School in Bellevue, Washington, and our mascot was (and remains) the Totems. We wore red and black and had Haida art everywhere in our school’s iconography. A large totem pole sits at the campus entrance, sometimes a target of vandalism from rival schools. We didn’t have many or any real controversies over the name, but we also didn’t have a mascot running around on the sidelines. I do vaguely remember some half-assed headdresses though, hm.
  • Ozzie Monge, the Native American Student Alliance, and many faculty and student advocates have relevant points and a valid argument about the appropriation that the nickname, branding and mascot-ization of “Aztecs” symbolizes. It’s not a discussion that’s going away and neither should it. The University and everyone in the SDSU community still have much room for improvement in the way the Mexica culture is portrayed by using the name Aztecs as a brand and moniker.
  • This website’s pseudonymous blogfather Aztecs Killing Him – as big a fan and strong an advocate of the Aztecs of San Diego State as there is – has consistently made the following point, which remains the position of Kabeer Thirty:

So when some jackass gets on the face book and writes insanely offensive, xenophobic, racist bullshit like this, I’m quickly inclined to sympathize and agree with the advocates of retiring the nickname.

Because I am definitely not on your side, motherfucker.

As a general rule, don’t be horrible to people.

I’ve long thought the athletic program should ditch the Monty/Aztec Warrior mascot, and that would be a good starting point for compromise. I’ll get to that in another piece, as well as stuff I forgot to say about SoccerCity and the stadium. Like: real grass! I had concerns.


Author: lemonverbena

Californian/Washingtonian, co-editor of Kabeer Thirty.


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