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Not So Bueno: Houston East End Public Art Project Irritates Some Spanglish-Speaking Grammar Sticklers

Photo: James Nielsen, Houston Chronicle Staff

Photo: James Nielsen, Houston Chronicle Staff

As part of a grant-funded revitalization project, the Greater East End Management District has commissioned functional art installation projects with words in English, Spanish or some combination of the two (the pidgin “language” known as Spanglish). But the bike rack erected outside of the Merida Mexican Café at the 2500 block of Navigation is irritating a few folks, including Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg. “I’ve never heard anybody use that phrase,” she writes, “not even a fellow Gringo.”

Falkenberg spoke with Nory Angel, a member of the East End board and a Los Angeles native whose first language is Spanish, who said she initially was wary of the whole Spanglish concept. The East End resident says she now loves the rack: “I think the idea is that it’s a little tongue-in-cheek. It’s comical,” Angel said. Even the Merida owner, Rafael Acosta, has come around to a more neutral interpretation as “just making fun of Anglo people who try to speak Spanish … but not in a bad way.”

But when she talked with artist Anthony Thompson Shumate, he admitted that his initial reason for using the phrase was more practical than expanding the Spanglish language: “If we did ‘Muy’ we’d have to do something kind of weird with the Y.”

Whatever the reason, just remember: be a lot good!

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1 Response

  1. The Artist

    That was not the initial reason for “mucho”, although it was important to the function of the work. There is an entire series of works that lead up to this particular piece. There is one bike rack that is spanish as its verb with a spanish noun, ie “llame tu mom” and one with English as its verb, “be mucho bueno”.

    Just thought I should chime. Thanks for some more press!


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