Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August 25, 2009
I live in a house full of Spanish speakers. Both my kids are fluent and my significant "esposa" is damn close (she attends classes every weekend and spends many evenings with her nose in "mucho grande libras.")

Which leads me to the big debate we are having at True West today. In our art issue, we are running this image:

This painting, which I created for the second edition of my Billy book in 1996, is entitled “Su Vista Penetrava Al Corizon de Toda La Gente” (His Face Went to Everybody's Heart). The original will be in the Overland Gallery opening on October 15. So far, so good.

This morning I got the following email from Managing Editor Meghan Saar:

"Your painting title: 'Su Vista Penetrava Al Corizon de Toda La Gente' is incorrect. I have changed it to the below:

“'Su Vista Penetraba el Corazon de Toda la Gente' (His Face Went to Everybody's Heart)

"The Source: Jose Garcia y Trujillo recounts his memories of Billy the Kid and expresses his belief in the myth of Billy the Kid's survival in a 1936 interview taken in New Mexico:

"You think Billy The Keed let himself be shot in the dark like that? No Senora — Billy The Keed — never. I see Billy The Keed with these eyes. Many times, with these eyes. That Billy, 'tenia un' agilesa en su mente — en su menta aqui…' I understood that he meant that Billy The Keed had an extraordinary quickness of mind. Again he pointed to his forehead and then with a quick motion to the sky. 'Una funcion electrica', he said. Something that worked like lightning… 'I don't want to dispute against you Senora, but in my mind which is the picture of my soul, I know it is not true… Everybody like Billy The Keed — su vista penetraba el corazon de toda la gente… his face went to everybody's heart.. Muy generoso hombre, Billy The Keed — a very generous man. All the Mexican people, they like him. He give money, horses, drinks — what he have. To whom was good to Billy The Keed, he was good to them. Siempre muy caballero, muy senor — always very polite, very much of a gentleman.'"

I forwarded this exchange to the world's most gracious and knowledgeable BTK expert, Fred Nolan in Chalfont Saint Giles, England. Here is his reply:

According to my original source, which was Kadlec's "They 'knew' Billy the Kid" published in 1987 and referenced in THE WEST OF BTK, you both have it wrong: it should be '"Su vista penetrava al corazon de toda la gente" and there is an acute accent on the second 'o' in 'corazon.' Megha's source is doing that old aural thing where they hear a 'b' for the 'v' in Spanish words (as for instance in every census you ever look at -- e.g. Balanzuela instead of the correct Valenzuela).
—Fred Nolan

Meghan and Ashley (our intern who lived in Spain and minored in Spanish) maintain that Fred is wrong, and that penetrava is the Italian form of the verb and that penetraba is the Spanish.

Quien Sabe (Who knows?) Hopefully you. Please weigh in on this.

Speaking of Spanish speakers, my son Tomas finished his Peace Corp assignment in Yanque, Peru yesterday. A week earlier, a U.S. congressional delegation visited Lima, and elicited this email from my son:

“So one of the congresswomen asked what type of support we needed from them. I told them it’d be great if we could get diplomatic immunity. They thought it was funny.”

“Silence is often misinterpreted, but never misquoted.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

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