My Weekend Meetings: Drawing Districts, Recalling the Anti-Aging Conference with Karlos

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This weekend I attended a workshop about the future districts’ boundaries, which brought memories of almost a couple a years ago when districts elections were just in its infancy. I had attended a meeting called “Our Dreams for Anaheim.”  It was conceived as a leaders’ It is timeconvention to discuss how to achieve this change.

One of the most exciting organizing ideas for me was the cultural events, including peñas! A peña is a common place in South America where people get together to eat mostly ethnic food like empanadas, drink, talk and listen to live folk music and poetry, and hear testimonies about causes or issues, artists display their works. The Gypsy Den eateries have that kind of atmosphere.

The moving speech of my labor representative at this convention called my attention. Until then I had mostly associated him with hot dogs and veterans. My labor association has a hot dogs truck that they bring along when visiting workplaces. I had not really properly valued my rep’s role in pushing back Moorlach’s obsession with outsourcing public services and cutting pensions to unreasonable levels, when he was in the Board of Supervisors. Thanks Nick!

It was at this convention the last time I saw the only progressive council candidate I had known, Duane Roberts,  and GSR , a journalist for what is considered an alternative publication.  Duane was a Green, but did not get much support, not even from the OJB publisher. The Greens are extinct in this town. Too bad. I am sure they would be much different than their Mexican counterparts, whose policies are not considered environmentally friendly and they have formed electoral alliances with the PRI.

It was also here where I met for the first time one of the leading proponents of district elections and then a council candidate, Dr Moreno.  GSR, Gabriel, the local reporter for the OCW, was driving away when we were walking next to the driveway. The Weekly at that point still had doubts about district elections and Dr Moreno.  (It seems that the OCW still has reservations about him. If you are not familiar with these discussions, read here and here.) The convention ended up with the energizing call of Si Se Puede!

After this leaders’convention I took a break from local politics. At the insistence of a friend, I attended another type of convention … on Anti-aging. It was held in a fancy hotel near the John Wayne airport. The people were mostly old white ladies whose faces looked much younger than the rest of their bodies. It looked like an old barbies convention. I blended among the few white guys although by far I was the shortest one.

There was a small group of young Asian women at the reception table. I got kind of annoyed with the one helping me as she could not write down my name. I had to spell it out. She was too young to remember I Love Lucy.

When I was done with the registration I saw somebody that seemed out of place: a short, chubby and brown guy. I thought he would be an employee but had a name card in his chest. I got closer to him and noticed his name: Karlos. 20130720_101353I was sure that the person at the registration table had a problem with Spanish names. I introduced myself and asked him whether he noticed that his name had been spelled wrong. He said no, it is correct, my name is spelled with a K, not a C… I felt like apologizing to the young lady. We both felt kind of relieved to have found each other, as we were the only Latino looking guys there. He had come from San Diego with his wife, and a couple of relatives.

I asked him what the scoop of this program was. My friend insisted that I should sign up, become part of her team, and eventually I would be a wealthy person. He said she was right. All the people there were proof of the quality of the vitamins, dietary pills, creams, lotions and sort of devices to live healthy and longer. The sales of the company making these products were so high that all the associates were getting rich. Looks are deceiving, I thought.

My friend had explained to me that I needed to sign up other people, form my own team and the more people sign up, the more money I would make. It was a pyramid scheme to me but for him was not necessarily illegal, and he had other methods to sell the products and earn points anyway.

He and his wife go to TJ twice a week, advertise their products in the neighborhoods and arrange meetings with prospective clients. He makes the sales pitch and his wife does the make up for the ladies. The before and after pictures are his convincing tools. If there is any male in the meetings he sells them massage products and gives them demonstrations. He warned me not to give massages to anybody with high blood pressure and diabetes….He also offers his notary services.

The convention meeting started and I sat next to him and his family. Among the speeches and power point presentations from the company’s nutritionists, doctors and scientists, they showed a clip of Dr. Oz promoting a device called the scanner. I used to like Dr Oz before he became a Don Francisco type of Sabado Gigante. This Univision TV show is full of young models, and uses peoples’ sorrowful stories, sexist humor, Miss Universe type of depiction of women, children involved in age inappropriate themes or conversations, to sell products.

I totally lost respect for Dr Oz after the fat scanner device was intensely pitched at this convention. It supposedly indicates what dietary supplements a person needs, and doctors were openly stating that they were using this product to generate extra profits. It was billed as part of the normal examination procedures and patients did not question it or were not aware of the charge. No wonder they made several negative references to Obamacare, which was just starting to be implemented.

The excitement of the crowd reached a climax when 20130720_114712the CEO of the company, a Donald Trump kind of guy, came out running to the stage at the sound of cheers and applause. Karlos was so excited at seeing him;  I caught this fellow when he was walking by us and took a picture of him and my new friend. He could not believe that he had a photo with his idol. He was a happy man. Before saying goodbye he encouraged me to join, gave me his business card, exchanged phone numbers and promised to keep in touch.

The friend who had invited me finally found me and she took me to meet her mentor, a male doctor. He asked me whether I had taken a scanner test and that I should just sign up. I politely told him that I needed to urgently use the restroom. I got away before I had started to insult him. I went to the restroom and practically threw up. I left and this friend did not call me up for months.

To be continued.

About Ricardo Toro

Anaheim resident for several decades. In addition to political blogging, another area of interest is providing habitats for the Monarch butterfly.