What’s better than a big street that goes in a big circle??
Here’s Episode 3 of my new podcast!
What’s better than a big street that goes in a big circle??
Here’s Episode 3 of my new podcast!
Yes, I’ve moved to Mexico!!
Five years ago, I thought I might try to learn Spanish from watching telenovelas!
Five years later, I have left my job (Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney in Gang Crimes), my home (Chicago), and my family and friends (am I crazy?) to move to Mexico City to write the Telenovela of my Dreams!!
And now, I’m doing a Podcast from here!! It’s called “My Mexican Mistake(s)” and I’ve recorded two episodes so far!!
Here’s the link!
TELENOVELA PROSECUTORS THROUGH THE AGES:
What’s Law Got To Do With It??
When I started learning Spanish from telenovelas, I was usually very wrong about everything. In fact, I was so dazed and confused during the first month of La Patrona on Telemundo that I thought Antonia and Alejandro were a rich, unhappily married couple with no children, and that Antonia hated Alejandro SO MUCH that the gigantic family portrait over the fireplace only included her. “Thank goodness they didn’t bring any children into this unhappy marriage,” I thought.
And then one day I realized that they had no children because they weren’t married: they were mother and son. Why Alejandro did not get his own apartment is a question for another day, but clearly, there no room in my fevered brain to figure out the subtleties of the show.
But as time went on and I understood more and more every day, I came to really love the courtroom scenes in La Patrona, and in all of the telenovelas I watch to this day. The courtroom hijinx in a telenovela would make the whole world want to go to law school, if only court could actually be as crazy and as much fun. And as a prosecutor in in the criminal courts of Chicago, I love watching what my fellow Novela prosecutors get up to.
For example, in “La Patrona,” the prosecutor (Ricardo) was a pretty decent guy with a gigantic Crucifix in his office, which is kind of unusual for government work. He was only able to have sex with women he wasn’t married to, which is usually something we see in celebrities and professional athletes, but in Ricardo’s case it was because his father had convinced him that his mother had abandoned him to run away with the Tennis Pro, when in reality Ricardo’s father had had The Mrs. imprisoned in the local Asylum for the Criminally Insane, so he could spend all of her money on hookers, Tequila, and his Senate campaign. Ricardo retired from the Prosecutor’s Office to defend his mother of trying to kill his father after she escaped from the Asylum.
Of course he did.
In “Eva La Trailera,” Sofia Lama played “Betty,” a prosecutor so in love with Eva’s boyfriend Pablo that Betty prosecuted Eva for a murder which Betty knew Eva didn’t commit, scared all of Eva’s witnesses, conspired with the Real Killer to see that Eva was convicted, lost her job when her bosses found out about it, and then pregnant and broke, moved in with Pablo’s family even though no one invited her.
In “El Senor de los Cielos,” Erika de la Rosa played “Elsa,” the Very Special Prosecutor assigned to prosecute Don El Chema, who was supposed to be El Chapo. Elsa is one of my favorite prosecutors for a couple of reasons: Number 1, I don’t even think Elsa was a lawyer. I think that her parents were big campaign contributors to El Presidente, and basically paid him to take her off of their hands. Elsa gave me hope: She showed us that having no working knowledge of the law was not an impediment to a successful prosecution. Number 2, Elsa was dating Chema at the same time she was prosecuting him. When I met Erika at a Telemundo event, and gushed about how much I learned from Elsa about being a prosecutor, Erika quickly excused herself and called for “Security.”
And then, in the next season of “El Senor de Los Cielos,” Alejandro de la Madrid played Ignacio, a serious and honest prosecutor who became so frustrated by his inability to convict any drug kingpins that he assembled a team of the prettiest women in the office and they formed a Hit Squad, assassinating everyone who was acquitted, which is another way to go. Usually, in law enforcement, when a team of the prettiest women are recruited, it is because someone is assembling a softball team.
ESDLC is an embarrassment of riches of fantastic prosecutors. Now, in Season 6 of the series, we are treated to another great prosecutor from whom we can learn a lot – Nora Requena, played by Maria Conchita Alonso.
Nora has come from New York to extradite El Senor himself – Aurelio Casillas. I love that Nora gets to go to the country from which she is extraditing the criminal. If this happened in real life, we would all be looking to Italy for our defendants. Usually, a successful extradition requires that the prosecutor complete hundreds of documents exactly right, and then hope the host country agrees with us. But in ESDLC6, Nora has the right idea – Go right to the country harboring the criminal to make your case in person, and take a private plane to get there. Nora acts like she is on vacation, and the DEA agents in Mexico are the hotel valets.
Right before she left for Mexico, Nora had just pulled the plug on her husband, literally. Once her husband drew his last breath, Nora left the hospital for Mexico City, and left the hospital staff with her husband’s jewelry driver’s license and his body, telling them she was finally “free.” Well, she is certainly free from all medical and burial expenses.
Nora then flew into CDMX on a private jet. One thing I have learned from telenovelas of any type is that if there is a prosecutor hanging around, that prosecutor leads a pretty glamorous life. They have a driver, they boss the judge around, and they usually have an office filled with antiques, Oriental rugs, and religious objects. Although we haven’t seen her office yet, I am sure Nora is no exception to this rule. My proof? She carries a fan. A fan.
It never occurred to me to use a fan before, but now I don’t know how I practiced law for so long without one.
A fan is something I could use very effectively in closing arguments, as long as no one ever bursts into the song “Lady of Spain.” And when I say “no one,” I mean me. Or as long as I don’t develop a southern accent and call in sick because I have “the vapors.” At least I need to find out what “the vapors” are, exactly. Now that I think about it, I could do a lot of damage with a fan, and most of it would be self-inflicted.
In ESDLC, once Nora and her entourage landed, DEA chief Joe Navarro picked her up at the airport and took Nora right to a meeting at the Mexico City offices of the DEA. With her piercing glare, fan and gigantic glasses, Nora made everyone in the meeting nervous, maybe because they never saw a prosecutor use a fan before.
The DEA wants Nora to ask Mexico to please extradite Aurelio, and Carla The Journalist was there to impress upon Nora the importance of shipping Aurelio to the USA, except Carla had just hooked up with Aurelio the night before and was clearly conflicted about sending Aurelio to the USA when she needed a date for a family wedding coming up.
Their strategy was to show Nora the video shot the day that Aurelio took over the news station, where he broadcast that even though he was the world’s biggest cartel boss, he was still better than the crooked bosses of Mexico.
Nora is really one cool customer.
After watching the tape, she announced that the tape was not evidence of anything.
Nora’s statement, and her rejection of charges, rocked my world.
I have always thought that a confession is pretty important evidence.
But Nora disagrees and I think she called it “television gossip,” as if Aurelio’s broadcast was a bad episode of “The Bachelor.”
I’ll be honest.
If I was trying this case, I would have charged him, queued up that tape, hit “Play” on the DVD player, lit a cigarette, and when the tape was over I would have announced “State Rests.”
But no, not according to Nora.
Even with a confession made to the entire country of Mexico which no one could ever complain was coerced because it was Aurelio himself who took over the whole television station at gunpoint just so he could make this statement, the work is just beginning, according to Nora. This could be true, or it could also be that Nora wants to extend her trip to Mexico.
The DEA was disappointed, but perked up when Nora tried to get everyone to go out drinking, which shows that the DEA in Mexico City is like every other prosecutor’s office around the USA.
Only Joe agreed to go, even though Nora appeared to be buying.
Nora came well-equipped to take care of prosecutor business. She is armed with an evening gown, gigantic glasses, and fans to match every outfit. Is this a homage to Novelaville’s Greatest Villainess Catalina Creel, who had an eye patch to match every one of her dresses, even though most of her dresses were made out of the same fabric as the curtains? Time will tell.
All I know right now is that I wish Telemundo could offer credit for Continuing Legal Education for teaching us how to be better prosecutors from telenovelas!
For more of my sideways views of telenovelas, please follow me here, and @gringanovelera on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and on “Latin Connection” magazine!
Did you watch Al Otro Lado del Muro on Telemundo last night?
First of all no one was more surprised than Patrick to see a very much alive Sofia storm out of Agent Richie Garcia’s Office last night, with Joel right behind her, demanding a beer.
A beer is just what this great episode deserved!!
Apparently, here’s what Joel learned in a meeting with the FBI and Sofia, once he could stop yelling long enough to listen. He was very upset because Sofia was supposed to be dead.
After 10 years at the FBI, Sofia takes a backseat to no one, and yelled right back at Joel, and then they both blamed Richie, who was in the unenviable position of being a cross between a matchmaker and a divorce lawyer.
So for the past ten years, Sofia has been living in L.A., working at the FBI as an undercover officer, rescuing victims of human trafficking, photographing her daughter Alondra as she grows up, andhelping to build the Human Trafficking case against that really tall senator whose Spanish is even worse than mine.
Sofia is sticking with her “confession” that she killed Joel’s sister and single-handedly ran the Human Trafficking Ring, but after the attempt on her life while she was on her way to be executed, she agreed to go into Witness Protection because Richie knows she is innocent despite her protests that she is guilty, which is pretty much the opposite of the way things work in law enforcement.
All the while, she has been living in a beautiful, white-on-white loft with lots of exposed brick, a darkroom/studio/exhibit space, with subway tile in the kitchen.
I wondered if part of Witness Protection includes a new identity for Sofia as a hip, edgy artist, and if the FBI got her a book deal too.
I also hoped that none of my own witnesses are watching the series because they’d want that loft too.
Who is signing the expense vouchers in this case??
At first, Joel angrily rejected the idea of working with Sofia and Agent Garcia, and can you blame him?
Sofia still insists she killed his sister, even though Joel is the only one who believes that mishegoss anymore.
Richie tells Joel he’s gotten to know Sofia pretty good in the past ten years, and she’s not capable of killing anyone, and that Sofia has done a great job building the Trafficking case, which must be how Sofia pays the rent on that loft I’m still stuck on.
Meanwhile, I continued to wonder what supervisor in the FBI was still authorizing overtime and rent receipts on Sofia’s SuperCool loft and will she hire me, or in the alternative, whether I could somehow get into this witness protection program?
At the end, Joel decided he’ll join the team, if only for the opportunity to kill Sofia himself.
And now Sofia says she’ll never work with Joel.
They are sort of like the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton of the FBI, and Poor Agent Garcia is like the head of the studio trying to hold the production together.
Meanwhile… in Mexico,
My favorite new character Don Carlos, who seems to be the REAL King of Mexico, broke the news to Ernesto and Paula that he can’t run for President, and is better suited to an Ambassadorship, where he can get drunk every day, behave as badly as he wants, and rack up millions of dollars in parking tickets.
This job has Ernesto’s name all over it, (and sounds pretty good to me too), but Ernesto wants to be El Presidente.
He feels he’s killed enough people to get there, and it’s his time.
Don Carlos is pretty persuasive, but the meeting was cut short when Julian called with an emergency; the emergency being that his girlfriend overdosed on what I think was Molly, and threw herself off the balcony.
Still wearing Julian’s tie.
Or should I say ONLY wearing Julian’s tie.
I guess he’s not in bow-ties anymore…
Julian is in big trouble unless Ernesto can cover it up.
And if he can’t, Paula can just kill anyone who annoys them.
She had it out with Max and threw him out of The Bakery.
Max thinks that the father of her youngest son Rodrigo is Andres The Carpenter, but Rodrigo knows better, since there are (or were) photos of Max all over the house, and he’s a smart kid.
Well, at the very least he’s smarter than his older brother Tomas, who has agreed to hide the $30,000 his friend stole from the local gang while they were sleeping.
And how will Jennifer punish Eliza now, for having a second family with Max AND for turning down the invite to visit with Rodrigo because Charlie and Rodrigo are friends (also brothers), and also because Jennifer doesn’t realize that “Mrs Romero” is also “Mrs Sullivan?”
This can all only Break Bad, until of course, it Breaks Good!
Don’t miss a minute of this series!!
Did you see last night’s gripping episode of Al Otro Lado del Muro on @Telemundo? It is definitely the fastest hour on television!
Poor Eliza and those kids of hers!
They finally arrive in Los Angeles by bus, and Max is not there to pick them up, the kids are hungry, and Liza’s cell Phone does not work in the USA.
Between the bad food in bus terminals and no phone, this is where I get right back on the bus to Mexico. Let Max find me there.
I’m going back to my mother. And The Bakery.
But Liza is a better person than I am, and so she waits.
Meanwhile, two security guards who don’t speak Spanish are getting ready to make a move on her.
Now here is where I get a little angry:
I predict we are going to see some Gringos who do not speak Spanish, or are going to speak Very Bad Spanish.
Why not cast La Gringa Novelera in one of these roles?
No one speaks worse Spanish than me.
I could play any of these roles.
And I already have experience acting in a telenovela.
My 4-seconds in #QuienEsQuien was the most compelling 4-seconds in that series.
I would go the distance in a role requiring Very Bad Spanish, and believe me, I wouldn’t have to go very far.
But I digress…
So the Missing Max has a good excuse for not showing up at the Bus Station – his son with the evil Jennifer was in the hospital and the doctors can’t figure what is wrong with him.
All we know is that his parents were having yet another big fight, and the poor kid collapsed.
My guess is that he’s so tired of listening to his mother trying to hold her marriage together by screaming at his father that she has driven the poor kid into a coma.
Max now needs to stay at the hospital so he can be with his son, and so that Jennifer can continue to yell at him.
So Max sent his brother-in-law Steve (who was on his way to Madrid to try to reunite with his family) to pop-in at the bus station, explain everything to Eliza, and give her a lot of cash.
Steve (Gustavo Pedraza) wasn’t too crazy about this idea, because even though yes, he was in his way to Madrid, he was not going by BUS, so it’s a bit of an imposition. But he agreed to go.
He must be a pretty good packer, because normally on the day anyone is about to travel, there’s no time to go to the bus station, cover for a Missing Dad, and still get to the airport in time to fly to Madrid.
But unfortunately poor Steve was mugged and badly beaten up just before he walked into the bus station. Unconscious, he was taken away by ambulance…
And Eliza and the kids are about to be thrown out of the bus station by a mean Gringo who does not speak Spanish…
Meanwhile, back in Mexico, Sofia has problems of her own- not the least of which are a Human Trafficker of a Husband who is also Governor, and an evil stepson named Julian, who is thwarting her escape plans at every turn.
She should have known Julian could not be trusted when, at the age of 11, he expressed an interest in wearing bow-ties, when he should have been asking for a Metallica t-shirt.
Joel, the Brave and Heartbroken Interpol Agent, showed up at a Governor’s Gala in disguise as either a Hipster or a Rabbi.
As you can imagine, this created just enough confusion at the Gala to give Joel and Sofia enough time to plot her escape, with the help of her Kind And Trustworthy Driver, German.
He’s not German – that’s his name – and he’s played by my friend Hely Ferrigny!
The Governor was interrupted at the Gala by his Human Trafficking Partner’s calls from jail demanding to see him.
So the busy Governor left his fundraiser to go to the jail to visit Juan Estevez, with a confession already written out for him to sign.
A “confession” which of course takes the Governor out of the crime ring.
The Governor promised Juan that if he confessed, after a short time in prison he would send him to Spain.
I’m not sure what the Sentencing Laws are in Mexico, but if Parole includes a trip to Spain, this is an excellent criminal justice system.
Even though Juan is a Human Trafficker, and Spain is beautiful, I admired him when he took the “confession” and threw it in the Governor’s face.
As a disappointed Governor left the jail, confession in hand,
I wondered when had time to write it, but figured he had staffed it out to Paula, who loves nothing more than to compound a crime, when she is not trying to humiliate Sofia or fool around with Sofia’s husband The Governor.
In Illinois, our Governors never visit anyone in prison, but that is because they all end up in prison.
Meanwhile, at first Sofia’s escape seems to be going pretty well:
Since one of the guys in the Governor’s security detail is a former and current hitman who Joel had arrested before, Joel was able to convince him to help get the kids to their mom Sofia, who Joel had stashed in a second-rate hotel, where the elegant and highly-accessorized Sofia stood out like a sore thumb.
If you ask me, Joel should have hidden Sofia at The Four Seasons, where she could hide in plain sight.
Things started to break bad when that twit Julián snuck Sofia’s cell phone into the bathroom and called his dad, to tip him off.
Then poor Patrick, Joel’s Interpol boss who spends half of his workday yelling at Joel for being a rebel, and the other half of the day covering for Joel because he’s his best agent, gets attacked by the Sicario/Bodyguard, and is left for dead.
Patrick, played by Ed Trucco, is like Starsky and Hutch’s constantly worried Lieutenant. He knows he’s lucky to have Joel, but Joel’s UnOrthodox methods (unless he’s posing as a Rabbi) drive him crazy.
I love the scenes between Patrick and Joel (played by Guillermo Ivan) more than any other scenes in this show because they usually speak English, so I can relax a little.
As last night’s episode ended, when Sofia opened the door to her Motel 6 room to escape with her kids into the waiting arms and small private plane of Interpol, The Evil Governor was on the other side of the door.
Don’t miss tonight’s exciting episode!!!
Pretty soon we should be seeing Christopher Millan!!
I Love this series!!