(Passage from Armando Cisneros' obituary)
It will be two weeks tomorrow that we learned of Armando Cisneros' sudden passing. The news shocked everyone that knew him. There had not been any hint of a recent illness; and Maximiliano, as I knew him, had been very active on Twitter. Through online communications with acquaintances and his brother Luis, I found out what happened to our friend Max.
The last time I ran into him was in July 2019, during a meeting in city hall chambers. The purpose of the gathering was the ethics commission deciding the fate of his friend "Vish." The outcome was not favorable for the private citizen. Max, it seemed, lived for that sort of civic engagement. If city leaders were going to meet, I knew Max would be there. He was so committed to being involved, aware and to bettering his community, as the testimonial above states. He served on several municipal committees. In 2014 he helped to start Our Laredo, a band of local activists whose mission was to educate the public of the goings on concerning city government.
Max's devotion was something to be admired and emulated. He showed us how to speak for ourselves and those who didn't hold positions of power.
What made Max more special was his wit and laid back demeanor. There was no air of pretentiousness. He brought to the table a wealth of knowledge with a sense of accessibility. It was apparent in his tweets. He was a smart individual, willing to be a part of the world outside of his own, without being overbearing. I'm so thankful that he was very active on Twitter, something rare for many Laredoans. His presence on the social media platform made me feel connected to him. I won't get a chance to meet Max again, but I want to share some of his tweets, to give people a different look at the man who stood up to power.
The "apparently" tweet was his response to a viral video of Laredo Karen, a woman that went on a rampage at a local trail against people that were wearing masks. The video maniac used the word apparently several times and Max referenced an old clip of a precocious, budding news person.
Xesus Xeriscaping was Max responding to one of my obsessions: native plants. Did I mention he was creative?
Leonid Brezhnev. Who in the hell namedrops Leonid Brezhnev?! Max! that's who! I'm losing my shit just reading that tweet. I criticized Donald Sutherland's bushy eyebrows in HBO's "The Undoing." Max upped the ante with a reference to a former world leader. Bravo, Max. That tweet I may have to frame.
One feature I share with Kirk Douglas is a chin dimple. But don't call me Spartacus. As a fellow blogger and tracker of Laredo lore, Max was keen to the peculiar editing of the movie "Eddie Macon's Run," a movie that was filmed in Laredo in the early 1980s. Max brought to our attention another movie with a more nonsensical plot: "Viva Max." The movie has a Mexican brigade, trying to cross into the United States by saying that they are going to march in the WBCA parade. It's an obscure movie with a crazy story. Just my kind of viewing. Viva Max Cisneros for the heads up!
Laredo's Border Blaster was Max's suggestion at naming my podcast. Ultimately it was decided to use The Tweets of Laredo, an homage to "The Streets of Laredo." Max may have joined us in the podcast debut, albeit, as a fly on the wall. He didn't join in in the conversation. I was really hoping to having him on as a guest in future recordings.
BOLAS, or Blogs of Laredo Association Statistics, or something like that, was a Max original. The man was creative AND PROLIFIC! Max came up with that acronym for Laredo's small circle of bloggers. In the tweet he was asserting the veracity of my status as Laredo's Most Imposing Blogger, a label appropriated by another local writer/blogger/historian.
Less is less was Max's entry for a slogan for Laredo. Mine was: Laredo: don't expect much.
Blogger. Brezhnev. Borat. Not sure if Max was familiar with Borat's work but he was able to take a stab at the character's language. Magnifico!
There is a Tic-tok video that features workers at a border fence construction site. In the background there is a Mexican immigrant scaling the tall structure and scurrying to freedom in the U.S. As that is happening, one of the workers exclaims, miralo, miralo, iralo, iralo! That caught Max's ear; and ours too. Language is flexible in our part of the world and Max was masterful at putting it to use.
Someone tweeted the word mollycoddle. Having a steel trap for a brain, he shared with us having read the word in "Main Street" by Sinclair Lewis. Guess what my next book purchase will be.
In the T minus mooch tweet, Max was referencing the days counting down to the November election. Mooch refers to Anthony Scaramucci and his short-lived tenure in the Trump administration. One Scaramucci is 11 days or so.
Max grew up on Laredo's west side. When I tweeted about a man that drove a truck around my neighborhood selling menudo, he shared a similar story. The vendor he knew, however, sold Baaar-ba-cooa!!!!! Max was an educated man but son had street cred!!!!!
Speaking of flexing his street credentials, max could provide advice to newcomers who had trouble deciphering the nuances of our language. To TPR reporter Maria Mendez he offered the term Ladero, easing her anxiety about the right way to pronounce Laredo. Max made it known that, here, all is fair in love and wording.
The mosca tweet alludes to VP Mike Pence's eye malady and his allure for flies. Max was just speculating on Pence's red eye and throwing in some code switching.
Church's Fried Chicken opened its dining area in late September. I made a joke about how only three customers could fit. Max imagined the consequences after patrons downed a "3-piece with the works!" I'm guessing that includes an apple pie and jalapeños. I could be right.
This is only a taste of what Armando Cisneros tweeted while he was with us. His presence on Twitter was reassuring and delightful. The man had a knack for it. I'm definitely going to miss his humor and insight. I'll definitely go back to reading Max's tweets. I'm sure they're bound to inspire a host of emotions.
RIP Max. We'll try to hold down the fort for you.