Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

miércoles, noviembre 30, 2011

The Pre-Game Show

Your Bloguero welcomes you to the pre-game show. Let him ask you directly: Was there ever an event, sporting, technological or otherwise, that didn’t deserve some breathless, anticipatory hype? Or that didn’t benefit from some nicely packaged, photogenic slickness? Or that couldn’t be disguised and serve as an infomercial? The answer? No. Of course not. Just as every real job needs a “straw boss,” every real event needs a real pre-game show.

And what, you might inquire, is The Event requiring this anticipation? What exactly is the Event that seems to have summoned this post? Ah, thereby hangs a tale.

Tulum, the book, not the eponymous Mayan city in Mexico, is about to become available for your reading pleasure in both soft cover (retail is $13.95) and as an eBook ($3.99). There is one technical prerequisite that must be met, namely, that your Bloguero receive the first, physical book via the US Postal Service, and that he examine and approve it. Can you believe that a conveyance of such enormous importance to your Bloguero has been entrusted to the somewhat erratic, ever so capricious US Postal Service? Your Bloguero is being charitable with those adjectives. And no, he cannot believe it. But nevermind. The parcel is expected to appear in your Bloguero’s post office box soon. When, you ask, is soon? Tomorrow? The next day? The day after? Manana? Next week? Well, yes. Soon. Soon is subjective. And then, assuming, as your Bloguero truly believes it will be, that all is utterly wonderful and perfect, your Bloguero only has to hit the "send" button and voila! Presto chango! Tulum will be available to you, dear reader.

That availability will at first be at a secret location, which your Bloguero will disclose here once the Postal Service has completed its appointed rounds. And at first it will be only in soft cover format. But soon after that, the book will become ubiquitous. And it will be available as an eBook. And it will be slathered across the world as if it were cream cheese and the Internet were a nicely toasted bagel. It will make a sustained appearance, hopefully in the windows, of discerning, independent bookstores (you know who this refers to, don’t you? But your Bloguero digresses).

And once the book is available everywhere, the Event will begin. And that Event will be nothing less than the Festival of Literary Capitalism, in which your Bloguero attempts to sell as many copies of Tulum as he can. Your Bloguero shudders. He is reluctant. He has difficulty getting the words “Capitalism” and “Literature” into the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence. Your Bloguero aspires to deserve to be recognized “a writer,” not as “a salesperson.” Or as a huckster. Or as one who relentlessly toots his own schnozz. But, as he said before, nevermind.

Your Bloguero wants as many people as possible to read and enjoy Tulum. And so it is with some trepidation that your Bloguero will shortly put his big toe in to test the murky waters of Literary Capitalism. And that big toe will be the first part of the Event and of your Bloguero's anatomy to get involved. Your Bloguero truly hopes that the Event does not destroy him. Or this blog. Or anything else that is fragile. Or can be saved. And he hopes, indeed dreams that the book will end up selling thousands and thousands of copies. And most of all, that it will be enjoyed by all who read it. That selling it will reward its readers.

So, like all other pre-game shows, this post’s sole purpose is to promote the upcoming Event. The Event is coming soon to a computer or bookstore near you.

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Jonathan Swift

Today is Jonathan Swift's birthday. He was born in 1667 in Dublin. The Writers' Alamanac remembers the best part:

Swift was also a wicked satirist; his most famous — or infamous — example is "A Modest Proposal." Its full title is "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick." Published in 1729, the essay proposes a solution to the problem of Irish poverty: Encourage the Irish poor to sell their children to the English nobility for culinary purposes. The essay begins: "I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout."

A ragout indeed.

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martes, noviembre 29, 2011

Speaking Of Great Ideas...

You stay classy, San Diego.

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lunes, noviembre 28, 2011

Maybe Plaza Italia

There is a wrought iron gate across the entrance. And it has a thick chain fastening its two sides together. A shiny brass lock as big as an open hand hangs heavily from the chain. Is all of this to keep me out? Or to keep me in? I have no idea. There’s nobody around to ask. So I search for a hole in the fence. Or a tunnel. Or an easy way to climb over the top. Or a tree or bush that can help me scale the wall. Or a hidden or dropped key. I’m patient. I know I will find my way in. Or is it out? I stand there searching for it. I’m content. I am trying to get to the other side.

When I wake up, interrupting the dream, I know that the gate and the fence will reappear, and the search will resume as soon as I fall asleep again. So I ask myself in a clueless, sleepy voice, “Well, what’s on the other side anyway? What are you looking for?” Of course, there’s no answer. How could there be? But the question delights me. What am I looking for? I have no idea. What’s on the other side? I don’t know. It’s a puzzle. As I fall asleep again I yawn happily, “Well, I hope I find out.” This always brings a smile. I like the idea of smiling in my sleep at my persistent search for something unknown.

I should add, though I’m not sure that it really matters, that I am wearing a brown raincoat and a hat with a narrow brim and that I am standing in a late Fall, afternoon rain. My glasses are foggy. And the hat is dripping. Maybe I am in Palermo. Maybe the street is Las Heras. I don't know. I have the impression that people are nearby, sitting in cafes drinking coffee and watching the rainfall on the streets. And others are nearby riding buses and subways home. I am sure that my adventure, if that is what this is, is not in their thoughts. This is exactly how it should be.

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domingo, noviembre 27, 2011


sábado, noviembre 26, 2011

Remembering J.B. Lenoir

I'm not sure why I remembered this song today. J.B. Lenoir just jumped into my mind. And this recording, I think, was his most powerful. I haven't listened to it for decades. But here it is again. If you've never heard him, or this song, you've been missing something important.

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viernes, noviembre 25, 2011

Tom Wicker, RIP

The New York Times reports:

Tom Wicker, one of postwar America’s most distinguished journalists, who covered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy for The New York Times and became the paper’s Washington bureau chief and an iconoclastic political columnist for 25 years, died on Friday at his home near Rochester, Vt. He was 85 and also the author of 20 books. ...

His most notable involvement took place during the uprising by 1,300 inmates who seized 38 guards and workers at the Attica Correctional Facility in Upstate New York in September 1971. Having written a sympathetic column on the death of the black militant George Jackson at San Quentin, Mr. Wicker was asked by Attica’s rebels to join a group of outsiders to inspect prison conditions and monitor negotiations between inmates and officials. The radical lawyer William M. Kunstler and Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panther Party, also went in, and the observers took on the role of mediators.

Mr. Wicker, in a column, described a night in the yard with the rebels: flickering oil-drum fires, bull-necked convicts armed with bats and iron pipes, faceless men in hoods or football helmets huddled on mattresses behind wooden barricades. He wrote: “This is another world — terrifying to the outsider, yet imposing in its strangeness — behind those massive walls, in this murmurous darkness, within the temporary but real power of desperate men.”

Talks broke down over inmate demands for amnesty and the ouster of Russell G. Oswald, the State Corrections Commissioner. Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller rejected appeals by the observers to go to Attica, and after a four-day standoff, troopers and guards stormed the prison. Ten hostages and 29 inmates were killed by the authorities’ gunfire in what witnesses called a turkey shoot; three inmates were killed by other convicts, who also beat a guard to death. Afterward, many prisoners were beaten and abused in reprisals.

Mr. Wicker wrote a book about the uprising, “A Time to Die” (1975). Most critics hailed it as his best book, although some chided him for sympathizing with the inmates. “Attica,” a television movie starring Morgan Freeman as a jailhouse lawyer and George Grizzard as Mr. Wicker, was made by ABC in 1980.

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This Week In The Dream Antilles

A Friday that feels like Sunday. Unless you’re engaged in the widely hyped capitalist feeding frenzy called “Black Friday.” Or some of the many other activitie your Bloguero disdains. Today your Bloguero’s world is divided into only two parts, day and night, the 1% and the 99%, those who think today might be Sunday and those who think it’s for filling up the credit cards, those who are hung over from tryptophan and wine and those who are not. This way of experiencing the world, sharp, high contrast dualism, is disturbing to your Bloguero. But what can you expect when the first meal of the day is left over turkey and chocolate cake?

A day to make the crooked straight and the rough places plane. And for this:

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn't actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles.

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martes, noviembre 22, 2011

On Gratitude

An annual re-post and by now a Dream Antilles Thanksgiving tradition:

At our house, when we have Thanksgiving dinner, we like to stop eating and talking to go around the table clockwise so that each person present can say what s/he is thankful for. When we first decided to do this, some of our guests felt this was awkward, perhaps embarrassing. But we don't start with the guests, so they can get an impression of what expressing gratitude and hearing others express it feels like. Those in our immediate family understood this and were comfortable enough with it. After all, at birthdays, we like to go around the table to tell the person celebrating the birthday our many appreciations of him/her. So on Thanksgiving, it's a natural enough question, "What are you thankful for this year?" The answers aren't always surprising. We're thankful for being here another year, for our health however it might then be, for family and friends, for the lives of those now departed, for whatever abundance we may have received, for creativity, for our pets, for our relationships, for our businesses, for our politics, for our dreams and aspirations and hopes, and so on. We're thankful for all kinds of things. You get it, you can probably feel it even reading about doing this. It's a Thanksgiving ritual we love. Feel free to try it out.

I always loved Thanksgiving because, however it was intended or begun, it seemed to be about gratitude. For years I've had a practice I've done. Sometimes I do it every day. Sometimes I do it once a month. Sometimes I don't do it for a very long time. It depends. What do I do? I make a list of the things I am thankful for. I number them as I write them down, and I feel my gratitude for each item as I write it before going on to the next. So, I write, "1. my good health, 2. the life of Dr. King, 3. compassion for my seeming enemies, 4. the novels of Cesar Aira." And so on. Until I reach 50. I do this, writing and feeling, until I have a list of 50 items or more that I have enjoyed and felt my thanks for. When I am feeling pinched, stressed, exhausted, depressed, or any other "negative" emotion, it seems to take me a very long time to find items, to write them down and really to feel them. When I am feeling expansive, relaxed, rested, optimistic, or any other "positive" emotion, it takes me virtually no time to write and enjoy the list. Why do this exercise? Because it's almost magical. And it lights me up. Feel free to try it out.

Was it Meister Eckhart who wrote, "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice?" I agree.

May all of you have a happy Thanksgiving.

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lunes, noviembre 21, 2011

Green Turtle Swimming

I just love this. Fantastic. Enjoy it.

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sábado, noviembre 19, 2011

Coatis In The Rain

The Mayan Riviera's favorite animal act. Enjoy. But do NOT feed.

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viernes, noviembre 18, 2011

This Week In The Dream Antilles

The Old Fruteria, Tulum

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this courier from the swift completion of his appointed rounds.

Right. But when it comes to the Weekly Digest and your Bloguero, things happen. Clumsy, annoying things. Things that could easily derail this essay. Things like somehow deleting every shred of the final draft of this post before it was saved. Stupid, aggravating things. Things that make this a painful, unnecessary re-write from scratch. Things that make your Bloguero wonder whether the All Knowing Universe is trying to tell him in a special secret code not to post this essay. But even that paranoid wondering will not stop your Bloguero. No. Not now. Nor will it stop him from doing his crazy, eccentric, aerobic Happy Dance. Nothing can stop that. Not today. Not now.

What’s the dance all about? Thank you for asking.

Your Bloguero received via email about an hour ago the proofs for his new novella, Tulum. The cover. The inside of the book. The whole thing. All of it. That started the Happy Dance. Why? Why indeed. Because that means that the very last, the final step in evicting this book from its large, dusty, cluttered corner office in your Bloguero’s mind and sending it to live elsewhere, in your Kindle or bookcase, is finally at hand. After a long five years. Let your Bloguero repeat that for emphasis. Your Bloguero has arrived at the very last, the final step in the production of this novella. And very soon, to your Bloguero’s utter relief and delight, it will be out of his head and living elsewhere.

This weekend in a hyper-caffeinated, vigilant, extremely focused, narrow, tunnel vision way your Bloguero will read every single letter of the 197-page document with a blue pencil in his hand, ferreting out the problems, finding them all (he truly hopes) and fixing each of them. Some problems, particularly the written evidence of your Bloguero’s infelicities and shortcomings as a writer, will, of course, have to remain. Your Bloguero’s limitations come with the territory. He’s the last one who can recognize or fix them. But the orthographic and typographical issues? Those are much more visible to your Bloguero. Your Bloguero will root these out and mercilessly extirpate them. He hopes. Bring on the French Roast. Bring on the chamber music. Take the phone off the hook. Bring on the withering gaze and stare.

Maybe Tulum will be available before Christmas. Your Bloguero doesn’t know. He does know that the task at hand will be completed by the end of the weekend. No matter what. No excuses.

That having been said, is your Bloguero now going to turn today’s weekly digest into a crass, commercial plea filled with hype, distortions, and outright lies stating that you simply must buy this book? Or else? Hardly. Your Bloguero isn’t like that. Well, at least he’s not like that today. He’ll be satisfied today if you go to “Tulum: The Novella’s” Facebook page and click “like” so that you’ll be informed of when this book is finally available through the usual commercial channels. He’s not demanding your money today. Not today.

Yes, your Bloguero would love to sell thousands of copies of this novella, and yes, he’d like your help in making that happen. When it’s out and available there will be plenty of time for his sales spiel.It will likely come masquerading as a weekly digest. He can't help that.

In the meanwhile, please join your Bloguero in the Happy Dance. Cue the loud music. Roll up that rug.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn't actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles

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miércoles, noviembre 16, 2011

Coming Soon: Tulum, the Novel

I'm overjoyed. The novel, Tulum, is finally "in production" at the printer. It's going to be out soon as a physical book and as an eBook in all formats. It's the culmination of more than five years' work.

For details on the release and other news about this book, please "like" the "Tulum: The Novella" page on Facebook, and please visit it for news about the release, sales, and photos.

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The People's Library Needs Your Help

Some sadness.

One of the very best parts of Occupy Wall Street at Z park was the People’s Library. It had about 5,500 volumes, and it accepted books from whoever wished to donate them. It didn’t approve books before including them in the collection, it just accepted them. In other words, the library incorporated the same, basic, participatory democracy precepts as the Occupy Movement itself. And the collecting was democratic and from the ground up.

On November 15, 2011, when Occupy was evicted from Z park in what I still think, despite the Court’s ruling, was a grotesque, repressive misstep by the Government, the library was removed. Was it, as told by Keith Olbermann and others, thrown into dumpsters and hauled off to the dump by police as if this were 1933 in Germany? Or was it, as claimed by Mayor Bloomberg, removed and stored at a far away building at 12th Avenue and 57th Street. Bloomberg, of course, dutifully released a photo claiming to show that the books were in safekeeping. Those at OWS disputed the claim and wanted to know where the rest of the books had gone. That is a story still to be sorted out.

This is a photo from this morning. This is now the People’s Library.

And this is sad. This is sadder than being told that tents and sleeping bags and tarps are not permitted. It is sadder than being told that drumming is not permitted. It is sadder by far than yesterday’s questionable First Amendment ruling. This strikes at the heart of Occupy in a way the reminds of Fahrenheit 451 and evokes pyres of burning books. And that simply cannot be permitted to continue. The library must be returned. And if cannot be returned it must be rebuilt. Immediately. The movement requires it. If the library cannot be continued at Z Park, it needs a safe space nearby. There must be a People’s Library. All of us need it.

Please join me in rebuilding the People’s Library. Please join me in sending books to the Occupy Wall Street library. Here’s where to send them:

The UPS Store
Re: Occupy Wall Street

Attn: The People's Library
118A Fulton St. #205

New York, NY 10038

As I write this Occupy is trying to retrieve the books that were allegedly taken Uptown. If you have a car or truck, you could help with that.

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martes, noviembre 15, 2011

Tortuga en Hawaii

Expand to full screen. Swim along. Enjoy.

Note: It's Hawaii, not Mexico, so there is no coral and no sea grass. No matter.

And then there's this release in Italy:

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lunes, noviembre 14, 2011


The journey began in earnest in Ireland at Sliabh na Caillí, or Loughcrew in Co. Meath, Ireland. Yes, before I went there I was "working" on the book. But it was a sporadic effort: sometimes writing, sometimes letting the manuscript sit in a drawer gathering dust. Truth be told, much more of the latter. But in April, 2009, the situation changed. As I wrote at the time:

Sliabh na Caillí... is a sacred site with cairns dedicated to or occupied by the Crone, or the Hag, or Garavogue. It is far more than 4000 years old. There are, of course, many details. But the important part is the personal, the intuitive, the spiritual.

When I visited Sliabh na Caillí with an international band of Shamanic friends... I made an offering to the Crone in her cairn, and I asked her whether she had anything to tell me. And she did. I am to finish the draft of my novel in process before the end of the coming September. No excuses. No extensions of time. No dogs eating my homework. I take this seriously. I do not wish to run afoul of the Crone's wishes. I do not wish to incite her to anger. I do not wish to taste her wrath.

To make sure I wouldn't let the time slip by, to make sure that my vow to follow this message and to complete the task would be kept, I told my friends what the Crone had to say. They are my witnesses. And today, a couple weeks later, I am writing it down. Forgetfulness, unconsciousness, being busy, lack of mindfulness, other seeming necessities, all forms of practiced sloth, are not to deter me. Nor rain, nor gloom, nor dread of night, stops this courier from the prompt completion of his appointed rounds. And you, dear readers, are witnesses also.

The working title of my book is "Tulum," which is a Mayan town in Quintana Roo, Mexico. I won't tell you about the book, except to say that it is about the friendship of a US expat with a shady background and a Mayan curandero. There are 30,000 +/- words on my key drive as I write this.

And so, I have a task, a quest, an imramma, a journey to perform. I am honored to carry this out.

That was 2009. That was more than a year and 50,000 words ago.

I finished a very rough draft in that September. And after many revisions and changes and editing and rewriting and far too much staring at the ceiling and making excuses and worrying about it, on February 13, 2011, I uploaded the manuscript to the publisher. And today I uploaded the other required materials. And now I am finished. The rest of the task is merely mechanical. Or proofreading.

Well, not really. It's not that simple. There remains something else. Something else that's extremely important. Something that I don't want to leave out. It's the real conclusion of the imramma.

Even when the book is in your hands or on your Kindle, even then, even when you've read it, even when you've passed it on to others, or maybe even forgotten it, my task won't be completed. I realize that. There is something else that has to be done. My journey won't really be completed until I have taken this book in digital form, placed it on a key drive, and personally delivered the drive to the Crone by placing it discreetly in the rocks in her cairn. Only then will all of the assigned tasks have been completed. Only when one returns after the quest to the very beginning is the journey completed.

When one accepts a challenge or inspiration or advice and chooses to embark on a quest, and then carries out one's assigned tasks, there remains one more, final step. It remains important afterwards to return to the very beginning, to the very person who inspired or commissioned the effort and to stand before him or her. And upon returning, it's important to say aloud to that person, "I have done it, I have completed it, and I have returned to tell you this." It is then important to offer one's gratitude for a journey so remarkable it qualifies to be called a quest. It seems to me that it's this mythic return and the expression of gratitude that really completes the journey.

I will now look for airfare for April, 2011. It's been two years, and I am at last ready to return.

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sábado, noviembre 12, 2011

Coming Soon To A Kindle or iPad Near You

I'm tired. And I'm paying the cost of being a pre-computer typist. And my shoulders hurt. I am completely fried.

Today I spent about 6 hours getting the manuscript for the above book ready. That's the cover. Beautiful, right?

Guess what? When I took typing in the 7th grade (some prescience by mi padres, who somehow anticipated the keyboard age), I was told that after a period, after a question mark, after an exclamation, you always hit the space bar. Not once, but twice. Always. So it's reflex now, a habit. A habit of decades' reinforcement. Something I cannot stop doing.

So what, you say? So what? Hardly. It is not a "so what" kind of thing. This idiotic habit, this non-information age fetish, this throw back to the era of manual typewriting of the two space bar hits, cost me 6 hours today. Why? Because I had to remove all of the extra spaces after the periods, question marks, and exclamations. All of them. So the manuscript could be published.

The manuscript is about 81,000 words. Have you got any idea how many sentences that entails? Well,I do. 6,855 sentences. So, if I were consistent (I was in this because I cannot break the habit), I had to remove at least 6,855 spaces. Manually. Using a delete key. And this labor of love (what else on earth could it possibly be?) took 6 hours. And now as I write to tell you about today's thrilling but quite mind numbing activities, I find that after each period, I still hit the space bar twice. And then I have to go back and delete one of the spaces because that space is utterly unnecessary. That space is the typewriter atavism, the sign that I am of the past century, that word processing came after my typing, that I am wasteful of pixels.

Can I shed this horrible habit? In this post, no. I've failed in every sentence so far, and don't expect to be able to save myself right now.

There is good news, though. Having completed this exercise in deletion, the manuscript is about finished. I even cut three paragraphs that have grown out of favor. So sometime this coming week, away it goes. And soon, Tulum, the novella, will be in paperback and a Kindle or an iPad or other electronic reader near you. After all of this, I pray that every human being who can read will buy a copy of it.

Meanwhile, I have been in the hot tub three times today because of soreness in my shoulders. And as I write to tell you this, I am conscious that after I hit the period key, there is still an overwhelming, overpowering, assertive, undeniable urge to hit the spacebar. Twice.

There are some other minor tasks that need doing before Tulum is gone, but I see no reason why those cannot be completed in the next three days.

It's about time. This is a project that's been about six years in the making.

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viernes, noviembre 11, 2011

11/11/11 at 11:11:11 am?

Talk about inscrutable:

(11 / 11) / 11 = 0.0909090909


jueves, noviembre 10, 2011

This Week In The Dream Antilles

Well, well, well. And tut, tut, tut. Your Bloguero feels ever so sweetly but wrongly chastened by a Maddow Blog article by Kent Jones on November 9. A taste of this article about referring to one’s self in the third person, if you really insist on it:

That word is illeism. The act of referring to oneself (often habitually) in the third person.

According to Wikipedia, illeism has a variety of uses including self-promotion, to give the speaker lofty airs, to illustrate the feeling of being outside one's body and watching things happen, as a form of sarcasm or as a way to show dim wittedness, such as when the Mongo in Blazing Saddles declares: "Mongo only pawn in game of life."
So why does someone become an illeist? According to Yahoo answers:

Because when you do that it makes you feel like you're not so alone. It's a psychological way of making yourself feel like there's someone with you, even if it is only yourself. He was probably picked on as a child, that usually being the cause for this behavior. On the other hand if he's doing this in a joking fashion, its just that, a joke.

Aha! it could be a joke. That backs up Rachel's Herman Cain is a Performance Artist theory.

Wait a second. Wait one forking second. On this pop psychologizing and its implicit fault finding of your Bloguero and negative judgments about him, your Bloguero, who almost always refers to himself in the third person in these Friday posts, calls, to adopt one of Maddow’s pet phrases, “Bull pucky.” That’s right. Bull. Forking. Pucky. Bull Pucky, you hear? Bull pucky. Bull pucky. Bull pucky.

Let’s look at the facts.

Is your Bloguero trying self promotion in this post? Right, like your Bloguero is the Deion Saunders of the small blogs, on some of which his Friday posts get, oh wait for it, two, count them readers, count them, two reccs. Or giving himself lofty airs? Right, like your Bloguero is some kind of authority on something or claims to be? Seriously. The only thing your Bloguero is an authority on or has even claimed authority about are his own multifaceted idiosyncrasies. And those, to his sincere regret, are many, but he knows them intimately. Or, did you check this out? Your Bloguero is outside his body? As if he were Emanuel or some other channeled, discorporate being? Not so. Totally untrue. Your Bloguero is living in his body as he types this out. His fingers are cold. One does not have cold fingers unless one has a body. QED. And is your Bloguero sarcastic? OK, ok, ok, ok. Well, all right. Sometimes he’s sarcastic even when he uses the first person. If you grew up in Newark like your Bloguero and spent some of your waking hours at the local courthouses observing what passes for justice in America, you’d be sarcastic, too. You might even be more than sarcastic. You might be postal. Not your Bloguero. Your Bloguero is a pacifist of sorts.

Look, you don’t have to write in the third person to be disillusioned and to lash out in sarcasm or rolling eyes or making faces. C’mon, admit it. And is your Bloguero, heaven forefend, dimwitted? One, even if that one is solely your Bloguero, hopes not. What an insult.

And then there’s the hardest question. How can you even ask it? Is referring to one’s self some kind of joke? Is this a joke? Is your Bloguero making a joke? Your Bloguero takes umbrage at the suggestion. And also a double martini. With two olives. It’s not a joke. No joke. It’s life itself. If life’s a joke, it’s not your Bloguero’s fault.

No. Why does your Bloguero have to explain himself to smart people like Rachel Maddow and Kent Jones? Look. Writing in the third person at its very worst is a pose taken by the eccentric (there’s that word again), offbeat narrator of these Friday post. That’s who shows up every Friday. The Bloguero. That’s who’s been showing up every single Friday since February with this digest. If you were Deepak Chopra you’d note this bizarre, quantum equivalence:

weekly digest = the Bloguero

Anybody who thinks this is wrong, or a problem, or weak physics, or has some other wisecracks or criticism about it, just raise your hand. Go right ahead. Raise you hand. Right now. Your Bloguero will now ignore all that snickering and the waving hand too. Nobody, including especially your Bloguero, has to put up with these indiscreet, prying inquiries. The idea of asking for an explanation. Humpf.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn't actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles.

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miércoles, noviembre 09, 2011

Joe Paterno: Please Quit Now (Updated)

At noon Saturday, 19th ranked Nebraska will pay 12th ranked Penn State in football at Beaver Stadium. Beaver Stadium at Penn State has an official seating capacity of 106,572, making it the second largest stadium in the Western Hemisphere and the fourth largest in the world. There is every reason to expect that every single seat will be occupied for this game. And there is every reason to believe that when the Penn State team takes the field, every single person will cheer that team. And, if he’s permitted to stall his “retirement” past noon on Saturday when the game begins, its record holding, long term coach, Joe Paterno, will also be loudly cheered. I do not expect him to be booed, as he so richly deserves. I do not expect the crowd to greet him with icy silence and fingers pointed in accusation. Already hundreds of students have demonstrated their unconditional support for JoePa, no matter what he may have failed to do to protect young boys from sex abuse.

What we now know about the allegations in the Sandusky child sex abuse case makes it clear that Paterno must go. He needs to quit. In short: at least one rape occurred in the Penn State locker room shower. Paterno only reported the incident to his boss. Paterno was told about the rape by someone who was apparently an eyewitness to it. Paterno then let the matter drop when to no one’s surprise, those above him didn’t call the police or report the incident or pursue the rapist. In other words, Paterno’s response was utterly inadequate to protect the victim of that rape, and it did nothing to prevent the abuse of others in the future by the same man.

One has to wonder how the stadium’s cheers and accolades for the 84-year old coach will be heard by the alleged victims of Sandusky’s abuse. Not to mention the many other children who have been abused by others. Will the cheers say that football is more important than young children’s personal safety? And one can only wonder what the unfortunate spectacle of Paterno’s standing on the sidelines says about our commitment as a society to protecting all children from sex abuse.

Joe Paterno needs to quit. And he needs to do it now, before Saturday. If he doesn’t quit, he needs to be fired. If there’s no consensus to fire him, which would a shameful development, he needs to be suspended until the end of the season. Penn State cannot permit him to take the field for this game and receive the adoring cheers of the fans. That would send entirely the wrong message about Paterno’s nonfeasance, that University's priorities, and role that sport plays in this society.

Indeed, Paterno himself today recognized his utter failure to act responsibly when he wrote,

“This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

I wish he had done more,too. And I bet that the victim of the abuse reported to Paterno wishes he had done more. And I bet the victims of abuse that occurred because there was no outcry wish he had done more. It's that simple. And now he needs to be gone.

Update: 10:30 pm. The University just fired its president and Joe Paterno. So for now, the matter is concluded. I still think Paterno should have quit, but if he had to be fired, so be it.

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martes, noviembre 08, 2011

Heavy D, RIP

Old school. 1986. He will be missed.

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Today's Commercial




The ten million stars
just poets and madmen see,
I want to see them.


domingo, noviembre 06, 2011

For Today, Sunday: America

The beloved Tigres del Norte with a rap from Calle 13. Perfect to get it shaking today. Rock out!

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sábado, noviembre 05, 2011

La Santa Cecilia Rocks!

This is from LA. Hard to believe? Well, it's got everything. Accordion. Cumbia. Salsa. Jazz. Scat. Insane percussion. This rocks. I give it a 9 for the beat. And, guess what, in the opinion of your most humble Bloguero, this should win a Latin Grammy. You heard it here first. Your Bloguero loves this band. He cannot wait for them to play NYC or Boston or someplace where your Bloguero can bask in this.

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jueves, noviembre 03, 2011

This Week In The Dream Antilles

Your Bloguero is embarrassed. He was going to tell you that the dog ate his homework, so there was no “This Week” this week. He even discussed it with the dog. Would she be willing to take the blame for this week’s soon to be nonexistent post? No, she would not. Speaking as a 10-year old, experienced Golden Retriever owned by someone who claims to be a writer, the dog says only this: “Give cookies. And, by the way, suck it up, hot shot. You’re the one who’s supposed to be the writer. Not me. Stop complaining. Just hammer it out.” That is cold. Very cold. But good advice. And to think that your Bloguero thought the dog was going to help. And provide an excuse. Alack. What a disappointment. Your Bloguero also thought there was some drug he could ingest that would get him to write the post, but alack and alack, he confesses he can’t find it.

Your Bloguero’s desperation runneth over. Every Friday. Without fail, your Bloguero has committed to post on four group blogs and his own blog. Like clock work. No matter what. How, your Bloguero wonders, can he explain that this week there just is no “This Week.” It’s just not there. It wasn’t written. It wasn’t posted. Poof. It’s gone. Probably, he can’t. Probably, you, dear reader, don’t want to hear the whining, excuses, lies, and assorted, inventive short fiction about your Bloguero’s lack of output and the claimed, creative “reasons” for it. Know what? Your Bloguero is not exactly captivated by inventing excuses either.

So perhaps a confession will suffice. This week your Bloguero was obsessed with something. And he didn’t do much writing because he was totally obsessed with this and he doesn’t write when he’s obsessing.

A bit of probably unnecessary background: your Bloguero has now reached a certain age. It’s the age at which the Government is supposed to provide Medicare. But. And this is a very big but, your Bloguero is so far from retiring that that “R” word is not a regular part of his regular internal discourse. No. So he’s not getting a gold watch. And he’s not moving to Arizona. Or Florida. And he’s not departing on his Spiritual Journey to Benares. Or even Benares on the Atlantic (Palm Beach). Or buying an RV. Or a boat. Or a vineyard. Or a trophy wife. Or a set of golf clubs. Nope. Nada. None of the above. Not one of them. Your Bloguero has other concerns, concerns that are more important to him. Specifically, your Bloguero wants to know what he has to do so that he will be referred to by others as “Don David” or “Don davidseth” or “Don Bloguero.”

Maybe that’s not a big deal to you, especially if you live in one of the many Gringo parts of the world where honorifics and polite address are utterly irrelevant and where disrespect is the order of the day. But let your Bloguero assure you, this is a big deal to your Bloguero. A very big deal. One he has relentlessly been obsessing about for a week. One that has become a consummate distraction to him.

Look. Being called “Don [insert first name]” is a very big deal to your Bloguero:

Although originally a title reserved for royalty, select nobles, and church hierarchs, it is now often used as a mark of esteem for a person of personal, social or official distinction, such as a community leader of long standing, a person of significant wealth, or a noble, but may also be used ironically. As a style, rather than a title or rank, it is used with, and not instead of, a person's name….

Today in Mexican-American communities, the Don or Doña is used in honorific form when addressing a senior citizen.

Right. It’s an honorific. For people of esteem. For senior citizens. Your Bloguero consulted with his usual, expert cultural consultants about this, and they each told him uniformly that he was old enough, yes, that he didn’t need to have many grandchildren to merit the title, yes, and because he was a nice guy and held in esteem generally, he could properly be called “Don Bloguero.” Right. Good enough.

But why then, your Bloguero wants to understand, is he NOT called “Don” anything? Ever. It has never ever happened. Surely, it is not your Bloguero’s obligation to tell other people that he has now assumed the rank of Don by virtue of his age and being an esteemed and great person, so, therefore they should now begin to address him as such. No. It is not your Bloguero’s function to demand this title. Instead, what is required, your Bloguero thinks, is for the larger community spontaneously, without prompting, without coaching or wheedling or paying of mordidas, to confer the title, to begin to call him Don. All on its own. Spontaneously. Without hinting or demands from your Bloguero.

You can, your Bloguero is sure, anticipate the problem here. That is what your Bloguero has been obsessing about. Can’t your Bloguero pick up this title? And if he can’t, what exactly has your Bloguero done so that he does not merit being called “Don Bloguero?” And what, pray tell, does your Bloguero have to do to be referred to by his important honorific. It is important to your Bloguero to be referred to by this title. Maybe it's his vanity. Maybe he's finally bugged out completely. Maybe. But he wants to be known as "Don Bloguero", and he won't tell anyone that's what he wants.

If you know the answer to this quandry, please write it on a $500 peso bill and mail it to your Bloguero immediately.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn't actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles.

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Tuesday's Election In Columbia County

Disclaimer: The author has not endorsed and will not endorse any candidate for any position in the November, 2011 election. This essay is directed entirely at steps voters may wish to take to cast intelligent, responsible votes in November's DA and judicial contests. This essay is updated from an April, 2011 essay on the same topic.

"Every nation that has ended in tyranny has come to that end by way of good order. It certainly does not follow from this that peoples should scorn public peace, but neither should they be satisfied with that and nothing more. A nation that asks nothing of government but the maintenance of order is already a slave in the depths of its heart; it is a slave of its well-being, ready for the man who will put it in chains."
— Alexis de Tocqueville

Good order. Which brings me ever so briefly to Tuesday's election in Columbia County, New York. This is an off-off year election. There are no national or statewide races. There are only four county-wide races. There are no coat tails. And, to nobody’s surprise, there may be very little voter interest. The two most important countywide races are for County Judge and for District Attorney. The others are for coroner and treasurer. In other words, the race, if it’s about anything other than personality and party political power, which is doubtful, is about good order. It remains to be seen whether it is about more than that.

Let’s face it, the electorate doesn’t really know much about either job. If the voter’s house hasn’t been burglarized, or s/he hasn’t been arrested for DWI, or her kids aren’t hauled in for smoking pot, the voter has no direct experience of what the District Attorney does and does not do. And since most people want nothing at all to do with being victims of crimes, somebody who is aggressively against crime— isn’t everybody?— seems to be a good enough candidate to maintain good order. There’s more, but if the campaigns have illuminated these additional points I may have missed it.

The County Court job is far more opaque. There are very few people who know what goes on in Columbia County’s County Court. Most of them are participants. Virtually nobody shows up at the County Courthouse just to watch and find out what is going on, to observe the process, and how it is carried out. The stories in the newspaper don’t help educate about this. They discuss the outcomes of criminal cases, which are a relatively small part of the Court’s business, and they don’t talk about Family Court. Ever. That’s odd, because the overwhelming majority of the County Court’s business is Family Court. An unscientific estimate: 2/3’s or more of the Court’s business is Family Court.

The odds are that most voters know absolutely nothing about Family Court. The odds are that they have never been there, know no one who has been there, have no friends who have been there, and might not even know what is supposed to go on there. That’s because although Family Court is the county’s busiest Court, most of the litigants there are not “frequent voters.”

Who are the litigants in Family Court? They are almost entirely the County’s poorest residents on one side and the Department of Social Services on the other. Or there are cases between the poorest residents on both sides. It is extremely unusual for wealthy and middle class litigants to end up in Family Court. Why is that? Because they and their lawyers do everything humanly possible to avoid it. At all cost. And because “good order” means different things in different places, the Department of Social Services tends to ignore the questionable parenting of Columbia County’s most comfortable citizens.

If you’re solidly middle class and you are having a bad day and you had too much to drink before dinner and you throw a plate of spaghetti on the floor and curse and yell and scream and have a meltdown with your children present, the chances that you will ever be charged by DSS with neglect or abuse in Family Court are extremely remote. Nobody will call the cops or Child Protective Services. More likely, you’ll do a mandatory 8-count in a neutral corner, walk around the block, apologize profusely, and try again the next day to do better. In other words, nothing will happen to you. Commit this same conduct when you are poor, and it is far more likely that the event will be reported to some agency: 911, the cops, DSS, Social Services. The report of the event will be your engraved invitation to a Family Court experience that may last years.

In Family Court it is likely that your every facet will be investigated. These investigations are legion. You will eventually be told to participate in “services.” Parenting classes, anger management, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment. The list is as extensive as its results are undocumented. And you may end up under the supervision of DSS and the Family Court for years, if not for all eternity, and you may end up losing your children to Foster Care or have your parental rights terminated if you don’t comply. In other words, this is serious business for you and your family. If you are poor, all of this is about good order, though it is more often couched in terms of protecting children from bad parenting.

Tuesday's election is about many things, but chief among them is who will be the Family Court judge who will impose good order on the County’s poorest families. And how, one wonders, do political leaders who themselves have never been to Family Court and don’t know the first thing about it, decide whether someone is or is not a good candidate for this important and powerful position? Short answer: they have no real clue about the job, so they decide this the same way they decide other questions. They ask the circular question: who will be a good candidate, meaning who can get votes. Nothing else really matters to them.

This means that the voter cannot really rely on the wisdom of the nominations. They might be good; they might not. Nor can the voter rely on the campaigns. Judicial campaigns have rules that prevent the most basic confrontations between candidates on issues. The campaigns are designed to promote clichés about efficiency and justice and fairness and respect.

There is a better idea for voters. An idea better than blindly accepting a candidate because he or she is on your favorite political party's line. It’s about education. Before casting a ballot for County Court Judge in November, the voter would be well advised to take just a couple of hours off, sit in the gallery and watch Family Court churn out its cases some afternoon. Observe the judges (none are running for re-election in November), observe the litigants, listen to the lawyers. See for yourself what’s at stake in these horrendous cases. Talk to litigants in the hall about their experiences. Talk to the lawyers too. Once you’ve seen this you’ll be far more equipped to decide which candidate is best suited to the position.

Is it too late for that now? Probably. The next best idea: talk to people who are engaged in the process: lawyers, social workers, litigants, those who provide services. Ask them about their experiences.

Without that most minimal investigation, your vote is just buying a pig in a poke. And as deTocqueville argued, shouldn’t voters really be asking for more than just good order? Shouldn’t voters be asking for understanding, wisdom, compassion, restraint, and intelligence? In fact, shouldn’t voters be asking that the candidates have human qualities that bend toward justice? And as important, shouldn't voters conduct their own investigations so that they are trying actually to determine which candidate best fulfills the requirements of this very difficult job?

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miércoles, noviembre 02, 2011

Well, Yes

Unfortunately, your Bloguero has other obligations that cannot be shifted to another day. But that doesn't mean we're not in solidarity. Yes, let's occupy everything.

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