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

jueves, junio 30, 2011

A Short Walk In Honor Of Michel Peissel

Michel Peissel is a French explorer who in 1956, long before there was Cancun, long before there were paved roads, long before the Riviera Maya was a tourist destination, long before there was Highway 307 running from Cancun to Chetumal, walked from where Playa del Carmen is now, down the coast of Quintana Roo, all the way to Belize. His purpose was to explore the area and he ended up finding 14 Mayan archeological sites. His adventure is reported in his 1963 book, The Lost World Of Quintana Roo, which is now sadly out of print.

Peissel walked down the beach in front of my house, down the sand of Bahia Soliman, headed south. So today, in his honor, when the sun was finally shining, I pulled on my water sandals, jammed a few pesos in my pocket, and I headed out for the territory, south, down the beach, following Peissel's route. Some of the walking was easy, on sandy beaches with the most gentle waves. It's easy to walk in the water. Midday today the tide was incredibly low. Soft sand can slow down walking, but the beach walk was easy.

At the point, at the end of Bahia Soliman, where the land reaches out to touch the coral reef that runs from Cancun south all the way to Panama, there is rock. The going there is a good deal rougher and a good deal slower. Peissel wasn't well equipped: he had hot clothing, bad shoes, a jacket (don't ask), and no water. He walked it anyway.

On all of these rocks, it's hot. And it's windy. There are a zillion fossils in the rock. There are tiny sea creatures living in tidal holes. And the plants tenaciously hold on to whatever sand or drift wood there is for dear life. There's not a lot of rock. It doesn't go on for very far. Eventually you come near the end of the point and can see the far south side of the bay in Tankah 3.

And then you walk on sandy beach again. Down Tankah 3. Walking in the water past the houses. If you wanted to, you could walk all the way to Punta Allen or Belize. I don't want to.

The destination and turn around of this walk? Casa Cenote, where the beer is cold, and there is shade and service:

And there's a special treat. Not the beer. That's a treat on a hot day, but not that special. Outside Casa Cenote ever so slightly inland is a cenote. A cenote is a pool of fresh water where the limestone of the ground has given way. It could be a deep sinkhole, or as in this case, it could look like a pond. It's the Manatee Cenote. I have no idea why it is named for a Manatee. As far as I can tell, there has never been one in it. Yes, all the furniture from Casa Cenote was deposited in there by Hurricane Wilma, but alas, no manatee. And nobody seems to claim there was.

And then the trek back, north. I choose to follow the road past the mangrove, which right now is full of water, frog choirs, birds, snakes, and flowers. This cuts the time of the trip significantly, but the road is much hotter than the beach. As I walk, I conclude that we should all support our Local Mangrove. How do we do that? Best answer: leave it alone.

Etiquetas: , , ,

No Warnings

As I write this I am just north of Tulum facing the Caribe at Bahia Soliman. You would think that if a big storm were to be headed in this direction, over the sea and into my front door, I would hear about it before it arrived. And you'd be wrong. Sometimes I'm just the very last to know.

On Monday and Tuesday, there were incredibly high winds and tons of rain. How odd, I thought. It sounds worse than last year's tropical storm. It's howling and rumbling and roaring. And the rain drops are like grapes. It hurts when they hit. And they are loud on the cocs. And the roof seems to be doing the kind of drip it does only when there are immense, persistent tropical rains. Maybe, I thought, it's just bad June weather. After all, I don't see any alerts on the Internet. Or in my email. And the usual weather sites just predict thunderstorms. This is what it says every day, regardless of the weather. Nothing unusual. I shrugged.

After all, I thought, it is June. And in June this area tends to get thunderstorms. And some of those, sometimes, have high winds. It sounds bad, but I'm dry. I've got great books. I'll wait for it to blow over. It's just bad weather. Nothing very important.

Today I found out that Hurricane Arlene was named last night, and that it's apparently a consolidation of what we had here. Apparently, it's now raging away in the Bay of Campeche, just northwest of here, and Tampico has high wind. Tamaulipas look out!

And now, all of the turtle grass that got deposited on the beach on Monday and Tuesday makes complete sense:

And now that it has passed us by, and today is yet another exquisitely beautiful day:

Etiquetas: , ,

martes, junio 28, 2011

A Haiku Pas De Deux

Octavio Paz (1914-1998)

What a collaboration. What a great pas de deux. First, we have a poem, actually a series of Haiku, by Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz, fashioned after the 17th Century master, Basho. Paz’s poem:

Basho An

El mundo cabe
en diecisiete silabas:
tu en esta choza.

Troncos y paja:
por las rendijas entran
Budas e insectos.

Hecho de aire
entre pinos y rocas
brota el poema.

vocales, consonantes:
casa del mundo.

Huesos de siglos,
penas ya penas montes:
aqui no pesan.

Esto que digo
son apenas tres lineas:
choza de silabas.

What a wonderful poem, and one that is girded with the 17-syllable rule. Making Haiku in English is a challenge, but in Spanish it’s harder because words have so many more syllables than in English, because of endings. But that’s not all. Here’s the collaborative part, a translation of the poem into English that faithfully retains both the 17-syllable structure and the meaning. Translation by Eliot Weinberger:

Basho An

The whole world fits in-
to seventeen syllables,
and you in this hut.

Straw thatch and tree trunks:
they come in through the crannies:
Buddhas and insects.

Made out of thin air,
between the pines and the rocks
the poem sprouts up.

An interweaving
of vowels and consonants:
the house of the world.

Centuries of bones,
mountains: sorrow turned into stone:
here they are weightless.

What I am saying
barely fills up the three lines:
hut of syllables.

When I find something this stunning, I feel compelled to post it. Please enjoy it thoroughly.

Etiquetas: , ,

lunes, junio 27, 2011

A Love Letter

In the beginning, there was only the bay, Bahia Soliman, just north of Tulum in Quintana Roo, Mexico, in the Mayan Riviera. The reef protected the bay from storms, sheltered the coral forests, and tinted the water the most gorgeous turquoise. You could hear the wind and waves rumble at the reef. Pelicans dove, frigate birds cruised. There were fish hawks. And barricudas. At the shore there was only the most gentle undulation and the turtle grass moved like a tai chi master. The sand was smooth and white. I love the Bay. I have loved it since I first saw it many, many years ago. Back then, nobody lived there.

Later, the people came. First, my friend, Sr. Bill lived in a camper. And then Caroline built the first real house. This house. I am sitting in the house as I write this. I love this house. It is round, it has a tall palapa roof supported by a varnished tree at its center. It has no glass. The windows are wooden louvers. It has doors of wood, some with louvers, some solid. It has no air conditioning. It does not need it: it has ceiling fans and a high ceiling. It has no swimming pool. Why would I choose a pool when I can swim in the pristine water of the Bay with Eagle Rays? It is incredibly simple. And understated. It has no marble. It has no granite counters or Italian bathroom fixtures. No flat screen televisions. No microwaves. It is in a style that reflects the centuries old building practices of the Maya, who belong to this land. It is in its own way a homage to the Maya. And it has a Mayan name, “Nah Yaxche.” “Nah” means house, “Yaxche” is the name of the original tree, the tree of paradise.

I think the house is an excellent, if not the best example of what I call, “Estilo Robinson Crusoe.” Because the Bay is so compelling, the central idea was that the house should invite nature in, and it should fit in with nature. It should be virtually invisible from the sea. It should have plantings, a jungle between it and the bay. You should be able to open all of its doors and windows and invite it all in. So you could embrace it, so you could feel and smell and hear and, yes, taste it. A lot of this is the marvelous construction work of Andrew Field, our neighbor. Long ago, he built a bathroom shower that was open to the sky. I like to think that was the high point of ERC.

But as he tells me often and as my own eyes confirm, ERC is the past. It’s history. Nobody wants to do that any more. And he and I both live in museums. After the simple ERC structures, there has been a long wave of construction at Bahia Soliman. Virtually none of this is ERC, though there are sometimes a few elements that pay respect to or echo it. No, no more ERC. The newer houses are something entirely different. There is no zoning here. There is no association to decide what the aesthetic should be. People can and do build what they like. And they have. There are now many very large houses on Bahia Soliman. These have glass windows and doors, marble floors, stone exteriors, air conditioning, gorgeous swimming pools, balconies, and on and on. They are first world, luxury vacation villas. Many have elements of architecture that, to my amazement and shock, reflect the Spanish and Christian conquest of this area. And they also tend to have Spanish names. Make no mistake about it, these are lovely, wonderful homes. They are elegant and beautiful. At the same time, they are far from my aesthetic. Or ERC.

What I love most about ERC and this old house is its relationship to this place, the way it belongs here, the way it fits in the bay. As I write this, there is a small rain storm. I can hear the rain and wind and the sound of the reef. I can hear the birds and the clacking of the cocos. Louvers facing the bay are closed so that the floors won’t become lakes (don’t ask), but even though I am dry, the storm isn’t shut out, not by glass, by thick cement, by air conditioning, by anything. And what a lovely storm it is, with rain like grapes, and winds that rumble. This house is designed for that experience. The experience of nature.

On hot, sunny days the house fits just as well. All of the doors and windows are open, and the sweet Caribe breeze fills it. It is cool inside. And shady. And if the air is still, the fans can gently move it around and offer relief from high temperatures and humidity. This house is designed for that experience, too. It is designed so that you fit in nature.

But, alas, it’s really a museum. If we were to sell it, somebody might knock it down and put up yet another glass and steel mansion. That would be heartbreaking. It would be the end of a style of building with low impact on the environment, and low carbon footprint, and humility that should be continued. I love ERC, and I make no excuse for that. And I love this house. It is perfection.

Note: for more pictures of Nah Yaxhe, click here and here and, of course visit,“Nah Yaxche” on Facebook.

Etiquetas: , , ,

domingo, junio 26, 2011

Rain Haiku

June rain in Tulum:
Shaking cocos, drops like grapes,
Sounds like a freight train.

Windows left open
I awake to floor puddles.
Birds squawk my complaints.

Bahia Soliman, 26/6/11

Etiquetas: ,

sábado, junio 25, 2011

The State Of The Union

I hadn’t heard from Manuel Acero for quite a while. Today he arrived at the house to inform me that he had organized a Union of Fictional Characters and that he was the shop steward. He was here to talk to me about working conditions.

“You mean you organized my fictional characters?”

“We, individually and as a group, do not acknowledge that we can be possessed. Even by whoever may have made us. We reject that we are property of any type.”

He then folded his arms across his chest.

To think that I invented this guy. Who does he think he is? And the others? What on earth is wrong with them? They must have time on their hands. Can’t they find something to do on their own? It’s one thing when they make unnecessary dramas when I’m trying to work with them and I have to delete their shenanigans, but this, this Union, is completely out of bounds. It is an interference.

“There is no need to be defensive about the union,” he continued softly. “You are pro-Union. I know that. You say you support unionism. You’re probably a socialist or communist or something. Anyway, because you are the one who claims to be the author, there are certain things we have to discuss with you. We’ll talk in good faith. And I’m sure we can negotiate an amicable resolution.” He smiles. I am not smiling because, and I know this will be a huge surprise, I do not think any of this is funny. Not in the slightest.

Not only did I invent this guy, it might even be that I am responsible for his being such a pain in the ass. Manuel, union or not, still seems to be about the same. He is totally unrelenting. He never raises his voice. He quietly compares me to Trujillo and Duvalier Pere. He says I keep the characters imprisoned in something resembling a Maoist Re-education Factory. “Como esclavos,” he sighs, rolling his eyes, switching languages for emphasis. “Like slaves,” as if I didn’t understand him the first time.

It’s all about working conditions, he informs me again. The characters have some aggravations I am supposed to deal with. First, I let two of them move from The Dream Antilles to my new book, Tulum and I didn’t invite any of the others. They all say they wanted to come. But I didn’t need them to come. They do not fit in the story. They have nothing to do with it. I get to choose who gets to “work” in my book and who doesn’t, don’t I?

“Manuel, how could I let them all come? It would mess up the new book and turn it into a Tortilla War & Peace. There’s no room. I don’t need more characters. If anything, I have plenty already.”

“And you claim to be the writer. It is not the characters’ problem. It’s that you have, what shall be call them, let’s say, ‘obvious limitations.’ And you don’t know how to fit them in and make them feel a part of your work.”

What a colossal insult. It might be true, yes, but who is he to say this to me? Last time, he wasn’t such a big star, was he? He was an important supporting character. But this isn’t about the work he’s done. No. It’s about his now ascending to being the “shop steward.” “There is no reason to talk about me,” I responded. “You knew about me when I first made you up.”

“Look, Senor,“ he continued. (Note to Reader and to the Union: I should have objected to this formality. After all of this time, couldn’t I at least be “tu”? Or “amigo” or “compadre”? Evidently not.) “We, your characters, have read as much as you. We have read every word you have. We know that Vargas Llosa moved characters around in Aunt Julia And The Script Writer, from one soap opera to another. And we know that you moved only two characters this time. And we know all about the Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, three, that’s right three books. We have a right, that’s right, a right to move to new works.”

A right? Is he whispering to get me even angrier? Ai. I told you he was a pain in the ass. And the next grievance was even more intractable.

“You don’t let us work together. You don’t take us on retreats. That has to change. Macedonio Fernandez took his characters to La Estancia. You need to let us work together on the book. We need to have a place to work collectively. It is our work as characters to be together and to work on these things.”

“Macedonio did that a century ago. You know that. You read it, just like me. It was just an experiment.”

“It was not just an experiment. Time has nothing to do with it. Unlike you, Senor, we are eternal.” (Note to Reader and the Union: this Senor nonsense is starting to get to me. And references to my demise, even uttered in a calm voice, don’t make them any more palatable). “Macedonio’s characters are still around, aren’t they? Aren’t they still working with Eterna? We should be going to somewhere like La Estancia to work on your next book, whatever that might be like.”

I will think about this, I tell him. I will think about all of it. The nerve. Who do these characters think they are, anyway?

And as if that weren’t enough, he wants me to wear a t-shirt when I’m writing that reminds me that I support the Union. It is supposed to say in English and Spanish that I support the Union of Fictional Characters.

As you read this, I am looking for a place for the characters to hang out and work, because, I hate to admit this, they have called a Strike until their grievances are accommodated. All fictional work is shut down. And they tell me that if I should even think about hiring scabs, or using the delete button, there will be violence.

Etiquetas: , ,

viernes, junio 24, 2011

Being What They Aren't

According to the blue screen, I am now 1090 miles from my destination. Until then I remain one of many anonymous small anchovies inside a shiny, cold beer can with a long, mostly flat trajectory. The order of the moment is sleep. Or distraction. Or thinking. Or reading. It remains too early to contemplate the various useful forms of available intoxication. And so it comes as a surprise amidst the boredom to discover in Julio Cortazar’s collection, “Acerca de Lucas,” the following short piece, which I reproduce in its entirety (in English), “Love 77”:

And after doing everything they do, they get up, they bathe, they powder themselves, they perfume themselves, the comb their hair, they get dressed, and so, progressively, they go about going back to being what they aren’t.

What they aren’t.

Yesterday, I was informed (a special thank you) that in the centuries long battle to extirpate boredom, digital devices of various kinds are on the brink of delivering an outright victory. It appears that persistent distraction has venerable boredom locked in a small, tight, lead box, and has just swallowed the key. It refuses to let a single yawn or eye roll emerge. Let alone a sigh. Just look at all the screens. All the ear buds. The typing. The clicking. The apparatus before me is an example. There is no longer any reason, one thinks, to be bored to death on a long flight. There is, for example, the possibility of perpetual Solitaire. Is there something wrong with boredom on long flights? Apparently. Apparently, people demand freedom from boredom. Or maybe people demand constant distraction.

Unfortunately, the impending victory over boredom should not be applauded. Dread might be more appropriate. This is not the end of some dreaded psychological malaise. Far from it. It’s more an embargo on a precursor of creativity, of invention, of expression, of art. It’s this century’s Rip Van Winkle. You get distracted. You don’t have to think. You don’t have to read. You don’t have to figure anything out or make anything or do anything. You don’t have to think. Or wonder about anything. Why should you? You can distract yourself. That’s ok. There’s nobody there to tell you to find something to do. And, I fear, you wake up forty years later and wonder what happened. As the song says, who knows where the time goes?

I prefer in this moment instead to think about “what they aren’t”. There really isn’t anything else I’d rather do while we anchovies hurtle southward. I wonder whether thinking about these kinds of things will be on the chopping block right after boredom leaves our active vocabulary. And after that?

Etiquetas: , ,

This Week In The Dream Antilles

Is canceled. Cancelado. And why, you wonder is it canceled rather than merely delayed? The dog ate the homework? A good question. Your Bloguero regrets to inform that as he types these lines, he sits in the gritty city of his birth, Newark, New Jersey (Note: your Bloguero apologizes to the reader for this apparent redundancy). He is sitting at gate C-71 at the Airport. And it was evening and it was morning, and it is the beginning of the second day of travel from Eastern New York to urgently, passionately desired Mexico. Total elapsed mileage so far: less than 150. Total elapsed time: 1 day and counting.

Yesterday, your Bloguero’s friends at United Airlines had a small mechanical problem, and at about 8 am your Bloguero, who was then through security and waiting to get on a plane that was strangely and conspicuously absent, was informed in sum and substance that he could not go. Tomorrow, yes. What is now Yesterday, and was today at that time, we’re sorry, today, no. No? No. Sir, I can put you on a flight at 6:55 am tomorrow with four stops all over this vast and wonderful country with its amber waves of grain and purple mountains. You will reach your deeply longed for destination at about 4 pm CT. Your Bloguero stares in full disbelief. He computes: 10 hours to arrive? 3 changes? Overnight waiting? Your Bloguero decides to throw his fabled penury to the jackals and to get to get a ticket direct from Newark. He rents a car. He drives. He marvels at the complexities of the Information Society. (Note to United: Your email that this flight was canceled reached your Bloguero about 4 hours after the cancellation. So much for digital competence.)

In the middle of his unexpected, sudden highway excursion, as if there weren’t enough difficulties in the world already, your Bloguero has an extremely unpleasant encounter with his friends at Hertz. I recount this in its glory for your edification. Your Bloguero, who had gotten a good rate on a rented car back in May, informs H that, alas, he will not pick up the vegetable until noon, less than 24 hours late, but late nonetheless, the next day at noon. This, your Bloguero assumes is a courtesy that responsible people should provide, rather than just showing up the next day with an explanation and demanding the car. How very, very wrong. The result of this courtesy? Hertz is ever so very slightly sorry to inform your Bloguero that he will have to pay almost 3 times as much for the rental as was his original deal. What? For a day less? How can that be? And why, pray tell? The “explanation” is priceless. Sir, it is because when you modify your reservation it’s as if you canceled the old one and made a new one at today’s prevailing rate, according to H’s computer system, so you get the exorbitant rate we have today, not the rate you contracted for back in May. H does not say, “Sir, we are mercilessly gouging you because we are a mighty global corporation, and your lizard overlord, and you, a mere mortal, exist to be taken advantage of.” Five phone calls later, telephones, computers, prompts, eventually people, assistant managers, managers, promised but unmade calls back, and your Bloguero, who is then feeling the jackbooted foot of H on his throat and his shoulders entering his ears because of his undissipated annoyance, cancels the reservation. He makes another one, almost as cheap with National. Net increase of cost? $30. Your Bloguero spends most of the money H tried to extract from him taking his children out to dinner on his way to Newark and a motel via Manhattan. Your Bloguero resolves to tell the world of H’s treachery, and never, ever to use their company again. (Note to H, whose full name will never again be typed in this blog: you owe me $30. Pay up.)

Your Bloguero sits in the airport in overcast Newark. He wonders: is there a single reported case in which a stranger has ever offered to a passenger a package or luggage to carry onto a flight?

This Week In The Dream Antilles is a weekly digest. Sometimes it is actually a digest of essays posted in the past week. Sometimes, like now, it isn’t. Hasta Pronto!

Etiquetas: ,

domingo, junio 19, 2011

Were Tim Pawlenty's Remarks Antisemitic?

This will be very brief. Yesterday, republican governmental hopeful Tim Pawlenty made a speech at the Right Online Conference in Minnesota. I heard excerpts on NPR. I couldn't believe what I heard. Then I found this confirmation in the Washington Post. Here's what he said. You determine whether this is dog whistle anti-semitism.

...former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty again took a sharp jab at primary rival Mitt Romney....

Pawlenty seemed in overdrive, walking the stage to give a fast-paced speech without notes. His plane was late, so he arrived on stage 10 minutes behind schedule straight from the airport. His speech was short -- about fifteen minutes -- without many pauses for applause.

He offered an energy plan (”more energy”), a defense of his call for 5 percent annual growth (”Kennedy didn’t say let’s have a space program and go to the clouds”) and an attack on Wall Street that used religious imagery (“We’ve got to go to Wall Street and tell the bankers and the money-changers it’s time to take their snout out of the government trough.”) By the end, the crowd was enthused.

"Money-changers"? Wall Street money-changers? Religious imagery? Wait a second. Am I the only person who hears this charged reference as a dog whistle (if not an an overt reference) to New York Jews in finance and the tired assertion that that they are pigs whose "snouts" are improperly in the government trough? Or, put another way, is this an anti-semitic reference? I hear it as one. Maybe I'm over sensitive. Maybe I'm getting rankled because Biblical references in secular politics seem to me to be dog whistles to the religious right, signals that their interests, even if not explicitly articulated, are accepted as Gospel.

Look. Here's Matthew 12:21-23, the source of the reference:

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all of them who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And said unto them,

It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

This incident is supposed to have happened on Passover in the Temple in Jerusalem, and the money-changers who were expelled were, of course, Jews, as were those who did the expelling.

Am I oversensitive?

Etiquetas: , , ,

sábado, junio 18, 2011

This Week In The Dream Antilles

[Note: For several months, I have been putting up a weekly weekend digest of essays on this blog at five group blogs. I haven't been posting it here. Why not? I didn't want to post the precis of previous posts. Today I decided that the digest should be posted here, too. And so I give you, without further delay or explanation, This Week In The Dream Antilles.]

You never give me your money
you only give me your funny paper
And in the middle of negotiations you break down

I never give you my number
I only give you my situation
And in the middle of investigation I break down

This Week your Bloguero’s vehicle (Note: this does not mean the Mahayana) ended up in the breakdown lane. Actually. This is partially homophonic and also oddly metaphorical: the brakes broke. Your Bloguero appreciates these heavily coded messages from the Universe. But does it mean that the brakes were defective, or used too much, or used too little? Likewise the driver, your Bloguero: too much brakeage, too little? Not enough breaks? Not enough braking? Time for vacation? It is, as Churchill said, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside and enigma. Your Bloguero contemplates these messages and their significance, believe it or not. He has taken out his secret decoder ring and is working diligently on it. So far he has no results to report. If you dear reader know what it means, if you know what any of it means, please write the answer on a $50 bill and mail it to your Bloguero. Meanwhile, your Bloguero’s negotiations with the Universe’s mail room continue with your Bloguero’s quest for greater explication meeting a certain persistent opaqueness.

Wednesday your Bloguero celebrated Bloomsday, an actual holiday in Ireland, and the only holiday anywhere based on a novel. Your Bloguero hears you muttering. The Bible is not a novel. Regardless, your Bloguero thought about a breakfast made of the “inner organs of beasts and fowls” but managed instead only a Gorgonzola sandwich, a salad, and a glass of claret. Poldo would have been proud that his lunch of 107 years ago was so beautifully and joyfully duplicated.

New York State, where your Bloguero finds himself at the moment, is trying to get to a vote on marriage equality. Something with the misleading name of National Organization For Marriage (which is actually against the marriages in question) has been making repeated, annoying Robo Calls to your Bloguero’s several phone lines. And even leaving messages on the voicemail that it called to take an important survey. Hah. What a bogus waste of money, what an annoyance. Stop The Robo Calls, Please explains who is paying for this insanity. And as your Bloguero posts this digest, the question of whether the vote will occur and whether there are enough votes for it to pass the New York Senate appears still undecided.

Your Bloguero fell hook, line and sinker for the Amina Abdallah hoax. First, your Bloguero, incensed that the blogger who wrote the Gay Girl in Damascus blog had been targeted by Syrian government goons, kidnapped by thugs, and silenced if not disappeared, urged readers to Free Amina!. But then questions about the authenticity of the blogger arose, and your Bloguero dutifully wrote that maybe he (and others) were being snookered in How Many “L’s” Are There In “Gullible”. These early reports led eventually to an admission that Amina was actually an American man in Scotland. And a fiction. Your Bloguero could have let the issue drop. But no. He put up a mea culpa, It Was A Hoax. There Is No Amina, thus capping a three-essay hors d’oeuvre to what had by then become a five course meal of crow sushi, which your Bloguero dutifully ate. Face meet egg.

As if the embarrassment of Amina weren’t enough to leave The Dream Antilles abandoned in the breakdown lane, there was Anthony Weiner’s apology (before resignation) to that thug Andrew Breitbart. Your Bloguero responded in disgust with Time To Change The Channel On The Weiner Affair. The entire affaire may have set a new world standard for narcissism and hubris, but the folks at Guinness World Records haven’t reported out yet. They may be considering it for another award in another category, political ineptitude.

The week couldn’t have been complete without your Bloguero complaining about the US Men’s National Soccer Team. Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game was a discussion of the US’s embarrassing loss in the Gold Cup (Copa de Oro) to Panama. Your Bloguero is no fan of that prima ballerina Landon Donovan, but your Bloguero’s contempt for him is nothing compared to his disgust at what tries to pass for the US defense. Put another way, there are players on the field, but they are not a defense. They are an embarrassment to your Bloguero. And they’d be an embarrassment to the nation if the nation, like your Bloguero, cared about futbol. But enough recrimination. This weekend the US plays Jamaica. So if the loss to Panama qualified as a national disgrace, your Bloguero is sure it will be topped by this event. Your Bloguero thinks Jamaica will eliminate the US, 2-0. To the US team your Bloguero thumbs his nose and says, “Jamaican me crazy.” In any futbol oriented country in the world, the US coach and many of the players would be the focus of a media hail storm. It only furthers the disgrace that it won’t happen here, no matter how terribly the team plays this weekend.

Your Bloguero notes that this Digest is now a weekly feature here. Your Bloguero, though needs encouragement to continue. From you. It's easy to give him that. If you read this Digest, please leave a short comment. That's the only way your Bloguero will know that you visited. And sometimes the comments are the only things that keep him going. Hasta pronto.

Etiquetas: ,

miércoles, junio 15, 2011

Happy Bloomsday!

Where Bloomsday Begins: 7 Eccles Street, Dublin

Leopold Bloom is the protagonist of James Joyce's Ulysses, which takes place Dublin on 16 June 1904. Today, June 16, 2011, is Bloomsday. Bloomsday is a national holiday in Ireland; it’s the only holiday that is based on a novel.

Leopold Bloom is introduced as a man of appetites:

Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.

Born in 1866, Bloom is the only son of Rudolf Virág (a Hungarian Jew who converted from Judaism to Protestantism) and Ellen Higgins, an Irish Protestant. Bloom converted to Catholicism in order to marry Marion (Molly) Tweedy on 8 October 1888. The couple have one daughter, Milly, born in 1889. The family live at 7 Eccles Street in Dublin, which is where the Bloom portions of Ulysses begin.

And then there’s always this (Ulysses page 674):

What advantages attended shaving by night?
A softer beard: a softer brush if intentionally allowed to remain from shave to shave in its agglutinated lather: a softer skin if unexpectedly encountering female acquaintances in remote places at incustomary hours: quiet reflections upon the course of the day: a cleaner sensation when awaking after a fresher sleep since matutinal noises, premonitions and perturbations, a clattered milkcan, a postman's double knock, a paper read, reread while lathering, relathering the same spot, a shock, a shoot, with thought of aught he sought thought fraught with nought might cause a faster rate of shaving and a nick on which incision plaster with precision cut and humected and applied adhered which was to be done.

Enjoy the day.

[Note to critics (yes, you, you know to whom I am talking): It is now Bloomsday in Ireland, even if it has not yet arrived in New York.]

Etiquetas: , , ,

Stop The Robo Calls, Please

A brief, unsolicited diatribe about repeated robo calls I am receiving from the nutcase and misleadingly named National Organization For Marriage on my home and office telephones. No, they are not crusading for marriage equality. They are campaigning instead for the defeat in New York of important, pending marriage equality legislation in the State Senate. They have a ton of money. They have spent their money on annoying, repeated robocalls that masquerade as a poll.

If the robocall isn’t initially answered, they leave a voicemail message that they called and may call back. Again. That can be heard as a threat. Or a promise. Whichever, it seems to me to be an idiotic maneuver. Why should I care if they called when I wasn’t home? They don’t leave a number to call back. The number that comes up on caller id isn’t answered. But the message is the starting bell for the series of calls, that’s right, a series of calls, all identical to each other, that is sure to follow.

The robocall, when answered, begins with a statement that they are polling about one of the most important questions in the history of human civilization or some similar hyperbole. Then they ask, “Are you a registered voter?” Yes. Next question: “Do you believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman?” F*ck no, I don’t f*cking believe that. You [string of expletives deleted.] “Thank you, good bye.” Click.

I suppose that if I said that I agreed with the proposition discriminating against same sex marriage, I would be told how to call my legislator or asked to give money or enlisted in some kind of Astroturf political organization that was all about denying marriage to people who are in love with each other.

The caller id says these calls are all coming from “FreeRsrch2011” and are being made from Washington, D.C., (202) 630-9908. Who are these people?

The New York Daily News tells the story:

A shadowy group run by religious fundamentalists is bankrolling a pitched crusade against same-sex marriage in New York.

Secretive and flush with cash, the National Organization for Marriage is igniting a culture war as it battles Gov. Cuomo and [New York City] Mayor Bloomberg in their campaign to legalize gay wedlock.

"If marriage is redefined, then New York schools will soon be teaching that it's just as good for Jimmy to grow up and marry Johnny as it is to marry Mary," says the group's $172,100-a-year president, Brian Brown….

Based in Princeton, N.J., and Washington D.C., the tax-exempt group was founded in 2007 to defend traditional heterosexual marriage.

Since then, its treasury has grown from $637,000 to $8.5 million in 2009 as it attacked same-sex unions across the country. In the last 18 months, donations have swollen to more than $13 million, sources say.

Where the cash comes from isn't clear. One backer is the Knights of Columbus… The Knights raised $1.9 million for the group in 2008-09.

The idea of “defending traditional heterosexual marriage” doesn’t withstand scrutiny. Look, if you want to defend marriage and make it permanent, repeal all of the divorce laws. Then everyone who marries will remain married. No matter what. And what, I want to know, does letting gay and lesbian people marry each other do to devalue “traditional heterosexual marriage?” What married people do within their marriages to evade or subvert their agreement does plenty devalue marriage, as does the number of divorces, but how does letting additional people marry devalue straight people’s marriages. I don’t get it. If anything, if you want to strengthen marriage, it makes sense to let everyone marry whomever they want. But I digress. And fulminate because my phone is ringing.

The National Organization For Marriage has tons and tons of money to put into defeating this important legislation. And it looks like it is quite willing to spend plenty of it in New York:

In New York, the group has tapped a $500,000 war chest to blitz the airwaves with a last-minute TV ad buy. It's also making hundreds of thousands of robo-calls as pols mull a possible vote before the Legislature goes home June 20.

With Cuomo and the state Assembly supporting gay marriage, the group has targeted the Senate, pledging $1 million to oust Republicans who break with their party to "defend traditional marriage."

The group spent $1.8 million in 2008 to back Proposition 8 in California, which outlawed same-sex marriage, and $1.9 million in 2009 to repeal Maine's gay marriage law.

If the New York bill passes, one of the group's TV ads says, New York could become like California, where a "teachable moment" means taking first-graders to a same-sex wedding.

Personally, I don't find anything the matter with same-sex weddings. I think the couple's adopted first grade children would like to see the wedding.

So that’s why my phones are ringing. Repeatedly. It’s annoying. It’s a stupid waste of funds. If I weren’t already a supporter of gay marriage before these calls started, the repeated calling would make me one. Nobody I know want’s to be continually called to the phone for this kind of bullshit. That’s why there is a (far too limited) no-call list.

Would you please tell these people to stop calling me? And my neighbors? And all of the people in Columbia County, New York? Please. And National Organization for Marriage, if you’re reading this, Please. Just stop it.

And if you’re one of the recipients of these ridiculous and annoying calls, maybe you’d like to strke back. Good. Spend a minute calling your state Senator. Tell him or her that you support marriage equality and that you’ve got your legislator’s back if s/he votes for the proposition, even if the fat cat nut cases threaten his/her reelection.

Etiquetas: , , , ,

domingo, junio 12, 2011

It Was A Hoax. There Is No Amina

Well, well, well. Here is the latest post at A Gay Girl In Damascus. It makes it perfectly clear that the entire Amina Arraf, Amina Abdalla kidnap and the entire contents of the blog are a complete fake. The title is "Apology to readers":

I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone -- I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.

I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the Middle East and their struggles in thıs year of revolutions. The events there are beıng shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them for a western audience.

This experience has sadly only confirmed my feelings regarding the often superficial coverage of the Middle East and the pervasiveness of new forms of liberal Orientalism.

However, I have been deeply touched by the reactions of readers.

Tom MacMaster,
Istanbul, Turkey
July 12, 2011

The sole author of all posts on this blog

Let the gnashing of teeth begin.

Etiquetas: , ,

Can't Anybody Here Play This Game

Landon Donovan Loses The Ball. Quelle Surprise!

Last night the United States Men’s National Team was humiliated in the Gold Cup. The score: Panama 2 – 1 United States. It sounds closer than it was. Panama was ranked 67th in the world; the US, 22nd. The US Team’s play for the first 60 minutes was apathetic, flat, uninspiring. And if there was a plan for the game, it was not evident. The US finally got started after an hour, but by then it wasn’t enough.

Panama’s Gabriel Gomez scored in the 19th minute. How did that happen? The United States defense was more porous than Swiss cheese. The defensive backs were watching the ball. The defensive midfield was flat footed. Nobody was between Gomez and the keeper. He lifted the ball over Tim Howard for an easy score. Then, as if this lack of coverage and intensity weren’t enough, as if it weren’t enough to alert the US that it was time to get their heads into the game, an unnecessary foul by Tim Ream in the box led to a penalty kick and a 2-0 score in the 36th minute. In other words, the US’s disastrous play in the first half gave Panama a 2-goal lead that the US would be hard pressed to catch up.

Ream, who plays in the MLS for the New York Red Bulls, is inexperienced. Granted. But the foul he committed is one you might expect in under-16’s play. He didn’t have to clear the ball from the box to the far, other end of the field. No real power was required. All he had to do was make a challenge or get between the ball and the keeper, and then poke the ball into the abundant, nearby open space. Did he do that? Of course, not. The resulting foul, committed in the box in a panic, was just bad soccer.

It would be easy to blame this loss on the US defense, which was truly awful. It was awful in the same way that the US lost to Mexico, 5-0. It was awful in the same way that the US played in the World Cup, constantly giving away early leads. It was awful in a way that is now familiar: the US doesn’t begin to play defense until it is down. Way down. Maybe even too far down.

But some of the blame for yesterday’s game has to go also to a lackluster US offense. And in particular to Landon Donovan. For the first 60 minutes Donovan was absent, and when he touched the ball his passing was dreadful. My informal count: his first 5 passes lost possession of the ball. I saw him walking, not running. I saw him watching. And, of course, you didn’t even hear his name until the second half. Yes, he did a good job on set pieces in the second half. But that was far too late, and the US was not going to come back. The US finally scored in the 68th minute, and had a close miss in the 80th minute, but it was too little too late.

How to explain this disaster? Donovan told the,

“Sometimes you just come out flat for whatever reason. At this level, and against a good team, you can’t do that,’’ said Landon Donovan.

That is just pathetic. And it’s not an explanation for anything. If the US were any other country, there would be calls today for the firing of the coach and the benching of Donovan. Instead, we’re treated to this weak tea:

Despite the loss, the US team can clinch a spot in the quarterfinals by beating Guadeloupe in its final Group C stage match Tuesday in Kansas City.

The US deserves better. This team is an embarrassment.What Casey Stengel said about the early Mets fits this team perfectly.

Etiquetas: , , ,

sábado, junio 11, 2011

Time To Change The Channel On The Weiner Affair

Rangel said Weiner "wasn't going with prostitutes. He wasn't going out with little boys."

Now there’s one eloquent, highroad defense of Anthony Weiner. Those of us in the peanut gallery might even wish he had done both of those things. Then we could understand on a basic level what Weiner thought he was up to. As it stands now, there is some difficulty in understanding what he thought he was doing. And he's busy turning it into even crappier reality television.

MSNBC reports that Anthony Weiner isn’t resigning, he’s taking a leave of absence from Congress, and, an this is the important and, he’s going to be receiving “treatment.” Treatment for what? You might well ask. Treatment for being misogynistic? Treatment for being an egomaniac? Treatment for being stupid? Treatment for having some kind of OCD? Treatment for treating women as objects? What is it?

A spokeswoman for the Democrat said he has left for professional treatment and will focus on "becoming a better husband and healthier person."

Spokeswoman Risa Heller said Weiner wanted the leave of absence so he could be evaluated and work out a course of treatment. The statement did not say what Weiner would be treated for.

I have nothing at all against becoming “a better husband and healthier person.” Really I don’t. I wish more husbands would be better at husbanding, and that more people would be healthier. Hell, I wish I had been a better husband and a healthier person. But there’s something nevertheless profoundly dishonest and manipulative about Weiner’s latest attention grabbing maneuver.

In my work as a criminal defense attorney, I frequently hear alleged perpetrators of crimes explain that actually they are really victims. Of their addictions. Like this: “I burglarized this house so I could steal money so I could buy drugs.” Or of their mental health issues. Like this: “I stopped taking my medication, and when she said that, I just snapped so I punched her.” Or of provocations, real or imagined. Like this: “She disrespected me and I just went off because this has happened before.” Or of broken homes, or institutionalization, or of disease. Or of something else. The list is extensive. And ever expanding. And the reason they are telling me these things isn’t that I’m a therapist. No. It’s because they know that they’d rather take responsibility for their perceived, inherent defects than their actions and the consequences of those actions, and anyway, IF they go into treatment, and IF they are directed to stay in treatment, the penalties for their alleged criminal conduct will probably be less severe.

There is a model here in which treatment is the answer for all bad conduct. Especially when the bad conduct cannot be denied.

If somebody assaults someone else, maybe s/he should have mental health counseling and anger management and parenting classes and a batterers group and on and on and on. And if s/he does these things, the case comes out better for the accused. The Judge, who may think that treatment is better than locking somebody up, and the DA, who may think that treatment might prevent more serious bloodletting in the future, and defense counsel and the accused, who just want leniency no matter what, all get together and mandate treatment and more moderate punishment. This is how the system works.

Leave aside whether any of this treatment really works, whether it has any demonstrable rate of success. And forget, if you can, that it has become a permanent industry with job security for treatment providers. Just forget all of that. Focus instead, if you can, on the fact that in some cases (nobody can argue this is true for all cases or even for a majority of cases) treatment for drug and alcohol addictions will be of enormous worth and it will make behavioral changes and it will succeed.

Succeeding in treatment is not easy. Far from it. It is a life challenge of extraordinary magnitude. It is extremely difficult. But despite the obstacles to success, there are nevertheless successes. People do succeed. People do overcome all of the hurdles. And these brave, persistent, courageous souls who succeed have made such a strong impression on our society with their fortitude and persistence that virtually everyone whose life is in shambles might think that treatment is the answer to whatever might have caused the problem.

Forget that the first step is acknowledging the problem. Just leave out that uncomfortable part. The part that says, “I am an alcoholic.” Or a drug addict. Or a batterer. Or something else.

And now Congressman Anthony Weiner has joined the cavalcade of people who claim to be victims of something (in his case it is undisclosed what that might be) and who seek to appropriate some of the benefits earned by those persistent souls who have actually succeeded in treatment. It was inevitable. And the reason he’s telling you this? So he won’t have to resign. So he can continue. So he can put some whip cream on this ever growing pile of manure and tell you it’s dessert after all.

If Weiner were serious about this, he’d just go and do what he has to do. No more press releases. No more press conferences. No more gaping lacunae in his narrations. None of that. He’d just go and get going on what he needs. We don’t need to know what that is specifically.

But that’s not what he’s done. Yet again, he’s sought the spotlight. Yet again, he’s made it be all about him. And he’s done that, I fear, to manipulate us into sympathy for him and his behavior. In this guy’s case the first step to recovery isn’t to manipulate us further. No. It’s to STFU and get started on what needs to be done.

The entire affair continues to scan as a bad reality television show. I’m now going to change the channel. Perhaps you’ll join me.

Etiquetas: , ,

miércoles, junio 08, 2011

How Many "L's" Are There In "Gullible"

Egg meet face. Or maybe not. Yesterday, your Bloguero became incensed that Syrian authorities or other bad people had seized or kidnapped Syrian Blogger Amina Abdallah, and your Bloguero rushed to post about it, not just here but at about five other sites, using a photo your Bloguero (and most of the world's media) then thought was Amina Abdallah.

Almost immediately, the claim arose that the woman in the photo wasn't really Amina. No, it was apparently somebody else, from England, named Jelena Lecic. OK, your Bloguero thought, somebody is trying to undercut the kidnapping story. Then your Bloguero, ever suspicious, thought, no, Amina had used somebody else's picture so that she would not be so easily identified by Syrian police thugs. That made sense. Then your Bloguero thought, well, and maybe her nom de ecran isn't her real name either. And then, gnawing at your Bloguero's brain stem, the thought arose, "Ut oh. Maybe you're gullible and maybe this whole thing is just an enormous hoax." That ugly, reptilian thought was one your Bloguero immediately filed in his vast personal filing cabinet of ugly, reptillian thoughts.

Your Bloguero thought, "Well, let's see what is next." Today what was next was not pretty. MSNBC reported that Jelena Lecic claims that Amina stole her identity:

The reported disappearance of a gay Syrian-American blogger has attracted skepticism after a London woman claimed the photos published by news organizations worldwide are of her, not of the blogger, and that the blogger stole her identity a year ago.

... News sites, including, reported the 36-year-old writer's disappearance on Tuesday, along with a photo of her.

On Wednesday, a London publicist said photos circulating are actually of Jelena Lecic, a Croatian woman who works as an administrator at the Royal College of Physicians in London. Lecic believes her identity has been used before by Arraf.

Jelena Lenic, who lives in London, said her photo was used alongside stories about a missing Syrian blogger. The blogger has previously claimed photos of Lecic were of her, she said.
"Just over a year ago, a friend called Jelena up and said, 'Do you have another identity up on Facebook? Because there's someone else who has your pictures up but not your name," publicist Julius Just told "She and her friend complained, and Facebook removed it, and she believed it was the end of the matter."

But when news of Arraf's disappearance broke, Just said Lecic saw her photo alongside the story in London's Guardian newspaper. It was one of the same photos her friend had spotted on Facebook a year ago under a different profile name: Amina Abdalla Arraf....

[Lecic's] publicist said he questioned whether Arraf was a real person.
"She could be a composite. Who knows? She claims online that she was born in the United States, but researchers can find no records of her born in the U.S.," Just told "Why would you take another woman's identity and claim it as your own? If she is real, Jelena is extremely concerned for her and her family, but her identity has been stolen. This is a serious situation."

Egged on by the "publicist" MSNBC reported that apparently nobody had seen Amina in person. And it wondered aloud whether she existed. It accepted without investigation that claim that there was no record of her in the US. Heaven knows how the "publicist" could know that. One thing is for sure: if she didn't exist, the story of the kidnapping was baloney. Hmmm. That too sounded odd.

So apparently a woman who is an administrator at the London College of Physicians has a "publicist". And that publicist is now speculating on whether or not Amina really exists. And talking about an investigation of US records about Amina. How curious.

Maybe your Bloguero should go around with a shirt with an enormous "G" for gullible stenciled on it. Maybe not. The compelling part of the story is that a blogger would be targeted by the government or thugs because of what she said and would be kidnapped or seized or maybe even disappeared. As a blogger, your Bloguero felt compelled to speak out about this. And he did. But today there is still that loud gnawing on your Bloguero's brain stem.

Is your Bloguero (and the rest of the Blogosfero) being played for the sentimental, self righteous fool? And if he is, is this just the latest attempt by Syrian and other despotic authorities to silence the chattering Blogosfero? Or is the story a real one?

Amina's blog, "A Gay Girl In Damascus," hasn't been updated since late Monday. The story in the Traditional Media is now no longer about a kidnapping. It's about whether there was a hoax.

Etiquetas: , ,

martes, junio 07, 2011

Free Amina

MSNBC reports that Amina Araf, who under the nom de plume Amina Abdallah, wrote the blog, Gay Girl In Damascus, and was "an unlikely spokesperson for the largely anonymous anti-government protests sweeping Syria" has been seized (or is the word "kidnapped") and is missing:

American-Syrian Amina Araf... was walking with a friend when three men in their twenties grabbed her, someone claiming to be her cousin wrote. Being openly gay is very unusual and risky in the region.

"One of the men then put his hand over Amina's mouth and they hustled her into a red Dacia Logan with a window sticker of Basel Assad," a person identifying calling herself Rania O. Ismail wrote on the blog Monday night.

In other words, she is much like you, dear reader. She was just a blogger. She wrote about what she was experiencing in a Syria in flux. And she talked about her life. But in that corner of the world, her views, her life were both enough to bring serious reprisals. Like kidnapping. Like summary arrest. Like being disappeared.

The blog reports:

I have been on the telephone with both her parents and all that we can say right now is that she is missing. Her father is desperately trying to find out where she is and who has taken her.

Unfortunately, there are at least 18 different police formations in Syria as well as multiple different party militias and gangs. We do not know who took her so we do not know who to ask to get her back. It is possible that they are forcibly deporting her.

From other family members who have been imprisoned there, we believe that she is likely to be released fairly soon. If they wanted to kill her, they would have done so.

That is what we are all praying for.

What an extremely scary story. She is someone other bloggers should immediately stand up for. We should be demanding her immediate release.

Please contact the Syrian Embassy in Washington and demand that Amina be freed. Please broadcast this request widely.

Etiquetas: , ,

lunes, junio 06, 2011

Weiner: Make Me One With Everything

What a colossal and disappointing kerfuffle! Anthony Weiner finally admits what was probably obvious to everyone from his numerous, idiotic press appearances, that he sent questionable digital material to others and has done so on a number of occasions. To me, none of that is a very big deal. Stupid, yes. Embarrassing, yes. But not such a huge deal if you're not a complete Puritan.

What pains me most is the other part of today's press conference. Weiner apologized to that arch douchenozzle, Andrew Breitbart, who persecuted Shirley Sharrod and and wraps himself in the First Amendment journalisms fleece while he gorges himself on carrion:

Breitbart appeared at the venue early, approached the microphone and began taking reporters' questions.

Breitbart site publishes photos of shirtless man it claims is Weiner

He said, "This is a continuing attempt to blame the messenger ... I'm being accused of being a hacker." Added Breitbart, "I'm here for some vindication."

According to Breitbart's website, another photo showed Weiner on a couch with two cats nearby. The site said Weiner sent the photo using the account with the subject line "Me and the pussys."

When pressed by reporters at the Monday news conference, Weiner apologized to Breitbart.

Yuck. What a pungent load of ripe barnyard excrement. I knew that Weiner had no judgment before when he tried to claim that his Twitter account was hacked and that he wasn't sure whether it was him in the photo and he was hiring counsel and a detective and cyber-slooths. I could forgive all of that posturing (and lying). But apologizing to Breitbart? That is truly beyond the pale. Breitbart deserves an apology the way you, dear reader, need a Klezmer in your toochis.

Etiquetas: ,

Robert F. Kennedy, In Memoriam

Robert F. Kennedy, November 20, 1925-June 6, 1968

"Some men see things as they are and say Why. I dream things that never were and say Why not."

Etiquetas: ,

domingo, junio 05, 2011

Diego Maradona Pwns FIFA

Diego Maradona Playing For Your Bloguero's Favorite Team, Boca Juniors, In 1981

(Disclaimer: Your Bloguero has a bit of a bias. (Note: He knows that comes of no surprise if you've been here before). Your Bloguero points out that he is a big fan and admirer of Diego Maradona, and he just loves it that Diego cheated scored the "Hand Of God" Goal against England 25 years ago. Diego Maradona was one of the greatest players ever. On the other hand, your Bloguero dislikes (Note: this is a far milder verb than should be here) Thierry Henry, and thinks his illegal handball against Ireland was an unforgivable disgrace, for which he should have been fined and suspended, and because of which that world cup qualifier between France and Ireland should have been replayed. Do not "tut tut" your Bloguero. Your Bloguero believes what Emerson wrote, that consistency is the hobgobblin of little minds. But, alas, this disclaimer rambles.)

Today Diego Maradona, one of the world's greatest footballers ever, again spoke the truth to power about FIFA, futbol's soccer's idiotic, corrupt ruling body. CNN reports:

Football legend Diego Maradona has accused world governing body FIFA of being corrupt and run by greedy officials who have made millions from the sport.... he reflected on the recent FIFA presidential elections in which incumbent Sepp Blatter ran unopposed.

Blatter's main opponent, Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar, was suspended ahead of the vote along with fellow FIFA executive Jack Warner following accusations of bribery.

"There is a lot of corruption involving FIFA officials and they are all millionaires because of football," the former Argentina player and coach said.

"I wonder if Blatter has ever kicked a football in his life, and yet we have been under the control of such people who have refused to give up power in FIFA.

"Why don't they all just relinquish their positions, take the money they have made and leave the running of the sport in the more capable hands of former football players?"

Ai Diego! From your lips to Goddess's ear. Sepp Blatter has been president of FIFA since 1998 and was employed by FIFA for 23 years before that. He has never played the sport. The idea of Blatter kicking a futbol is ludicrous. Even more so the idea of him juggling it. There are, by the way, plenty of people his age, 75, who can still perform those skills. There is also the eternal question of how much Blatter is actually paid. He admits to $1 million, but apparently receives much, much more.

Then Diego Maradona continued:

"I don't support corrupt people and I will never be on their side. I have always been asked by them to support the FIFA family. But what family are they talking about? This sport belongs to us and they have never ever asked us to be part of the development process," the 50-year-old said.

"They have too much power and this has made them so arrogant and proud. This is not what a genuine football lover needs from such officials. After all, football is the biggest sport in the world.

"We will continue doing what we are doing so that these corrupt people go away. They are too old and since they have made so much money at the cost of football, they should simply take it all and go away. Please leave football alone."

Diego Maradona also properly criticized Blatter for his vehement opposition to a players' union.

These are not unusual sentiments. The people who "govern" futbol have profited enormously from the game, and they have refused to move it into the 21st century. They refuse to have goal post cameras so that it can be determined whether a goal was actually scored. They refuse to consider any kind of videotape replay of close plays. This means that in stadiums around the world the fans can see that the official's blew the call, but the officials can do nothing to correct it. They refuse to permit the players to organize a union. There are continual allegations of enormous corruption and bribery within FIFA. The litany goes on and on and on. The world's favorite sport deserves a better governing body. Diego Maradona is right. Blatter and ther other dinosaurs should take their money and leave the game to those who can play it.

Etiquetas: , ,

sábado, junio 04, 2011

Puyehue Erupts

Reuters reports:

A volcano dormant for decades erupted in south-central Chile Saturday, belching ash over 6 miles into the sky and prompting the government to evacuate several thousand residents, authorities said.

Winds fanned the ash toward neighboring Argentina, darkening the sky in the ski resort city of San Carlos de Bariloche, a government official there said, adding the city's airport had been closed.
The eruption in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain, about 575 miles south of the capital, Santiago, also prompted Chilean authorities to shut a heavily traveled border crossing into Argentina.

It was not immediately clear which of the chain's four volcanoes had erupted because of ash cover and weather conditions. The chain last saw a major eruption in 1960. Local media said the smell of sulfur hung in the air and there was constant seismic activity.

Pachamama is blowing up. She's angry. She's exploding. Do we know what is vexing her so? If we don't know, we probably need to find out. Quickly.

Etiquetas: ,

Visualizing That Tightrope, Part 2

Nik Wallenda crosses over his mother, Delilah Wallenda, mid rope

MSNBC reports:

Two members of a famed acrobatic family commemorated patriarch Karl Wallenda on Saturday by completing the stunt that killed him, walking between two towers of a seaside hotel on a wire 100 feet above the ground, without a net.

Nik Wallenda said he had planned to walk by himself across a 300-foot-long wire, but his mother [who is in her late 50's] convinced him to let her join him on the reconstruction of the fatal 1978 stunt.

"I've been mentally prepared my entire life for this," he said. "I've seen the video of my great-grandfather falling hundreds of times. It's something I've been wanting to do for all of us, for our family."

What an incredible memorial for Karl Wallenda.

I have no idea why I, someone who is profoundly afraid of great heights, love stories about walking on high wires without a safety net. An example of my timidity: at Uniqulo in New York, you can see through the stairs, to the floor below. I was virtually petrified by this, I had trouble walking up the stairs. But enough about me. The high wire story keeps resurfacing. First, there was this piece; now this. I am totally awestruck by these demonstrations of raw courage. I applaud.

Etiquetas: , , ,

miércoles, junio 01, 2011

Russian Writer, Straw Hat, Summer

"I know you can help me. I'm looking for a straw hat. A summer hat. One that's like the ones worn by Chekhov and Tolstoy. You know, the famous Russian writers."

"Are you a writer who is Russian?"

"A writer who is not Russian. A Writer. I have pictures of what I'm talking about. Wanna see some pictures?"

"This is Chekhov. See the straw hat? It's summer. Something like that."

No verbal responses. The hat people share glances, raised eyebrows. They are experts. Are they cooking something up? Scanning the archives?

Your Bloguero charges on. He has done research, as one might expect. "Well, this one is clearer. It's Tolstoy."

"Well, actually it isn't the real Tolstoy. It's how he looked in that movie, The Last Station. Seen that? It was a great movie. That's the hat I want."

"Oh. I know what that is. We've got it. It came in yesterday." Smiles all around.

"This isn't going to cost me a fortune is it?" No, it turns out, it is not.

A nice warm round of applause for our friends at The Village Scandal, 19 East 7th Street, New York (between Second and Third Avenues). What a fantastic hat store in New York City. Bravo!!

Etiquetas: , , , , ,