Politics, pop culture and a philosophical quest for pasta al dente. Greetings from the country of the Sacre Cour. Se Habla español

8/29/2006

Curse your little heart! Devotchka : BAND OF THE FORENIGHT



You ever come out of the theatre, after a watching a movie, wishing you were the hero on the story? No. Well, then go pay your bills, you grown up. My friend L. went to see “Little miss sunshine”, a new movie directed by Jonathan Dayton And Valerie Faris, responsible for all those videos that included adolescents on the verge of rawness and the first time we saw Billy Corgan bald. She was so impress with the movie and the soundtrack, the way it’s all interwoven, and how Dayton and Faris capture the essence of American weariness as the only light at the end of the tunnel, that she keeps urging me everyday to go and see it – I will, in three years, when it finally arrives here. Distribution is not so top notch when the product isn’t a blockbuster or an award sweeper.

But just to get a taste of what I’m missing, L. sent me to Devotchka’s MySpace, where I sampled their EP, naughtily but deliciously titled “Curse your little heart”. Then I headed to their homepage, as you should as soon as you hear “how it ends”. If you are not into bleeding hearts anthems, then forget it, check out the video for “Se vale to’” from the act of the summer, Calle 13. Is a nice way to wave goodbye to all those warm moments you lived trough the heat wave, and pack some memories for the coldest winter and the hurricane seasons. Los dejo con Residente, que siempre cierra con broche… de Oro.

He is not kidding: The presidential race is on in Venezuela




23 candidates -! – are hoping to beat president/messiah Hugo Chavez. Talk about wide range of options: from the opposition’s contender Manuel Rosales – governor of the Zulia state, proposing an “even distribution” of petrol dividends – to Benjamin Rauseo, the popular “Conde del Guacharo” – Venezuela’s illest comedian. Now, the Count (Conde in Spanish means Count) is no pompous ornament of a monarchy, but an acrid critic of politicians since 1986.

Of course he doesn’t stand a chance against the Hugo Giant and his eager oppositors, but here at Bloggombia, we have an inveterate tradition of sponsoring lost causes. I mean, The Count is not a far fetched option – he still doesn’t have a plan, but his coalition named PIEDRA –stone in Spanish, and linked to the Venezuelan slang “throwing stones” - wields a considerable 6.5% of vote intentions, along with some catchy campaign jingles, and witty comebacks. The videos speak for themselves.

We – still just me. Hi - at Bloggombia will keep you posted on this candidate’s development. I mean, think of the historical precedent this move sets. It opens the possibilities for lucid critics like Stephen Colbert in the States – I was thinking more along the lines of George Carlin, but who would run with him? The guy is a loner and a stoner – or Eddie Izzard in England – wouldn’t you love to see your Prime Sinister in drag? – to get their money where their yappers yak, and actually make a difference outside the club circuit and prime time. The Count just did. And he lives in Venezuela.

By the way, those thinking that the communist party is panicking with Castro’s situation, stop chewing your lower lip: You think 45 years in power don’t get you ready for this sort of mishaps? Remember the Ayatollah? Yeah, whatever happened to him? He died. Did the revolution die with him? I think you better ask to all those chador-wearing mamas. Bureaucracy is hard to eradicate malady. Naming your brother as head of state has a whole different connotation that prompts yet another debate: Nepotism. Go ahead: speak amongst yourselves.




8/04/2006

Freeze!


Man, this job hunt just stepped into a whole new level: theater of the ridicule.

A friend of mine, deeply concerned about my status, presented me with a contact. This was a friend of his, a rich girl with a shop in a posh area of town. We settle for a three o’clock meeting. I arrived at a quarter to, with a C.V and a killing smile.

Sandra – the posh shop owner – was wearing miu miu jeans, a pair of LV loafers – tiny but gaudy- and a tight tank top encrusted with Swarovskis. Her lips were caramel and her abs shiny with glittered lotion. She smelled like... I don’t know, but it’s around – like the fragrance of the month.

We sat for an hour, and she crossed examined me. She determined that, I was charming enough to be part of her sales team. So she sent me to her headquarters. It turned out, her family owned a chain of Levi’s retailers, and she was the weakest link. In order for her to contract me, I had to take a Psychological test.

I told her, Listen: I think you’re fooling yourself with these tests. You can Google into any company, and beat them at their own game. I can take your test, but it will only prove that I can tell you what you want to hear.

She felt like I was being extra honest, but she had a four o’clock appointment: another clerk hopeful.

It took me an hour to find the address – in Bogotá, you can get lost in certain areas where the whole streets and avenues scheme (inspired by Manhattan’s) perverts into Diagonals and transverses. I found the place, and it was empty. Just two high schoolers, wishful shopping, and an executive hopeful, probably on a rest window between interviews. Other than them, there was the custom service team, and the cashier, yapping about some personal matters I couldn't care to overhear.

When the four o’clock clerk hopeful arrived, i recognised him from when we crossed ways at Sandra’s shop. He was not European- he was queer. Loud and clear. We shared the taste in watches – broad wristband, rock and Roll-ish. His hair was a disgrace.

The cashier said to him the same thing he had said previously to me: you’ll have to wait until Vivian – the psychologist – returns from running errands. We did. I browsed the classic cut section. These pants were assembled in Medellín(I knew this, because I read it somewhere), and cost the same as what I paid for a month’s rent. The shirts were all Copenhagen blue and of poor taste – cowboys don’t dress as bleak as those mannequins.

Then something weird happened. The executive pulled out a gun, while a brown, tall man harangued his way into the shop, screaming, Freeze! Everybody behind the counter!. Then, one of the high schoolers poked me with a .38 and coaxed me towards some boxes piled near the register. We were kindly asked to shut the fuck up, to bow our heads, and remove any earthly possessions we might treasure, like a Mobile or a fancy watch. Since i look like a bum, I could easily said i had nothing to share. My fellow assaulted team showed signs of fear. The perpetrators, like dogs, got aroused by the smelled, and harassed the cashier.

-You, fucking asshole, open the register!!!.

The guy declined, so the gunman pistol whipped the cashier till he reconsidered. The cashier handed the keys, the perpetrators ransacked the place while we only listened, and the cashier moaned.

-All of you, shut up! Or I’ll get mental!

I took the cashier’s hand, gently and stealthy, and placed it on my rushing heart. I said, we are all as scared as you. You need to relax. And with that he breath easier, until the robbery was over. Then the cashier got up, and finally hits the panic button. The police arrived half an hour later. In the meantime, we the hostages became close friends, and shared our every emotion throughout our collective experience. I lend my Mobile to everybody, so that they could block their SIMs. They reported their beloved phones as stolen. C115. V3, L6 – status symbols they didn’t posses anymore. We talked about important numbers, and plans so cheap, you could text message the world for a small monthly fee.

The cops came and took our statements. The cashier felt relieve – he was so scared that he had to pay for all of the stolen goods. The cops explained to him that there was an insurance for these matters. The cashier was positive about the fact that said matter was never discuss on his contract. He feared some kind of reprisal. I became a suspect, because I was too calm during the process. The cashier said that I was the only one keeping a cool, and with all his possessions on him. I gave the cops all the assistance they needed, even gave them a detailed account of my possible whereabouts.

This weekend is inauguration day. I was planning to go on a protest, but things are getting so repressive in my neighbourhood, it wouldn't be prudent. I don’t think I’m going to go to the psychological interview, I consider this turn of events a bad omen. The police await for my deposition on Tuesday.

Have a cold one for Anne.

On a day like today, August the third, back in 44, Anne Frank was captured by the Gestapo. She paved the way for us bloggers, by giving a natural and unobstructed account of her enviroment.

This coordinated endevour enabled bloggers like Riverbend, and us in the blogosphere with a powerful referent - and remember: all is justified and ratified by referents. Web 2.0 should open a crate of bubbly and celebrate the life of the extraordinaire Anne Frank.

7/31/2006

Back in business


Ok, first of all, check the EARCANDY section: Animal Collective is the band of the fortnight. They are a wild bunch from Brooklyn (seems like all the cool acts come from Brooklyn lately. sounds like a nice place to visit). To me they are a blend between Weezer and Gwar!. Also, there’s the link for Jesca Hoop’s Myspace. Jesca is from California, and the only thing you’ll ask yourself is, where did this girl’s I’s went to? She is freakalicious!

Also on the EARCANDY section, Alan Lomax. Now, I am afraid of Americans – that’s why I have never work up a nerve to ask for a tourist visa: Embassy officials are vicious when it comes to saying no to people. But Alan Lomax, as Mark twain, has made me desire once again to visit the vast and borderless country (Ha!): I read that there are tapes upon tapes of Lomax’s compilation of folk music from all over the world and from all over the States. So I plead to any of my readers: if anybody has access to that material, or know of any digital resource center where I can taste said material, please let me know. If not, can you tell me if having to go to the congressional library is reason enough to get a visitor’s visa.

What else? Right! I’m doing a comparative study on folk tales (a ghost writing gig), so I have been collecting tales of regular people encountering the devil and beating him with their talents. So far, I have the story of a German hunter that gets bullets that never miss, the story of Robert Johnson (which has a Colombian variation; the name of the hero: Francisco El Hombre), the telling of Charlie Daniels in “The Devil went down to Georgia”, and some stories from the Balkans, about a Romas having sex with Satan (ew!) . So if you are expert on any form of folkloric literature, or simply know about an urban legend that involves the devil, please let me know.

That’s that.

Life is sweet


Meet my family. The guy in the yellow turtleneck is Joe, my resident scholar, and bibliographic source. Joe is currently working on his thesis, which he will present next week. His paper is on a forgotten writer and the importance of comedy in literature. He recently broke up with his girlfriend.

The girl that looks like something out of a Tim Burton’s fantasy is Tania. She is a designer, and is currently working on a clothing line that includes gloves and custom made shoes. She is limber with the brush and the oils, and thinks that chaos is better than order – when it comes to designs. Her son, Sebastian – the one making the peace sign – is currently on his “I rule” stage (he is a seven year older). Both of them are quite excited because they are going to Germany in two weeks. Tania will meet her boyfriend, Markus, and together, they will travel around Europe. They will visit my mother on the famous small town of Amal, in Sweden.

The rogue on the striped hat is Lucho, Tania’s Brother. Lucho is 25, just like me, but he has the recount of a regular Odysseus: he had a healthy daughter at the age of 20, with the hottest girl of his neighborhood, married at a shotgun wedding, and then divorced. Marianna – his daughter - is now five, and she is a mouthful. Gingerliness is not on her list of attributes, and she definitely has a wild imagination – even though I just met her, she kept blaming me for the death of her pet chick, and for other mishaps of her fresh past. She gave me a cute moniker: “Hideous”. Lucho is the life of his neighborhood back in Barranquilla, and people have many stories about him that include “… we were drunk” at some stance. He is currently in training for a logistic team. His activities included being soaked with a fire hose, and hanging on the edge of a fake building. Even though he is a trainee, he is not getting paid.

We all live in a colonial house, in the historical center of Bogotá, known as Candelaria. Down the street, is the original town square, were Bogotá was declared a Villa. Around the street, is Calle Sola, which connects with Calle de las Mandolinas (Mandolin’ street), famous because there, the only shop in the world that manufactures mandolins in the world is establish (they count amongst their clientele one Eric Clapton). We avoid all contacts with hippies, but it is always me who brings in the weirdos, foreigners – My friend Lilly, from England, has described us like the third world version of “Friends”.

So yes, I have been slacking over this magnificent experience that is blogging, but can you blame me? I started this project to give some meaning to my random mind, and lost the path of calmness on the process, but found a fun voice that I’m planning to keep. Then life knocked on my door, and I couldn’t resist it. It was then I made acquaintances with a freelancer from the States. His name is Mike Ceaser - he reports for The Chronicle of higher education and Catholic News, and working with him has made me realize that I am a PR wiz kid, not a story hound. My writing is going nowhere in terms of keeping a readers informed. Au contraire: I enjoy mesmerizing audiences with nonsensical, yet very deep thoughts. My storytelling has improved over this course of action, and I have found seminal works that have enable me with the proper tools to make sense while fooling around with argumentation. Mike has paved the way for me to get more gigs as a local fixer, and these new chops have strengthened an ancient desired: to represent bands. I’m negotiating with this pop act.

I have been in several selection processes: one for an English teaching center, where they made me state what I was all about in a drawing. Then I went to three advertisement agencies, where I was told that advertisement was business of award winning minds. Then they asked me, how many times had I been published, or what awards had I been granted with. I thought I was witty when I said that I consider myself smart enough to serve coffee, and receive a chiding from a middle aged wizard. They never called back.

But the winner was Avianca, the national airline. I applied there to be a Flight attendant, and was quite confident about, being that I have served tables in oh so many restaurants (being a flight attendant must be the executive position for waiters). I aced the English language test, aced the psycho-tech test (a five hundred question formulary design to prove you wrong which I have taken 60 times), did great on the Psychological double examination (where a chipper girl made us sell ourselves in thirty seconds, and then divided us into flyers and attendants for some role play. I was a trouble flyer: the drunk). But chocked on the polygraph test (no matter how much the conductor prepares you, no matter how well you organize the questions with her, is hard to be yourself when you are strap to a truth meter, while you are unable to move or even swallow saliva).

Anyway, living is delicious. And I have made enough to keep me up float for three months. Three months without any payments to be made. Three months to write – this blog, a screenplay, that novel I been penning since forever, a collection of short stories – three more months to cook delicious meals for my family, and to show them how sweet they make me feel, how much I appreciate them putting up with my nasty habits and my uneasiness. Thank you for curing my anxiety.

And thank YOU for reading. No, really: i'm not good with sarcasm.

Oh, the humanity!

David’s real name was Deiby Soler. He looked smaller than I remembered him, enclosed on the casket. His mother wasn’t as desolated as his brother was. I searched my archive, and I had no photos of him, although I am anally positive about having one.

The service was humble and small as the casket. There was a pastor bitching about life after death. About judgment day (he asked all of us if we died at that moment, would we go to heaven? I had my doubts about the deceased and myself).

When we die, what gives other people the right to speak for us? The pastor kumbayaed his way into the hearts of family members, playing a dreadful guitar tune. Nothing like the reggueton that use to warm Deiby’s heart.

Another concern was Deiby’s brother: Andrés. He kept weeping over his brother’s face, kissing the glass that kept the attending members from touching the cold body. Andrés kept making crosses with his fingers, sealing silent pacts with the departed. When he raised his face, I saw that his left eye was missing – remember the mess with the police? Turns out, he was stabbed in the eye. Andrés is only 16.

Deiby died at 22, from a single stab to the heart. He tried to fight off the attack, so he bared a scar on his wrist. He was playing soccer, but was last seen begging for help on the streets of Yomasa, his neighborhood on the heights.

Deiby was buried at three in the afternoon last Friday, the 17th. The cemetery he was buried on was brand new, but still, all the vaults were already taken. Most of the graves were fresh. Those that had a tombstone marked a sinister countdown to the end of July. There were times when I saw two stones with the same date of death.

The crypt keeper shoved the casket on the vault, and bricked it. Pum! Another oone in the hole, he said. I imagined how he would get home, and bitch about how all these kids give him extra work.

Andrés wrote Deiby`s name and his crypt number with a rose on the fresh cement. He then wrote Deiby’s street moniker – Meshudo – on gothic type. Then he wrote the moniker Deiby gave him – Rata – And something I could not make out.

I then joined a few of our common friends, and we went to a truckers bar to have some Aguardiente, and listen to murder ballads, Corridos norteños, and all kinds of depressing music. We poured a few for the lost hommie. I commented on the fact that one of the owner’s of the restaurant I used to tend tables at approached me and thanked me for being there, like it was their gig, or like Deiby was a precious part of their little emporium. I didn’t show any feelings whatsoever.

A stab to the heart. Is that poetic or what? He was incarcerated, he was boss of his gang, he went astray from the pack, he was a lousy speller (like me), had a foul mouth, and was full of attitude, yet he could interact with anybody willing. He would go to preposterous lengths to defend friendship. My kind of guy.

7/27/2006

This Doggy had personality.



Looks like laundry day will have to be postponed: David, the pizza guy at the establishment I used to tend tables at was killed yesterday, July 26, 2006.


He was one of the few personalities I’ve met in Bogotá – a city filled with characters, but with actually a few worth a chat. David was born in Neiva, a small town, popular for its saint patron, and the parties they celebrate there. His mother moved the whole family to Bogotá. They lived on the heights of the southwest, where people grow mean and bitter in single houses that host up to three families. Children are deprived from childhood, and sent to correctional centers at fresh ages, for all kind of misdemeanors and even some first degree. David had spiral down the penal system at the tender age of twelve for possession and vagrancy.

From the juvenile facility to the UPJ- were small time crooks, and down and outs are taken by the police; a nest of intrigues were the rule is protect your neck- , and then to the Picota correction facility, for armed robbery. He did six months.

- All I need is to do time at the Modelo, and I’ll graduate. But to get there, you have to kill somebody, or be a full scale robber.


When I met David, He was cleaning his act, going to night school. He moved away from the heights to the Tolerance zone, were he befriended hookers and regular street hustlers who respected him because he had a tough look. Worked his ass off for an ungrateful boss, whom he wanted to punch in the face for being such a pain in the ass – that boss was the same reason I leaved that job. Everybody had a pot going at the restaurant: Who was going to finally blow Jerry’s – that’s not his real name – candle at the end of the day.

It was David who finally did two weeks ago. He was so fired. It didn’t matter that his brother was the chef at the restaurant – and to be clear, the main reason why Jerry was still on business.


So he went back to the heights, to live with his mum and his four brothers – three weeks ago he told me how his brother had irritated a Policeman with attitude (the boy is all grown now! He sighted). Apparently he had some nasty skeletons on that closet. No one really told me how many times he was stabbed. His mother is gutted.

I heard that he had it coming, that WE all expected THAT outcome. But the last time I met him, he was about to start a Bakery workshop, and wanted to… What does it matter now? That was three weeks ago. Today, he is another statistic. Welcome to the cipher, David. The photo accompanying this posting was taken in Venezuela. That dog reminded me of David. When I showed him the shot, and told him it resembled him, he called me a son of a bitch, and smiled. He used to call me Dog. I liked that. It gave an air of… aloofness.



I’d like to express a frothing loath for marked fates and all other forms of behaviorist research.

5/30/2006

Getting a job is hard work.


Hey pips. Is been a while since my last post. Much has happen, but mainly, the guy was re-elected. Bummer. It was an exciting campaigning week, and I left my hometown of Barranquilla for the meaner streets of Bogotá, and I got to say, is good to be back home. Carlos Gaviria – head of the left - had a massive following, but it wasn’t enough to crush the inevitable. I was aware of the imminence of re-election, and instead of becoming bitter; I took the opportunity to approach the opposition with some ideas. None were effective, and they ended as paperwork on the good intentions cabinet.

So I’m back in Bogotá, with my friends, who are ready to resist. Actually, they are on the verge of depression, and most of the ones that are already working fear the worst. There is a thick tension surrounding the political atmosphere in Colombia, and a massive exile is on the works. Nobody wants to be in our beloved country when – as the French say – le merde hits the fan.

As for me, I am on the bukowskian cycle of job interviews. So far, I lost an editing position on a website sponsored by a Spanish banking conglomerate, are still negotiating with an advertisement agency, and on the verge of becoming either a flight attendant or an English teacher. Gotta pay the bills…

I will comeback soon with more recipes, and even more whining. And coming soon, a photoblog with artful images. Till then, let’s stay in touch. And may all your searches be as fruitful and fun as mine.

5/10/2006

BOOM! Walk free, Egyptian! A Googlebomb

Googlebombing is a method to highlight issues on the popular search engine. Explosions have Egypt nothing to do with this powerful tool Egypt, and no passersby are sprayed with Egypt debris. Instead, you’d get Egypt some autocrats uneasy, and forced them to look good for the public eye – you can even make them do a few Egypt tricks, like releasing Alaa Abd El-Fatah, Egyptian blogger. Egypt.

By the way: Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt.

And the chorus says:

Foreign typed their stern demands saying

Ay oh whey oh, Let Alaa out the cell block
Walk like a regular Egyptian

(Had to quote the Bangles on this)

5/07/2006

Pet my llama, please.

As part of my preventing treatment against Outrage Fatigue, I have been taking yoga, consulted the I Ching and read Roberto Bolaño's 2666, and abstained from imposing my political beliefs on others. Plus, I have a new pet.

You guys probably think that I am a lavisher, being that most of my blontries deal with holiday like experiences. But if one wants to stay mentally fit in my country, one needs to a) constantly express anger in a healthy way, b) keep a journal, or c) reinvent holidays as a state of mind. I do d) all of the above. But that just means I do get wind up. As often as I write about having fun. Sometimes I get so worked up over political matters, that I criss-cross that thin line dividing left and right wing thinking. Recently, upon reading an article titled “What ails us” that runs on a digital magazine I can’t quote here – but you can Google it up- alarms went off in my head. Maybe I am tackling this the wrong way.


I mean, I’m glad I did my homework, and now know about foul political practices. But it is a monumental task, one I rather shun, to convince my peers that my theory is right, and theirs are not so right. I mean, I could argument my way into it, but what’s the point? If individuals do not take their own time to fathom these notions, and comprehend them in a holistic manner, democracy will be the government of parrots, repeating torpidly what they read on columns or other political blogs. So from now on, my political comments will be succinct – as will all my blontries – in the tradition of oriental literature. I will refrain from making snide remarks, because they are actually taking a toll on me – as is my new stigma of paranoid bloger, propelled by myself through my posts.

What can I do? I mean, is enough that I know our country is fucked up. But I can’t be rubbing it on my peers – apparently, is the shortest way to social rejection, and I'm tired of being the warm beer of this land. Besides, not everyone in Colombia is locked in the bukowskian cycle of informal labor, or poverty. Those that aren’t, actually want to forget the fact that they had to drown someone else, in order to swim the extra mile, in the endless pool of success – and I am cool with success, people; the thing is, I am actually ready to face the consequences, or the cold face in the drowned pioneer I left behind.

So the bottom line is, to each its own. If you like Uribe, fine with me. If you don’t, fine with me too. My point from now on will be: is democracy actually the government of the people, for the people, and by the people, if only 42% of the electorate votes? That’s the gist. It is a far more effective debate than pointing out all of the candidates flaws – albeit they come by the ton – because, lets face it: that would mean prolonging voodoo politicking, and who wants that? Not me.

So people: Vote! That is my only plead. If you are Colombian, and live overseas, and think that everything is alright, you might want to check my angry posts. Or some of the news agencies I linked to. Then vote, because it is a fact that you guys decided the outcome of our elections (there are 6 millions of you out there). So vote, but keep in mind a lot of facts. And if you live in Colombia, te voy escribir este mensaje en español para que entiendas: Vota. No importa si no te gusta Uribe, o si no te gustan los otros candidatos. Sólo vota. Así sabremos realmente en donde está nuestra democracia, y si realmente es la voz de las mayorías. ¿Qué has perdido la fe en los políticos? ¡Bienvenido al club! ¿Qué no crees en candidatos? Yo tampoco. Pero sé que la única forma de hacer parte de una democracia es eligiendo.

But before you vote, please pet my new virtual pet, deleuzious. It is a purple llama, and is so therapeutic. You can pet it by clicking on it – it loves when one pets its limbs -. You can also feed it by clicking the MORE button. Delezious is named after the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze.

So, I won’t talk about politicians sending their families away as a political tool, or the Candidate/President calling opposition members “disguised communists”. Ok, ok: I will mention it. But no more snide. Is bad for my bile. And the I Ching recommended me to take it
easy.

adopt your own virtual pet!