Saturday, May 31, 2008

Greetings from Tangoland

Dears, I'm in Buenos Aires, capital of fun. I will try to blog my impressions as soon as the enormous meat consumption lets me digest (and I have the time, I'm here for business).
In the meantime, it is nippy and we we arrived today and already ate great meat and drank fantastic wine.
Now they're dragging me off for a night on the town. Twist my arm.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Show some respect

There are many reasons to complain about some Mexican government entities. People just love to kvetch about how they do everything wrong. But once in a while they do something right, as this article in the New York Times points out. The National Institute of Anthropology and History makes sure that the Pre-Columbian heritage of the country is preserved in a dignified manner. And I say, good for them. Mexicans in general are far less jokey with their national symbols as Americans. You can't mess with national symbols in Mexico.

The country’s anthropology institute... oversees a vast collection of pyramids, shrines and other attractions. ...It also rejects anything seen as exploiting a historical artifact’s dignity. That means that when a paint company recently asked if it could feature artifacts in a commercial, the institute said no.The current crop of requests in a thick binder in Mr. Taibo’s office also includes one from the BBC seeking to film a documentary at a pyramid (Sí), another from a university professor seeking to do research at a site (Sí) and a third from a real estate developer who wanted to publish photographs of pyramids in his ads (No). The institute’s staff pores over a movie script when a production company asks permission to film at a historical site to determine whether the story line is objectionable. “Apocalypto,” Mel Gibson’s 2006 film on the decline of Mayan civilization, received a no.

This reminds me of when I used to work at a small Hispanic agency many years ago and someone came up with an idea of using the Egyptian pyramids for a truck ad. The benighted creative director of the place (a woman so legendarily inept, so clueless and so arbitrary, that lore about her still abounds) opined that Mexicans didn't know anything about the pyramids in Egypt, so ignorant we were, and she proposed we change the location to the Aztec pyramids. The two Mexicans in the room, we almost had a heart attack. It was impossible to convey to her that this would be in the worst disrespect, not for the dead Aztecs, but for the audience. A Japanese truck had no business scaling our pyramids (not that it had any business scaling Gizah either, but at least that would only have offended the one Spanish speaking Egyptian who happened to watch Univisión). She didn't get it. We had one of the most amazing fights I've ever had in a conference room. A drawn out affair. The creative director whose idea it was basically said "over my dead body", and if I am not mistaken, the boss proceeded to rip every single one of his other very good ideas to shreds as well. Had we known it, we could just have said that the Mexican government would never allow such a travesty and that would have been that.

Despicable Antisemitism

It is really tiresome (not so say hateful) how most Arab countries like Egypt have such enormous levels of antisemitism, that when a group of former Egyptian Jews tried to visit their old country, there were idiotic rumors, sparked by a TV host, no less, that they wanted to take over their old businesses and the travel agency canceled their trip. Nobody else would take them. The small Jewish community that remains in Cairo lives in such fear (I'm amazed they can stand it) that even they distanced themselves from the travelers, according to the BBC.
This is appalling. As it is appalling that the Arab media just runs rampant with antisemitism, I'm sure happily encouraged by their governments, who use it as a tool to divert their citizens from the terrible job they are doing.
It is really sad because Jews have a long and rich history in Arab countries, where in many cases they lived in peace for many years. There is such a rich culture of Jews that come from the Middle East and it is a shame that they cannot connect back to the place where they lived.
I've had it with this hatred between Arabs and Jews. Hating takes tremendous effort. How are people not exhausted from it?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Now I feel really bad...

...for raining acrimony on that poor, sweet girl who uses the internet to talk about her most private hopes and dreams. And who, regardless of the invective she has unleashed upon herself from sundry put upon readers, will probably parlay these notorious 15 minutes into many more profitable minutes for years to come. Unfortunately, this kind of inane confessional shtick works like a charm in America, especially when it comes from young, cute and tattooed writerettes.
If you feel a whiff of envy wafting across your computer screen, well yes, of course (except for the tattoos. Yuck.)
And so, in the spirit of empathy with navelgazing writers everywhere, I will share with you, my dear readers, mon semblables, mon freres, something of a deeply personal nature:
I have a very good reason to navel gaze today. I have a horrible rash across my entire torso and the back of my neck. It's very red and it itches like a mother.
I have 4 theories of why this is happening on a day when I should be out basking in the sun, enjoying the holiday in which we are supposed to remember the war dead, as our brain dead President urges us (but not think too much of those who are in the process of being freshly killed).
1. It's punishment for being so horrible to Emily Gould.
2. (and from here on the theories are much more likely):
Sun rash, or as they elegantly call it on WebMd, photosensitivity. My tofu-colored complexion had not been in the sun for eons and as I went for an enjoyable bicycle ride yesterday and read the NY Times in the park, I was attacked by the sun, despite the fact that I was wearing SPF 45.
3. Contact dermatitis, a byproduct of the above mentioned sunscreen and another cream I slathered on after I took a shower. This is unlikely, as my extremities, which were covered with SPF, are the only part of my body that does not look like a school of shrimp.
4. The crab and pork soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai. I never eat those because my dining companions never want to order them, but yesterday the brave (and actual talented writer) Mercedes Cebrián, on her farewell lunch from a whirlwind tour of the States, was happy to oblige. I am not allergic to shellfish, that I know of, but I guess it's never too late to start. However, we are wary of blaming Joe's Shanghai for anything, as it is the temple where we suck at the teat of nirvana.
My guess is I was attacked by Helios, mercifully early into the season, yet as a warning to not even attempt to show myself in the bright light of Summer if not covered by something resembling a burka.
Just so you know, calamine lotion made it worse. If any of you have any conspiracy theories of your own 0r any idea of what I need to do to end this dermatological ordeal, your comments will be greatly appreciated.

I just had to comment

I feel guilty for spending time and energy and electricity doing this, but if they put this on the cover of the NY Times Magazine, they got it coming to them.

I write a blog. However, it has never crossed my mind to share with my readers any aspect of my love life or my urinary tract infections; topics that you may be surprised to know are of no interest to anybody, no matter how fascinating they may seem to you. Instead, I share my opinions and values on sundry topics larger than my own puny life. This strategy has worked for me insofar as I have not had any panic attacks nor a need for psychological counseling. Perhaps the internet is not the right forum for you to air your boring laundry (at least if it was truly dirty, you'd be offering your readers some entertainment value).
Your long, sophomoric, tedious piece is also, alas, transparently self-serving, and worse of all, utterly charmless. This absurd confessional culture is useless when the people doing the "confessing" are vapid, immature, self-involved narcissists who think the world revolves around them and their boyfriends.
You are supposedly a smart woman.
Write something smart, for a change.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

That fabled German sense of humor

Two idiot Germans put up their baby for sale on eBay as "a joke". The mother wanted to see if someone would make an offer. Instead the German social services came, took the child away and placed the mother in psychiatric examination.
Ha ha. A barrel of laughs.


Thanks for my Enchilado-In-Law for sending me this link to this very effective ACLU internet campaign against the newfangled surveillance that all of us citizens are being subjected to thanks to the Fascists-R-Us Bush Administration. We're potentially not only being spied by the government, but also by the ever powerful, ever vigilant and ever ravenous corporations. Check it out, it is chilling fun.
I still hold a grudge against the ACLU because I once called them requiring their help and they completely ignored me. No, I was not sent to Guantanamo, but I was horribly and inexcusably searched by a plainclothes US customs agent on my way to Little Enchiladita's wedding in Mexico. This woman groped me and was rude and aggressive and I just had a feeling she was violating me and my rights.
At the ACLU they could not be bothered with the likes of me or my fellow passengers. So I vowed never to give them one red cent ever again.
However, I have recently noticed that every time I shop in a store, they want to know my address, my phone, my email, my zipcode. What are they, my new BFF? WTF? I never give it to them. It's bad enough I have to contend with acres of junk mail every day, on top of everything we do have to be very cognizant that there are new marketing technologies that basically deny us our privacy, as the clever ACLU campaign shows.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Just as I think that charging people for checking a bag of luggage is wrong, I think that it is the epitome of chutzpah for Bill Clinton to now ponder whether his wife should be the vicepresident. After the hideous name calling and the animosity and the divisiveness, all of a sudden we're expected to believe that these two people will be running mates? And the only reason is, he wants her to be President next time. It is the height of nerve. Somebody in politics has to have some integrity. For the love of God.

Alteh Kockers in Florida:

Barack Obama will be good for the Jews, okay? Enough already.
And guess what, even McCain has his own Reverend Wright from the Right.
So stop being such pussies and get behind Obama.
As concerns Israel, he will be no worse than any of the other candidates that are busily courting your tuches.
It's fine to think about Israel, but think about your country too.
I'm being extremely polite, because then I get quoted out of context by British blogs that don't precisely adore the Jews (You heard me, Guardian).
But, American Jews, you should be loyal to your country first and if you are a liberal and a democrat, you cannot vote for McCain on the basis of Israel only. Israel can and will take care of itself. And anybody who is President of the US will make sure it does so.
I am impatient with the tunnel vision and the obtuseness. You live here. You don't live in Israel (but maybe you should, if you love it so much). So vote for the fate of this country first.

And memo to Obama: go eat some lox and bagels with these people, please.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A look at the queries that come my way

I always get a kick of the keywords that send the googlers of the world to this, your humble abode. Here is a look at some very recent ones:

Inquiring minds want to know:

• How was the enchilada invented? Beats me. By a genius, surely.
• Hoquy berets. Very popular topic.
• Jews are nerds. Indeed, and proudly so.
• How to pronounce enchlada? Not like that.
• Mexican Piaf That must be either Chavela Vargas or Lucha Reyes.
• Phillip Gourevitch Lately, hotter than Paris Hilton.
• I hate bed and breakfasts Apparently, I'm not the only one. Right on!
• People who fidget Nu? What about them? (we hate em too)
• Mexican Japanese peanuts A topic of grave importance, to judge from the many queries
• I want to buy Chamoy in a bottle Go to Mexico City and knock yourself out.
• Yiddish words flummoxed Farblondget is Yiddish; flummoxed is not
• How is the Gallic rooster able to live in Paris? QUOI???

Consumer Rage

• So American Airlines is planning to charge $15 per checked in bag? Fuck them. If they do it, I will never fly them again for as long as I live. Maybe they should charge you extra to use the restroom. Or for walking towards your seat. Maybe they will expect passengers to wear diapers, so they can dispense with the restrooms altogether. Flying in this country has become even worse than anybody thought possible, it gets worse by the second and nobody does anything about it. Passengers should revolt en masse.

• Yesterday, I went into a Cosi as I was making time to watch a play on Broadway (August: Osage County, great fun, kinda HBO-ey, amazing ensemble cast, except for a couple of local doozies. The Steppenwolf people rocked).
I purchased a Grande Camomile tea for almost $3. The restaurant is big and roomy. There were barely any people in there. It was in the middle of the afternoon, neither lunch nor dinner time. The tea was so boiling hot that I had to wait like half an hour before I could drink it. I was doing some work, sipping my tea. I was considering sticking around and buying something else to eat there. Just then the store manager came to me and another guy who was writing on his laptop, and told us we had to buy more stuff or leave. I told him it took half an hour for the tea to be drinkable. After a while, he sent a waiter to plop a menu on my table. Had they left me alone, I would have gladly ordered something else of my own volition, but when someone in a stinking, rotting, putrid excuse of a café comes to your table with the purposes of shooing you out, particularly if nobody else seems to want to be in there anyway, well that means war.
Memo to the Cosi people: you are in the hospitality business. In civilized countries elsewhere, establishments are happy to get customers and they treat them with respect. It is understood that people linger. I hope you linger in hell.
I will never, as long as I live, patronize your establishments again. (I'm sending them a letter too, believe me). People may hate Starbucks, but at least they got it right. They understand that they are there to give pleasure to people, not to treat them like shit. So I went to Starbucks, purchased a bottled Frappuccino and a pastry and lingered to my heart's content, as did everyone else in that store.
Also, the barista at Cosi burned his finger and he spoke to his Neanderthal manager because he was hurting, and the asshole completely ignored him in front of the customers. He wouldn't even go to the first aid box to get this guy some ointment. To what Ms. Bette Davis would have said: What a dump!

I'm on a diet. Do you think this may be the reason that I'm unduly ornery?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On Hangovers

Joan Acocella writes about the hangover in this week's New Yorker. What a delightful topic. She mentions poetic names for hangover in many languages and she neglects Spanish, which is very bad. In Spain it is called "resaca", which the dictionary translates as "undertow" or "undercurrent", but which to me feels more like flotsam, the stuff you regurgitate when you feel like you are bobbing up and down in mercilessly rough seas.
In Mexico we simply call it "la cruda", the raw. Perhaps it is short for "la cruda realidad", back to raw reality. At least that's how it feels like.
So as a public service to those in need of hangover cures, here are some Mexican remedies tried and true.
• In the state of Jalisco they have an amazing potion with a fabulous Indian sounding name that I can't recall (Toloache? or something like that? Please pipe in if you know it), which consists of fizzy mineral water mixed with lime juice and salt and served on an earthenware jug. It's basically homemade saline solution and it's very restorative. If you don't have the earthenware jug it probably still works.
• I have seen comatose drunks revive instantly with something called "la piedra", the rock, which is -- drumroll please: tequila, Fernet Branca and anise liqueur. It looks, tastes and smells as scary as what it sounds like, but I've seen it bring people back to life with a vengeance (for about an hour, then they collapse again).
• Acocella mentions that people in Mexico eat spicy and fatty food the morning after. That is true.
Not only menudo, which is tripe soup so spicy of course you forget all about the hangover, but also chilaquiles, and birria, which is spicy goat stew.
• If it's hair of the dog, a Michelada (beer with lime and salt on the rocks) is also marvelous.
• I still swear by the Bloody Mary. According to me, it works because the tomato juice has enormous amounts of salt and potassium and that helps you recover.
• And I don't know about you, but the morning after I desperately crave sweet, mealy things like pancakes drenched in syrup, French toast or sweet rolls dripping with sugar.
• But the mother of all hangover cures, at least for me, are the soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai. Not Mexican, but they are like mother's milk (and their fatty elixir is extracted in a way not dissimilar to sucking on a teat). They just make everything right again.
Now, Acocella claims that the dark liquors are the worst. Well, white wine is evil to me and so is champagne. E.V.I.L. Anything after red wine is also treacherous. They say it is no good to mix grapes and grains. And also that white before red is fine but the opposite is terrible.
Tequila is a jealous master, it only tolerates beer. I'm tired of hearing people give tequila a bad name because of the hangovers. Stop drinking Margaritas with cheap tequila and pixy stix flavors and have clean shots of the good stuff instead. No hangover whatsoever if you promise not to mix.
The other thing which will make your hangover hellish is smoking. Most of the time, my hangovers have been 70% worse when I've smoked cigarettes as well.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be

I miss things that happened when I wasn't even born yet. I miss Greenwich Village in the 50s, the Lower East Side in the 20s, Mexico City in the 30s and Florence in the 1400s.
I miss New York when there wasn't a freaking bank in every corner. I miss it so much, it hurts.
The other day I met a group of Spaniards who like dives, so I told them I would take them to some major legendary dives and then I was racking my brains to think of any that may still be around.
I know it is a fact of life that when you reach my advance age, you resist and fear the change around you. But I also know I'm not the only one decrying the way New York is becoming more and more generic, losing more and more of its gritty charm. Even in freaking Jackson Heights there are banks in every corner now.
Yesterday I went on a tour of the synagogue of the Greek Jews of Ioannina (Broome and Allen, LES). Romaniot Jews that hail from the time of Alexander the Great or the time of the Roman expulsion of the Jews, a long time ago. It was extremely interesting that these people are striving so hard to keep their synagogue open and their unique traditions alive. Many of the original Romaniot Jews intermingled with Sephardic Jews that came to Greece (or Turkey, depending on the year) since 1492. Some spoke Ladino. We were served a lunch of burekas and feta cheese and stuffed grape leaves and delicious middle eastern pastries. The community is struggling to keep the synagogue open, as many of its members have decamped to other places, from Brooklyn to Long Island or Florida, even.
But they are the only Romaniot Synagogue in the western hemisphere and they recently renovated their lovely, humble temple. Good for them.
Marcia, the director of the museum made a special mention of the fact that people want to have the Lower East Side designated as a historic preservation district to stop the rampant gentrification and the terrible loss of the character of this amazing neighborhood. I hope it happens.
I believe there can be change that does not destroy the character of a place. People are trying to get Greenwich Village designated too, but it seems that the real muscle here is the power of money and preserving stuff doesn't make developers money.
I'm very sad.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Consequences of Hatha Yoga

It's been a long time since I kvetched, so here goes:
On Saturday morning I ventured out and into a Hatha Yoga class. I had stopped doing yoga for years because, my dear readers, I have a lower back pain injury, which I believe was caused, among other things such as terrible posture, sitting too long in front of a laptop, and no abdominal muscle tone, by a yoga class where the abominable teacher insisted we could all become human pretzels. Well, she didn't know me. But, boy did she screw me up.
I have been fighting this pestering pain, which is like a nagging visiting relative who decided to stay for good, for at least 5 years. I was told "no more yoga for you". But as I'm currently under the apparently unattainable quest to lose a bunch of pounds, I decided to give Hatha a crack, since this form of yoga is the one where you stay in the different positions, as opposed to running from one to the other as if someone was trying to set you on fire. Moreover, it is the yoga that my beloved aunt Dora practices and recommends.
Well, to make a long story short, it was grueling. Today, everything aches. But I expected my lower back pain to pulsate with a vengeance the next day, and so far it hasn't. I don't know if I am so sore all over that I can't even feel it, and yet it is there as usual; or this crazy feygeleh teacher (who actually had a very delicate touch) did something that actually took my back pain away. If this is indeed the case, wow.
The other thing that happened is that I seem to have caught some kind of sleeping malady. I am beset by sleepiness and I haven't been up that late. I just woke from a nap from which I could not wake up. Are these things connected? Did my body get such a thorough workout that now all it wants to do is sleep? Hmmm.... If anybody has an answer, please chime in.

Friday, May 16, 2008

BBC: Blame it on the fatties

Phew! I'm so glad it's not the Jews anymore.
The BBC informs us that the world's ills can be squarely (or shall we say roundly) blamed on the obese.
According to the article, they eat more food, drive up production, demand more energy, thereby destroying the planet.
Fat people have it really tough and now thanks to scientific researchers they're about to have it even tougher. But I wonder if instead of blaming the obese, we shouldn't blame the people who manufacture the dreadful food that makes them fat. Everybody knows that diabetes and obesity have increased all over the world due to the globalization of junk food. And everybody knows that in this strange, upside down planet it's now the poor who are fat and the rich who are thin. The poor cannot afford fresh food, so they eat crap that makes them fat and unhealthy. Is it their fault, really?
Yesterday I succumbed and had a burger at a fast food joint. The first two bites tasted good, but the more I ate it, the worse it tasted. At the end of the burger, I was unsatisfied and still hungry.
No wonder people get fat.

I wish they all could be California...

Bravo to the California Supreme Court for banning the ban on gay marriage.
Planet California at the forefront of groovy change. It makes New York look like a backwater.
Good for them.

ps: if marriage is a right, I'm just hoping that not wanting to be married is a right too, right?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Words I love


Isn't it the cutest word?

The United States of Assholeness

An outrageous article today describes how an Italian tourist with perfectly legal papers was detained for 10 days without access to a lawyer in a jail in Virginia. He was not deported back to his country but shackled and sent to jail with other people, among them asylum seekers that had been kept in jail for a year while their applications pass.
What fresh hell is this?
One hears about horrifying detention centers for immigrant families, abuse of innocent tourists, and just random and generalized nastiness from the US authorities. They couldn't find the three assholes who blew up the World Trade Center, even though they were on a black list for all the world to see, so now they go after every foreign Dick, Tom and Harry with a vengeance.
Bunch of incompetent assholes. Like their commander in chief.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Alert the Media: Models getting thinner...

...while nation gets fatter.
As I was huffing and puffing on the treadmill today, on the "weight-loss" program, mind you, I saw a segment of the Today show where an 18 year-old model almost six feet tall and weighing 13o pounds (at the most) was not allowed on the Paris runways because her legs were "too fat".
I love this topic because me and my fat ass can safely vituperate against models who increasingly look like Auschwitz inmates from the comfort of our ever expanding girth. But really, what professional deformation makes the designers and fashion criminals think that these girls look good? They are sacks of bones. And we are not even talking about the psychological abuse.
The very lovely girl in question said that she ate so little (got to be 102 pounds) that she missed her period for a year and her hair was falling out in clumps. This is not pretty.
I think whoever is responsible for making a young girl a bulimic, anorexic, coke whore, chain smoking fucked up sack of bones should be sued and/or prosecuted and sent to jail. Parents, modeling agencies, designers, photographers, editors. Whoever.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Phillip Gourevitch is my boyfriend

He doesn't know it, of course, but this shouldn't be a problem. I'm in love with his brain.
Yesterday, we heard him speak, together with Errol Morris, about Standard Operation Procedure, the book by my boyfriend and the documentary film of the same name by Morris. I have seen the movie and written about how it should be required viewing for every American citizen. I have not read the book, but I'm sure that coming from my boyfriend, it is amazing. The question is, will someone buy it? Our moral degradation is so huge that it is hard to muster the courage to read or watch these things. I saw Morris' film because I am a huge fan of his movies. I really want to read my boyfriend's book, but it is just too painful (I have yet to read his amazing book on Rwanda. After yesterday, it is next on my list).
Phillip and Morris were great, and they spoke about the differences in the two works. How Morris concentrated on the problem of the photographs and Gourevitch was taken by the language of the interviews with the Americans at Abu Ghraib. They also both seem to have enormous empathy for the soldiers who took the pictures and were prosecuted. This sparked an interesting debate about whether the taking of the photographs itself was a crime.
Unfortunately the talk was moderated by a professional idiot (as happens regularly in such events) who apparently was a British diplomat who went to Iraq. For a diplomat, he was horrifyingly vulgar, stupid and aggressive. His was the cheapest possible way to provoke argument, which is by spouting politically correct idiocies, like asking whether continuing to show the photographs, which Morris does in abundance in the film, is not continuing to dehumanize the victims. Imagine someone having this complaint about pictures of the Holocaust or other horrific human rights violations. The pictures serve a purpose, not to dehumanize, but to open our eyes and to foment the outrage that we should all be feeling. As my boyfriend said, showing the pictures is a public service. He said that taking them was a public service, even if in many cases it was not intended to be. I disagree with both Phillip and Errol in that they seem too lenient with the soldiers, but they have taken it upon themselves to enlighten us about conditions in which American soldiers are abused by their superiors and degraded to such an extent, that their human decency deserts them.
I also have to say this: the New York Public Library organizes very interesting talks. However, I don't go to most of them because they involve having to listen to that pretentious, insufferable windbag who runs the talks, Paul Holdengraber, the James Lipton of the literary set. Except he is worse. He stole 10 precious minutes of the talk by giving his unnecessary sophomoric mini lecture about what we were about to hear. For the life of me, I don't understand why he is where he is. Perhaps behind the scenes he gets the job done, but as a public speaker he is embarrassing. I tuned him out, but I did hear the word Kafka bandied about -- cheap literary namedropping, way below the level of the guests, and the audience present last night.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Screw Sheldon Silver

I know it's old news, but all of a sudden my rage has come back as I remember that we do not have congestion pricing anymore thanks apparently to stupid, yet indestructible, Sheldon Silver.
Just so you know, I sent him a letter telling him how angry and disappointed I was, telling him he is a disgrace and asking him to resign. I cannot publish it here, because I wrote it on the Assembly's website, and sent it without copying it first. I was very civil but in fact I wanted to say: A pox on you, Sheldon Silver and a pox on the entire farkakte Assembly ash dortn in fucking Albany who don't have a freaking clue. I hate your freaking guts and I will never ever vote for any of you ever again. Losers. Bunch of corrupt hacks.

When did this happen?

Yesterday, as I was sauntering through Jackson Heights, Queens, on a lovely excursion, I ran across this amazing development:
Green Apple Sidral Mundet. Same bottle, same lovely red and white logo but in white and green. And the liquid is very artificial light green. This is news to me.

Sidral Mundet has only had one flavor since I was born in the 20th Century. And that was apple. Sidral is a most delicious apple soda that truly tastes like apple, that is golden colored and that is also used commonly for upset stomachs.
I was afraid to try it, like you are afraid to discover some disappointing trait on someone you love and admire. But the very sweet baker from Puebla who was making pan dulce told me it was very good. Then he introduced me to a colleague that also hails from DF like me.
I will have to try green apple Sidral one of these days.

Anybody but her

Are people really considering the possibility of an Obama/Clinton (as VP) ticket? It is preposterous.
After all the insinuations and the bad blood, hell no. I'm sure Obama can find himself a decent VP.
John Edwards, maybe? It would be nice to have two very handsome guys in the White House. Or find a woman, just not that one.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Olafur Eliasson at MoMa

Chillin' out

Stick it to the man

The Worst Natural Disasters...

...are man made.

Just witness the genocidal military junta of Burma (I'm not calling it Myanmar and I don't give a fuck), which refuses the entry of specialized relief personnel and has confiscated the UNs food donations.
On our shores, our very own hurricane "Heckuva Job, Brownie!", aka Katrina, is also a good example not only of how power corrupts, but how it makes some people who wield it even more stupid and more dangerous (if that is even possible).

Happy 60th Birthday, Israel!

May you and your neighbors find a way to live in peace. Soon.

Headline of the Day

From the BBC:

Great Tits Cope Well With Warming.

Ah, those pesky Brits.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Eco Chamber

I forsook much more important obligations to go listen to Umberto Eco's fun lecture yesterday at the satanically designed Cooper Union. I got there early so I didn't have to sit behind a column, like a third of the audience. I think it is very lovely that these Freedom to Write lectures are held where Abe Lincoln once spoke, but the hall sucks. Note to organizers: we are happy to forgo the meaningfulness of the location in favor of a better auditorium.
In any case, Maestro Eco did not disappoint with his playfulness and his erudition (rendered "lite" for the sake of the discerning audience). He basically posited that there are truths in fiction that are absolute and unquestionable (no one will ever question that Anna Karenina commits suicide, or that Superman is Clark Kent, or that Hamlet and Ophelia do not get married and live happily ever after, etc); whereas in history facts can change the moment new sources are discovered. So certain facts of fiction are absolutely true, yet their interpretation is infinite. Still, interpretation has to be borne by the text. One cannot say that D'artagnan is gay, because that is nowhere in the text. Agreed.
Surprisingly, after the lecture, Adam Gopnik asked very good questions and got a very good conversation going with Eco. At one point Gopnik mentioned to Eco that in critical studies in American colleges, you can learn theories that say that Superman is not really Clark Kent but a fantasy of Lois Lane. To which Eco replied that this is "an American disease": the misunderstanding of deconstruction as a free for all. He got a big ovation on that one. He also got into a very funny and fast riff about characters that live outside the page forever, something about hypertextuality that had Hester Prynne marrying Ishmael and someone being sold as a slave to Scarlett O'Hara. This gave me an idea for a short movie! Which is why one goes to these things. To fire up the neurons.
Eco said that all human knowledge, including science, is communicated as narrative. He also talked about the new paradigm of knowledge that is the web. He didn't seem to be too alarmed by the nature of the web, but he said that the problem with the internet is that the art of discrimination has been lost, and that this is an art that should be taught at schools, because people have no way of knowing what is a reliable source and what isn't. To the question of whether in Europe there is hostility and fear against the onslaught of English, he replied that the internet has also allowed people everywhere to come in contact with all other languages in the world, and that languages are biological and they do whatever they please (whatever this means).
He told a funny story. His translator to Russian called to ask him once "how do you say the word mafia in Italian?" And also that story about Bush having gone to France and noticed that the French do not have a word for "entrepeneur".
Eco steered totally clear of politics and devoted his very entertaining talk to literature and what it does for us. It teaches us how to die, he said. When Gopnik asked him if he cared to talk about the state of America today, he gave a pregnant and very funny pause and then answered that a man that lives in the Italy of Berlusconi has no right to comment on what goes on here.
He was delightful and I bet he is an amazing lecturer in academy. I wish I could go to his classes.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Three Musketeers

That is, Umberto Eco, Mario Vargas Llosa and Salman Rushdie, happily riffing away on as Rushdie said, good bad books that (as Eco said) make great myths, until the moderator curtailed their amazing improvised banter.
Note to the organizers for next time: Writers of this caliber do not need a moderator. They can have an amazingly enlightening, jazzy discussion all by themselves without the need of someone who sounds like he has painstakingly done his homework. It is to the credit of these three guys that even when the moderator threatened to abscond with all the fun and sparks, they gave a very spirited talk and still kept it light, engaging and relevant.
It was about language (Europanto, anyone?), the political relevance of writers, the flexibility of English, the death of Latin and birth of romance languages, the bad/good novels of Alexandre Dumas, and the fledgling movie career of Salman Rushdie, among other things.
A delightful evening, but one that should not have been moderated at all.