Friday, August 29, 2008

And if McCain croaks...

...which is not unlikely, given his age, she is going to be the President of the United States?
Permit me to express strong feelings of panic over this potential scenario.

Hillary must be wishing she'd crossed party lines.

Doesn't seem like the smartest strategy to me. Trying to appeal to the jilted Hillary voters and Republican women now seriously fantasizing about Obama, but picking a woman who nobody knows, who governs a place where there are probably more penguins than people. Was this the best choice? Weren't there any other prominent Republican women with more of a profile? This is pathetic.
It just goes to show how out of touch the Republicans are. This is an empty gesture that to them looks like change, or they think they can fool us into thinking it is change. It really isn't and everybody with half a damaged brain cell can see that.
Now, the only way McCain can win is if this country is still held back by racism. This is still a very distinct possibility. However, time will tell if we indeed have come a long way. After all, a Black man is actually running for President. And he has a very good chance of achieving it. Things have changed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chatty Californians

New Yorkers are simply not used to the level of friendliness of the people in the strange planet called California. People here are chatty and love conversation. The waiters talk to you, the restaurant hostess talks to you, the valet parking guy, etc. Everybody chats. In NY nobody ever tells you anything which is not germane to you sitting down, paying for dinner and making the table available for the next patrons, even if it is all done nicely. Nobody has the time or the inclination to know everything there is to know about you and your state of mind at the present moment. My New Yorker companion had a bit of culture shock every time we went to a restaurant and wait staff asked every 10 minutes if everything was okay. Chill out, I said. You are in California.
Unfortunately, one night we had the table neighbor from hell.
We are at a fancy, quiet, nearly empty restaurant in Palm Springs for a classy celebratory dinner, and in the table next to us (with an empty table between us) sits who I can only describe as The Ugly American.
He and his wife are evidently soused already. He wants to know where we are from. We oblige. I say NY, but because I have the accent of a Mata Hari, he then inquires about it. So I say Mexico. Then he simply cannot get over the fact that being blonde and blue eyed I am indeed a Mexican. It's as if I said I come from Venus bearing gifts. He asks the tall, white, green eyed Mexican waiter (for real) if he believes that I am a Mexican. The waiter graciously says "of course". This does not mollify this fat slob. Basically, the subtext is: "all the Mexicans I know are brown and poor, or servants, like the waiter here, so you cannot possibly be one of them".
With our unequivocal body language, we take our attention back to our table, hoping he'll take the hint. But the barrage of questions continues. He has never been to NY. Shall he rent a car in NY? No, we say, under no circumstances are you to rent a car in NY. Take the subway instead.
Oh, but the subway is intimidating. No it isn't. It's fast and cheap. He insists on the intimidating nature of our public transportation, the subtext being "I would not get my ass anywhere near the subway because black people will mug me".
It is clear that the moment he saw us arrive, he took the opportunity to stop talking to his equally disagreeable wife, who, we were forced to learn, was celebrating 7 years of marriage to this putz and each had grown children of previous, etc, etc.
The wife goes to the bathroom after telling him in slurred whispers to let us eat in peace. And then he starts again.
"If I went to NY, I would love to go there with people who could show me around. For instance, if you came to (the hellhole I call home), I would do that for you. I would host you in my house... the insinuation being that when he comes to NY he expects us to do the same.
I can tell this man has rotting garbage in his head. If he were in a David Lynch movie, rotting garbage would ooze from his ears. I know a lascivious bully when I see one.
And us, we are unfailingly polite throughout. Sometimes, politeness can be harmful to your health. I should have politely said that we wanted to have a private dinner conversation. But I didn't. This man ruined my meal and my night.
At one point we raised our glasses and said "salud" and he screamed "salud" at us from his table.
The wife then decided to go flirt with the Maitre d'. There are some long suffering saints in the California hospitality business, I can tell you that.
I wish I could say this story had Cheeverian overtones, but these people were so vulgar and so ignorant, the only correlation I can find are the mountain people in Deliverance, and I bet they had better manners.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Biden, Vidi, Vinci

As occupied as I am with the premiering of my opera prima, I heard rumors there is some sort of a convention somewhere in Colorado...
I cannot tell you how relieved I am to be spared of the nonsensical circus.
Having said this, I'm very happy about Joe Biden. I've always liked Joe Biden. He was always funny and smart at the Jon Stewart show, which is indeed the only reliable source of political news in this country.
But wait a minute, wasn't Biden the one who said Obama was "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy"?
Apparently all is forgiven.
Not so with the couple from hell, the Clintons, who I hear are still making trouble.
I have this to say to the 18 million Hillary supporters: Stop acting like the jilted woman. Grow yourselves a pair, goddammit, and stop whining. Angry because she lost? Angry at who, exactly?
It's unbecoming, and worse, truly unpatriotic. Right now all you should be fighting against with every fiber of your being the possibility of another Republican presidency. Anything else is insane, irresponsible and downright suicidal.
Politics makes me vomit.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Joshua Tree National Park

The backyard of the magnificent animal picutred above is a place you need to see in your lifetime. It is like being in another planet. It is so beautiful, not even the best photographs can convey what you see with your naked eye. I love the desert.
But if you come in August, make sure you listen to the Park Rangers and bring a gallon of water for yourself. We had two measly bottles of Evian (we travel in style, dears) and they lasted for about five minutes. I now know what it feels like to be Lawrence of Arabia.
Also, bring a hat. Being from NY, we thought we might be able to find a deli inside the park where we could buy more water and cheetos, if we saw fit. No such thing at a National Park. At 1 pm in the afternoon, as we were visiting the Cholla Cactus Garden (see above), I thought that one more minute under the sun and I would become mousse. It was about 106.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The United States of Litigation

Guys, we seriously need to talk.
At LaGuardia airport, at Au Bon Pain, I buy something that is labeled "Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice".
In my poor little benighted mind, this is associated with good health and sunshine and a good morning to one and all.
However, below the title some fine print explains that I should be aware that consuming this unpasteurized product can be harmful to my health as it may contain bacteria, etc, etc. Which is to say, in human language we can all understand, that the corporation will not be blamed and or sued if I get the runs after drinking a freaking glass of ORANGE JUICE.
You know what, maybe in Calcutta you drink orange juice in the street, you die. At Au Bon Pain? WTF?
In the name of god, if even orange juice has now been tainted by corporate insanity, nothing is sacred anymore. Nothing.
This is similar to my complaint about All Points West. And to the fact that in the US individuals have abdicated their own personal responsibility and adulthood (without a peep) to corporations and the government. We might as well all wear Depends.
Go to a beach, everything is prohibited. Go to have lunch al fresco, this is what you find:

What would the Founding Fathers say? What happened to the land of opportunity? To the cradle of individualism? Mind you, if this hysterical worry about everything we breath and ingest was a genuine health concern, we would all have medical insurance by now. This is simply fear of litigation. Fear of losing money. A pox on all of you, evildoers. May you rot in hell.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I eat as much as Michael Phelps


Here's a sample Phelps menu:

Breakfast: 3 fried egg sandwiches, 2 cups coffee, 5-egg omlette, bowl of grits, 3 pieces of french toast, 3 chocolate chip pancakes.
I think the 5-egg omelette is an exaggeration.

Lunch: 1 pound pasta, 2 ham and cheese sandwiches, energy drink (1,000 calorie)
Me, after one pound of pasta I could eat another pound of pasta. Screw the ham and cheese.

Dinner: 1 pound pasta, 1 large pizza, energy drink (1,000 calorie)

But, does he snack?
Also, he needs to diversify his diet. He needs to eat more ethnic foods. His menu seems very boring. Why have pizza after pasta? Better have suckling pig after pasta. And then dessert.

Because I am terribly competitive, this is what I had yesterday for dinner at the astounding Great NY Noodletown, Temple of Infinite Happiness:

Half roast duck
Salt baked calamari
Salt baked whitefish
Pea Shoots with garlic
2 platters of thin noodles with roast pork

I shared with my friends, but I could have had the same meal all over again. And I ate more than anyone at the table. That's because I am the Olympic champion of Eating Chinese Food.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My usual Olympic rant

When you come from a country, like Mexico, in which winning a medal is almost a miracle, said country's coverage of the Olympic games is always about everybody else, more than it is about the home team. The home team gets the love and the national pride, but everybody else, from the superpowers to the most unlikely contenders, get the admiration and the curiosity. And yes, the love too. It truly seems a world event.
Turn your dial to NBC and you'd think there are only three colors in the spectrum and only one team in the world. There is no coverage of anything or anybody that is not the USA. And boy is it overwrought and BORING. 
This, and I have said it before, is appalling. It is a perfect example of the solipsistic, isolationist nature of America today. The lack of interest and curiosity about the rest of the world is scary. 
Telemundo, the Hispanic channel owned by NBC, does show other countries and other events that are of interest to Latinos. It's worth watching their coverage.
Mexico had the most beautiful coverage, always. They covered everything. I grew up watching everything from canoeing to waterpolo to Greco-roman wrestling, badminton, weight lifting, everything. I remember seeing athletes from all over the world, not Michael Phelps over and over and over and over and over and over and over...

China: F is for Fake

• Fake fireworks
• Fake 16 year old female gymnasts
• Fake cute kid lip synching in the opening ceremonies (I think the actual singer is cuter than the fake)
• Fake Louis Vuitton handbags, fake Rolexes.
• Fake modernity
What did you expect?

Memo to US gymnasts: SHUT UP!

Gawd!  These guys mugging for the camera every time they so much as raise a leg is driving me crazy. 
I don't want to hear their "yeah, babys" ever again. Unless one of them can carry on like Noel Coward, they should stick to the pummel horse and stop yakking.
Luckily, we can't understand a word the other teams say (nor as Americans would we care, since to judge from NBC's coverage, it's like the Olympic Games of America: no other countries seem to matter). So the other teams actually seem like geniuses compared to the Americans.  Really, it's in our national interest for these guys to zip it already.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

All Points West: Fascist state

I love order and civilization. That is one of the reasons why I live here. I love the fact that you can go to a rock festival and everybody is so orderly and people are on their best behavior. I love the fact that you can put concert goers on a ferry and the boat is not going to capsize due to disorderly conduct or disorganization. The event is extremely well organized, the bands appear on time, all is lovely. Because I come from Mexico, where people have yet to understand the concept of forming an orderly line, I am always astounded at the civility of young Americans. These are the best behaved people in the world (at least in their own country).
So why are the organizers compelled to establish a host of rules that are insulting and ridiculous? To wit: Everybody gets carded for booze. 65 year-old weathered hippies have to show their id in order to get a freaking beer. Everybody gets a bracelet, like inmates in a mental institution, like newborn fucking babies in the incubator, just so that God forbid nobody who isn't 21 fucking years old (don't get me started on the minimum age) can get a sip of beer. You'd think they are selling Absinthe with a heroin chaser, for crying out loud.
Still, my fellow Americans, meek and mild and I frankly wonder if not lobotomized, politely complain, almost in a whisper, "this is ridiculous", "this is so stupid". Nobody storms the barricades. But it gets worse. Soon after buying the beer, we realize we are penned in and are not allowed to leave the premises with our beers in order to enjoy them in the grounds at large, as we listen to the music and frolic in the grass. Hell no, we need to finish the beer inside the pen and then go back to our places. This, I have to say, IS TOO MUCH.
This is why we have a president who behaves like a toddler. Because we are treated like babies.
Adults are not allowed in this fucking paranoid puritanical fascistoid country to decide how many beers they want to have and where they want to have them. Because if you must know, the bracelet has a limited number of tabs (a generous 5) so that once the tabs are gone you cannot purchase more beer. Oh, and last call is at 8:30 pm. I have never seen anything like this. Not in the first world (Europe) and not in the third world (everywhere else). A fucking baby in a crib has more freedom. Where is the concept of personal responsibility? Next thing they're going to make you have your beers at home, before you even show up. FASCISTS.
Meanwhile, everybody's smoking pot like crazy, which is allright by me. Stick it to the Man, etc, etc.
Apparently, the Nuremberg Beer Laws are applied with a zealousness not accorded to the confiscation of doobies, which is luckily non-existent. Sheer absurdity, if you ask me.
I regret to inform you that the contact high is, sadly, a myth. But I respectfully submit that the alcohol policy of All Points West is insane, stupid, inhuman and unreasonable. Card 80 year-old people with walkers, see if I care, but let people have their fun. Nobody goes there expressly to create mayhem. People are there to chill out and listen to music. We are paying not an inconsiderable sum to enjoy a music festival, not to be treated like retards who can't take care of themselves. Not to be treated like freaking adults.
I will continue because I am drowning in my own bile:
As I stood in the pen with all those meek and mild, young and old Americans, I really thought this country has gone to pot. What has happened here is a general lobotomy, with corporations and the government administering the shocks and the numbing pills in the guise of Nurse Ratched. Conformity has won. Blandness, marketing, complacency, overconsumption, too much TV, too much contentment. I know l sound like an old hippie, but man, it is beyond pathetic. It seems to be beyond repair.
We have a war going on and young Americans killed and maimed forever, and nobody utters a squeak. We have a bunch of criminals running the country, and nobody demands their execution, let alone their ouster.
The pen where I was forced to drink my beer, which has got to be the least satisfying beer I have ever had, was right behind the Statue of Liberty, who, fittingly, was turning her back on us.

By the way, Radiohead was great.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Cuerpo de Tamal Fetish

My ever inquisitive friend Mimosa has alerted me to this blog, the product of a sick, albeit funny, mind. There is someone out there who has a fetish for what we in Mexico call "cuerpo de tamal", tamal-shaped body (you know, square and chubby); and he in gringo calls Mexican Muffin Top.
We also call it, endearingly, "cinturita de boiler", which translates as boiler-shaped little waist. As you can see in the example above, which I lifted from the blog in question.
Now, Mimosa thinks the fetishist isn't Latino, which may very well be since he says relatively offensive things, and I quote:
"These women have a combination of bad genetics, bad nutrition, and bad fashion sense that feels so good to me. This site is a tribute to these wonderfully "bad" women.
I have to agree with the bad fashion sense. If the nutrition is bad, however, I can assure you it is more because of our penchant for sugary carbonated soft drinks and American style junk food, than because of any of our indigenous culinary marvels.
Given his correct peppering of Spanish terms, he could also be a Latino himself, maybe one with less "bad genes", poking fun at the women of la raza.
In any case, whether he is a racist pig or not, he sounds like he is truly smitten.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The taxi scam?

It happened twice in one night. I hail a cab. I tell them where I'm going and they start taking the longest, most circuitous route, going on the opposite direction of where they should. As I start bitching, they give me all kinds of excuses. A few of which actually make sense (construction on Houston going on forever).
However, the driver should let the passenger know the reason for heading north and west when you've asked him to take you south and east.
They hear a faint accent (or so I'd like to think) and they think here is this stupid tourist who doesn't know downtown from uptown, let me take her for a ride. Make some extra cash.
I know gas is expensive and I know our town is rife with tourists, but neither of these is my fault.
And I am going to say something ugly: some of these cabbies come from countries where they are not used to listening to women and they answer back as if one is retarded. Totally patronizing. Like the cabbie who is talking on the phone as I tell him where I'm going and then claims I said something I didn't and then tells me the classic third world bullshit: pay what you think is fair. I hate that manipulative bullshit. No, you stop blathering on the phone as I'm talking to you and take me where I asked you and charge me what the meter says.
I needed to vent.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Advertising in The Third World Part II

Department of Bad Product Placement, courtesy of Mr. Ex-Enchilada: According to his wonderful blog, this is a placemat you can expect to see while you wait for your food at some cantinas.
I'm telling you, words fail me. My jaw is still on the floor.

Photo: David Lida.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Advertising in The Third World

Photo: Beatriz Helena Ramos

Or, leave no surface untouched. I hope the slum dwellers were remunerated for their compliance.
I wonder how measly the rate was.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Mexico's Gift to Mankind

Forget about Frida Kahlo, the margarita, or the mariachi band.
The torta, the deity of sandwiches. The non plus ultra. And now my compatriots have broken the world's record (or rather their own record) with the longest, biggest torta ever created. I do not much care for bigness, since the concept of the torta is not quantity but quality, the layering of textures and flavors.
But watch the ingredients. Mayo, avocado, refried beans, ham or roast pork, cheese and jalapeños.
Could be roast chicken with mole, could be breaded cutlet, steak, eggs and chorizo... In thin layers.
Behold the third cut from the start. It seems to me that that is the winning segment; daintily scooped up avocado with what looks like puerco adobado. Yum.
The fun part about this torta is that each team assembled it according to their ancient torta wisdom.
And the other super fun thing is that it looks like no sooner had they finished building it, they started tearing into it and giving it to the folks to try.
The BBC mistakenly of course, calls the bread a baguette. It's not a baguette, it's a giant telera.
I'm still waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Wal-Mart: Big Shop of Horrors

Managers at Wal-Mart are lobbying employees not to vote for Obama because they fear unionization.
1. Did they think this would never leak? I can't think of worse PR for a business, and they seem to be the kings of bad blood.
2. Is this legal?
3. Perhaps Wal-Mart should rebrand itself as the store for right wing nutjobs. There's plenty of them out there. Because it can't be good business doing these things and still trying to sell stuff to everybody.
4. I have never bought anything that I know of at this unspeakable store (except once in Mexico, I now remember). And I vow today never to buy anything there again. Believe me, it's not because it's against my candidate. If they were doing it the other way around it would still be appalling.