Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cheney: You are Pissing me OFF

Not content with leaving us to worry in peace about a worldwide pandemic of Swine Flu, the malignant, malevolent, satanic, chill-inducing ex VP (or rather ex P) is intent on discrediting the Obama Administration's efforts to restore dignity to the foreign and domestic policy of the US, and potentially save us from harm's way in an intelligent and diplomatic manner. He continues carping that Obama is making us less safe, although there is absolutely no evidence of that. He continues defending torture even though it has been amply documented that the only thing torture is good for is to manufacture more crazy lunatics hell bent on torturing us back.
If I were Obama, just to shut this fucker's trap, I would allow for impeachment proceedings against him and his underlings. Let him rant all he wants from jail.
Meanwhile, you can meet the obnoxious man who sucks Cheney's dick in this video from The Daily Show. Listening to him, now that is torture.
Here is a certifiable moron attempting to defend waterboarding. He is so unbelievably stupid that he mentions the presence of doctors, to make sure the torturee is still alive, as if this was a sign of benevolence. The presence of doctors in torture chambers is one of the most base examples of human depravity. Doctors are brought in to ensure that the prisoners withstand as much pain and suffering as possible without dying. The moment you torture, there are no humanitarian concerns.
This dickhead should be waterboarded with a pail of shit, in the presence of a doctor. Let's see then if he feels the same way.
Jon Stewart was excellent. But he should have pointed to the fact that coercive interrogation has been found to yield little of value and is a spurious argument in favor of torture. He was up against a frantic bully, who knows his argument doesn't withstand scrutiny, but who kept pointing his finger and hollering through the conversation. What an asshole. And who does he thinks he's fooling by calling his outfit something for the defense of democracy. You can't talk about the defense of democracy and advocate for torture. They are mutually exclusive.
Maybe the torturers who actually physically inflicted pain should not be prosecuted. Although I don't see why not. But their superiors? Those who gave the orders? Most certainly and all the way to the top.

More Evidence of Impending Apocalypse:

Cirque du Soleil is making a permanent home in New York City.
We are doomed.

Don't Be Blaming the Mexicans, Yo!

Apparently, a poor little 5 year old named Edgar ("yo soy el pequeño Edgar"*) from the pig farming town of La Gloria (talk about irony), Veracruz has been identified as patient zero. That is, he is the culprit of the widespread paranoia we feel today and of my burning desire for an astronaut suit.
From the nutty comments section of the New York Times, I like this scenario much better:

Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork packer and hog producer, operates a massive hog-raising operations in Perote, Mexico, in the state of Veracruz, where the outbreak originated. A Smithfield subsidiary, Granjas Carrol, raises 950,000 hogs per year.

Residents of Perote believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. A municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms.

According to community residents the organic and fecal waste produced by Granjas Carrol isn’t adequately treated. Area residents complain of “fetid odors” in the air and water, swarms of flies hovering around waste lagoons and respiratory ailments.

Mexican health agency Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social has acknowledged that the original carrier for the flu could be the “clouds of flies” that multiply in the Smithfield subsidiary’s manure lagoons.

— Lawrence, Glendora

Of course, you always have your racist nut jobs that blame everything on Mexico (drugs, immigration, viruses, violence, etc) and want to build a wall at the border (by all means, be my guest). One nutcase is convinced this thing happened in Aruba first in March. Another thinks it's all a conspiracy by the pharma industry in order to raise the price of flu shots. I'm telling you... I think it's a conspiracy by gringos to besmirch the image of Mexico. Or maybe by Jews and Muslims to besmirch the image of pork. But I find Lawrence from Glendora's argument very compelling.

* This was the famous last line of a fabulously campy Mexican soap from the 80's called Cuna de Lobos (The Wolves' Cradle). El pequeño Edgar was the bad seed. But poor little Edgar from La Gloria. Imagine the entire world blaming you for a pandemic!

Blame the Gringos instead!

Quick and Lazy Theater Review

As quick and lazy and superficial as the play:
Offices, by Ethan Coen, at the Atlantic SUCKS.
One wonders what someone like the great F. Murray Abraham, who is the only one worth watching, is doing in such an unfunny, half-baked, nasty piece of work.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Breaking News: The Culprit for Swine Flu Identified

The Headline in Spanish: "Por culpa de ese pinche escuincle": All because of that freaking kid!

Thanks to my indomitable EnchilaBrother in Law who serves as my press agency in Mexico, sending me pics of empty rubbing alcohol shelves at Costco and other nuggets of information.

What is the Mexican Flu?

My readers want to know. And though they should not be consulting me, who have no credentials but my own common sense, here is what I know (from sources like CNN, The New York Times, the BBC and such).

The Mexican flu is a combination/mutation of swine flu, bird flu and human flu.
It seems the epicenter is Mexico City.
It is highly contagious and spreads rapidly.
You don't get it by eating pork. I love pork but even I don''t feel like carnitas right now.
The symptoms are like those of a regular flu: fever, joint aches, fatigue, respiratory trouble, sore throat. Apparently also sudden dizziness, nausea and diarrhea, as if you have the regular flu and a stomach flu on top. Awful.
If you have symptoms you need to get medical help immediately so that you can be diagnosed and treated. Tamiflu and Relenza are medicines that can cure it. If you have symptoms, stay home, drink lots of fluids and stay away from people.
The regular flu shot is not enough protection against it, but it may make symptoms milder, apparently because it fights the human flu part of the virus.
The best way to avoid it is by washing your hands frequently. And by avoiding shaking hands or kissing people. The virus lives in inanimate objects like telephones, computers, money, subway poles, or anything that somebody may have touched with his or her hand that came in contact with his mouth and nose, like any other flu. That is, if somebody infected sneezed into their hand and put that hand on a surface that you later touch, you may be at risk. I have no idea how long the virus survives on these surfaces, but obviously, long enough to spread quickly.
I've heard the incubation period is super fast, from four days to one day.
Apparently face masks are not much help. Infected people who cough and sneeze need to cover themselves with their elbow, or with a tissue they need to throw away immediately and wash their hands. If they do it into their hands, they need to wash with soap and water immediately, or use an antiseptic liquid.
The infection has spread beyond Mexico but only in Mexico are people dying from it. It is killing the healthy 20-55 year olds, more than the usually vulnerable populations of infants and the elderly. Apparently the healthy immune system mounts such an aggressive defense that it overwhelms the lungs, filling them with fluid, hence death.
Nobody understands why people are only dying in Mexico. Possibly because they are poor and by the time they seek help it's already too late.
Don't hold it against Mexicans okay?

Mexican Flu: The Maids Dilemma

Ah, but here is a very interesting juncture in which the lives of the rich intersect with the lives of the poor in Mexico: The maids who live at home. Well-to-do Mexico City residents are now faced with the dilemma of whether they should allow their live in help to go out on their day of rest. They are petrified, and not without reason, that the maid may come back infected from public transportation or from wherever it is that poor people go on their free time. Some have resorted to keeping the maid at home until further notice.
It's ironic that for a country that has always been surreal to begin with, this, which is truly, frighteningly surreal, is happening. And they get an earthquake on top of it (less that a minute later, there's a joke about that). I'm sure that Mexicans are going to deal with it as they know best, with even more surrealism. I already saw pictures of people painting smiling mouths on their face masks. And of people joking about face masks by using underwear instead. And there are those eerie soccer matches at empty stadiums and that TV comedy show that decided to use smiling cardboard cutouts instead of an audience, with canned laughter and applause.

News From The Flu Front II

Here are the latest reports from Small Enchilada:

Saturday, April 25:
Everything is very ugly. We haven't left the house, although we went to the garden. Husband went to buy groceries since they say that yesterday it was crazy and we don't want to end up without food. We also don't want to go out to eat.
I wasn't able to find face masks (and here I am asking for the high performance ones, ha!) People are in a panic and they are misinformed. I read the WHO site and according to what it says, this really sucks. I suppose that due to the lack of infrastructure of the country they probably don't even know what to do or how to do it. I hope they send many international experts.
At the General Hospital there is no soap in the restrooms, the patients are not isolated and everything is "un desmadre", a mess (imagine if that's what comes out in the papers, what is really happening that we don't know about). A well known politician already has it and he is at a private hospital. His daughter is a classmate of Enchiladito. We're going to wait and see what else they say. It's not like we can run away... the kids don't understand anything. We already explained it to Enchiladito. If we flee, I'll let you know.
Meanwhile, I spoke to Enchiladito and he asked me if we had the virus here too.

Monday, April 27
Well they just gave a press conference in which they said that Stage 4 is to mitigate what's happening. The borders aren't closed yet.
The only foreigner (from AP) who asked why it took them so long to send the first samples to Atlanta or Canada, was answered Cantinflas style; that is, they turned the question around.
They are getting the equipment to analyze the virus quickly the day after tomorrow and if it turns out to be type A (whether it's swine flu or not), people will be given immediate treatment and then the samples will be analyzed more in depth. Why didn't they think of this before?
One hears very ugly stories about people who have gone to the hospital and they have been turned away, because they have nothing or because the hospital workers don't want to be infected. Many people called Channel 11 asking what to do, since they have symptoms. Apparently, they have no one to turn to, or they did and it didn't work. It's very sad.
The Secretary of Health says they are dying because they are getting to the hospital too late*. I say it's also because they were not diagnosed correctly. Equipment and organization are lacking. I'm very angry.
According to an acquaintance of a friend who works at the Social Security Institute, there's already like 800 deaths. Who knows. Let's see what they come up with tomorrow.
I already have 19 face masks imported from Houston, and also the undies**!

* Classic strategy: blame the victims.
** The Enchilada family posted a jolly picture of themselves wearing their underwear as face masks.

As I suspected, it's mostly the poor who are dying. Mexicans think that Mexico has no infrastructure. I think it does or at least it tries to have one. The problem is that it also has a penchant for utter disorganization. Order and logic are not its strong suit. The authorities should be telling people not to panic, so as not to create food and medicine shortages. They should be organizing against the consequences of panic. I don't think they are. President Calderón should be addressing the nation, calming people and reassuring them. I don't know that this is happening. If there is no soap in the government hospitals, the government should be asking the big soap companies, like Colgate-Palmolive or Unilever, to donate some. This should not be a problem.
Unfortunately, like many semideveloped countries where the disparity between rich and poor is abysmal, in Mexico there is general, and even official contempt for the poor (like in India or Brasil). If there weren't, somebody would do something to raise their standard of living somehow. In Mexico the government is content to let them move up north or to embark frequently on cosmetic populist campaigns that never really change anything.
It is not a country that is used to the free flow of information, even though this has improved in recent years. As you can see from the reports above, it thrives on rumor. People totally distrust the government, so on top of all the agita, there is also a terrible feeling of not having faith in the institutions, the government or even society itself. I think Mexicans have, on occasion, shown their nobility of spirit, as in the 1985 earthquake when they took it upon themselves to organize (utter chaos but at least they tried) when the government was asleep at the wheel. In a pandemic, obviously, the natural feelings of pity and solidarity take a back seat to saving your own skin, to actual mortal fear of anybody who has taken the subway. Which is why unfortunately, this time we may not see that empathy, and it may get very ugly.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Quarantine: Eight cases in NYC

Let it be known to all my colleagues, friends and acquaintances that henceforth I ain't kissing or shaking hands with any of you, for our collective well-being. Nihao!

Friday, April 24, 2009

News from the Flu Front

Reports from the brave souls from the Enchilada Front Against the Flu in Mexico City: it's quite serious.
And I quote, without permission, from Small Enchilada:
Well, Enchiladito's party with 20 kids ended up being with 8 kids because we are being attacked by an epidemic of very rare influenza and the mothers didn't want to come (and I understand them). After trying to talk to my pediatrician or anybody who would let me talk to them, I asked our doctor if I could have the party and he said only outdoors and with a few kids. They had a great time! And I hope none of us get sick. The situation is really bad, they say much worse than we think*. And I don't doubt it. Schools will be closed indefinitely and people are already stocking up on groceries and we're all very paranoid.
A friend of the neighbor** knows the Secretary of Health and this man told them that one needs to be very careful because the thing is very pathogenic and lethal. That people are dying and they are young.
We'll have to seclude ourselves at home and wait. My friend works in a national institute and she says there is widespread fear among the doctors and researchers, that people are getting sick and dying.
In short, I'm thinking of getting out of dodge*** (maybe Ixtapan de la Sal?)
We'll be in touch...
*Classic Mexican thinking whether the fears are warranted or not.
** The way news traditionally spreads in Mexico, in tandem with the regular media.
*** Here she used an expression in Yiddish that basically references the expulsion of the Jews from Spain -- utter genius.

From Mr. Ex-Enchilada, also without permission:
The doctor says the pandemic is real.... He recommends that I avoid public transportation, restaurants, parties or gatherings, etc.... You know that all the museums, cinemas, theaters, public places are closed...
This is chilling. I am imagining Mexico City right now like the opening sequence of 28 Days Later. Eerie and extremely worrisome. I am not flippant about the flu any more.
Courage, my dear family and friends and the good people of El D.F.!
It seems that you are taking the right steps to avoid spreading contagion and hopefully this evil flu will fizzle out, unable to play tag, you're it anymore.

I have the facebook bug

According to CNN, I almost need help with my facebook addiction.
Here are 5 indicators that you may be at risk (ALL CAPS MINE):

1. You lose sleep over Facebook


2. You spend more than an hour a day on Facebook


3. You become obsessed with old loves


4. You ignore work in favor of Facebook


5. The thought of getting off Facebook leaves you in a cold sweat


There is always a silver lining:

From CNN (gracias Barry!):
The human influenza vaccine's ability to protect against the new swine flu strain is unknown, and studies are ongoing, Schuchat said. There is no danger of contracting the virus from eating pork products, she said.

What's with the Mexican Flu?

To judge from reports here in the US, Mexico City is undergoing a slightly apocalyptic swine flu scenario right now that has forced the authorities to close schools and universities and advise people not to be overly fond of each other as they greet. That is, no handshakes and no kisses.
I have always been a big proponent of the Oriental way of greeting, which is sans touching. It prevents many contagious illnesses, and it's very respectful and polite. I'd rather bow to you than get some horrid virus.
Mr. Ex-Enchilada reported that he had a horrible flu a couple of weeks ago. Maybe it was that?
I'm very concerned for all my loved ones, particularly the Mini-Enchiladitos. Everybody, please be safe.
The Mexico City health authorities are urging the residents to avoid great concentrations of people. As if! As my friend Anna says, in a city of 20 million plus, that's a challenge, to say the least. This basically means all public transportation which is always bursting at the seams with passengers, and Chapultepec park on weekends.
As always, probably the well-to-do will be able to keep their distance, and the rest, well, let's just say that if you are a Mexican manufacturer of face masks you are going to make a killing, so to speak.
Perhaps this is the revenge of all the Mexican piggies. Maybe all the cochinitos decided they had enough of becoming the most mouthwatering carnitas and tacos al pastor.
La Venganza del Nenepil. Revenge of the Chicharrones.
I can imagine that the jokes about the flu spread quicker than the virus.
I came up with one myself that cracks me up to no end, but it is not easily translated. "¡La están armando de tos!"
Meaning, they are making a big deal about it: armarla de tos is slang that somehow involves the word cough. As I said, there is no way this can be conveyed in English, but I think I'm a hoot.
I'm hoping this dastardly flu will leave my city alone (why doesn't it go and attack the Taliban? Oh, they don't eat pork. Bummer). So that maybe hopefully we can go down there in a couple of weeks and have some magnificent tacos de cochinita, cuerito, buche, nana y al pastor, surrounded by Mexicans in the bloom of health.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Perez Hilton and Miss America: Hell Froze Over

It's a momentous occasion, if not a once in a lifetime achievement, when somebody is so stupid that they make a Miss America contestant look smart. In this case, we have Perez Hilton to thank for:
a. Making Miss California look smart and articulate, despite her conservative views on gay marriage.
b. Hurting the cause of gay marriage.
This I know, my dears, not because I watch the contest, which I think should be banned on the grounds of toxicity to brain cells, but because I learned it from that purveyor of serious news, CNN.
As I was exerting myself to look like Miss America at the gym today, I saw Miss California's answer, which was to be expected. Did you think that she was going to say, "yay, Viva Gay Marriage and let's legalize drugs and impeach Rumsfeld and Cheney and send John Yoo to jail and stop harassing the immigrants and nationalize the banks?" It's the Miss America Pageant, for crying out loud!

This is a free country and that is how she feels. She is certainly entitled to her opinion.
But this moronic fat fuck, who was hired by the organizers, then had the gall to insult the contestant in the internet calling her a dumb bitch. If I were Donald Trump, I would rescind his paycheck (unless of course they are both enjoying the ugly free publicity at the expense of the gays).
Perez, pal, you are not doing any favors to the cause with your ugly, stupid, vulgar, bullying. Quite the contrary. It is way out of line to attack this woman for voicing her opinion, or for voicing the opinion that somebody coached her to say so she could eventually put a tiara on her head, cry a tear and wear a cape.
I saw an interview with her, where she said in an English more correct than Bush's or Sarah Palin's that she was going to pray for Perez and she felt sorry for him.
Oh honey, don't bother; he is beyond salvation, and not because he is gay.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mary Stuart

For absolutely mesmerizing acting of the very first caliber, Mary Stuart, with the formidable Janet McTeer and the amazing Harriet Walter, is the ticket to see.
Donmar Warehouse has dusted off a grand new production of this 18th Century play by Friedrich Schiller, super well directed by Phyllida Lloyd. It makes sense in this day and age because it is about the abuse of power, unfair incarceration, false evidence, populism, authoritarianism/tyranny etc. You could substitute Elizabeth's court for the Bush administration and you wouldn't be far off the mark (except that Elizabeth I was formidably smart).
The two lead actresses, Janet McTeer, in the title role, and the amazing Harriet Walter as Elizabeth I, are worth sitting through the very long-winded speeches. They are fabulous. I thought Ms. McTeer was a bit of a ham, but given the enormity of her talent, she has every right to knock herself out. It's hambone, but of the highest quality. And she has some magnificent moments, as in her gleeful, vengeful rage after her tete a tete with Elizabeth, when she boasts of having won the argument. Something to Behold.
Harriet Walter plays Elizabeth as a smart, cold, narcissistic, but ultimately vulnerable woman. The contrast between the two women, one almost ecstatic in her faith and religiosity, the other bound by rules and pragmatism, is magnificent. Anybody who is a student of acting right now should run to see them and learn from two actresses at the height of their technical and creative powers.
The production is minimalistic (leaving the space to all those wooords) and it has some breathtaking theatrical effects, like an actual downpour that makes you gasp in wonder.
At the beginning I was afraid I was going to be bored out of my wits, because the scenes are long and some speeches seem endless. All the actors are wonderful (particularly Brian Murray, John Benjamin Hickey, who reminded me of Donald Rumsfeld, and Nicholas Woodeson). The one terrible lox here is Chandler Williams who plays Mortimer. He is the only one who seems to be straight out of a high school production. Unfortunately, he has some very long speeches.

A Racist and Antisemite in the Racism conference

Of course only at the UN they have the bright idea to have a conference on racism and they invite that ignorant donkey, that uncouth asshole, the president of Iran, who uses it as a bully pulpit, the very conference on racism, to attack Israel and the Jews with the kind of repulsive slander that is the mark of antisemites everywhere; that new but often repeated canard that the Palestinians are unjustly paying for the consequences of the Jewish Holocaust, which is absurd and untrue. The Palestinians are suffering the unintended consequences of unabated Arab aggression against Israel since day 1. Their suffering is not only the fault of Israel. It has been compounded by their Arab brethren who use it for their own political purposes and with no discernible intent to really help them achieve independent, selfsufficient nationhood. The reality is that Iran does not give a real fuck about the Palestinians except to arm their terrorist groups and thus help continue the violence and their suffering. There is more volition for peace in Israel than in any of these hypocrites, who use the suffering of the Palestinians and the spewing of official antisemitism to distract their populations from their misery.
But curiously enough, this time around, many European envoys left the room en masse, because apparently even at a UN meeting there are some standards of decency. In this new world order where the intolerant forces of barbarism and obscurantism are unleashed, the worn and wearisome invective against Israel just does not work the charms it used to anymore.
Used to be, in the 1970's when the Third World was all the rage, that the UN could pass a resolution equating Zionism with racism, with many of those same European countries happily voting for such a thing. Those times are long gone.
Now most of the world knows who the real enemy is.
Anti-Israel tirades like this one today. What is their purpose? Are they designed to bring the region closer to peace? No. They are designed to sway the hearts of ignorants, and to fuel the hatred of the offended on both sides. They are ridiculous, (those disrupters wearing the clown wigs had it right) and they are poisonous.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Treat my president well

Dear Mexican compatriots:
Now that Obama is in Mexico, it is not enough to receive him with mariachis (very cool though). You have to show the brother some love like only Mexicans can give.
That is: get the man a good tequilita, and some nice taquitos de carnitas, a nice sopita de tortilla, chicharrón with guacamole, un pozolito, un molito de olla, and some pepto just in case, and I can assure you the relationship between our countries will never ever falter.
Once he eats our food, he will never think again about turning Mexicans away.

Solidarity, my ass

President Obama's visit to Mexico to talk about the stupid war on drugs should not be about solidarity.
What solidarity? You create the problem by having an insatiable demand for drugs, a totally useless policy against drug use that no one wants to talk about and easily obtainable firearms. And then you blame Mexico for everything. You have the gall to accuse Mexico of approximating a failed state. It is the height, not only of arrogance, but of willful denial. Mexico does not need solidarity. It needs America to either stop using drugs or to legalize drugs or to stop selling weapons as if they were socks. In no other country in the world are citizens considered to have a right to arm themselves to the teeth.
I've had it with the bullying. I hope Obama sends a message loud and clear to all of you stoners and cokeheads and drug users that you need to be aware that you are using drugs that are soaked in human blood.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

International Incident sparked by Burger King

Thanks to Cynthia for alerting me to the incident that threatens war between the US and Mexico. It's not the drug cartels or even immigration. It's a Burger King ad about their new Texican burger. As the copy says, "the Whopper with a little spicy Mexican".
Quite literally, as it turns out. The ad is startling. It shows a tall, handsomish Cowboy and a tiny Mexican dressed as a lucha libre fighter (can we please declare a moratorium on lucha libre? It's really getting OLD). They become roommates and share a house. It's obvious that the creatives scoured their brains thinking of ways in which a tiny little Mexican would not be offensive, so there is a cute scene in which he opens a big jar of pickles for the cowboy, and another one where he is swimming in the pool while the gringo cleans the pool, for a change. I think it's great. I actually find the fact that they are living harmoniously in the same house very sweet and wonderful and symbolically very potent, given the climate of persecution against illegal immigrants nowadays.
The problem is the little tiny Mexican. It's a stereotype.
The creatives will counter that the cowboy is a stereotype too. And they are right, but the cowboy is tall and handsome and the Mexican is tiny and ridiculous. So not everybody will get the postmodern wink of the spot.
I don't find the spot offensive and, according to many comments in You Tube, many other Mexican Americans don't either. But the ad comes at a juncture of dramatic strain between Mexicans and Americans and one wonders whether the creatives and the Burger King executives are either blissfully unaware of this or they thought they could comment on it in their trademark ironic way. As a creative myself, I applaud them for taking the risk. I'm sure, or at least I hope, they predicted the possibility of a shitstorm. Maybe they hoped it'd be a shitstorm that sold tons of burgers.
In any case, it's controversial.
In Spain where they are utterly clueless when it comes to talking about foreigners, for instance, in a print ad of the same campaign the little tiny Mexican is wearing a cape with the Mexican flag (because otherwise Spanish people may not get the lucha libre reference), which prompted our ambassador to object to the campaign in a formal letter. Nothing better to do, I guess.
More offensive than the wearing of the Mexican flag (which the US creatives were smart enough to know was taboo), are the ingredients listed in the Spanish ad: Cajun sauce, cheddar cheese, and beef taco with beans. EEEWWWW!
This is not only offensive but repulsive and I think good grounds for a new Spanish-American-Mexican war.
Remember the Alamo!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Major Writer's Block Under Removal

I scan the headlines and I can't be bothered, even if some of them are worth writing about. I have ennui due to over-fragmentation of information. I am also dangerously addicted to facebook in a bad way. I need an intervention or something. I tried twitter and I don't get it. I use facebook as if it was twittter so why bother?


• Obama eases travel restrictions to Cuba. Cool. He should end the embargo tout suite, establish relations and let that paleolithic regime succumb to the forces of greed and money like everywhere else.

• I don't like pirates.

• Yes I saw that poor woman on Britain's Got Talent. So now what? Are people going to take her seriously or they're just going to exploit her weirdness? If I was the ruler of the world, I would ban reality shows. But you are in luck. Or not.

• The other day I went to see a movie which was a master class on what not to do. How not to cast actors, how not to write dialogue, how not to rely on unnecessary, deadly voiceover narration, how not to adapt a novel, how not to take yourself so seriously and be pretentious when you do not know how to do things. It was hard going, but I learned a lot. The Mysteries of Philadelphia, if you must know. Doesn't even approach the mediocre competence of hackwork.

• Let me remind everybody that April in New York is always like this. It's still too cold, it rains too much, the winds are evil and no, you cannot retire your coats just yet. So stop the whining.

• April being the cruellest month, the other day I was thinking of Liz Taylor. She popped into my mind.
I was thinking that she must be very old and, given her poor health history, look very bad nowadays. And I thought that when that happens to formerly gorgeous movie icons, the best thing is either to go into hiding, or embrace your life and aged looks with a vengeance. Having said that, let's be honest: nobody wants to see a current picture of Brigitte Bardot, and nobody didn't jump and almost didn't have a heart attack when they saw Sophia Loren at the Oscars recently. What I'm saying is, being an international beauty icon is not easy, because age stops for no one, regardless of surgeons and treatments. Some stars age with class (Audrey Hepburn, Julie Christie) but it's not easy and I feel sorry for them all. If I, who have always decried the use of plastic surgery, am contemplating my drooping eyelids with something approaching horror and botox with something approaching possibility, well I can't imagine what it must be like when your otherwordly beauty is your identity. Must be a bitch. Which is why I'm glad I'm not that gorgeous.
So I did run into a recent picture of Liz Taylor in one of the cheesier tabloids. Oy. I guess that age is only good to you if you don't fight it.
Youth is fleeting. It makes me feel sad.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Social Phobias

I'm reading some little books about Freudian psychoanalytic theory and now I am obsessed.
Check this out:
"Periods of social transition or fragmentation are ideal conditions for the spewing forth of phobic objects. Witches cavorting with the Devil and bringing every misfortune into their communities; Jews killing innocent children and drinking their blood; Reds under the bed plotting to brainwash your neighbors: the language of disgust and horror is used for political ends to subjugate, disenfranchise, incarcerate and destroy. Closer to our own time, single mothers, homosexuals, beggars, and foreigners have all been used by governments to help maintain the status quo or provide a convenient scapegoat in times of crisis. ...Inchoate fears could conveniently coalesce around the main templates of racism".
Ivan Ward, Ideas in Psychoanalysis -- Phobias.
In short, when I read the hysterical comments against the legalization of immigrants in the New York Times, with accusations about these people taking American jobs and destroying the fabric of society and other paranoid complaints, this is what it reminds me of. The outrage at their illegality seems quite disproportionate, considering that most of the illegal immigrants are just trying to make a living. People like Lou Dobbs just help demonize and dehumanize the immigrants. Families are being incarcerated in former privatized maximum security prisons while their cases are pending. Someone profits from putting children in jail. This is happening in this here country. It is appalling.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

It's about time!

Obama has finally pledged to do something about immigration. Of course, all hell is breaking loose. People worry that this will be political suicide for him. Maybe, but something must be done.
Republicans and xenophobes scream hysterically about not allowing illegal immigrants to take American jobs. This is a huge fallacy. The jobs offered to illegals are designed for illegals. Not for American citizens, who expect at least the minimum wage and a benefit package.
You want the job of an illegal? You can have it if you are willing to work for bad pay, no unions, and no benefits. No recourse to the law either. Still interested? I didn't think so.
If we expect to curtail illegal immigration, instead of punishing these hardworking people, who are just taking opportunity where they see it (and isn't that the all-American mantra?), we should expect American businesses to stop employing illegals and start employing Americans.
And until this happens, everything else you hear is utter bullshit. It is so much easier to demonize the immigrants (and pretend the blatant racism is actually outrage at their illegality) than to call to task those businesses who profit from this state of affairs. However, these businesses could not survive without these low-wage, low maintenance workers, so what gives?
But Americans are the absolute masters of hypocrisy. As long as business is booming, it's simpler to persecute the workers and their families, and create social chaos, rather than address the issue pragmatically and intelligently, without an ideological agenda.
Go Obama. Good luck, buddy. You are going to need it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Sore Losers!

Not to wish agita on anybody this Passover, but yesterday I was watching Jon Stewart cream the right wing nut jobs of Fox News who really have no sense of decency or shame, comparing Obama to a fascist or a communist or a Nazi. But as Stewart points out, and as everybody with a shred of common sense knows, these are the brayings of universally despised people whose support of harmful policies nobody believes in any more. These are the shrill protestations of pathetic, despicable, sore losers. They can't stand the popularity of our new president and they can't stand that he has restored dignity to this country. They are so cynical and craven that they probably don't even believe what they are saying, they just do it for ratings and money.
I am sure that most Americans know better. Obama's approval ratings show it, his reception by the soldiers in Iraq show it, his reception in the rest of the world shows it. The guy has been president for like 80 days and in that time he has worked hard to set things right. He has made some major changes. I respect him for that.
It took Bush eighty days to wrap his mind around a single sentence and then it never came out right.
So back off.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Last Jew in Afghanistan

This is very interesting and very sad.

A Salt and Battery

I love Mayor Bloomberg, except for his meshugene health crusades that threaten to end with yummy NY food as we know it. Now he has decided to curtail the use of salt in restaurants. Enough already.
If this mandate goes only for chain fast food places, he may have a point. My few and unfortunate forays into such establishments do prove that some places threaten to turn us all into Lot's wife.
But if he touches Chinatown, I will instigate an armed revolt.
What's with the obsession with overseeing our collective health like an overbearing, puritanical mother? He reminds me of Alex Portnoy's mom, who demanded to check her son's caca to see what chazerai he had eaten (I think I laughed for five days straight when I read Portnoy's Complaint. I laughed so hard I cried, I almost ruptured my spleen, I almost died laughing).
For an unbridled capitalist, who is so much about free enterprise, and a Republican, if I am not mistaken, Bloomie sure butts in too much into our own private affairs with food. Maybe instead of nitpicking like a maniac on food content, if he is so damn worried about our health, he could institute social medicine programs for all in New York City. Or at least more phys ed at schools. Free yoga in the parks. Ban cars and force everybody to bike.
Let him eat without salt and fat -- but why ruin it for the rest of us?
Somewhere around the 70's some genius decided that salt was bad for you; now another genius has decided that it's not so bad after all. I ain't no rocket scientist but I've always known salt is very good for me. I have excellent blood pressure despite the fact that I sprinkle it liberally on everything. Life without salt is insipid, and according to the new genius, mildly depressing.
Hey, I'll bring my own salt shaker if I have to.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Anals of Psychoanalysis

For research purposes, I bought a little essay about the idea of perversion in psychoanalysis.
It was on sale, okay? I couldn't resist. Reading about the oral, anal and phallic stages of human sexual development, it dawned on me that Sigmund Freud was an unbelievably imaginative dude (super smart too). Whether one agrees with him or not, his theories are wonderfully metaphorical and poetic and a lot of them seem to make sense.
For instance, according to this little book, cinema is a fetish, as it is the closest we have to human dreams (and myths and fantasies). The screen is like a giant teat. To me, it's more like a giant mirror, or a giant dream, the limpid pool where Narcissus falls in love with himself. There is a whole explanation that ties the phallic stage with the pleasure of viewing. Since the phallus can be seen, this is the stage that likes to watch or be watched. Or something like that.
I'm not sure I agree with the theory of fear of castration in women and the phallocentric Freudian premise that women bemoan their lack of a penis. He kind of totally neglects to mention that women may not have a dick, but we are the givers of life, the ones that get pregnant, and so to me, perhaps penis envy is precisely the reverse: men envy women because only women can bear children. This is the reason why they have oppressed and disrespected them and feared them since day one. Why would a woman envy a penis? What we have is perfectly fine. In fact, it may be even better, more complex. Nature is more fair than Freud. It gives men dicks to wave around, but to compensate, it gives women childbirth (and pretty amazing genitals). I don't think that the vagina or the clitoris are a failed or absent or stunted or castrated penis. Had Freud lived in a more gender balanced society, he may have had less machocentric theories.

Apparently, the repression in childhood of the anal pleasure of excreting is tied to later creativity. This totally makes sense to me.
1. You make doo doo. 2. You are taught to repress the pleasure of making doo doo. 3. Later, if you're lucky, it comes out as art.
The Nazis, however, were terribly stuck in their anal phase, and their perversity was to take everything so literally. So they wanted to cleanse the dirty elements in their society, and purify their race, etc, etc. They were obsessed with cleaning the shit around them, which to their mind were all the dark, non-Aryan people, and particularly the Jews. Anal people are controlling, tyrannical people who cannot sublimate their repression in a more creative, looser (so to speak) way, hence Nazis.
It should come as no surprise that Hitler was a failed artist (and suffered from constipation).
Disgusted with his own doo doo/doodles (am I being totally Lacanian, or what?), he set out to cleanse and remove the shit he saw around him and in himself. The crematoria, as the book says, were the anus mundi. People were fed into the ovens and then excreted. Fucking Hitler would have benefited from a a good Jewish shrink, for crying out loud.... Anyway... I am always deeply suspicious of overly clean people. Beware those for whom things are never clean enough.
As for what is perversion, perversely, the little book doesn't really say.

The real superheroes

Check out this cool photo gallery by the talented Dulce Pinzón.
These are the real heroes of America. Legal or not.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A parade of stars

Must be that celebrity actors lost a lot of moolah like the rest of us in the crisis, since everybody and their mother is currently starring in a play on Broadway. Broadway is now officially star-studded, which is not the same as great. But we are proudly star-struck and having the good fortune of getting really cheap tickets through TDF, we have seen our share of star wattage in the last couple of weeks.
Charles Isherwood in his fun summary in the NYT, really nails the ones I've seen.

Exit the King is a silly, misguided vanity project for Geoffrey Rush. It really is a terrible comedown when someone whose enormous talent one admires happens to be a megalomaniac ham and so it is with Mr. Rush.
Exit the King by Eugene Ionesco is getting a terrible revival courtesy of Mr. Rush. I didn't know the play, but I could tell from the text that it wasn't meant to resemble a carnival. The production is, as Mr. Isherwood points out, awash in vulgarity and icky crowd-pleasing. This is a pity, because the only reason we went was to see Susan Sarandon play the queen. The woman is so classy and so cool (and possibly so mortified to be on stage in this dud) that she refuses to follow the hamming and she looks gorgeous, and regal. The NY audience rightly adores her and she gets a loving and well deserved round of applause upon appearing (I hate when people do that, but in her case it is sincere and lovely). The rest is uncomfortably silly, transparently vain and not very interesting.
I have a feeling that a lot of absurdist theater tends to become quaint with age (through no fault of its own, but through corny crowd-pleasing productions that just sap any bite out of the poor plays).
Thus, I shudder to think of the coming production of Waiting for Godot with Nathan Lane, Bill Irwin and John Goodman. Shudder to think. I was lucky to have seen a fantastic production of the Gate Theater of Dublin, which emphasized the beauty and tenderness and humor of the text, if not the darkness. However, if I can get it through TDF, I just might go, because I love John Goodman.

You must know, dear readers, that I have had a succession of famous British actor boyfriends. Unbeknownst to them, I have had long, splendid relationships with Daniel Day Lewis, Ralph Fiennes, Daniel Craig (with him it's an on and off thing) and Clive Owen (my current beau). One of my first, if not the very first, was Jeremy Irons (please everybody see Moonlighting and Reversal of Fortune). I will go see this man performing inside a sack of potatoes, which would probably be better than Impressionism, which is truly a terrible play.
The production works hard to make it a classy evening, with tasteful projections of Impressionist paintings, although the play is bland, middlebrow pretentious, designed to make ignorant people feel cultured. But there is Mr. Irons, being extremely charming, acting as if it's all a walk in the park, and Joan Allen, a very good actress that gives a terrible one note performance that is quite astonishing in how unlikable and shrill it is. There is absolutely no chemistry between the two leads, and at the end when one finds out there is supposed to be a romance between the two, it actually comes as a shock, so gratuituous and incredible it seems. The only person who saves this evening is the wonderful Andre De Shields, who basically takes up the dead space and feels it with the power and energy and dimension it lacks.

But for absolutely mesmerizing acting of the very first caliber, Mary Stuart, with the formidable Janet McTeer and the amazing Harriet Walter, is the ticket to see. They may not be famous stars, but they are incredible, and the play is no embarrassment.
Donmar Warehouse has dusted off a grand new production of this 18th Century play by Friedrich Schiller, super well directed by Phyllida Lloyd. It makes sense in this day and age because it is about the abuse of power, unfair incarceration, false evidence, populism, authoritarianism/tyranny etc. You could substitute Elizabeth's court for the Bush administration and you wouldn't be far off the mark (except that Elizabeth I was formidably smart).
The two lead actresses, Janet McTeer, in the title role, and the amazing Harriet Walter as Elizabeth I, are worth sitting through the very long-winded speeches. They are fabulous. I thought Ms. McTeer was a bit of a ham, but given the enormity of her talent, she has every right to knock herself out. It's hambone, but of the highest quality. And she has some magnificent moments, as in her gleeful, vengeful rage after her tete a tete with Elizabeth, when she boasts of having won the argument. Something to Behold.
Harriet Walter plays Elizabeth as a smart, cold, narcissistic, but ultimately vulnerable woman. The contrast between the two women, one almost ecstatic in her faith and religiosity, the other bound by rules and pragmatism, is magnificent. Anybody who is a student of acting right now should run to see them and learn from two actresses at the height of their technical and creative powers.
The production is minimalistic (leaving the space to all those wooords) and it has some breathtaking theatrical effects, like an actual downpour that makes you gasp in wonder.
At the beginning I was afraid I was going to be bored out of my wits, because the scenes are long and some speeches seem endless. All the actors are wonderful (particularly Brian Murray, John Benjamin Hickey, who reminded me of Donald Rumsfeld, and Nicholas Woodeson). The one terrible lox here is Chandler Williams who plays Mortimer. He is the only one who seems to be straight out of a high school production. Unfortunately, he has some very long speeches.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

They live among us

I was washing my face in my bathroom a couple of nights ago, not wearing my glasses, when I saw a black blob move gingerly around my feet and scuttle out of the bathroom. It was too big and too black to be a cockroach, yet too small to be a rat. My educated guess: a small roof mouse. Unless, of course it was a giant tarantula.
Darlings: I do not appreciate sharing my humble abode with non human creatures.
Using my Sherlockian powers of deduction I remembered that I had heard some faint animal whimpering while watching TV the night before. Thus, there must be a poor little roof mouse trapped somewhere in this house who is farblondget (lost) and missing his mommy and I'm afraid we'll cross paths once again.
In which case I'm going to scream my lungs out. And in no uncertain terms make clear that he is not welcome.
I have been casting my suspicions across the hall, to some yet to be determined neighbor that may not be having the most hygienic living conditions. I have been living here for 16 years and only lately the hall outside stinks of dead dog and rotten feet.This may be the reason for the small menagerie now squatting chez moi.
As I am alone in the apartment these days, my nights are fretful.
I live in Manhattan. If I wanted to commune with nature, I'd buy a condo in the African savannah.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Chicest Burberry Bag

Sold exclusively in Mexican street markets. I could kick myself I didn't get one.
The height of chic.

Take Me to the Pilot

Every time I come back to NYC on a plane, I notice that, as it approaches the airport, the plane starts spinning around New Jersey in a holding pattern. I don't like this. So this last time, coming back from Mexico City, the pilot makes the following reassuring announcement:
"Ladies and gentlemen, because of the high winds, the authorities at JFK decided to change the orientation of the runways, which means that we need to be put in a holding pattern for about 45 minutes (something like, while they figure their shit out). You will see planes above and below us. We will do our utmost to steer clear of these planes. "
Gee, thank you, man. Please go ahead and do your very utmost not to crash with another plane in mid-air while I'm sitting here, why don't you.
Frankly, I don't know what is better. The pilots who don't bother to tell you that you are going for a carousel ride as you can see Manhattan in the distance, or the garrulous ones like the above, which explain way too much.
In any case, we were given permission to land shortly after that and I just decided not to look out the window.