Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mexico Bans Junk Food for Kids in Schools

I am deeply conflicted about this one.
We must not lose our traditional junk food in the process.
Do not ban Mexican Japanese peanuts or I myself will organize a revolt. They are saying that they are going to ban the more fattening form of tortas. I swear, if they touch the torta, I don't know what I'll do. It's Mexico's gift to mankind.
On the one hand, it's a good move because Mexico has a huge problem of childhood obesity and diabetes, which was not the norm when I was growing up, and which is the result of an invasion of American style junk food and the habit of drinking soda pop for breakfast. As is the case everywhere where the poor are now fat instead of famished, junk and soda are the cheapest things in the food chain.
We have always had our own Mexican junk food. I think it should be preserved.
Cazares, Cacahuates Japoneses, Sabritones, (crunchy stuff in a bag with lime and chili).
But we also snack with carrots, jicama, cucumbers, mangoes, with lime and chili. That apparently, is staying. Fresh fruit juices and aguas frescas without lots of sugar instead of pop. Yes.
Schools need to introduce a sports curriculum, besides clamping down on the chazerai kids eat. The article says that some government schools don't even have a schoolyard! Problem is, right outside the schools will be the vendors with all the goodies and my biggest fear is that the prohibition will create more craving for the stuff.
In Mexico we call all this fabulous national junk porquerías, (porky stuff, chazerai, in Yiddish). I went to a cocktail party in a tony neighborhood in DF recently and besides the taco stand hired for the occasion, there was a porquería buffet table with crunchy stuff with lime and chili as far as the eye could see. It was awesome.

American Idol and other TV Mysteries

I don't even have cable any more. All I like is 30 Rock. But yesterday I happened upon the American Idol finale and decided to stick it out.
It was excrutiating.
Crystal Bowersox should have won. That girl is not only immensely talented, but spunky and charming and actually has a personality. She is already a star. I was very impressed by her command of the stage and her lovely self-confidence and charisma, her true joy of being there, totally at ease with Joe Cocker. I sincerely hope she will do extremely well and if I was a big macher in the music business I would sign her up right now. I hope she makes it like Jennifer Hudson. Talent is talent.
Not so the winner, who looks like a human diaper (without the load inside). Bland, shapeless, utterly uninteresting. But that's what happens when you let the people vote. Since when do people know anything? His performance with Chicago was horrible, in all fairness mostly due to Chicago, who look like they could use some lubricating oil, they were so rusty.
Most of the famous who showed up were from the land of Has Been. Michael McDonald? Chicago? They reminded me of the Randy Newman song "I'm dead but I don't know it".  But not Hall & Oates. Hall & Oates can never do wrong in my book. Aguilera should have not sung a ballad, and Janet Jackson... I don't know. Weird. All these people made me pine for Justin Timberlake. I like him.
Is it me, or everything sounded rather unrehearsed and sometimes out of key?
The show was too long. I don't give a fuck about Simon Cowell (there are more likable pricks elsewhere), and I think Paula Abdul is a strange little creature, like a Pia Zadora, but with more talent and more problems. But I am intrigued by the terrible time Ellen is having on the show. She looks like she is in deep internal pain. And she is usually so sunny! She steadfastly refused to even smile when they brought out Dane Cook. I applaud her for this stand to defend the honor of comedians everywhere. But she seems to be suffering the torments of hell sitting in that chair. If you don't like it lady, collect your millions and leave. Just don't look so pinched. It doesn't become you.

I must confess I also watched the finale of The Biggest Loser the other day. Morbidly obese people compete to lose weight and win 250 grand if they lose the most pounds. The lightest of them weigh more than 200 pounds. The winner was almost 500 pounds when he started. He shed more than 250 pounds. The personal trainers run them ragged and I'm sure they starve them to death. Everybody cries buckets of tears, which I find unseemly. Me, on the other hand, can't lose 6 miserable pounds because I refuse to deprive myself from pasta and soup dumplings and shrimp tempura rolls. Or the occassional family size bag of Cheetos. After dinner.
But my point is that these shows could last half an hour if they were not dragging them so artificially and pointlessly way past their natural conclusions. It's unendurable.
I also noticed, stranger to TV that I am, that advertising in the big networks has gotten more in the mold of Sábado Gigante and now brands are hawking themselves inside the programs. I find all of this extremely distasteful and annoying and overkill.
Also, if you really want to know what the hell is happening in the world, you have to tune in to BBC World News, because there is no chance in hell you are going to get that from the nightly news stateside. They report on things like the winner of American Idol. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Band Aids for Hemorrages

As if I have nothing better to do with my time, I write in the comments section of the NYT.
You should know that there are a lot of crazy Mini Sheriff Arpaios out there clamoring to deport, shoot to kill, seal the border, build a wall, etc. They sound like crazy crackers.
Here's what I wrote. Except here I may use more colorful language because this is my blog.

Sending 1200 National Guards to the border is a joke.
Giving Mexico millions of dollars for their futile war on drugs is useless.
All the measures taken by the Obama administration so far seem like a band aid trying to contain a full blown hemorrage. I am a Mexican American citizen.  I don't believe in the Minutemen or Sheriff Arpaio's illegal tactics and I am appalled by the hypocrisy of all those people screaming bloody murder against the immigrants but saying nothing against the legitimate businesses who hire them.
The measures needed to start solving this problem need to be long term.
First, the vermin of both parties who sit in Congress need to pass some immigration legislation pronto. Unless there is a coherent federal immigration policy in this country, nothing is really going to change except the rising level of anti-immigration hysteria. States coming up on their own with their racist, unconstitutional solutions are not going to help nor make a dent in the influx of immigrants. This is not a states' problem, it's a federal, foreign policy problem.
Secondly, the war on drugs that Mexico has been asked to undertake singlehandedly, in which thousands of Mexicans have died due to the endless voraciousness of American drug consumption needs to be reframed. Prohibition encourages criminality and outrageous profits for the drug mafia. 90% of Mexican drug production is consumed in the US. Is anybody going to do something about this? I'm sick and tired of the bully gringos whining about Mexico. Look at your own meth-infested backyard. That is not Mexico's fault, you spoiled crybabies.
Third, Mexico needs to get its act together (the nerve!). It cannot expect to continue farming out its poor, uneducated, desperate citizens to a country that does not welcome them, except to exploit them. It needs to improve the rural standard of living and education, It needs to give its own citizens a future.

Read it and Tear your Hair Out

Weeping is simply not enough. In this week's New Yorker there is an excellent, devastating article by William Finnegan on the drug cartels in Mexico.
What a disaster.
Mexicans are finally going to finish destroying what they have been picking at for two centuries (right on time for their Bicentennial, no less). A wonderful country, turned to shit mainly because of their dangerously cynical, lazy, irresponsible and benevolent attitude towards corruption, their racist caste system, the exploitation of millions of impoverished, uneducated people by a few who thrive through corruption because they can afford it.
Plus, Mexico has the misfortune of living next to the US.  To wit: 90% of Mexican drugs are consumed in the US.  80% of illegal weapons in Mexico are imported from the US.
As Porfirio Díaz said: "Poor Mexico, so far from God; so close to the United States".
In a nutshell, Mexico is fucked. Fucked because it has displayed what amounts to genius in fucking itself over and because no one in this spoiled, fat assed country (the US) wants to take responsibility for the American drug feeding frenzy. They expect Mexico to deal with the problem. And no one wants to do what makes most sense, which is to repel prohibition and legalize at least marihuana. Cripple some of those profits.

I have always protested when I hear people say that Mexico is a failed state, but this article introduces the more accurate concept of a captured state. Although Mexico has not yet been captured in its entirety, some of the Mexican drug mafias basically take over every single aspect of life in a state -- including law enforcement -- through fear, intimidation and money. They build schools, they give better paying jobs to people. They bring a prosperity that the Mexican government and society have always denied its own people, through greed, mismanagement, incompetence and contempt. This is happening in several states in Mexico. They are like occupying armies.

Why has this war has been such an utter failure (no matter what Obama or Calderón say. They are both full of pompous, useless shit)? The article contends, quite logically, that it is being waged with the wrong strategy. The narcos will always have the upper hand when it comes to violence, since their rules of engagement are brutal and their capacity for buying arms seems inextinguishable. Plus, they terrorize and intimidate everyone, buy off everyone and kill whoever doesn't toe the line. They can do things states and armies can't, just like terrorists.
The way to attack them is by confiscating property, assets and accounts -- by strangling them financially. Why is this not being done? Finnegan says that cleaning house is impossible because Mexico is a thoroughly corrupt country. Real rule of law did not really exist before this debacle, so it's not going to show up now. The legal and judicial institutions are archaic, byzantine, kafkaesque and utterly incapable of dealing with the most inconspicuous legal problem, plus they are up to their necks in corruption.
So my dear Mexican countrymen, the chickens have come to roost. The cynicism and the comfort with which Mexicans have lived for decades aiding, abetting, suffering, and tolerating corruption and impunity has reached maximum capacity. If people thought that corruption was sustainable for the long run as long as they paid the bribes and looked the other way, they are now being violently disabused of the notion. There are no solid, trustworthy, respectable institutions. Nobody respects the law. So now that the thugs are taking over, you should not be so surprised. It was bound to happen.

Monday, May 24, 2010


The man with the most wonderful name in cinema, Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, won the Palme D'Or at Cannes.
I like his movies. I'm looking forward to seeing this one.
Love of my life, Javier Bardem shared the prize for best actor (¡Felicidades, guapo!) for his work in Biutiful, an Alejandro G. Iñárritu film we are hoping is not as over the top melodramatic as is his custom. Best thing Iñárritu has done lately is an amazing Nike spot for the World Cup.
A Mexican movie, Año Bisiesto, won the Camera D'Or for best first feature. Nice!

Ayn Rand Paul

Can someone explain to me why someone who hates government so much is running for office? So he can dismantle everything he's supposed to do when he gets there?
What is this crazy mishegoss with destroying government? So the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is too much government and holding BP responsible for the worst oil spill in history is too much government. What are we, a zoo?
If you don't like to live in society, go live in a cave, preferably in Alaska. In your corporate cave, you can have separate counters for troglodytes and murgatroids.
These people are insane.

Speaking of BP, I saw two cars pumping gas at the BP station on Houston St. One of them the proud owner of a Porsche. The other one a clueless minivan dad. Other than equally clueless (or perhaps even gleeful) cabdrivers, that station is not doing a lot of business these days. As it should be.

Breaking News: Foot Brace Great for Restaurants

Miracle of miracles! For the first time in my life, I show up at New York restaurants and they let me take a table even when THE WHOLE PARTY isn't there yet.
This policy of NY restaurants is one of the things that drives me insane about this city.
- We are going to be six for brunch.  (Plenty of available tables)
- I have a table for you right now. Follow me.
- Great! (We feign coolness and utter ignorance of the cardinal rule)
- Wait. Is everybody here?
- No. Right now there's only the two of us but they are about to arrive. Any. Minute. Now.
- I can't seat you.
I lost it.
- Frankly, I don't understand this policy. We are going to sit down and order food and drinks while we wait. Why is this a problem? 
- Listen, I don't get it either - said the hostess - I'm from Portugal*. I don't understand this stupid NY custom. But I need to ask the manager.
The manager probably looked at the brace (or at my murderous mien) and let us sit down. Still, they made me guarantee the other 4 were going to show up. Not very hospitable but that's what we have to deal with in this town.
For their troubles I ordered not one, but two Bloody Marys.  It pays to be nice to the customers.

*For you people not familiar with the hospitality business in the rest of the civilized world, you arrive at a restaurant, they don't expect all of you to arrive at the exact same time because they understand human nature so they trust that your party will eventually show up and meanwhile they will make some nice money off you while you wait in comfort at your table. But this is too much to ask here. Unless you have a foot brace.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Department of Unpopular Sentiments

Darlings! I have noticed that my involvement with addictions such as facebook and other internet cabinets of wonder wastes a lot of time I could be spending writing here, instead of updating my every move or picking fights in other blogs.
Last week I found myself in the middle of a perfect little internet shitstorm, for I was making comments in Gawker that got me to be virtually screamed at by two very different segments of the virtual population.
Exhibit A: I sympathize with Roman Polanski. Before you lynch me, let me elaborate.
I do not sympathize with his criminal behavior. I do not think that the fact that he survived the Holocaust as a child, or that his wife and unborn child were murdered by the Manson family, or that he is a brilliant filmmaker, can ever justify his sexual abuse of minors. Fact is, had his trial not been a travesty, he would probably have served time, as he deserved. But the trial was a circus, because all celebrity trials are circuses and the presiding judge wanted to be a celebrity himself. All I was saying that the complexity of his bizarre legal process, the distortions of fame, the zeitgeist of the 70's, make his case far more complicated than screaming "off with his head" 40 years after the fact. I was promptly accused of blaming the victim. I don't. I blame Polanski and I blame the victim's mother for leaving her unchaperoned at a "screen test" with a notorious film director at the house of a notorious actor in the middle of the drug addled 70's.  But why all this extradition hysteria now? Is it because there is an Los Angeles DA running for office?  People all of a sudden become naive when it comes to selfrighteous moral indignation.
Exhibit B: A post on Gawker criticizes Steve Jobs because he doesn't allow porn apps on the iPad. This apparently is an affront to our nation's freedoms. This is what I said:
Now, I'm not a parent, but internet porn (which I myself peruse once in a while) is an insidious thing, and not only for children. It is hugely degrading to women. It can warp the minds of adults who are not always sensitive or even cognizant of how dehumanizing some of it is, let alone kids. So Apple has every right to keep porn away from its product. It's not like they are saying they are going to block porn from your Macbook. You will still be able to jerk off to your heart's content and believe in the fantasy that the women who subject themselves to the increasingly hostile and abusive sexual scenarios of internet porn do it because they love it and because of "freedom".
The outrage this unleashed! I was accused of being a "morality police" and reassured that a lot of porn is noble and good and the ladies who do it absolutely love doing it. Frankly, methinks the gents do protest too much. 
This has got to be a pathetic country with a bunch of pathetic losers whose idea of defending freedom is defending porn.  I'm not advocating censorship. But the day one of these sorry jerkoffs has to live in a place like China or any other country where you can fester in jail for thinking or complaining against the government, that day, maybe they will give their freedom the respect and the value it deserves. America has really spoiled its brats. And I am sick and tired of how Americans cheapen something that is so dear to most others, usually for nefarious reasons (see Freedom Fries, Sarah Palin) or for idiotic reasons, like porn.

Still, I think it hilarious to be screamed at both by the feminists and the porn lovers.  Maybe they can all go on a date.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Grande Enchilada Alternative Nobel Prizes

There are certain things that deserve a Nobel Prize that do not fit in the Nobel categories, but they are still deserving of our unending gratitude. So here are my nominees for Nobel Prize for Fantasticness:
Velcro. Now that I have to walk around with a foot brace, instead of a cast, I sing the praises of Velcro. Whoever invented it is a genius (just don't let it near any pantyhose. It bites).
The Human Eye. I saw a demonstration of footage shot with the new Arri Alexa camera, a marvel of HD. The texture was unbelievably crisp. Then I looked around the auditorium with my own eyes. The texture was unbelievably crisp. We have some major optical lenses in the human eye.
Ice Cream. Dessert also merits a prize, but ice cream takes the cake, so to speak. Ice cream makes people happy very fast. 
Movies. You know how I feel about them.
Pot. Pot is so nice once in a while, with the emphasis on "once in a while". Too much of it and I think you really start acting retarded. But once in a blue moon, way nice. Time to legalize it! Because at the opposite end of the awards spectrum is the idiotic war on drugs. However, the Awards for Achievement in Human Idiocy deserve a separate post.
The Bicycle. Better than the car.
Mexican Food. Culinary genius.
Cities. So rats want to live here too. They know where the action is.  
The internet. A world changer, as usual with humans, for better and for worse.
At the request of Mr. Ex-Enchilada, Charles' Southern Pan Fried Chicken has been added to the list.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Used Car Salesmen

The two worst things about a broken foot are 1. that I can't do whatever the hell I please and 2. doctors and our health care system.
I broke the foot on a Thursday. Because of my deep and longstanding indoctrination into insurance panic, I forgot that I'm paying $400 a month (plus $50 copays and all kinds of other extras) to have the privilege not to need a referral from my primary care doctor to see a specialist. So instead of going directly to an orthopedist, I went to her. She looked at it and said: you need an orthopedist. Well, good luck trying to find a practicing bone doctor on a Friday. Either they are playing golf or they are operating on patients. Next available appointment: 10 days from then.
I didn't want to spend the weekend either at the ER or with the foot getting worse by the minute, so I went to a bone doctor that my insurance does not cover. I figured, I work my ass off so that I can have money for shit like this. I'm not going to start nickel and diming my own health.
Fine. He tells me it should be fine in 2 or 3 months, sells me one single brace boot for the price of a fancy pair of shoes and tells me he wants to see me next week. No dude, next week I'm seeing a doctor that my insurance covers, thank you very much.
So second appointment, third round of x-rays, my insurance covered doctor walks into the room and he starts trying to sell me pretty hard on the idea of surgery. He thinks I'm Margot Fonteyn and my career as a prima ballerina will be over. I quickly disabuse him of the notion. I like the stupid ballet but if you tell me I can't do it, I'll do something else.
So then he changes his tune and says what he should have said at the beginning. This may or may not heal correctly. You can wait to find out or I can cut you open and fix you tomorrow. Your choice.  I find it appalling that the main concern seems to be to ratchet up the invoice, rather than the best and most sensible course of action.
I had been to him once before and he solved a shoulder problem quickly and efficiently, so I don't think he is a bad doctor.  But my feeling is that the system encourages these specialists to behave like merchants in a Turkish bazaar.
Worse than this is that every time you go to a doctor's appointment or diagnostic place, you are treated like a potential criminal, not like a patient.  Where's your insurance card, do you still live where you live, who sent you here?
It's not very nice.

I'm breaking my silence

Can't take it anymore.
Warning: I am exceedingly cranky.
Broken foot in wonderful Spring weather: not good for the mood.

1. Reporting a smoking car to the police is not heroic. It's what anybody in their right mind should do under the circumstances.  If there is one thing about the American mentality that drives me crazy is this obsession with heroics. Heroism is to step into an oncoming train to save a person's life. Or to speak out against injustice at the risk of losing your freedom or your life. Seeing a suspicious vehicle about to catch fire in the most crowded area in America and calling the police is not heroism. It's common sense. So all the vendors: not heroes. STFU.

2. A trader's error (and Greece) send Wall Street into a tailspin? A simple misguided finger is capable of wreaking havoc on the world's economy? Very scary. Traders, look where your fingers are going, okay?
As for Greece, shut up and put up. You are rife with corruption. Your rich don't pay taxes, and you live beyond your means. Fuck you.

3. Hapless fucking idiot bomber: You are an idiot. All of you people who allow your brains to be manipulated by sick extremist clerics are monumental morons, including those of you who are competent. There should be a circle in hell devoted to abject human stupidity. And it should be the one with the worst torments. Either that or Guantanamo. I'm always against Guantanamo, except when things like these happen, where I should think we should make an exception and hang these people by the balls. Seriously, I do believe that this guy is an American citizen and should be tried in a court of law in the system we know. I'm just ranting.

4. Joe Lieberman is a cunt.

5. Question: Why does the American media pay attention to vantz from hell Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Why do Charlie Rose and George Stephanopolous think that he deserves to be interviewed? What do they expect he is going to say? Something rational? Something worth listening to? They like the public humiliation?  This guy comes to New York, he should be ignored. The pustulent little vantz loves the attention. Stop giving it to him.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Department of Alarming Sentences

From the NYT:
Airlines are not required to report cash purchases, a Homeland Security official said.
We are talking of course about the guy who almost made it to Dubai after trying to explode an SUV in Times Square. He paid for the car in cash and for the ticket in cash.

Does this sentence above make any sense?  Shouldn't cash purchases of airline tickets be more prone to suspicion? Not everybody who pays cash is a criminal, but why not report those purchases too? Because we are still idiots when it comes to security at airports.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

May Day

                                                     La Pasionaria, Jr.

Real Terror

From the NYT, reporting on yesterday's bomb scare:
A group of people on a high school senior trip from Jacksonville, Fla., said they were stuck for about an hour and a half in the Bubba Gump restaurant at 44th Street and Seventh Avenue. 
Now, that is horrifying.

Today, life goes on. We're going to demonstrate our solidarity with NYC by checking out the food truck fair in Hell's Kitchen.