Sunday, June 29, 2008
off to greener pastures - avianca #9 into ElDorado International
The CONQUEST of pre-colombia
Like a string bikini, Colombia is pinched between the bubbling Caribbean Sea and the mighty Pacific Ocean. It is a place that prominently occupies America's southern land-mass. The Andes mountain range begins there and rises 8000 feet above sea level. In 1492 Columbus and his little metal clad mariners sailed their way into a corner where water meets the jungle. They came ashore in search of untold gold to help the queen of iberian peninsula home take back the promised land to accelerate the biblical rapture.
A 24k chest-plate from the Pre-Keith Haring period.
What they found was a wild world of what appeared to them to be crazed indians, with considerable bling-bling. But what they stumbled upon was 1500 years of a refined culture of orality. The legend of Montezuma was in effect a ponzi scheme gone ugly. The indians boasted a yellow brick road at the end of the rainbow. If they wanted a rainbow they had to put up with the rain. It was a one way ticket to annihilating assimilation for both parties.
This 'trojan gift' appeared one day, then gone the next... what-a-concept.
Coffee was the New Gold
After most the pre-colombian royal head-sets, nose-rings and such were smelted, the gold rush busted. Yet, wooden ships loaded with speculating spaniards continued to bring trouble, land deeds were drawn to carve out the jungle among mostly foreign land-lords. Places of worship where painstakingly plated on solid footing by monks with muskets.
I imagine googled indians were dazzled by catholic artisans handy-works of painting, sculpture architecture. though grudgingly, were sold on the pope's message of salvation. Turf wars erupted causing heavy casualties on both sides. By and by gold is replaced with coffee as vast fields of arabian seed are cultivated and thrive.
The new cash crop was taken to sea via the great Magdalena River while 400 years pass and finally industrialization kicks in. By this time most of the people have kinda mingled, interbred naturally because young people fall in love all the time. Smack dab in the middle is Bogota the Capital City.
Peruvian tourists more focused on techno-gadgets than the awesome panorama view of the city from mountain-top Monserato.
Modern is the New World
Back in 1930 Bogota was nice enough, a proto-metropolitan hub complete with an urban plan, commerce, universities and decent weather. Today it is home to nearly 8 million people of every conceivable strata, from the bullet-proof uber-wealthy to the ubiquitous indigents.
Sharp dude with collection box and cane, might be indigent but not at all crazy.
So all is not calm of course, as the usual nepotism, corruption and general ineptitude result in the predictable social inequities that give way to periodic tremors of unrest. All the while young people fall in love, have families and want the same thing for their kids that you and i want.
Pleasant gypsy dudes display cryptic had signals.
MaryJane is the New Coffee
As in Cuba after their independence from Spanish rule, Colombia was swarming with gringos eager to do business with their fruity friends to the south. Like Betty Crocker before him, Juan Valdez was fabricated to humanize a food product. In the 50's Dupont invented synthetic rope then managed to eradicate "hemp" farms with images of reefer-madness. The 60's bloomed with a new products-to-markets, supply and demand dynamic, a Chicken-n-Egg enigma. Uncle Sam kicked back as the new Colombian Gold rush boomed. The Narco-trafficants got rich enough to quell any affront to their interests. But meddling is the name of the game and we saw a renewed grab for riches. The wealth generated was so tempting that it resulted in our collaborating with the elite to fund private armies or para-militaries to quell the cycle. Once trained and equipped, hired hands were up for grab to the highest bidder. Meanwhile plain folk have had enough harassment and the very lefty leaning M19 and FARK joins the madness while Round-up rains down in buckets. Finally, Californians are enlightened with homegrown and soon capture the market to keep all the proceeds stateside.
"Say hello to my little friend."
Turbo-charged and with Miami Vise allure, the 80' saw a new cash crop emerge from the ashes of el bongo grande. Fueled by an ever affluent wild-style abandon of counter-culture lust, coca cultivation and it's fiendish derivative capture new markets and energize the fearless. The accompanying violence is unimaginable, the stuff of movies. Cocaine becomes a vehicle of social blight as the players played for keeps. Agents of a culture of death. In the shadows of the foreground, the ordinary mench dodges bullets while young people do the courtship dance and try to just say no.
Intriguing display at an antiquarian book shop.
When it comes to getting a grip on the situation Bogota has the safety security thing down. Todays visitor need not look far to spot some one in uniform packing big heat vigilantly. Soldiers in fatigues with ak47's, Cops is blue with riot gear, guys is green with shiny boots, cadet with trained dogs, and of course battalions of private security. Imagine going to Aventura Mall and getting the full wakenhut before entering the parking garage.
South-bound, road-side vigil on the way to Arbelaes.
The capitol city is basically under martial law and people seem safe. Yet the sidewalks are a veritable obstacle course of uneven cobbles and craters big enough to swallow babies. The scene at the airport is overwhelming. But guess what, those irreverent kids flaunt themselves with a force of creative expression that makes for plenty of kick-ass graffiti.
captivating image, marker on wall.
If it Smells like TRAFFIC...
Pedestrians have the right-of-way... not. Breath at your own risk. Like a torrent of diesel that will stop for nothing, the motoring public is a collective of lead-footed runaways, their chariots small and large are percolators of contamination, debilitating generations of the pulmonary challenged natives.
typical street scene in Chapinero neighborhood.
Then add to the jam legions of motorcycles evil knievels wearing mandatory plastic vests with giant numbers that must match the giant numbers on their helmets, sputtering like sick weed-wackers. It is a carbon-fiber blanket of toxic smog with exhausting exhausts at Himalaya heights of thin air. The supreme rule is there are no rules. Like an amusement park ride, with the carnival attendant asleep at the switch, the ebb and flow is a spectacle of modernity. In fairness, cabbies are courteous, fares are reasonable and the public/private transport buss system is substantial. The good news is there is no parking authority ever in sight, no petty parking tickets. On Sundays all the joggers and bicycles take back the asphalt along a major Avenue for a mass choreographed calisthenic.
just the same keep in mind, if you want to live long, curb yourself.
Jetson-esque gasseteria , gas about 4 bucks gallon.
pieahaya - another of many strange delightful fruitas.
Food Among the Flowers
Something about the renascence style city that makes sense. Much like New York, the street level is punctuated with businesses of all kinds while people live above. There are nice neighborhoods and funky hoods that follow this model for metropolitan life. Ma-n-Pa shops dot the cityscape. Supermarkets, restaurants, food joints, street vendors, fruit stands, cafes, and such offer a cornucopia of samplings from sublime culinary novelties to downright gut-rot. I heard tap water is safe to drink, but i'd stick to bottled beer and strange fruits.
Stop for lunch on the road to Zipaquira and the Salt Cathedral mines.
Salt of the Earth, Pepper of the People.
Off the coast of Colombia is an island sanctuary much like the Galapagos. The Island of Gorgona has a slithering history, hence it's man-sake, the mythical snake-headed Medusa. It was also the site of a prison much like our Alcatraz and Guantanamo. To the condemned it was hell on earth. Some 40 years ago one particular lady made it her business to have the government close down the prison and designate the island a natural preserve. Affectionately known by the inmates of Gorgona as Mama Ceci the fine lady that taught them arts and crafts, she was like Cindy Sheehan, Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Racquel Welch in one smart pant-suit. It appears I am somehow related to Cecilia Castillo de Robledo, mother of Jorge Enrique Robledo Castillo, a driving force in the The Independent Democratic Pole (Polo Democrático Independiente).
Coincidence is fate.
Guadua, the back-bone of Colombian Architecture, bamboo's cousin grows wild.
For more photos of the greater metropolitan Bogota, visit Critical Miami slice-show.
Friday, June 27, 2008
It is easy enough to take apart an inanimate object, such as your old toaster or fried computer, to learn about what made it tick, to see the parts that made the whole. It is another thing to try to undo matters of the heart, to decipher the mind behind the personal web logger. There is something intangible about virtual journals. I wonder how many countlessss blogs have gone the way of Humpty-Dumpty, of posterity, archived in the virtual grave-yard of the internet tubes. Not all blogs are created equal, few are superlative. I really miss John Cieciel's Spitting Image. Rest in peace one of the swamps finest, Alesh's Critical Miami. Long live his new venture Buildings n Food. Blogging is good for the soul of the whole. Long live the freedom of speech.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I have been looking for a father's day photo to show why i think certain people are so freaked out by our next president when I happened upon this impressive image in the very astute Bagnewsnotes . Bag does not miss a pixel but on this one they were more focused on the man's reading material. Sometimes something is right "under your nose and if it were a dog, it would have bit ya".
What's 12 inches and white? Nothing.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Though the title is confounding, this post from The Holly Tree is very telling:
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Bananas, Blood, Chiquita, Death Squads, the US and Israel
"... A U.S. federal court on Monday imposed the fine on Chiquita as part of a plea agreement in which the company acknowledged paying about US$1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 to Colombian paramilitary groups.
The ruling sparked outrage within the staunchly pro-American government, as well as among victims of paramilitary violence.
"You can't help but feeling betrayed by the American justice system," said Interior Minister Carlos Holguin. "For US$25 million those who financed a mass massacre of Colombians were able to purchase impunity."
I will never buy another Chiquita banana, and I hope we never have a need for armed soldiers hanging our on our streets.
The fruit called "lulo" ... cant wait to taste one.
My family was forced to leave cuba in 1960, i was 1 year old. We settled in Bogota where my earliest childhood memories reside. When I was 5, it was decided that we would move to miami and thus began my immersion into the swamp. Back in 10 days.
Friday, June 13, 2008
from Crooks n Liers:
"It’s bad enough when the Bush administration awards tax dollars to abstinence-only programs that don’t work. It’s worse when our money goes to far-right abstinence groups based on their political connections. And it’s even worse still when these same abstinence groups get more money than they even asked for."
Bill Bennett need not gamble to get his wife's abstinence program some crony-dollars.
"... In Spring 2003, it became widely known that Bennett was a high-stakes gambler who reportedly had lost millions of dollars in Las Vegas."
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Nowadays it's tase first and ask questions later
"... Police around the country are using these things indiscriminately and the result is that cops are commonly zapping citizens with 50,000 volts pretty much any time they feel like it. Because it doesn't leave permanent damage, people think there's no harm in it. In a free country, the authorities should not have the right to inflict pain on citizens unless they are under threat of violence themselves. Self defense, period. "
UPDATE: From SunSentinal
Sheriff's deputies zapped a car accident victim with a stun gun several times Friday morning after he became violent with emergency workers who tried to put a neck brace on him, authorities said.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Dan Rather is the consummate paper-man, a print icon TV anchor who not only reports the news, he also makes news. When he was fired in '04 from CBS for airing a blistering report on Dubya's military record (going awal from national guard) he became an instant media god.
Dan Rather Slams Corporate News
"..... if you really need an answer, you can turn on your television, where you will see the following:
Political analysis reduced to in-studio shouting matches between partisans armed with little more than the day's talking points.
Precious time and resources wasted on so-called human-interest stories, celebrity fluff, sensationalist trials, and gossip.
A proliferation of "news you can use" that amounts to thinly-disguised press releases for the latest consumer products.
And, though this doesn't get said enough, local news, which is where most Americans get their news, seems not to change no matter what town or what city you're in...
Perhaps there is an even more important reason why the incentive to produce quality news is absent, and that is: quality news of integrity, by its very nature, is sure to rock the boat now and then. Good, responsible news worthy of its Constitutional protections will, in that famous phrase, afflict the powerful and comfort the afflicted.
From that rather right-on schooling of corporate media to this outrageous and very believable report on the impending doom, the perils of computing in the cyber-world.
Vid-Stone photo not related.
"... The Air Force has now set up its own Cyber Command, redefined the Internet as just more "air space..." (to control.)
Attention Geeks and Hackers Uncle Sam's Cyber Force Wants You!
By William J. Astore
"... my computer screen momentarily went black.
A glitch? A power surge? No, it was a pop-up ad for the U.S. Air Force, warning me that an enemy cyber-attack could come at any moment -- with dire consequences for my ability to connect to the Internet. It was an Outer Limits moment. Remember that eerie sci-fi show from the early 1960s? The one that began in a blur with the message, "There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission….
Part of the Air Force's new "above all" vision of full-spectrum dominance, America's emerging cyber force has control fantasies that would impress George Orwell. Working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Department of Homeland Security, and other governmental agencies, the Air Force's stated goal is to gain access to, and control over, any and all networked computers, anywhere on Earth, at a proposed cost to you, the American taxpayer, of $30 billion over the first five years....
.....as well as send commands to ‘fry' their hard drives." ... the ability to deceive, deny, disrupt, degrade, and destroy an enemy's computer information systems."
Most of the jobs to be had these days are in the business of crazies.
All Aboard.... train back to the swamp departing... next stop zip-code 33154.
Thanks Marc for the info:
Tuesday, June 10, 7:30pm
Books & Books, Bal Harbour Shops
Detailing the histories of four beautiful suburban communities just north of Miami Beach, 33154: The Story of Bal Harbour, Bay Harbour Islands, Indian Creek Village and Surfside is an intimate and loving look at four of the most beautiful, affluent and unique municipalities in America.
With a history that dates back to the early 1920's, the two villages (Bal Harbour and Indian Creek Village) and the two towns (Bay Harbor Islands and Surfside) are intertwined through like interests and geographic proximity. While Surfside, Bal Harbour and Bay Harbor Islands have residential, commercial and hospitality areas, Indian Creek Village is an island of magnificent homes and an equally beautiful country club.
The story of these four neighbors is told in detail in Seth Bramson's inimitable and unique style and close to 200 photographs detail the histories of the towns and villages featured in the book. 33154 is a first history of the wonderful and much admired region just north of Miami Beach.
Our favorite golden girl Dorothy Blau had her art galley in Bay Harbor for years. She is a big fan of pop art and donated this Robert Indiana "LOVE" to the town beautification.
Indian Creek's roads are technically "open to the public" (we pay for maintenance), but if you are not visiting one of the few resident zillionaires, good luck convincing the guards to let you in for a gawk. The massive golf course occupies most of the island and is a very private club with a spotty history. The good news is that it remains an open "natural" space, probably laced with pesticides but not crowded with condos.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
"Absence of Evidence is Not Evidence of Absence" donald rumsfeld
photo not related
Wikileaks on the fourth estate: The hidden curse of Thomas Paine.
".... Any journalist, any blogger, any academic, and indeed any human being who could set aside a cumulative half a day to read and make a few phone calls could say something worthwhile, original and interesting using these documents. Professional journalists won't without intervention because it doesn't do anyone a favor that can be called in later and few can break even without plagiarism. In addition the respected press obtains its own power by mediating the conversation of competing powers--making sure each attack on a power group is supported by another power group. Secret documents from morally incensed secretaries upset this process. The Internet media certainly won't help--with few exceptions, it has relegated itself to revealing the mood of the amateur commentariat. Its members primary motivation is to demonstrate in-group loyality on the issue de-jour; consequently it slavishly copies from the very professional press it maligns, rarely adding more than is necessary to advertise peer value conformity.
What does it mean when only those facts about the world with economic powers behind them can be heard, when the truth lays naked before the world and no-one will be the first to speak without a bribe? Wikileaks' unreported material is only the most visible wave on a black ocean of truth rotting in draws of the fourth estate, waiting for a lobby to subsidize its revelation into a profitable endeavor. The truth is the only guiding beacon civilization has at its disposal. If we are to flourish we must ultimately use it to chart our course. To do otherwise is to drift aimlessly in the dark, decoupled from the world and hearkening to every imagined wave.
But I leave you with a quote from Paine: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again."
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I have been looking for the visuals to compliment the thought
that McCain was a top -gun and a POW in Vietnam while.......
Obama was in what, Jr. High.
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. leaves the Russell Senate Office Building after a workout, Tuesday, May 13, 2008, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
We can not imagine what it must be like to be a POW survivor. But this odd piece in the SP Times gives a hint.
".... Then there's the framed 1970 interview of John McCain, conducted by the restaurant's owner during the American pilot's days as a POW in Vietnam.
"When I saw the morale of the Vietnamese under bombardment, I wanted to see how the other side felt."
The future Republican presidential nominee walked in unchained, Barral said, wearing an overall and a towel around his neck. The two men sat down over coffee and oranges with a translator. McCain "seemed very sure of himself and happy to talk," said Barral, who identified himself only as a Spanish psychiatrist, not mentioning that he worked for the Cuban state security services.
McCain recalled the interview years later in his memoirs, Faith of My Fathers, describing Barral as "a Cuban propagandist masquerading as a psychiatrist and moonlighting as a journalist."
Although he didn't give away any secrets, McCain recognizes that he violated the military's Code of Conduct in agreeing to be interviewed. The code advises American prisoners of war to give only name, rank, service number and date of birth. Under interrogation captured military personnel should "evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability."
All I'm saying is how can someone live the horror of war and not have a few screw loose and a short fuse. Then again how might a beanstock prince wunderkind contend for the seriously misguided voters. Over-the-Hillary needs a hug about now.
Tony Lopez is my best new friend. He is a master sculptor of the first degree. Another cuban-american we can be very proud of. An art-soldier to honor and a charming senior citizen.
You've probably seen his definitive master work and not realized it. Tony is the creator of the monumental bronze 'hand of angst', the center-piece of the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach.
Among the other notable sculptures is a life-size full-body bronze of Claude Pepper, Jose Marti, Christopher Columbus, religious icons, hilarious caricatures and awesome abstracts. He does it all the old fashioned way, with a swampstyle reserved for creative originators and master craftspeople.
Tony has been around the world twice, works everyday at his studio in wynwood and will not go north for the winter snow. Sadly today he is floundering in the oblivion of the silver years, comfortable but forgotten. Like so much of what matters, cast aside by a culture of youth oriented naivete that distracts us from our treasures with the lure of shiny new things.
The Mrs. with pet rooster,
Jose Marti ponders the artist dilemma.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Over-heard at Versailles: If all the bragging were true, Cuba should be the size of Australia.
Back in 2000, just after eliangate, misguided James Hall wrote:
"So look for something to happen on the embargo front soon, most likely a gradual opening for the exporting of American food and medicine, to be followed by reparation talks on behalf of American business interests. After the November elections, when the Cuban-American lobby's influence wanes, the US Congress may be bold enough to end the longest running US embargo ever, and perhaps write the Cold War's final chapter."
Guess he didn't get the memo about bush v gore. The sub-plot to elian saga was to discredit miami then lift the embargo so, among other things, mid-west big agro ADM - (supermarket to the world) could do business with cuba. But the effort failed and regular "guajiros" got tighter restrictions for travel and remittance.
Cuba Today is a museum of a failed system. The Cuban America is stagflated at an impasse between bull-headed embargo moss-backs and proponents of natural law.
I've just about given up on progress and to be honest it's no big deal. By progress I mean reparations.
You should know that native americans, japanese americans, african americans and jewish americans all have received reparations at some point or another in their struggle for justice. A justice that is over-due. A justice that defies political borders. A gesture that transcends generations.
But for cuban americans reparation is a case of who, what, when and where. Who is entitled? What can they claim? When will it transpire? Where is the outrage?
My estranged relation Roberto Zayas-Bazan has written a new book, El Pez Dorado (golden fish) Zayas-Bazan ( love that name) tells a fictional tale inspired by his recollection of real people back in provincial camaguey just before the revolution. I hear my family is featured prominently.
Here is a photo of my grand-father, Adolfo, the first cuban to graduate from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. It took steel to take the rail-roads into the tropics to take the bounty to market. His house in cuba today is head-quarters for the "sisters of the revolution" whatever that is.
My great grand father, Juaquin, is buried in Brooklyn's Calvary Cementery. The family magna carta is an 85 page, 100 year old, hand-written document of antiquity complete with official stamps and wax seals. It is kept in a super secret safe place. The relic contains an itemized inventory of holdings. It is an investment portfolio from a bygone era in our family history. In no uncertain terms it spells out - land as far a the eye can see, stocks of every kind, utilities, commodities, insurance, and other places for smart money games. Freaks me out to look at the thing and wonder, how did they do it and where did it all go. You know where all that wealth went? It went down the memory hole. All the men are dead and the women folk are a-political.
Yet it is nice to know that my great-uncle Julio was a fishing buddy of Ernest Hemingway, that I am somehow related to Anais Nin, Ignacio Agramonte, Pedro Menendez.... and that someday i
may walk where i belong...
Where have all the big fish gone.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
What better way to end a beach day than with this delightful you-tune.
In contrast read "waiting for snow in havana" by Carlos Eire (forever a peter pan kid)
Mel the Florida senator, fled Cuba in 1962, at age 15. Here, he is seen on the top bunk, with other refugees waiting to be assigned to foster families in Florida.
This is him today, scary.
In Nov. 04 his phone-bank called every number in the county basically calling Kerry a "Commie", catchy eh.
The Failed Republican Reformation Disaster
Hurry, hurry, read all about it from Eye on Miami paper sleuths!
"In January, 2001 Martinez was confirmed as Secretary of HUD, the key federal agency overseeing housing and issues related to housing financing.
"Long before 2001, the top echelon of Bush loyalists had beaten a well-worn path between Miami, Tallahassee and Washington, DC. These were not economists, although they were closely tied to conservative economic think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute or the Cato Institute. They were builders, bankers and mortgage lenders whose campaign contributions propelled Jeb Bush to the Governor’s Mansion in Florida 1998. "
Here is the 'kitchen sink"
BFEE - most UNpopular prez ever... like he gives a yam.
Presidential Directive For Dictatorial Power in Continuity of Government
Researched by Dan Bluthardt and Bill Gibbons
A New National Security Presidential Directive gives the President dictatorial powers when dealing with a “catastrophic emergency.” Under the plan Bush entrusts himself with leading the entire federal government, not just the Executive branch and he gives himself the responsibility for ensuring “continuity of constitutional government.” National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51’ and “Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20” defines a “catastrophic emergency” in vague terms, which could include an event like a 911 attack or an earthquake in California, for the takeover of government by the Executive. The White House literally has given itself dictatorial power over the government, bypassing the US Congress and obliterating the separation of powers. The document hollowly emphasizes the need to ensure the Constitution, yet in clear breach of the constitution assurance of checks and balances, says the President shall lead all activities of the Federal government. The secretary of Homeland Security is also placed in charge of domestic “security.” This directive has been given no scrutiny by Congress and very little by the press.
... not to be accused of profiling.
Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act
"In a startling affront to American freedoms of expression, privacy, and association, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act passed the House on Oct. 23 by a vote of 404-6. With problematically vague definitions, the act will establish a national commission to study and propose legislation to address the threat of possible “radicalization” of Americans. Author of the bill Jane Harman (D-Calif) explains, “We’re studying the phenomenon of people with radical beliefs who turn into people who would use violence.” The act’s purpose goes beyond academic inquiry, however. In a press release Harman stated: “the National Commission [will] propose to both Congress and [Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff initiatives to intercede before radicalized individuals turn violent.” This preemptive measure of policing thought, specifically identifies the Internet as a tool of radicalization: “The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.” The commission will have broad authority to collect evidence and hold hearings in localities across the nation...."
land of the freaks, home of the brazen.