Monthly Archives: October 2011

Getting Things Done

First and foremost, I want you to meet this guy.  I can tell you that I am going to do so.  It’s been a long time since I have been this excited about something, probably since I was introduced to disc golf.  I really wanted to go back to running, to learn to run again, and to do it for the sheer pleasure as well as the health benefits.  More about that later.  I watch all the TED videos I can find.  I always enjoy them, but the one I saw today was by far my favorite (Seriously, devote 15 minutes of your life to watching this, it’s totally worth it.):

Okay, so people have been asking me what I have been up to…so here is a 30 second video that should explain what I have been doing almost every day for the last 3 weeks…


			

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The Past Is Always Present

Last evening I was fortunate enough to have tickets to see a Latino performance artist named Jose Torres Tama.  Born in Ecuador, he arrived in the United States at the tender age of seven, and he and his family settled in New York and made their living selling coffee and buying into the “American Dream Mythology”, as he calls it.  Since the early 80’s, he has called New Orleans home, and was witness to both the destruction that Mother Nature visited upon the Big Easy, and the truly horrifying carnage caused by unscrupulous contractors and a complicit local government afterward.

I was torn between the necessity to take notes so as not to forget critical parts of the show, and my desire to experience the show without such a distraction.  In the end, I opted to leave my pen and paper in the truck.  I lack the writing skill to accurately describe what I saw, so let me quote the Village Voice:

“Since 1995, Jose Torres Tama has been touring across the country with solo shows that thrive on a fusion of spoken word prose, bilingual poetry, rituals of fire, symbolic movement, and exaggerated personae, creating spectacles that are visually dynamic and politically charged. Add to this cauldron a heady dose of hilariously absurd observations on consumer culture and you have a unique vision coming from a New Jersey/New York bred Ecuadorian-born brujo performance artist based in New Orleans.”

What they said.

I can tell you that the show begins with a few disturbing facts splashed on a screen that serves as a backdrop for Mr. Tamas’ performance.  One fact that I was somewhat aware of, (but had no idea how rampant a practice it was) was using immigrant labor to clean up the toxic aftermath of the flood, often without any protective gear and with no access to medical assistance, and then summoning the authorities right before “payday” to round the workers up or at least scare them away so that the monies owed would never have to be paid.  These men and women were living under horrible conditions that included a dozen or more of them crammed into a single trailer with only one bathroom, and working 12-14 hour days in the brutal Louisiana heat without adequate drinking water.

Fifteen seconds into the performance, I was already shifting around angrily in my seat, disturbed that I too had succumbed to the cultural amnesia so prevalent in our consumer driven American society.  Mr. Tama reminds us that our violent, exploitative past is alive and well, but there are precious few voices that can break through the din of our chaotic culture to remind us that people are suffering horribly within our borders.  He does this through story-telling, coupled with disturbing imagery and props that serve as symbols that I believe are best left to the viewer to interpret.  Wooden crosses festooned with dollar bills.  Green face paint.  Masks.  For an hour and a half, Mr. Tama embodies the demon we insist is the undocumented immigrant.  The stories told should make you weep for those we’ve deemed “less than.”  This is no Horatio Alger feel- good story of triumph over adversity.  And it should not be.

I’m not sure if and when Mr. Tama will be back in Nashville, so seeing him perform may not be an option for you anytime soon.  You can, however, visit his website, read his essays, and at least for a moment consider and hopefully connect with those who toil in the shadows to help make the American Dream accessible to a few of us.

 

 

 

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For My Peeps In The ‘Burgh…

Halloween is fast approaching, and how I wish i could see the Grandkids in their costumes.  Here are a few of my favorite memories of Halloween past:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rare Sighting

After I dropped the kids off at the pool school, I came up on a red fox standing in my driveway.  In 10 years, I’ve seen exactly two.  They are beautiful, fast, and mysterious.  That made my day.

(I want extra credit for throwing in a South Park reference)

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All My Foxy Friends?

Um, Mr. Hank, if the brain trust at Fox and Friends is openly mocking you, just how far off have you strayed?  Seriously.  The sunglasses and “outlaw” demeanor you so carefully craft for your TV interviews weren’t working for you that morning, were they?  Somewhere, the Dixie Chicks have to experiencing a bit of well earned schadenfreude….

 

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Astute Branding, Or Clueless Pandering?

I refuse to get sucked into the ridiculous circus that is our election process this far out from the actual election.  That doesn’t mean I don’t keep up with important developments, but really, there haven’t been any.  Republican X said something stupid at a debate   Party commercial?  Why, it’s as if they are pandering to people’s fears or something!  No surprise.

But I am amazed at how strong the Republicans feel their brand is; that it can withstand a constant barrage of stupid and still remain solid.  Seriously, school lunches?  Is this the kind of “fraud and waste” of government money that has your collective panties in a bunch?

I also want to know in which of your meetings it was decided to go after Social Security, at a time when millions of Baby Boomers are about to retire?  Too many older workers are dealing with aging parents and jobless kids, all the while wondering if their years of work and sacrifice will result in their own safety net being yanked away when they are most vulnerable.  It’s a bold strategy.  Did I say bold?  I meant stupid.

I’m betting that at some point, you will realize that vote suppression and redistricting will only carry you so far.  Then what?  Once you have alienated the poor, the elderly, the unionized, people of color, and gay Americans, you had better make sure you get every other vote out there.  Because you’ll never, ever get them back.

But I thought the idea of invading Mexico was spot on.  Good luck with that!

If you don’t like Romney, you had better pick Huntsman.  He’s qualified, he’s sane, and he has the best chance at unseating President Obama, which is the only thing most Republicans care about.

 

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