lunes, 5 de agosto de 2013

The Matrix has us and we can’t even see it.

It’s impossible to tell what potential
is sucked away by technology.
We're always connecting further
and deeper into the constantly
self-renewing race to delegate more &
more of our lives to a sanitised
digital existence that feeds on attention
like a transfixing vampire hovering
a few feet from our eyes.

Would it still be possible
to escape from the Matrix,
and be the one thing
you can never be while it has you.

Why else criminalise what is carnal?
Who are you protecting from my unashamed, digital-free being.
Physicality is bereft of history
& meanings of why our bodies lust strain at the leash, constrained by invisible cords.

Desire without etiquette, whomever it may be from,
is clumsy to sate on a mate or acquaintance.
Must the primordial state for men be degraded
in ugly, horrific acts of rape
while the decent few self-castrate thanks
to sanctioned entertainment,
needs fulfilled by glowing products
producing glowing eyed zombies
fed, and consumed by in equal measure,
hackneyed bullshit.
We are what we eat and we're weak not to resist what we've become. 

martes, 3 de mayo de 2011

Más sano cada día.

Cuando mis últimos alumnos del día cancelaron la clase de las 21hs decidí aprovechar y salir a correr. Durante las últimas semanas había comenzado a seguir un programa de ejercicio basado en ejercicios que podía hacer en casa para iniciar pero por lo cual pensé que no estaba haciendo lo suficiente para mantener mi sistema cardio-vascular.

Mi acuerdo que en "The Dharma Bums" el escritor estado-unidense Jack Kerouac, al llegar casí a la cima de una montaña con su buen amigo, tuvo que para por miedo que tenía. Se preguntaba cómo bajar la inclinación que había subido con tanta fuerza apenas antes, no quería tropezar y caer sobre las rocas filosas que le impidieron el camino. De repente le pasa a toda velocidad su fiel compañero, bajando en linea recta a toda corrida, y era ahí que se dió cuenta de que la única manera de hacer una cosa así era arrancar y no parar. 

Aunque la calle Independencia no parece para nada las montañas de los Rockies un poco así me sentí yo al arrancar; hay que ir, la única manera de comenzar es comenzar. Corrí, y lo que para mi fue mas importante era que no paré. Normalmente durante mis recorridos de la ciudad tengo la necesidad de hacer pequeñas pausas, recuperar el aire gastado y estirar mis piernas exhaustas, pero hoy me sentía liberado, con la ganas y la resistencia para continuar... Así que continué y para calcular la duración decidí contar las canciones de mi iPod y luego sumar los minutos. 

Mi recorrido fue de Independencia hacia Puerto Madero, como siempre, pero al llegar a los diques sin necesitar recuperar fuerzas fui por el largo del agua hasta el Buque Bus. Animado por mi repentino aguante seguí hasta el Kavanagh, un viejo edificio de desamores, y bajé el largo de la calle San Martín hasta Plaza de Mayo, y de la Plaza principal hice las últimas cuadras hasta mi casa. 

En total corrí por 48.27 minutos, o sea 12 canciones! Un milagro cuando considero que casí no había hecho cardio últimamente. 

Bueno, terminé escuchando éste bello tema de Jeff Buckley y acá lo comparto: Lilac Wine - Jeff Buckley

"Just do it."

viernes, 29 de abril de 2011

(Early) International Worker's day

The people have spoken with their feet and the streets are once again empty of cars, instead lined only by the parked, giant long-distance buses which transported the demonstrators into the city for their march in support of the current government and its program of social reform and fairer distribution of wealth.

It's something fascinating to witness, the almost complete shut-down of the metropolitan transit system, all the businesses shut in fear of violent disturbances, workers sent home from their offices to avoid the congestion, hordes of hundreds of thousands of people; grouped into their separate organisations and commitees and wearing bibs and t-shirts displaying names such as the Jovenes Peronistas, La Kamora, Sindicato de Obreros and many many other Trade Unions. Yet despite the variety they have all been called out by one man: Hugo Moyano, the chief of the General Workers' Commission (CGT) and an ever more influential figure in Argentine National politics.

Probably not since Juan Domingo Peron's populist governance of the nineteen-fifties have the Trade Unions (sindicatos en español) backed a presidential candidate with such open vigour and enthusiasm. Yesterday the opposition candidate Ricardo Alfonsín from the Radical Civic Union (UCR) criticised such unreserved backing of any one candidate, calling for a less partisan position, but his cries ring hollow in the minds of the people before an election which can only be described as in the bag.

There can remain very little doubt that Cristina Kirchner will win the elections; at present she holds 15 - 20% leads in all national and regional opinion polls and the once talked-up opposition candidates are now dropping out one by one leaving very few plausible alternatives and little room for an electoral alliance of any real strength. The streets here are bedecked with pro-Cristina propaganda, her face smiling down on the masses of organised workers, her late husband smiling down benignly from heaven.

Yet as a private teacher, the majority of whose students come from the mid-upper classes, I witness a growing despair and disillusionment. While the 'obreros' are mobilised the white-collar workers recoil in fear - one of my students told me he had ensured Spanish citizenship for his daughter... Just in case. Others talk about heading abroad to study and desperately struggle to improve their skills in the hope of landing a top-paying job or a much sought after foreign job.

So whilst the masses rejoice and the burguesia cower in their apartments the air of uncertainty grows as fast as the optimism. I don't believe this to be the downfall of Argentina at all, the government has done great things for social and political inclusion while unfortunately failing to stem the tide of fierce, criminal violence and marginalisation due to extreme poverty. They have inspired the less well-off to rise up and reclaim an improved situation for them and their families but the doubts remain about their ability  to fulfil their wild promises and combative rhetoric.

However, as I previously lamented after the death of ex-president Nestor Kirchner there seems to be a complete absence of political will to negotiate or engage with other diverse sectors of society. "Our way or the highway" the 'Kirchneristas' seem to scream. "Would you rather the dictatorship and the enslavement of the poor by the evil corporations?" they challenge, yet does it have to be so black or white? So Boca or River? I find myself torn between admiration for the immense mobilisation of the populace and disgust at the bile and hatred Argentina's politicians seem to deal in.

What will 2012 hold for Cristina's Argentina? Will she be able to satisfy the trade unionists if they will have played such a prominent role in her re-election without ceding too much power? Will the country ever improve the internal security situation and confront the Police mafias that currently extort and murder with impunity? Will the rampant inflation start to cause real headaches and possibly wider social repercussions for the man on the street and will the government be able to sell it as a destructive plot by the bitter oligarchs against the proletariat?

Winter is coming in Argentina, yet living here one can sense that things are only just starting to heat up.

"I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians."

lunes, 25 de abril de 2011

Easter Weekend

And just as quickly as it started it was over...

I started my rare three days of rest by sleeping early, a premonition told me that sleep would come in useful and frankly after having moved my classes into great long streams of teaching I had been left exhausted. So 9 o'clock Thursday night I didn't set an alarm for the morning for the first time in months! Remarkably I woke up at 8:30 and was a little bit overawed by the amount of time I had to take advantage of / kill.

I made an effort to read some more of Roberto Arlt's "Los Siete Locos" and to eat a proper breakfast of cereals and tea. Later in the afternoon I went out with a good friend, who shares my love for San Telmo, to buy a new jacket. We first had coffee in La Poesia, a beautiful antiquated café on the corner of Bolivar and Chile. He managed to convince me that buying a second hand jacket wouldn't be as satisfying as buying something new for myself so we headed out to a few trendy stores around the area but nothing much was taking my fancy and in fact he found a great 3/4 length coat which he ended up buying! Fortunately after finding myself empty handed he had a brain wave and offered to hand me down a jacket he'd bought in LA and practically never used. We went back to his apartment to try it on and it fit pretty well so I gratefully accepted it.

Still in the mood to peruse some vintage clothes I walked over to the shop I had been thinking of visiting and bought a waistcoat and a tartan scarf before passing another designer store and getting a green jumper with an odd hood/collar.

Later I played some backgammon with Luis and headed out to another English friend's apartment in Palermo for some balcony beers, cigars and (obviously) backgammon before taking a short cab ride over to Sugar where we drank, were merry and discussed everything from my apartment woes, Bradley Manning and the stark feeling of change that seems to be pervading the lives of most everyone we know here.

Happily drunk and ably accompanied by my iPod and "Los Siete Locos" I took the bus home and crawled into bed to prepare myself for more realxation on the following day.

jueves, 9 de diciembre de 2010

Buenos Aires Jazz 2010 Trastienda


And all that Jazz that I never listened to on my PC but always harped on about to anyone who would lend me an ear suddenly becomes clear again, ringing in my ear again, stage front and of paramount importance. Jazz 2010 Festival Internacional takes me back to the days of my heady zest for the music that sprung from the lips of Charlie Parker, that rolled out of the mouth of Herbie Hancock and that continually made me bop my head in dark, backstreet hipster Mexico.

It's a remedy, a cultural tonic to the inane 8am first class, 10am second class and intermittent social networking between appointments and push ups and eating raviolis from a packet while I try to put some order on my days, arranging my life into some semblance of regularity despite my desperate soul's determination to defy such unfamiliar practices.

So I nap, listening to the garbled, Jewish gobbledigook filtering distorted over the wall from the hostel next door, drifting in and back out of dreams about killing taxi drivers and then wake and barely conscious stuff sandwiches down my throat to God only knows where I don't care and it's a bus and the filth and then free! to race some more, riding the regular routes of the BA transit system, pushing on, always carrying my weary bones forward towards the Trastienda where I saunter in like I own the joint although it's free.

The tonic morphs into a bottle of El Portillo 2009 Malbec and despite my back ache on bad chairs I read articles on international finance deals between Latin America and Iran before the music breaks out again, catching me supping from the wine glass and I gawp and smile and tap'a rap my fingers on the table grinning at the nervous porteño next to me. And it rolls and it runs and I stare and simultaneously close my eyes and lean very carefully on my elbow connected loosely to jerking dancing fingers...

Called away to dine and I'm stealing away through the city streets, improvising a route up to San Martín plaza, to and fro in the highs and the lows of the now empty streets bar the young kids kicking a ball around the Plaza de Mayo. Humming along as I slip out of the weekend I'm now stuck in the moment and thrusting bills at cab men to go faster to go back to the Jazz. Where am I from? France my good man now step on it! And out and back in and there're friends and good times around the table and they saved my half bottle for me and we murmur excitedly, enthusiastic and we have to make silly arguments when angry Argentines turn and growl but they don't understand and all's well and the music recommences and nothing could be iller than the combined talents of a multitude of musicos internacionales strutting and frowning and earnestly sharing such exertions as they can, revelling in the jam freedom, darned piano guitarist grimaces whilst playing rolling melodies, G plays on almighty Jazz fusion rock and w love it until it gets even better later, picked up by double bass licks and lines and it's all a rhyme and a group riddle. We nod and tap and jerk happily soaking up the rhythms through ears and fingers and hairs on our arms and flashing looks to costados to see if everyone can gozar lo mismo, if those cats have got the groove and we're sharing the universal joy of it all or rather got caught in an intense concentration like willing the band on telepathically!

And after a long day it's enough, it's heavenly and a part of me feels that this is why I came to a city stuck in the early twentieth century and why I frequented those Mexican bars and this is what I want to see and hear and enjoy as much as anything you could push on me right now.

It's jazz and everyone leaves happily, although my feet hurt my heart floats home on a grinning bassline before a slow fade out and gone...

viernes, 29 de octubre de 2010

The Death of a President

Bold, divisive but never reserved Néstor Kirchner (1950 – 2010), represented to many the archetypal militant politician. His legacy of determined street-politicking and defense of downtrodden peoples brought hope and vigor to many sectors of a society who had previously suffered terrible repression yet his aggressive, unflinching partisanship has indelibly scarred the national political arena for many years to come.

For almost three days the streets surrounding the Plaza de Mayo, the public square in front of the Presidential Casa Rosada, have been thronging with people paying their respects to this ex-president of Argentina (2002 – 2007). His sudden death shocked the country and inspired a massive outpouring of support for the current president and his widow Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner with tens of thousands of Argentines visiting the Salon de los Patriotas de Latinoamerica to salute the coffin and chant political slogans and passionate cries of loyalty as she sat choking back the tears alongside her children and the solidarity of the presidents of Latin America. Along the route of his funeral cortege to the airport the passage was almost completely choked with raucous supporters smothering the hearse, singing, tossing flags and flowers and reaching out to touch the passing vehicle.

There can be no doubt watching these scenes that Néstor was a beloved figure but as we find so often in Argentina his was a career of dualities and extremes. He nobly ordered the police to stand down from confrontation with protestors and thereon gifted the streets to the diverse groups of social and political activists, in stark contrast to contemporary European politicians who prefer things to be resolved exclusively in the Parliament. However the extent to which this dynasty bribed demonstrators and trade unionists to attend their rallies has always been a point of much suspicion and the vitriolic attacks on rival or dissenting politicians fermented a culture of bitter disputes and unseemly bickering.
Kirchner literally gave his own life for his ideological vision for the country. Despite a history of coronary complications in recent years he never drew back from his grueling commitments and relentlessly championed the implementation of a populist Peronist agenda at home as President, Senator and Leader of the Justice Party, simultaneously working towards the Bolivarian dream of a more united continent as president of the UNASUR.

Much will be asked of the current president, now left to continue the fight without the presence of her mentor and confidant, the real power behind the throne as many believed him to be. Soon our attentions will turn to the future and the coming year’s elections and the opposition will not wait long to capitalize on this weakening of the current regime. Serious electioneering amongst the presidential front-runners must begin soon and the recent show of public support may be utilized by rising union leaders to garner support.

This tragic event heralds a new, exciting dawn in Argentine politics. Suddenly stripped of this massively important figure how the country quarrels over dividing the political spoils will be crucial to the future of this ever fractious nation.

lunes, 11 de octubre de 2010


I spend so mch of my life running a film reel of future situations in my head and therefore  generate a very realistic impression of what will happen and what we will say in said encounters, but so often despite all of my convincingly constructed confidence in my own premonitions I am left stunned and surprised by what actually occurs. Preconceptions can delude me and I must learn - as Gabriel seeks to teach me - that prejudging things before they happen leaves me open to making a damned fool of myself. Better to be open to any possible eventuality and rest happily pleased by successive events, sitting, aware of the world and the beautiful people who dispel the myths I'd created in my head... Life is what we make it but I would challenge the metaphysicists and rather live it as we evolve around each other, revolve through our thoughts and spin into wonderful shocks together and from a distance.

Left feeling recharged as a reloaded gun following the empty barreled impotence I step out into the streets envigorated and anticipating future events. I'll have a pancho and buy "In Cold Blood" and watch a Mapuche protest march. But I know of what I'll be thinking, imagining.