On Leaving Iraq

June 7, 2005

This Newsweek corespondent Rod Nordland on leaving his assignment in Iraq sums up the grim mess. If you care about such things, it is hard not to feel despair at the utter failure of leadership and imagination that is consuming our nation's prestige like a cancer and turning the world against us.

Edit me

June 6, 2005

I know. I know. This blog is filled with typographical errors. I often write at night or with a baby sleeping on my knee. Sometimes hours pass between halves of sentences. An Ivy League education can't hide my lifelong dyslexia or a childhood in a rural Texas school system. Sometimes I write sentences that look correct to me, but are in fact inverted. I am prone to grammatical train wrecks. If you find these errors and they bug you, please let me know about them. I edit myself as best I can, but I make plenty of embarrassing mistakes. Please just leave a note in the comments. I will thank you and you will feel better about making the web ever so slightly more pleasant.

It is beyond late...

June 6, 2005

... and I'm still clicking away trying to finish up a project that never seems to end. I am weary...

Earlier tonight Jenn read to me--various passages from a book she is into. Jenn is a reader in the way I used to be and would like to be again. We had been lying down together on a twin bed staring at the ceiling and talking about how sometimes we miss our baby when he is asleep when she said, "Oh I have to read you something..." and so she did. It is hot in our apartment and we don't have enough fans. We were lying a few inches away from each other so as to not generate too much heat and stick together but there was a hint of breeze through the window and I had just finished a popsicle which cooled my insides so the temperature was bearable. So Jenn read and I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sounds of her voice and the nice words she was reading. Outside the sounds of Brooklyn.

I have many friends who are wary of benefits of marriage (which is of course their prerogative), but if I could just find the words to color all the ineffable emotions of that small moment and so many others like it, I feel sure their ambivalence would dissolve into want with a capital W for the things they do not yet know.

Post Secret

June 3, 2005

Post Secret has been all over the media lately including stories in the NY Times and on NPR, but then again, the site is genius. It deserves the attention. If you haven't found it yet check it out.


June 2, 2005

Sorry to keep posting these old journal fragments, but it is always curious to find something in your own hand that you do not recognize:

1993, Beijing

Letter to my future wife wherever you are:

Forget the ocean... forget last night and try to remember that long afternoon near the end of summer when we spoke for the first time. We talked of the color ultramarine and of the ideal day. A day in which every moment is polished and perfect and even our breath overlaps. I tried to imagine this but found my mind wandering... round river stones tumbling, the word s o m n a m b u l a n c e kicking around my head... But too much thinking is pushing away this future memory so I turn off that part of my brain and just let your words flow over me. Listening to you I knew you could make me forget and perhaps for a while, even now when you are just an illusion, you did. Do you remember all this because I do? and I know that that perfect ideal day will be the first day, the beginning of something.

The aptly named Stung Treng

June 1, 2005

From an old journal:

June 1rst, 1993
Stung Treng, Cambodia

Last night we awoke to the sound of a woman screaming nearby. There was no electricity, no light but starlight. It sounded as if she was being assaulted or worse.

The racket if I had to describe it would be of a woman being sawed in half. Soon her screams were joined by the voices of other women. I was awash in the chill of pure terror. Despite every instinct to run in the opposite direction we (myself and the other men on bus garroted in a cheap guesthouse) made our way outside towards the noise up the steps of the other platformed guesthouse where the women were sleeping. A snake, an enormous one of at least 60 pounds, had fallen from the rafters onto the women's mosquito net and began writhing to free itself. The woman had been trapped and paralyzed with fear. None of this was apparent before a match was lit... upon entering the room we just saw two dark shapes struggling with manic energy. Finally a match was struck, the scene revealed & much shouting.

An old man deftly and with practiced precision did away with the beast with a quick sharp jab of a knife through the eye. The woman bruised, and almost mad with fear had been bitten several times, though the bites weren't poisonous she was hysterical. When the blood was cleaned she was left with just a few puncture wounds. By the time the excitement was over the sun was breaking, the snake had been skinned & gutted, and put into a pot where it boiled for two hours.

I was just served a bowl of the oily dark flesh. I think I will pass.


May 31, 2005

Almost 6 months and still not crawling, but he's working on it.

North Korea Links

May 28, 2005

Longtime readers will know I have a bit of a North Korea obsession.

A few links of interest I've discovered recently:

The unofficial guide to the Pyongyang Metro System

The Tower of Juche Idea

North Korean Propaganda Posters

Official North Korean News Agency (which oddly always includes a few items in Spanish).

Downloadable North Korean Magazine (pdf format).

more here...

odd fact: The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang represents the US as consular protecting power),

and on an unrelated note, I just downed an entire box of melba toast.


May 27, 2005

I like spending holidays in New York. The city is deserted and you feel like you have the place for yourself. Still it's hard not to be just a little bit jealous of my friends who are all heading for the hills (and beyond).

My wanderlust is in high gear right now. I can't wait to escape the keyboard and get "out there" somewhere beyond the familiar.


May 27, 2005

About once a year Ted swings into town from Hong Kong and throws an awfully nice dinner. Although most of the invitees are friends and we all live in NY, often the only time we see each other are at these semi-annual dinners. Sad really.

Virtually everyone who meets Raul Andres comments about his good natured smileyness. People tell us we have been spoiled by such a mellow kid. I'm sure it will all even out. We predict he's going to be a terror as a 2 year old.

At 5 1/2 months the baby has more than doubled his weight and is 2 1/2 feet tall... & still criminally cute.

1929, NYC, but where

May 25, 2005

This is a photo of my grandfather (left) during his brief stint in New York. He arrived in 1928 and stayed one year, eventually skipping the country back to his ranch in Mexico. He was working parking cars at the Waldorf and had crashed a fancy car. This would have meant prison, so he left... quickly. He had saved almost four hundred dollars had planned to marry my grandmother, take a steamer to Argentina, and start a ranch down there (100 dollars would buy a nice spread), but one of his sisters used the money for her own wedding (a blowout apparently), and that was it for that plan. He would never return to New York, but in his 90's he would recall small telling details like the electric smell of the subway cars or the way men with black umbrellas would walk through central park in the snow holding their girlfriends close and tight. Always at the end of story he would always turn a a bit sour on the memory of his dream unfulfilled.

My question with this photo... does anyone recognize the street? There aren't many places where such wide avenues are bisected by sidewalks like that, but the buildings are fairly anonymous.... I know he was living on the west side in the 70's... New Yorkers? Any ideas?

May 14, 1994

May 24, 2005

I have no idea why I wrote this or where I was, but this little snippet was scribbled in the margin of a notebook and dated 3/14/1994. Sounds like a bad short story:

Sometimes I find myself pulled with sudden and inexorable force away from everything to this place. Again, of course, as always rain. Other than the downpour on the roof, not a sound. Here I can finally rest and have a moment of peace and perhaps sleep. Nobody knows I'm here.

. . . .
Jenn's sister beck has been blogging as of late. Jenn claims she wants to blog, but won't start until she finds the right name.... I think everyone should blog. Then we can all keep tabs on each other without leaving the keyboard.

The eyebrow...

May 23, 2005

see the boy's raised brow in the second photo. That my friends is pure Gutierrez.


May 22, 2005

I'm not much on poetry, but I found this one cut out from the New York Times Book Review dated 2/16/91. I had used it as a bookmark in a dictionary (it was in the W's) and I kinda like it.


My favorite in the box of 64
Was Prussian Blue, rich with its hint
Of green, blue enough to suggest
An exotic 19th-century
Militaristic world.

I'd have colored everything Prussian Blue-
Except tree trunks, hands and faces -
But it had to be carefully rationed
Lest, its paper cover stripped away,
It would wear down to nothing.

Without it: prosaic Umber and Sienna,
Yellow-Green, the all-but useless White.
Adult life, I assumed, is when you own
All the Prussian Blue you'll ever need
To color anything you want.



May 21, 2005

People complain that I always have my camera out, but I never get the best images I see. This post was inspired by the website unphotographable.

These are but a few photographs I did not take over the last two weeks:

A man with his back to the road standing out in the desert looking at the empty sky, hands aloft. Nobody around for miles. I am the only person in the car who notices him.

5 boys, 1 with a gold tooth, beggars, faces pressed tight to the glass of the window. All startled into silence by the site of a Korean, a gringo, a baby, and a set of identical twins.

A small Mexican cemetery amongst the joshua trees at twilight.

Several young girls in their white confirmation dresses, one with blood on her knee seeping through the dress.

My Tio Rodolfo sitting in a chair at twighlight looking a bit like his father and smiling to himself at the scene of his grandchildren running around him.

Jennifer asleep with her hair all over the pillow. The light just right. Naked baby nuzzled by her side.

A Bush Cheney piñata broken in half in a courtyard.

Four old men holding a wooden coffin aloft on a hot day in Monterrey.

Graffiti on an abandoned building near Highway 59 that said "2 boys got shot here" with flowers strewn around the junky lot.

Mr. Maldonado telling a whopper of a tale, involving his wife, a thief and a submarine, his eyes crinkling when he got to the good parts.

My old treehouse, or what's left of it, covered in vines. Blackberry bushes growing below, bugs in the hot air. Forest light.

A girl from my high school, unrecognizable with age standing in the middle of an empty supermarket late at night.

All the abandoned sno-cone shacks in Lufkin.

The crowd of ladies in their colorful hats outside the gospel Church on Sunday morning waving their fans in the heat.

Some secret places I know.

The sight of the city from the BQE over that big graveyard at dusk.

Muslim ladies with their kids flying kites on the promenade.

Our baby on his grandfather's stomach, both laughing.

Too many other things...

on my mind...

May 19, 2005

I've become a big fan of del.icio.us the online social bookmarks manager. While explaining it to people is difficult (even my wife who sort of glazed over by the time I had said "online social"), if you just start using it, you'll soon wonder what you did without it.

Anyway I find del.icio.us provides a pretty good snapshot of what's on my mind at least in the realm of my computer. You can see my tag cloud yourself by clicking here. I'm a relatively new user, so my list isn't very robust yet, but it will fill out soon enough. I'm at http://del.icio.us/themexican/.

And while I'm leaving webdroppings, I should include my audioscrobbler homepage and my last.fm homepage as well. Want to discover new music you like. Build up a playlist in audioscrobbler and then start listening to last.fm's personal radio stations of your 'musical neighbors'. Again a bit hard to explain sometimes, but brilliant once you get the hang of it.

Oddly (or perhaps not oddly), of the thousands and thousands of users, I personally know 2 of my musical neighbors.
. . . . . . .
Hmmmm.... what else...

Jenn has started Spanish classes so we've been conjugating verbs around the house.
. . . . . . .
We've noticed that my dad inserts the phrase "and the baby is cute" somewhat randomly into paragraphs when talking to people on the phone.
. . . . . . .
After only 10 days out of the city, I return damaged. I keep looking for a horizon. Must defeat this urge.
. . . . . . .
Crash Review:

Jenn and I snuck out and watched Crash two nights ago. I knew absolutely nothing about the movie going into it and was impressed by the good acting, but was annoyed by the too neat and tidy story line. And why does a movie about racism manage to treat each character as a racist stereotype? You can almost hear the screenwriter's wheels turning, "I'll take a racist cop and have him do something utterly abominable to a woman and then, get this, I'll have him save THE SAME WOMAN. And the Persian guy, I'll have him so beaten down by racism that he becomes a racist himself." The basic idea is everyone is driven mad by racism, and each character has a twist (or in screenwriterese "an arc"). The "bad" characters are all warm and fuzzy underneath, the "good" characters are all capable of horrible acts. While there is an ethnic stew of characters, as usual Asians get short shrift. Ultimately I looked at the film as manipulative and cynical in it's attempt to portray acts of grace. My prediciton this film and it's cartoon racism will be wildly overpraised. The discussion of real race issues is almost completely absent in popular American culture, so if a film seems to be saying the right thing the kneejerk reaction is to deem it a masterpiece.
. . . . . . .
Do you ever feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to get done? Right now I'm running underwater.

New York Times to start charging for online content

May 17, 2005

The NY Times announced today they will start charging for online content. Most of the daily paper will still be free (available for a few days before being pay per view) but op eds and special features will available only for paid subscribers. They will charge $79/year, $39/year for people who already buy a $250/year subscription .

I believe the Times is making a mistake and is going about this backwards. Right now the Times articles are not indexed by google because they expire after a few days. This will continue. Premium content will make op-eds even less accessible and limit their audience. The upside, I believe, will not compensate for the loss in audience. Unlike the Wall Street Journal which thrives on a subscription model, the type of content the Times will be charging for is available elsewhere on the net and the subscriptions will generally not be covered by corporate expense accounts.

What is the right model? I believe the Times should open up it's entire archive for free to the public. Make it searchable and indexable. Then The Times should sell micro-ads on keywords, specific stories, or on themes. Given the depth and breadth of content available (ie it's not just news) I believe the profit potential is staggering (cough, cough, google, adsense, record profits). As a side benefit the Times would become relevant on the web (right now as far as it's google and the other search engines are concerned it's completely invisible) and will gain readership not just by pushing news daily, but as a historical and cultural archive.

But the Times (and other major papers) do not think this way and we are all the poorer for it.


May 15, 2005

in the Garden of Memories near Lufkin: 'Jackie Lee Asque, April 10, 1919. March 4, 1983. See, I told you I was sick. P.S. I knew this would happen, I just didn't know it would happen so soon.'

things happen gradually...

May 11, 2005

...but one day you find yourself sitting at the adult table in your uncle's backyard on a hot night with a cool breeze watching the kids playing freeze tag and darting through the legs of chairs and remembering what it was like to be one of those kids in that same backyard not so many years ago.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50
« Previous Post (My 4 Year Old On What Makes a Good Shoe)