Spicaresque:

A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Friday, January 20, 2017

SEYBOLD BUILDING: INTERIOR: FIRST STREET ENTRANCE

Come through all breeze on North West First Street, then straightaway the grey and dark grey diamond tiles patterning sieve of dark grey diamond tiles (or perhaps the sieve is light grey?). 20 feet to your left, the stairs for the mezzanine, which you won't want to take unless you need dull gems from Italy or like a horse mane brush with corral inlay.

Prime storefronts jut out and blaze the lucre in their windows; their displays: their most valuable, encrusted, gleaming champaigne soap bubbles on headless, velvet displays. House of Byzantine horrors, half-limbs and sample shoulders, half-conceived but for their flank wheren lay a whopping piece of metal exuberance.

The first stores on your sides as you come in are Aaron's Jewelery & Diamonds and Aruba Gold Jewelers, but I remember a time in the early 90's when a whiz kid from Italy had an expensive glass shop at the entrance that sold fragile oil and vinegar glass dispensers that held both liquids simultaneously in the glass dispenser at the same time, but separated them by a clever bladder or some shit.

And, this dude was there for a couple of months before his fragile glass outpost crumbled; he grew dependent on pain pills and turned into a pillhead and nearly lost his monthly allowance from some castle in Tuscany.

Immediately after, a mosaic on the tile floor that must take up just about 30 feet, in which a topaz frame is festooned in a beige background so that two brown tile X's fasten the ends of the mosaic to the (dark-grey/light-grey) sieve-expanse.

Straight ahead, jutting out of the ground, a parapet that holds the staircase for the sotano, and about 30 feet beyond that, the security guard Octagon-kiosk, an embattlement manned at all times by at least two security guards that are also weekend pilots for Hermanos al Rescate.

Inside the Octagon-kiosk, just below chest level, the panels all closed-circuit television screens, maybe 4 inches by 6 inches, with very little actual counterspace to let's say write notes or enter security log data. On the netherside of the Octagon-kiosk, an alphabetical index of all the DBA's, LLC's, and Proprietorships that can be found inside.

The slope of the entrance drains towards the sotano stairwell, but at such a small grade that it's hard to tell if it's slanted at all. In between the Octagon-kiosk and the sunken sotano stairwell lay a hole in the wall cafeteria for the more discerning bastards and mistresses.

We almost never went to eat there, and not because the food was bad. We almost never went to eat there because the air was no different than in the taller, in the tin can office on the sixth floor at the far end of the floor, by that cluster of Brazilian castiadores.


Friday, January 13, 2017

INTRODUCTION TO "LIBRARIANS WITH SPINES"

In May it will be two years that I have been an Adult Librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library; I am very happy with my position, and the branch I work at is a branch with over 100 years of service, and a small Black History Collection (4,208 titles). My side hustles are as a poet and writer, blogger, teacher, interpreter, rabbi (non denominational), sanitation functionary, and publisher, etc. I pay the bills for an online journal called Hinchas de Poesia (www.hinchasdepoesia.com) while one talented designer puts it together and one talented editor edits the shit out of every issue. We don't make any money and we don't ask for any money, so a lot of people do not know how to process our existence, and that's fine as it is equally hard for us to sometimes process our existence as well.

HINCHAS Press came into existence in 2016 to publish an anthology of ghazals (an Arabic poetry form) for James Foley, Ghazals for Foley. If you don't know James Foley, look him up. He and I were close friends in the Poets and Writers Program at UMASS-Amherst. A few years later he actually ends up lending me the money to buy server space to display the first issue of Hinchas de Poesia. So, this anthology of essays, Librarians with Spines, is a big deal because it is the next step in the evolution of HINCHAS Press and Jim's Legacy. What started out as an online journal has evolved into a venue that would like to tackle the lack of color in the publishing industry one ISBN at a time. It is my firm belief that at no other time in the history of the world has it been so easy to edit, publish and distribute a book solely under your influence and care.

When I was a a kid and had recently moved to Miami from Brooklyn, what is now the Kendall Branch Library used to be called the Snapper Creek Library. My parents were customers at the Executive National Bank on the corner of 97th and Kendall Drive, and every Saturday after my mom made her deposits she took my sister and I to the Snapper Creek Library to hang out and read, peer into the lives of things we had not yet conceived of. As an eleven year old transitioning into a mature twelve year old, I found refuge in those stacks, especially the Choose Your Own Adventure series and their extensive juvenile non-fiction. I can not underestimate the importance of libraries in my life, and what a joy they are to visit, and what joys have I experienced simply from a book.

Those Saturdays add up and I see myself older and becoming a more confident patron in 1986, but those first years were a little scary. As a kid, I remember approaching the reference desk as if the librarian behind it were a descendant of G'mork. Eventually, I figured out the order on the shelves and stopped asking for help; getting lost was just another way of figuring out how to find the subjects that most interested me, but I knew there was an order; it was there if you cared to pay attention. So, you can understand how weird it might be to be behind the desk you feared as a kid, to be the first person, perhaps, a kid sees when he or she come to the library.

There's something that happens when you come into a building and realize it's full of books, a weird kind of wattage that accompanies the agglutinated wisdom in ink of forty thousand spines. I do not feel the same way walking into a server closet, or taking a stroll through the air conditioned nightmare of a server farm. While I know I can highlight text on my e-device, I prefer the ball-point chicken scratch of my personal annotations, many of which are anachronistic inside jokes and offer zero insight. There's a sensory threshold I can't seem to get past using e-devices, and my books in no small part represent the parameters of my knowledge, the bricks that fill the foundation, the inconsistencies in the parapets, and the bleed through on the over-re-enforced portions.

I have never met Max Macias in real life, that is, in person. I know he is a person and I know he lives in Oregon and I know he works for Portland Community College and I know he can Smith Grind minipipe coping and loves to teach people about technology. Max and I are anomalies in the Library World because the professional library world is largely white and female. I make the distinction between professional and clerical because in most systems in our country that division is solely predicated on race, meaning in our large library systems, people of color do most of the clerical work at a library, and most of the professional work gets done by Caucasians. There is nothing wrong per se with this except when you change your shirt and start playing for the other team.

Max and I do professional librarian work as men of color (and politically vociferous men at that). But, this is a personal work of scholarship and we are publishing without our respective affiliations; Max and I are publishing this book as private citizens. We started out as Face Book friends and then we realized we both grew up skateboarding, we both were at the inception of Hip Hop and Punk Rock, and we both loved the dreamers, that category of people that constantly look at the world with an enormous sense of what if.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

POEM AFTER RENE LALOUX'S "FANTASTIC PLANET"

A Traag murdered by an Om is unbelievable
but Terr is a resourceful Om and he's learned
tested Traag tenets sobre food cubes and color powder.

Terr's hooked up with a wild Om, a serpentine
witch naturalist guide proxy leotard Om.

Terr's been forthcoming with his knowledge of Traag tenets
but of course the wild Oms stand resolute at not widening
their circle of influence and poor Terr

well poor Terr has to strap on the raptor worm and joust
with the naysayers, nitwits, and feral not necessarily wild Oms
just to prove he was simultaneously understanding the Traag tenets

Terr's Traag was learning from their cognitive grape diadems
how to be compassionate giants in snug spandex cuneiform uniforms.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

SEYBOLD BUILDING: INTERIOR: JEWELER'S FEES

There's an if you-hurry-me-fee and a fee for if you give me the wrong
size and I have to recast; there's a bring your pain-in-the-ass-wife
into my taller and I have to dust off some stools fee; there's a you-
fucked-me-once-before-fee, a fee based solely on a quotient of
vengeance; there's fees for having it finished for Saturday, even
though I'm here every Saturday; there's fees for express polishing
and steaming, for wrapping it in tissue paper like some diaphanuous
bonbon Satan's gifting.

there's a fee for if you come into my taller with muddy-ass Timbos
and make me mop a six by six tread of linoleum;

there's a fee for if you come in with a toy dog or in driving
slippers; there's a fee for if you cheap but your wifey is a Botox
dimepiece; there's a fee for if your last payment comes via my son via
a happy holidays smut pamphlet via a sign-off that hasn't been earned;

there's a fee for if your morph into a generic dildo and start belly-
aching over the price of diamonds; there's a fee for if my diamond guy
is coming in from Hyderabad and straight to the airport; there's a fee
for if you make me feel like I haven't snatched thistles of orodusted-
dander from the straight air and turned them gorgeous tines; there's a
fee for if you belong to the wrong soccer clubl there's a fee for if you
champion Ronaldo over Messi; there's a fee for if you spread the virus
of Argentinos insoportables; there's a fee for if you don't tell me how
Peronism makes you feel.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

SEYBOLD BUILDING: EXTERIOR: FLAGLER CORRIDOR


If this were the early 90's and you had slept over my house under the pretense that we would go to work with my pops in downtown Miami, then once we got to Government Center we would have taken the easternmost exit, the exit that winds under the awningned escalator and onto NW 2nd Street. Crossing NW First Ave, we would have caught up with the gusts and rafagas hiding in the corners of the state of the art courthouse. We would have gone south on North Miami for one little block while gawking at the Haitian shops, the Creole pouring out of speakers, lace as static.


But this was the end of 2016, so we took the escalator down into the officious plazita at the read end of the Main Library and east on NW First Street because Pops wanted to show me the obtruse, metal carcass of the future train. But this was the end of 2016, so pops made us walk north on NW First Avenue until we reached the corner of the Dade County District Court on NW Second Street to creep a peep. But this was the end of 2016, and you could clearly see the platform for this beast was going to be 60 feet in the air, towering over the residents of Overtown, looking down on the diaphanous frame of Miami's first sports arena.


From the corner of NW 2nd Street and NW First Ave you can clearly see the terminus; there are enormous red cranes hoisting sections of lattice lay eyes can barely articulate. Make no doubt, though, something large and girthy as the Government Center itself is coming and will ransom just as much airspace from the downtown landscape.

In the early 90's we would have wrapped around the court building and walked up NW Second Street to North Miami Ave and turned south one block to NE First Street, turned east on NE First Street and crept up on Seybold in the shadow of the MetroMall. In the early 90's you would have seen MetroMall open for business with at least a minimal amount of busy work in the small, bottom-feeder shops that ringed the atrium. Don't get me wrong; there were never lines to get into the MetroMall, but it used to be a working mall with working people inside helping working customers.

Pops tells me its been shuttered for the past 8 years and I remember that during that time he ran a 20 person operation for an Indian expatriate with a PhD in Physics named Michael. This was before he moved into the Seybold and went to work for himself, so I must have been twelve or so when he ran a whole operation up on the third floor of the MetroMall. You look at the building now and all you see are sooty grates.

Later that day, Pops took me on a tour of adjoining ecosystems and buildings to the Seybold. So we walked down NorthEast First Street, sharing shoulder space with the Dupont Building on Second and Flagler. We passed a trendy Italian restaurant and pops threw his hands up at the cooks in the back as if he played futbol with them on Tuesdays and shouted, Rosario, como estai? To which a stout little miscreant that should have shaved this morning shouted back, Chai, Horacio, como estai?

Pops tells me that on the weekends there are Ferraris and Lambos throwing up their doors to get a space by the curb, and yet the inner repository and sanctum of the restaurant, their jazz catacombs is and has been condemned by the city of Miami. And yet, on the day when we went, the restaurant was doing a brisk sale of Sicilian pizza with soy instead of cheese and I am sure looking forward to globular wine glass sales later on that night. We passed the building with little discs pressed into the face of the building, across the street from the Dade Commonwealth Building and hung a right into the 777 International Mall


Inside, I can not tell you the horror of vacancy, the silence of the dirty panes, the manner in which shops are closed, the debris and detritus of having to close a shop in a depressed city center. Regardless of whether the stores were former nail salons or gold-plated purveyors, their doors were closed and debris lay strewn on the ground as if the owners had left in a hurry. You could taste the soot on the plastic shutters or at least it seemed like that to me. I had the feeling that we were excavating this mall instead of passing through like a errant breeze.


These are taken inside the 777 International Mall.

Yes there were workmen painting some of the shops on the second floor, but for the most part the mall was dead, the dream of this place as a money-making waterfall was more than dead, and here we were getting a rare glimpse into the




These are taken inside the 777 International Mall.


These are taken inside the 777 International Mall.


The author and Pops inside the 777 International Mall.

Friday, December 16, 2016

SEYBOLD BUILDING: EXTERIOR: CAFECITO WINDOW

All jewelers are bastards; they run after capital all day. They run after gold dust and forest green wax models. They chase and hunt, they root for loot, they sprinkle diamond milk onto rice krispy gold ingots. And in many ways, they get high on their own supply; they disburse bracelets, necklaces, all linked with chispitas de hielo, like some tiny bridge gone slack, some scintillating centipede getting it's stomach rubbed.

Bastards because they need to get their price of labor in there and probably a finder's fee or handler's tax, a mordida that says I was at this deal when it was jumping from one testicle to another. There's an if you-hurry-me-fee and a fee for if you tell me the wrong size or talle and I have to recast. Bastards with no price fix scruples, no threshold for graft, no subtle finagle. They have the product, handle the manufacture (even if they have to send it out) and give you a price that involves labor, parts, splendor, and awe.

But the annals are reserved for those especially unscrupulous puss-sacks that prowled the Seybold when Cocaine was king. I remember the jewelers all lined up outside the cafecito window in one enormous huddle of guayaberas, Tommy Bahama hats, and cigar cologne. All nationalities, all religious affiliations, huddling outside in the ninety-three degree afternoon sauna, sharpening their gouging knives and rubbing their sausage-link fingers together. The cafecito window is where the deals were sprung, where affiliations were launched, and where treachery reared it's fuck-ugly mug.

Werner was a Brazilian jeweler; his specialty was diamond-setting. He was a Black Belt but very delicate with setting diamonds. He was also extremely racist, but all the other jewelers liked him like that because going out on a limb like that gave them an opening, a weapon they might use on you in later transactions. His grandparents had been German, so the handlebar moustache Werner wore only needed liederhosen to compliment it; he was just below tall, bald, and passed for White. He could split a papaya in half with his katana while getting the pose right.

The smart jewelers had more work than they could possibly finish, so they outsourced a great deal of the work they did on their jewelry, but it's like this in most industries, que no? However, some of the jewelers outsourcing labor didn't want other jewelers to know for various reasons. So, work around the Seybold always had this spy code of reticence. If you pulled away from the cafecito window earlier than usual, the other jewelers already knew whose job you were rushing off to fulfill. You can imagine that some of the jewelers amassed outside the cafecito window were not really jewelers but fences.

There was one fence, Humbertico, that actually bought a used Crown Vic from the police because he wanted everyone to know who he was in cahoots with. Humbertico always wore Oakleys and had his hat backward; he looked like a man in his mid-forties that had been sequestered by his fraternity and kept in a dungeon for 15 years. Humbertico could get you whatever you needed, except drugs, drugs were someone else's dominion, but he did a swift trade in stolen laptops, video cameras, and televisions. He wasn't a jeweler, but they had given his honorary status because Humbertico was stupid busy come Christmas, and he could get you that thing your wife most needed in her life to shut the fuck up and let you be a scoundrel again.

HINCHAS PRESS PRESENTS "LATIN AMERICAN TRANSPONDER" @ LAPL's CENTRAL LIBRARY

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

SEYBOLD BUILDING: INTERIOR: SOTANO

Bro, my dad used to get his hair cut in the sotano of the Seybold Building. Sotano is Spanish for basement, bro, and if you can believe it, skyscrapers in Miami do have basements, dude. However, with Miami's liminal sea levels, i.e. most of Miami is three feet under sea level, most of the sotanos in South Florida are pool-side bars?

But, this was 1987, so te imaginas. Anyways, there used to be a barber shop in sotano of the Seybold, bro; tremendo barbershop with black diamond tiles on the floor and large windows, you know like a throwback barbershop except it wasn't throwback because this is the mid-80's. Anyways, my sister and I got into a fight, and that was the first time mi viejo threatened to make us drink each other's pee if we couldn't get along. Also, the barber my father had was gay because my father told me he was gay, but he seemed like all the other men in the sotano.

In Miami, siempre, the possibility of things is suuuuuuper finite, bro: por ejemplo, there is just so much pressure you can apply to a package of land in South Florida before it goes, kerplunk!, like a crisp particle board, dude, and you shoot to the other side. And, who knows if there is water under the water? Immense is the damp, te imaginas? Suuuper immense was the damp in that sotano, bro.

Musty, muddy, feral. The barbershop there was these three smells plus Barbicide, which sentineled the four stations in the basement barbershop. I probably got my hair cut there once or twice, but I bet the barber's been gone for more than 20 years. Ya hace tiempo, my Miami details, bro, are slurry and full of like opaque syrup, bro, things perhaps, that were never there, I am beginning to believe, are trying to be the forefront of an intense remembering?

Mi viejo dice the basement brota agua, it blossoms water at all times like some sacred Hindu river, or some Mesopotamian spring. Maybe, it's because there is a river under the sotano. Maybe, bro, the foundation has become so colloquial with the limestone that it has turned into petrified sand. Maybe, the Bay gets hungry after it moonlights as a nostalgist? Maybe, downtown Miami will finally just wash into the Atlantic like a spot of India ink bombarded by a droplet of green salt water?

Maybe the center won't hold for the residents of Seybold's sotano who have all recently been told that the city and administration are trying to figure out when they can re-open the sotano. They have been put on hold for close to 8 months, and no one is doing anything about it. My father says, bro, that the owners have every right to do what they want while the jewelers have the right to find other accommodations.

He also says that I should stop thinking with my heart--that my heart don't know shit about the world. And, he's right. Getting nostalgic about a place that the city has closed down for health reasons is just plain dumb, bro. But, this space, sooner than later will find itself being filled in with bureaucratic concrete and smoothed over.