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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


As a people, the strongest opposition that we encounter comes from people that look just like ourselves and act just like ourselves (if by "ourselves" we mean "Latinos"). They may eat the same things we eat, but don't make the mistake of thinking that we get nourished in the same ways.

The fact of the matter is that the term Latino incorporates all the Spanish-speaking peoples of North and South America. Therefore, the Afro-Dominican, who would never agree to be called that is just as much a Latino as the Afro-Ecuadorian, who can not escape the pigment in his skin or that label. In the Autumn 2001 issues of Comparative Literature, Roman de la Campa says that the terms Latino is "rather a recognition of an unusual and persistent duality, nurtured by the constant flow of capital--human, symbolic, and financial--between the Americas. In that sense the Latino presence unsettles the civilization models discussed earlier, be they of northern or southern provenance." (pg. 377)

Even though the presence of Latinos/Hispanics in the U.S goes back to the eighteenth century (2001, 377), "Even today many academic disciplines continue to acknowledge Latinos only to the degree that their most visible communities demand it." (2001, 377) So, what does that mean for us, for the individual sitting there in the shadow of his ethnicity, trying to figure it all out. In 2001 it was estimated that there were between "30 to 35 million Latinos in the United States...and that their presence now engenders a $30 billion a year economy from consumer products advertised in Spanish in the United States." (2001, 377) Again, what does this mean for the person sitting in darkness trying to figure it all out. Well, for the first part it means that you do not have to worry about feeling alone and that you don't have to hovel in the shadow of your ethnicity. There is an industry out there, ready and riled to go, that is desperately going to try to make a buck off you. That is, if the Academy does not recognize you then maybe you can play Advertisers off the Academy and watch them fight each other for the rights to make money off you. In other words, your identity has become a commodity, and the only way to ensure you don't get ripped off is by actively participating in the dialogue that is palpable.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


One time after having gone home to Miami, my parents decided to take my girlfriend (now wife) and I to eat at this one Mexican place they love in Homestead. Homestead is mostly agricultural so it is predominated by migrant workers, most of whom are Mexican, El Salvadorian, or Honduran. Their restaurants, eateries, and watering holes look nothing like the ones in Miami. Even the franchises are more agricultural as the amount of Arby's per capita are higher in Homestead than they are in Miami. Homestead is like what Miami should have remained: a grover's dust bowl with intermittent flashes of cowboy opulence and rawhide Caucasian women with flax-colored hair and uncomfortable bikinis. I don't even know if Homestead is part of Dade County? It seems that Homestead might share in the jurisdiction of the state and city governments (that municipal gauze) that constitutes the Keys.

We are eating and of course get on the subject of politics, which (because my wife is Chicana and muy social justice like myself)inevitably degenerates into racial politics and/or identity politics. I tell my Dad that I am Latino, like it's some iron-on badge that I have just bought in a five and dime. This is a word that I have learned in grad school and which has taken on much resonance since I have been living in New York. So my father asks whether my cousins kids are Latino. My cousin lives in an affluent suburb of Chicago and has six kids; his wife is Irish-American and Catholic, and has striven to include Spanish as one of the tongues her kids will speak. My father says he is not Latino, but white. And this sets off a whole sequence of events that leads to indigestion and juvenile remonstrances (from both sides). You see, my father and I have never learned to argue; to this day, we do not know how to respectfully disagree.

But in reading Juan Flores and George Yudice's article titled, "Living Borders/Buscando America: Languages of Latin Self-Formation" that appeared in Social Text in 1990, being able to call yourself something, to "deploy" a moniker to describe the thing that you are is a pretty important part of Identity. On page 60 they write that, "Latino affirmation is first of all a fending off of schizophrenia, of that pathological duality born of contending cultural worlds and, perhaps more significantly, of the conflicting pressures toward both exclusion and forced incorporation".

Monday, December 29, 2008


She said it again, and he kicked her Asian wave poster(the same poster she said they were going to use to line the cabinets, etc.).
He thinks, fat chance, getting me to flip the script with fait accompli ducats; I have what I have for the moment and then I have to scrape again.
They were in this together, but it felt like irreversible scramble, a jumble of minors in a delivery truck, something inconsequential given then a gambit orbit.
He just wanted to say, damn! Can't we just hold this pattern of weather, there
is something comforting in knowing there is an account that we can pilfer,
A trust fund that waters the house plants, A butler that takes Masters to the park,
A decimal, smack dab in the middle of your ventricle.

There is that job opening up, my paperwork in the hands of languid secretaries.
My documentation is in your coat pockets, she said, and it sounded like a threat.
Like, take your hands out of your pockets, slowly, or I will consider extreme prejudice when I exterminate the jargon. You are all talk, and it shows, it shows.
He thinks if aspects are so sticking-out obvious, then why grow criteria for toil.
He thinks I am a student and this does not apply to me.
She thinks that when she is pregnant there will be a dance to the finish.
There is so much filtration that accompanies the speech of triggers;
the indigent know the accent, and I can explain it tuto.

Friday, December 19, 2008


undress for me, Miami, even though
you haven't bought new panties in weeks

your expressways are gams,
your mangroves are negligees

homesteads in Perrine, the outstanding bills
and final notices annihilated on the lawn

your tinder for the cauldron of mascara
your raincheeks and monsoon jumpsuit

Thursday, December 18, 2008


The fandango of Crockett and Tubbs gives rise to pastel proselytes
at the Altar of the Undercover

Every week el same racket: los cops chasing dealers on speedboats they call cigarettes.

And mamahuevo de Phil Collins singing, I can feel it coming in the air tonight,
ay Dios

In this dirigible economy you can sanitize scalpels for Dr. Hidalgo, plastic surgeon
to the estrellas (los strumpets de dictators), and Cenicientas of the small house

Or you can open shop in Seybold alongside the jewelers, estafadores and hammerheads
selling Lazarus pendants (the dogs, with rubies for eyes), diamond encrusted anchors
24 K grenades and platinum Uzis

Selling replica pendants of implements
used to ply their plows of polvora

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Primero, los Tequestas

Pero antes, bastante antes, the Spanish
slicing trophy tongues, bumbling gore fountains
feeding succulent Indians to their dogs

Despues, los Seminoles (esos renegade nostalgists)
cabroncitos de cobre, cria de los Creeks

Ahora, para los Industrialistas. Let there be Industrialists!

Luego, much luego, Flagler hustling Tuttle for half her homestead grove
(the only grove que sobrevivio!) on the Eve of the Apocafrostlypsis of 1896

Tuttle calling Flagler’s bluff with an orange blossom in a box

Despues, suave flight instructors with silk throats dogging nurses
in bivouacs on bases

Y we can’t forget los slews of Jews that pensioned
into loungers to be ravaged by solar tsunamis

(que melanoma ardiente!)

Los leagues upon leagues of Pan Am brethren left to fend
for the scraps of a graphic bankruptcy. (The Pan Am tag sale was bananas.)

Or the interminable Azafranistas, shoguns, balseros, Ninja mechanics
sodomites, moles, bomberos, embezzlers, bankers, and bodegueros

Fleeing the fever of Communism, halitosis of Peronism,
the death-squad smelling salts.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I am constantly waiting for the women in my life; I have always had to wait for the women in my life. Is it that I am just that much more efficient at grooming myself, or sadly, is it that I have never really groomed myself very well.

Women are always getting ready in my presence. Even when they are taking stuff off they are getting ready to take off. I have seen women in winner-mode slap across the face of a competitor.

Women should sell tickets to their existence, or encourage a Typhoid type of voyeurism. I hear the bellows of History declaim the novelties of Man in banshee voltage.

Something, anything, is better than waiting for women. Is it that really
they might take so much time to effuse their octane?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


So, tomorrow I have an interview at BCC. Relax, it is not for a librarian position, although I would be working alongside a librarian or several librarians. Therefore, of course, the night before I am prepping and/or freaking out. I mean I really would like to work at an academic library after getting my degree (hopefully, after Spring 2009) so this job will make some great resume fodder.
Particularly, I am drawn to the fact that the school I am interviewing at is a community college in the inner-city so that means for the most part that I will be (if I get the damn job of course) interacting with students from the inner-city, a demographic or population (both terms sound so pejorative) I am quite familiar with. Also, the site is not far from my home in Harlem so this too is a plus; I commute like an hour and a half to Queens College, so the prospects of a half hour commute is like a wet dream wrapped in an electric blanket (titillatingly electrifying).
So, ultimately, the best thing is to do some snooping on the school website before the interview and try to second guess some of the questions that I will probably be asked tomorrow by my interlocutors. My strategy should include coming up with at least five questions, but at the same time involve trying to get a reading on the type of patrons/students that I would be assisting. This is not always an easy task, especially since I have never really been on campus.
What I know is that the school is in the inner-city and is part of the City University of New York system; therefore, the type of students that attend the school varies in terms of socio-economic status, educational background, and skill level. There are many bright students that form part of the C.U.N.Y. student body and then again there are some not so smart students that form part of the student body. From having taught at Kingsborough Comm College from 2003-2004 I can tell you that the variance between student levels is probably the only thing that the students have in common. Their skill level is also dependent on mainly one thing: their high schools. If they went to high school in the Bronx, then chances are the students are going to need a lot of help because I feel that many of the high schools in the Bronx are basically baby-sitting prisons.
Let me get the five basic questions out of the way. #1: What is the hourly wage that the school is offering? #2: How many hours will you need my services a week? #3: Are there any benefits associated with the position (i.e. tuition reduction, health benefits, etc.)#4: What exactly would the responsibilities of the job entail? #5: Does the library/learning center have a mission statement that I am supposed to abide by? What is the ethos of the library in relation to learning and/or acquisition of knowledge (i.e. how far are facilitators supposed to guide students along?) And then let me get five basic observations about the layout of the school's library website as well.
#1: The school library's website is layed out for maximum student convenience. What I mean is that the website has a subject guideline which means that there is considerable hand holding that goes on. Not that there is not considerable hand holding at Queens College's library mind you, but the subject guides are not prominently displayed and kind of hidden in a drop down menu. At the interviewing school, the subject guides are prominently displayed which means that students are expected not to hunt for information; it is mostly presented to them with little interference or reliance on their part.
#2: In addition, inside the subject guides, the guides are broken down into three categories: specific databases, inter-disciplinary databases, and electronic journals. This means again, that the designer of the websites had maximum student interfacing in consideration when they built this website. They did not want students getting too distracted. However, it also means that students don't really have an excuse. In other words, no student can say, "I went to the library but didn't understand how to use the materials, etc." There really is no excuse except the student's own fear and lack of confidence if they don't engage effectively with the databases or materials, etc.
#3: The electronic reserves is east to access and there are no frills; it is basically a drop-down menu and students must pick their class by class code and course number. There is very little chance for mistakes, but what if there are more than one instructor a particular class in the drop down menu. Also, the instructions are clearly stated (the instructions directing students on how to access the password protected pages) and there are examples to accompany the instructions, etc.
#4: The library's home page is simple but extremely user friendly; therefore, I don't think that students have problems navigating it which means that if students are directed to the page, chances are they will use it effectively. This is a blessing because the Queens college home page for the library is not very intuitive and most of the phone calls we get at the reference desk concern students not being able to access materials because they haven't been told about the little, tiny tips that will help them navigate the pages more effectively. For example,no where on the Queens site does it say that students need to get their i.d.'s "activated" to connect from home to the databases. This is a big oversight on the part of Queens College and one that could be easily fixed.
#5: There is no mention of what plagiarism is or how it can be avoided. Any student that has trouble determining what is plagiarism and what is not is going to have to go way out of their way to get that information. I really like what Baruch college has on their website because it clearly states what plagiarism is, how it can be avoided, and more importantly, why it should be avoided.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Ruben Pulidor pulled up to the curb a little south of Fordham on the Concourse. His onyx Town Car was spewing wisps of marble cumulous from under the hood; beneath the car, the chassis spewed toxic green mouthwash, which seemed to steam in the crisp morning air. Needless to say, Ruben was not pleased, but his optimistic demeanor disallowed him from taking this to heart. However, the street sweeper was about two blocks away and the Sanitation department was ticketing vehicles that were stationed in the curb precluding the giant, amphibous broom from dispersing the grime, dirt, and noxious water that had collected in the gutters of the curb.
Ruben was probably going to get a ticket, and while this did not necessarily please him, it would only be the second ticket he had ever received (including moving violations). If the Sanitation guy was not a complete dick, he would wait for Ruben to start his Town Car and skedaddle up the street and out of the way of the street sweeper. But, chances were that the Sanitation guy had a quota of tickets to give out and Ruben was not going to escape his municipal clutches. The car actually belonged to Di Que Car Service, meaning that they were responsible for licensing, registration, and the Taxi and Limousine Commission medallion. Ruben had worked for Di Que Car Service since he came over from Punta Cana in 2002 and got along fairly well with Sampson Gancho, the owner of Di Que.
Sampson knew Ruben from Punta Cana. Punta Cana is a cape on the easternmost part of the island. The resorts there are mostly owned by Spaniards and Europeans but they rule by proxy and leave Dominicans to run the resorts for them. So from the age of fifteen on, Ruben was in charge of the jet ski rentals at the Madrileno, a 2-star hotel on Playa de Arena Gorda. He liked being in the sun all day and staring at the jevitas in their bikinis, especially las Americanitas that came to escape their boyfriends and the older jovatas that came to escape their boyfriends. It was like this that Ruben came into his optimistic persona. Working in the sun, hitting on women, and making enough money to bring home to his parents gave him a sense of pride and wonder that many men of his age in the D.R. did not know.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Jon Funmaker was a serious-ass Indian. Poor you if you participated in one of his sweats and farted around. Jon saw sweats as one of the last ways that you could communicate with your dead people. Poor you if you were in charge of heating the stones or splitting the wood into manageable wedges or pitchforking them into the hole in the makeshift tent and fell short because of a lack of solemnity.

Chances were you weren't ever going to be invited to another Jon Funmaker sweat. And that was that, so you can imagine the white people that primarily attended the sweats actually enjoyed the mystical pomp and acted as if they were entering a portal to a netherworld. What they were actually entering was an almost perfect semi-circle rigged with sturdy branches and twine. Covering that rigged semi-circle were multiple blankets, sheets, and canvas swaths of no discriminate pattern, no dominate color, completely and utterly chromatically improvised. The color of the covering was motley and the blankets that comprised it smelled of dreads of smoke and soot. Or, like horses, smoldering horses.

Funmaker freelanced for the Mt. Morris Ski Lodge as a spiritualist and sweat lodge consultant. What were his credentials, you ask? Well, for one thing his name was Jon Funmaker, a truly Indian moniker, through and through. Jon's mother had been a Hopi Indian and his father had been Lakota. Usually this type of union would bring scorn and the basest feelings out of Indians, but Funmaker's parents were hippie vagrants that had hitched from their respective reservations to meet by chance in Woodstock. That's right, Funmakers parents had been at Woodstock, but they never actually went to the festival. On the day that they met (in a Woodstock petrol station), Jon Funmaker's parents decided that they would live and work in Woodstock and spent the festival week trying to find work and a place to live. They ended up at the Aleghany Mobile Home Court after finding work as a waitress and cook at the Blue Hippo Diner.

Most sweats go through five distinct stages. One should say either grandfather or Tunkasila when addressing the Indian deity. One should ask for blessings for themselves but show discretion because blessings are not wishes. The first invocation goes to Tunkasila because without him we would be another rock without a clue. The second invocation goes to your ancestors, dead progenitors, and extinguished lineages. The third invocation, the selfish invocation, goes to oneself and the projects, angles, hustles one may be presently pressing. The fourth invocation is an extension of the third, namely, that of adding umph to your third invocation. Also, all sweaters must recite Tunkashila's name as they enter and leave the rigged hut.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


So I am doing a little bit of leisure reading and I picked up Suketu Mehta's Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, and have found it an extremely fascinating read, especially because my knowledge of Bombay/Mumbai is practically nil. What I like most about Mehtu's book is his characterization of the politicians, thugs, holy men, and common Mumbai denizens; Mehtu catches them displaying their truest emotive trappings.
First published in 2004, Mehta's book chrocicles many events. The first section of the book is devoted to "Power" and its many manifestations like "Powertoni". According to Mehtu, "powertoni" is the word that Mumbains use to denote the power of attorney, but it so much more than that. "Then I realized what the word was: a contraction of power of attorney, the awesome ability to act on someone else's behalf or to have others do your bidding, to sign documents, release wanted criminals, cure illnesses, get people killed. Powertoni: a power that does not originate in yourself; a power that you are holding one somebody else's behalf" (2004, pg. 58).
Mehta expands on his idea of Powertoni and says "it is the only kind of power that a politician has; a power of attorney ceded to him by the voter. Democracy is about the exercise, legitimate or otherwise, of this powertoni" (2004, pg. 59) According to Methu, the organization that has the most powertoni in Mumbai is the Shiv Sena, and the leader of the Shiv Sena, Bal Keshav Thackeray. The Shiv Sena is the political organization that advocates heavily against Muslim influence in Mumbai and were the catalyst for the riots of 1992-1993 between Hindus and Muslims. In that riot "317 people died, many of them Muslims" (2004, pg. 40). And most of the rioting was carried out by the thugs of the Shiv Sena.
According to Mehta, the Shiv Sena or Shivaji's Army was formed in 1996 and named after the "seventeenth century Maharashtrian warrior king who organized a ragtag band of guerilla fighters into a fighting force that would humble the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and, in time, hold sway over most of central India" (2004, pg. 41). Mehta interviews and writes about the thugs that make powertoni happen for Shiv Sena, Amol and Sunil. These "thugs" have made their way from the bottom castes of Mumbai into positions of influence and power, solely based on the powertoni they have exercised on behalf of the Shiv Sena.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Messi is menique Loki
like some algebra prodigy with
stringy squaw hair, like mischief
wicks and ancient fireworks like nighttime
diving from a promontory at a quarry
like ten ton cubes of pins, toothpicks,
and shattered plate glass by Tara Donovan
like faster than fast surpassing speeding
bullets and malicious slide tackles like
the growth hormone FC Barcelona bought for
him had the genetic credit of petite assassin
panthers or the supersonic lures that drive
greyhounds bonkers and make them exasperated.


According to Pelevin,
during the late 80's
breakdancers descended
on Moscow in hermetically
sealed track suits requesting
to be shot into space.

Fearing cultural incursion
the Russians speeded production
on a line of Gummi bear Kalishnakovs
and chocolate sickles.

They entertained launch
of a galactic pod of wall-to-wall
Linoleum and Loudspeakers,
but could not secure cosmic
rights to Bambaataa's "Planet Rock."

Furthermore, to enhance their
failing prestige the Russians
prototyped shapeshift Colonels
and several shewolf Lieutenants.

Particularly, they experienced
immense success conditioning
a squadron of Bics to pen
the biographies of scions
and utilities magnates to be;
their geneticists isolated
the gene that prompts
indiscriminate, compulsory
roaming and knighted it
the wanderlust chromosome.

Last, they manufactured teeth
that could aria for sweet coffee
and bypassed copyright on millions
of Hawaiin shirts and knapsacks.

Russians traveled in unprecedented
numbers to the bosques of Central Russia.

Many stumbled upon clandestine werewolf
summits,and even more were turned into
radioactive gypsies.

Friday, November 14, 2008


So I am spending the holiest of American holidays in West Virginia, Morgantown to be exact. Many people would say that Morgantown is not really part of West Virginia, but those are the same people that say the city of New York is country unto itself. People like me say that, and I have also said that Morgantown is not part of West Virginia because it is a college town and as such, privy to a modicum of rebellion, mayhem, and subversion. Sure, the kids all wear those curved bill caps and dress like they just stepped out of a rugby ad, but they like to drink and they like to fuck hence they like to keep out of other people's business. Maybe that is the root of all liberal, democratic thought: the ability to realize that your democracy ends where the taboos of your neighbor are aired out in public.
Therefore, my Panda and I are off to Morgantown to visit la Cochina, aka Miss Riivald, our sister in arms and Panda's former roomate. Which is to say that we are going to drive and we are taking our friend Mikey, whom I like to classify in my head as L.A. Mikey because, well, he is from Louisiana and Los Angeles. Explicitly we are going to see our friend Adam, whom was diagnosed with cancer not too long ago. He is going to meet us halfway at La Cochina's house in Morgantown because he lives in Kent, Ohio. So, we want to put together a little zine for Adam because he used to teach in NYC and still has fond memories of being used up, trampled on, and slapped silly by the high school childrens of NYC; the funny thing is I do as well, everyone who teaches in NYC will say the same; it might be the closes thing we have to a mantra.
We are thinking of writing about memories that we have shared with Adam so when he misses the cesspool, the open hydrant and gutterwater, the oily prism of pigeon baptisms, then he can read out little zine and will be cheered the fuck up. Thus, the following are the ten most supreme NYC memories that transpired while I was with Adam.

1.) Adam, Pillipino Elvis, and I bumping butts like transvestite cheerleaders at the Slipper Room for Cochina's barfday.
2.) Referring to the black squirrels in Central Park as cabroncitos, and talking shit about the French because they act like banlieus don't erupt every summer in orgies of disenfranchised violence.
3.) Administering an Atomic Wedgie to Cochina in the parking lot of an Econolodge on the outskirts of Springfield, Taxachusetts.
4.) The Cool Kids show at the Natural Museum and Kanye showed up and we watched from the handicap ramp rung of Saturn, the planet with all that suspended debris.
5.) Hicupping vociferously outside the show because I had had no dinner and needed a slice of pizza to not upchuck the money that I didn't have but spent on six dollar beer.
6.) Taking pics of Panda and you as you pose like Bronx kids, that is pushing your butt out and posturing an aggravated sexuality well beyond your years.
7.) Playing futbol with you and realizing that you weren't lying about people playing soccer in Ohio, although do they play futbol is what we really discursively assessed.


Thursday, November 13, 2008


In thinking about the practical applications of a book like this it is usually instructive to discuss the author's intentions. And, we get a glimpse of what that looks like in the preface; for example, Galeano writes, "The author does not know to what literary form the book belongs: narrative, essay, epic poem, chronicle, testimony...Perhaps it belongs to all or to none" (1986/1988, pg. xvii). In addition, in terms of objective or raison d' etre, the author writes that "he relates what has happened, the history of America, and above all, the history of Latin America; and he has sought to do it in such a way that the reader should feel that what has happened happens again when the author tells it" (1986/1988, pg. xvii).
Therefore, a sense of urgency come standard, from the factory, for Galeano's literary triptych on the history of the world. Our focus is his third installment, aptly sub-titled, "Century of the Wind." Not only does urgency come standard, it comes standard in a form that has either just been created by Galeano or has no real precedent in Literature. In other words, how many books could you enumerate that were an amalgam of 5 disparate genres (or none of them) or a newly wrought genre? Galeano's work covers the period from 1900 to 1984, but how he covers it is just as important as what he covers. To be sure, Galeano covers topics from the viewpoint of the little people and not the oligarchs of history; in this way, Galeano is similar to Howard Zinn and his seminal work, "A People's History of the United States" (1980).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Gates doesn't make much mention of cinema in "Colored People" (1995) although he does talk in detail about the ritual importance of television shows like Amos and Andy and Leave it to Beaver and Dragnet and The Lone Ranger. He does, though, talk in detail about the movies Imitation of Life (1934)and The Greener Pastures. Imitation of Life is a movie in which a poor white woman (Bea) and her child (Jessie) take in a poor black woman (Delilah) and her light complexioned child (Peola). The four live in realtive peace until Delilah hits on an idea to make them money: pancackes. They open a pancacke restaurant and strike it rich. The movie then jumps fiften years into the future and we get a glimpse of Peola as she attempts to pass for white. Delilah falls sicks and there is a chance that Peola will not come to her side because of race, but in the end she does. A further synopsis of Imitation of Life can be found on IMDB here
The Greener Pastures (1936) is a movie in which all of the Old Testament's stories are embodied by black actors; the movie was made by white people for a black audience because its characters and scenarios transpire in a black world. I am not really sure what this means because I have yet to see this movie, but I can surmise that this practice was evident and is evident even to this day. I mean the list of blacks who can green light a film isn't exactly a list, it's more like a pair: Spike Lee and/or Tyler Perry. But the specific role that the television and cinema played in Gates' life is actually hard to tell. He does say though that, "The simple truh is that the civil rights era came late to Piedmont, even though it came early to our television sets" (1995, pg. 19) Later on, Gates writes that "It was the television set that brought us together at night, and the television set that brought us together at night, and the television set that brought in the world outside the Valley" (1995, pg. 20).
The role of cinema was to bring the outside world, regardless of how white-washed and inauthentic it was, into the hearth of the Gates family. This served to educated the Gates family, but also to bring them together under to contemplate the perception that was given to them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


That morning Osvaldo was not necessarily running late. He was just another person with an urgent sense of time. He had one appointment with a lady over on Urumburu at 10 to fix the drum in her washer, and then he had to rush by another lady's house before noon to adjust the main. But first,Osvaldo had to pass by the clandestine bachelor pad Osvaldo kept with his brother, Eduardo. You see Eduardo owned a bar downtown so that meant there was a constant bevy of broads to dingle. And since they had used the pad last night to entertain the hostesses from El Mareo, the bar across the street, Osvaldo had to make sure that the place was presentable for that night's tryst.
Naturally, this means that Osvaldo didn't really see the gunmetal Ford Falcon that was peeking its schnoz from behind the parapet. Not only did Osvaldo not see the Ford Falcon he did not automatically register that he was going to wallop the nose of a car belonging to los milicos (the military). After the smoke and initial ringing of metal on metal, four men came out of the car. While not in uniform, Osvaldo could clearly tell that the men belonged to the military moonlighting as police. Even though they were military men, the occupants of the Ford Falcon did not belong to the military either. They were invisible aggressors and agents in dirty, secret doings. But mostly, they were interested in the doings of students, artists, lawyers, and generally stayed out of the way of civilians trying to keep their heads down and mouths shut.
They came out of the car and opened the door without knocking on the window. While there were four of them, they moved as on; and before he knew it, Osvaldo was surrounded: two of them stood outside the left door, and two sentineled by his right door. Instead of getting out of the car, the men grabbed his elbows and made sure his exit was smooth but brusque. Almost as if they were pulling him from danger. It was hard to tell which one was the leader because they all had moustaches, charcoal shooting glasses, and combat boots with the pants tucked into them. They were on Osvaldo as soon as he got out of the car, submitting him to various exams of vital signs. They smelled him to make sure he wasn't drunk; and then, they shoved their fingers by his eyes and opened the eyeball to ensure the pupils weren't dilated. Then they searched him and smacked him a little when his instincts kicked in and made him flinch.
The two that were by his passenger door asked him to open his trunk; he complied and after rifling through the contents asked one of the two officers that were arresting Osvaldo to come and take a look. Osvaldo couldn't think of what they found so interesting in his trunk, but knew they had found something questionable because one of the men went to their crashed car, still sputtering with steam from the impacted radiator, and pulled out an M1. Before Osvaldo protect himself from the blow, the man had taken the rifle's but and stabbed him in the ribs with it. Before, he was put in a transfer vehicle to be taken to the comisaria, Osvaldo ran through the items that he knew were in his trunk, and realized that he had several timers in the trunk. These timers were used on the drying machines and used to tell the machine when to turn off.

Friday, October 31, 2008


On a topical level, the theme of Nunca Mas (1986/1984), Nazi Literature in the Americas (2008), and Dictators of Latin America (1972) have to do with the legacy of Latin American Fascism, and its psychological toll on Latin Americans, particularly the Argentine people.
While, Dictators of Latin America (1972), is a young adult's non-fiction book, it does provide essential background knowledge into the historical, social, and political reasons dictators have found such success in terrorizing Latin America. However, the book was published 4 years before the National Process of Reorganization was put into place by the Argentine government so its value should be limited to reference material for the over-arching subject of Latin American Fascism. Nonetheless, Baum provides essential biographies of six of Latin America's best known dictators (including Peron and Eva) and her first chapter, "The Birth of the Strongman" is adept at explaining why Latin Americans have struggled so intensely with democracy. Nunca Mas (1986/1984) is also a work of non-fiction, but the sanguine content and graphic nature of the book preclude it from being appropriate for any audience except an adult audience. Countless readers have expressed the difficulty of reading a book that goes into such minute detail about torture, murder, and mayhem, etc.
These books attempt to make sense of the senseless, and bring the reader into a closer understanding of the historical and political conditions in Argentina that allowed these occurrences to transpire for years on end. Latin American Fascism took many forms and nested in many countries throughout Latin America in the 20th Century. Likewise, it has vacillated over the continent, unlocking the sadistic prowess of tyrants and despots


For this paper students must compare/contrast three different books written for three different audiences (or grade levels). I am not sure specifically what grade level or audience Baum's book is written for, although from my experience a high school student or astute middle grader (probably in a suburban school) could comprehend the vocabulary and ideas that Baum puts forth. The manner in which she puts forth ideas leads me to believe that Baum wrote this book for people with minimal insight or background knowledge into the political history of Latin America.

For example, in Chapter 1, "The Birth of the Strongman," Baum delineates the differences between democracy in North America and Latin America. The epigraph for the chapter is a quote from Simon Bolivar, one of the great liberators of Latin America in the 19th Century. In the quote Bolivar says, "There is no good faith in America. Treaties are scraps of paper, constitutions are printed matter, elections battles, freedom anarchy, and life a misery...American cannot be ruled". At first, I was deeply troubled by Baum's claim that "In reality, democratic government was to prove itself unworkable in Latin America" (1972, pg. 8) But, Baum does do a great job of explaining her reasons and to some degree they make sense.

The first obstacle to Latin American democracy mimicking North American democracy is the fact that the colonizers that came to North America came to "make a new life and find religious freedom. To Latin America flocked the conquistadors--penniless noblemen, soldiers of fortune, debtors, desperados, even thieves and murderers--all hoping to find wealth" (1972, pg. 9). In addition, the indians that North Americans encountered were nomads, whereas the indians that colonizers in Latin America encountered were "much larger and were sedentary. Some had built well organized empires and great cities" (1972, pg. 9) Thus, the Europeans "grafted themselves onto the existing Indian civilizations and began exploiting the Indians" (1972, pg. 9).

The second obstacle to Latin America democracy mimicking North American democracy is the fact that the colonizing land owners in Latin America exercised feudal control over the people that worked for them; these land owners created little fishbowls or petri dishes of existence that contained all the conditions necessary for society: "Each had its elegant manor surrounded by barns, stables, and shops, and often a church and a schoolhouse" (1972, pg. 10). This only made these landowners seem like demi-gods and the peasants that tilled the land for them expendable and discardable: "Between the rich elite and the poor masses there developed an insurmountable gap" (1972, pg. 10)

The third obstacle to rule was the fact that the North American colonists erected their legislative buildings as replicas of what was in existence in Europe. But in Latin America no such thing happened because "All the real governing power in these Latin colonies remained firmly in the hands of a few officials appointed by the mother country" (1972, pg. 11). Whether this was done intentionally or not is not as important as the lasting effects that it had on the populace. All aspects of civil life were in the hands of these land owners and they exerted so much power that they "precluded the development of significant local government" (1972, pg. 11). Likewise, many of the haciendas that were controlled by these land owners were cut off from other settlements and major cities by "impassible jungles, high mountains, and scorched deserts" (1972, pg. 11). Therefore, the people in these settlements usually placed all their trust in the hands of a few strongmen, or caudillos; they did this at the expense of placing their trust in a strong, central government which was the case in the U.S.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I get many quixotic looks on the subway while I am reading this book, and I would like it no other way. While this work is a piece of fiction, it reads like a piece of non-fiction. Bolano is a tricky bastard and a master of the craft, only he could write a fictional compendium of fascist writers from Latin America that is based in reality but complete, utter fiction. I have been thinking for a bit why I am so attracted to this book and have come up with a couple of ideas.

First, Bolano's book is about Latin America, a continent that has had considerable history with fascists. It is no secret that many Nazis fled to Brazil and Argentina after WWII; likewise, it is no secret that the Brazilian and Argentine governments hid high-level Nazi officers. But, this is not all. During the 60's and 70's pretty much all of Latin America was under the rule of dictators and military governments. In Argentina you had Videla and Galtieri (generals) and from 1976 to 1982 the Navy, Air Force, and Army all had their turn to rule the country; they introduced a program called the Process of National Reorganization or simply, el Proceso. In Paraguay you had Stroessner; in Chile you had Pinochet; in Brazil you also had a military government although I forget his name.

Second, if I am not mistaken, Bolano, originally from Chile, had to flee to Spain and Mexico because of Pinochet. Actually, the majority of his writing takes place in Spain and Mexico(The Savage Detectives). Therefore, Bolano is a writer that has been affected deeply by Latin America's fascist history, but he has also made fascism, obsession, and depravity his main subjects. It would not be a stretch to say that Bolano writes about the subjects that have had the largest impact on his life, namely military governments and the depravity of seeminly upright people (military officers and such). Could it be that Bolano writes about these things as a way to ensure that they are never forgotten? Could it be that Bolano wrote a book about fictional titans of Nazi Literature as a way to ensure that Latin Americans don't forget their fascist past?

Third, however, one of the chapters includes North Americans and that only means that Bolano is making reference to Marti's "La Edad de Oro" in which he posits that all South and North Americans are Americans, not just the one living south of the Rio Grande. Or maybe he is saying that North America should be blamed as well for maybe not hiding Nazis but definitely feeding off the open veins of Latin America and exploiting the chaos and intervening with the C.I.A. to propel puppets and a fresh supply of dictators.


Luz Maria was named before the military government began to ransack Argentina in 1976. If she had been born after 1976, her parents surely would have had to name her from a pre-approved list of female names, which surely would not have contained Luz, or literally, Light. Luz was born in 1940 in San Miguel de Tucuman, the capital of Tucuman province.

Her father was a sepia indian who still spoke Quechua (Incan aristocratic language)and put on shoes for the first time in his life at the age of 13. There were wild rumors about him, like that he wrestled with a puma, once, because it had lunged at him in the jungle during dusk without his permission. Or, that he took the service revolver of an off-duty colonel who had overexceeded the boundaries of propriety with Luz's father. He had not only disarmed the colonel but used his service revolver to beat the colonel in places where his commanding officers would not necessarily notice like his ribs, chest, and legs. This only added insult to injury for it was the colonel who had to walk his battered skeleton up to Luz's house and ask for his service revolver back.

Luz's father was Pedro, or Don Pedro to everyone, including keepers of the faith, laws, and decimals. He was a surveyor with the municipality, which meant that he traveled widely through the city. And since Tucuman was still considered one of the most rugged provinces in Argentina, it meant that he sometimes had to survey lands which were splintered and gnarled, almost impassible. Pedro stood well over six feet tall and resembled the jamb of a well constructed, brick barn. He slept under the stars and would actually take off his shoes to sleep as if the scorpions that inhabit Tucuman knew that he was not to be pestered. And, one last thing: Don Pedro was a card shark.

Years later when the rector of the school that her son Rafaelo attended called Luz and told her that her son and three more boys had been caught playing truco in the back of class, Luz feared that Don Pedro's card shark genes had somehow been conditioned into Rafaelo's genetic loam. She sat the boy down after having had to pick him up for the day and she told him about his grandfather, Don Pedro, and the many instances where his love for cards had made him seem not the excellent father that he generally was. One night, Luz had to fetch him from inside the neighborhood bar because there several men were brandishing stilletos and wanted their money back. Luz walked into the bar, walked up to her father, and tugged on his hand for him to come home. All this while two men who had lost a considerable amount of money were fishing in their boots. One of the men had even screamed at Don Pedro that next time it would take more than a schoolgirl in her pajamas to save him.

Rafaelo showed the same spirit on the inside, after the provincial police had transferred him to the cell where he would spend the next six years of his life. But it didn't count for anything on the inside because they managed to break everyone, eventually. Sometimes, Rafaelo thought that it might just have been better to break during the first two months because then the torture would just become another part of their day, and not the culmination of little terrors throughout the day which it presently was. His captors would start in the morning by kicking them in the ribs and chest; for lunch there was the rack, a metal grille electrified, of course, that they would use to titillate the nerve endings in the softest parts of their anatomy, namely the breathing orifices, like the gums, testicles, and ears. For dinner, they switched to purely psychological torture: the guards would gather and taunt the inmates using the personal names and places that the prisoners thought were safe from seizure,exposure.

Monday, October 27, 2008


For my next paper in Literature, Literacy, and Libraries we are to take three books written for three different audiences and see if they have any similar threads. I have chosen a book of fiction by Roberto Bolano, "Nazi Literature in the Americas" and "Nunca Mas" a non-fiction book published by Argentine National Commission of the Disappeared and edited by Ernesto Sabato. "Nunca Mas" details the investigation that was conducted by the Committee of the Disappeared after the country elected it's first president since the military took over in 1976.

Ernesto Sabato headed this committee and he is an author in his own right; he wrote a slew of books that have defined modern Argentine literature, among them are "Sobre Heroes y Tombas" (Concerning Heroes and Tombs) and a book that I loved reading in 1999 called "El Tunnel" (The Tunnel). Sabato is a writer that has dealt with the topic of repression and obsession; in a way, his stewarding of this investigation was not only a great civic responsibility but also a subject right up his alley. In the Prologue he writes that, "During the 1970s, Argentina was torn by terror from both the extreme right and the far left. This phenomenon was not unique to our country"(1986, Dworkin, pg. 1). What was unique in Argentina was the extent to which the military government "responded to the terrorists' crimes with a terrorism far worse than the one they were combating, and after 24 March, 1976 they could count on the power and impunity of an absolute state, which they used to abduct, torture and kill thousands of human beings" (1986, Dworkin, pg. 1).

The obvious question that arises when speaking of los desaparecidos (the disappeared) in Argentina is how much? That is, how many people were actually disappeared by the military government between the years of 1976-1982, years generally bookmarked when speaking of the Argentine Dirty War. Or as Sabato says, "There are some 600 instances of abductions recorded in the Commission's files which are said to have taken place prior to the 24 March 1976 coup. After that date the number of people who were illegally deprived of their liberty throughout Argentina rises to the tens of thousands. Eight thousand, nine hundred and sixty of them have not appeared to this day" (1986, Dworkin, pg. 10).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I absolutely loved this book because Gates writers deftly, confidently and paints vivid pictures of what life was like in Piedmont, West Virginia from the 40's to about now. In the Preface to his book he writes a letter to his daughters, "Maggie and Liza," explaining the impetus behind his book. Gates writes, "I have written to you because a world into which I was born, a world that nurtured and sustained me, has mysteriously disappeared. My darkest fear is that Piedmont, West Virginia, will cease to exist...I am writing to you because of the day when we were driving home and you asked your mother and me just exactly what the civil rights movement had been all about..." More importantly, I loved this book because it straddles the fence between anthropology, sociology, history, and literature; there is a charm and an enjoyment that comes from reading the work of a voracious reader like Gates. And if you pay attention to his prose, you might actually learn something.

For my part, what I learned is that, desegregation, while a noble and righteous and necessary action in our society, was a hard pill to swallow not just for whites but for blacks as well. The common ideology is that desegregation was only difficult for racists/ethnocentric whites who had to now completely share their resources, institutions, and public meeting spaces with blacks; however, very little is ever written about how because of desegregation many black dominant traditions had to die out as well. Case in point: the colored Westvaco pic-a-nic in Piedmont, West Virgina. Gates writes that "The mill administration itself made the decision, it said, because the law forbade separate but equal everything, including picnics. So the last wave of the civil rights era finally came to the Potomac Valley, crashing down upon the colored world of Piedmont...Nobody wanted segregation, you understand; but nobody thought of this as segregation" (Gates, 213).

Another thing that Gates' book has taught me is that for every advancement that people of color have pushed for there has always been one person, the progenitor, the avante garde, the front line, that bear the most of the brunt. So, if your people have never had to suffer or advance a cause then it a person like Rosa Parks or Cesar Chavez will never matter to you, but the oppression they overcame and the hardships that they have had to deal with are no joke. In Gates' life the person who took most of the psychological brunt of desegregating is Gates' brother, Rocky. "One factor that eased my passage in school was the fact that Rocky was the pioneer, so he got the brunt of the problems that lay in wait." (Gates, 98).

Monday, October 20, 2008


Here are some of the few things that I know about Defoe's book, Robinson Crusoe. Supposedly, it is the first English novel to ever be written; Defoe's book was published in 1719 and became wildly popular.

As a read, Defoe's book is fluid and well-written, and may be the oldest muulti-genre book. In the middle, Crusoe begins to journal and the prose turns diaristic. And then, Crusoe runs out of ink so he returns to prose; but, he explains it throughout, giving readers a heads-up so that they do not get confused.

The reader learns much from the main character by the way he reacts to the many obstacles that come his way. Mostly, though, the novel serves as an instructional template for understanding and appreciating Providence. Now, to my pagan mind, Providence is just a small city in Rhode Island, but to the Caucasian peoples, Providence is not only a place but a state (not in the U.S. union but of emotive capacity) of mind and spirit.

I would like to talk mostly about Providence because in many ways, Crusoe defies what Providence has been telling him his whole life. That is, Providence has stepped in a couple of times in his life and Crusoe has always managed to silence the message it delivers. And only through his shipwrecking himself on the island that becomes his jail does he ever begin to appreciate what it is that Providence is telling him: namely that he is a fortunate son of a bitch that needs to not step foot on the Ocean ever again. But does he listen: of course not!

So far what has been most interesting to me as a reader is the level of detail that is displayed by Defoe. He meticulously itemizes all the supplies that he scavenges from the shipwreck and takes us through the steps he goes through so that we learn as he learns and see as he sees. Also, ultimately, I believe, what the reader actually wants to see is Crusoe actually learning from his mistakes and this he thoroughly does. For example, on page 112, Crusoe says, "I had terrible reflections upon my mind for many months, as I have already observed, on the account of my wicked and hardened life past; and when I looked about me, and considered what particular providences had attended me since my coming into this place, and how God had dealt bountifully with me--had not only punished me less than my iniquity had deserved, but had so plentifully provided for me; this gave me great hopes that my repentance was accepted, and that God had yet mercy in store for me."

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I want you to understand that what I am about to tell you I do so at great peril to me and my three sons. And that if you repeat any of this and como consequencia my family is put in danger, I will not think twice about telling very bad people who else knows about their secret. And they will come looking for you as well.

La familia de mi ex-wife Milaydis' es candela, that is, they sell drugs, all of them: la abuela, Lesbia, Milaydis, my ex-wife, and her sister, Rafelina. And they prostitute their bodies, sometimes in alleys, y when they pueden adentro del apartamento. And they have all been pinched at some point in time by la policia.

La abuela, Lesbia, was even deported back to D.R. in 2003 after a Distribution conviction, but she managed to slither back in to the country a year later by using a dead relative's birth certificate and her hypnotizante grey eyes.

They sell drogas with my children in the house and they tell the children that they are selling sugar but children are not stupid y ellos pueden intuir ciertas cosas like when adults are not being completely truthful.

And where there is drogas there are men with guns, sitting around, helping them cut it and usually they sleep with the women that are selling the merch; you can't lie to me because even though I managed to stay clear of perico, I grew up around it on the Bergenline and Union City: I know how they have to do to do what they do with what they have.

Kelvin is almost nine years old and his hermanito, Andrew, is three. Miguel is actually Milaydis' kid but I have been criando him ever since he was 18 months old and I consider him my son even though biological thass not the case. These are my three kids and if you are their lawyer then you have to do whateber possible to make sure that you get them out of that house because no hay nada bueno en esa casa except la mala influencia.

It wasn't like that in Providence a donde vivimos por casi cinco anos. All the time we were there we were a nice family. I supported us because I have always been an entrepreneur, so I opened a driving school and a cash checking place, and even though we weren't rich we lived well and were able to save enough money to live in D.R. for year and buy another little tereno close to Punta Cana where we could build some bungalows and open a little hotel.

But now, none of that. If Milaydis is going to keep this up and keep prostituting her body and being a fucking vacuum cleaner of cocaine, then I don't want none of that. Mira, you can investigate my family. I have a tia by Kingsbridge that has a child care license and one in Pelham that is a third grade teacher so you know that I will be able to take care of my sons and give them the supplies they need for school or baseball and provide the influence their life is currently missing.

Mira, I was born in this country and so was everyone in my family, but Miladys' family was not; they are all interlopers who were born in the Republica. And if the judge asked Miladys to produce one family member to speak on her behalf (just one) none of her relatives would come because they are all sought by the police. La policia is looking for all of them or has arrested and convicted every single one of them; they all have records for selling or possessing, and I recently heard that Miladys has to actually piss in a cup because someone called Adult and Child Services on the apartment del demonio.

It seems Miladys, Rafelina, and the mother, Lesbia, were going out on Friday and Saturday nights, staying out all night, and leaving Kelvin in charge. Except, Kelvin is just nine years old, and it is against the law to leave a nine year old in charge of the other children. And they know this and they do it anyways which is the definition of low-class people, and we are not low-class people.

All these years I succeeded in keeping Miladys away from her family y para que. The first opportunity she has to go back to that rogue's gallery and she trots right on over and forgets everything that we have built together in Providence. I should have known that you can not take a low-class peon from the sticks in D.R. and turn her into J-Lo. No, she may fool you for a while, become facsimile of a person that you thought you were with. But, the first chance she has of dragging her pussygato all over the barrio and doing Lord knows what is the first chance that she will take to prostitute her body and do those hoochie things that she has pent up in her, waiting to get out.

Yo pense that I could take the hoochie out of Miladys, but there is no helping that. Yo escuche somewheres that the Lord takes care of the fools and the babys. I guess because they are the most helpless they need the most help, but there is also great abuso or abuse that can come from the helpless. And that is when they revert to that hoochiness that they carry inside, that hoochiness they can't shake. And that is when it all goes to hell, when the helpless begin to pull the strings and mouth the words that shouldn't be formed. When the helpless pull the rest of us down into the trench that they can't seem but to occupy, look into the skies and wait for the pillars of fire and the doves of despair.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


So, I have lived in District 15 (in Harlem) for three years now and am represented (or misrepresented?) by Charles Rangel. For the most part, Rangel has run unopposed in Harlem and has been in office since 1970. Even though Rangel is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, he has been under scrutiny lately for several missteps in ethics, like not claiming that you get income from property that you own in the Dominican Republic or keeping three luxury apartments in Lenox Terrace (on 135 and Lenox) when more and more people (decent, hard-working people)are feeling the housing crunch. What this all adds up to is an increasing amount of citizens of the 15th feeling not only dissatisfied with their representation, but feeling that they are severely misrepresented by Rangel.
Enter Craig Schley. Craig Schley is a dude that I take boxing classes with at the Harlem YMCA. I am not too knowledgeable about his pedigree, although I do know that he is from Georgia (where he was a firefighter) and received a degree from NYU in Political Science; I also know that he has taken issue with the rezoning of Harlem and has fought to keep luxury high rises out of Harlem because Craig boosters for the little guy. In fact, the first time I even knew that he was running for office was when I saw an advertisement with his face on it that our boxing coach had left in our building lobby. Craig is humble and a hard worker and has a hell of a jab and quite a reach. But I don't want to say much more about Craig because his website will tell you more about the issues than I could.
The url for his website is http://www.craigschley.com/ and I suggest you check it out because I believe that things need to change in Harlem and Craig is the fresh blood that we could really use. I mean, much respect to Rangel, but I really feel that there is currently a schism between the new guard and the old guard (Obama vs. McCain, etc.) and I would definitely say that I am part of the new guard and that Craig is as well. Please visit his website and consider whether what he has to say is of value to you and your friends, especially if they live in the 15th District of Manhattan.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I, Solomon Jimenez, pompadour and blunt-headed booties, blue thermal with flammable polyester pants, 41 years old and separated from my wife, renounce the demons of alcohol and ask them to exit my body at once.

Yo, parasito de amor, heliotrope of plain wrong, escudo de equivocado, Corona enthusiast, Gritador del televisor, salesman paunch, and barbita de navaja. Yo,
hijo de la gran puta, auto-odiador, fanatico del yo no, escorpion contrario,
borracho de absolutos, peleador de palabras, dragon del desierto.

The demons of alcohol forced my hand the night that Luz Maria jumped in front of the punch meant for her mother, Maria Luz. What was I supposed to do once the punch connected except keep up the barrage. And before I knew it I was beating my wife of 23 years and my 20 year old daughter.

Furthermore, esa puta abogada was just looking for me to chuparle la pija because I saw it the minute I walked in. In her head she was thinking, I am going to get this little Mexican to confess that there are demons in his Coronas, and that only poor people drink 12 to 15 Coronas in one sitting. Moreover, I hate her making me abrogate the exegesis of my weekend, esa cabrona no entiende el puro sabor de una buena borrachera!

It is true that my pants are flammable; yo no niego que mis pantalones son inflamables, pero they accentuate my short little legs and make a clean line with my slip-on booties. Las booties tienen un diseno de un pedazo de humo en forma de cobra de vivora de cazador del desierto con los ojos endiamantenados. Yo no niego que me puse la termal neta azul, por supuesto, y tampoco que me puse tanto gel en el pelo.

Solomon, despierta mi hijo. Estas abogadas te estan tratando de cojer con sus palabras, las dos mas gueritas que fantasmas, crujiente con edad, parecen papas que el horno no se dignado a quemar. Locura, que no toman por que no les haria mal tomarse unas chellitas, las mera cabronas. I am awake now Father of fathers, and I commit my mind to the secret renouncing of cerveza.

To the world it will have looked like I have renounced cerveza but to my self of selves I will have remained a ladle of liquid contempt and nauseatic respite, a flask that chupas life from the labios of the host, just as that host is sucking from it's lip.

Monday, September 29, 2008


When the lawyers ask Elsa who paid the coyote, Elsa says yo no se, as if matters as sensitive as these were never answered by her. Also, she was just fifteen and as far as she knows the coyote just showed up one night from inside the jungle and left with her. Their party got caught right outside one of the blind deserts that abutts the Texas/Mexico border and was thrown inside a cell for a month.

Or at least it was a month before Filomena was given word in the Bronx and boarded a bus for San Antonio to get her sister. Elsa says that only thing she can really remember about that time is that it was really, really cold like a refrigerator. And Elsa thought that part of the punishment was being partially frozen to death every day and night, como un pulmon de hiero, she says to the lawyers. Of course, they ask her whether or not she was touched at any time by any of the INS guards, docket jockeys at INS, or any of the inmates.

Elsa says no, although there was one night that the guard at the jail where they were detaining her came through to do his rounds with his cock erect and showing through the zippermouth of his green trousers. Elsa did not worry because, she says, you can tell when a man approaches with that in mind, and when all he wants is to let you know that he could if he wanted to, but that he won't. I guess there is a slippery slope somewhere where sexual intimidation becomes intimation.

But that was the worst episode, really, that Elsa had experienced and truth be told she was quite fortunate, not in that she had been spared incarceration, freezing, and the horrid food of the Dept of Corrections of Texas, but that she was released to her sister as if she were a dignitary. From one day to another she had gone from vermin to object to handle with kid gloves, fragile. And all because her sister, Filomena had hired a lawyer in the Bronx to reach his hand in and pluck her out, and that's exactly what had happened.

Elsa used to think that giving money to the coyote had been the stupidest thing her parents could have done, but now she realized that the money that had been spent was a fair amount because even if she got caught she would be released eventually on American soil. In other words, the coyote does not even have to succeed to get paid, all he really has to do is take the money you give him and get you to the finish line. Whether or not you finished was contingent on whether the people who were waiting for you on the other side had immigration lawyers and a little money saved up to come and get your ass because while your status was being decided you got to reside in the country and find a little job and help out around the house by ensuring there was money to send back home.

The lawyers then asked her about her school life, and how she was acclimating. Elsa told them that she was going to Monroe HS over by Arthur Ave and that she had entered in the 9th grade last year but that this year she had jumped to the eleventh grade. And then one of the lawyers, who was totally conducting a training "observation" of the newbie lawyer, asked her about extra-curricular activities and Elsa told them that she couldn't have extra-curricular activities because she had to help around the house and that her only leisure time was when she could do her homework, watch novelas on television, and keep an errant eye on Filomena's daughters, the one that is sickly, and the two babies.

Elsa told the lawyer ladies that her favorite novela was called, Al Demonio con Los Guapos, which translated into something like, To Hell with Handsome Men. So the lawyer one observing the novice lawyer guffaws and leans back in her chair so her legs arch up and show her dark-rainbow color socks. The novice lawyer takes her cue and sniggles which is what gueritas do when they want to laugh but hide it in the folds of a sneeze (to lubricate propriety). As the only representative of Handsome Men around I agreed with Elsa that we should be sent away, reclused.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Recently, a friend suggested that I write the world's first ever Dummies' Guides for Libraries, and that is really something that I could sink my mandibles into. I mean, then maybe, on the proceeds, I could finally afford a loft in Williamsburg and a Vespa with Nitrous Toggle and three sensual sibyls from the hinterlands of Long Island and Connecticut.

Reasons to be a Librarian:

1.) You get to act like you know everything; librarians flex their erudite glutes and people listen. More importantly,

2.) As a rule, people who provide people with answers are generally respected by people. There is inherit power,

3.) Not unlike the awe and apprehension which seizes people when oracles verdict the future past. Like a tense of being,

4.) Librarians have to tell people where the bathroom is, they have to gladiator with the copy machine, and tame the patrons into submission.

5.) Moreover, because of the service ethos, interaction dictates success or catastrophe based on how well you can teach patrons to replicate the steps.

6.) And do it themselves as if it were a second nature to them, as if commanding
all those Titles were a function of your fingers.

Friday, September 26, 2008


I really thought that Nicholson Baker's Doublefold was going to be one of those reads that I could do without, but the reality is that the books is engrossing and replete with useful (useless) knowledge about the maintenance, upkeep, and ageing of books. In Chapter 12, "Wicked Stuff," Baker talks about Diethyl Zinc which was "a patented technique developed at the Library of Congress in the early seventies. You arrange your acid-beset books in milk crates, spine down, up to five thousand of them at a time, and stack the crates in a ten-foot-high retrofitted space-simulation chamber that bears some resemblance to a railroad tank car; then you shut the round door at the end, suck out the air, and let the miracle DEZ fog creep in" (2001, pg 112).

How beautifully resonant and phantasmagorical; I mean dousing books in a fog to rid them of their acidity and water sounds just way too cool to be going down at an actual library, even if it is the Library of Congress. The main problem with DEZ is that it is so highly flammable that it is just wicked. DEZ was used as rocket fuel in the 50's and 60's and used by weapons experts to create better flamethrowers and munitions, like bullets and mine-seeking ordnance. Or as Baker states, "Diethyl zinc is one of a class of tricky organomettalic compounds called metal alkyls; it granbs any available oxygen atoms, including those in cellulose and in human tissue, and uses them to create fire" (2001, pg. 115). For example, "if you spill a few drops on your body somehwere, it will eat right into the flesh, and you really can't stop it" (2001, pg. 116).

More importantly, "The Library of Congress was playing around with hundreds of pounds of it. Their aim was to build a processing facility that would deacidify a million books a year" (2001, pg. 118)But, the interesting thing about DEZ is that "as it reacts with water, [it] produces quantities of ethane, which is flammable" (2001, pg. 118). So the obvious problem is how do you deacidify those books and deal with the byproduct of DEZ which is ethane, which is just as flammable and dangerous? Or, how do you stop the "Large fuel-air bomb that happened to contain books"? (2001, pg. 119). The whole time I read this, I was just thinking of one phrase: SO FUCK N COOL!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


So as I progress through what is an intricate primer of the tools one will need to polish off what we like to think of as Literature, I decide to do some research on Robert Alter because I had never really heard of him before. It's no surprise, Alter is a big shit (teaches at UC Berk)and has written like 17 books on the Bible and Kafka, and the connections between him and Manguel become apparent: their knowledge platform is immense! Both these men have led successful academic and professional lives at the top rungs of the Academy; they have made their fortunes fueling and at the same time explicating Bibliomania.

The main difference between Alter and Manguel is that Manguel seems to draw more erratically from the annals of history. In that way, Alter is more focused and even though he talks a mean Bible studies, he sticks to the text. In Manguel, to prove an idea, you get on this historical hovercraft and jump from sibyls to seders to Salamanca. It's all very bumpy and sometimes reading Manguel is like taking a history lecture at 30,000 through moderate chop. But this critique is petty when you think about all the amazing examples Manguel is able to charm us with. Indeed, Manguel is like a swami of history, or a middle-aged David Blain, hypnotizing us as he explains.

Alter is definitely not a read for the layman, so if you are looking for a new entretemps I suggest you stay away from it.However, if you have had some experience reading criticism then you will easily break into his book. On the other hand, I did have to skip paragraphs and resort to skimming in parts where the exegesis became text stew. I mean, don't get me wrong. Alter's chapter on Style is pretty riveting stuff, especially when he talks about metaphor and Literature's inextricable reliance on metaphor. He speaks at great length about "Moby Dick" and Dickens' "Our Mutual Friend" and his main idea in this chapter is that Literature is literature because it is singular and stylish as horse snot. I mean as dappled and newfangled as a pen with a laser. Indeed, he even christens a new textual dialect, that of the commersh paperback author, "A good deal of bestselling American prose, for example, is written in a mode one might call Standard Contemporary Novelistic, representing, I would guess, a homogenization and formulaic reduction of certain features of robus and muscular style introduced in the twenties and thirties by Hemingway, Dos Passos, Farrell, and other" (2001, pg. 107).

Alter makes the case for Literature in a big way, connecting the dots along the way for us, explicatingly, like a professor with elbow protectors on his jacket and a maudlin bowtie. The benefits, though, more than make up for the hard work, dedication, and blah blah that it is integral to the study of letters. Or in Alter's words, "To read this language adequately requires a prehensile activity of the mind on the details of the text as it unfolds, a willingness to entertain multiple and unresolved meanings, an openness to the pleasures in the sound and look and combination of the words." (2001,pg. 48) So, it is no surprise that Alter begins witha frank debate about the nature of character, I guess, both as it relates to the object in a piece of fiction and the quality as it relates to those object of fiction (their "character"?). Regardless, in the first chapter, Alter sets up a working definition of Literature, and then moves in for the kill by speaking of Character as possibly the oldest idea in Literature, "The claim I am making is a modest one...not that there is an immutable human nature but that there are certain lines of persistence that cross over from one era and one culture to another" (2001,pg. 75).

For Alter, Character just might be that strain that hangnails all of the Literatures from around the world, despite regional,religious, historical, or political affiliations, "Much about the way we perceive ourselves and the world manifestly changes as society, language, ideology, and technology change; but we also continue to share much as creatures born of woman, begotten by man, raised with siblings, endowed with certain appetites, conscious of our own mortality." (2001,pg. 75) I think only a person that wrote something so confident and universal could turn around a few sentences later and say, "To say that humanity continues to hold some things in common across the ages is not to imply that what is held in common is confidently known" (2001, pg. 75)

It is comforting to read Alter, a man who has made his fortune on Literature, the word, and Letters; to hear him in my head is comforting because when he gives you a definition, you know he has had to test it out, it has passed a battery of tests and dry runs, it has already shot an animal into the stratosphere to test the diagnostics. Therefore, Alter's chapter on "Allusion" is keen and well written; it's almost as if you want to put on some driving gloves or loafers before reading it because it definitely exercises the clutch. In general, Alter's opinion of the importance of allusion is pretty standard, "In one way or another, then, all writers are forced to enter into a dialogue or debate with their predecessors, recycling bits and pieces of earlier texts, giving them a fresh application, a nuance of redefinition, a radically new meaning, a different fucntion, an unanticipated elaboration"(2001, pg. 115).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Septmber 23, 2008

E_____ Ruv____
West 138th St., LLC
Howard Beach, NY

Yago S.Cura
112 Odell Clark Place, #5D
NYC, NY 10030

Dear Mr.Ruv____,

I am writing today to notify you of several repairs that require your attention in unit #5D; these repairs require your attention because they greatly inconvenience my wife and I, and create unsafe conditions in our residence.

At the beginning of the summer, I notified your office that my hallway light was not working. I have yet to receive notification from your office when this repair is going to be made. I was told at least twice that repairs could not be made because "the electrician" was not on the premises.

While this repair does not constitute an emergency, the hallway light provides for the safety and well-being of my wife and I as we arrive home; it ensures we do not injure ourselves coming into a unit that is inadequately lit; and, it provides for our safety as we step into a dark, empty apartment.

In March of 2008, I notified the super that our tub was cracked and required repairs. The super advised me to apply Tough as Nails, an epoxy resin, to the tub to cover up the cracks and prolong the inevitable replacement of the tub.

In August of 2008, I notified West 138th St., LLC that my bath tub was cracked and required repairs. I was put into direct contact with the contractor that installed the bath tubs; they told me that I was going to have to pay for a new tub because their guarantee did not cover occupants using epoxy resins to make repairs themselves on their bath tubs. I have been given assurances that these repairs will be made, but I am seriously beginning to doubt whether they will be completed or not.

I am an excellent tenant in good standing with 138th St., LLC; however, since these repairs have taken so long to complete it has seriously impaired my esteem of West 138th St., LLC. I would like you to please work with me to ensure these repairs get made; I would prefer not to clog the dockets at Housing Court or involve the Housing Preservation Department. I believe we can come to a resolution, or at the very least a line of open and honest communication.

Thank You


Monday, September 22, 2008


To the best of my knowledge, "Doublefold" is a book written for the bibliophile, the geek that geeks out with the history of books, reading, and materials. So far, one of the strongest arguments that the books makes is that libraries, both academic and public, in their haste to push the use of microfiche have pursued a policy of discarding and trashing valuable, often one of a kind, copies of old newspapers like New York's Herald Tribune and New York World.

And the way that they have done is by spreading vicious rumors. And one of these rumors is that newspaper paper does not hold up to the passing of years. Experts promised that newspapers would crumble, but they didn't, “the originals didn’t crumble into dust. Keyes Metcalf, a microfilm pioneer and the director of the libraries at Harvard, in 1941 predicted that the 'total space requirements' of research libraries 'will be reduced by paper disintegration.' Then five, ten, twenty years went by, and the paper―even the supposedly ephemeral newsprint―was still there. So librarians began getting rid of it anyway. If you destroy the physical evidence, nobody will know how skewed your predictions were” (2001, pg. 6). In other words, librarians spread the rumor that the paper wouldn't last and voila it became incontrovertible fact.

I found more interesting the beef described by Nicholson between Hearst and Pulitzer which was actually facilitated by an innovation in publishing, "The arrival of the brothers Pagenstecher, who in the eighteen-sixties imported a German machine that shredded logs to pulp by jamming their ends against a circular, water-colled grinding stone, brought prices way down―from twelve cents a pound in 1870, to seven cents a pound in 1880, to less than two cents a pound in 1900…The drop gave Pulitzer and Hearst the plentiful page space to sell big ads, and allowed their creations to flower into the gaudy painted ladies they had become by the first decade of the twentieth century.” (2001, pg. 6)

More importantly, the tendency here has been to throw away and not preserve, even though the preservation of these newspapers would probably create a comparable amount of revenue. Is it short sightedness? Is it evolution? For now it is hard to say but I am leaning towards a little short sightedness tempered with evolution with a little bit of snobbery thrown in for good measure.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


"Fire pon Babylon" as the reggae psalmists say because hell is a very real place populated by alarmists and kaleidoscope dolts. For example, according to Alberto Manguel in his "A History of Reading" (1996, 177-178).

Sometime in 2350 BCE was the heyday of the Akkadian era when Babylone grew from a village imp into a proper town by the time of the Gilagmesh epic in 2000 BCE. Already by 1800 BCE Babylon was becoming known as Hammurabi's Bablyon because the famous system of laws decreed there were informing the behavior of Babylonian men. By this time, Babylon had become the New York City of the ancient world. In 689 BCE the Assyrians attacked and decimated the city and not long after Nebuchadnezzar helped to rebuild it. In addition, Bablyon is the city where Alexander the Great died in 323 BC and where cuneiform, or the world's most primitive form of writing, took root.

Therefore, I believe I understand a little better why dancehall reggae artists invoke the destruction of Babylon and why that image is so integral to their message. And Babylon carries all this luggage even before we talk about its most famous attribute as failed stairway experiment to textual heaven, the place where we learned to all talk the same language and almost outsmarted our cosmic line supervisors. Which is why, I say, "Fire pon Babylon," indeed.

More importantly, any discussion about Babylon must include a description of the importance of scribes and the caste they occupied. And it must include a discussion of the death of the author being the birth of the reader and that a text becomes complete once the author disappears. Maybe to write means to disappear within what you write. Maybe writing creates a space within the text for the writer, or for extinguishing the author from a text. In other words, readers recreate something created by a person whose creation is contingent upon their death and pathological erasure. Forgive me my trespasses with language; I got something to prove with words.

But just to give you an idea: the death of the author has taken 2000 years, or maybe the author has been dying for 2000 years. What I do know is that scribes were not journalists, they were functionaries, like accountants but with shaved heads and scrotums. And even though they had an important function in society, by no means were they allowed to express their opinion or bias; for all intents and purposes they were dictaphones of sponges of speech that soaked up all that was said, carefully cuneiformed it into notation existence, and inscribed it on clay slabs.

Which might be an excellent place to start with the stylus cults. Stylus cults are my personal phrase for the cult of the writer (R.I.P., David Foster Wallace). Now, while I wholeheartedly agree with the tenents of the cult of the writer, I choose to be critical and to attempt a definition, however circumspect. According to Manguel there are at least two types of readers,

The reader for whom the text justifies its existence
in the act of reading itself, with no ulterior motive
...and that of the reader with an ulterior motive for
whom the text is a vehicle towards another function.
(1996, 184)

It is readers that use a text as a vehicle towards another function that make libraries indispensable. I think that I might want to include that definition in with other definitions of what a library actually is: a repository of books as vehicles with which to analyze and criticize a source or sources or original text. Maybe the repository part of that last definition owes something to the efforts of the Library of Alexandria. One of the more swashbuckling myths regarding the Library at Alexandria had to do with the aggressive collection method that was used, "By the reign of Ptolemy III, no single person could have read the entire library. By royal decree, all ships stopping at Alexandria had to surrender any books they were carrying; these books were copied, and the originals (sometimes the copies) were returned to their owners while the duplicates (sometimes the originals) were kept in the library" (1996, 189). They must have had quite the state police administration to search boats for copies of codices or scrolls.

And no discussion of the Library can be really had without discussing Callimachus and his organizational system. I mean, he believed that the knowledge of human kind could be reduced to ten classifications. The Dewey Decimal System is an elaboration, an intellectual response to the system devised by Callimachus.

Callimachus divided the library into shelves or tables
(pinakoi) arranged in eight classes or subjects: drama,
oratory, lyric poetry, legislation, medicine, history,
philosophy and miscellany. He separated the longer works
by having them copied into several shorter sections call-
ed 'books', so as to have smaller rolls that would be more
practical to handle. (1996, 191)

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I figured I would skip the introduction because I am pressed for time. But after having delved into the first chapter, I can safely say that I will go back with some interest.

Alter begins at square one with an attempt at the definition of Literature, and especially what separates it from journalism, non-fiction. Alter writes that, "Literature, then, ...is not a fixed entity but a reflection in any society of the values of the ruling class, abetted by a learned or priestly elite" (1996, pg. 25).

He goes one step further, "The poems, plays, stories, and discursive texts of a culture may variously delight or stir its members, but they are admitted to the canon chiefly because of their consonance with the distribution of power in the society, their effectiveness in reassuring or training or lulling people so that they will better perform their given social rules" (1996, pg.26), and reduces a successful novelist to a stock broker or warden, an agent and emblem of the ruling class.

Alter even mentions the works of Terry Eagleton, a neo-Marxist from England, that says he would not mind if the works of Shakespeare were as valuable as graffiti on the street. Having had to make sense of Shakespeare as an English undergrad, I now possibly understand that the real reason(not barring the Bards supernatural skills of stealing well)I had to read the Bard was because all the writers I was going to study had read Shakespeare and if I wanted to understand other than topical readings of the text I was going to have read the Bard; it was really that simple.

I have fallen in love with his certain plays (Othello, The Tempest, the comedies) because I have tried to teach them and usually just end up having students instill in themselves these big translation factories where they read Shakespeare's text and translate it into their vernacular. But then I think, how much of translation, how we create correspondences with the material that we read or are assigned to read, goes on when a person reads Literature? How much are they translating what they read to make accentuate the entertainment of what they are reading?

Alter says that Literature changes over the years because we change over the years and because it is a reflection of who we are then it follows that it is organic because we are organic. But it does contain certain qualities, "One reason for the cohesiveness of literary tradition over a stretch of almost three thousand years is its powerful impulse of self-recapitualtion" (1996, pg. 27). In addition, "Writers repeatedly work under the influence of a founding (foundling?) model...they repeatedly return to origins, seeking to emulate, extend, transpose, or outdo some founder" (1996, pg. 27).

More importantly, we read Literature because it gives us pleasure, and one of those pleasures is the "nice interplay between the verbal aesthetic form and the complex meanings conveyed" (1996, pg. 28). Myself, I would have gone with, "Literature is cool because it's complicated and shit."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


A_____, I promise to love and cherish you, to respect your times and your ways, to know when you just want me to listen, and when you are truly seeking my humble input.

I promise to brace myself for when you are having a particularly unfortunate day. I promise to feed you pellets of chocolate and/or money champagne, Flaming Hot Cheetos and similar sundry snacks like chopped-up cucumbers and ume sisho without the sisho.

I promise to be your barometer and interpreter of temperatures (or temperaments). I promise to be your jacket when you are cold, and your heating pad for when your feet icicle. And to understand that if you are the last to get in to bed, then by universal proprietary laws you must also switch off all lights and/or lamps; I promise to extend this last promise to programming the television to turn off automatically if I like to fall asleep to its static waterfall.

A_____, I promise to rub your butt until you fall asleep, or take your glasses off after you fall asleep to a Law and Order Marathon; I promise to lay in bed and snuggle without rolling my eyes or wishing that I was at the Y with the soccer mongrels. And I promise to be your envoy for late-nite sundries at the Duane Reade like contact solution, Niagara spray starch, and Theraflu.

Not only that, I promise to wake up and make you Jamaican, Blue-Hill coffee and bagels for the rest of your life, girl, even though you don't really eat in the morning and we only have Sanka(not valid on Saturdays or Sundays). I promise not to messiah myself out to you either, so I better stop making promises and tell you somethings that I will not do.

I will not let you get away with it, because you have my back as well and don't let me succumb to my selfishself. I will not push the subject if you say I don't want to talk about it, as long as you know that I will harangue you later. I will not not hate movie and television personalities that you find unappealing, like that bitch Jessica Alba.

I will however adore, implore, eyore, and kneel-floor to make you understand that I am no more the solitary man. I am now two, or greater than or equal to two. And this is my life and I choose to bumrush this tiny, philistine island of a world with you by my side, holding my hand, helping me vanquish the heathens, the despots, the tyros, and nefarious forces that would like to do us ill.

A_____, I will not rest; I will not stray from my mission. We will not blink from our course; the terrorists of love shall know our missile-guided wrath, and we will not need a coalition of allies because our love collateral will last at least until we take our last breaths.