HOT HOT HOT. That's what I've been thinking, in my non-air-conditioned apartment, since first getting lightly toasted in sunny Boulder Creek, Calif. Since then we've been enjoying a regular harmonic wave of sultry dog-day weather, with thunderstorms crowning the mountain-tops, and lo, I'd say a month ahead of usual. Global warming, eh? By the way, on a good day, sipping a julep in Ana's hillside garden, we'll call it sultry. Locked in my box facing Glendale, especially once all our wet winter greens start burning in the hills, we'll call it STAGNANT.
It was just barely sultry enough to notice last weekend, as I did something that even my family discouraged for once, going to see six bulls get massacred in the Toreo de Tijuana with Bruno and Nicolas. Now, some of you are saying, "That's not like Joel to be doing something so incredibly unsavory." Instead of a boring apologia, let's just say: a long Spanish tradition. After seeing how seriously the Spaniards take their corrida, I felt obligated by our friendship to incorporate that bit of their culture, which reaches back into the origin of every Mediterranean. Plus I could give them a look at how the Mexicans ham it up. My own curiosity was about the "new" Tijuana, which I had a brief glimpse of with Ellen Baird some two years back.
We drove down at the spur of the moment, stopping for my usual cheeseburger at TK's in Newport Beach (one of the best in the state, friends), a real bit of athletic driving in traffic that made that burger taste sweet. Then we crossed south past the rush construction job of hundreds of new ultramodern barracks in Camp Pendleton, the Marine base, then the pseudo-urban Metropolis of San Diego, to the border. We engaged luxury rooms at the Hotel Lucerna, built on top of a former squatter area in the Zona Rio; for youse who know the city, between the touristy Centro along Avenida Revolucion and the former racetrack at Agua Caliente.
What used to be shacks and warehouses were postmodern buildings and cold, empty streets. At one end of the drag along Paseo de los Heroes is the big white dome of the Centro Cultural, at the other, the twin glass towers of the failed World Trade Center built near the country club in the 1980s. It's lined with semi-exclusive clubs and gated supermarkets, dark high-rises and on one block, a cyber-bar full of Cachanillas (Baja Californios) drinking and smoking and laughing under the music videos like any corner of the modern world. I was completely taken with the change, even the next morning, when we walked to the oldest cemetery in the city, visiting the shrine to Juan Soldado, where the migrantes make a last prayer for a safe crossing of the border, a steel fence a few blocks north. From there, after the Spaniards got all hot and bothered at a hardware store, we passed down the tourist drag of Avenida Revolucion, which had gotten a little seedier in two years...more strip clubs, less funky diners, and, I'm very sorry to say, the demise of the "Long Bar". It was not good to see but I tried to think positively as we bounced to the bullfight in the back of a red & black taxi.
The drive from Mexico to Los Angeles, especially at night, is when the last twenty years really sink in. Freeways and obsidian skyscrapers loom where empty hills used to bake in the sun. Thick traffic ribbons with no consideration for time of day or day of week. Sometimes it is wonderful...after dropping the Spaniards off at their Palos Verdes "Hacienda de la Obsesión", I drove out of the sea fog and down into the city, Crenshaw Boulevard curving down into the lights of Los Angeles in wide sweeps, listening to "La Femme d'Argent" for the nth time...sublime. At other times it's just awful bullshit and I'm hot to split.
I gotta tell you, though, when it comes to impressing the tourists, Mexicans are great at shooting themselves in the foot (with a copita or two):
Mexican cops teach kids violent songs, sully image
Four dead in cockfight grenade attack
Not that a lot of other places just don't get it:
Chechnya bans slot machines as un-Islamic
On Saturday (6 August) and tomorrow (9 August) many people, including myself, seriously commemorate the level of cruelty human beings can inflict. It's no joke, but the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
My mixed opinion, of course, is well known to those who've seen the damage map of Hiroshima hanging in my bedroom the last 11 years. Although I do believe the A-bomb brought World War II to an end (and it was just a drop at the end of that massacre), nowadays many agree that the entry of the Russians into China really brought the Japanese to the peace table. It was brutal days of mass destruction, days that our government seems to miss. Judge for yourselves:
The Myths of Hiroshima
By Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin
The Los Angeles Times
Hiroshima after Sixty Years: The Debate Continues
By Gar Alperovitz
These death-mongers just don't get it:
After 10-Year Hiatus, Pentagon Eyes New Landmine
By Isaac Baker
Inter Press Service
Get informed about the truth here:
Don't expect anything but doublespeak from the American government:
** New name for 'war on terror' **
The Bush administration is abandoning the phrase "war on terrorism" - but what will the new name be?
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/americas/4719169.stm >
Our leader is no genius...he would see us take science back into the days of alchemy and black magic:
Bush Endorses 'Intelligent Design'
By Ron Hutcheson
Contends theory should be taught with evolution.
Bush Remarks Roil Debate over Teaching of Evolution
By Eisabeth Bumiller
The New York Times
Of course, why should our leader give a shit about accepted theories of science; like all dictators of old, what he says goes. Even his own generals can't get through to this boob:
Bush Defies Military, Congress on Torture
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t Perspective
White House Aims to Block Legislation on Detainees
By Josh White and R. Jeffrey Smith
The Washington Post
The Bush administration in recent days has been lobbying to block legislation supported by Republican senators that would bar the US military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees, from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, and from using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual.
And they have the gall to attack the French? The French might know something about real values that they were denied since they beaten by their holy-roller parents:
French Family Values
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
Although maybe they're right about the Italians...
High Tide on Italy's Cocaine River
And you know they're right about the trash we've got living here in Los Angeles:
Strip Club Owner Raises Ire With New Sign
We've got a few more interesting things decorating our walls. Check out this odd project:
"Grafedia is hyperlinked text, written by hand onto physical surfaces and linking to rich media content. ... It can be written anywhere -- on walls, in the streets, or on sidewalks. ... Viewers 'click' on these grafedia hyperlinks with their cell phones." The official website for this project provides information about making and viewing "grafedia," and a gallery of sightings. From a student at the Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York University.
But anyway, what really irks me is how incredibly STUPID the people running the country are now. I mean, give Ronald Reagan credit, he hired top notch assholes to bring his plan to fruition. This article, while long, is a great analysis of Republican rhetoric, and how they improbably took control of the "dialogue" (sounded more monologuish to me) during the last election, and into the present:
The Framing Wars
By Matt Bai
The New York Times
I mean, they openly bring destruction on their own SPIES, and not once but almost a dozen times:
Multiple Administration Security Breaches Involving Valerie Plame Wilson
By Rep. Henry Waxman
Against any opposition they send scum to represent our country in the UN, as if the United Nations was some kind of a joke they could send any asshole they wanted to. Why aren't we voting for this position?
"NPR : John Bolton's Nomination Comes to a Close"
< http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4586094&sourceCode=gaw >
Try this one on for size (but don't try it at home, kiddies, unless you want to end up in a Fed pen); a guy working for the Bush campaign POSES as a Secret Service agent to harrass three citizens, and doesn't even get a slap on the wrist:
Man Won't Be Charged Over Bush Colo. Visit
The Associated Press
Denver - Federal prosecutors will not file charges against a man who removed three people from a President Bush appearance earlier this year after they arrived in a car with a bumper sticker reading "No More Blood for Oil," officials said Friday.
No measures to mitigate their attack on dissent will be tolerated:
House Beats Back Challenges to Patriot Act
By Eric Lichtblau
The New York Times
No book questioning their world view, no matter how scholarly, can be tolerated. Naturally, as a librarian, if anything could sour me on these conservative scum, it would be this article:
Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries
I mean, I'm not surprised to see Mr. Marx, Mr. Hitler, Mr. Darwin and Mr. Engels on this list, but John Dewey? Dr. Kinsey? Mme. de Beauvoir and M. Foucault (undoubtedly just for BEING French)? I HATE conservatives.
And they hate me right back, and plenty of my friends.
US Republicans Introduce Tough Immigration Bill
Washignton - All of the estimated 10 million to 12 million illegal aliens in the United States would have to leave the country under an immigration bill introduced on Tuesday by two conservative Republican senators.
Anyway, my headache is worse and it's time to vamoose. Last but not least, an enclosed photograph of my Aunt Nona's new retirement home in Florida. God bless Amerika and vive le screed!