Monday, September 01, 2014

I was a pigeon

and it was great!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

to be there

"While it is true that people leave home for a rational reason, in many situations the real reason for choosing public space is simply to be there..."
J. Gehl, 1966

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Iniciativas ciudadanas - pdf

Impresionante. La memoria completa sobre las iniciativas e intervenciones ciudadanas, virtuales y físicas, para el empoderamiento urbano. En pdf, publicada por VIC y La Casa Encendida. Se enfoca mayormente en las intervenciones en Madrid en los últimos años. Con fines democráticos, podría servir como prototipo para participación ciudadana en cualquier ciudad.

http://viveroiniciativasciudadanas.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/VIC-Memoria-6ciudades-BUENAFINAL-140617.pdf

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

bubble come together

In the middle of a severely segregated city (economically and racially)--NEWARK, NJ--one can find Intrinsic Cafe, a bubble tea shop, that is working its unifying magic across social differences. I've come across this bubble-come-together phenomenon in many cities. 
Gov't officials and college cafeteria administrators should re-think their intercultural programs.
Future academic paper "Deconstructing Neo-landscapes and Post-transcendence in a Bubble Tea Society."




 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Guanyem/Ganamos Barcelona

www.guanyembarcelona.cat

Han empezado a organizarse --> potencial a raiz de la ciudad/anía

Imaginados una Barcelona menos turística y más INCLUSIVA.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Forn de Teatre Pa' Tothom - Raval

On June 13, 2014 teenagers in the neighborhood theatre group "Forn De Teatre Pa'tothom" presented an in-situ skit at the #FemPlaça event about police harassment of immigrants in the Raval, Barcelona.
 

(In Spanish and a little bit of Catalan.)

Friday, June 13, 2014

#FemPlaça #HagamosPlaza #Let'sMaketheSquare


here I document a very special event called #FemPlaça #HagamosPlaza #LetsMaketheSquare. the event is special, or rare, for many reasons. here are a couple:

1) it took place in the Plaza Salvador Seguí in the historic Raval neighborhood of Barcelona--Barcelona's most socially diverse neighborhood where many lower-income immigrants and elders live, where prostitutes work, and where police are always watching like hawks. over the last 3 decades the neighborhood has suffered much abuse, speculation, and gentrification. the local gov’t has allowed real estate and construction companies, architects, (multi)national investors to demolish around half of the neighborhood's historic buildings (most dating from the 18th century), their inhabitants and businesses are displaced. why? in order to create apartments, hotels, and shops for tourists. large neighborhood associations have tried to stop this bestial force, but they have been ignored, bullied, and in some cases received death threats. there’s been no stop, no limit, to the destructive tourist speculation. most tourists don’t know about this.

2) public space in Barcelona and most global cities has become extremely regulated, monitored, privatized -- video cameras, controlling urban furniture, police force are ubiquitous and usually inconspicuous.  nowadays, before one can carry out harmless activities (such as singing, dancing, resting, meeting in a large group…) in public, the local gov't must give their stamp of approval (because they want to ensure a smooth image and space for the tourist industry). #FemPlaça #HacerPlaza #MakingtheSquare comes from the idea that humans should be able to "be" comfortably in the public space (that they pay for with their taxes) without asking for permission and without being bombarded by an atmosphere that pressures you to spend your money or look at a restaurant menu.  at #FemPlaza #HagamosPlaza #LetsMaketheSquare spontaneity played it’s part in enabling all sorts of creative activities (i.e. at one point the kids decided they wanted to paint, later a theatre group appeared and did a skit…).

3) given this surveillance situation, public space in Barcelona (and most global cities) is increasingly “zoned" spatially and segregated socially. us humans (and our spatial needs and desires) come in many ethnic, economic, linguistic, gender, ideological colors…etc. but global downtowns are now surrounded by a new mural, and murals within murals, and in the residential zone they say if you can’t afford $2000/month in rent—stay out! and if the food zone they say: if you can’t pay $20 for a sandwich, stay out! now take a good look at these photos. you’ll see that many different type of activities were occurring simultaneously at #FemPlaça #HacerPlaza #MakingtheSquare (sitting, chatting, singing, eating, drawing, playing…). also, the event encouraged human differences to come together.  usually cultural events are organized by a specific institution (a university, the government, a church…), a corporation or bank, or an identity group or club to bring together similar-minded humans. ("separation perfected" Debord called contemporary life.)  #FemPlaça #HacerPlaza #MakingtheSquare wanted to advocate public space as an inclusive space so, for this event, anyone could organize activities and participate, regardless of their personal situation. this seems so obvious and normal, right? yet when residents passed by they were like cats checking out a new space--they slowed down, stayed to one side and raised their eyebrows. their first instinct was that: a private event was occurring. we had to make an effort to let strangers know that: hey, this might sound crazy, but this is actually, really, public! you are welcome here! come and enjoy your public space, have some food and drink or chalk or whatever you like!







Friday, June 06, 2014

Plaza Rubió i Lluch

How many different activities can you spot?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Esta es una plaza, Dr. Forquet 24, Madrid

This is a rare space. Surrounded by tightly regulated space of very high economic value, this "plaza" doesn't cost anything to use, it can be used by any human being (regardless of how much money you have, your race, ideology, gender...etc.), anyone can take care of it, and there are no video cameras or advertisement. One can do pretty much anything they want here. 
How long will it last?
MediaLab in Madrid has provided the resources to try to legally secure this espacio autogestionado.  A group of advocates (include myself a little bit) are trying to translate/articulate the importance of the space in written legal jargon in order to gain official approval from the Ayuntamiento (gov't of Madrid) to secure the space.
A difficulty, a wonderful one, that we have had thus far in trying to conceptualize the space within the current legal structure, is that it it doesn't fit into traditional legal jargon or categories.  It's not owned by any person or group of people.  It's not a garden or a plaza, not a park or a playground; it is a mixture of these places and much more.  Those who have been informally maintaining the space don't want to define it as a definition would exclude future possibilities.

To be continued...






Thursday, April 03, 2014

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins


I ask them to take a poem   
and hold it up to the light   
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem   
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room   
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski   
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope   
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose   
to find out what it really means.

Friday, February 28, 2014

pedestrian space in Copenhagen

When space is designed for the multi-uses of everyone:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

August 2013, at one of Tokyo's 200 Denny's

Murakami was on to something when he placed one of his novels, Afterdark, in a Denny's in Shibuya (Tokyo)

I mean, that what he wrote really reflects an overlooked reality

...what follows is not really new, but I'll repeat……..

all these folks who come into this sparkling clean quiet place at midnight, or 1 or 2 or 3am

when most people are in bed

most come in individually and slowly, dressed nicely, occassionally a young couple comes in

with the exception of the young couples, they spread themselves out over the large restaurant

they sit in floral plastic-covered American-size booths that are divided by sheets of glass

shortly after they sit down they look at the large menu and press the plastic brown buzzer-bell

ding-dong

a waiter/waitress quickly runs over and bows

they all order something similar: something small and inexpensive (an orange juice, a lemonade, a green tea, a red-bean sundae…)

they consume their drink/ice cream slowly and most of them stay sitting there for hours after they've finished it, there's no hurry

some get up to use the bathroom

some put there arms on the table and fall asleep

others stare at their cell phone

the couples, sitting in front of one another with good posture, talk quietly

and there are a few like me who are writing on a their laptop, waiting for the sleepy feeling to come before walking home.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Soleida Ríos

In La Havana we were lucky to meet and spend time with the Cuban poet Soleida Ríos.  Soleida seemed to me to be a generous, transparent, and spiritual person.  Her personality is light, it floats.  We talked with her for several hours over a meal and a walk down Havana's quiet Avenida de los Presidentes.  One thing she said to us that stuck in my head was: “Communism is good for me in particular because I´m terrible with money, this way I don´t have to think or worry about money.” 
We are holding guayava fruits, which were REALLY delicious.

I found this video of Soleida and her apartment in La Havana Vieja on Youtube.  I think all of us regret not having enough time to accept her invitation to experience her apartment (which you can see in this video below).


Her poems are in books and also dispersed over the internet.  Here are a couple that have been translated to English: http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/rios/roto.html

 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

CocoRoom Winter Interior

My sister was recently at this non-profit art collective, CocoRoom, in Osaka.  I loved these two photos. 

Chilly and mesmerizing.
http://www.cocoroom.org/

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cultures of Anyone (and everyone)

Luis Moreno Caballud's insightful recap on Spain's current economic crisis and political resistance (15M, virtual communities...).  In English.

http://culturasdecualquiera.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/cultures-of-anyone-the-spanish-indignado-movement-and-its-contexts/

Sunday, November 10, 2013

"hay charcos con ranas donde había charcos con ratas. Con sólo cambiar una letra puede transformarse el mundo..."
-- Javier P. Andújar

autumn sundown play


Monday, November 04, 2013

5 questions to ask (students)

1. What do you think?

2. Why do you think that?

3. How do you know this?

4. Can you tell me more?

5. What questions do you still have?


for the complete article: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/five-powerful-questions-teachers-ask-students-rebecca-alber

Friday, November 01, 2013

high ed diagram

In this diagram I was trying to illustrate a massive structure--the higher education system in the “global north” or at least the United States.  (If you click on it, you can see it larger.) Of course there will be many exceptions to this structure, but I am interested in what it might look like in the general view.

I would love to know your feedback!  What do you think is missing?  What is incorrect?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hafu - mixed-race realities in Japan

A socially-important documentary about half-
Japanese humans (mainly in Tokyo). 
trailer: http://youtu.be/6j_wQQZY-OE
official website: http://hafufilm.com/en


Thursday, October 17, 2013

versión cómic de PICNIC - Fernando Arrabal, dibujada por Jaime Asensi

Interpretación visual de la obra de teatro de Arrabal.
Difícil de encontrar.  Se puede bajar AQUÍ en pdf, en color.
(Este cómic podría dialogar bien con la obra de teatro Esquadra hacia la muerte de Alonso Sastre.)
Temas: guerra, violencia, existencialismo, el absurdo, la humanidad, compañerismo, universalismo...


Saturday, September 14, 2013

today in West Chester, PA

Today for the first time in my life I picked up a hitchhiker. Maybe it was because he was dressed like my father. He looked to be around 75-80.
Slowly driving past him I remembered my sister’s 2.5-day love celebration (aka wedding, a couple weeks ago) and how, afterwards, I told myself I would try to be more generous to the realm outside my workplace. I also thought about David Sedaris’s, Roald Dahl’s and Jack Kerouac’s hitchhiking stories. (Now I wonder how could I have thought of all those things in about 10 seconds?)
I slowed down the car and parked the right side of the car on the sidewalk.
Probably he didn’t have a gun and was too weak to hurt me.
I put on my tough face, walked over to him, and asked him what was wrong?
He smelled like soap and was happy to see me.
He told me that he had a contact stuck in his eye and needed a ride to ER.
I asked him why don’t you take a taxi?
He told me because he didn’t have enough money and that the hospital was only 2 miles up the road.
I tried to remain skeptical. He pointed to his left eye. I looked at it and could see a blue lens in the upper corner.
For some reason I asked him if I could try to remove it.
He asked me if I was a nurse?
I told him no, but that I was frequently removing my own contacts.

The contact was in fact really glued to his eye, so I drove him to ER.

The end.

Moral of the story: hitchhikers always make for interesting stories.  And West Chester, PA needs better public transportation.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Monday, August 05, 2013

Don't sit here!

Public urban spaces can be used for an infinite amount of creative personal and collective activities.
A tiny wealthy minority is increasingly controlling public areas of high consumption (with surveillance cameras, police, and the design of such space...). Our taxes pay for our public space. But benches and places to sit and lay down are disappearing from public space, and instead being replaced with private outdoor café/restaurant seating and keep-out!-urban-furniture.
When we think of physical/material spaces that keep us out, we tend to think fences, gates, doors, walls...  But there are many more inconspicuous examples of these everyday barriers, and they dictate what we do, what we know, and what we experience in the city, often without us evening knowing it!
Here are some examples. If you want to sit in these places in Barcelona, you will need to bring a heavy plank of wood with you, or a chair (from 2012-13):



















Browsing through old photographs from my dissertation, I came across these SITuations from 2004-2008:













From Rancière:
--> "Move along! There is nothing to see here!" The police says that there is nothing to see on a road, that there is nothing to do but move along. It asserts that the space of circulating is nothing other than the space of circulation. Politics, in contrast, consists in transforming this space of 'moving-along' into a space for the appearance of a subject: i.e., the people, the workers, the citizens: It consists in refiguring the space, of what there is to do there, what is to be seen or named therein. It is the established litigation of the perceptible… (“Ten Theses”, #8)

Thursday, August 01, 2013

smack!

"Chal-SSAK!" = “smack" in Korean. I have seen so many dark-humor chal-ssaks! in recent Korean films.  Here´s one from Kim Ki-duk´s Pieta (2012)--a tough movie to watch.












Friday, July 12, 2013

things around the Fontclara house (mini video)

Last Sunday I had the luck of spending the day at an old farmhouse in the tiny historic town of Fontclara (~ 20 inhabitants, near Gerona). I finally had some free time, so I decided to record some sounds and scenes from around the house with an SLR camera. later I put the clips together in iMovie.

Given our shrinking attention span, I tried to keep it as short as possible, it's 2 mins long. 

Maybe it can transmit some good feeling.

https://vimeo.com/70180569

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

public, free, always
night time activities
in the plaza

Plaça del Diamant, Barcelona

Photo by Maria Van Liew.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Partial list of new ingredients the Moors gradually introduced to the West via Spain (8th-15th centuries)


            - Grains: Short-grained rice, hard wheat for bread and pasta (distinct from soft-wheat introduced by the Romans), millet, spelt and sorghum (a cereal grass)
            - Fresh and dried fruits and nuts, rhizomes and tubers: Lemons, limes,  bitter oranges for   medicinal and liturgical uses, dates (Iraq), pomegranates, apricots, peaches, bananas, honeydew melons (Egypt), watermelons (N. Africa), coconuts, figs, quince, new varieties of grapes, raisins, currants, and mangoes
            - Condiments: murrī (A thick soy sauce concoction made and fermented, rotten barley, etc. outdoors and taking several months to produce.)
            - Nuts: Almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts and chestnuts
            - Sweeteners: Sugar cane (India and Persia) and its refinement into fine white sugar, new bee varieties   
      - Herbs and Spices: Saffron, cinnamon (bark and ground from India), coriander, nutmeg and cloves (South East Asia), cumin, anise seed, pepper and ginger (India), basil, mint, jasmine, and tamarind. Importation of gum mastic, asafetida and other gums and saps as flavoring, mint, parsley cilantro and sage.
            - Vegetables and Tubers: Gourds, eggplant, artichoke, carrot, zucchini, asparagus, leeks, spinach, and new hybrids of less bitter cabbage, taro, and cucumbers
            - Beverages: Coffee, coconut milk, sharbat (A category of drinks called 'snow drinks' made with fruit juice and sugar and chilled with either snow or ice.)

--  Santich. 1995. p.25-26.; Freeman. 2007. p. 135, by James Moore

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Barcelona ♥ Pickpocket


Yesterday I posted this:

now that 70% of public and private space in the historic quarter Barcelona has been occupied by tourists, the tourists should come together to claim their right to the city. They could hang multilingual banners from their temporary apartment balconies across the historic neighborhoods that state in big letters:

PLEASE DON'T PICKPOCKET US!

(# saw another female tourist crying today)

Today my friend Eva Megias responded with a clever photo montage:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

from above
a completely different city
(looking north over the Barri Gòtic)




Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ens toca conference / independent inclusive art groups

http://rpstceng.ateneusantboia.net/about-up-to-us/

Trying to make sense after a day full of inspiring talks and presentations by dozens of European independent "gestión cultural" (cultural management) organizations. That is-- non-profit organizations that work directly with local communities (everyone, regardless of identity or citizenship) in order to create art and social awareness projects. I was really amazed with many of their projects, their efforts to be INCLUSIVE, and also the collective and economic situations that enabled them to be carried out. I asked a ton of questions and found out some things--

- many of the groups are financed by a big mix of sources-- donations, municipal subsidies, the European Union/Commission, cash earned during local festivals (from selling drinks, t-shirts...etc.)
- all of the groups had to fight very hard (writing letters, holding protests...) against local gov´t and corporate powers in order to claim a space as their own (i.e. to have a cultural center)
- all the groups relied on both a physical and virtual (internet) space
- all of the groups took several years to establish themselves and flourish, projects didn´t have a quick turn-around
- about half of the the workers I met are volunteers, the other half earn a modest salary and are on renewable year-long contracts
- most of the projects, even though they prioritized getting locals involved, they were not strictly local, rather they involved workers/volunteers/networks/funding in/with other European countries. the fluidity between the European borders was pretty impressive (and maybe a new phenomenon)
- many of the paid workers studied a BA or MA degree in something related to cultural arts

Questions I still have -- does this career or these opportunities in gestión cultural exist in the US? They asked me about the US situation and I could only think of opportunities like this that are sponsored by universities, religious, or political-lobbying groups. I guessed that open groups like this may exist in some progressive urban neighborhoods i.e. on the East or West coasts...but I´d have to research it, I don´t know.

If jobs in gestión cultural exist in the US, then it would be a new direction to send our students when they ask us "what can I do with a degree in liberal arts?" (I get this question weekly.) But... I think this sector doesn´t really exist in the US. Any comments?

Friday, June 14, 2013

primeros días, observaciones downtown Barcelona: mid-June 2013 compared with December 2011

Now:

- more Catalán flags hanging from balconies
- more young foreigners in Gracia (20-30 age group)
- more international consumption in Gracia (new Japanese shops and restaurants, lindy hop dance studio, English language 2nd hand bookstore...)
- new jamón serrano store on upper Rambla
- three new American-style diners (2 in the left Eixample, 1 in the Born)
- a gourmet cookie bakery in the Born
- vending machines that sell electronics in the metro, and in the Lesseps metro station they have installed a massive (like 12 feet by 10 feet) wall-size vending machine that sells refrigerated foods and drinks (Lesseps is the stop where tourists get off for Park Guell)
- hot dog stand on the Ramblas (near Carrefour)
- more Asian presence, both locals and tourists
- U of Barcelona campuses now boast American style paraphernalia stores
- 4 or 5 new tattoo parlors (Gothic and Gracia neighborhoods)
- more Arabic tourists (from the language I hear and the women's hiyab)
- something weird-- for over a decade I'm used to Catalan-speaking shop-owners in Barcelona to treat me coldly or to not treat me at all, but now in the touristy areas several of them, upon entering a shop, several of them have greeted me with a forced fast "hola" (perhaps there has been some tourist district customer service training or something)
- dozens of chatarreros/as, sifting through the trash bins, filling large grocery store carts (Prof. McDonough says chataerros take their chatarra to Badalona where they can cash it in)
- not as easy to distinguish locals from tourists anymore
- and (the most surprising which checks off the last requirement for Barcelona to enter the club of globalized cities) two new bubble tea joints in the tourist Gothic neighborhood (on C/ Avinyó) and in the Raval near the Ramblas (on C/ Tallers)
- as of July 18, 2013 there is now an announcement that plays in the metro, in a variety of languages, that warns tourists about pickpockets

Most point to globalization, increasingly similar cultural package offered in other global cities (homogenization), more "typical Spanish" consumption opportunities for tourists, cultural influence from US and Asia...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

tourism won't save anything

Solving "la crisis" by increasing an already excessive tourist sector?
8 million tourists a year in a neighborhood where only 104,000 locals remain.
To make room for more tourism, CiU and PP have approved of a plan to demolish 380 previously "protected" historic buildings (and their inhabitants and local communities).
 http://www.lavanguardia.com/local/barcelona/20130610/54375862394/rescatar-barcelona-avalancha-turistica.html 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

public (not sponsored by an institution) art in Barcelona
petition to engage the local government in the conversation

Saturday, May 25, 2013

CARbon

Yesterday I came across this bike lot in Tokyo; it was next to a large apartment or condo complex. 

The convenient bike lot reminded me of a recent disappointment with the apartment complex where I live, in a town outside Philadelphia.  When I asked the complex owners where one parks their bikes I was told “bikes are not permitted around the building, they must be carried up to one’s own apartment.” My apartment is too small to comfortably fit a bike (and I don’t feel like carrying it up 3 flights of stairs)…luckily there is a bike rack 1/2 mile down the road in front of a college dorm that pertains to a public university, so I can legally park my bike there.

I guess it sounds naive, but I wish every town and suburb in the United States could have a convenient proportion of these bike lots.  (Car reliance is predominately a problem in the United States.)  Less driving would imply a lot of social improvements — for health and well-being, for the environment, for culture, for sustainability, for families, for saving time and money, for interacting with differences, for reducing bloody wars…etc.

This ties in with a book I just started reading called Walkable City by Jeff Speck.  Here's a passage from it (taken from David Owen's Green Metropolis) that recaps one of the main ideas thus far -- it's not one car that's harmful, rather the entire national (American) individualistic lifestyle of relying on an automobile everyday. This triggers major local and global harms (much of which we don't see because we have distanced ourselves from the harm we produce).
“The real problem with cars is not that they don’t get enough miles per gallon; it’s that they make it too easy for people to spread out, encouraging forms of development that inherently wasteful and damaging… The critical energy drain in a typical American suburb is not the Hummer in the driveway; it’s everything else the Hummer makes possible — the oversized houses and irrigated yards, the network of new feeder roads and residential streets, the costly and inefficient outward expansion of the power grid, the duplicated stores and schools, the two-hour commutes.”
There is a very positive trend, however—according to their research, the younger generation in the United States (the “millennials”) is moving into the cities, where they can use their legs, bikes, and public transport.

Update: found this wonderful bike parking structure in Kyoto:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

home smell

Arriving in a quiet Tokyo neighborhood at night
it rained a couple days ago
soft dry warm unscented smell of
clean in the apartment

as home as it gets for me.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

NYTimes article on the growing economic division between upper and lower income students in U.S. universities.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/no-rich-child-left-behind/

We haven't progressed much from Bourdieu's 1971 reality in “Unequal Education and the Reproduction of the Social Division of Labor.”

Friday, April 05, 2013

Frog is imagining Toad has already made the transpacific trip to the tiny snowed-in town where he obtained a position as a literature teacher for gifted tadpoles.  Even though the move won't really happen until Autumn, in Frog’s imprudent mind Toad is already there—in a modest apartment, already living his mundane life as a literature teacher.  He is serving himself a bowl of soup and rice for dinner.  Puts them on a tray and takes them into a living room where he turns on the television, slowly eats, and stares at the glass screen.  He will watch the television for one half hour or so, until his eyes start to roll to the side.  Then Toad will get up, carry the tray to the kitchen, and without washing the dishes or going to the toilet, he will immediately fall into bed.  And with closed eyes Toad will sluggishly tuck a thick down blanket around him and disappear into a sound sleep. At 6:00 his alarm clock will sound (really a very plain and boring alarm clock, nothing descriptive about it).  Then he will prepare for another day at the school.

Frog thinks Toad is already there, in the same latitude, sharing a parallel evening and similar climate.  Frog imagines, “if I were to get into the car right now, and start driving, I could arrive at Toad’s apartment at 4am!...Although that might startle Toad…”

But it won’t, because, as I mentioned, Toad is not there yet.  (And also, frogs can’t drive.)

And so I told Frog, “be patient, my friend, Autumn will come soon.”


Saturday, February 09, 2013

Like some planet out there that hasn’t been discovered yet.
Just waiting there
in space,
with all its feelings,
looking out.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

discreet charm of the Tokyo Jazz café



Arthur Fowler, Noriko Shigehara, and others (whose name I don´t know) play at the tiny Checkerboard Jazz Bar (Asagaya, Tokyo).

I had read about the mythical, sophisticated music place several times in H. Murakami´s work: the jazz bar/café in Tokyo.  I had imagined hundreds of CDs and records of old jazz bands carefully stacked by aficionados in tight wooden squares and rectangles along walls in a dark, timeless bar.  Last Friday I experienced it in non-fiction: sitting knees-to-back, shoulder-to-wall on little stools.  Maybe in total 12 stools, 12 respectful listeners.  The place must have been about 6 by 14 feet. One couldn´t move (it was tricky to take this photo). But a lack of space did not create a repressive feeling, quite the opposite, it seemed not to matter who you were or who you sitting next to, I lost track of time and felt a cozy, melting exception, for which I was very grateful.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Jazz café recommendations from Arthur san (hard to find in English!)

Some of Tokyo’s top jazz players play at the Big River, as well as a range of other folks, including us.  The “Master” there is fairly good at English and is a good person.  It’s about as small as the Checkerboard, but a more “serious jazz” atmosphere.  Some of the jazz fans and musicians here like it exactly because when the music is on (30-minute sets), there’s no talking or ordering, so it’s all about watching very good players from the front row. Big River:
http://www.bigjazzriver.com/st/nd.html

This little place is around the corner and down the block on the street that runs along-side the Higashi-Nakano station.  I haven’t gone in yet.  Thelonious:
http://www.tokyojazzsite.com/content/thelonious

Here’s a link to another place that is highly regarded in the jazz world of Tokyo.   I’ve only been there once.  Meg:
http://tokyojazzsite.com/content/meg

And this place, right up the street from Takadanobaba station is really small!  Intro:
http://tokyojazzsite.com/content/intro

Oh, and here’s one other place, just past Meiji-doori on Waseda-doori.  It’s on the second floor.  I’ve walked by it many times, but haven’t paid the fees to see a show there yet.  Sunny Side:
http://www.sunny-side.jp/index.html

Last Friday at Sunny Side Jazz Café it was open mic night:


Thursday, January 10, 2013

"likeaswitchboard"

“Don’tworry. Youreallyarepartofhere, really. Alwayshavebeen, always willbe. Itallstartshere, itallendshere. Thisisyourplace. It’stheknot. It’stiedtoeverything.”

     “Everything?”

      “Everything. Thingsyoulost. Thingsyou’regonnalose. Everything. Here’swhereitalltiestogether.”


Dance Dance Dance, Haruki Murakami, p.83

Saturday, September 15, 2012

new painting by Saiko Shiiki

From the talented Shiiki family comes Saiko san's new painting--capturing the magic of "autumn foliage". 
I really like the colors, innocence, and two-dimensionality of this one.
Click once to see it larger. 
For more paintings, see her blog.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Nalauwaki Village, Waya Island

Coming soon, I want to write about my experience with the warm-hearted Yabayaba family on the miniature village of Nalauwaki on the tiny island of Waya, Fiji, South Pacific.  One of the most educational and "real" experiences of my life.
...
Tabiwaya, Rebeka, Semaema, and Naomi.  July 2012.


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Saturday, August 11, 2012

material days

An attempt to write something. Again in a geo-transition period (Grinnell-New Zealand in 2009; New Zealand-West Chester 2012), during which my mind becomes mush. Only the most basic words float in the bowl.

I just watched the film Tony Takitani, based on H. Murakami´s short story of the same title. The general plot centers around the loneliness of a man and the relationship with his late wife who was obsessed with buying expensive clothes. The story resonates with what I´ve been experiencing these days. I have spent $______ (a very large amount) in less than a week. I have never ever spent money like this before nor have I ever had the desire to. Plane tickets, apartment deposit and first month rent, new laptop, new furniture… Having to leave so much behind in New Zealand has meant having to re-buy so many things, again. A waste of time? (Not in the long run.) While I can feel a moment of excitement at purchasing something new, or finding some interesting design or color, overall, having to consume so much (especially at massive corps like IKEA and Bed Bath and Beyond) leaves me with a very empty feeling, sometimes a guilty feeling. I suppose I could enjoy it more if I was sharing the shopping. But, I´m shopping alone and placing the objects in a single apartment where they will live only with me.  Hopefully I will have company at some time. “So-and-so, I´d like you to meet Volmar Swivel Chair.”

What really matters? It´s all so relative; writing this will make no difference whatsoever. I just like to see the font of the published blog entry.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lautoka

A reality of Fiji that receives little attention.  
Lautoka, a multicultural city 30 minutes north of Nadi.  
Photos taken July 24-26, 2012.
To see the video/photos larger, click here to be taken to youtube.

last hour in Dunedin, New Zealand

My last hour in Dunedin, New Zealand.  I wanted to get the Flaming Lips version of this song because it’s more atmospherical and fantastical with a harp background, but I couldn’t find a copy anywhere! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

interviews

13 memorable interviews for the Kiwi Accents Project.
Here´s a sneak preview.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ode to Dunedin

I sit and sit
and live the slow footsteps
thin-soled shoes
plop plop
new tramping boots
crunch crunch
to the right of me --
ingrained splatter and soft green fuzz
to the left --
broken bottle brushed into the side of an old building
the quiet dampness of last night's sprinkle
the sun will come and warm me up
I wish it wouldn't be so shy!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

yearnings relief



A polar bear is studing linguistics,
while Megan imagines a polar bear studying linguistics.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Akihabeara

A polar being is going shopping

for a multilingual electronic dictionary.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

kesa, this morning

A zillion miles away won´t stop me
from thinking about you this morning with
these particular morning feelings
influenced by last night´s particular dreams
these particular pijamas,
this chocolate breakfast,
and this carpet smell.

Will be repeated on the other side of the world,
about 4 hours later.
But from my memory,
I think you will be in
different and familiar colors,
different and familiar pijamas,
different and familiar breakfast and smells

I remember that
right now you´re sleeping,
but in about 4 hours you will sit up and find yourself in a geographical deja vu.

This doubly uncertain future
won´t stop me
from thinking about you.

Friday, January 27, 2012

food nouns

two nouns in Japanese that don't exist as single words in English or Spanish:
はごたえ = hagotae = the texture a food item has when you chew it
のどごし = nodogoshi = the feeling when a certain food item goes down your throat

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

young girl on the metro

Yesterday on the subway there was a dad and daughter sitting in front of me. The young girl was half smiling half figgity/nervous. I looked up at the dad, and he said to me: "es la primera vez que sube al metro" (it´s her first time on the subway).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

microcosm day notes

[The city] isn’t just a place to live, to shop, to go out and have kids play. It’s a place that implicates how one derives one’s ethics, how one develops a sense of justice, how one learns to talk with and learn from people who are unlike oneself, which is how a human becomes human. (Sennet, “Civitas” 83)


- found new library, Sofia Barat on career Girona where I browsed through 15M related comic book "Revolution Complex" and discovered a stretchy transparent plastic book cover. i liked this. i asked the librarian where one could find this, she was nicer than most local strangers I talk to, she told me "probably in any stationary store"

- I decided i wanted to buy the book because it could be useful for my teaching/research, so I walked towards the Raval neighborhood, towards the CCCB. While I was in the Raval I stopped to tie my shoe and an older woman in approached me, maybe French (from her accent), she was looking for the Facultad de Geografía y Filosofía. I took her there and we chatted

- browsed books at the CCCB and purchased "Revolution Complex" with a 5% discount

- leaving the CCCB, in the Plaza de los Ángeles I saw some pee trickling down the sidewalk. I often see trickling pee, but this time it was more than the usual. my eyes followed it to source. An old thin man with blond and white hair had peed his blue jeans... he stared at me with half-closed eyes and his mouth drooped open...

- I continued forward on Ferlandina street and I passed a young African chatarrero (why define him as African? because I´m 99% sure he was an African immigrant and because his skin color is related to his precarious situation). he had accumulated several junk items in a cart. some will critique my response, but I felt bad. it has to be really shitty to make a living going through garbage. I thought about my money in the bank and how much money I spend on sweets. i turned around, walked back towards him and handed him 10 euros and kept walking. This made me feel elitist, and I don´t like that, but I didn´t know what else to do, i only mention it here because it was a yet another unexpected encounter with a social difference and because the dominating media and knowledge-makers ignore chatarreros, as if they didn't exist.

- islamic pastelería. bought two baklava, one chicken curry roll, and one water.

- changed direction, wanted to get photos of the Forat de la vergonya plaza. Walked towards the back of the Boqueria market. A Murakami moment--I spotted a very interesting fenced off Jardin dels gats on the side of a small plaza (Cat Garden). A bit stinky but colorful and safe playground for stray cats.

- Then I came across some red leaves growing down a building behind the Boqueria. my housemate Joan had previously shown me a picture of these. I was taking a picture of this area when two girls approached me and asked for directions to the Guell Palace. the map was in Korean. I walked with them for about 5 minutes showing them where they needed to go and told them that I liked Korean film and we mentioned a couple titles. They seemed really happy.

- I looked at the sky trying to figure out what time it was. I needed to meet a friend to see a film at 5pm. It usually gets dark at 5:30pm and it still seemed quite light out. So, I headed over towards Forat de la vergonya. along the way I spotted a clock somewhere-- 4:50pm. Shoot! I rushed to the Urquioana metro stop and got on the yellow line, I was going to be late for the movie and I didn't have a way to contact my friend... (notice my difficulty in comparison to others'.)

- After the movie ("Interferencies", it was ok...) I went to my friend´s place. She had a migraine and needed to take some medicine. She also needed to meet her boyfriend´s mother, who is from a far away country. She didn´t want to go because the lady is not that nice. she asked me if I would come along. I said yes. We met her at a coffeeshop and I ate a palmera de chocolate. This woman had suffered and continues to suffer from domestic violence and I could see it in her face. It was hard for me to digest this...

- Nevertheless, we were still hungry so we went to eat a piadina, an italian flat bread grilled sandwich. it was very good.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Forat de la vergonya - Hole of Shame

dominos, soccer, benches, and a garden.

"forat de la vergonya"´s year-round citizen-sustained garden and free vegetables for all in the middle of a dense hodge podge of buildings dating from 20 to 2000 years ago. this area (actually it´s a large plaza) represents a citizen-based victory after a long fight against speculators. a decade ago the municipal gov´t was going to construct a private parking structure here. a large portion of the area was demolished, citizens evicted, small local businesses shut down, police squashed the protests... but after several ongoing protests, the bulldozers withdrew and the people got their plaza back, but of course it was a mess. since then, the local neighborhood association has cleaned it up and maintained it themselves, but police still circulate the plaza.









More info: http://nevada.ual.es:81/redURBS/BlogURBS/los-agujeros-de-la-memoria-urbana/

Saturday, November 26, 2011

my geoslip

Returning to Barcelona´s streets after a long time away is strangely as easy as mindlessly slipping into an ______[insert old piece of clothing]______.
So much info and mundane responses that had not consciously entered my mind for two years have seamlessly and effortlessly come back to me. for example—
knowing exactly where to look when crossing certain streets, and how to manuever through certain crowded areas,
anticipating street light signals,
reproducing the local way of interacting with strangers (dryly, kind of depressed like),
not giving foul smells a second thought (urine, car exhast, sewer mold),
speaking words that I haven´t said or heard in years (cundir, rentable, parches, despistar, difundir...),
enthusiastically stating a specific preference for a type of bread, cheese or bean that I don´t even recall liking so much (garrafón!)…..
It's as if I have snapped into a different me, a me who has been here in Barcelona all long while the real me has been away.
(Oh this is very 1Q84, parallel realities with glitches.) Yes, some things aren´t registering or matching up and have stopped me in my path. (This is what I expected would happen since the city inevitably would have changed while I was away.) For example, I don´t recognize the new intersection lights, or the red paint on the streets at intersections; I got lost because I got the Ronda de Sant Pau mixed up with la Avenida del Paralelo, and I got turned around in the underground train-metro division at Plaza de Cataluña. Example 4 and example 5