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


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.

Her poems are in books and also dispersed over the internet.  Here are a couple that have been translated to English:


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.

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.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

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

autumn sundown play

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Tales of Speedy and Polar Bear. Part 1.

Polar bear finds black rice on the kitchen floor.  Upon close inspection Polar bear realizes "oh this is not black rice." 
Polar bear looks up and spots a tiny white tail the shape of a toothpick in the crack between the oven and the cabinet. 
Polar bear approaches with caution and curiosity.  A tiny mouse with tiny eyes turns around and looks up. 
For a split second the two tilt their heads and make eye contact. 
"Hajimemashite" (nice to meet you) the polar bear thinks. 
Tiny Mouse disappears.

To be continued.

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:

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). 
official website:

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 different and creative personal and collective activities.
Instead of folks that live and/or work in a area having a say in what policies are enacted in such area, an abstract and powerful minority is increasingly controlling public areas of high consumption (with surveillance cameras, police, and the design of such space...).  When we think of physical/material spaces that keep us away, we tend to think that fences, gates, doors, walls...  But there are many more inconspicuous examples of these material blockers.  Urban furniture attempts to limit our public activities, often unconsciously.
If you want to sit in these places in Barcelona, you will need to bring a heavy plank of wood with you:

(I don't recall seeing these little barriers before, my guess is that these they were installed 1-3 years ago.)

A more common example: the bars between the benches in order to prevent humans from laying down at airports, in plazas...etc.

For later reference--connect this with the Situationists International proposal of "a la derive."

Thursday, August 01, 2013


"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.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

public, free, always
night time activities
in the plaza

Plaça del Diamant, Barcelona

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:


(# 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

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


- 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). 

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


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.

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:

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:

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

And this place, right up the street from Takadanobaba station is really small!  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:

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

Thursday, January 10, 2013


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


      “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.

View Larger Map

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


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


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


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:

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

Saturday, October 29, 2011

small junk mail tactic

For those living in the US and receiving loads of junkmail, here´s a very easy and non-violent way to protest financial corruption (and even support your local post office).
When our representatives don´t listen, we have to get creative. This is very creative.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

universal separation

Re-reading old notes on Henri Lefebvre I came across a passage that seemed so multi-applicable, not just to space, but all objects of analysis across time. Here are a couple lines of it:

"A comparable approach is called for today, an approach which would analyse not things in space, but space itself, with a view to uncovering the social relationship embedded in it. The dominant tendency fragments space and cuts it up into pieces. It enumerates the things, the various objects, that space contains. [. . . ]" (page 90, The Production of Space, 1974)

Someone could say this is naive or obvious because the ideas on social division have been re-worked and re-published over the last 4 decades, but we only have to look around, look at our institutions, the organization of our neighborhoods, our personal work environments, and local ways of political representation to see that the divided conditions Lefebvre assume are overwhelmingly present today, and so his proposal to disclose them is still urgent and worthwhile.

This continuity also evokes the unoriginal and generalized question as to why we have not come very far (this could be measured at least in terms of humans killed per yer) after decades of progressive discourse. I think a main cause lies in the fact that our centers of knowledge and education are still too spatially, geographically and socially isolated, "cut up into pieces." An epitome could be the typical American college campus, separated from the rest of society and the diversity of the nearest city by approximately 30 miles of flat cement and thousands of dollars in tuition fees. In spite of the internet and freer access to information, the reworking and republishing of ideas on social division have ocurred predominantly within these isolated campuses.

The opposite of separation/division would be the lack of any at all, which would be like spatial relativity and chaos. But he's not calling for chaos. I can't prove it right now, but I imagine he's calling for a more public recognition and more democratic dealing with division.

I'll end this post on a related tangent. Lefebvre's passage links me to another spatial and multi-applicable passage I came across the other day in Fernando Arrabal's Carta al General Franco, which was written three years before The Production of Space and reflects on the violence and hatred of the Franco regime:

"España no era sino un cárcel compuesta de pequeñas cárceles que se precipitaban hacia el infierno." (42) ["Spain was a prison composed of little prisons, which precipitated towards hell."]

(I'd be grateful if you could leave feedback because I am currently isolated!)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

chapas chungas

The economic ways of some prostitutes and immigrants, thieves, and pick pockets. Their realities of Barcelona were projected on decorative pins and sold in the local bookstore La Central.
Here you can see the pins foregrounding a colorful Bus Turistic:

The municipal government must have found their content scandalous as it has ordered the removal of these pins from the bookstore.
These pins fulfilled at least a valuable component of the alternative tourist package, and more seriously and lesser known, they add to the pile of proof that the contentious workings of city branding are omnipresent.
A few determine what will and will not be acceptable for public knowledge.
Full article
here. The artists have made their pins available for purchase directly from their website here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ways of dodging memories

"Cuando las moscas del dolor vienen a perturbar la nostalgia, lo más conveniente es ponerse un libro delante de los ojos. Uno se siente gratificado, colmado de dones impredecibles. Al leer un libro, uno se siente lleno de cosas que no se pueden explicar." (Nuria Amat, Casa de verano)

"When the flies of pain come to disturb nostalgia, the best thing is to put a book in front of your eyes. You feel gratified, loaded with unpredictable gifts. Reading a book, you feel full of things that can’t be explained."

Monday, August 22, 2011

the lives of lambs

High up in the clouds, J tries to catch a lost lamb.

Eventually, somehow, the owners got news of their lost lamb, they appeared in their truck, caught it by hand, lifted it up (it looked heavy) and dropped in on the other side of the fence. Very Haruki Murakami! And considering what happened the following day, I would like to write a short story later when I have time, of the grotesque genre (but maybe by the time I have time-- the visceral feeling and hence creativity will have died down).

The following day, we headed towards Mount Cook. It was sunny, blue sky, fluffy clouds (looked like lambs?) big brownish-yellow snow-capped mountains all around us. At one point we came across a large flock of lambs that recently had their coats shaved. There must have been about 120 of them. They were running along the highway towards Mount Cook. It was fun to stop the car for a flock of lambs (there´s very little traffic on this highway). When I slowly approached in the car I was able to get a close look at them; and what I saw was so repugnant and stomach-churning that I won´t ruin your day by writing it here or posting the photos. (At least not for now!) Lambs don´t live such a cute pastoral life as many many imagine. I will never be able to think "cute" when i think of lambs anymore. I´ll hint, though, that it wasn´t death, and that the color and texture of the lambs´recently-shaved coats--snow-white, thick and wavy--emitted a tremendous emotional effect, created a sharp color-affective contrast with...the grotesque aspect.

There were two other times when I experienced this feeling. Fictional textual experiences. One was in Michael Haneke´s excellent film Caché, and the other was in one of the best novels ever: Haruki Murakami´s Chronicle of a Wind-Up Bird when a soldier is skinned alive. (...)

May be on my way to becoming a vegetarian.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 2011 La Puerta del Sol

More info on the 15-M movement here.

Friday, April 29, 2011

commecial short review Linda Linda Linda

"Feminism is anti-sexism. [. . . ] We have created no schools founded on feminist [anti-sexist] principles for girls and boys, for women and men. By failing to create a mass-based educational movement to teach everyone about feminism [anti-sexism] we allow mainstream patriarchal mass media to remain the primary place where folks learn about feminism, and most of what they learn is negative." -- bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody
Director Nobuhiro Yamashita, Japan 2005.

Linda Linda Linda relates the endearing and humorous story of a group of four high school girls who put their hearts into performing as a rock band at their high school’s festival.

With talented actresses and a simple storyline, director Nobuhiro Yamashita creates an innocent, tender, and feminist [anti-sexist] reality in which social prejudices, high school cliques, and vanity are nonexistent. It could be considered a “girl power” film or subtly a “gender-bender” one, in the sense that, it is what life, or at least high school, would look like if "girls could be girls."

Driven by friendship and dedication, and undeterred by their imperfect music skills, the four unpretentious girls are determined to perform together as a band. Practicing incessantly and under time pressure, each band member has charm in her own humble way. Bae Doona in particular, the school’s foreign exchange student from Korea and lanky-legged wide-eyed vocalist, overcomes her initial foreign language and singing insecurities to add color to the otherwise quiet and mundane suburban high school. Messy hair, scuffed knees and no make-up--the band surpasses the passive
kawaii Japanese school-girl stereotype. Unlike most high school stories in which the girls try to secure a boyfriend, or deal with teenage awkwardness, or win first place or top grades in something, these protagonists put their energy and emotions into simply making a rock band work as a team. A commendable goal, in my opinion.

The film manages to be a "feel good" one without the cheesy Hollywood ending. After you view the it you might have a smile on your face and the songs in your head. And if you're like me, you'll be wishing your high school had been like this one!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Why do I have
so many questions
that I shouldn´t ask?

inazuma no
kaina wo karan

(Can you share your arms,
fast as thunderbolts,
for a pillow on my journey?)

Monday, April 18, 2011


eyes become like heavy sticky lenses
looking out an everyday window
the depth-of-view always causes reflection and emotion
that can go any which way
a heart beats so strongly it shakes the bed, like a shivering rabbit
wanting to slip a hand behind the chest, grasp it to calm it down
pills, sleep, and novels to question what´s real

finding a little relief in walking, listening to cliche songs, and comparing oneself to barbaric situations on the news

imagining the little details that have become unknown...

Saturday, April 09, 2011

La pirueta

thing 061384 to do on a boring saturday: onsen painting

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

matcha series

M Saltzman