Sunday, December 30, 2007

Graciela Iturbide

There's a fascinating piece in the L.A. Times about an exhibit by Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide. Thanks to Tex(t)Mex for the tip. (Above, The Angel of Sonora, 1979.)

A student of photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo and perhaps most famous for a prodigious, alluring body of work made over six years in the remote village of Juchitán in Oaxaca, Iturbide, 65, has had a prolific career and has shown all over the world. This month, however, marks her first museum exhibition in Los Angeles. "Danza de la Cabrita (The Goat's Dance)" at the Getty Center contains nearly 140 pieces highlighting Iturbide's work in Mexico and the U.S. -- and the line in the sand that attempts to separate the overlapping lives she's found there. "The Mexican and the American Mexican," says Iturbide, "are marginal people -- on both sides of that line.

"Her work expresses "the culture between the culture," says author Luis Rodriguez, who has also been pulled to the worlds that call to Iturbide -- Oaxaca and of course the East L.A. gangs he became famous for writing about in his memoir "Always Running." "It's the way I think of Mexico when I'm in Mexico City. You feel all the layers -- the ancient, the indigenous, the modern all coming together. Her photographs are borderless. Everything comes streaming over it. No border, no wall will stop that."

Friday, December 28, 2007

23 Months Old!

We're overjoyed that Amado is over his bout with the flu or whatever it was that he had. The last couple of days have seen some big changes:
  • He's abandoned the bottle for the sippy cup
  • The high chair is out, replaced by a booster seat at our dining room table
  • We got him his own little table and chair set for Christmas (bright red!), where he can colour, build Legos, spin his tops, and generally hold court
  • Today was his last day at Kids + Co. I so wish there was some way we could have let Amado know he was leaving so he could have said goodbye to his friends, Jack, Parsa, Emma, and Emily. Annie, his favourite teacher, cried when we picked him up and gave us a little present...which nearly made us cry as well. He starts at Novus on Jan. 2.

He is getting big fast, but he`s still our little boy.

New Music

Wendy got me this album for Christmas (thanks sweetie!). I don't know why it's taken me so long to take an interest in Remember Shakti, a 1997 album that revived one of my all-time favourite bands, Shakti, the mid-70s Indian-Jazz fusion group. I guess I didn't want to be disappointed. I definitely was not.

Remember Shakti is a brilliant collection of live music -- much more in vein of traditional Indian music than it is jazz. The big names on the album, guitarist John McLaughlin and tabla player Zakir Hussain are featured much less than I would have thought. Instead, bansuri master Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia dominates this double album with some of the most incredible, moving flute music I've ever heard. His playing on the two pieces of music he wrote for this album, "Chandrakauns," (33 min.) and "Mukti" (63 min.), as well as on the Shakti standard "Lotus Feet," left me with a profoundly reflective spirit. Vikku Vinayakram, who plays ghatam, which has to be one of the more soulful percussion instruments in the world, also has some really beautiful runs on this album.

I'm now on the hunt for Remember Shakti's follow-up album, The Believer, where Hariprasad Chaurasua is replaced by the Carnatic mandolin player, U. Srinvas. Also, I'm sure I've downloaded a couple of Remember Shakti's live shows from Dimeadozen over the years. Now I just have to dig them up, which isn't as easy as it sounds.

Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto was a flawed politician by many accounts, but I don't think there's anyone who would deny she was the one of the most courageous leaders that the world has seen in some time. Although her father--and some think her brothers as well--were murdered by Pakistani military rulers, and she and her mother were imprisoned and exiled, Bhutto returned to Pakistan under the threat of death because she truly believed she was perhaps the only person in the world who could bring democratic renewal to the country. She was probably right, and that's why the U.S. supported her return as well. But now the worst has happened and Pakistan looks like it is headed for some very dark days ahead.

The great tragedy here isn't simply the loss of an inspiring leader, rather it's the murder of hope by the killers of Bhutto in a region of the world that so desperately needs it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nat King Cole - The Christmas Song

Anarchists in the Aisles

A New York Times piece on "shopdropping." Above, a D.I.Y. t-shirt featuring Karl Marx, the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, and Che Guevara slipped onto a rack at a Target store in California. Viva la revolucion!
Otherwise known as reverse shoplifting, shopdropping involves surreptitiously putting things in stores, rather than illegally taking them out, and the motivations vary.

Anti-consumerist artists slip replica products packaged with political messages onto shelves, self-published authors sneak their works into the “new releases” section, while personal trainers put their business cards into weight-loss books, and aspiring professional photographers make homemade cards — their Web site address included, of course — and covertly plant them into stationery-store racks.

“Everyone else is pushing their product, so why shouldn’t we?” said Jeff Eyrich, a producer for several independent bands, who puts stacks of his bands’ CDs — marked “free” — on music racks at Starbucks whenever the cashiers look away.

Retailers fear the practice may annoy shoppers and raise legal or safety concerns, particularly when it involves children’s toys or trademarked products.

“Our goal at all times is to provide comfortable and distraction-free shopping,” said Bethany Zucco, a spokeswoman for Target. “We think this type of activity would certainly not contribute to that goal.”

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy December

By the way, our 2nd WonderCafe webisode is posted on

Political correctness is a hot topic on -- but not everyone is jolly about it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


We've spent much of the last two days in the Emergency Room of St. Joseph's Hospital with Amado. His temperature has been hovering around 40C / 103F for almost 4 days. We went in yesterday about 7:30 a.m. and saw a doctor pretty quickly. She wasn't able to diagnose him, other than the fact that he had a fever and had been throwing up, which we knew. She had us continue with the Tylenol and added doses of Motrin on top of that to battle the temperature and told us to come back in the morning if he didn't improve.

The double dose of Tylenol and Motrin wiped Amado out. He was mumbling and stumbling around the house. Wendy said he reminded her of one of her clients. We didn't like what it did to the little guy, so we stopped the Motrin and continued with the Tylenol. Besides that, the dosage the doctor wrote down was really hard to figure out and when we checked back we got several conflicting messages about how much Motrin he should be taking.

Last night, Amado's temperature soared above 40C / 103F and he wouldn't touch anything to eat. In the morning his temp was 39.9 C / 102F, so at 6:00 a.m. we brought him back to the ER. This time the place was swamped with a lot of kids--several of whom had pneumonia. We saw a different doctor this time, the head of the unit, who basically said that fevers are a natural part of childhood and other than making a child uncomfortable, they wouldn't hurt a kid. Nothing to worry about he said. He wagged his head when we told him about the other doctor prescribing Motrin. "That's just the drug companies pushing that. It has nothing to do with medicine." Umm, ok.

He found Amado to be slightly dehydrated and had us force feed him electrolytes in the waiting room for almost two hours.

Now we're back home. Amado and Wendy are sleeping. I almost think the way it has turned out we might have been better off figuring out how to care for Amado ourselves. But I am glad we at least had a couple doctors take a look at him. Poor little guy.

[Above, Amado being a trooper this morning near the ER fish tank.]

Monday, December 17, 2007

Alma's Soulfood is 2 Today!

It's been my pleasure to serve you.

[Art © 2005 Jonathan Day-Reiner / -- a very interesting Toronto-area photo blog]

Huckabee Fin

If you want to know some of the reasons why Mike Huckabee would not make a good president, this 11-page article in The New York Times Magazine lists about a billion of them, starting right on page 1:

Huckabee is an admirer of the late Jerry Falwell (whose son, Jerry Jr., recently endorsed his candidacy) and subscribes wholeheartedly to the principles of the Moral Majority.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Good Morning Toronto XVIII

Outside, we've been getting hit with a big winter storm for the past two days. Inside, all three of us have been terribly sick with a wicked stomach flu that Amado brought home from daycare. Amado and I are slightly better this morning (we even ate alittle!), though I don't think Wendy has made much progress.

So...Let it snow!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Do We Really Need Glow-in-the-Dark Cats?

Scientists Clone Glow-in-the-Dark Cats: South Korean scientists have cloned cats by manipulating a fluorescent protein gene, a procedure which could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, officials said Wednesday. In a side-effect, the cloned cats glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet beams.

Groovy baby!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


" may no longer consider himself a Christian, but you cannot truly be considered a Mexican unless you believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe."
--Carlos Fuentes

[Art from Shana Brown.]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Gram Toni

This was my Gram Toni's (my dad's mom) favourite picture of herself. As the caption says, it was taken in 1925 when she was 16 years old. It was taken in front of our family house on Nevada Ave. in East L.A., where Gram Toni and her sister were raised, my dad and his sister were raised, and my brother and I were raised. I'm not sure who the car belonged to -- it has Colorado plates, which doesn't help because I don't know of anyone in our family who lived in Colorado.

Gram Toni died in 2002 at the age of 91. She would have been 98 years old today. She was warm and friendly and devout. She is the source of all my stories about my ancestors on my dad's side of the family. But as I consider her life I think it may have been a really hard and lonely one. I feel bad about that and wish I could have done more. She was always so sweet to me.

She would have never told me this, but I like to imagine this was her favourite picture of herself because it is such an image of freedom. A young girl behind the wheel of a hot car. She could have gone anywhere. She could have torn out of East L.A. and never looked back. But she didn't. Her sister did, but she didn't.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Teletubbies Dance

Amado is just mad about the Teletubbies.

The Republicans Find Their Obama

I don't want anyone to think I've become a Republican (especially my Mom), but I'm just finding the politics of the Republican presidential race interesting and of course I'm against "Nixonian gloom and paranoia" everywhere.

Here's an excerpt from Frank Rich's column on the odd man out in the Republican race, Mike Huckabee. As usual, Mr. Rich is brilliant:
The real reason for Mr. Huckabee’s ascendance may be that his message is simply more uplifting — and, in the ethical rather than theological sense, more Christian — than that of rivals whose main calling cards of fear, torture and nativism have become more strident with every debate. The fresh-faced politics of joy may be trumping the five-o’clock-shadow of Nixonian gloom and paranoia favored by the entire G.O.P. field with the sometime exception of John McCain.

[But] Mr. Huckabee may well be doomed in the long term. He has little money or organization. He’s so ignorant of foreign affairs that he hadn’t heard of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran a day after its release. His sometimes wacky economic populism riles his party’s most important constituency, Wall Street. And who knows how many other Arkansas scandals will be disinterred along with the paroled serial rapist who popped out last week? That Mr. Huckabee has gotten as far as he has shows just how in sync his benign style is with the cultural moment.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

22 Months Old!

Opps! Back on Nov. 28 Amado reached the grand old age of 22 months, but we were having computer problems and couldn't access our photos. It's not quite set up on the new computer, but it's getting there. So for now, you will have to enjoy this pensive shot. More to come. Promise!

Gmail Tags

Gmail now features colour tags, which makes my inbox light up like a Christmas tree. I'm stoked. Gmailers can find more info here.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Adelanto Bowl

These are the pictures I've been hoping for! Tony Elfering sent me these amazing pics of the P*Land Boyz shredding an amazing pool at an abandoned motel on old Route 66 in Adelanto in 1983 or 1984. Here's his note:

Little P*LAND history for you. This was a couple of years after high school graduation. Some of the few remaining P*BOYS would get together and shred the Adelanto bowl. This bowl was one of the P*LANDERS favorite spot to shred. I can't remember if you ripped this bowl. I think you did. It was next to the Roadway truck depot and Maverick stadium. At one time we were skating this bowl and a few of the Dogtown boys showed and shredded it with us.

From the top:
Devin Mills - extreme backside wheeler
Tony Elfering - frontside edger carve (or is that AIR?)
Tony Elfering - wicked frontside grind
Robb Perry - pure backside tile

Tony, I did skate this pool once with you guys, but I would hardly call what I did "ripping." By 83-84 I was well beyond my skate years. I was reduced to doing baby carves around it. You guys however (Sol was there too) killed it: frontside and backside air, frontside and backside roll ins on pure vert, vertical laybacks, grinders, extreme wheelers, etc., etc.

I remain amazed to this day about how hard you youngins shredded the Adelanto Bowl! Thanks for sending these to me. Hang in there man!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Good Morning Toronto XVII

I love mornings like today when it is snowing, but the sun is shining. Best of both worlds! Click to make big!

Monday, December 03, 2007

O Come On!

Here's a Christmas card that Emerging Spirit has produced for United Church congregations to customize and use to invite their neighbours to a Christmas service. You wouldn't think it would be controversial (or at least I never thought it would be when producing it), but it is, at least in some quarters of The United Church of Canada.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Weekend Update

A quick weekend update....

1) R.I.P. Evel Knievel. In the early-70s my "Big Brother" Mike Crum took me to an F1 race at the old Ontario Motor Speedway (that's Ontario, Calif.). Before the race, we saw Knievel jump a bunch of buses. That was pretty cool. Knievel seemed sort of like a hard ass though.

2) Our desktop computer has passed away, after almost 6 years of hard labour. I was able to find a refurbished Gateway computer online with a ton more power and capacity for just $349 (the old computer cost almost $1000 in 2002). I haven't finished setting it up yet, but hopefully we will be back online sometime tonight, this time running on Vista. We will finally have the ability to edit all that video I've been taking of Amado.

3) The COLD weather is back and a big winter storm is on its way tonight. We're running out to get Booji (that's our baby, in case you didn't know) snow boots this afternoon. We'll see if we can get him to wear them when he needs to. So far, we've been unable to get him to wear mittens, no matter what temperature it is.

4) I watched some of the CNN/YouTube Republican debate the other night. You know, I'm not against all Republicans per se. I've met some Republicans who are nice people doing great things in the inner cities by investing in business and employment opportunities for the poor. But the obsession of some Republicans with guns, illegal immigrants, and "do-you-believe-every-word-of-the-Bible-ism" is scary and something I would spend time campaigning to keep out of power. I thought Huckabee and McCain did pretty well in the debate. Huckabee seemed like a sincere man; McCain killed Romney in the exchange about waterboarding. Neither Romney or Fred Thompson had a very good night in my opinion. Not that I'm voting for a Republican anyway.

5) I have to write a short article for Sojourners that I'm running late on.

6) rdydersdrfyyyyytrttt3w2trtrr7y7yyyt6ttree3e3e/lfffrrdssaeawq333333wheuuyyuuuuyuf
ytttyyyu6rrfkkolrrtr4wwwsiireeweerrtrrrwrrwrryleeessd (that's what Amado has to say about it all).

7) Ok, got to run.