Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Obama Forcefully Breaks with Ex-Pastor

Obama forcefully breaks with ex-pastor over fiery remarks.

These men are certainly not politically naive. This looks like a pre-arranged Sister Souljah moment if you ask me. (But then again, I am conspiracy minded.)

Who would have thought this primary would turn into a plebiscite on black liberation theology?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Play Ball!

...spring has arrived in Toronto and the critters are on the loose!

Amado's fans can see more pictures from this shoot here (Gramma Coop, this means you!)

Friday, April 25, 2008

St. John Coltrane Church: A Love Supreme

In a lunchtime discussion of "multisensory worship" yesterday, I was telling people about my visit to St. John Coltrane's African Orthodox Church. This clip from the church offers a beautiful picture of the worship there. Here's my Utne Reader article about our visit. A Love Supreme!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ruben Salazar

The U.S. Post Office has issued a new stamp commemorating Ruben Salazar, the prominent Chicano journalist who was killed--many say murdered--during the Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War in 1970.

If you want to find out more about the Chicano Moratorium, you can read this powerful analysis of the repression of the Chicano community by the LAPD in 1968-1971 and the corresponding increase in Chicano militancy. Poet activist Luis Rodriguez writes in his blog that it's nice there is a new stamp honouring a Chicano hero, but it's also hypocritical coming at a time when there is such an upswing in anti-Latino racism, attacks, and rhetoric in the United States--in some cases officially sanctioned by local governments.

I'm not a stamp collector, but if any of you Americans out there want to help me start with this one, I'd be very thankful.

UPDATE: By the way, here is a link to Ruben Salazar's writings on-line.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I'm the type who can stay spiritually high for weeks after a Santana concert.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spinning Out of Control

From Philippe Gohier's blog in Maclean's:

Here's an interesting piece about the Queen's University computing science professor and the program he developed to detect the amount of political spin in a candidate's message. (An electronic bullshit detector, in other words.) Skillicorn looked at the ongoing presidential campaign and posted his findings at his website.

I'm not sure any of this is all that surprising, but here's a quick rundown anyway:

John McCain comes across as the straightest-shooter of them all. Only McCain's speech to the Americans For Prosperity Michigan Summit last January was heavy on the rhetoric. Otherwise, McCain has been remarkably adept at avoiding spin.

Hillary Clinton ranks second on Skillicorn's straight-talk meter, with only a handful of speeches garnering a negative score. (Higher scores mean less spin.)

Barack Obama is dead last, with the vast majority of his speeches sounding all kinds of alarms. Although Skillicorn writes Obama has recently "changed his word usage in a major way" (read: less spin-ful), the professor also notes it's "unlikely that he has done this consciously." Instead, Obama may have simply become convinced he can't lose - and has perhaps started believing his own spin as a result.

Skillicorn says about his study:

McCain tends to score well because he uses the pronoun "I" heavily. In contrast, Obama tends to use "we", and this pronoun plays a much more complicated role in communication. For example, in two-person interactions, the lower-status person tends to use more first-person singular pronouns, so using "I" creates an impression of humility (which is not what people intuitively think). In contrast, while female use of "we" does seem to signal inclusiveness, male use of "we" is often used to soften an imperative, and so tends not to come across as inclusive.

What a Deal!

In the T Magazine column, "Sandra's Sources," Senior Editor Sandra Ballentine opens up her little black book of tips on where to go, what to buy and whom to know. This week Sandra looks at Hazel, a new specialty boutique in the tony Bloor-Yorkville neighborhood of Toronto:

Hazel is the only store in Canada that carries the London-based label Erdem and its incredible, printed cocktail dresses and gowns. I have my eye on a spectacular, tile-print scarf dress for $4,695 (Canadian dollars). I’m also kind of crazy about Courtney Crawford’s skyscraper-high stilettos.
I'm so thankful for tips like these, since Mother's Day is coming up and I know Wendy and my Mom would absolutely die for something practical from a "luxe label."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fear of a Black Planet

I believe Obama will eventually end up with the Democratic nomination, though his prospects in November are being damaged by the increasingly toxic primaries. The "Rev. Wright issue" has hurt Obama, though I think it's a lot of huff about nothing. All it's done is show that Obama belongs to a type of activist black church which is not that uncommon in the U.S. (See Brett Grainger's insightful article on "'Damning' America a U.S. Tradition.") In fact, churches like Obama's Trinity United are prevalent enough in the black community that the controversy has revealed something else in my opinion: Perhaps the United States isn't as ready for a black president as it claims to be.

Still Obama has to step up and respond with something that compels us again. The New York Times Bob Herbert has it right in today's opinion piece:

Senator Obama, for his part, seems to have lost sight of the unifying message that proved so compelling early in his campaign and has stumbled into weird cultural predicaments that have caused some people to rethink his candidacy.

While some of those predicaments raise legitimate concerns (his former pastor, his comments in San Francisco) and some do not (stupid questions about wearing a flag pin), he has allowed them to fester unnecessarily. The way for a candidate to eventually change the subject is to offer policy prescriptions so creative and compelling that they generate excitement among the electorate and can’t be ignored by the press.

Voters want more from Senator Obama. He’s given a series of wonderful speeches, but he has to add more meat to those rhetorical bones. He needs to be clear about where he wants to lead this country and how he plans to do it. That’s how a candidate defines himself or herself.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Aztlan - Stolen at Gunpoint

A lot of people I meet in Canada know more about the Chaldeans than they do about the Chicanos. This primer on Chicano Power may help folks understand a little more about where I'm coming from. Your Friday night music.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

So Popular!

Amado, at a recent birthday party for our friend Heryka. Looks like he's having a good time, though a bit thrown off to discover paparazzi at the event.

Springin' Swingin'

Snow's gone, it's getting warmer, and it's time to hit the playground! But after the winter we've had, Amado's still not giving up his hat and big jacket.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Now Listening


Imagine you find yourself in the seaside Brazilian neighborhood of Brasilia Teimosa where DJ Dolores is hosting a gigantic, raucous block party. The crowd is a mix of Brazilian youth, rastas, hippie tourists and some funky fishermen. Amongst this crazy mix of humans and street noise, DJ Dolores drops a sound explosion of tracks from his latest release, "1 Real" and the crowd is grooving to its frenetic blend of horns, violin, samples and call and response vocals. You are swept into the fray and chaos of life.

Carrizo Plain

A friend sent this to me today, and it's so beautiful I thought, hey why not spread the love?

The east side of the Carrizo Plain, in the Temblor Range, about 50 miles due west of Bakersfield, California. Photo taken by Barbara Mathews, May 14, 2005.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Where's Waldo?

Hint: Use this: Google Earth and start in Vancouver.

Canadian artist Melanie Coles is revamping an age-old kid's game with satellites, Google Earth and a brightly colored rooftop painting.

Coles's project, Where on Earth is Waldo?, is a twist on the popular series of books Where's Waldo?, but instead of identifying Waldo among pages of cluttered illustrations, players will hunt for Waldo using the popular virtual globe program, Google Earth. Coles constructed a 55-foot long Waldo, clad in his characteristic red-and-white striped sweater, matching ski cap and glasses, on a rooftop in Vancouver, Canada, though she's keeping mum on the exact location.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Washington / D.C.

The other day I was reading over somebody's shoulder on the subway and caught a glimpse of an article on Washington. Suddenly it dawned on me, hey I had lived in Washington. In fact, I had lived there for 8 years! (1990-1998)

Why I was surprised was because I always think of myself as having lived in D.C. Not Washington. And there's a big difference.

Laurel and Hardy meet Santana

Too funny. Also check out Laurel and Hardy Meet the Lowrider video on YouTube.

Opera Warm-Up Routine part 2

This one is for Amado, so please feel free to ignore it if you wish. The little guy loves playing with the YouTube posts on my blog and this opera warm up is one of his favourites (he's going to be a Pavarotti!)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

El Brujo

Tijuana's Javier Batiz. This cat and a key will get you cross the border.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


God willing and the creek don't rise, we'll be enjoying Carlos Santana next week at just about this time.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Heston's Biggest Little Fan

Today seems like an appropiate day to admit this:

When I was seven, I saw the movie Planet of the Apes and it changed my life. For years (it seems like) I had Planet of the Apes on the brain. In fact, I was so taken by Charlton Heston's portrayal of the time-warped astronaut Taylor, that I went around telling everyone that when I grew up I was going to change my name to Taylor. Taking it a step further, I decided I would also get plastic surgery so I would look just like Taylor.

I told this to one of my babysitters, and she said, "Aaron, you don't need plastic surgery, you're wonderful just as you are."

Heston went on to lead the National Rifle Association and become an iconic figure in conservative politics. So, in retrospect, I am glad I listened to my sitter's advice.

By the way, if you would like to pry those cold, dead, hands from his rifle, now would be the time.

R.I.P. Taylor

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Lotus Feet

"Lotus Feet" by John McLaughlin, is one of the most spirtually moving songs I've ever heard. He's recorded many versions of it, including this live take with Paco de Lucia.

The most powerful and sublime is the performance of "Lotus Feet" on the Remember Shakti album with master musician Hariprasad Chaurasia playing the lead on bansuri (bamboo flute).

"Lotus Feet" is a reference to the act of devotion in Hinduism that a seeker offers at the feet of his or her guru or teacher, whose feet are rooted in the unfolding enlightenment of the lotus blossom.

For Tibet

Palden Lhamo (Skr. Shri Devi tib. dpal ldan lha mo)

Palden Lhamo is of the major protector deities in Tibetan Buddhism and the only female among the powerful group of the Eight Dharma Protectors (skr. Dharmapalas). She is particularly favored by the Gelukpa, for whom she is a special protector of Lhasa and the Dalai Lama.

She is known to appear at a mysterious lake, known as Lhamo Latso, about ninety miles southeast of Lhasa. This lake is renowned for revealing on its surface the reflections of the future.

[From: Nick Dudca's The Buddhist Art of Thangka.]

Saturday, April 05, 2008

26 Months Old!

Ok, so we missed the actual date by a few days...but it was worth it so we could take this picture this morning. There were signs Amado isn't feeling totally well, but he looks great here, in the midst of wrestling with me on the couch. He's a funny little guy - that's for sure!

Jays Win!

Wendy's mom Kathy and I made our semi-annual trip last night to see the Blue Jays. It was a fantastic game (Blues Jays 6, Red Sox 3 ... on an 8th inning, two-run double by Frank "The Tank" Thomas)! It was also the home opener and there were almost 50,000 fans packing the Rogers Centre, which is unusual for most Blue Jay games. Everyone was screaming their heads off and waving white rally towels during the game -- probably the closest it's going to feel like the World Series in Toronto this season!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I Don't Believe in the Lone Gunman

From time to time, I'm shocked to realize so many people simply believe whatever they hear everyone else saying, despite the fact that their own common sense is telling them something different. Most people think Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, and James Earl Ray each acted alone just because that's what they've been told. And if you think otherwise, people assume you're a conspiracy nut (as I bet you're thinking about me right now).

In photo at the top, three respected ministers -- eyewitnesses to the killing of Martin Luther King -- are in complete agreement when they point out to police the direction where the fatal shot came from. But as the second photo shows, the window James Earl Ray supposedly shot from was directly across from the Lorraine Hotel, not above and to the right of the murder scene where the witnesses are pointing to.

Why don't we believe what the people there saw? The same can be said about the assassinations of the Kennedys (see my blog post on it here). In spite of the testimony of eyewitnesses, something has convinced us these were simply crazed acts of lone gunmen.

For more on the direction that the shot which killed King came from, see here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Our House

Above, our apartment. April fools! Har, har, har.

It's just that I like flipping through home and design magazines, just to imagine if there might be some hope for our 888 sq. ft. living space. However, I can't even get through half a magazine without realizing that the folks that put these magazines out come from a very different world than the one I inhabit (even if I was hosted at a BEAUTIFUL lunch at one of Toronto's FINEST resturants with several lifestyle magazine editors around Christmas time :-).

Here are some snippets I found interesting from Canadian House & Home's special Condos, Lofts & Apartments issue (April 2008):

From the Editor-in-Chief: "I have to admit it: condo living is a little foreign to me. When we moved into our current home, I told my husband, Bob...." Yadda yadda yadda.

Best Quote: Cindy Bleeks, Designer -- "Smallest space: A residence room in university, shared with a roomate who insisted on hanging a life-sized poster of the drummer from Def Leppard."

Biggest Rip Off: "All season faux boxwood promises greenery without commitment. 24" h., Plastic leaves on metal frame. $200."

Quote Most Obilvious of World Religions: "...when the sliding screen is completly closed, it gives the den a Zen-like quality, perfect for when the owner practices yoga...."

Then there's Peterborough, Ontario's California ... which are actually located no where near California at all, yet dangle the promise of a "California lifestyle" right here in Canada.