Thursday, August 31, 2006

Happy Blog Day to you!

Well, I had originally planned not to do this and instead post a bunch of links I’ve found recently. But then I figured it would be a good way to tell others (i.e. the three people that read Huevos Pericos) about some of the blogs I check out daily. Since there is less than an hour left before the end of Blog Day I humbly present to you five exceptional blogs (as well as several honorable mentions).


Though I can be a political windbag at times (just ask my brothers) I tend to ignore political blogs that are too partisan or extreme. It drives me crazy to read about lunacy or intransigence regardless of what side of the political spectrum they're on. This brings me to Sullivan’s blog; he is very thoughtful, pragmatic, and pulls no punches at either the left or the right. I may not always agree with him (like during his initial defense of the invasion of Iraq) but his forthright and pensive manner is what always attracts me to his blog.

Honorable mentions- Global Voices, Foreign Policy Passport, Hispanic Tips, Plan Colombia and Beyond, Poor but Happy Colombia Guide, VivirLatino, Wonkette

MUSIC – Brooklyn Vegan

So maybe I could have put this under the category entitled “NEW YORK” but BV also writes about all types of indie music stuff. For exaple, imagine my shock and consternation as the first post on BV tonight mentioned how kick-ass Internet radio station WOXY will shut down on September 15th. (Reading that along with Robert Christgau’s firing from the Village Voice served as a painful double whammy today). It has been through BV that I’ve found out about lots of the summer concerts I thought about going to. I even e-mailed BV last fall trying to unload a ticket for the New Pornographers at Webster Hall but to no avail. Anyhow, BV sets a very high standard for music bloggers and it is always a pleasure to read.

Honorable mentions- coolfer, largehearted boy, Morrissey-solo, pixiesmusic, stereogum, The Hype Machine

NEW YORK – Overheard in New York

For a long time the champion at this category would have undoubtedly been Gothamist and even though I continue to read it several times a day it has lost some of its previous quality in its posts. (Perhaps they overextended themselves and cover far too many things at once). Yet now the winner is Overheard… which I enjoy thoroughly. The premise is simple- New Yorkers send in bits and pieces of stuff from conversations and other types of communication. Given the site may encourage people to be nosier but the beauty of Overheard… is the variety and weirdness of some of the posts. There’s the pair of snarky girls upset over a wheelchair getting on the bus, the language barrier between baristas and cops, and the silliness of tourists. Overheard… never ceases to amaze me.

Honorable mentions- Gawker, Gothamist, Manhattan User’s Guide, New York Hack, NewYorkology, nycmosaico, Pushcart NYC

Greg and Jason are a pair of lifelong New York Mets fans; they breathe, bleed, and sweat blue and orange. Their prose goes beyond that of mere sports fans as they delve into the minutiae and larger meaning of following a sports team. Though they may harp a bit too much on the ’86 champion team, they truly embody the best spirit of being a sports fan and their love and passion for the Mets are an added source of pride for a Met fan like myself. (Quirky bit o’ trivia- since 1986 only tree times have teams I’ve been a loyal fan to have won championships. Those would be the 1987 and 1991 New York Giants and the 1994 New York Rangers).

Honorable mentions- Deadspin, The Fan’s Attic, The Musings and Prophecies of Metsdramus

PERSONAL – forksplit

Last but definitely not least I present to you the main reason why I decided to enter into the blogosphere. I first discovered her blog via this Gawker post last year. It’s not easy to describe why I’m attracted to her writing (which is why I’ve had writer’s block for the past 30 minutes) so I will defer to the following written by this blogger:

"I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t done drugs or anything self-destructive for the longest period of time, or the incredibly dry yet hilarious way she journals her life - like a ’sex and the city’ for ‘misanthropes, agoraphobes, depressives, alcoholics, pill poppers, pot smokers, losers, outsiders, and chronic masturbators’ [to quote the author’s supposition of her audience] - but Miss Forksplit really floats my boat...Reading through such a vibrant and hilarious blog, it’s hard to factor Forksplit into the dull and dusty definitions often attributed to the blogosphere. But then perhaps it’s inevitable that academia will have to allocate such a constricting lexicon on this colourful media expression - after all, the literati couldn’t very well praise a self-confessed “lazy sack of shit with a significant pot problem and possible Attention Deficit Disorder” as a pioneer of online literature and virtual cultures. It just wouldn’t do!”

Well said, my friend. Very well said.

And thanks a ton to you, forksplit, for dragging yet another moping fool into the world of blogging.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

“We shall overcome” (in spite of stairs, injustice, and discrimination)

After many years of negotiations, debating, deliberating, and nit-picking over details the Draft Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by a United Nations Ad Hoc Committee last Friday night. There were several occasions during the Ad Hoc Committee’s conference last week that the draft may not be approved over issues like reproductive rights and international monitoring of the treaty. Several NGO representatives I communicated with were very worried that the draft approval would have to be put off until next January. Thankfully, delegates got their act together and hammered out major areas of dispute. The draft was okayed and should be ready for approval by the General Assembly this fall. Like I mentioned in a recent post, I was fortunate to observe several sessions of the Ad Hoc Committee when I was working full-time as a U.N. intern and I was able to truly appreciate the effort set for by delegates from governments and NGOs alike.

Which brings me to this article that I found denouncing the treaty as a “power grab” by the U.N. against nation-states, or “United Nations jurisdiction over American businesses”. The overall tone of the article is one based on fear that American law will be circumvented by the corrupt, evil, and useless organization known as the U.N. The problem with such a view is that, whether conservatives like it or not, the U.N. will not go away anytime soon. This is why (though I don’t always agree with his tactics) I support U.S. Ambassador’s John Bolton’s push towards reforming (rather than removing) the U.N. Unfortunately the U.N. is in serious need of reform in order to strip away at a lot of the bureaucracy that hampers progress and meaningful change within the organization. For instance, continuing to have the Trusteeship Council is a waste and should be eliminated as soon as possible (as proposed not only by Bolton but by Secretary-General Kofi Annan).

Nevertheless, the author of that article may be somewhat heartened to know that the monitoring portion of the treaty will most likely be left up to the states with only a few simple guidelines that need to be followed. As such, states will have considerable leeway into how to implement the treaty in their own countries. Furthermore, not every country will ratify the Convention; one of these countries will be (surprise, surprise) the United States, especially since laws here have gone very far in protecting the rights of the disabled. In essence, “American businesses” need not be too worry to the extent that the article inaccurately implies.

The governments that do need to “worry” are those of countries that have done shockingly little to protect the rights of disabled people. They include governments in countries that have engaged in activities such as forced sterilization, institutionalization of the disabled, and other shocking and disheartening human rights violations. It will be in those countries that the convention will make a huge difference for disabled individuals. There are times when I even wonder what would have happened to my brothers lives as well as mine if my parents would have stayed in Colombia and not immigrated to the U.S. Surely we would have had far less opportunities for advancement especially due to our disabilities had we stayed in Colombia. I doubt that I would have been able to go to university and have the same amount of mobility that I do here in the U.S. (And trust me I should know since I had a shitload of trouble last year mobilizing around the campus of the
Universidad Nacional and even in the streets of Bogotá due to the lack of access).

Hence, the Convention should not be seen as a “power grab” but rather as a solid attempt to assure that disabled people around the world can be afforded the rights that people without disabilities have. Empowering the disabled can and should be a priority (rather than relying on charity and welfare) and this Convention is a solid step in allowing for “people…to adopt a ‘can do’ rather than ‘can’t do’ approach” that is necessary for disabled people to move forward.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I 'heart' my friends

She's coming to the States!  She's coming to
the States! She's coming to the States! She's coming
to the States!

Now I have to figure out where's the best place for Korean karaoke:
midtown Manhattan or downtown Flushing?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tidbits: “I cannot believe ‘Reno 911!’ was preempted last night for a stupid Roast!” edition

*Please, please, please come to NYC soon! I don’t care if you’re Goth or post-mod or whatever the press wants to label you as long as you come here to perform as soon as you can!!!

*One of these days I’m going to list the blogs that I read on a constant basis. In the meantime, I’ll list Stereogum as one of them as proven by this exceptional post of a tour of Oslo by the mastermind behind Serena Maneesh.

*Speaking of my favorite Norwegian shoegazers, I’m afraid that I will have to skip their concert on September 8th. Though I had planned to attend it I’m trying to figure out a way to go to the Mets game on September 9th with mom and my brothers. The promotion for that game will be sports bags (which my mom is a sucker for) but more importantly it will be a good chance to cheer her up a bit on the eve of the 1st anniversary of my dad’s passing. Besides, I would much rather sacrifice much of my own enjoyment for her and my brothers than enjoy it all for myself by going to see Serena Maneesh.

*Maybe Keith Hernandez overreacted during the Mets’ broadcast a few night ago, but "Who Let The Dogs Out?" is one of the worse songs to become a hit (aside from “MacArthur Park” and “We Built this City”, that is). Unfortunately, I’m still emotionally scarred that "Who Let The Dogs Out?" was played loud over the loudspeakers at the end of undergraduate commencement at FIU as blue and gold streamers were shot all over the graduates. Sad, sad, sad memory.

*Speaking of short-sightedness by my alma mater, I’m pleased to see they quickly changed their minds on the issue of public transportation. And no, I don’t care about how the football team does this season except to bemoan the administration’s short-sighted (though thankfully short-lived) decision to cut the men’s soccer program before football’s inaugural season.

*I swear to God/Allah/Buddha these look exactly like the ones mom makes!

*It’s a pity to see the state of disrepair of some of the Long Island Railroad stations in NYC, but it gives me lots of joy and pride to live near the ornate and lovely Forest Hills station (seen in the image at the top of the post).

*Good news to read that the hotels, including the one my dad worked for, reached a deal with the unions and avoided what could have been a crippling strike. (Link via the informative Newyorkology).

*While searching for links to my post on “Reno 911!” I stumbled on this Gawker post of a late-night food tour with David Wain and Ken Marino.

*Knowing the team’s history of futility is it any wonder that Red Bull New York would play so horribly in last Saturday’s 1-0 loss?

*Lastly, I observed many things during my time as a United Nations intern. Yet nothing beat the blood, sweat, and tears showed by government and NGO delegates during negotiations for an international treaty for the disabled. A treaty draft might be ready finished by Friday and ready for for approval by the General Assembly very soon. There is a great deal of hope that a convention will broaden the rights of disabled individuals around the world. I pray that it can come to fruition very soon.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Who am I?

It's been a lazy couple of days so I am copying the idea from this blog post from my dearest (and sorely missed) friend Mandi. I've never done one of these survey things before so hopefully my replies do not seem to odd.

Name:Erwin C.
Birthday:December 13
Birthplace:Rego Park, New York
Current Location:My family's apartment in Flushing, New York
Eye Color:Brown
Hair Color:Black
Height:5 feet, 7 inches (or 1.70 meters)
Right Handed or Left Handed:Righty except for throwing light objects with accuracy
Your Heritage:Colombian
The Shoes You Wore Today:None (barefoot the entire day)
Your Weakness:Shyness. Soft voice. Indecision but not "married to a lack of vision"
Your Fears:Fear of failure. Fear of being too arrogant.
Your Perfect Pizza:Easy- Slice with extra cheeze from Angelo's Pizzeria (located about three blocks from home). No Pizza Hut, no Domino's, no way
Goal You Would Like To Achieve This Year:Get my thesis either published or presented at an academic confence
Your Most Overused Phrase On an instant messenger:"undoubtedly"
Thoughts First Waking Up:"What time is it?"
Your Best Physical Feature:My lips
Your Bedtime:Varies- sometimes as early as 11:30pm and other nights as late as 4:00am.
Your Most Missed Memory:Taking a photo with my brothers during their 3rd birthday.
Pepsi or Coke:Neither. How about a Guinness stout?
MacDonalds or Burger King:Neither! The hot dogs at Gray's Papaya are far better in terms of fast food.
Single or Group Dates:Depends on how many strangers I meet
Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea:Neither. Green tea
Chocolate or Vanilla:Chocolate though I prefer both in ice cream
Cappuccino or Coffee:Coffee with some milk and no sugar
Do you Smoke:Nope.
Do you Swear:Does "motherfuckin' rat bastard" count as an answer?
Do you Sing:Not even in the shower
Do you Shower Daily:Whenever possible
Have you Been in Love:A few times though they all ended in the "let's be friends" routine
Do you want to go to College:I still am!
Do you want to get Married:It would be nice, I suppose
Do you belive in yourself:About 75% of the time
Do you get Motion Sickness:Rarely
Do you think you are Attractive:Ask me later
Are you a Health Freak:Just enough to avoid eating hot dogs and pizza every day
Do you get along with your Parents:For the most part
Do you like Thunderstorms:Yes but only listening to them
Do you play an Instrument:That better NOT be a perverted question!
In the past month have you Drank Alcohol:Just enough to be tipsy but not too much to be a stinkin' drunk
In the past month have you Smoked:Not at all
In the past month have you been on Drugs:
In the past month have you gone on a Date:Only platonic dates
In the past month have you gone to a Mall:Thankfully not
In the past month have you eaten a box of Oreos:I wish!
In the past month have you eaten Sushi:Never had it. Don't know why, however
In the past month have you been on Stage:I was close to a stage at a concert a few nights ago but that's it
In the past month have you been Dumped:Miraculously no!
In the past month have you gone Skinny Dipping:Only in the shower
In the past month have you Stolen Anything:No though I wish I could take back the time stolen from me by a 3-hour job interview I failed
Ever been Drunk:Once in a while
Ever been called a Tease:Yes but not enough times by the opposite sex
Ever been Beaten up:Must repress bad childhood memories!
Ever Shoplifted:Far less than before
How do you want to Die:To hell with how, it's the when that counts
What do you want to be when you Grow Up:Famous for all the right reasons
What country would you most like to Visit:Australia
Number of Piercings:None
Number of Tattoos:None...for now



Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I’ve been tired: a partial week in review (final part)

Last Thursday I overslept by a few hours, not so much due to apathy or exhaustion but because I was nervous over my afternoon appointment at my academic department. I wanted to get permission to take at least one semester to finish and polish up my thesis not because I had been apathetic or inattentive. I wanted the extension for two main reasons:

1- I was worried that my efforts were not to the best of my ability and I did not want to give in a report that did not reflect 100% of my energy and talent. Perhaps I could have handed a finished product in before the end of august with high odds that it would be accepted but in my heart of hearts I am currently a perfectionist who strongly believes that it needs to be done to the maximum of my abilities or not at all. Unlike a few years ago when I was in a funk and couldn’t give two shits about any of my actions, I’m not in the mood to do things half-assed.

2- My time as a grad student has been checkered and not one I’m terribly proud of, unlike my triumphs in high school and as an undergrad. I want to end my period as an NYU grad student on a high note; one that be truly rewarding for my family, friends, colleagues, and myself. Hence, I will try me damndest to see if I can publish my thesis by the time I am done with it, preferably by the end of the year. I want my thesis to symbolize my time in grad school in the best way possible and I feel it would be best to do so by publishing it somehow.

(I don't know how I'll break the news to my mom about this since she has been pushing me hard to get the thesis done and approved by the end of the month. I'll figure something out that will hopefully not be so bad for her or me).

At around 2:30 I left home for campus via Access-A-Ride (AAR) and arrived at NYU as the first drops of rain started pouring down. By the time I got on the ramp the rain had fallen like a tropical deluge. My monochromatic outfit was waterlogged and damp after running a half-block at full speed to hide under an awning. I ran twice again for a block each and by the time I reached the lobby of Bobst Library I was drenched, shivering and tasting the hair gel that melted off my head. (Disgusting!) Eventually the rain let up giving me just enough time to quickly walk the remaining two blocks and use the men’s room to dry myself off and hope that I did not catch a cold or worse.

The appointment itself was relatively anticlimactic as the assistant to the department chair did not hesitate to give me the green light to work on my thesis for one more semester. Though we tend to have long chats with each other, she was rushed squaring things away for a trip to Europe the next morning (not that the thwarted terrorist plot helped matters much). It was a brisk five minutes of quick discussion and that was all. Thankfully I got the good news I needed so I won’t complain too much.

Now that the most nerve-wracking part of the day was done, I walked to Astor Place to take the M2 bus uptown to El Museo del Barrio. I was excited to go see Los Amigos Invisibles and listen to them in person. Thankfully the bus was limited stop and I arrived at Park Avenue and 106th Street around 5:00. That gave me some time to roam around the Harlem Meer, located by the northeast corner of Central Park:

So tranquil. So serene.

Geese chasing after a piece of bread.

Perfect for a quick dip, yes?

I then decided to visit the museum’s galleries since they were free for the day and the band wasn’t going to start for another hour. The exhibition that most caught my attention focused on Lorenzo Homar and the Reverend Pedro Pietri. I was awestruck by the variety and creativity of Lorenzo Homar’s posters while I was impressed by the way Pietri combined political activism into his artistic works. It was all very powerful and arresting artwork.
6:30 had finally arrived and with that the start of the concert. As the band played a song off their upcoming album I parked myself behind a column and several tall people that impede my view. No worries, however since I was just too damn happy to be there.

And then the rain started trickling down to earth.

The band ran inside as their assistants put tarp over the stage and sound equipment. In almost no time at all another massive deluge fell upon us and those in the museum’s courtyard ran inside for shelter.

The rain did not cease to fall for approximately 90 minutes.

By 8:15 I ran inside to use the men’s room, cursing my bad luck. After waiting for years I would not get to see Los Amigos… perform and the AAR would take me back home at 8:30, the scheduled end of the concert, practically empty-handed. I was not a happy camper.

As I exited the museum I turned around and noticed what seemed like the band performing a quick sound check on stage. At 8:45 the lead singer said “thank you to those who stuck around in the bad weather.”

And the band played music again. They didn’t have to but they did. For the first time in ages I was hoping the AAR would arrive a little late so I could enjoy at least 2 or 3 songs.

5 minutes late transformed into 15 minutes late, then 30, 45, and onwards. In the meantime I was ecstatically moving to the rhythm and even dancing with an attractive girl or two. Los Amigos… played such favorites as “Cuchi Cuchi” and new tunes that were lively, catchy, and got the crowd moving. It was wonderful to see all the different couples dancing in the crowd of different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. (Pity the pictures I tried to take came out to damn dark):

There was a stage somewhere behind those ornate gates. Pity it cannot be seen.

This was the final snapshot I took since the camera flash startled the girl in the pink shirt.

It was truly a magical 90 minutes of fun at El Museo until the AAR finally arrived to take me home around 10:15. Even then the luck continued as I was taken home directly and got home in about 45 minutes. (It would take 2.5 hours if I were to use the bus and subway instead). By midnight I was feeling kind of sneezy from wearing damp clothes for approximately 9 hours so I called it a night and crash-landed into bed.

So that was it for the days I went out last week. It may not have been the best or the most exciting but it was definitely very memorable and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

I’ve been tired: a partial week in review (part 2)

Last Tuesday I went out in the afternoon to my doctor’s office in Long Island City in order to get my amber-colored teeth cleaned. I arrived quite early and decided to wait until it was time for my appointment rather than roam around.

The dentist who cleans me teeth is the polar opposite of Dr. Szell from “Marathon Man”: female, young, pretty, delightful, and effervescent. She is a treat to be around before the cleaning and she’s one of the best people to engage in small talk.

Unfortunately her lone similarity with Dr. Szell is her uncanny ability to work without Novocain and treat my teeth as she were drilling for diamonds. Thus, there is no small talk except for my yelping like a dog and her sternly telling me to “keep your tongue still”.

By the time it’s done I’m spitting out blood and gums into the sink while she regales my with tales of her moving to Long Island and her difficult commute. But I appreciate a job well done so I don’t complain to her. Rather I flirt lightly with her by noticing that she’s changed her hairstyle or asking where she gets her make-up (which accentuates her facial features instead of making her look like a clown). Thankfully the gleam in her eyes and pouting in her lips shows that she likes what I say; she’ll even play along and gets a kick out of seeing me blush.

Pity I don’t have the courage to ask if she’s single and that my next cleaning is three months away.

Nevertheless after the cleaning I had some time to spare so I took several photos:

Manhattan-bound 7 train leaving from the 40th Street/Queens Boulevard station.

Who need Payless when one can enjoy the bargain boxes of sandals at the 99 cent store.

It had been a few weeks since the blackout debacle in northeastern Queens and a week after an intense heat wave which was why this butcher's shop off Queens Bouelvard rented such a large generator.

Queens Boulevard and 38th Street towards Manhattan.

World War II-era fighter plane next to Aviation High School.

Flushing Meadows Park along Jewel Avenue while returning home on the Access-A-Ride.

(The rest of the photos I took that day will be put under a Flickr account very soon).

With that I had one more day out to go, Thursday; it would be the craziest day of the week.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

I’ve been tired: a partial week in review (part 1)

[Note: I originally typed up a long post on Microsoft Word where I described what happened on the 3 days I went out last week. Unfortunately my computer decided to act up a few moments after I finished typing the post and it was erased. Instead of typing it all up again I’ll break it up into three parts. Enjoy!]

Last Saturday I went to the museum at the Asia Society with C. to use the tickets I won on Flavorpill before the featured exhibit closed permanently. Though my stomach was killing me I decided that it would be best to go out and see C. for the first time in months while enjoying the day as best as possible.

I arrived at the Asia Society around 2 in the afternoon and decided to walk around the area since I was to meet C. at around 3. For about a half-hour I snapped a few pics:
I think this is St. Vincent Ferrer Church, but I'm not entirely sure.
Ritzy townhouse off of Fifth Avenue that caught my eye.
The Asia Society located on Park Avenue and East 70th Street.

By about 2:45 my stomach was killing me and I ran back to the museum and about to enter the elevator to go to the men’s room in the basement when C. walks into the lobby.

“Are you trying to escape me?” she jokingly asked.

“You bet. Too bad you caught me.”

We exchanged pleasantries and started talking about things like her new job and the previous week’s heat wave. I’m not entirely sure why but I decided to hold it in and act as if I was feeling well. (Bravado, perhaps?)

The featured exhibit we enjoyed was entitled “Projected Realities” which showcased visual art by young artists in Asia. Some parts were animated, like Bak Ikeda’s PiNMeN, while others relied on shooting people and objects such as Junebum Park’s metaphysical work. My personal favorite was Kazuhiro Goshima’s Fade into White #4, with its stark visual animation and arresting storyline.

By the time we finished viewing that and the other exhibits at around 4:45 we were about to leave the museum to lounge around in Central Park when I stopped her and finally excused myself to the restroom. It was well worth the wait, thankfully.

We walked our way into Central Park and sat to talk while Gustavo Cerati played “De Musica Ligera” several hundred yards away at Rumsey Playfield. I sorely needed her advice on job searching and thesis research, and she was extremely helpful in that respect. Later a friend of mine I had not seen in years joined us and we discussed his recent marriage and he even gave me some valuable pointers on The Latin Americanist blog. By 6:15 I was on the Access-A-Ride returning home and I was extremely fortunate that the driver allowed me to use the men’s room at a nearby Barnes & Noble since he was running well ahead of schedule. I was in such an uplifted mood that I took a few more snapshots on the ride back home though only one came out relatively well:

St. Bart's Church with the Waldorf=Astoria in the background.

I was glad that I did not back down from going to the Asia Society with C. I doubted that it would top my next outing to get my teeth cleaned on Tuesday, but I would be somewhat mistaken.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Thoughts on Alvaro Uribe's second inaguration

If you listen closely, you can hear "We Are the
Champions" playing in the background.

Yes, I know that Alvaro Uribe was inagurated to a second term as Colombia's president and yes I'm also quite aware that for pundits on the right that he's the best thing since sliced bread and a godsend against the political left. (If I have to hear the term "anti-Chavez" once more I might go mad! And no I'm not pro-Chavez. I'm anti-silly sound bites.)

However, please keep the following in mind:

1- Latin American leaders tend to have worse second terms than first terms. While Uribe enjoys high popularity and lots of support from the U.S. government, he will need to be cautious not to get embroiled in scandal or some sort of controversy.

2- What could hurt Uribe over the next four years? The peace process with paramilitary groups has not gone smoothly and has given them far too much leeway. (While the crime rate has plummeted in Medellin, for instance, some citizens credit it to the work of the paras, not local law enforcement.) Leftist insurgents may be weakened but they're still wreaking havoc in parts of Colombia. Economically the region might be ready for a downturn and this would impede any plans the government may have towards improving social programs. (Which seems to be a priority for Uribe according to his inaguration speech). The Uribe administration's very close ties to big business may end up being a disadvantage. (Cough...Sabas Pretelt...cough...cough).

3- Lost in all the hubub and fawning over Uribe is the gradual resurgence of the Colombian left. Though Uribe did win in a landslide, the political faction representing the left got second place with the highest ever percentage for a left-wing party. Keep an eye out for current Bogota mayor and Uribe critic "Lucho" Garzon who may have a strong chance at the presidency in four years.

4- With Uribe's releection came the end of the traditional political dominance by the Liberal and Conservative parties and a shift towards factions led by individuals. (Approximately a half-dozen political factions ran in the legislative elections earlier this year under the Uribe banner!) Once Uribe's term ends who will emerge and be the leader-du-jour? At this stage it could be anybody running on an individual-based platform.

5- Uribe may not have the same amount of support after the next U.S. presidential election in two years. Though it looks doubtful that any of the top contenders will radically change U.S. policy towards Colombia, a new president and/or Congress may want more accountability from Colombia's losing effort against illegal drugs and an improvement of Colombia's dismal human rights record.

Regardless if my personal animosity towards Uribe, I really hope that Colombia can improve its weak points over the next four years and that the country as a whole can be a lot better. It would only be fair.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

“Yay for summer concerts!” yet again

How I wish you could return this summer!

Take a guess how many concerts I've been to of the 16 that I had originally planned to attend by tonight.

Go on, guess.

3, 7, 13, 16?


How about zero?


There are several reasons why I have yet to attend any concerts so far. Sometimes it’s due to the high cost of the concert ticket. Other times it’s because of the shitty weather. I've even forgotten of the dates of shows. But for the most part I’ve skipped concerts since I’ve got either pressing matters at home to take care of (thesis) or due to apathy. However, I’m hoping that the next few weeks will be a different story and I will be able to make up for lost musical enjoyment.

So without further ado here’s an updated list of the concerts that I sure as hell better be going to:

*Saturday August 5-
Gustavo Cerati, Calle 13, Mexican Institute of Sound @ Central Park Summerstage: I never would have imagined that my first concert of the summer (and for that matter the first one in almost a year) would be this one. However, I won a pair of free tix to attend an exhibit at the Asia Society via the wonderful people at Flavorpill. (And I won the tix by writing a brief essay of being humiliated. Go schadenfreude!) I wasn’t planning on going to the concert, but I’m going to meet C. at the Asia Society and then catch the latter part of the concert since it’s only a few blocks away from the museum. I haven’t heard any of Cerati’s stuff lately even though I absolutely adore Soda Stereo. Either way it should be a great concert and should hopefully make up for the disappointment of not getting Manu Chao tix before it sold out. (Thank you LAMC for the concert on the 5th!)

*Thursday August 10- Los Amigos Invisibles @ El Museo del Barrio: El Museo is by far one of my favorite museums in NYC ever since I attended the 2004 “MoMA at El Museo” exhibit with some art-smart friends. El Museo is an absolutely underrated gem. Then there’s Los Amigos Invisibles who are just a fantastic mix of funk, cumbia, salsa, and electronic music. Late lunch in Spanish Harlem, browse through the museum, dance my somewhat prodigious ass off, then a snack and stroll through Central Park before heading home. Ingenious!

*Sunday August 27- Semilla @ Lincoln Center: This is the band that C.’s boyfriend is in. I’m sure they’re good although I have yet to hear them play live. Either way, C.’s boyfriend is an incredibly nice and great guy so I trust that his group is very good. Also, going to Lincoln Center gives me a chance to revive a past glory- last May’s graduate convocation.

*Tuesday September 5- The Clientele @ The Knitting Factory: Whenever I’m in the mood to relax and de-stress I usually check my “Downtempo” and “Light Music” MP3 folders and listen to artists like Sneaker Pimps, Hanne Hukkelberg, and Zero 7. More often than not, however, I tend to lean towards The Clientele as one of two music acts that never fails to help me unwind. (The other one being Neko Case, who I touched on in this post). Well, The Clientele are coming to NYC in early September and I will try to be sure to make it to that show.

*Friday September 8-
Serena Maneesh @ Bowery Ballroom: On the other hand, there are times when I need to wake up and reinvigorate my mind and soul. During those occasions I’ll sometimes listen to the Pixies or the Doves or Bersuit Vergarabat. Yet most of the time I’ll open up my “Shoegazer” MP3 folder and listen to My Bloody Valentine, early Lush, and Serena Maneesh. I’ve been desperate to go to a Serena Maneesh concert ever since I missed their appearance in Williamsburg in January since I was out of the country and forgot to go to Siren a few weeks ago. In addition, Bowery Ballroom’s one of my favorite venues for music, beer, and relative intimacy. Besides, the concert should hopefully prepare my mind for the sadness and mourning of the one-year anniversary of my dad’s passing that upcoming Sunday.

So that should be it for the next month or so. The concerts are all free aside from the last two mentioned above. Not bad and it’s best to take advantage now before this comes around again.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I am Wiegel’s baby daddy!

For quite a while I’ve been a fan of “Reno 911!” The program’s mix of improv, quick wit, and sheer lunacy captivated my attention for the first two seasons it had aired. I remember laughing my ass off watching episodes where Officer Jones was demoted to crossing guard duty and scenes with Jackie the hooker getting upset over pickle juice or Reverend LeCarp broadcast his weekly sermon from jail. My love of “Reno 911!” led me to discover the 1990s sketch comedy series “The State” and appreciate the method behind the “Reno 911!” madness. I would spend hours downloading and watching clips from “The State” such as "Muppet Hunter”, “$240 Worth of Pudding”, and my personal favorite which had a parody of the $25,000 Pyramid with Nancy Spungen (played by Kerri Kenney-Silver) and Sid Vicious (played by Ben Garant) in the winner’s circle. The fact that the members of “The State” started the group at N.Y.U. seemed too good to be true.

But that adoration waned with season 3, which aired last summer. The jokes were weak and the gags were increasable predictable. While I enjoyed the addition of Mary Birdsong to the cast as Officer Kimball, the chemistry between the actors seemed to be missing. For every classic scene like the massage train in “SARS Outbreak” there were several snoozers like “Fastest Criminal in Reno” or “CSI: Reno.” The season-ending cliffhanger did not hold my interest though I did not want to lose hope in my favorite television show. And so I held out hope for nearly a year that season 4 would be significantly better even though it was taped at the same time as the debacle that was season 3.

Though only about a month old, season 4 has absolutely redeemed itself. The last 2 episodes in particular were just unforgettable and had my slides splitting like I had been watching the first 2 seasons. How so? Well, there was Deputy Kimball in SWAT gear guarding the ski jet ready to shoot at the drop of a hat. There was Deputy Johnson and Lt. Dangle acting in a commercial for an anti-rape device. Of course how could one forget Rick from the Citizen’s Patrol getting away from every single crime scene via public bus. And then there was the piece de résistance- the botched panty raid!

With that, fondness of all things “Reno 911!” had blossomed anew. The other day I was messing around with YouTube and found the video for “Lorraine’s Car” by Cake Like, a rock group that Kerri Kenney-Silver used to be in. Then I found these two nuggets of joy off the same website – an interview of Carlos Alazraqui and a two-part video interview of Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant where they discuss the making of “Reno 911!” including [*drum-roll*] a movie based on the show! (To be released in theaters this January)!

Bliss. Complete and unfettered bliss.

And don’t forget- hug the police! (Even if they're obsessed with Morrissey).

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