Thursday, September 29, 2005

DVD's I'm watching #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
This is one incredible movie. Both simple and sophisticated at the same time.

Also very revealing of the evil that is the Mormon church without being mean-spirited.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Random Quote #25

"Honey, there ain't no such think as a toad when the lights go down. It's either feast or famine. It's the day light that you've gotta watch out for."

~ Harvey Fierstein, "Torch Song Trilogy"
1952 -

Sunday, September 25, 2005

No Dirty Words

After my promotion of KanYe West's CD's, an acquaintance challenged me based upon her cursory exposure to his lyrics on (typically 30 seconds). I assured her that in spite of the profanity, there was a message worth the few bucks to purchase.

Since then, I have really thought alot about this. Artists like KanYe are about witnessing a reality that is meant to challenge the status quo. The words they choose are not random or obscene. They are intentional and intimate. And that's the spirit in which we should recieve them.

There are no "dirty" words. Words are only phonetic expressions created by our vocal chords. How we except them, and then allow them to affect us is not a function of the word. It's a function of our culture. I long for a world were there are no dirty words. Say what you will, you can't offend me. I want to hear you express yourself. I am intelligent enough to find your heart's meaning in however you choose to express it.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

13 Views of the Peace Rally in DC

Taking from the works of Japanese Woodblock artists like Hiroshige, I offer these images and thoughts from today's Rally for Peace. My highlights where hearing Cindy Sheehan speak, marching with the throngs of Americans who know that there is a better way to live on this planet, and my various little interactions with participants. My disappointment was that lack of minority participation. My only purchase was a sticker that proclaims "End Racism". Let us work to know and care for others who do not have our skin color, who do not speak our language, or imagine God and eternity in the same way we do.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
On the back of a T-shirt worn by a Quaker participant.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Three street performers: the first dressed as the Devil holding puppet strings to Cheney, who holds puppet strings to Bush. Both Bush and Cheney players frequently exchanged a bottle of Oil from which they mock took enthusiastic swigs! What fun, what theatre! -- long live Freedom of Speech!


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Created by one of the computer graphics from the little pictures of the soldiers who have given their lives for Bush's war.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Whose grandma is she?


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
This Bill Board Truck was parked near the rally and on the parade route. "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." ~ Grover Norquist, "Field Marshall" of the Bush plan. The image is from New Orleans after Katrina....


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A mock cemetery to honor "anonymously" the soldiers sent to Ancestry during the War in Iraq. This image shows only crosses, but some replaced the cross arm with crescents and others with Stars of David. Some where adorned with little American flags, and many festooned with flowers (Roses and Carnations). The whole displace was many times larger than my photo depicts.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A Parade Contingent preparing to march. This group carried psuedo-coffins draped in the flags in honor of those gone on to Ancestry too soon.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A crowd image shortly after I arrived. The crowd was very diverse in terms of age & sexual orientation; but I wondered why more minorities weren't present.... Locally, a major push was undertaken to energize the African American community, for instance; but I did not see a significant participation from this minority group.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Moving through the crowd, I noticed this sign: "Old Farts for Peace" -- Bless such methane always!


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Booths soliciting support for opposition organizations flanked the edge of the elipse. Love the "No Blood For Oil" T-shirt!


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
At one point I encountered the images of the soldiers who have passed into Ancestry all TOO prematurely laid out on the ground in ribbons. Later, these would be used to line the parade route. I could hardly look at them without crying.


Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The highlight occurred soon after I arrives and found my place amidst the throng. First, I listened to Jesse Jackson, and next Cindy Sheehan. Strange bedfellows on many levels, but both delivered powerful speeches. Cindy was particularly eloquent and moving. All around me I could see people representing a myriad of constituencies and locales. Flags from Iowa and Alaska waved amidst placards Denouncing Bush, Promoting Peace, demanding the end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the US use of landmines in conflicts.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Christmas This Year

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Will find me once again in the blessed company of Father G. at the wonderfully hospitable Casa Ave Maria in the bario of Monsenor Les Cano in Managua, Nicaragua. I've known Father G. for over a decade and last year was my first visit. And it was a wonderful visit that included time for side trips which I will go into in greater detail in future posts. Suffice it to say that Nicaragua is an amazing place....and as Christmas is an amazing season, the two fit well together.

What I'm Listening to #5

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
After his courageous pronouncement that "George Bush doesn't care about Black people" on nationwide TV, I committed to buying everything that this young man produced. I hope that his star rises even faster as a result of that uncensored moment. Long Live FREEDOM of SPEECH!

And you know what? It's a fucking good CD! But avoid it, if words like "Fucking," "Nigger," and "Bitch" to repeat but a few possible offensive words, stand in the way of your appreciation and edification of/by art.

If art is meant to challenge, document, and affirm; then KanYeWest is an artist extraordinaire. Bless you brother!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Zimbabwe Memoir #7

Zimbabwe Memoir #7
Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
While in Harare, a friend of the family in whose home we were staying arrived to greet us and see if he could be of any assistance. My travelling companions were still in the throws of their gastro-intestinal illness, and so I was left alone to accept his hospitality. A young man, just graduated from High School, he proceeded to show me around "his" world.

The top picture is of the main build of his private High School. We attended a portion of a cricket match there. Very white, blacks were only working the grounds and serving.

When he finally asked me what I wanted to do, I asked about markets where I could purchase printed frabrics -- the budding quilter that I was at the time. And after some coaxing on my part, he took me to the open-air market in the central photograph, where I eventually purchased cloth from the vender in the bottom picture.

Being in both South Africa and Zimbabwe when I was (November/December 1990) I also experienced the vast contrast between race relations in the two neighboring countries at that time. In South Africa, whites were mostly aloof and blacks treated whites with a cool, well practiced respect. In Zimbabwe, the only thing that mattered was whether or not you had a VISA/MASTERCARD and were planning to use it. At least, this was my perception of the black Africans' public attitudes.

And since I used my VISA card, I was treated generously wherever I went in Zimbabwe.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Deleted Comments

Comments removed were simply promos for other websites and had no bearing on my posts. "Real" comments will always be left....comments that seek to only attack this blog for commercial purposes will always be swiftly removed. Such comments are clearly automated and so the latest frontier of the capitalist hacking juggernaut. They are an attack on Free Speech, if anyone still cares about this. Their perpitrators ought to be identified and prosecuted. Individual speech is fabulous, but having my speech blindly co-opted for the purpose of commerce is not OK. randuwa

What I'm Reading Periodically #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
The Gay & Lesbian Review from Harvard University is a treasure to the progressive world. This issue, no exception. The top articles include a response to the question "Are there elements of your gay identity that you especially value as a writer, elements that might contribute to your ability to have a distinctive voice?" which 10 of the most interesting Gay poets take a stab at answering. Among my favorites in the group or Henri Cole and David Trinidad. I own books by 9 of them: with a cartoon of Oscar Wilde on the cover and another excellent article on the fall of this quintessential gay icon from power to death for the love of ego and love.

There is also an homage/retrospective to the late poet, Thom Gunn (1929-2004). And a wonderful piece that traces the lineage between the works of Whitman -- Ginzberg -- Monette. Yes, it's a Poetry Issue.

And there is SO much more to give one pause to think about.... and desire to respond to. There is an essay on the difficulty of being both gay and Asian and 'wanting to/yet not' feeling at home in either community. And many interesting reviews; Not the least of which is C. Capozzola's take on "Eakins Revealed: The Secret Life of an American Artist" by Henry Adams.

It is one of the most reasonable rags devoted to "fags" in all our permutations and gender-ations on the market from the flag ship institution of Higher Learning in America. I think everyone should read it, but then, I still have an open-mind.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Random Quote #24

Eskimo: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?"

Priest: "No, not if you did not know."

Eskimo: "Then why did you tell me?"

~ Annie Dillard, 1945 -

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

My Ludite Tendencies

I rarely watch TV. My little set is about the size of a postage stamp! and obscurely tucked away on a shelf where it is dwarfed by volumes from Art Exhibitions at major museums. The only shows that even briefly catch my attention these days are "The Weather Channel," "Judge Judy" (What a pack of idiots....they don't even get 15 minutes of fame; not that they deserve even one!), and "The Simpsons" -- The best window on progressive culture in the history of the medium, and it's funny, too!

Yet, I have not wasted electricity on the medium for 5 days now, and often go without it for weeks on end. My abstinence really took off this past summer. Just too many other things to focus on.

I also don't read a newspaper, and am very selective in my magazine choices. I read "The New Yorker," "Art in America," and "Poetry" with religious zeal. I also subscribe to "The Gay & Lesbian Review" from Harvard University, and "American Patchwork and Quilting" -- what Gay Quilter doesn't!?

So today when my progressive colleague at school shared with me the results of the most recent Washington Post survey which found that 44% of Americans thought Bush-the-Lesser has done a good job regaurding the Katrina relief response, I thought:

"Wow. I had no idea that that many Americans either didn't own a TV or are blatant Racists!" Go figure.....

Cosa Rican Memoir #7

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Here I sit in the restaurant of the Hotel Miami in Limón, Costa Rica in 1984 on the eve of our Tortuguero adventure. We are about to recieve a simple and lavish feast of "gallo pinto" rice and beans! It sounds plain, but left to the Costa Ricans it's an incredibly delicious dish.

How much simplier life seemed back then. Young and adventerous (as opposed to mature and adventurous!) the trip to get to this place and moment involved a tenuous bus ride and a magnificent train ride from the capital of San José on a holiday wekend when every mode of transportation was both over booked and taxed to it's legal and physical limits! So this photo depicts an event of great respite. The next phase of this strand can be found at (Costa Rican Memoir #2, parts 1-4 in June's archive).

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Zimbabwe Memoire #6

I am reminded of an evening in Harare as my mind considers the pure evil that is racism, and how it permeates peoples who live in far flung places and whose means are far from the lavish wealth of our grace laden nation.

You may recall that I alluded to trouble regarding the lunches offered to me and my traveling companions while touring Lake Kariba (Zimbabwe Memoir #3 ~ August 3, 2005). In fact, my friends became ill with some intestinally based bug that lasted for the majority of our brief stay in Harare, while I remained healthy and free to roam. In Harare we stayed in the home of a friend of one of my traveling companions, Mr. O, a friend who was not in the country at the time; therefore, it was a little like a B & B with a few servants to make the stay effortless. The main man was a black Zimbabwean named Mr. I, who also resided in a little cottage on the grounds of the home. The owner was a successful Dentist of European heritage. It was our last leg of our tour of the country and actually a very nice way to end the visit (for me).

There, I was the ultimate stranger. I was only welcome via my relationship to Mr. O, and I not only didn't know the absentee host...I didn't know anyone! On the first evening of our stay, the brother of a member of my friend's church in Claremont, South Africa rang to invite us all over to his place, but only I was in any condition to accept. So bored with hanging around the place, I accepted to his enthusiastic "Grand!" Within minutes he pulled up in a mostly open jeep and looking every bit the twin of the English character actor, Terry Thomas (right down to the gap between his front teeth and the bushy moustache), he shook my hand as I climbed aboard and off we sped.

He lived in the home of his family. His parents had left for life back in England amid the deteriorating state of things in Zimbabwe, and his sister immigrated to South Africa after marrying. His home was nice, but not nearly as nice at the Dentist's, where I was staying. The main house (a sort of bungalow design) fit the lot snuggly and then in the rear there was a modest courtyard with a few simple single rooms detached from the main edifice lining the back of the property. Most of the "yard" was tiled like a patio.

Immediately upon my arrival he called out to the three Zimbabweans with whom he lived. Each resided in a separate one of the detached units in the back, and all shared the living, cooking, and toilet spaces in the main house. Two were beautiful young men, both students at the University, and the third was an older woman who also maintained the cleaning, cooking, and laundry in the home for room and board and a modest salary. In spite of the fact that it was well after dark, hot tea was offered and accepted, and the woman went to fetch it. I was introduced to all and the young men spoke of their studies and hopes for the future. When the tea arrived, one of the young men was dispatched to bring a telescope into the courtyard where we were gathered and amidst the fellowship and hospitality we took turns looking at the surface of the moon and Mars.

Interior lights and candles created an ambient glow similar to that of being at a campfire, and as the conversation took center stage again, the woman coyly asked me a question. "Do you think I am beautiful?" It quite took me be surprise, as vanity was just not something I had any experience of in Africa to that moment. I remember registering the question with a slight jerk -- the way you respond to anything that you find hard to believe, and I said, "Of course you're beautiful." She smiled like a shy school girl (a grown woman of I would assume at least 50 at the time), and responded, "Oh, No, good sir; I am too dark. I am not like the pretty women of Cape Town." My heart was pierced with sorrow; I will never forget that moment.

Today I live in a very diverse community just outside of Washington, D.C. People with whom I come in daily contact are from every conceivable corner of the world. I am often the only white in the store; and when others are present, we are rarely the majority. I have come to see people as simply beautiful. And that night in the golden glow of the flame, looking into the impossibly deep eyes of those three black Zimbabweans, I was so beguiled and blessed by their open hearts, their generosity of time and presence, their patience with me as I attempted to see what they could see in the lens of the telescope.... it was a magical moment by all accounts. And yet, there reared the evil presence of racism.

I do not remember what I told her. No doubt because whatever it might have been, I ought to have remained silent and simply wept. It was a comment that words could not fix, and so the companionship of tears would have been the only "voice" worth hearing.

I've been crying a lot lately.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

America's Endemic Racism

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A friend sent these images to me.

"Loot" or "Find". What's the difference?

Can you tell?

Three among many who gathered food which was destine to mold and rot in order to preserve their lives in a situation that every federal official has called unprecedented, and in which NO Federal response was forth coming for days.... So why is one man "looting" while another couple is merely "finding"? Click the image and read the text included with the photos....

SHAME on us! Shame on us for electing racist leaders, and SHAME on us for not rising up and demanding better!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

What I'm Listening to #4

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I ordered this CD before Katrina made her mark. It arrived on the Monday. I have been listening to it every since. I just made the connection!

Rosie represents the new face of Zydeco. Her music is a seemingly effortless fusion between traditional Zydeco and a broader range of contemporary sounds. She, no doubt, makes Zydeco more accessible to the average listener. I hope her work will find that audience, and that in so doing broaden the musical tastes of the uninitiated.

Bonne Écoute!

Random Quote #23

"Love is like infinity: You can’t have more or less infinity, and you can’t compare two things to see if they’re “equally infinite.” Infinity just is, and that’s the way love is, too."

~ Fred “Mr.” Rogers, 1929 - 2003

Friday, September 02, 2005

$3.49 A Gallon

.....for regular gas in Washington, DC. I live just north and east of the District, and coming home stations were running out of gas and lines were snarling traffic everywhere. (While the Republican governor of Maryland was telling us that there wasn't any shortage....does anyone believe in reality, anymore?) While I waited to reach the pump, one of the attendants began changing the prices by removing the dollar markers first! I know it's worse in other places...I imagine we are all in for a time of uncertainty and anxiety.

And yet, how blessed we are by comparison.


A greater percentage of people in New York City own private cars than did in New Orleans.

The poverty rate in New Orleans was one of the highest in the nation at 38%.

Nearly 70% of the population was African American, and well over half of that population subsisted below the poverty level.

New Orleans is only the largest community in the devastated path of Katrina, and the demographics were basically the same for the region.

The region supported a population 6 times greater than the city of New Orleans.

When you tell people who have no means and no ability that they must evacuate, and do not provide them with a way to comply....what are you telling them?

Prepare to die? So much for compassionate conservatism.....

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina Got Personal

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
My heart is torn; and as lame as it is to say, my prayers and thoughts are drawn toward the victims of hurricane Katrina. For everyone affected in New Orleans; 3 or 4 or 10 times as many people are also impacted by this tragedy across Louisiana, Mississippi and southern Alabama.

It's all just too much to grasp. So I grasp at what I know. I know friends, Mr. & Mrs. A., who moved to New Orleans from Washington, DC last summer to work at Tulane. Settling into the community, they purchased their first home there this summer. I have this email from Mr. A:

"Dear Friends,

As emails come in, I was trying to answer them all individually, but have been unable to keep up. For those who don't know, [we] moved to New Orleans a year ago and just bought a house before hurricane Katrina recently hit. We left the city, are fine, staying with [Mrs. A's] aunt and uncle near Houston, TX. We are not sure, but are assuming from the footage and where we lived near the Industrial Canal that our house is a total loss. We were able to pack the computer, some clothes, and our two dogs. It will probably be easiest to reach us via email over the coming weeks.

Hope that all is well with all of you, things with us are not so good, but always have to remember that they could be much worse and we are fortunate compared to many in the city."

Not much else to say. But here's a final thought: we are so acclamated to the idea of "control". And we imagine that our control is among other things a guarantee for our comfort. Katrina profoundly demonstrates that the consistent and comfortable status of our lives is far more tenuous than we probably think.