Saturday, January 31, 2009

Films I Love: Rear Window (1954)

Spying on your neighbors becomes an art form in this classic film directed by the legendary master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. Without giving out too much of the plot the film deals with the suspicion of a wheelchair bound photographer that a murder has been committed in his neighborhood. He has the vantage point of the view from a rear window in his apartment. He can see clearly a collection of city characters that come and go about their lives. But his roving eye catches some funny business going on in one of the apartments. He shares this with his upper crust fiancee Grace Kelly and his nurse Thelma Ritter and all three become involved in trying to solve the crime. What follows is a superb sequence of twists and turns that keep you fixed on the screen for the whole duration of the film. 55 years after this film made its debut critics still consider it to be one of the best suspense thrillers ever made.

I will add that this film is still relevant today. An underlying theme dealing with the loneliness and isolation experienced by many in a big city environment is very apparent. Without realizing it we live in a society that glorifies voyeurism in the forms of reality shows, youtube confessions and celebrity gossip. We all have rear windows where we can spy on people and pass judgement on them. But above all it is a very entertaining intelligent film, it plays beautifully against your sense of expectation, seamless from beginning to end, like a good crime story should be!

Friday, January 30, 2009

I'm staying on the Pink Motel tonight

Thank you all for your great support. I've managed to calm my nerves since. Not easy. My whole blog life vanished for 25 minutes before my eyes. It was through divine intervention that I could recover my blog. It seemed so easy to do. I visited four different websites on the matter. They all said it was sooooo simple. Right!!!! I carefully selected a beautiful vintage seamless pattern, it was going to be a quantum leap forward for my blog. It would look like a textured brocade reminiscent of old Victorian manors. All they said was- "Go to your Edit HTML tab, look for the word "body" and copy the web address inside brackets." Oh, I was so confident, My blog is gonna look purrtty, I reckon!!! I see so many beautifully designed blogs out there, you can smell the fresh lavender and get partially blinded by their evocative mist. But now I've been challenged, now I do declare I'm going to learn how to do it if it kills me. I'm ambitious in that very small way. I like the idea of creating a dummyblog, I shall call it The Maladroit Review, I also plan to have a header where the cowboy falls from the horse in slow motion amidst pink fireworks in the background, I swear I might do it. So tonight I'm staying outside the Rancho and into the Pink Motel if only to escape all the turmoil I have inflicted on my festive permanent residents. I must add, I had a nightmare last night where I met an unfriendly crowd in a honky tonk saloon. They all yelled-"Edit HTML" in unison. More chocolate, please!
Baggy Britches, the .22 caliber long rifle carrying clown reminds you: "Never give up!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

OMG! I Almost Erased My Whole Blog Kind Of Day.

Could anybody out there direct me to a good idiot-proof guide to changing your blog background and header? I was trying to add texture and design to this my most beloved blog. I tried to do it using the Edit HTML tab, then I erased everything. After 40 minutes of pure agony I managed to retrieve a saved template. I almost ate a whole box of chocolate to deal with the anxiety attack. I manage my nerves using chocolate. So, beloved followers and visitors, would you be darlings and help this poor soul?
PS. Thank You Lucy for being there for me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Icy Day in the Big D

Bad Ice!Good Ice!

All I see around me is ice, ice and more ice. How do I long for my tropical paradise in the Caribbean. I'm trapped in my little apartment for fear I will slip and fall out there. So what is a pink cowboy to do under these dire circumstances? Break into song, of course!!!

Even though the sound of it
Is something quite atrocious
If you say it loud enough
You'll always sound precocious,

I can listen to the birds chirping right now. It's one of those days at the Old Pink Rancho. Permanent residents, Miss Fanny Louette refuses to sing a long, and Father Mackenzie is drunk as a skunk. The coyotes are bored and taciturn Sheriff Lubbock is on his way to bed.
But tomorrow, as well put by Miss O'Hara, is another day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Art History Series: The Vienna Secession

Water Snakes II (1904-1907)- Gustav Klimt

This movement started in 1897 following the protest of several young artists in Vienna that wanted to break away from the rigidity of the Academic style preponderant in Europe. Gustav Klimt was his most famous and prolific adherent. Their design aesthetic was always looking for freedom and expression. The style is highly decorative, it always experiments with color, graphics, curves and exoticism. At the time it was interpreted as very iconoclastic and decadent. It follows the credo of the Art Nouveau in all manifestations. This search for a new aesthetic produced works of art that are both sumptuous and resplendent. Other members of this group were Koloman Moser in design and Joseph Maria Olbrich in architecture.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Do The Shuffle.

It was a pleasant and multicultural Sunday at the Pink Ranch. I put my ipod on shuffle mode. A rather amusing selection came on. The Beatles followed by African Pop Music followed by Patsy Cline singing I Fall to Pieces. After 20 or so minutes I forgot about the ipod and thought I was listening to the radio. “What a great radio station, one good song after another”- said I. Then I realized it was my own ipod. I could be absentminded like that. I know the year of the Battle of Hastings (1066) but I do not know where I put the car keys. I should stop using so much Splenda. Someone told me it affects your memory. I remembered just now when I worked as a teacher. An early October morning I asked my students what day was America discovered. One kid shrugged his shoulders and said- “Tuesday?” I didn’t know if to cry or laugh. I looked at him sternly and said -“No, it was a Thursday.” Nobody got my joke. I digress. So anyways, I was in a shuffle mood. Then the great Celia Cruz from Cuba came on. I had to stand up and wiggle my body a little bit. There is something with us Caribbean people when we hear Salsa or Merengue music. We are possessed. You cannot control the paroxysms going about in your entire body. The rhythm overtakes you and you need to start moving. I’ve seen complete strangers in places like malls, public parks, schools and groceries stores start dancing as soon as Latin music starts playing. The transformation was amazing. I became a slave to the rhythm. I was by myself in the apartment so I had no qualms whatsoever about dancing a little bit. Here are the songs that came on my ipod in succession and the mood they “provoked on me.”

Trickle Trickle- Manhattan Transfer SASSY
I Will Survive- Gloria Gaynor DEFIANT
Lucille- Kenny Rogers LANGUID
Surf City- Jan and Dean CAWABANGUISH
Bad Connection- Yaz (Yazoo in the UK) ELECTRIC
Chinese Kung Fu- Banzai CORNY
My Boyfriend’s Back- The Shirells SILLY
Don’t Let The Rain Come Down- The Serendipity Singers. BACK-IN-SUNDAY-SCHOOL-ISH
Hot Tamale Baby- Buckwheat Zydeco LAISSEZ-LE-BON-TEMPS-ROULEZ-Y

So, What’s in your Ipods cowboys and cowgirls?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Superior Scribbler Award. Who, me?

I was very surprised to be given the Superior Scribbler Award from larkspur of the Garden Mother blog. The award originated, as many of you already know, in the Scholastic-scribe blog. I felt truly elated. English is not my first language. I really started to speak English on a daily basis at age 17. So I was thrilled to be recognized with such a bloggy distinction. I started blogging last September and it has been very rewarding. I now connect with wonderful people all over the world on a daily basis. My mindgate is now open. My writing is becoming more adventurous. But above all, I enjoy reading your comments. You are all very gracious and very supportive.
It is truly a bloggy community. Thanks.
I must now follow the rules given after accepting this distinction. I must post the rules pertaining the award and offer it to 5 blogs I find particularly interesting and wonderful. There are many fantastic blogs that I read on a daily basis that have gotten the award already. So I am passing on the award to much better scribblers than me that deserve the recognition. If you guys accept the award you must follow the rules and show the award in your blog page. I hereby present the award to:

Oasis Writing Link- Cynthia is such a generous spirit. Her house up in the mountains of central Puerto Rico offers the unique backdrop of a rain forest. Her memories of childhood in Michigan are full of insight. Her love for Caribbean literature is evident as she is making many contributions to the field as a university professor.

sweetmango- She has a superb picture as a blog header: powerful and vibrant. When you visit this blog you feel connected very fast, your spirit soars. I gather that she is very committed to living responsibly in this one planet we all share. I feel sheltered when I go there.

M.IV- Clay is an artist in the full sense of the word. His graphic acumen is palpable from your very first visit to the blog. He is a raconteur. He knows how to tell a good story. I revel in his art. I keep coming back every day.

Ngorobob House: Life from the Hill- From what I read in this post I can conclude that Janelle is an indomitable and adventurous spirit. She lives in Tanzania, under African skies every day. What good fortune.

Bachelor at Wellington- I like this classy blogger. You can perceive a rare and peaceful inner sensibility in his writings. He would definitely be a great guy to have tea with and a great conversation on art, film and music.


You must pass along this award to five (5) others who I have found to be thoughtful, creative, and most importantly, entertaining. ;

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends. 2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to Scholastic-Scribe, which explains The Award.

4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receive
this Prestigious Honor.

5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Lively Geography of Being

I have been drawing maps of imaginary lands since I was 10 or 11 years old. These drawings are my most intimate doodles. When I feel like relaxing (Every 10 minutes these days), I put some nice mellow New Age music like Enya and go for my sketchbook and black ink pen. I am not a trained artist. I have no technique whatsoever but the enjoyment I get from doodling maps is enough reward. To truly enjoy this little known art form you must get acquainted with the emotional vocabulary of geography. So follow me on this little trek:

Islands are both relaxing and restorative, you need them to heal and to re-charge your batteries. Rivers are streams of joy and sorrow flowing freely to the calming sea. Coves are intimate like candlelight, misty afternoons and very old books. Peninsulas are always extending their mossy green arms into reconciliation and new opportunities. Mountains are your ideals, compasses for the heart. Meadows and swamps offer their insights on the trappings of the human mind. A careful constructed network of roads will make all the different areas of your map feel connected. I then name the towns and cities with words that sound both remote and earthy. It is then when the finished map becomes a realization. I wish you all many, many happy islands.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Academy Awards Nominations

The nominations were announced this morning. I totally forgot about them as I am currently suffering from a splendid case of Obamitis. I was very excited to hear Sean Penn was nominated for Best Actor in Milk. This movie spoke to my heart and his performance kept me spellbound. His transformation was incredible. I am always hear negative commentaries about actors. We constantly hear about their delusional lifestyles and their egocentricity. We all know that Tinseltown thrives on gossip and excess. Well, in many cases that might be true but the magic of a movie changing or at least exposing yourself to a different perspective of life is priceless. So I hope these 8 nominations for Milk (among them Best Movie, Best Director and Best Actor) get people to the movie theatres. Heath Ledger, as expected, was nominated posthumously for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight, it was a scary performance different from over the top Cesar Romero and crafty Jack Nicholson. And then there is that radiant lady Kate Winslet with a powerful performance in The Reader. I have fallen in love with her acting and general demeanor ever since Heavenly Creatures (1994), I hope she wins. I still haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire or Frost/Nixon so I still haven't made up my mind about Best Picture.
One more thing, I think is a bit silly and incoherent to have actors compete for an award (how can you truly compare their performances if they are playing different roles!!!). But I must add that the Academy Awards are most of all a recognition of excellence in the field.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Everything is Coming Up Noses

Three days ago I went into a local deli to have a sandwich. Quite ordinary. But I had stayed in my apartment for three day so I was more than thrilled to see so many people at once. I was about to start singing “People…, people who need people…” when my number was called up. It was number 433 if you’re interested in that kind of thing. I couldn't help but notice that the very affable guy who gave me my pastrami on rye sandwich had an extraordinary nose. It was very large and looked perfectly fine for his face. It made me think about noses in general. For some strange reason I can never distinguish between a Roman and a Greek nose. So as soon as I got home I did a little research on the Internet. The Greek nose is straight and the Roman nose looks like a hook. Then I stumbled upon a PDF of an early 20th century books that not only classifies types of noses but also gives you a psychological profile of its owner. So I learned about the Celestial nose (concave) and the Snub nose (short). The first belongs to the inquisitive and the latter to the mischievous. Total poppycock (I finally got a chance to write that funny word!), but entertaining poppycock (I did it again!) at that. I also got some literary information about the subject. There is a character in Laurence Stern’s Tristam Shandy who owned a personal library that included all the books that have been written on the subject of noses. I do not claim to have a literary nose. In fact I realized I am the proud owner of a hybrid nose. Not the green kind that runs on ethanol but a straight one that turns up slightly at the tip. That would make me an impertinent cheerful outgoing introspective man. Such are the revelations of my nose. So I very humbly ask my fellow bloggers: What type of nose do you own?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Days of Hope and Virtue

It was a truly inspiring day. As I saw the great display of humanity between the Washington Obelisk and the Capitol, I imagined a great house welcoming all to share the same table. I felt very humble for the gifts I have received as a citizen of this great nation. I couldn't help but to shed a tear when in the midst of all the fanfare and protocol a brilliant quartet made of such luminaries as Yo Yo Ma, Itzak Perlman and Gabriela Montero performed the John Williams' evocative piece with the famous Copland refrains. I felt the dignity of freedom. Such are the times.

I have included the last paragraphs of President Obama's Inaugural speech as a reminder that we all posses the courage and commitment to construct a new society. This is a solemn day, full of promises and high hopes.

"...This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it)."
America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."
photos from top to bottom by: set, Miguel Valle Figuereido and il foto grafico.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wishes for the Inauguration.

Like millions, I'll be watching the Inauguration Ceremonies on Tuesday. I wish we can really come into a new era where people dare to believe and start anew. I can visualize all our ancestors coming together for this historic occasion. Their hard labors were not in vain. I wish for a sense of community and citizenship where all Americans are treated with respect and equality. I want to give myself permission to hope, big time. It is so easy to be cynical these days. Too easy to tell you the truth. Let's be rebels and reject cynicism. Let's get together.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Centered in Uncertainty

I was feeling a bit anxious today. When you are unemployed you live in a different time zone. Life little structures and routines are all gone. You are on your own and you must keep yourself centered (... if not entertained) in order to maintain your sanity. I must say that I do have the support of friends and family. I do not feel isolated but I could very easily fall into that trap on account that I am living in a different time sequence from the rest. This afternoon I took a long walk with Pretzel, my dachsie, and thought about my anxiety. At this very moment there is nothing I can do but to calm my nerves. And that I intend to do. It is not easy at all because I do have goals and dreams I want to fulfill and I do not want to postpone them indefinitely. So calming down is priority number one. In times like these I draw from my spiritual experiences and realizations. I am a spiritual mutt if there is ever one. I was raised by deeply religious Catholic grandparents, an atheist dad and a non practicing Catholic mother. I went to Catholic school all my life. Then I got into the New Age movement of the 80’s. In the early 90’s I went back to Catholicism (I realized later that it was a hunger for cultural identity rather than true conviction) and then into Tibetan Buddhism, only to be a free spiritual agent today. Excuse me, but I must laugh at myself if only tenderly. All these religious and philosophical disciplines have helped construct what I am today and I am grateful. Today I felt I had to have a serious talk with myself and establish a set of principles that would make my life easier and more enjoyable. To understand that there is no hurry in life, that I have nothing to prove, that it is reasonable to still cry everyday over the death of my mother 8 months ago, that it’s okay to have blind faith in finding appropriate employment, that it’s okay to keep dreaming of a better life. I have been reading a beautiful book by Marianne Williamson that has inspired me lately to ask for miracles in my life. And that I am doing today, surrendering to a higher energy capable of restoring my vitality. In the meantime more tea, more books and more cookies! I am grateful to all the visitors I have had recently, you keep my spirits up.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dr. Martin Luther King- Peace Warrior

The Pink Ranch celebrates MLK vision and courage. His life has been an example in commitment and love. There is no justice without equality. There is no true freedom without equality.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. "

Famous Asmathics in the History of the World

Bronchius Dilatatus, Roman wheezer of note.

Amusing ideas have been percolating inside my brain for the past days. It may well be an increase of my consumption of coffee. That or new medicines for my asthma. I felt I had to dignify this condition by looking up for extraordinary asthmatics past and present. They were not extraordinary in their asthma but in the pursuit of their great talent and genius. Of course that is our only common ground. I cannot possibly compare myself to these giants:

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Billy Joel (1949- )

Marcel Poust (1871-1922)

Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

So may their cacophonous wheezing and stridor be a lesson to all. We of the short breathing kind shall overcome. I raise my Advair Purple Diskus to you!!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TPC- Q&A Interview by Oasis Writing Link

I was contacted by Oasis Writing Link to be interviewed as a blogger. Faced with these very interesting questions I decided to borrow my brother’s car and head to the placid whereabouts of the newly opened Valley Ranch library in Irving. There I stood in front of a big picture window facing a canal lined up with little houses screaming “this is a Kodak moment.” I ignored the visual intrusion and proceeded to answer the questions.

1. If you could be a historical character from actual life or from a book, who would you be and why? What would you do as this person?
This one was a difficult one to answer. My mind began spinning like a Ghandian charka weaving an endless homespun garment. I thought of giants like Martin Luther King, Harvey Milk, Abraham Lincoln,the Buddha, Christ, Dame Judi Dench (OK, OK, I had to mention her, she is so good!!!). I admire many different people in history for their sacrifice and heroism but one rather little character came running back to me every time I pursued and answer: Frodo, the hobbit from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy. He was not fearless; he did not possess the physical prowess to endure such gargantuan travail as to destroy evil in the form of monsters, sorcerers and deceitful creatures (Not that different from our normal mortal lives.) Yet his love, tenacity and sense of duty made him a transcendental figure in his world. If I had his committed faith and determination I would champion the fight against injustice and inequality.

2. What is the most important decision you've made in your life and why?

I did not know it at the time but the most significant decision I have ever made was to go to college in upstate New York. It literally opened my eyes. I not only developed intellectually but also was exposed to different people from all over the world. My insatiable quest for knowledge and understanding began right there in the inclement winter weather of Syracuse. I remember one very cold December evening in Neo-Romanesque Crouse College Auditorium. I went to see I Musici perform The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). I had a mystical experience then. I saw the banquet of life unfold itself before my eyes. I found my sun far away from the tropics where I was born. I found my sun in the winter of a northern latitude and it has been a wondrous journey ever since...

3. Select two photographs that have made a significant impact on you and explain what their importance is in your life.

Martha Graham: Letter to the World (Kick), 1940
Barbara Morgan, photographer
Dance is the transformation of the human form into the plausible. In this photo Martha Graham exemplify such notion. She becomes a half-moon, an unfolding white rosebud, an avatar of human motion, a determined love arrow thrown by a forceful and intrepid cupid.

Bathing Suits for Izod,
George Hoyningen-Huene, photographer
An understated elegance in a heroic pose. Looking beyond the context of their own time and place into the vast unknown. Adam and Eve full of expectation and desire, happy to be out of that drab and boring Eden.

4. You have lived in at least two different cultures; explain how this experience influences how you see the world, both personally and politically?

I am a Blue-eyed Caribbean Latin American of European ancestry who is a citizen of the United States of America. At home in Puerto Rico I was considered a blanquito or americanito (white or American- like boy) a totally different species from the rest. Back in college I was regarded as a foreigner. So I suppose I always felt like an outsider; more romantically put, an émigré. A person that does not belongs fully anywhere. I had the rare opportunity to go inside both cultures because at the end of the day I could pass for either nationality. That made me notice and contrast both cultures. We are not that different at all. Right now I feel very comfortable with my background, in fact I think is an asset to be multicultural.

5. A hundred (plus) years from now, someone finds something of significance that you left behind. What is it and why is it significant?

I hope that anything I did, said, or depicted in music and photography moved anyone to embrace the reality that Love is our true nature.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Photography: HDR

These are HDR photos. HDR stand for High Dynamic Range Imagery. I have read the technical definition of the term and is a little bit complicated for me to understand it. This type of photography allows for a more luminous intensity using both photographic and software programs techniques. One thing I know is that these type of images are so dreamy and beautiful when done correctly that I instantly go in a trip. I have become an eager enthusiast and wishing to learn more and more. The old abandoned house seems to me to be out of a Harry Potter movie, the lime green lighthouse reminds me of a mini golf course, and the profusion of roses the very field where Dorothy (of Oz fame) was sent a spell from the Bad Witch of the West and fell asleep.
My extremely modest photographic ambitions have been put into a halt. All my life lies inside twelve boxes, including my camera, Photoshop discs and photo collection, and since I am living with my brother at the time I should not abuse of his hospitality by setting up my "photo lab" in the middle of the living room...sigh.... But soon enough I'll be riding the photographic Pegasus into lands and places unknown...of course I will share with you all bloggies.

PS- These photos come from the site The one with the roses was taken by Nevile Ditmen and uploaded on a GNU licence for public use. The other two phots have no restrictions and have been put into the public domain for use.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Music: Hourglass

The Hours- Phillip Glass,composer; Branka Parlic, pianist

A harmonious pounding if there ever was one. My own simple definition of the musical instrument that has shaped my world since age 9. The piano has been an appendix to my body ever since. I cannot steer away from a black and white keyboard for long before I feel miserable and depleted of an essential energy akin to breathing. I was watching a video of The Hours by Phillip Glass (1937- ) on youtube today. The music created an interesting landscape in my mind. I remembered long lost conversations between me and a former significant other in a diner we use to frequent. The memory was a sad one but the music by Glass dignified the moment in a different way. I could see this episode of my life with certain detachment. Then it was not just a sad memory but a memory framed by the narrative music I was listening to. The music of Phillip Glass engages me. It surrounds me like literature and art. I can look at myself from the inside and the outside. In many occasions his music has had the reputation of being repetitious and hypnotic. But isn’t life both? How many times have I gone to the grocer’s where the same friendly cashiers greets me with a “Hi there, Sir how are you this morning?” or the endless times I had to wait for a red light to change into a green light. I could go on and on. When I am listening to Glass be it Songs from a Liquid Days, Koyaanisqatsi or Einstein on the Beach the word repetition becomes a rare petition, a petition on my part for sanity, for compassion, for at least trying to make a little sense of the chaos around me. Music always delivers answers to me.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Reality Check in a County Hospital

Today I spent 14 hours at Parkland Hospital to get medicines for my asthma. I am exhausted to say the least. I had planned to write about other more "intellectual subjects" but my experience was a reality check at a grand scale. The hospital had hundreds if not thousands of people waiting to be helped. I saw a great deal of suffering as might be expected in such circumstances. Is not every day that I go to the Hospital for anything. In my case, it has being over two or three years since I have been in one. But the long wait made me observe the coming and going of people in a more detailed and focused way. I just took a very long hot shower when I got home at night as to cleanse my mind and body of the exposure to such suffering. The images of all those people I saw in pain and despair haunt me. I offered a silent prayer for them taught to me by a Tibetan lama. May all sentient beings be liberated from suffering and the CAUSE of their suffering. We are seconds away from becoming them, we are not excluded. I am grateful for all the blessings in my life, today more than ever.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Art: Separated at Birth

While seated at a doctor's appointment the Pink Cowboy overheard a lively conversation between two men. They were talking about the follies of modern art, specifically about some pieces of monumental modern sculptures outside the building. "I don't see the point in it, I don't understand it, I mean, anybody could have done that...and they call it art? Well I just remembered good old jolly St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) stating that the one thing he was grateful for was that he understood EVERYTHING he ever read. I can only claim to understand 34.5% of everything I read...and that's during the course of a caffeine binge. Art has always been under appreciated by many. To each his own. But just because you do not understand something does not mean that it will not reveal itself to you at some time or another. You see, art for me is always human, always changing. Art is a form of intelligence that goes beyond language and description to foray into the psychological and emotional spheres of experience. Oh dear, that sounds quite lofty, but the point I am trying to make is that art is a suggestion; more than often a persuasion that dares you to look beyond the obvious and the commonplace.

Take these two pieces as examples. One is the famous statue of Apollo Belvedere of classical antiquity fame and the other is a photo I took of Piece No.3 Vertebrae (1968) by Henry Moore (1898-1986) at The Nasher Museum of Sculpture in Dallas. I see a pair of twins. Mind you, The Pink Cowboy has notions all of his own. That is the way it reveals to me. O.K, they are not identical twins but they carry the same DNA. I would imagine that any talented sculptor could render reliable copies of them. But that is only technique. What about originality, composition, creativity and vision? I did not dare to tell my fellow denizens at the doctor's of my admiration of modern sculpture, I was not invited into the conversation. But I wish I was part of THAT very important conversation if only to convey the immense pleasure I have derived from the contemplation and study of art. Many times art has saved me from myself in the form of my own stubborn prejudices and utter ignorance about many aspects of the human condition. When I fill my mind with art-thoughts I feel I am in communion with the eternal aspect of humanity. Art is a wondrous teacher and ally if you give it a chance. Art articulates reality and being in such a way that it elevates human expression into a universally UNDERSTOOD language.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I Sing The Body Photographic

I have a reverence for old brownish vintage photographs. I've always marvelled at portrait daguerreotypes of the 19th century. They are the closest thing we have to time travel. I can stare at a collection of historical photos for hours on end. I enjoy trying to guess the exact year they were taken. I work like a detective. First thing I do is recognize fashion styles that might narrow down any proper chronological identification. I also identify architectural features, vegetation, geography and the sort. Then I go to my reference books and encyclopedias to classify what I see. The photo then becomes a living petridish that captures the essence of an era. I do own some vintage photos of my family that have been my first and only encounter with my heritage. One of such photographs is that of my French great grandmother. I am mesmerized by her portrait (isn't it interesting I use the historical present tense when referring about her as if she was still living!) because it is proof that my ancestors really existed! There is a famous philosophical question made by various thinkers along the centuries: Ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerunt? , meaning where are they who came before us? A pervasive mood all throughout my life. It is a puzzling statement. All the people of this world that built and created our civilizations where have they gone?, they are both dead (physically) and alive (intangibly). Vintage photos answer that philosophical enigma.

A funny thing happened on my way to transformation

In the magical little gardens of my mind I found a jewel of a sign that read:

Abracadabra and fiddle-dee-dee,
my ego is outraged to see the new me
Abracadabra and hody-ho-ho,
my former neuroses, where did they go?
from Everyday Grace by Marianne Williamson
Is a magical spell for transformation.

The Pink Cowboy humbly asks:
Were they former new-roses ?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Epiphany Day

Today is Epiphany Day in Latin America and Spain also known as Three Kings Day. As a little child in Puerto Rico it was of the most memorable occasions to go out and cut a bunch of grass to be placed in a shoebox. The idea being that the hungry camels carrying the Three Wise Men were tired and needed to be fed. At night we would place the grass underneath our beds and wait for new gifts the morning after. I chose King Gaspar to be me my personal king, I would always ask him for impossible gifts: A marimba, a cellar, a real airplane and an elephant. Instead I got a reel to reel tape recorder. It was a strange gift. It was not meant for 5 year's old. When I opened the gift my Mom gave a "I do not believe you bought that for your son" . My dad taught me to use the tape recorder. I used this gift for exactly 3 minutes. I never ever touched it again.
So today saw me looking for the Three Kings. I found a queen instead. In North Park Mall to be precise. There I was minding my window shopping business and I saw a big poster of Dame Edna advertising for a new line of cosmetics at Dillard's. I laughed all the way back to the car.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday Bloody Sunday

I like spending my Sundays reading the New York Times, sipping cofee and calling my friends across the nation. Today I just was not in the mood for it. My asthma is back. I haven't had chronic asthma since I left High School. When I moved to Syracuse, New York back in the early 80's from the Caribbean my asthma disappeared instantly. Not many allergens can survive the harsh winter. As a boy and teenager I remember all the suffering from chronic asthma. It kept me away from the outdoors and even school for many weeks during the year. Having asthma shaped my identity as a child. I was very timid. It was then when I developed my hunger for books and music. It has been a long while since then but ever since I moved to Dallas my health has gotten worse. So it was a not very pleasant Sunday. I felt very much fatigued. My harmonica playing in the form of whizing and whistling is back after so many years and my arthritis has gotten worse. I was angry and jumpy all day. The inhaler I use for the asthma worsens my "nerves". Good thing I was by myself all day, I was cranky. So I decided to attack the problem by listening to some Hawaiian songs I have in my iPod. My favorites are by the great Hui Ohana. Beautiful songs like Aloha le O wai'anae and Hula O Makee with its falsetto singers and slack guitars are a delight to the senses. Soon enough I felt the warm tropical breeze. The hammock swinging. The aroma of coconuts and pineapple. There is a feeling of ease and calmness in Hawaiian music. It's like the surf on the beach. The ebb and flow of ideas coming and going. None of those ideas in my mind stayed, yhey just floated away. I miss the ocean. I was born and raised on a tropical island in the Caribbean so it is not that difficult for me to connect with Hawaiian culture. Very soothing. Now I am seriously considering moving to a different location to be healthier.

Friday, January 2, 2009


When I discovered the poet Rumi (1207-1273) back in my days at the University I felt I had just stumbled upon a kindred soul. My experience of the divine has always had a mystical and sensual undertone to it. To compare the concept of God to the beloved made me feel closer to the embodiment of Spirit. His was a God of mystery and ecstasy. Many times when I am by myself taking a walk in nature, among trees, or beautiful landscapes, I feel the presence of something bigger than me and my world. I can only relate it to the feeling of being madly in Love with someone. I always had my reservations with most dogmatic definitions of God. In fact, I use the term Universe, when addressing the Divine. Rumi was a soul in Love with the Divine. Everything is transformed when you focus on the universality of love. In his poetry life and death are but sublime bursts of divine energy. His poems set to music have been used by the whirling dervishes of Sufism for centuries. These dervishes turn and turn in a seamless motion evoking the fluidity of eternity. I like to recite his poem by candlelight, sotto voce, softly savouring every syllable like a ripe old wine:

Look! This is love-to fly toward the heaven,

To tear a hundred veils in ev'ry wink,

To tear a hundred veils at the beginning,

To travel in the end without a foot,

And to regard this world as something hidden.

Jalaladdin Rumi

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A weight issue

For more than twenty years I have been dealing with weight issues. I know how to diet successfully. I also know how to gain weight in no time. I have read many books and articles on the subject for many, many years. I have used meditation, daily affirmations, health books on the subject, medical encyclopedias, psychological counsel and dietitian advice to name a few. It has been a saga in my life. I do not even want to dwell on the subject for too long, I am beyond fed up with it.
Two weeks ago I went to North Park Mall in Dallas with my elder sister. We had a great time, seeing all the Christmas decorations, artistic sculptures, and enjoying one particular children choir performing Christmas carols. We took many photos. When I got home I downloaded the photos into the computer. I noticed two particular photos of me drinking a cup of coffee with a gigantic Christmas tree as a backdrop. It was almost the same picture of me. In one picture I was dead serious, in the other I had, excuse my immodesty, a radiant beautiful smile. I looked at them at least four times. I noticed something I had never noticed before. I looked twenty pounds thinner when smiling. You might not believe me. I am not trying to be over sentimental or Pollyanna about it. Now I know when I smile I look thinner, twenty pounds thinner. That was my realization. Boy, have I been smiling since, my cheeks hurt from stretching.