Go forward in time to April 2003.
Fasting and prayer from the U.S. congress. I thought this only happened in fundamentalist states. Oh, wait...
Last night we went to watch The Pianist. I am speechless. It made me cry. The scene where Szpilman opens the piano and "plays" by just touching the air is one of the saddest things I have ever seen.
We should have known better than to go on Wednesday, the cheaper-than-usual day at the movies. The theater was packed full of the kind of people who go to the movies to kill some time, not to actually *watch* the film — chatter, cell phones, the kind of troglodytes whose feelings afford only to laugh when Szpilman carefully picks up his can of pickles after playing for the German officer, and who also giggle uncontrollably when he goes out to meet the Russian soldiers while wearing the officer's coat.
So it seems like we are stuck to going to the movies Mon-Tue, Thu-Fri(?), on the last show of the day, when there are few people and they are not annoying.
Word is out about our work on OpenOffice.org.
The building's manager, Hishem Danoon, ran to the doorway as soon as he heard the massive explosion. "I found Ta'ar in pieces over there," he told me. His head was blown off. "That's his hand." A group of young men and a woman took me into the street and there, a scene from any horror film, was Ta'ar's hand, cut off at the wrist, his four fingers and thumb grasping a piece of iron roofing. His young colleague, Sermed, died the same instant. His brains lay piled a few feet away, a pale red and grey mess behind a burnt car. Both men worked for Danoon. So did a doorman who was also killed.
One of Robert Fisk's accounts from Baghdad.
Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance — The Manual.
For one, I am shocked and awed at the stupidity of the world.
Our companion in the hotel room in Xalapa:
Randomness in the highway:
Everyone is linking to Where is Raed?, a weblog from Baghdad.
On Friday we drove to Xalapa, a beautiful city in the state of Veracruz, with the intention of looking at apartments or houses. We want to move there some time next year. The city is really nice, full of trees, and is really a big college town.
Pieter Bruegel, The Triumph of Death.
(Photo by Carol Gerten-Jackson)
This fantastic article condenses the reasons why the US wants to go to war. I really wish I had read it before. It's not just a war for oil per se, but rather a war to ensure that the dollar keeps being the de facto global currency, via oil. Thanks to Hans Petter for the link.
Last Saturday we went to the protest march around the Ángel de la Independencia and it was very disappointing. There was a low turnout, and this is ridiculous — marches in small-but-major European cities got hundreds of thousands of attendants, and we get only 15,000. People in this country don't care about what happens in the rest of the world; as long as soccer and soap operas appear on time on TV, they are happy — maybe it is because Mexico has never quite been in a large-scale war. Our president doesn't help, either, by remaining as ambiguous as he can as to whether he supports Bush or peace.
The people who were at the center of the peace march, those with the microphones and the power to harangue the mass, were only saying stupid slogans like "down with Bush", "if you don't jump you are a yankee" (and the whole crowd jumps up and down), "we want peace". Yes, we are all against the war — that's the very reason we came to the march. But why did they not give any background information, any really tangible ideas about why this war is unjustifiable? Why did they not make a synthesis of all that has been said in independent media, which is quite a lot, or even try to quote important thinkers of the past who have condemned wars and U.S. imperialism in particular? They didn't give people anything to think about, they just made them jump up and down and raise their fists and scream, "fuck Bush", a few times.
I haven't developed my pictures yet, so here are Oralia's photos. The angel of independence:
Carlos Monsiváis, writer:
Tomorrow, March 15, there is going to be another set of worldwide marches against the war in Iraq. Here is the information about the march in Mexico City.
Saturday: We woke up late-ish and rushed to the camera store to get some rolls developed. We also got a piece of shit AP Bobinquick bulk film loader and a 30-meter roll of the new Tri-X emulsion. Afterwards, we went for lunch at a seafood place by Metro Miguel Ángel de Quevedo, and it was excellent. We had fish quesadillas, crab empanadas, oysters baked with cheese and chipotle, and octopus cocktail. The restaurant had a 30-minute seating queue and it was packed. It was well worth the wait, though.
After lunch we went to a large used bookstore. I was browsing photography books while Oralia went upstairs to look for books in English (sadly, they only had crappy paperback novels). Then I went upstairs as well and Oralia showed me the books by Alejo Carpentier that she found, some pretty interesting stuff including a book on conferences he gave. While I was looking at those books, one of the store attendants summoned Oralia and proposed a Deal(tm): it was only a few minutes till the time he left work, so he could extract those books from the store and sell them to us at a reduced price — he would keep the money, of course. With the ridiculous overpricing of used books around here, we accepted his offer and purchased a single book from the store (a very nice tome from the 1970s Time Life photography books; it was too large for him to put in his bag). We met him by the subway station a few minutes later and completed the Deal(tm). Not bad at all, mwahahaha.
Sunday: The AP bulk film loader is a total piece of shit. The film kept getting stuck in the exit slot that goes after the ratchet; wasted about a roll's worth of crumpled film with broken sprocket holes. After getting frustrated, we took my mother to the airport and had breakfast there — a buffet kind of thing that was passable, but they had a really cool machine to make orange juice automatically; it takes in oranges from a top feeder and then cuts them, squeezes them, and removes the waste. It is all encased in transparent plastic so you can be mesmerized as it makes your juice and pours it on your glass; you'll watch in ecstasy until your glass overflows and spills.
In the afternoon we went to visit Oralia's father and made soup for him. He told us stories of his days as a medical student. Then we went to the supermarket, and there were brief blackouts throughout our shopping session, every five minutes or so. The cashiers, with non-working checkout machines while the power was out, were going crazy as there were enormous lines and people were getting impatient and rude. I could picture everyone going blind and pretty much killing each other for food inside the supermarket, like in José Saramago's Ensayo sobre la Ceguera. Fortunately, Oralia had the idea of splitting our items into two carts and using the quick checkout line, so we were able to get out reasonably quickly.
Today: Six-hour blackout starting at 11:30-ish, so no one in the Mexico office could get work done during that time. Oralia and I went to pick up our developed photos, which came out quite well, and we also returned the bulk film loader and got it exchanged for a Lloyd's after the shop person could not get a second AP loader to work, either. Even though the Lloyd's is mechanically simpler than the AP (e.g. nothing other than the felt light trap and the crank to turn the film spool), it was more expensive. However, it works and has no fiddly plastic mechanism that can break down, so it's worth it.
We went for lunch in Coyoacán afterwards and then for a coffee. By the time we went back to the office the power had come back. At last.
Yesterday we got a beautiful letter from my brother. It's fantastic to get paper mail that is not bills.
Someone from a homeless aid bulletin board posted some pictures of mine without permission, and a photo.net user kindly told me about it. So I contacted the person in question and he removed the pictures, but now I have re-posted them. Ain't life strange. Anyways, the pictures in question are these:
Last night we watched part of a Simpsons marathon on TV. It was on one of the worst channels (lots of soap operas, yellow news, bla bla), and the Simpsons remains as its only redeeming quality. However, they are having Simpsons marathons because the competing channel, whose only redeeming quality is the Saturday morning cartoons, started its new season of a stupid reality show yesterday. It is terrible that they use Big Brother as the name of the reality show; it means that the mindless hordes who watch it will never associate the name with its One True Meaning(tm).
Had another dentist appointment today. She used the Heavy Artillery drill to remove an ancient amalgam in one of my molars and then replaced it with porcelain. Fortunately it was not painful, but the drill was *loud*.
Today I'll finish reading José Saramago's Ensayo sobre la Ceguera, and I am not sure what to read next... maybe Pattern Recognition. I've been reading the articles in Martí y México, and they are wonderful. I have to get more texts by José Martí.
The weather has been absolutely beautiful, with completely clear and blue skies and 22-24°C heat.
We made broiled chicken breasts for dinner, along with "my mom style" potatoes with mustard, cream, and celery, and lettuce salad. It was all pretty good.
Go backward in time to February 2003.Federico Mena-Quintero <firstname.lastname@example.org> Mon 2003/May/12 21:30:04 CDT