Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It was a dark and stormy night

[You will find the EZLN and other zapatista translations in the Library. I shall also be tucking the odd treat hither and yon. Hither, in the Parlour, and yon, in our Library]

Not a good day for so many people, mostly, as ever, for those with minimal resources.

Thirty percent of the population of New Orleans apparently falls below federal poverty “guidelines” [and I assume there’s a cut-off line below which one cannot fall without falling out of the guidelines and, thus, the headcount]. And I imagine it’s even higher in those parishes to the east of the city and into Mississippi where the brunt was borne.

Meaning that those people who didn’t evacuate were unable to do so. Yes, I know this. In Savannah, just a few years ago. I also had no car and minimal funds, no family to come fetch me, when the same scenario presented. A category 5 heading for a direct hit, the city built on swampland, old wooden structures and a mandatory evacuation order.

But luckily I had a wonderful girlfriend who loaded me into her van along with her 4 children, a dog or two and, as I recall, several days worth of drinking water and cosmetics. And lots of food for the children.

This was, of course, after I had, as per local instructions, placed my computer in the bath tub.

Six hours on a highway, sun blazing, both temperature and humidity in the high 90s. Four miles traveled in that six hours. We all, everyone in those thousands of cars, assumed that the hurricane would find us there, waiting, oddly calm.

But by nightfall we finally made it to one of those gigantic truck stops, full of cars and confused refugees, no one knowing what they should be doing, what was going to happen. There were lamps, I remember, but very high up, creating a cloud of light and leaving the ground, and everything around us, in dark.

Beyond surreal, it was as if we’d made the wrong turn and ended up in a George Romero Night. Now, I’ll grant you that living in Savannah for a while does tend to make one a tad more vulnerable to certain forms of non-linear constructs. I had even taken to sipping sweet tea and casting mildly ironic spells with my girlfriends.

But this Night was fearsome. It could have been the last place on earth - an isolated unknown space, black with a total lack of resonance, absolutely silent. And still that sense of impending, or realized, doom.

And then one of those kind-faced, brown-haired, southern women was knocking on a window of our van. Accompanied by an equally benign gentlemen. They had somehow picked us out of the thousands of cars to offer us shelter in their church, just a ways down a road.

And so we slept on cool pews, out of the tropical swelter, and they fed us and many others. Sheltering us from the storm, which made a right turn, and from the Romero Night, which is probably still there, somewhere.

Savannah surprised me and taught me much about untrue truths and how to look with my eyes instead of my head. I found much less ignorance, less racism, less hate [though a fair amount of sugar-coated bitchiness, but I’ll take that over the former] than in Washington, New York or, most especially and most viciously, in southern California, which is, most probably, the actual incarnation of the Night of the Living Dead.

But with sunshine.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

An evening's lapse of reason

[The EZLN and other zapatista translations are all resting comfortably in the Library. Awaiting your pleasure.]

Head and hands have been immersed in Work all day, but, despite the associated guilt [amazing how ethnicity will out - even when not coupled with any actual religious component], I’ve decided to come up for air.

The words in question were universes away from the rhetorical shock and awe [though I wanted to say sturm und drang] of late. Although located in the very same geographical neighborhood, the communities, in fact. Schools, clinics, henhouses. Yes, domestic detail.

In case anyone is unfamiliar with my position on domestic detail, they could visit one of my first posts, Myth-making and sex.

And, since I’m clearly feeling reckless this evening, more on Dionysus.

It should be obvious by now that I’m not a fan of the Apollonian.

The sternly rational, intractable tract, pitching Logic in the face of Truth. Despite the always acceptable and endless rewriting of tract, gutting of logos, in the face of error, pique, regime change or outing.

What WMDs? The EU? The USSR?

Logos adores acronyms, no? They must be part of that panoply, the accoutrements, the much fancied trappings of desperately frightened male power [please note, gentlemen, I speak of that one type of male power, never thine].

They adore uniforms, whether motley or Hugo Boss, and, yes, I’m treading on thin ice, but it’s my rink. War begets nothing but war, and certainty fathers nothing but oppositional rigidity.

There is a reason why the women of the villages threw their pots and pans to the floor and, lured by the music, followed Dionysus to the hilltop, risking life, soul and chastity. And it had everything to do with that logic that lurks beneath the surface of things.

It really is the magic grove where seduction and true revolution meet.

The anarchist impulse that can indeed mother the turning upside down of things. Of everything.

But instead we are suffocated by hordes of the smarmy pompous ones or the righteously indignant or the insufferably correct. In every institution, on all fronts. No one who seems to understand the truly terrible risks inherent in metamorphosis.

Or why the phoenix leapt into the bonfire.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The divinity of chaos

[The EZLN and other zapatista translations are all in the Library, including a few new ones, and the sherry is on the sideboard. Help yourselves.]

I’ve been much too long out of the Parlour, and it had nothing to do with fun, I’m afraid. Such a black cloud this can be, those things that grab you by the throat and try to shake joy and pleasure out of body and soul.

Or, just a thought. They do have “child locks” of some sort for computers, no? I think it might be a blessing if someone were to devise a “google lock.” Thus preventing some of us from spending our lives on endlessly lateral facts - the Black Hole of pattern recognition.

And forcing some of us back to the postulate that sometimes a cigar is indeed just a cigar, and we might instead remember the virtues of clarity and cognition and contemplation.

No, I’m not referencing myself here, because the only time I have for googling is for the daily round of queries from friends and cohorts [the “do you knows” and “can you finds” and “I needs”, sigh].

Facts are just facts. They aren’t dreams or thoughts or the grand stuff of love and revolt. And endless googling, I fear, can, in the wrong hands, be the cyber-equivalent of globalization. Replacing local truths with global gossip, serious thought with wire feeds.

Or, even better: whatever.

Especially since I realize that no one, anywhere, has the vaguest clue whereof I speak. Which is a terrible pity, in fact, but, then again, c’est la guerre. Deep cover. What else can a poor girl do?

Sweetness and light, perhaps.

Particularly given the rolling blackouts; children who set their mobiles to Later…Maybe When I’m Dead Bored or Broke; the absolute dearth of beguiling flats in Barcelona a birdsong away from La Boquería; former lovers who suddenly resurface as if the Past were Prologue and not just horrid past [and no, dear B, I’m not referencing thou, sigh], and a fair few other tedious local truths.

Sweetness and light, my sweet derriere. The hour has come to take my own good, often proffered, advice. There are moments when patisserie and sunshine are not the answer.

There is no answer, of course, but there are revels to be had, as well as wine and Mysteries and chaos and even, so I’m told, ecstasy. Part of the riddle to be solved. No facts, but an abundance of passion, danger, and truth.

The quintessentially subversive, shape-shifting, paradoxical, priapic god. The one who appears, suddenly and terribly and in the flesh. The one all women want.

Most dear Dionysus.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Seduction, she suggested

[If you’re looking for the EZLN translations, they are all now tucked into the Library, although a few of the newer ones are also still here in the Parlour]

I’d been planning on making Friday my night for another frivolous edition of our Alt-Hola!, but, since I took yesterday off, I’m feeling much too guilt-ridden to lead with something so silly.

Seduction sounds like a much better idea.

After all, I had promised that this might be a place where seduction could happily coexist with revolt. On a number of levels.

Seduction can, might, perhaps should be, the third step in the lovely game of love. The one that follows flirtation and wooing. The hours of mystery and games, of learning and courting, would lead, if all goes well, to enchanting dénouement.

A dialectic some might say, but not I. Never I. Perhaps just a three act play.

Act One would be the thrill of encounter, flirtation and dalliance, a time of caprice, when nothing has yet been ventured, but one senses that there may indeed be much to gain.

Act Two would signal intent. There are unveilings, pursuits, suggestions, as lovers go about their business of discovering each other, and themselves. A time of risk and high adventure.

Act Three would regard celebration, consummation, resolution. The lovers are mindful, intent and enthralled. A time of passion.

Now, for those of us who inhabit the real universe, let me note that some of the above Acts might be hastened or even ignored, depending on intent. What exactly is one pursuing? Heart, mind, soul, body? Most of us are quite aware that a quick night down to the pub can mightily compress the above game if, for example, one is merely seeking an evening’s pleasure.

And there may be times when an audacious gentleman might be caught by surprise, capturing body much too quickly, only to discover he desired heart as well. Not a problem at all for the truly intrepid. Simply circle back and engage - simultaneously with Act Three most likely - in Acts One then Two.

One might find similar engagement in other venues, I suppose. Adverts which lure through flirtation or mystery, woo with not so subtle flattery [the purpose, after all, of the billions spent on niche research] and screw their demographics silly.

There might even be a glimmer of a possibility that some of this dialectic could be of use in, um, shudder, “political discourse.” In the wooing, say, of hearts and minds. Dalliance, discovery, seduction.

And if that were to be true, then I imagine it might be equally important, as it is with love, to be mindful of the process, most especially the second step. Otherwise one might, I imagine, as with love, end up with the object of one’s attentions just feeling bewildered…and ravished.

I wouldn’t dare leave this topic without providing a bit of useful treasure. “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell, but not - I entreat not - many of the middle stanzas. The last is the one you want:

"Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one Ball:
And tear our Pleasures with rough strife,
Through the Iron gates of Life:
Thus, though we cannot make our Sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A new communique, etcetera

I just posted a new, short note from Marcos in the Library.

It's basically directions for getting to this weekend's meeting with social organizations. With just a hint of what he's willing to suffer for vanity. Though, given the heat, I'd really suggest something in a dark-coloured, slimming, linen tunic, say, rather than foundation garments.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Little unarmed paper boats

I needed a break.

And we all needed a treat.

So, after having referred to a particular image the other evening from a communique of a number of years back, I decided to dig it out of the back shelf and put it on the table in the Library.

It has always been one of my favorites. Miroleando. You'll see.

Una nota

I just translated, and posted below, some new words. Sometimes, especially when this lovely, they shall rest in the Parlour for a bit, as well as in the Library.

Glove-flinging, tired bling and Single Penguin Seeks Soulmate

[If you’re looking for the EZLN translations, you can now find them in the Library]

Yes, I’m feeling marvelous now that the Parlour is all sorted, so marvelous that I’m almost going to promise to stop whining about recalcitrant technology and too much time spent using said technology.

I did say “almost,” knowing full well how very capricious the deities insist on being.

A rather surprising development late this evening in the Marcos-AMLO match. Notimex is reporting that López Obrador’s spokesperson has said that AMLO and/or PRD persons of whatever nature might indeed be willing to debate Marcos and others. Under certain conditions. This was the last thing I would have expected, which certainly illustrates how poorly trained my little finger is for taking the pulse of Mexican politics.

[Note to self: stop, just stop, reporting on anything having to do with Mexican politics, because all it gets you is the shame of retraction: the lovely ladies and gentlemen of the Frente, who read the Mexican dailies even more compulsively than do I, found a nasty little piece in which Manuel Camacho Solís, who works in AMLO's campaign, breezily dismissed any chance of dialogue between López Obrador and Marcos, since Marcos is working to "polarize" the nation: Here it is, and god, I want to know when I get to be able to rewrite history:

However, it is well trained for other things, including pilfering. I have decided to take freely from the Frente’s site for photos and such. Expect to see them here regularly. And you should have a look at their website, as they also did some recent remodeling. It’s very much easier to use now. Looking much less like a Vegas-style gambling site and more like a place you’d like to spend some time.

A segue presented? Yes, I shall grab it. I’ve been tired to the point of serious irritation for 10 years now with a particular stance – that ironic, Vegas, retro-trash, bling slinging, stripper girlfriend toting, Cristal guzzling persona. Yes, I have no issue with a brief infatuation with that kind of ironic persona when one is, say, 16, but, like so many other flings, after, say, a year, it’s not irony. It’s what you are.

Basta. The ones I’m thinking of are tired of hearing it.

Much more important, this evening... isn't Penguin’s full frontal lovely?

Monday, August 15, 2005

A Penguin in the Selva Lacandona; The Other Campaign Begins

Yes, now available in the Library. Which is indeed nicely furnished. Or soon will be.

A Penguin in the Selva Lacandona, Parts 1 and 2

The Other Campaign Begins - transcript of Marcos' remarks at August 6 encuentro

Edwardian, I think, with gothic windows

Change is good, yes?

And change involving moving the furniture and stitching up new curtains is delightful. However, new rooms, a larger space for hiding out or taking naps or any manner of derring do – that would be divine.

Let me welcome you to our Library [and I swear, there shall be a Conservatory, as well]. A new home, a proper place, for the translations. What I shall be doing is posting their arrival, along with a brief summary, here in the Parlour, as always. Along with a link to the Library.

I’ve been moving furniture [translations] all day, and it’s beyond exhausting. Where is the genius who could create some sort of program allowing idiots like me to merely select a text in HTML and delete the bloody thing?

I may, and I’m rather sure I shall, just delete most of the rest of the posts of translations [the ones still standing here in the Parlour] with an explanatory paragraph. Every one of them, however, is now snugly tucked into a bookshelf in our Library.

And, as if that might not be thrilling enough for a Sunday eve, we also now have a Merry Band of persons busily translating reportage and opinion pieces from the Mexican press for our edification. Or at least one, thus far, and the first is already on the sideboard, along with a pot of tea, in, yes, the Library.

Carlos Montemayor himself, the first part of a piece called The Two Campaigns.

As for news from the Mexican southeast and this weekend’s meeting – lots more pictures [and we trust ample warning was given]. I shall try and have a few up for us on the morrow, as well as the summary we await.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Paper boats and household gods

[Please, as ever, just keep scrolling down for all the EZLN translations - and some of them, of late, are exceptionally, um, lengthy, so feel free to keep on, and you shall soon come to others with a tad more brevity…plus that money shot, as well as other naughty and nice Parlour items]

Today was the second of the series of 6 meetings to be held in the Selva to discuss the Sexta. According to today’s reports, there were representatives from some 60 indigenous groups, ready to chat and be chatted up, share pozol and perspective.

The zapatour – the schedule for the extended jaunt the zapatistas will be taking out of zapatista lands - is to be announced September 16.

Now, once again back to guiding you through the waters below, the cascades and rivulets of words.

But I shall digress momentarily, because words and rivulets put me in mind [yes, I do have certain recurring themes in head and heart] of a little paper boat floating down a river, once upon a time. Carrying, or comprising, a note as I recall. I so hope others remember that image.

And then there was the little tree, the arbolito. Who was required to move from place to place.

Little things. Something about the diminutive enchants and enthralls. You have to move close to see it, to touch it. It requires nurture and thoughtfulness, a careful eye even to notice it, let alone learn it.

I have collected masks since I was 5. Of course. Long before all the current ones.

And my first was velvet and very old, attached to a thin tortoise wand. For flirting, of course, and magnificently.

But the one that owns my soul, literally, is the one that always, wherever I am, sits above my desk. I found it in a shop in San Juan years ago. Copper, tarnished, exquisite. And perched on its brow, also in copper, a tiny lizard. The artist who made it had given it the proper name:

"Guardian of Small Creatures."

Yes, well, more than enough of boring everyone silly.

The waters below:

The last post, a letter from Marcos to Don Fermín, is another response to a Letter to the Editor in La Jornada. It’s lengthy, but in a good and comprehensive way. Take the time.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The incredible frivolity of Fridays

[Just keep scrolling down for all the latest EZLN translations…and for the usual assortment of parlour games]

Yes, I know, I shouldn’t be here.

I should be in Word, stay in Word and not stray from Word until every single word is duly done.

But once again it’s Friday night, it’s August and a fair part of body and soul wish to be elsewhere. Someplace where Duty, Work and Word would never dare tread.

A simple place, where city lights don’t hide the stars, where good wine can be had for tuppence a litre and where someone else picks the raspberries for breakfast.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated and well rewarded.

But for the moment, I’d like to guide you through the waters below.

The last post was one of 2 letters from Marcos responding to Letters to the Editor in La Jornada this week. You’ll have the other one tomorrow.

Below that is the first of two parts of a transcription from last weekend’s meeting with political organizations of the left. It’s very, very long.

But, if you keep scrolling southward, you will soon find an amusing communiqué from Marcos which must be read in tandem with the photo below it.

All in addition, of course, to the usual bits and pieces of parlour frippery.

And, mad with need to up the silly summer ante, I’m also working on our next alt edition of Hola [People, Hello, whatever], knowing that you know by now we’re not allowed the serious without the non.

At least here we're not.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A new communique: Marcos on the next meeting...and that "extra weight" thing

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

Zapatista Army of National Liberation


August 9, 2005

To all those who endorse the Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona:

Compañeros and compañeras:

Greetings. I am writing you - in the remote event that you did not swallow that story about how Salinas de Gortari, Roberto Madrazo, the Yunque and Martha Sahagún are behind us, and that we’re criticizing the PRD and AMLO to play ball with the PRI and the right - in order to let you know that today is the second anniversary of the Caracoles and the Good Government Juntas. And, as of tomorrow, the Juntas’ annual report will be at the disposal of all interested persons and organizations. And to remind everyone about the next preparation meeting of work and discussion for the “other campaign.”

As we have already announced, those being convened now are the Indian Peoples of Mexico, Indigenous Organizations, and those organizations and groups which are helping and accompanying the indigenous in the struggle for their rights. Arrival will be this Friday, August 12, at the time you like and/or can. On Saturday, the 13th, in the morning, after we have a bit of breakfast, we will begin the meeting, and we’ll continue all day, except, every so often, we’ll have intermissions for eating and for those needs which are referred to as “biological.” Departure will be on Sunday, August 14.

The location will be in the territory of La Garrucha Good Government Junta, in the zapatista community of Carmen Pataté, which is located on the road to San Quintín, about an hour from Ocosingo. The three banners will now be there which read “Preparation Meetings for the Sexta. Information,” “To the Meeting for the Sexta,” and “Here It Is.” Already planted in our zapatista hearts, forever, is the obsession that reads “Welcome the Color We Are of the Earth.”

We hope the people at Frayba don’t think ill of us and that they will continue directing - with a little map or something like that - those who come (if, of course, anyone is still coming).

By the Sexta Committee of the EZLN

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

Mexico, August of 2005

PS Which Attempts To Justify the “Few Kilos More Weight” Thing - We were looking at the pictures and the captions, and I said: “It’s just that in photographs and videos you look fatter than you are.” The insurgenta Erika was looking at me, and with that very zapatista irony, she said: “Hey, Sup, good they didn’t see what you were like before the Red Alert.”…Didn’t I tell you? These young people today just don’t respect us…the…the…the “mature” young people.

PS With More Futile Arguments - Besides, it’s the photographers and videographers’ fault. I believe they’re at the service of Salinas, Madrazo, the PRI and the right, because if they weren’t, they would have warned me, and I could have sucked my belly in when the picture was taken, no?

PS Concerning Don’t Tell Anyone - About wearing that sash (the belt where the cartridge clips are carried). If I were to take it off, a belly would appear that looked like it were 6 months pregnant.

Cynical PS - Fine, yes and so what? Chubby but pretty. Besides, modestly here, I still have the most beautiful legs in the world…well, neither you nor me: in Mexico…no? Then in the Mexican southeast?…Neither?, in Chiapas then?…in the Selva Lacandona?…hmmm, in the Tzeltal Selva?…in the barracks?…among those criticizing PRD and AMLO?…hmmm…in…hmmm…well, then, like I told you: chubby but pretty.

PS Which Sobs Disconsolately - You mean I’m not a “sex symbol” anymore? It’s settled: now I can’t even get my coffee hot.

PS Which Consoles Self - You know what? Not even mean faces and rotten oranges: bears are fat, I’m just fine.

PS To Whom it May Concern - Two little biographical files in order to help support the criticisms of those respective persons holding forth against the EZLN for “adventurism,” “mistake,” “bravura,” and “bar fight.”

José Manuel Gómez Espinoza. Mexican, indigenous and zapatista. El Paraíso Colonia. Municipality of Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas, Mexico. On April 10, 2004, he was 24 years old and a bachelor. On that day, he went to a zapatista demonstration in order to carry water to his compañeros in Zinacantán. The peaceful demonstration was attacked by PRD members and by municipal officials, also PRD, with firearms. He was one among dozens who were wounded. He is now 23 years old, and he has a bullet lodged in his head, in the part called “occipital.” Today he’s married, and every two months he has to travel to Tuxtla Gutierrez so they can check the projectile in his skull. The attackers are free, they are still in the PRD, some are municipal officials, and they have formed one of those citizens’ networks in support of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. “The first indigenous network in support of AMLO,” declared PRD leaders in Chiapas.

José Luis Solís López. Mexican, indigenous and zapatista. Community of La Realidad. “San Pedro de Michoacán” Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipality. Married, with 6 children, among them a two year old girl (her name is Xóchitl), who was just born when her father was kidnapped and held for 9 days in September of 2003. At that time, PRD members, headed by Miguel Ángel Vázquez Hernández (of the PRD CIOAC), and with the help of the municipal president of Las Margaritas, PRD Luis Escandón Hernández (who today is part of the state PRD leadership in Chiapas), detained him. They tied him up in the back of a truck, and they took him from one place to another, without eating and without even giving him a blanket. After he was released, he went back to his work. He’s the driver for a truck belonging to the Good Government Junta of the Border Selva Region. The truck is used for transporting passengers and goods from zapatista communities. The truck is called “Kidnapped.”

I do so testify.

The Sup (Now indeed holding his breath to try and recover his once eminent figure).

A brief recess [wherein I come out to play for a moment]

[Scroll down for all the latest EZLN translations and many other things]

Just imagine, being caught in a downpour sans parasol. Yes, a veritable monsoon of words have descended.

In addition to the below-mentioned 18 pages of transcription from last weekend’s meeting in the Mexican Southeast, another 10 also arrived this evening.

So, as I settle my nerves with a bracing tot of Jameson – I’ve always enjoyed laying claim to cultural stereotypes [just my own, of course, which is allowed] – let me offer a few [far fewer than 28 pages worth, I promise] of explication.

I do not know, yet, if we’ll be getting these transcripts from the next 5 meetings [pausing to refresh said tot], or if we’ll be graced with summaries.

I do know, however, that at least one of the reasons for these transcripts has to do with a bit of a contrêtemps over a piece of reportage. The “if you’re with AMLO, you can’t be with the EZLN” or however it went.

It apparently never happened.

La Jornada withdrew it. I withdrew [read: deleted] it. Good camper that I am, I shall not mention who wrote those words. Nor shall I have any words of my own on the subject.

And there is much in the transcript that does speak otherwise. Adding another interesting layer to an already splendidly inlaid work. I have mentioned that I despise labyrinths, but, as I also mentioned, I do adore deduction.

Now, the second set of pages, the 10. These are comprised of 2 letters from Marcos, responding to 2 Letters to the Editor that were written to La Jornada. Today.

The speed of sound, or words, or words at the speed of light [yes, indeed, Coldplay is playing as I write].

So, unless advised otherwise, I shall be translating the Letters first, and then the transcript. Not, I’m afraid, at the speed of light, but as quickly as I can.

And what have I learned today?

Reportage is a dangerous occupation. And, even more importantly, it might be useful if my self-imposed proscription against reading that lunatic forum at El Universal…were to be universal.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Una nota

As I had been expecting, and mentioned last night, I just received transcripts of Marcos' remarks from the weekend. They comprise opening remarks and a Response to Political Organizations of the Left.

There are, however, 18 single-spaced pages, so what I'm going to do is read and summarize them for this evening, while I'm working on the translation, which will be up in a day or two.


A brief pause for a fleeting fit of angst

[Please, as always, just keep scrolling down for all the latest EZLN translations, as well as for assorted diversions]

I have decided to stay as far away as possible from that El Universal forum I mentioned last evening. I don’t consider myself even slightly naïve, but the sheer quantity of rabid dementia being spewed there is actually frightening.

There were a few more articles today on the weekend encuentro in the Selva, but I’ve decided to wait for the communiqués we’ve been promised. We should be getting some sort of summaries - much better, I believe, than more third-hand reports.

So what might be found the furthest possible distance from the madhouse at El Universal?

Even Herrick won’t suffice tonight, I’m afraid.

When did it all change? It really has, and I know I’m going to sound terribly recherché du temps perdu here, not to mention deeply uncool, but I don’t give much of a damn. There must have been a turning point, a marker, something we might have noticed at the moment if we’d been more attentive.

Jerry Springer, perhaps? Or when the first postal worker turned postal? When did it become not only socially acceptable, but mandatory, to be loud and loutish and hideously rude?

It’s everywhere, now, at least in North America [and I include all signatories to NAFTA]. Talking heads model the WWF, shopkeepers seethe, reality shows up the ante and reality won’t fold.

And the rancor spreads eastward. Every time I move back to Dublin, I see the change. Easier there, perhaps to fathom, given the rubble left in the wake of the Celtic tiger. Nowhere is the chasm more glaring. Stroll into Brown Thomas and watch the ladies and gentlemen who shop. Then, just round the corner, and see what you see.

But it’s so much more than that. It’s something else entirely.

All manner of people seem to have embraced their fury, freed it, finding outlet everywhere. Fits of lunatic paranoia on the Universal forum, old friends snapping into new and virulent obsession at the drop of a pin.

It’s as if the line between spectator and spectacle has blurred, and the audience has jumped into the Coliseum. As if, yes, the consummate counterrevolutionary coup, we ourselves have become the circus, and to hell with the bread.

I do, absolutely, promise to lighten up tomorrow.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Yes!! The money shot! Say hi to Penguin.

Coverage, comments, choler...and chivalry

[As always, just keep scrolling down for the latest EZLN translations and other, much more frivolous, topics]

They came, he talked, they listened. They talked, he listened.

I wish there were more to report, but that seems to be the gist of it. Other than the fact that one of the main topics of post-talk discussion was the very one we’ve been having here, albeit mostly in the Comments.

The reports were odd. Reuters, AP and the BBC ran, word for word, almost identical stories. Cuarto Poder had tons of pictures, apparently in search of the money shot relating to the Sup’s “good health.” There are two sides to this story, dependent on subtext and sense of humor.

One aspect: a pointed dig at Fredy, a “journalist” for El Universal who’s been struggling for years to keep his name in print and who regularly, when times are quiet, resurrects fantasies about Marcos’ failing health [and Fredy has been notably absent thus far this weekend].

The other point is that the Sup has apparently – according to one of La Jornada’s reporters and to the above referenced money shot – put on the odd pound or two. I'm not sure I got the right link to the Cuarto Poder money shot, but I'll try again. You'll also get to see Penguin. Well, I just tried, and I can't get a link to the article, so I'm going to try to import the shot in question. We shall see.

But madre de dios, if you want to see comments – and if you can read Spanish – you must have a peek at what’s going on in one of El Universal’s ad hoc forums. It had me instantly seduced, though in a train wreck sort of way. I simply couldn’t stop pouring through them. No mincing of words, madness, memory or choler.

Quite a few of them, even those pro, expressed concern over the lack of civility of some of the recent words emanating from the Mexican southeast. Words of choler begetting, such a surprise, words of choler.

Basta, for me, for the moment. We shall have many more goings on over the next 6 weeks, but right now I’m in the mood for a dose of lyric chivalry.

Yes, we remember the age. When knights errant of various size, ilk and genre roamed in the oddest places, words were wielded like sly rapiers and wit reigned supreme.

It might be a good evening for revisiting Cervantes, reminding ourselves of gallant terrain and truly risky venture.

And Lorca, please. Always Lorca for the perfect word matched with perfect heart. And duende, of course.

“Verde, te quiero verde...” I’ve never understood how, but his words can, and often do, call the heavens themselves to come down and play. I swear.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

News from the front...and words to remember

[As ever, keep scrolling down for the latest EZLN translations, as well as for more frivolous topics of special interest to the Parlour]

For those of you who have been following events, the first of 6 scheduled meetings was held in Chiapas today. This weekend the invitees were delegates from “social organizations of the left.”

The zapatistas are once again meeting with “civil society,” though I note that that phrase has suddenly disappeared from the page. Perhaps it now feels too broad a sweep, too generic, not fitting for the new chapter. Given how much I adore civility, though, I shall probably miss it.

And I would like to be clear that everything I have to say about these events is based on mainstream media reports - and an increasingly interesting lot it is.

Hints were dropped, and Marcos did indeed show up. According to the excellent wire service, EFE, he spoke for an hour and a half and apparently spent a good part of that time attacking Lopez Obrador [PRD mayor of Mexico City until last week, when he resigned to throw his hat in the ring for the PRD presidential nomination for next year’s federal election].

AMLO, as he’s known, has been the particular object of Marcos’ wrath for some time [I referenced this in an earlier post regarding “naming of names” communiqués].

I understand that this particular issue mightn’t be of huge interest to persons not residing in Mexico, but it’s of tremendous interest there. Lines are being drawn, for better or for worse, and the sea change in the political landscape is already becoming apparent.

There is indeed a gamble at play, risks being taken, as we were warned. AMLO is quite popular and respected by many, both among the base and among the intellectuals [I require a new term for this, really, really, really], including some who had been very long time supporters of the zapatistas.

You can follow this in La Jornada, both in the words and in the positioning of articles.

So, amidst all the many necessary issues, there is the one concerning the tactical consequences of drawing lines while simultaneously broadening the base. And the usefulness of a conscious distinction between various kinds of discourse.

More tomorrow, as I assume we’ll have both Henriquez and Bellinghausen giving us their – distinct – observations on today’s doings in La Jornada.

And on a deeply sad, and oddly contrapositive, note. Robin Cook. I came very close, once upon a time, to writing him a love letter. Not for his wit and brilliance and morality and way with words, but because of what he did, once upon a time.

If you would like to remember some of his words when he resigned the government, just before the bombs fell in Iraq, here they are.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Dog days

[as ever, keep scrolling down for all the latest EZLN translations]

It really is Friday night, and it really is August, and I really truly had every intention of paying homage to those facts this evening.

It struck me that what we all [editorial "we all," of course] needed at this moment was some kind of alt "Hola." I think the version in the States is People or US or somesuch. A flippy little rag of no content whatsoever, full of pictures and tiny captions, all designed to make the masses shudder with scorn or envy or giggles.

I tend to the giggling end of the spectrum.

So, as I was attending to my daily chores, my mind was gliding about the planet, trying to come up with suitable characters. Who were the glitterati of the "left"? The over-accessorized ones, those celebrating dynastic marriages, those who made one's jaw drop, those begging to be teased?

I needed to come up with someone, or many, other than George Galloway, of course. So, since I have passing acquaintance with a fair few countries, I thought and thought and thought. Sigh.

In the States, all those who considers themselves of the left tend to mirror the panic of their souls in their garb. Either fiercely trying to mimic the conservative mode of all those witless yapping heads on telly, desperately trying to project gravitas, to "pass" and not to scare the horses in the street. Or they cling to their archetypal visions of the 60s. Weatherperson meets midlife crisis, as it were. The ponytail may be grey, but fire still burns in the expanding tummy.

Ariana Huffington, though, might be a damn fine possisibility, although she's much too Euro to have mastered the California Dynasty art of dressing. Much more Armani than, say, Rodeo Drive, and, therefore, not nearly as much fun.

Mexico, of course, has Gilberto López y Rivas, very much a Galloway clone. I wonder if they could possibly have been separated at birth? Not only in dress and style and swagger, but also in ill-considered, startlingly boorish yowls. Does anyone else remember the Pol Pot outburst?

France has Bové, the alt Depardieu in so very many ways. And Danielle Mitterand could be our Lauren Bacall.

There must be others, but my imagination fails. I promise to work on this, though, throughout this long and exceedingly hot month.

As a bit of a postscript, and for anyone who wishes for treasure...follow some of those leaving comments, back to their blogs and websites, and, I promise, you'll find it in abundance.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

On being wooed and the joys of flirtation

Being wooed, like wooing, is an art that must be learned, practiced, celebrated.

And, speaking as a woman, I believe it might be even more difficult a task than that of courting itself. It requires patience, discretion, strength and an absolutely unshakable faith in one’s own glory.

One caveat – I’m speaking of men and women, but, as I noted in a Comment, the paths I envisage are less gender related than they are role related. Same sex lovers will choose the path that suits them, and I know they do. But as for ladies and gentlemen, I truly believe that there are reasons for these paths and that we ignore them at our own peril. Or misery.

Now, why would a lady wish to be courted, to be pursued? Because this is the process by which her lover learns her. Learns her mind, her heart, her soul, her body. Her name. And this is how he proves that he’s worthy of her love, by taking the time and the terrible risks to do all of this. Suitor tasks.

And what would happen if the lady didn’t understand this and attempted the wooing herself, sigh? Most of us have, at one time or fifty others, done just that, and I think we know the consequences. We have attempted to “prove” our own worthiness and impress the boy with our credentials [note to Miguel: exactly], show him how much we understand him, how good we are at knowing him, caring for him, adoring him.

There were long years when I was convinced that other girls knew something, from their infancy, that I did not. Not that I was ever at a loss for lovers, but something was wrong. No matter how hard I tried, I felt negligible, unknown, not, somehow, valued properly.

And what boy in his right mind wouldn’t smile and adore being adored and cared for? What could be better, or easier, than sitting back and just being loved, without ever having to go to the trouble of learning – and wooing – the woman in question?

The consequence, of course, is that then the gentleman most probably will never go to that particular trouble, and the woman will end up wondering why.

Why, for example, she feels unknown, unloved, alone. Perhaps they both write, and he sends her chapters of his novel, but he’s never bothered to read one of her words. Perhaps they have both done astonishing things, but only his history matters.

Perhaps they sit through an entire meal never exchanging a glance, let alone a sentence.

And how could he even understand that there might be a problem? After all, he never had to slay a dragon or spend hours in a dusty bookshop thinking only of her, learning her, learning how to love the woman he loved.

All he ever had to do was show up, and there she was…courting him.

I have been a middle sister to two brothers, the mother of a son, raised another woman’s male child. I do, in fact, adore boys, beyond all measure. And, as anachronistic as it might sound, I love caring for them, playing with them, delighting them, reveling in their company.

But it took me a lifetime to learn to be wooed.

So what is a girl to do? Everything.

She goes out into the world and fights astonishing battles. She studies, learns, reads, dances, sings, paints, fixes cars or computers or countries. She jumps rope, plays chess, collects stamps, organizes unions, paints her toenails. Anything. And everything. Glorying in her own wondrous self.

So when the proper - or improper, or both, we hope - suitor comes along, he’s going to have one hell of a lot of work to do. And, until he does, we have one hell of a life.

But, also, in the meantime, she should be flirting like mad. Endlessly.

Flirting is NOT courting. It’s playing, dancing, giggling, batting eyelashes, the grown up version of hide and seek or dress-up games. I have been accused of flirting with anything that moves, and I do. I flirt with babies and the postman, with the old lady at the bakery and the tech support guy in India, with dogs and cats and that very cute boy who lives upstairs.

But it is not pursuit.

And, once upon a time, just a few years ago, when I was living in Savannah, I had a reverse Cinderella ball [note to spark: yes!]. All my girlfriends, ranging in age from 16 to many decades past that, were to invite a boy – one whom they didn’t really know, or to whom they hadn’t been formally introduced. The subtext was, of course, to improve the pool of fanciable gentlemen in our midst. And also, I might add, to teach them how to flirt.

Invitations were etched so they could be handed to the gentlemen with the caveat that this was not a date, merely an invitation. Nooks and crannies were arranged in the house and in the garden. Flowers were scooped out of dumpsters behind florist shops on Friday evening [if you are unaware of this mother lode, here it is – many shops dispose of much treasure prior to closing for the weekend]. All guests were informed that flirting was mandatory.

The wine flowed, there was much more dancing than I might have expected, more giggling and silliness, and, given the boys in question, more civility than I had dreamt possible. Case in point, the constabulary didn’t even arrive until 4:30 in the morning.

Because flirting can be so very much more than celebrating the glories and wonders of everything that moves. It’s also the first dance step, indicating interest, hinting at availability, whispering possibilities. And unbelievable fun.

Some housekeeping notes

[please, always, keep scrolling down for the latest EZLN communiques]

Just a note about a few changes I've made here. The first one is obvious - you can now email any of the posts to friends, lovers, enemies, your cat.

The other is less obvious. I've decided to change the settings - as an experiment of sorts - to allow posts from Everyone. Meaning one no longer has to start a blog just to pen a charming, delicious, intriguing comment. So, if you've been hesitant to take the time to set up an account, or you prefer to retain deep cover [and god knows I understand that]...feel free.

The caveat, of course, is that - as I so hope is obvious by now - I will not countenance rudeness, incivility, strident screeches or hostility. My goodness, there are millions of other places that embrace those qualities, so no need to tarry here.

I do not - as I also hope is obvious - have any problem whatsoever with profanity, idle speculation [though, again, no naming of names, please], wisdom, curiosity, silliness, love letters, light verse, recipes, deep thoughts, questions. Ad quite infinitum. So, once again, welcome to my parlour.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The rites of courtship

[as ever, just keep scrolling down for all the latest EZLN translations]

I’ve decided to take the evening off from distressing topics and sordid realities. There are always more than enough of those around, and, given the current state of world and personal affairs, there are never enough reminders of their opposite.

So a few words on courting this evening.

Not flirting, which is an entirely distinct, ever delightful, pastime. And courting is different than being courted, of course, and we shall discuss that at another time.

Tokens figure prominently in the process of wooing. Tokens of esteem, of affection, of love. They are gestures meant to speak words unspoken. And to evoke similarly unspoken words.

But wooing is art, not science, and its realm is the heart, not the marketplace. There are classic tokens – archetypes, platonic ideals of gesture - that have been with us forever, and for good reason. But, like so much of late, their true content has been displaced, robbed of meaning, become commodity.

And one of the many consequences has become that suitors [and those being wooed] have forgotten the purpose of gesture, relegating them to thoughtless, easy purchase. One more item on their shopping list for the quickie mart or catalogue or mall.

So how does one turn, say, flowers and books and unmentionables back into tokens worthy of giver and recipient?

There are canons, of course, and history, but so much easier to have a few Hints.

Flowers. Never, ever, ever, under any under circumstances other than funereal [and then only when you can’t be present in person to strew blossoms], even think of purchasing an “arrangement.” Stiff little blooms stuck into icky green blocks by a stranger say nothing other than “I think I’m supposed to do this, but I don’t have an idea in hell why…”

So what is a boy supposed to do? Fresh cut flowers, preferably from one of those markets where you can purchase the stems individually out of bins. Worst case, but acceptable, a florist where you can buy them out of the cooler, picking and choosing carefully. Considering milady’s favorite colors and such, noting scent and shape. As you do milady.

Another option, from a garden or field or roadside. I had a lovely lover once who kept me enchanted all through one Spring with armfuls of blooms culled from a public garden in a large city [though I’m not recommending that course, given the possible penal consequences].

As for method of delivery, my favorite is to have them left by a door, the bell rung, and the swain disappear. Just as I still do myself for friends and neighbours on MayDay, one of the many lovely traditions of that, my favorite day of the year. Don’t forget to leave a note, even if it’s just your name.

As for books, again, if you are courting and not, say, sending your nephew in Amsterdam something for his birthday, do not log on to amazon.com or run out to your local Barnes & Noble. One is required to haunt dusty old used book shops in interesting parts of any city. To pour over the stacks and think, soulfully, of your beloved. What does she love, what might she love? Nor is this the time to introduce her to your own passion for, say, trainspotting or Beowulf or Warhol. It is the time to think deeply of her.

And, if you have no clue, find a poet you love. And if you don’t have one, then find one. This is the process, the dance, the reason love leads to flowers and words and heart.

As for lingerie, there is the always bedeviling issue of…size. I must add, though, that you should probably not be contemplating the purchase of such items if you do not already have at least some general idea of your beloved’s form. Again – please – forgo large shops and chain stores. A treasure of luxuries can be had in vintage shops. Fetching little wraps, satin bed jackets whipped with lace, all manner of indulgences for a euro or quid or whatever or two. Trust me.

Of course it’s a dying art, like so many others. But I do think, truly, that once you are doing this, both you and your beloved will both know why you are doing it. Once upon a time, “suitor tasks” were understood and celebrated by all parties. These are the baby steps.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A field guide to provocateurs and their ilk

[keep scrolling down for all the latest EZLN translations]

La vida has been of her own mind of late, in a number of fashions.

Four days ago I actually wrote a breezy little manual on the outing of provocateurs and such. Honed it, completed it, went to publish it, when…it disappeared. As sometimes happens. No amount of hitting the “recover post” button was of any use. And, since I’m neither superstitious nor paranoid, I was once again forced to my usual impotent raging at the Furies.

Thus, an apology, for having promised and not fulfilled in a timely manner.

Exculpatory errata

Please note that everything I have to say on the subject is drawn simply from my own experience, nothing else. Experience, however, which spans several decades, various movements and more than one continent.

And, not to disappoint, but I have no intention whatsoever of outing anyone. That is precisely what they seek – to distort, deceive and disrupt. To change the focus from the struggle to something, anything, else. Even and often to themselves.

My purpose, therefore, is to provide some information which might be useful in identifying them. Clues, as it were. Patterns of behavior, habitats, tactics, that you can observe, note and deal with as you choose.

And another note. It is next to impossible to ever be absolutely certain in these matters. Therefore, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like mad, lead it gently back into the pond from whence it came.

An arbitrary typology…or poseurs, provocateurs, castrati and such

As in so many arenas, what matters are consequences, not intent. Thus one will find many a self-serving poseur. These are the individuals who can be noted by their absence from the scene when their “cause” is no longer in the headlines or on the news. But they are faster than a speeding bullet when something is “happening.” Dropping names, acting as if they’ve been there forever. And, one way or another, always, making some cash out of the deal.

Another clue to their game is that they almost invariably fail to do enough homework, being too busy arranging the lights or firing off apocalyptic bulletins to stir their fans/consumers. And that lack of homework and media spotlight can be both diversionary and dangerous. I remember once when a US government document was “misread,” mistaking the ELN for the EZLN and leading to a flurry of rumour and damage that had to be mopped up by anyone with access to a scullery.

Image is all for them. They may come as rugged cowboy, rumpled media heavyweight, tarnished saint, but come they do. And then they leave. Always off to the latest, hottest, most profitable New Thing.

Now we come to the ever annoying provocateur. Their role historically has been to infiltrate a group, behave like a lunatic and disrupt. Nowadays, however, given the virtual nature of so much of our work, they tend to do their business online.

Flooding lists with off-topic, and off-putting, posts. Veering as far as they can into the caricature of sociopathy. Diverting, disrupting and horrifying. Their first hope is to marginalize the site, their second is to shut it down.

For those of you who have been around for a while, you might remember a certain Chiapas list. A particularly prolific character [or characters, since he was addicted to transparent shape-shifting] appeared, always ready to post endless words on provocative [of course] issues and stir rabid, off center discussion. And this was at an especially difficult time in Chiapas, when loss of focus could have led to serious consequences.

And, when that was not enough, he turned to another favorite tactic. Slander.

Slander is also a tool in the arsenal of another species which I call castrati, for what I would like to think are quite obvious reasons. You know this sort. Often, though not always, male. Driven by hysterical [and I use that adjective with full intent of referencing its historical origins] rage, bonded to his computer with superglue, always on the lookout for a new target for his sublimated wrath.

In other times they were tying limbs to a rack, flogging disbelievers, burning the dangerous one at a stake. Tedious stereotype at its worst – displacing, projecting, purifying, pogrom making. These repressed zealots are the easiest to spot. Their hysteria gives them away, they despise anything female [unless she be virginal or martyred or, preferably, both] and, like the poseur, they never do enough homework.

As, for example, a recent wanker of no note, who - if he had indeed been involved and Irish as he avers - would have been present at a marvelously riotous May Day celebration one weekend a few years back at a certain pub in Dublin. A charmingly licentious evening was had by all, and he would have been left with no doubt, for example, as to the proper suffix of my name. Thus sparing himself the humiliation of his recent public self-outing.

And, speaking of Dublin, that brings us to counterinsurgents.

They often wish to meet you – in person. Or to get your phone number so they can chat. Or, if they think you’re wired, to get an introduction to someone inside. They are smart enough, usually, to pretend they have something to offer. A project, a skill, something of value.

These are the dangerous ones who can arrange to have your phone line cut in the basement of your building and, simultaneously, at the switching station. Who can outsource their work to such a degree that the junkie street person who’s being paid to watch you and follow you day and night might indeed be a whacked out junkie and not just someone who’s been dressed up to look like one. Not a pleasant circumstance.

They tap your phones, hack your computer, have you followed. Except for the one attack in Dublin, my experience has been benign. I have been lucky, unlike many others. In Chiapas they outsource to paramilitaries and thugs and anyone else who needs the price of a cup of coffee.

And how does one recognize them? Very easily. They’re the ones who are trying to do you serious harm. And, unlike the poseurs and castrati, they do their homework very very well.

A game for the parlour

Yes, a bonus.

I suspect that one of the above types – someone I know from my above referenced past – has posted comments here a couple of times. If it is he, I must admit that he’s mellowed a bit, for now at least. Or perhaps he’s just investing in higher quality chronic. Time will most likely tell.

Have some fun. But I absolutely insist – no naming of names. Think of this as a private, practical exercise, designed to sharpen your observational skills.

After all, being right is never enough. You also have to be swift and smart and endlessly intrepid.