Thursday, September 16, 2010
"Ayer era maravilla, Llorona, y ahora ni sombra soy..."

Monday, February 09, 2009

My Mother, Aurora

Aurora passed on January 25, 2009, at the age of 85. Aurora was born April 6, 1923 in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. She was preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, Aquiles, brother Carlos, sisters Concepción, Eloisa, Estela, and parents, Emilio and Berta. Aurora leaves behind eight sons and daughters – Betty, Aurora Elizabeth, Aquiles, Alejandro, Alonzo, Blanca, Nancy, and Susana; 25 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-granddaughters. Aurora is survived by sisters Ofelia and Teresa.

As a sister, mother, and grandmother to several generations, Aurora provided us a warm home and caring heart. Her devotion to family proved to be the solid foundation that enabled strong bonds of love and dignity. Her appreciation of small details as well as living her life based on admirable life principles will be sorely missed. Aurora’s love and good nature will live in the hearts of relatives, friends, and neighbors who were fortunate to have known her. Aurora passes to the spirituality and reunification with her husband, Aquiles.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother Earth on Mother's Day 2008 (Dedicada a Aurora!)
Universal: Dancing and Listening to Music on You Tube? Three Videos Below
It was Einstein, I think, that once spoke about nationalities needing their own affirmation, and one's respect for that sentiment. Searching for universality and recognition that although we come from different lands and speak different languages, know and accept different gods, we are the only human family on this planet. My youth once asked, "When do we get there, when will there be peace and harmony?". When I gather in rallies, march for civil rights, or play music with others from very different backgrounds, the question is partially answered. But on a concrete and intellectual level, the motivation of the human family's inability to make more progress, is disappointing. The process of development for each nationality to gather, know itself, and prepare to interact with other nationalities is, in my opinion, the contemporary challenge. There's blood, bone, and hunger that press against the soul, demanding justice for ancient wrongs, pleading for apology from being thrown to the end of a line, or being the first to be sacrificed by guile or non-consent. Today's youth assumes the torch and I'm heartened. With the speed of sound, music, and electronic signal, the process noted above appears to be accelerating.

Could there be spiritual connections evolving that are allowing individual cultures or nations to glimpse the universality of each and accept? And tolerate? And respect?

Lately, I've been sitting and listening. Being part of the audience. Let's just say that I've been on the proactive and "doer" journey for a few years, doing the music, putting on the program, organizing the content and presentation, and contracting the speakers or artists. So, its a treat to be on the other side, receiving. I hear comments from film viewers, dancing couples, and even take time to read blog or website feedback commentary. Hmmm... aside from the fact that we all could use a refresher course in spelling (definitely in regards to English and Spanish) when expressing an opinion or review, (ha ha ha), I understand the posted or published comments; and that is what is important. The Internet is a global village that (almost) connects every nation. Some of the artistic and musical productions that are favored by a significant portion of a country's people are interesting to review on You Tube, for example. Newspapers, radio, films, and television have saturated societies perhaps a couple of hundred years, but only to a point. Common, worldwide communication has been available to "the masses" only recently. It is the Internet through the personal computer or cell phone that allows the feedback, the response, from the other half of the artistic and entertainment equation.

So, recently, I've been scouring my memory to identify songs that had a pronounced impact on me when I first heard them. I'm making a list, slowly, but I came up with two tunes -- one that was released in 1972 and another that made its debut some time in the late 1990s or shortly thereafter. I wondered what type of response these songs elicited by ordinary folk. I was quite surprised to learn how other people from all over the world, have an opinion about these songs. Solely from personal observation, I note that any video available on You Tube that generates more than 50,000 views or hits is popular. These two songs and videos of the songs are among my favorites. From a musician's standpoint, I'm trying to understand whats happening, what elements of the two artistic pieces go to heart, regardless of the language in which they were written or sung. Regardless of age, regardless of gender, of nation. They cross boundaries, peacefully, and respectfully. What Einstein referred to, perhaps. Hope you enjoy too.

"Alone Again (Naturally)", by Gilbert O'Sullivan (Irishman from Great Britain)

"Everybody Has to Learn Someday", by The Korgis (the original performers & writers)

"Everybody Has to Learn Someday": I just had to include this extra version covered (recorded and sung) by Zuccahero.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Me voy a mover!" or should it be "Me voy a mudar!" The beauty of Spanish is its simplicity yet most of us who've been raised on "this side of the border" away from the land on the continent where our ancestors originate, always seem to trip on best-practice word usage. Well, its a good thing the Latino population is growing in leaps and bounds within the U.S., we'll be able to put more words in the dictionary, regardless of their properness. OK, yeah, I'll agree that this may not necessarily be a good thing. I mean why push for the creation of more dialects ala spanglish, since there is an authoritative Spanish language "center" a few thousand miles away, across the Atlantic (in Spain)? I'm not studying Spanish. In a perverse way, I sort've enjoy stumbling across not-so-proper terms that don't conform to grammatical dogma. And now that we're all connected via the Internet (except the selvas / rainforests perhaps, where kind peoples have not been messed with), it doesn't take long for a term to become more popular than what's in the dictionary. But, lets accept "mover" for the moment. I'm trying to say that I'm 2,000 miles east-southeast from where I was living when my last post was banged out. Me movi de California y ahora vivo en Tejas. Change of residence card filled out in the USPS: old home=California, new home=Texas. I miss both!

LOL! I miss northern Calif. and my relatives and friends and slightly thinner air. And I miss Texas too. What! I AM NOW IN TEXAS, so why am I missing it? I hadn't lived in Texas for over two decades and, amigos y companeros/as, it is quite different than when I called it "home". I miss that old Texas. Ahhh, parts of it. Hmmmm, but the new Texas, for me, is interesting too. I'm liking it. I like the burgeoning diversity -- more cultures, nationalities, more languages, and stubborn clumps of progressive politics that burst through dirty, soul-less stretches of cement and asphalt. I like the shift from smothering good 'ol boy conservatism which in reality was never a political "ism" but merely a convenient pecking order of privilege and connection to latifundista families (plantation social/economic types) who got here in the 1800s. I ain't saying its Berkeley or St. Paul, but the social environment has changed. Bush notwithstanding, there are promising political reps from grassroots to State Capital legislators who speak some truth every so often, and the message gets broadcast, printed in the 3-4 Texas dailies, or gets posted on YouTube. We from Calif. can't be too smug, can we, when we foisted homegrown Reagan on the U.S., not to mention Prop. 209, Prop. 13 ad nauseum.

There's movement here in Tejas and Barack Obama didn't do too bad a few days ago when his Causa replete with "SI SE PUEDE" -- an old grassroots slogan from militant mainly Mexican, farm workers unions going back to the 1960s -- swept into campuses, barrios, campos, and inner city centers scoring heavy attendance. Yeah, campaign slogan is "YES WE CAN!" but that's the beauty of "movements in the making" -- its got automatic artistic license and the human river knows the power of YES or SI! Affirmative, there's buses everywhere to get on. There's hope. Obama ain't perfect and he is a politician, but he's the one whose speaking more truth. The Mexican-americans/Mexicanos/Chicanos probably can pull out a few more Causa slogans in the Southwest -- la rebeldia ain't new and the roots are deep. Sharing political thoughts among the most downtrodden or disenfranchised in any society is always positive for all. I can't think of one "color" or cultural group here in the USA in these past 25 years who hasn't been ravished and its families and neighborhoods torn asunder by a NAFTA treaty, an Enron, healthcare monopolies, or a union-busting big business conglomerate. A ver que pasa. We shall see.

You know, I'm gonna go on a limb without even checking it tightly, I don't think you can say el "mudamiento". I like movimiento

Music? If you haven't heard it yet, check out This is social streaming radio where you create your own stable of fav artists, bands, genres, and get to mix it up with other Jangistas if you want. Opened up my vision a lot, seeing where the music flow is headed regardless of nation.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mi Papá, my father, Aquiles, picture on the right, was quite a storyteller and occasionally, he would skip the colorful wrappings of prose and get to the moral of the story at hand. But it was uncharacteristic of him, he would've made an ineffective preacher. Most of the time, the lessons to be learned were weaved within the tale, not too obvious, not easily distilled into "a central theme". That is why one had to listen closely and observe his facial mannerisms, and grasp the tone and tempo of his spoken words. A well told story has its own life and special meaning. Like it is often said of a good movie, one doesn't appreciate it until you've seen it at least twice. So it was, asi fue, with Papi's stories: sometimes I wouldn't get their significance until many days passed by. Or years! Especially the humorous ones. Though we disagreed on certain matters, especially during my youth, there is one "view point" that my father held quite deeply and being that today is a special time for me, my Mother, and seven siblings, since Papá passed away May 20, 2006, a year ago today, I thought I'd share that view with you.

I'll quote you the 10 or so-odd words from Papi that still ring true. In a minute. In the following post, further below. But first I gotta get a gripe out of the way. It's related, hang with me. If there's one word, one adjective, that has managed to climb to the top of my personal chart of grim, disgusting, super-used and over-used words, it has to be the word, "absolutely". Epecially when folks put an exclamation point ( ! ) right after that, regardless if its spoken or in an ad. As in, "Joe, is this a sure bet?", and Joe says, "Absolutely!", or "Will this product [put claim here --> _____ ] take care of all my problems?". Joe never hesitates and will usually cut you off before you finish your question by claiming, "Absolutely! Case closed." I don't mean to suggest to speechwriters, speakers, baseball heroes of days past, or WMDesque-politicians of today to strike the word from their vocabulary for always and always (perhaps maybe restrict your use of it to only twice in your public life?). The word "absolutely" has its place, so in the public interest and since blogs need to adhere to established literary standards at least once a year or so, I offer you the cite, Merriam-Webster Online's definition of the root word, Absolute:
1 a : free from imperfection : PERFECT b : free or relatively free from mixture : PURE c : OUTRIGHT, UNMITIGATED
2 : being, governed by, or characteristic of a ruler or authority completely free from constitutional or other restraint ; ... 4 : having no restriction, exception, or qualification

Tech-world denizens, see example:

It was summer in Sacramento, the temperature reaching nearly 110 degrees outside, and having some time on my hands (a lot, actually) because I had just been laid off from my job, I saw the light! In my kitchen window, there arose a strange conglomeration of shadows, wavy lines (the curtain), and graduated grays. The message? It wasn't clear. Was the heat melting the window glass and baking the ceramic pots into an ethereal nothingness? No. There was no message, just that it was almost 12 noon and I'd better get with it and fix the boy's burritos cause they were getting hungry. I quickly snapped the picture since I was curious if the overbright exposure would play havoc with the camera's automatic settings chip. And I got busy fixing lunch for my sons. When I had some money to spare months later, I got the film developed at Long's and glanced at the snapshot. Thoughts: As much as one seeks security and sureness in life, one ultimately comes around to the belief that there's no simple answers, nothing is just black and white. The will may be strong, it may be steeled but there's worlds we can't readily see, around us, but they're there. They come in shades of gray, from the light to the dark, from recession to prominence. My Father was a very confident man, well-educated, a hardworker, and if you listened carefully to his stories you would come away appreciating why overstatement and exaggeration rarely trump humility. In the gray tones you'll find the rich colors.

I can't exactly remember, I was 10 or maybe 12, but I was being scolded by Papá for being disobedient that day, which was not unusual, for me. The transgression was not too bad though and I was relieved (ningun cinto, no belt out!) that I was only going to be warned. I questioned "back" a little and said something about things not being fair. Rather than arouse his anger for talking back, he held my shoulders gently and said,
"Alex, este es un mundo complicado y nada es sencillo" -- this is a complicated world we live in and nothing is simple. Of course, at the time, I rejected that, in my mind, since I thought I was being singled out for the disobedience, but I didn't continue my argument. I see those same wise words around me these days, in thoughtful essays, in good conversation, and ironically, in seemingy simple photographs or paintings.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Friends and relatives know the way to my heart is anything associated with music and the guitar. I play some piano, flute, and congas but my instrument of choice is the guitar. Its a "more personal" instrument. A guitar is pressed against your chest as you play. The acoustic guitar is my favorite because the sound waves can be felt through the cherry wood. I like playing rhythm. My favorite guitar? Hard to say, I have several. OK, its my first Mexican acoustic, made in a place known for fine guitars. All I know is that it was "born" in 1964, the label inside the box is old, tattered, stained with spilt beer probably, so its hard to read it. I found it in a garage sale in southern california many years ago. Paid just $10. I've played solo with it, in bands, at birthdays, at weddings, at funerals, serenatas, and tardeadas. Yup, the wood a guitar is made of is significant, it ages, and in time changes "to you". That's why I use it for songwriting, to lay down the seminal tune first. Will definitely post a pic of "la lira favorita" -- my fav ax when I get a digital camera. My other guitars may have cost more, but my first will always be the best.

Del chiste de la Asociacion de Pendejos? Un primo me lo conto hace unos anhos. En esa ocasion el lugar es un estadio de futbol. Juan le pregunta a un aficionado sentado a su lado, "oiga, donde esta el bano?" El fulano le responde, "esta alla", apuntando con el dedo de la mano derecha hacia un rumbo al otro lado del estadio. Ya le andaba a Juan y con mas ansiedad le pregunta, "si, senor, pero donde? No se donde apunta!" Entonces le responde de nuevo el fulano, "a si, perdon. mira, vez aguell pendejo con la camisa roja? " "Ok, si, ese pendejo" responde Juan. Le explica el fulano, "pues, el bano esta a ladito, a la izquierda del pendejo!" Los pendejos son utiles, por ejemplo, como punto de referencia. Un pendejo verdadero se conoce dondequeria, facilmente.
[si sabes de este chiste, dejame saber, mi amigo lector]

Some of the best jokes are the open-ended type, the anonymous ones, where the people add a new verse or a new twist and its passed on. Like a joke popular in Mexico, and probably lots of other places, about the Association of Pendejos (dumbshits) a few years ago. According to my cuz, the organization grows exponentially in certain periods, its relatively easy to join, no dues expected, and will accept any and everybody as a member! May be an ex-member ("ex", of course, he or she would have graduated to a classier group) knows a few verses. Don't know how it will translate because usually, I find that there's very fine nuances in comedy that only make sense in the language of origin. I'll post some if I get some.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ever dream, in your sleep or drift off into space as in "daydreaming", about something and lordy lo, it becomes real? Somebody oughta write a how-to book on including some practical logic to one's dreaming activities. Like the time when I daydreamed that it was just horrible about how many auto accidents we are plagued with and we'd all be safer if the roads, cars, barriers, and other roadside hazards were all made out of rubber. The soft kind. It was right around that time when my young mind, unduly impressed by auto manufacturers' TV commercials of their newest additions, mused that "automatics" (as in vehicles with automatic transmissions) described a situation where the driver would be able to navigate the car by putting on a crown-like electronic cap and cerebrally control every movement of the car.

The only adult that I shared that innocent daydream with brushed me off by saying, "that's not very realistic, Alex". No, that wasn't my old man. 'Course, I didn't dare offer up another dream I'd had, this time about saving gasoline AND reducing highway accidents. The dream went like this: You'd be driving up from your neighborhood to a centrally-located area next to the freeway, slowly lining up in one of 16 lanes, turning-on your car's electronic "magnetic" sensor that emitted a coded message of where you were going (as in Broadway and 25th street intersection) and your car would be coupled to a powerful invisible energy train headed to the correct destination. Logical? My overriding concern dealt with the question of whether I could pull out my comic book and read and not have to keep eyes on the road.

The central point about all of this is that quite often now, news items keep popping up about how scientists are developing, in break-neck fashion, technology that will allow all sorts of new "practical" uses. The dreamers keep pushing the outer limits, pooh-boohing the ultra-narrow adherents of "logical" activity. Alright, so its still too early to think about super-energy commuter trains guided and synchronized by brainwaves. Please don't tell anyone that I even mentioned here in this blog, I'm still embarrassed about the automatic transmissions thing. Did I ever tell you about the time that I started a little novelette, fiction of course, and the circumstances begin to sort've ... happen? Ah, I'll keep that quiet, I swear.

At the end of every post, I'll try to recommend to all of you (the one or two poor souls who landed on this site entirely by accident or a careless search query), a song, or an album (CD for everybody under 84 years), a picture, an art piece, or poem (shoot, maybe a bud's blog or something), that you might enjoy as I did. Today, its an album that I hadn't replayed for over 30 years: "All Things Must Pass", by George Harrison. Ah, there's a passion-filled story related to the time of that album's debut ... man, I'll have to change a lot names, places, and things to avoid a letter from some eager legal libel beagle!

Papa, wherever you are, I love you.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Tell me what you think, please.
If commercial success is not your publishing goal, would you willingly give up all your copyright rights?





______________________ (less than 100 words, thanks)

If you are not a writer or author or songwriter, what are your thoughts as a listener, a viewer, or the person who is the audience, afterall, of the artistic work? In less than 100 words, please.

Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime (The Korgis)

Alone Again, Naturally

Magic ... rarely are the stars aligned - - - Olivia Newton John

Dusk in Yucatan

Dusk in Yucatan
Harmony Concepts, photograph 01