basquiatMy sister has recently discovered David Bowie. Well, musically at least. Little did she know of his acting career. So last night, on our way to do some shopping at Trader Joes, I insisted she watched both Labyrinth – a classic on par with The Princess Bride – and Basquiat where Bowie plays Andy Warhol better than Warhol himself ever did. These were suggestions as in … you know, one day in the future, you need to check these out … but when she said we should watch one the same night, there was no way I could resist. So my Americas podcast sampler for Global Voices got temporarily put off and we decided on Basquiat.

Revolutionary Cooking SystemBut first, there was some serious microwave cooking to be had. Have you guys seen these things? Revolutionary is the only word to use. Booger and I have it decided … from now on the fridge will be stocked only with microwavable steamed meals from Trader Joes. Of course, it was more than predictable that as soon as Booger tried a bite of mine, she was gonna want my killer green curry with bamboo shoots over her weak-ass red curry with tofu. “Brother, how come yours is always better?”

Poor child … still so much life-experience to traverse.

Once the DVD got started, she had to put up with my older-brother, name-that-tune trivia throughout the movie:

“OK, this one’s easy.”
“Ummm, it sorta sounds familiar, I don’t know, I mean, I like classic rock, but I like don’t really know the names and stuff.”
“What!? ‘Classic rock?’ Who calls Tom Waits classic rock?”
“Oh? This is Tom Waits?”

I sigh in disgust. One of the most discernable voices in all genres of music … we obviously have a ways to go. Then, the first three notes of Flamenco Sketches comes on and I start freaking out and squeal, “OK, this one, I know you can get this one.”
“Ummm, it sounds sorta jazzy …
Sorta jazzy! Jesus god, this is the biggest name jazz has got, come on child, you’re killing me. Miles Davis, Flamenco Sketches.”

I actually enjoyed the movie a little more this second time around. Going to the Warhol exhibit a couple years ago at MOCA helped me understand a lot of the subtle references. At one point Basquiat walks into Warhol’s studio and there’s some dude pissing on a canvas. Little did I know that it turned out to be a famous piece.

And as luck would have it, a Basquiat exhibit is currently at MOCA. Hopefully Booger and I will be able to check it out on our college-tour-roadtrip up north.

menos el osoThis coming weekend Moreno, Abogado, Cindy Sheehan and I are going to all be in the same city for the first time since god knows when. To celebrate, the idea was to see a band whose latest album is entitled Menos El Oso … how could we not? But now Moreno’s pulling a moreno and spitting out such nonsense as … “well, I dunno, I mean, I wasn’t really that impressed with the last album and that’s what they’re mostly gonna be playing.” My dear long-term readers, has Moreno ever been “that impressed” with anything? Please do me a favor and tell him to stop being a weenie. We’ll also be having a friendly competition to see who can slip Cindy the tongue first. I’ve got $5 on Abogado, but you never know.

Last week, maybe it was two weeks ago, my dad asked me if I had heard about what was going on in New Orleans. “Are you serious? Is there a way to avoid hearing about it?” Like everyone else, I think he was a little come off by my insensitivity. He pointed out that the projected death toll was in the thousands, maybe even 10,000. “Nombre, I bet you one dollar right now that it’ll be under a grand.”

I’ve learned to stop talking about New Orleans with friends and conocidos because they look at me like I’m a child molester when I shrug it off as no big deal. Not that it’s inconsequential so much as similar and even more devastating natural disasters happen across the world all the time. Seriously, what we call a hurricane in the Big Easy is called “monsoon season” in Bangladesh. But we still measure the severity of a disaster not by the number dead nor number displaced, but by the budget. “A disaster without precedent whose tally could reach nearly 100 billion dollars.” But if you were to scale it all out, a home for a home, business for a business, life for a life, what happened in New Orleans happens at least six times a year globally.

What people try to help me understand is that these are Americans, my fellow countrymen and women. We’re a community, we need to look out for each other. But really, let me say this straight up, I’ve never met a single person from New Orleans. I’ve never been there. I don’t know anything about their culture, their music, their traditions, or their daily lives. I relate as little to any given person in New Orleans as I do to your average Bangladeshi. Or, as much. And why should I? Obviously, I’m the abnormal one here, but it just so happens that natural disasters seem equally disastrous to me without regard to citizenship. So when Kanye West, bling bling and from suburbia, says “those are my people down there” I want to know why he’s discontent that the federal government is going to spend nearly a 100 billion dollars on rebuilding New Orleans where 800 people died from a natural disaster when not even a task force or committee has been set up to deal with the many more dead from very unnatural causes in Sudan.

When were 10,000 people killed and 150,000 people displaced in a city just as close to me as New Orleans? Readers of this weblog probably know better than most. It was 20 years ago today in Mexico City; and I can guarantee you it’s already been lost in the international collective conscious while Katrina will live on and on. So all I’m saying, really, the end of my rant, is that if we’re going to focus 99% of international media coverage on one natural disaster, then we should (or shouldn’t) do it for every natural disaster. And if every single online activist is going to help out when disaster strikes the US, then that same level of participation should exist when it strikes anywhere else.