It’s Friday. It was one of those mornings when at 9 a.m. the sky still looks like it’s sunrise, the air is still 6 a.m. crisp. It’s supposed to rain.
Yesterday Booger passed her driving test. Waiting in line for the driving tester to approach she offered this gem of wisdom: “You know, I decided that I’m just not going to get nervous anymore, cause I mean really, it’s not like it does anything for you, you know?”
Point of the story is that the next time you’re in the Bay Area it is decidedly safer to take BART than share the road with my dear sister.
The day after tomorrow I leave for Delhi. The last time I was in the City of Djinns was a week after I thought I was going to die and just a few days after I first found out about 9/11. I wonder how much it has changed in the last five years. I wonder if I’ll still be able to find my way around Connaught Place. I wonder if I’ll spend my first night there in some cheap hotel on Pahaganj. I wonder if there will be stoned Israelis playing guitar in the lobby.
I’m listening to Gustavo Cerati‘s “new” album Ahí Vamos, but I just can’t get into it. It’s no Soda Stereo, that’s for sure. Medea says I need to hear Andrea Echeverri singing with Cerati on “La Ciudad de la Furia.” If you got it, please gmail it to me.
Speaking of Argentina, Ian Mount (infamous for his controversial piece “A Movable Fiesta“) made a really good point recently about Pasa en Buenos Aires, the city government’s “official blog.” It provides an amazing and far-too-rare link between city government and citizen journalism.
I mean, really, how many people under the age of 65 regularly look at their city’s municipal website? When we get parking tickets, right? And yet Pasa en Buenos Aires is one of the coolest and most popular blogs in the whole city.
Lately I’ve been wondering if weblogs make us less politically active. If we’re upset with an issue in our city are we more likely to blog about it and forget about it than march down to city hall and try to get legislation introduced to fix it? Do weblogs give us a space to let off steam, which takes away from the pressure necessary to make change?
I remember we once had a conversation on San Diego Blog about closing off Fourth and Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp district one afternoon each week to get people out and walking in the streets. It was a great idea – still is – but it never made the transition from comment thread to city council and that’s what I think is so great about Pasa en Buenos Aires – it provides that bridge between online public opinion and municipal government bureaucracy.
Here in Oakland I’ve taken to watching City Council and various committee meetings on the city’s cable TV channel. I do it to check out Mari. And because it’s fun to get to know the characters she talks about when she comes home from work. My favorite, by far, is Sanjiv Handa. Born in Chandigarh, he immigrated to the US with his parents when he was nine and has a has a degree in business management from Cal Berkeley.
But no one knows how he affords it. Supposedly people subscribe to his online newsletters about city politics. His portrait is in the dictionary entry for gadfly. He speaks on every item at every single council meeting, licking his lips twice and adjusting the microphone once. His condemnations are as monotone as they are articulate.
The man needs a weblog. For real. The technology was made for people like Sanjiv Handa. He could easily establish himself as the voice of the people here in Oakland if he were willing to interact with them more online. Oakland would never do what Buenos Aires did so well: starting their own popular municipal blog. But Handa could provide that same bridge.