Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Aboriginal dancers pay tribute to Michael Jackson

SIX-year-old Lauchlan Baker has become an internet celebrity

Northern Territory News

Thriller performance from Milingimbi
July 28th, 2009

The youngster from Milingimbi - a remote community about 500km east of Darwin - doesn't say much, but he's shown the world he can dance.

Lauchlan and his fellow Milingimbi Dancers wowed the crowds at the Royal Darwin Show over the weekend with their tribute to pop legend Michael Jackson.

The NT News filmed the group's rehearsal on Friday. It has now been viewed more than 20,000 times on, and YouTube.

The video's popularity ensured a huge crowd was on hand at the show on Saturday night to watch the dance troupe's encore performance.

Milingimbi Dancers co-ordinator Jeremiah Larrwanbuy Baker - Lauchlan's grandfather - said the dancers had been huge fans of Michael Jackson after watching him on ABC TV show Rage.

Mr Baker said the dance group had toured around Arnhem Land but hoped to take their tribute to Jackson around the country.


thanks to a colleague in Australia, who sent me this video

Carmen Lomana on the Economic Crisis

A friend from Spain just sent me the video, above, from a Spanish national TV program that follows a woman (famous for being among the few in the country that buys couture) on a shopping spree in Madrid. When asked about the economic crisis, she says she has become more selective when buying (then you see her putting aside a supremely tacky Dior diomond encrusted watch).

She also said that the poor "the ones that beg", have always been poor, so "they are used to this". But some of her friends are the ones really having a hard time. They have assets but they are tied up or devalued, and they are in a bind because they don't have access to "cash" (she says the word in English). Then they ask her if she shops at mercadillos which are market fairs, or flea markets, where everyone shops even richer people who go slumming there. She says she has never been to one!

Her terrifyingly ageless wax mannequin face was vaguely familiar, and of course, she had been featured in one of the HOLA articles that opens each issue, an in depth interview with a millionaire that shows off their vulgarly ostentations ginormous home/vacation home/yacht. In hers, she protested that she did not want to known for being solely a rich widow who spent all her time jetting around the world, buying couture. Then in the spread you see her talking about her closets organized by designer......Below is her "c.v." taken from another Spanish glossy called Diez Minutes, not as prestigious as HOLA but maybe the third rung down, below SEMANA.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When Worlds Collide -Venice Biennial Edition

During my recent trip to Venice for the opening of the Biennale, I couldn't help but notice the trashy tchotchkes on sale all over the city. As chic black-clad Eurotrash and artworld biennialistas jumped on and off of vaporettos, tottering in high heels, chatting on global cell phones, they did not seem to notice how their elite world of art intersected with mass marketed canonical art history. The iconic David, conflated with the cultural stereotype of the well-endowed, hypermasculine, predatory, womanizing Italian Casanova was peddled from carts selling shorts (and a few aprons, perhaps riffing on the popularity of Italian cuisine) including a telling detail of the sculpture.

Sarah Palin: Poet Laureate?

Noted thespian William Shatner has demonstrated that Palin's aim was to perform a poem she wrote herself about her beloved Alaska. So I stand corrected, she is more Poet Laureate than Philosopher in Chief (as I called her in my previous post).

Monday, July 27, 2009

The "Man Room"

My obsession with HGTV real estate porn continues, despite what should be a housing hang over after the crash in the market. Safely ensconced in my two bedroom 1928 apartment filled with period details and a brand new kitchen, decorated with 1930s-1940s furniture and tchotchkes, I watch horrified as boring couples buy McMansions in suburbia. Aside from the ubiquitous hardwood-double sink-granite counter tops (a new requisite is that it should be a full slab, never stop at the edge and be set into wood )- stainless steel-two or three car garage- open kitchen litany of United States utopian home-owning, a new sinister area has come into view. The "Man Room" (alt "Man Cave") Not only is there no possible area in my home that could constitute this thing called a "Man Room" but there isn't really any indication that a man would ever live here, that is, unless he is called Pedro Almodovar, I guess.

This fantasy Shangri La known as the "Man Room" is apparently meant to house things like massive plasma TVs, bars, refrigerators, pool tables, speakers, guitars, and drum sets, bean bags, La-Z-Boy recliners, leather sectionals, as well as enormous collections of sports memorabilia (football and baseball). Fully-grown men become as excited as little dogs at the sight of a chew toy when they consider this fantasy space. Often these areas are found in basements, relegating the men to a nether-region of the home normally associated with humidity, flooding, vermin, washers and dryers, and storage areas. Linked in my mind with the Brady Bunch episode where the kids argue over an unused attic which Greg turns into a groovy room/chill out area, such liminal areas of the home are not considered premium real estate. Greg's room might well be a precursor to the Man Room. And these men seem child-like to me, with a teenager's enthusiasm for the idea of their own little room to run away from spousal responsibilities and drink beer while watching the Phillies with their buddies, enjoying their homosocial space of bromance in peace.


The women all gamely go along with this. Perhaps they want the men to get out of their hair?

What I want to know is, where is the "Woman Room"? A room of one's own? A room withe Yellow Wallpaper, perhaps? That's not discussed, although these women do seem to get awfully worked up over spa tubs, little window seats (where they read Harlequin romances?), and large open kitchens so they can "watch the kids play in the garden from the window while I wash the dishes," (hello? WTF is the stainless steel dishwasher for then?) and "interact with our guests in the great room while I cook." Maybe the man is entitled to have his "Man Room" after all, I mean, the woman has her bathroom, closets (preferably walk-in), and kitchen, right?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sarah Palin: Philosopher-in-chief

Alaska's now ex-Idiot in Chief, Sarah Palin, is surpassing even her own rhetorical peaks as she says goodbye to her people. Might the spunky ex-athlete and alleged MILF be pulling our leg? Why is it that most of what she says and does seems like something out of the mind of a naughty satirist? In a speech that would put Cicero to shame, she's already bestowed stellar platitudes about the government of the people and by the people, taken out of Wikipedia, commentary about Alaska's topography and weather you might find on the Travel or Weather Channel, and hectoring to the media about ethics. Here is where the true masterful ironies began. She, violator of ethics, lecturing anyone about this is priceless. But then in her usual articulate turn of phrase and flawless grammar she said "quit makin' things up" to the press. So she, the one who claimed President Obama was a Muslim and a terrorist, is the arbiter of truth. She also paraphrased Descartes' famous statement saying, "In Alaska, we eat, therefore we hunt" as her defense of the right to bear arms.

The latest in Brooklyn Jewelry

On my bus ride home, I just saw a rubenesque young woman clad in several lycra garments, the Playboy bunny on the back of her neck being just the most prominent of her (visible?) tattoos, 6-inch long acrylic nails, and a pair of the earrings, above. They are probably about 5 inches across the center and come in more than one shade of the enamel part that imitates wicker.

CNN's Palin Resignation Coverage

CNN has a small count-down clock (minutes and seconds) on the screen indicating the time left until Sarah Palin's resignation as Governor of Alaska becomes official and she is no longer in office!!!!

Bomba in Loiza

undated film probably from the early 1950s based on the (fabulous! check out the young woman in the white flouncy dress, white stiletto pumps, and the hanky dangling from her wrist! starting on minute 12)

Familia Cepeda, undated footage

Bobmba in Ponce 1957

The narrator says that this is one of the purest "negroid" (his word) vestiges left in Puerto Rican culture, and that the bomba music and dance has an elegance that the Spanish colonial slave masters would envy!

This one is fantastic, it starts with the same family dancing above and goes forward until the 1970s.

More footage, from the early 1980s the narrator is talking about the preservation of our African heritage in Loiza.

July 26, Feast day of Saint James, Loiza, 1949

This footage was directed by Ricardo Alegria, a pioneering cultural historian and anthropologist. He founded the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, among infinite achievements on behalf of recording Island culture.

Footage of celebrations of the feast day of the Apostle Saint James (Santiago), in Loiza, Puerto Rico. Saint James, Patron of Spain, is known there as Santiago Matamoros (yes, Moorslayer, referring to the "reconquest" of Spain from the Muslims, surely Dick Cheney has an altar to this saint in his bedroom).

Loiza is known for the preservation of African music and dance and their festival honoring Saint James is famous. You can see the beautiful masks made of coconut shells worn during the carnival as well. The narrator, who doesn't mention the African cultural contribution, says that the vegigante (wearing the masks) is the devil and he opposes Saint James (Santiago Caballero). The female character is called Loca (crazy) and according to the narrator paints her face black. In Mexico, the worship of the saint was translated as Santiago Mata Indios (killer of Indians). Here, the "moors" depicted as dark-skinned in Spain are conflated with the descendants of African slaves, while others play the role of the colonial invaders. The woman gets to play the irrational insane outsider, and not surprisingly, her face is painted black.

Obviously I know NOTHING whatsoever about the festival but I can't help but make these conjectures from my contemporary point of view.......I certainly wasn't taught anything about this during my brief period of elementary school (1st to 3rd grades) study on the Island. I only learned what I little I know after coming to New York, then I saw a great exhibition in Puerto Rico called La Tercera Raiz: Precencia Africana en Puerto Rico, and more recently, visited the museum devoted to African culture that is in Old San Juan.

La Tercera Raiz: Presencia Africana en Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico: Centro de Estudios de la Realidad Puertorriqueña, 1992)

Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, NY:

Links to research sources:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

US Invasion of Puerto Rico 1898

Map of the US invsion

Political cartoon, Uncle Sam trying on the role of colonial master for size

Virile Uncle Sam shows his strength to old Europe, balancing his new colonies

US values of Republican democracy and freedom brought to the savages now safe under the Americans' enlightened colonial oversight

Coño, despierta Boricua

Andres Jimenez singing his patriotic song, Coño, despierta Boricua

Today is the 111th anniversary of the US occupation of Puerto Rico via the port of Guanica.
Today is the 31st anniversary of the Puerto Rican government and FBI assassination of independence activists at Cerro Maravilla, during the administration of Carlos Romero Barcelo.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Taco Bell Chihuahua Dead, Aged 15

Moment of Silence, according to PEOPLE magazien, Gidget, the iconic Taco Bell chihuahua, has died at the age of fifteen.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Isabel Pantoja y Julian Muñoz

Here los Morancos do a dead-on parody of frequent HOLA personaje and sinister copla/flamenco/bolero singer, widow of the great matador Paquirri, allegedly closeted bisexual, and Julian Muñoz, her boyfriend until recently. He is the former mayor of Marbella, who served jail time for financial corruption involving real estate development on the coast. The super sinister jailed politician is known for his revolting personal style featuring pelo engominado (gelled slicked back hair), male camel-toe (the pants go up to his arm pits), sunglasses, and greasy mustache. Sadly this type of grooming is not unusual among certain types of Spanish men.

Here they are in real life. You get bonus shots of La Pantoja when she was arrested for allegedly being in on her ex-boyfriend's corruption scheme, she is still waiting for her trial.

Here she is singing the song the Morancos' adapted, "Me enamora el alma" (My soul is enamored of you). They change the lyrics to a play on the words "my gun is stuck" and add some nice references to her failed restaurant venture with stolen money allegedly invested by Muñoz, whose star dish was the famous "pollo a la Pantoja."

Nice short re-cap of her bio-you can get a fleeting glimpse of her alleged ex and godmother to her (allegedly illegally adopted via jailed Peruvian leader Fujimori) daughter, Maria del Monte (the one in the beige pants suit, ahem).

When Worlds Collide

I just love when worlds collide, as they do here, where Murdoch rag the New York Post discusses famed philosphers Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Of course, the note has nothing to do with their writings, and everything to do with their sex lives. Fantastic!!!!!!

New York Post - PAGE SIX

July 19, 2009 --

FAMED French existentialist Jean- Paul Sartre had a lifelong affair with philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, but was turned off by her voracious sex drive, a new bio reveals. "Sartre was be wildered by the sexual demands made of him, which he found impossible to meet," writes Carole Seymour-Jones in "A Dangerous Liaison," out in Septem ber. She quotes the "No Exit" author la menting: "I was reasonably well- equipped . . . and I often made love, but without very great pleasure. Just a little pleasure at the end, but pretty feeble. I should have been quite happy in bed with a naked woman, caressing and kissing her, but without going as far as the sexual act."


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Beware of Fireflies

June 30, 2009
Blink Twice if You Like Me

LINCOLN, Mass. — Sara Lewis is fluent in firefly. On this night she walks through a farm field in eastern Massachusetts, watching the first fireflies of the evening rise into the air and begin to blink on and off. Dr. Lewis, an evolutionary ecologist at Tufts University, points out six species in this meadow, each with its own pattern of flashes.

Along one edge of the meadow are Photinus greeni, with double pulses separated by three seconds of darkness. Near a stream are Photinus ignitus, with a five-second delay between single pulses. And near a forest are Pyractomena angulata, which make Dr. Lewis’s favorite flash pattern. “It’s like a flickering orange rain,” she said.

The fireflies flashing in the air are all males. Down in the grass, Dr. Lewis points out, females are sitting and observing. They look for flash patterns of males of their own species, and sometimes they respond with a single flash of their own, always at a precise interval after the male’s. Dr. Lewis takes out a penlight and clicks it twice, in perfect Photinus greeni. A female Photinus greeni flashes back.

“Most people don’t realize there’s this call and response going on,” Dr. Lewis said. “But it’s very, very easy to talk to fireflies.”

For Dr. Lewis, this meadow is the stage for an invertebrate melodrama, full of passion and yearning, of courtship duets and competitions for affection, of cruel deception and gruesome death. For the past 16 years, Dr. Lewis has been coming to this field to decipher the evolutionary forces at play in this production, as fireflies have struggled to survive and spread their genes to the next generation.

It was on a night much like this one in 1980 when Dr. Lewis first came under the spell of fireflies. She was in graduate school at Duke University, studying coral reef fish. Waiting for a grant to come through for a trip to Belize, she did not have much else to do but sit in her backyard in North Carolina.

“Every evening there was this incredible display of fireflies,” Dr. Lewis said. She eventually started to explore the yard, inspecting the males and females. “What really struck me was that in this one-acre area there were hundreds of males and I could only find two or three females,” she said. “I thought, ‘Man, this is so intense.’ ”

When a lot of males are competing for the chance to mate with females, a species experiences a special kind of evolution. If males have certain traits that make them attractive to females, they will mate more than other males. And that preference may mean that those attractive males can pass down their traits to the next generation. Over thousands of generations, the entire species may be transformed.

Charles Darwin described this process, which he called sexual selection, in 1871, using male displays of antlers and feathers as examples. He did not mention fireflies. In fact, fireflies remained fairly mysterious for another century. It was not until the 1960s that James Lloyd, a University of Florida biologist, deciphered the call and response of several species of North American firefly.

Dr. Lewis, realizing that other firefly mysteries remained to be solved, switched to fireflies from fish in 1984, when she became a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard. She taught herself Dr. Lloyd’s firefly code and then began to investigate firefly mating habits. North American fireflies spend two years underground as larvae, then spend the final two weeks of their lives as adults, flashing, mating and laying eggs. When Dr. Lewis started studying fireflies, scientists could not say whether the females mated once and then laid all their eggs, or mated with many males. “Nobody knew what happened after the lights went out,” Dr. Lewis said.

She searched for mating fireflies in the evening, marked their locations with surveyor’s flags and then revisited them every half-hour through the night. They were still mating at dawn.

“It was cool to watch the sun rise and see the couples breaking up and the females crawling down the grass to lay their eggs,” Dr. Lewis said.

Many Americans are familiar with the kinds of fireflies Dr. Lewis studies, but they represent only a tiny fraction of the 2,000 species worldwide. And there is enormous variation in these insects. “There are some species that produce flashes when they’re adults, and there are some that simply glow as adults,” Dr. Lewis said. “Then there are a whole bunch of species where the adults don’t produce any light at all.”

In recent years scientists have analyzed the DNA of fireflies to figure out how their light has evolved. The common ancestor of today’s fireflies probably produced light only when they were larvae. All firefly larvae still glow today, as a warning to would-be predators. The larvae produce bitter chemicals that make them an unpleasant meal.

As adults, the earliest fireflies probably communicated with chemical signals, the way some firefly species do today. Only much later did some firefly species gain through evolution the ability to make light as adults. Instead of a warning, the light became a mating call. (An enzyme in the firefly’s tail drives a chemical reaction that makes light.)

The more Dr. Lewis watched firefly courtship, the clearer it became that the females were carefully choosing mates. They start dialogues with up to 10 males in a single evening and can keep several conversations going at once. But a female mates with only one male, typically the one she has responded to the most.

Dr. Lewis wondered if the female fireflies were picking their mates based on variations in the flashes of the males. To test that possibility, she took female fireflies to her lab, where she has computer-controlled light systems that can mimic firefly flashes. “You can play back specific signals to females and see what they respond to,” Dr. Lewis said.

The female fireflies turned out to be remarkably picky. In many cases, a male flash got no response at all. In some species, females preferred faster pulse rates. In others, the females preferred males that made long-lasting pulses.

If females preferred some flashes over others, Dr. Lewis wondered why those preferences had evolved in the first place. One possible explanation was that the signals gave female fireflies a valuable clue about the males. Somehow, mating with males with certain flash patterns allowed females to produce more offspring, which would inherit their preference.

It is possible that females use flashes to figure out which males can offer the best gifts. In many invertebrate species, the males provide females with food to help nourish their eggs. Dr. Lewis and her colleagues discovered that fireflies also made these so-called nuptial gifts — packages of protein they inject with their sperm.

Dr. Lewis is not sure why she and her colleagues were the first to find them. The gifts form coils that can take up a lot of space in a male firefly’s abdomen. “They’re incredibly beautiful,” she said.

Receiving nuptial gifts, Dr. Lewis and her colleagues have shown, can make a huge difference in the reproductive success of a female firefly. “It just about doubles the number of eggs a female can lay in her lifetime,” she said. One reason the effect is so big is that fireflies do not eat during their two-week adulthood. A slowly starving female can use a nuptial gift to build more eggs.

In at least some species, females may use flashes to pick out males with the biggest gifts. Dr. Lewis has tested this hypothesis in two species; in one, males with conspicuous flashes have bigger gifts. In another species, she found no link.

“In some cases they could be honest signals, and in some cases they could be deceptive signals,” Dr. Lewis said.

Deception may, in fact, evolve very easily among fireflies. It turns out that a male firefly does not need to burn many extra calories to make flashes. “It takes some energy, but it’s tiny. It’s less costly for a male than flying around,” Dr. Lewis said.

If making light is so cheap for males, it seems odd that they have not all evolved to be more attractive to females. “What is it that keeps their flashes from getting longer and longer or faster and faster?” Dr. Lewis asked.

Scanning the meadow, she grabbed her insect net and ran after a fast-flying firefly with a triple flash. She caught an animal that may offer the answer to her question. Dr. Lewis dropped the insect into a tube and switched on a headlamp to show her catch. Called Photuris, it is a firefly that eats other fireflies.

“They are really nasty predators,” Dr. Lewis said. Photuris fireflies sometimes stage aerial assaults, picking out other species by their flashes and swooping down to attack. In other cases, they sit on a blade of grass, responding to male fireflies with deceptive flashes. When the males approach, Photuris grabs them.

“They pounce, they bite, they suck blood — all the gory stuff,” Dr. Lewis said. She has found that each Photuris can eat several fireflies in a night. Photuris kills other fireflies only to retrieve bad-tasting chemicals from their bodies, which it uses to protect itself from predators.

To study how Photuris predation affects its firefly prey, Dr. Lewis and her colleagues built sticky traps equipped with lights that mimicked courtship signals of Photuris’s victims. The scientists found that Photuris was more likely to attack when flash rates were faster. In other words, conspicuous flashes — the ones females prefer — also make males more likely to be killed.

“At least where Photuris predators are around,” Dr. Lewis said, “there’s going to be a strong selection for less conspicuous flashes.”

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Emergency Planning

Sign in bathroom in Coyoacan, Mexico giving instructions for emergencies - earthquakes or fires

My favorite slogan: SI PUEDE AYUDE SI NO RETIRESE (If you can, help, if not, get out of the way)


I have awoken to the news that the company that makes the formerly ubiquitous CROCS is on the verge of collapse! Although of course I don't want to gloat over anyone's economic woes, (unless their last name is Madoff) anything that takes those hideous affronts against taste off the streets and out of my line of sight is welcome. Thank you, Higher Power of Fashion, you have saved me!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Carmen Sevilla - Telecupon

A young Carmen Sevilla

This is another classic Morancos clip. Here, they parody bullfighter-copla bolero flamenco chanteuse Rocio Jurado, known as La Mas Grande (another frequent personality in this blog) (minute 3:10). She calls her torero Hortera, a playful pun on the pronunciation of his surname, Ortega Cano. Hortera means someone with no taste, tacky and overdone. There are other puns on the plaza as the place where the bullfight takes place, she says her body is his plaza, and on the word corrida, but that is going to a place not apt for the faint of heart!

If you go to minute 6:45, a priceless imitation of Carmen Sevilla's appearances in the Telecupon lottery prize winner announcements. The faded andalusian singer/dancer/movie star (bit part in "Anthony & Cleopatra" and in 1950s films about Andalusian themes) and singer of Lola Flores' generation, is beloved for her mental wanderings - wrong words, names, places, and dates, appearances in her bedroom slippers, andalusian diction, and general ignorance. Of course, Sevilla has adopted this lovable persona in her old age. She knew that her days as star of andalusian-themed films were over, she actually was really beautiful, and had a lovely voice. But once Franco died, the taste for orientalist films featuring sexy (within the limits set by censorship) supine, and ignorant southerners entertaining "señoritos" (upper class men) was more or less over.

The Telecupon is riveting. Everyone seems to play the lotto, buying tickets from blind persons who sell them as a means of having a job, then the money goes to the organization called ONCE which helps the blind. (this is why you see people with sunglasses sitting outside hawking lotto tickets in Spain.) The lovely azafatas (stewardesses) have a particular style for picking up the ball with the numbers, as they turn them over in their fingers to make sure you got the figure. Sevilla acts as a burlesque foil to the young beauties, with her doddering monologues and her parody of an uneducated andalusian maruja (housewife).

An actual Telecupon prize announcement is below.

Here are Ortega Cano and the late Rocio Jurado:

Their televised wedding spectacle featured a Goyesque wedding gown and veil, worn by the imposing and much older diva and the skinny bachelor bullfighting promise.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Obama Cult of Personality Part ?????

This was posted by a CNN reporter on his Twitter feed and is the shirt that Anderson Cooper gave to Pres. Obama (who laughed) during their interview in Ghana a couple of nights ago. It matches a dress I had made from fabric I purchased on 125th Street. In fact, I rocked the dress last night, drawing friendly looks and even smiles from normally hardened New Yorkers on the G and L train! The dress was also a big hit at the Venice Biennial, when passing Eurotrash, wealthy biennialistas, and other artworld luminaries stopped to chat in several languages and took my picture. LoL

You got some esplainin to do......

Brilliant Rachel Maddow summation of GOP white male panic pushback that leads them to overt racism. Priceless is Pat Buchanan's comments regarding the threat to traditional affirmative action for White males through her activist efforts on behalf of affirmative action for so-called minorities. Of course, Buchanan doesn't refer to the traditional old-boy network as affirmative action for white males!

Ironically, Maddow does not call out her colleague at MSNBC Chris Matthews, for his overtly racist (and sexist) comments regarding Sotomayor. I cannot find the video, but during yesterday's hearings, I saw him asking rhetorically about the possible success of Sotomayor's strategy to behave in a cooly neutral manner to disguise her "passionate, hot blooded temper." He was mentioning this alleged effort to tamp down the accusations regarding her fiery temperament in the context of a general discussion about the boring nature of the discussion and Sotomayor's refusal to be drawn into any controversial statements. He said this "did not make for good TV" and that she sat there taking notes and replying in a measured manner.

I did find a clip of Matthews' own show last night, where apparently he did not go there with the hot blooded, angry out of control stereotypes but he did discuss the nominee's cool demeanor, jokingly asking if she'd been well-trained and given quaaludes. Even Robinson, the token African American, made a reference to the coaching needed to make Sotomayor behave in such as boring manner, as if she had taken downers.

Maybe it's me, but would they ask if a white man had been given quaaludes when he behaved in a professional manner during Senate questioning? Why is he not discussing the out of control emotions of hysterical philanderer Mark Sandford, Vicodin addict Rush Limbaugh, screaming sociopaths such as Glenn Beck? And then Buchanan calls her a "militant Latina" and says she would not quality for Princeton because she is a Puerto Rican, the only way she could get in is via affirmative action, asking for her LSAT scores to be released. Why is Buchanan not asking for Dubya's report cards to be released? As is well-known, 43 only got into an Ivy because of the affirmative action for white men common in those schools, where there are quotas for family members of alums.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Miss Puerto Rico

Here is more information on the fabulous range of pageants open to young ladies in Puerto Rico. Besides Miss Puerto Rico Petite, open to women 5'5" and under (ie. 90% of Island females), my new favorite pageant Miss Puerto Rico Sepia, which calls for women with tez trigueña, an ambiguous term that hints at darker skin, but not too dark. Of course "sepia" means something quite different to cafe, chocolate, or any other euphemism.

Puerto Rican Dada Poetry -- Para L.

Pana (breadfruit)

Tostones de pana

I have just returned from a brief holiday in la Isla del Encanto, where I indulged in tostones de pana, turron de coco, jugo de parcha, pastelillos de chapin, asopao de langosta, bolitas de mofongo, arroz con habichuelas blancas, queso blanco con pasta de guayaba, and many other delicacies. During my stay, I took part in a Boricua BootcampTM, deep in the Island, with a charming host family that taught me to cook typical dishes, use traditional vocabulary (example: Ese arbol esta choreto de pana. That tree is chock full of breadfruit), and catch up on pop culture. While there, I caught up on my tan and on the Dada Poetry that is Island nomenclature.

Here are just some examples:

Agne Marie (accent on the "e" in Agne)
Jomar (note: Naylomi through Jomar are all part of one family!)
Yetzenia (not a Russian name, believe it or not)

Pitonisa Lola


Spain's Walter Mercado might well be the androgynous Rappel, but la Pitonisa Lola, a phenomenon that emerged from cable-access pay-per-call Tarot readings, gives both a run for their money. Some of her greatest hits are here. Enjoy.

Awilda Carbia

Puerto Rican comedian Awilda Carbia died recently. Here she is imitating vedette extraordinaire Iris Chacon and former Puerto Rican first lady Kate Barcelo.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

House Scavengers

I am, as usual, relaxing at the end of the work day by watching my favorite real estate porn, House Hunters. A few months back the New York Times commented on the ways in which real estate shows were adapting to the crash of the housing market. No more of those ubiquitously optimistic "Flip this House" series. I find it very disturbing to see that in House Hunters, they show cases where a home buyer is getting a home in foreclosure. This is mentioned as an asset, because the price is low, and a liability, the house is a "fixer." Never do they discuss the situation of the persons left homeless. In one episode, a couple cracks jokes about a series of stuffed animals scattered throughout a "bargain" home in short-sale, which the broker helpfully explains is when a bank is selling a property in foreclosure. Those were kids' toys, where are those kids living now? Needless to say, it kills my buzz. And then in a new series called "For Rent," because few can afford to buy and on "My First Place," you often see foreclosed properties being bought as "starter homes" by young couples who are willing to put in the elbow grease necessary to fix up "abandoned" homes.

Hail to the Hot Dog

I am at a loss as to how I will cope with the loss of so many icons of my childhood in such quick succession. This morning brought the news of the passing of Oscar mayer, founder of the company that brought me and so many others joy. I was raised eating an infinite number of hot dogs, as recent immigrants, we had no money. Also, my mother was completely inept in the kitchen, save for her outstanding coconut flan.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Michael Jackson's Memorial

I was swept along with millions all over the world watching (Sidebar: Is it just me, or was this the largest number of black people we've ever seen on CNN? The delicious and juicy nerdolicious Don Lemon, Suzanne Malveux -whom I'd rather see the than Wolf Blitzer, any day, Donna Bazille, Soledad O'Brien -who thanks to Guanabee I learned is Afro-Cuban-Australian...) the dramatic Michael Jackson memorial this afternoon. It helped that practically every channel - cable and broadcast - was giving the memorial. It was a historic global event and I was curious to see how the family would stage it. His legacy was framed in a very consistent manner. He was portrayed as the greatest entertainer ever (as Barry Gordy described him), his work on behalf of various charities - including his pioneering of global celebrity charity work in the We Are the World initiative against AIDS - was spoken of extensively. At some points, especially when he was anointed by the Rev. Al Sharpton (in the most amazing speech I have ever heard him give) and the children of MLK, he was described as a quasi Prophet, Civil Rights Leader and martyr. Analogies were implicitly made with Jesus - a leader who left us too soon, but his work here was done and his love remained. The symbolism was fascinating.

By the way, although I agree that he broke barriers for musical and other media entertainers, I am not sure that he should get all of the credit for President Obama's election. In terms of entertainers, should we not also credit Sydney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Diana Ross? And are we forgetting MLK and other Civil Rights leaders (sidebar: Jesse Jackson didn't speak, surprisingly, although the Rev. Al gave him a shout out), as well as Harvey Milk, or Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton, as pioneers that made our current President's run possible?

The performances were once-in-a-lifetime: Lionel Ritchie, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey (who sadly could not hit a note, although she attempted to distract us from this with her signature Dramatic Hair Toss and Wavering Hand Move), Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Jermaine. Several of these were preceded by emotional acknowledgments of love or admiration for Jackson. Usher, in Ray Ban aviators, broke down in tears as he touched the casket. Queen Latifah read the ubiquitous Maya Angelou poem, I know it's not PC to say this, but I find her poetry platitudinous. (and as a failed poet, I know of what I speak)

More than one person alluded to the dark allegations made against him which a court of law ruled were unfounded. (I have to say that after re-reading Maureen Orth's entire set of articles (1993-2008) about Jackson's legal, family, financial, and prescription drug woes in Vanity Fair, I was nauseated and more conflicted than ever about what the actual truth about Jackson might be.)

Janet, LaToya, and Jermaine console the children

On a frivolous note, let's talk Jackson Family Fashion. The brothers all had on silvery bedazzled single gloves. Janet and LaToya looked fierce. Janet had on a tight pencil skirt, a short sleeved sweater, short black leather gloves, diamond tennis bracelets, pearls, sunglasses and a beret style hat. Black Panthers Meets Chanel! HOT! And miss LaToya had on a huge hat the size of a satellite dish with a tight black suit. That hat was Old Hollywood glamour, you can imagine one of the Gabors or Greta Garbo rocking a hat like that. Update: Janet asked Donatella to make clothes for the family as an homage to the late Gianni, who was MJ's favorite designer. This explains the Fellini-esque mourning attire of the ladies. So I should amend the above to "Black Panthers Meets Versace." I also need to acknowledge the Patriarch's look, his signature old school hat fit right in with his daughters' glam accessories, but why has no one commented on his large gold Africa map necklace? It looks more Ice-T than old man but he rocks it with pride. That thing must weigh 10 lbs. Mama Jackson looked gorgeous (she is) and the massive Chanel sunglasses added a touch of discreet elegance.

I cried during several parts of the memorial, it was extremely moving to hear Brooke Shields, Sharpton's and MLK's daughter's speeches, Jermaine singing his brother's favorite song, but seeing the three children really pushed me over the edge. The kids resemble LaToya and Janet, I think they might actually be his after all.

At some point, I noticed that Blanket held a doll depicting his father. Nothing that I have read comments on this poignant fact. The level of weirdness that those poor children must have experienced can never fully be understood. The ways in which most celebrities live can never fully be understood. This is the only life that they know.

I could not believe the finale, after two of the brothers went up to the mike, Paris Michael Katherine stepped up and tearfully said goodbye to her father, in front of millions of people world-wide. She said he was the best father in the world, then collapsed into her Aunt Janet's arms. Is this exploitative? Is it as close to a funeral (although they did have a private service just prior to the event at Staples Center) as they would get? Would not many of us want to speak to our loved one for one last time? Will Debbie Rowe be incensed? Dame Liz Taylor tweeted (!) that she did not want to participate in the "whoopla" or add to the circus like atmosphere, Rowe said something similar, and where was Lisa Marie, I wonder? And Diana Ross? I later saw that Smokey Robinson (in a gorgeous custom-made plaid suit, he looked very handsome) read a statement from her excusing her absence and sending her love. No such thing from the others, though, as far as I know. As we say in Spanish, ahi hay gato encerrado (there is a cat locked up in there), not sure why, but basically, DRAMA! And I had forgotten about some of the shandisimos like the allegation that Jermaine hooked up with his brother Randy's wife, the latter had two children with her, but the union with the former gave us Jermajesty. As always with me, it all goes back to the naming practices. And what is it with the family's love of royal monikers? Let's be clear, I certainly don't critique it, I only wish I'd thought of it first!

I also found the Honkey Interlude interesting: suddenly Brooke Shields came on to give an extremely moving account of their childhood shennanigans, tearfully recounting pranks and confidences of two young child stars. I guess she was there to represent his heterosexual side, although she has said that he was asexual and there was nothing between them. In any case, she was lovely and followed by John Mayer doing his instrumental guitar riffing version of a few of his songs. Every single other person was African American. I think the concert promoter at the end might have been Latino, he had a hispanic surname and of course our girl Mariah is half Afro-Venezuelan.

In the end, I admire him for breaking barriers for African Americans in the entertainment industry. I was sad for the loss of a genius, one of my favorite entertainers, of whom I have fond childhood memories. I was sad to think that he was so unhappy with himself and for his children and family. And I dread the future revelations regarding his cause of death, because clearly we'll never know the truth about his life.

The moment when Paris spoke about her father - the grisly finale:

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I have been reticent about writing about Michael Jackson partly because I have reached the overkill level thanks to being home with a nasty flu on the days following his tragic demise. Except when I was asleep, I had access to 24-7 Jackson death coverage and no stamina to leave the sofa or bed. CNN in particular has been focusing about 70% of its time or more on the tragic, grisly death and what may or may not have lead up to it, and its chaotic aftermath. But as my sister and I were discussing today, the news has hit the now familiar cable TV tipping point, the "Story about How Much the Media is Covering the Story," and the "Story Asking Itself Earnestly: Has the Media Spent Too Much of its Time on This Story?" both accompanied by "Talking Heads Analyzing their Role as Talking Heads." There is a variant to this, which is the parodic news shows parodying the real news shows and then the real news shows in turn turning that into a story. Anderson Cooper (see below) is a pro at this particular meta media move. Of course, in writing this, I too am part of the meta media story machine, aren't I? In any event, I am as susceptible (flu or not) to the carrot-on-a-stick drug dealer in the courtyard addictiveness of the 24-7 "BREAKING NEWS" box pop up, cable/internet nexus that follows any disaster or death, not to mention political developments such as the July 4th Christmas Miracle that was the Evil Sarah Palin's resignation. Flu or not, I will watch for too long in the hopes of yet more "facts," hearsay, analysis, witness, family, friend, or frenemy testimonials, "Experts" positing theories. On that note (pardon the pun), the best thing about the Jackson death, besides the opportunity to listen to his music incessantly, has probably been the frequent appearances (in my cable TV drug of choice: CNN) of celebrity addiction peddler and specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sarah Palin has RESIGNED!!!!

Sarah Palin's resignation has been one of the best things that has happened in politics since President Obama got elected. A welcome distraction from the beating a dead horse Michael Jackson (overdose?) coverage, it took us back to the story we stopped paying attention to during the Week When My Childhood Died (because my other idol Farrah Fawcett also passed though that was seemingly forgotten by most), the implosion of inarticulate and inept cad Gov. Sanford, his Argentine booty calls, and the other women with whom he "crossed the line" but not the "ultimate line" which he did cross, with his "exotic" "soul mate." Like Sanford, Palin imploded during a rambling, manic, incoherent, self-serving, contradictory, dishonest hastily-called press conference, which, like the one that foreshadowed it, I thoroughly enjoyed. Let's hope that after the curiosity regarding her motives is satisfied, that we'll never see or hear from this bitch ever again.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Falete, looking fabulous with a lace trimmed sleeve, his signature French manicure and pulled back ponytail.

I can never ever get enough of Falete, my favorite gender-bending flamenco/copla singer. Lately he has been in the news again because of his messy break up with Israel, a young hustler who had been planning to wed the singer, then staged a fake kidnapping (secuestro espress as they called it, or a quickie abduction) in order to get ransom money to pay his numerous debts. Falete stood by him until he learned the truth, broke up the engagement, and of course was devastated.

Below are Falete and Israel, in happier times. Note that Falete is dressed in his ambigous "unfiorm" of tunic top usually in a shiny polyesterish fabric (very much what an older Spanish lady from the provinces would wear) but instead of a skirt, worn with pants. However, he dons a Manton de Manila, the lovely embroidered silk shawls worn only by women, never by men.

Falete resembles the passionate women who are known for singing flamenco/copla, such as the late Rocio Jurado, Isabel Pantoja, or Maria del Monte. Del Monte, pictured above, is as butch as Falete is femme. They meet in the middle on the gender spectrum. Rumors surround del Monte about her sexuality, but she refuses to go there. Falete, on the other hand, proudly calls himself a maricon. He's out but not out in the Chelsea clone manner that is becoming more and more popular in Spain. No, instead he looks like a 50ish lady singer, keeping it old school with his mantones de manila, French manicures, updos, and satiny lace trimmed bedazzled schmattes.

Below is a photo of del Monte with her reputed ex, Isabel Pantoja. Pantoja is the most famous flamenco/copla singer since the deaths of Lola Flores and Rocio Jurado. She is the widow of famous bullfighter Paquirri, and I have written here before about her lady and male loves since and her sinister political/financial doings. Note the resemblance between Falete and these two.

Even in their casual wear off stage: Falete and Maria del Monte, which is which? Well, for starters, the one with the long French manicure is Falete, miss del Monte doesn't do manicures. And the one with the denim (ahem) jacket is del Monte, of course.

But the really uncanny resemblance is between Falete's mother (left) and Falete himself. I recently saw a video of the two of them, dressed exactly alike, with identical designer sunglasses, French manicures, and lip gloss, and I almost passed out. (the mother is a bit slimmer though) The mother is the greatest, she totally supports her son.

But even if he wasn't fabulous and out, I would still love him because of his huge talent. Here he is singing the classic "Señora" a song about the other woman singing to the wife of her lover. Note that Falete sings it with the right pronouns, so he is addressing a wife about having an affair with her husband! Fabulous!!!!! And to make this even better, there is a lady dressed up as a bullfighter. Can it get any better? I don't know because I just fainted!

Aramis Fuster - Bruja and delincuent?

Since I am home writing and editing a book, I need to take the edge off by watching bad TV from Spain, and what better than the afternoon chat shows which often feature the frikis, or freaks, as I have explained here before. A classic of this genre of personalities is the bruja (witch) slash pitonisa (fortune teller) slash self-help author slash self-designated sex symbol, Aramis Fuster. She resurfaces periodically each summer to pose in a thong bathing suit pool side (which will sear off anyone's eye balls, so I refrain from posting that here), or more demurely, as you see her below in her lovely black mesh schmatta.

This summer, she is facing two years of jail time for owing money to a computer company that was helping her set up her Tarot reading website. Below, a video that had me literally crying from laughing so hard, featuring her recent court appearance and its aftermath, a dramatic faint outside the court house. Everything about her elegant and dignified outfit - too tight tube top, a weave that was about to fall out, skintight snake print pants, platform patent leather peep toe shoes, huge (presumably) fake Vuitton bag, and garish makeup, must have impressed the judge. For those of you convinced that she is a drag queen, no way, she is an R.G. (biological female, or real girl). In fact, a couple of summers ago, she tried to convince us that she was dating James Hewitt, yes that Hewitt, former riding instructor of the late Lady Diana and alleged father of Harry. You cannot make these people up. I love Spain! Sadly I cannot spare the time to visit this summer, but the TV shows make me feel right at home.