Sunday, August 30, 2009

a bit of sad news

my camera broke.

i wont be able to put up any photos for a minute or two.

i'm going to start saving for a real deal camera... you know, one that takes film?

where did summer go?

im going for a run.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

a not so warm welcoming

"Your education will be reduced by 10% this year because of the furlough proposed. You a have 10% less opportunity to use the resources. There are too many students and not enough classes. Students have be asked to leave because they are just showing up in hopes that the teacher will miraculously admit them into the course. If you are really desperate, write down your reason why you need this class.”

-Ashok Das, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Urban Studies and Planning

school started this week.

my first class was with professor das for public policy and urban planning. the above quote was his introduction to the new semester. before he even handed out the syllabus, we were given a briefing on how the cutbacks on education have effected this institution in case we didn't already know.

i could feel the tension in the air before i even walked into the classroom. in the quad people shouted, "california has failed you!" "it's time for socialism!" "government has failed you!" "we must act up!" "lyndon larouche will fix this country!". they all had their own booths, pamphlets and talking points in an effort to recruit the disenchanted.

they came to the right place. the buildings were even more populated, yet the students had nowhere to go. when i sat myself down for my first lecture, i noticed that more and more students were piling into the classroom, so much so that some opted to sit on the floor while other took notes from outside.

it was packed. students are literally showing up to classes in hopes that enough people will drop so that they could get on the wait list to be considered for enrollment.

i also had the pleasure of stepping in garbage on the way to my evening seminar. i had picked it up and tried to throw it away, only to realize that the garbage bin was filled to the brim. it was only the first day and already the place looked like a mess. the bathrooms are disgusting and the hallways and stairwells are littered with filth. the janitorial and waste committees on campus were also cut.

all of these cuts, and yet my favorite dollar coffee from last year was bumped up to $1.25.

why are the students footing the bill for something they clearly cannot even afford in the first place, hence the large second strain of loan applications once the tuition was increased only weeks before school started. the csu board of trustees voted on may 13 to raise student fees 10 percent in an effort to reduce the growing budget gap. the students are footing the bill for a reduced education. the professors are taking a 10% pay cut and are being told to take days off and not work (which for an educator doesn't make sense). the campus will be shut down more days than ever before.

and what is the biggest concern for university executives? it just so happens that university of california and california state university administrators have killed a bill that would have limited executive pay raises during bad budget years.

Despite the fact that the Senate Appropriations Committee found no costs to the bill and the Assembly Appropriations Committee’s analysis estimated a significant cost-savings, the Assembly Appropriations Committee today held the bill on their suspense file without allowing a vote. Normally, the suspense file is used to kill bills that have a significant cost to the state.

SB 217, authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), overwhelmingly passed the Senate in May on a 35-3 bipartisan vote.

“These administrations lack a moral compass,” said Yee. “It is unconscionable that CSU and UC lobbyists would argue that a freeze on executive pay costs the universities a dime. It is disheartening that university executives are more concerned with lining their own pockets, than protecting the needs of students, faculty, and taxpayers.”

UC and CSU administrators argued that the bill would cost millions of dollars. However, they used the complete opposite argument to push furloughs for lower wage workers as a cost-savings measure.

“We are deeply disappointed that during a period when students are being denied access, classes are being cut, and employees are being furloughed, the top priority of university administrators is protecting their own salary hikes,” said Lillian Taiz, President of the California Faculty Association, which represents CSU faculty.

disappointing start to my second year of graduate school.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

a brain jolt pt. deux

after an evening of watching a lot of shooting stars with good company and good wine

i continued my massive brain-food intake.

nothing could stop me from feeding my brain as much delightful information as possible. not even a terribly severe all-over sunburn. (i fell asleep at the beach for a few hours... it was my fault for voluntarily reading on microeconomics alone at a beach)

i'm fine now, i just look like a leopard in some places. it's not pretty.

it was also my one year anniversary of being a san franciscan, so i decided to treat myself with a trip to the sf moma.

the line to enter was particularly long (tourists), so in times of complete restlessness in lines i like to play a little game. i put my headphones in my ears but i don't play any music. that way, i can hear what the other people are talking about and, in this case, i was actually able to write some of the standout phrases on my notepad!

call it investigative journalism, call it eavesdropping, call it rude. i call it entertainment.

some choice phrases:

"not many people shoot 4x5 anymore. i wonder if kodak makes a 4x5 film. i'm gonna write a letter."

"san francisco is a city of hypocrisy!"

"do we create to prove we existed or do we exist only through our creation?"

"it's hilarious when tourists take pictures of pieces in museums. can't they just buy a print? like, (scoffs), i mean, come on! you're doing a disservice to the artist's work." sidenote: someone then shut this asshole up by telling him that it's perfectly logical to take a picture if a.) they were doing it for someone back home who couldn't be there or b.) they can't afford to purchase reprints of famous works of art in museums because they're too expensive. "not all of us are millionaires"

clearly, i was alone.

well, sort of.

i walked around through every exhibit, including the georgia o'keeffe/ ansel adams comparison and richard avedon's career retrospective, while listening to amália rodrigues records from the early 1950s to the late 1960s. i've been a fan of fado (a portuguese genre of music that tells tales of the ocean and misfortune) for a few years and her dramatic delivery accompanied by portuguese guitar make for a very stimulating experience for the senses.

for example

chilling, right?!?

told ya.

anyway, i saw some of the regulars over at the sf moma

- duchamp

- magritte

- dali

but some artists lesser known to me really got my brain working

the photographic distortions of andré kertész

andrew kudless' "p wall"

the self portraits of nicola tyson

this clyfford still piece gave me chills for a few minutes

and of course, in the sculpture garden, i was struck by the beauty of louise bourgeois' "the nest". im always drawn to her work for some reason. weird. i don't even like spiders in real life.

o yeah i also saw found this guy hiding at a nearby building

i guess that's where he's been hiding... odd.

spending so much time in the garden, i felt the sculptures actually forced me to take a seat and have a total stream of consciousness on paper.

it read like this,

"in the sculpture garden,
faces and shapes move
as the peaceful beasts lay dormant

are we invading their territory?
if so, how can they fight back?

mentally, i suppose.
they can't speak our language
or convey anything non verbally,

but they leave an

whether or not we realize it
our lives have been
questioned, our existence slightly altered

our structures reformed."

at night,

i treated myself to yet another free movie on a big, inflatable screen in delores park. two weeks ago i saw "pretty in pink" for my first time before the director passed away.

this time around, i was in my element.


wine. friendship. blankets. laughter. woody allen. diane keaton.

quite possibly the most pleasant evening i have had in years.

i went home and watched two more woody allen films and i haven't been able to stop since.

i'm an addict. i'm ok with it.

my brain is a week away from another round of grad school. i will survive.

i'm off to pick up a dear friend, cara bramson, from the airport. i've known her for 12 years now and it has been a very, very good friendship.

we're gonna have stories for you. guaranteed.

love and loyalty (and a lot of aloe vera)

Monday, August 17, 2009

a brain jolt pt. 1

in preparation for my return to the graduate program, i have decided to spend a majority of my time waking my brain up in hopes of continuing my education effectively. first thing's first - humor. my mother's birthday gift was an introduction to the sedaris family tree, starting with amy, the pretty one.

i gave my mother amy's cookbook/hosting guide titled, "i like you, hospitality under the influence"

she's been around the entertainment world for several years with her television program "stranger's with candy" and her many film roles, however her many appearances on late night television (via the internet) have really kept me smiling.

ive watched these on cold, lonely nights -

her latest

there are countless other interviews, but here's a nice selection of clips that encompasses her elegance

Saturday, August 8, 2009

a healthy dose of good television

i make a conscious effort to find every episode of 'real time with bill maher' on the internet and have successfully been able to watch each installment since i distanced myself from t.v. a few years ago. no offense to television, i appreciate all it has given me in the past, but i simply cannot get any real information from it any longer.

tv shows have become scripted shows repackaged as "reality" sitcoms featuring lower paid and lower talented actors.

information channels have become overwrought with shows titled 'most extreme ___,' 'hottest spring break ____,' 'most ____ celebrity ____," and 'deadliest spring break ____'.

documentary stations have become places for exploitation of people that don't meet every american social standard of normalcy.

and of course, news reporting has become soap boxes for polarized commentary.

which leads me to why i appreciate bill maher so much. he leads very free form discussions without goating his guests and doesn't speak as if he knows everything.

i watch him because he criticizes those who believe that they do know everything or who take sides on issues without asking questions.

he asks those questions! without a doubt, it is best place on television to find edgy, unapologetic and laugh-til-it-hurts political and social commentary, rooted in deep conviction. he's told obama to grow a pair as well as tell sarah palin to stick to what she knows... nothing.

lately, he's come under fire for his latest commentary on america's state of stupidity.


and then try and tell me that i shouldn't have been following him for years.

New Rule: Just because a country elects a smart president doesn't make it a smart country. A few weeks ago I was asked by Wolf Blitzer if I thought Sarah Palin could get elected president, and I said I hope not, but I wouldn't put anything past this stupid country. It was amazing - in the minute or so between my calling America stupid and the end of the Cialis commercial, CNN was flooded with furious emails and the twits hit the fan. And you could tell that these people were really mad because they wrote entirely in CAPITAL LETTERS!!! It's how they get the blood circulating when the Cialis wears off. Worst of all, Bill O'Reilly refuted my contention that this is a stupid country by calling me a pinhead, which A) proves my point, and B) is really funny coming from a doody-face like him.

Now, the hate mail all seemed to have a running theme: that I may live in a stupid country, but they lived in the greatest country on earth, and that perhaps I should move to another country, like Somalia. Well, the joke's on them because I happen to have a summer home in Somalia... and no I can't show you an original copy of my birth certificate because Woody Harrelson spilled bong water on it.

And before I go about demonstrating how, sadly, easy it is to prove the dumbness dragging down our country, let me just say that ignorance has life and death consequences. On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did. Or take the health care debate we're presently having: members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and "listen to their constituents." An urge they should resist because their constituents don't know anything. At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to "keep your government hands off my Medicare," which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.

I'm the bad guy for saying it's a stupid country, yet polls show that a majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. 24% could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don't know what's in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don't know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket.

Not here. Nearly half of Americans don't know that states have two senators and more than half can't name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only 30% got their wife's name right on the first try.

Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll says 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they're not stupid. They're interplanetary mavericks. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence because it contains the words "Bush" and "knowledge."

People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes 24% of our federal budget. It's actually less than 1%. And don't even ask about cabinet members: seven in ten think Napolitano is a kind of three-flavored ice cream. And last election, a full one-third of voters forgot why they were in the booth, handed out their pants, and asked, "Do you have these in a relaxed-fit?"

And I haven't even brought up America's religious beliefs. But here's one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That's right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first.

And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy? Please, this country is like a college chick after two Long Island Iced Teas: we can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There's a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens. "Inside the beltway" thinking may be wrong, but at least it's thinking, which is more than you can say for what's going on outside the beltway.

And if you want to call me an elitist for this, I say thank you. Yes, I want decisions made by an elite group of people who know what they're talking about. That means Obama budget director Peter Orszag, not Sarah Palin.

Which is the way our founding fathers wanted it. James Madison wrote that "pure democracy" doesn't work because "there is nothing to check... an obnoxious individual." Then, in the margins, he doodled a picture of Joe the Plumber.

Until we admit there are things we don't know, we can't even start asking the questions to find out. Until we admit that America can make a mistake, we can't stop the next one. A smart guy named Chesterton once said: "My country, right or wrong is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying... It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.'" To which most Americans would respond: "Are you calling my mother a drunk?"

love and loyalty

Thursday, August 6, 2009

a catch up

whoa where have i been? i think this very well may have been my longest absence. it appears that i have become quite obsessed with enjoying the last few days of freedom as the second year of grad school creeps up on me. so i took it upon myself to take care of a few things.

for example...

1. see the grand ol garden state and visit some friends and family. o wait and then this happened.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Hey, C'Mon That's Not... Why Would You... Whoa!
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance

2. take in a bit of alternative culture with my friend angelo. o wait it turned out to be a freakshow with a retired wwf wrestler and other cultural gems.

gems like... unattractive burlesque!

then the host swallowed four razors... and then he swallowed a string and then took the string out with the razors laced up.

then he stuck a spoon in his nose. cultured indeed!

the gracious host then introduced his adoring wife of 17 putting a scorpion in her mouth

bon appetit!

true love was expressed when he dropped a cannon ball on his wife's chest.

i hope that someday i can find someone that i can drop a cannon ball on top of.

next on deck - audience interaction! we were invited up on stage to throw darts at the human dartboard. i opted not to...

little miss doesn't shower wore her sassiest of boots specifically for her big theatrical debut.. walking over the host as he lay face first in broken bottles.

then this drag queen... im sorry... professional wrestler offended the crowd for a bit and said that we were too bizarre and "san franciscan"

he proved his normalcy by biting a metal rod and bending it in half. normal.

finally, non wwf hall of famer jake-the-snake came out (drunk), talked about the time andre the giant farted on him and then staged a drunken brawl with the drag qu... i mean pro wrestler.

as far as i was concerned, i thought his speech was a scene out of "the wrestler" with mickey rourke.

you know, entertaining to hear a guy talk about the "good ol days," but really really depressing at the same time.

i believe we had savory crepes that night. they were delicious. the whole night made me feel like i was back in the louvre watching performance art. ...


3. i've been considering law school more and more these days and i've had the pleasure to talk to/ drink beer with/ fly kites with/ smack pinatas with/ drink beer with/ play dominoes with/ drink beer with/ play four square with/ take photos with/ drink beer with a bunch of people from law schools and learn what it's like.

i have learned that i will become an alcoholic. i apologize in advance for my future late night phone calls about fiscal policies... is that a real phrase? am i drunk now? am i already in law school?

what number was i up to?

7. i've also been keen on trying to explore my culinary skills by dragging my friends out of their normal lives and luring them with promises of old fashioned jersey cuisine.

like jonny, for instance. jonny bought the idea of letting me prepare an italian dish for him so we met up for grocery purchases and then i would cook while he relaxed from a week of stress.

he did the lasagna innards. calling food parts "innards" is a thing, right?

he also prepped the pasta. i threw oil in the pot because "it's a secret that italians do to save the pasta flavor."

in actuality i think i saw my friend do it once but i wasn't sure. i'm still not. i've been eating the leftovers all week so apparently i didn't ruin it.

we also made...

he also made cake.. it's been four days and it's still in my possession. i have a little bit more to go and yes i am proud of it.

aren't the settings nice? i didn't do those, either. that would be stephen.

i wound up taking a long shower and these two cooked everything.

everything. even stephen prepared the garlic bread...and he came an hour after jonny started cooking.

i made spinach salad, which was essentially just spinach leaves and raspberry salad dressing. it was delicious.

isn't this just the spitting image of every italian stereotype on a jar of sauce? a blue eyed, korean boy with highlights wearing a "tokyo" t shirt holding vegetarian lasagna? sigh, tradition. warms my heart.

8. o and also, i've been mentoring all of the new graduate students and handling the budget crisis. you know, no big deal.

what was i doing away from this blog for so long? i feel like i'm missing something.... let me think about it.

no, no it sounds about right.

meh. i'm tired.

how did i usually end this?

love &.... lethargy?

sounds about right

10. o! i discovered i like tapatio sauce.