Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More Deceased Soldiers

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Two Camp Pendleton Marines

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the deaths of Lance Cpl. Robert Posivio III of Sherburn, MN and Pfc. Steven Freund of Pittsburgh, PA.

"The men and women of the United States Marine Corps put their lives on the line every day to protect the citizens of this great nation. Lance Cpl. Posivio and Pfc. Freund served proudly with their fellow Marines and fought with courage and determination. Robert and Steven's loved ones have lost a devoted family member and our country has lost two valiant Marines. Maria and I offer our deepest condolences to their families."

Posivio, 22, and Freund, 20, died May 23 of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. They were assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Lance Cpl. Posivio and Pfc. Freund, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

####
Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Benito Ramirez of Edinburg, TX:

"Risking his life to protect America was a duty Lance Cpl. Ramirez took on with bravery and honor. During this difficult time, Maria and I offer our thoughts and prayers to Benito's family, friends and fellow Marines. His commitment to his country and his sacrifice to preserve our freedom will not be forgotten."

Ramirez, 21, died May 21 of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Lance Cpl. Ramirez, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Friday, May 26, 2006

New York Performance - Photos



We'll do a post later today, but here are some images from the May 18 show at the Wine Room of Forest Hills.

Here's the link to our performance on WBAI last week. Fast forward in about 10 minutes until you hear some tracks from "La Danza" and then the two installments from "Vedette Does La Danza Through New York"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Call the scribe "naco"



Finally a leftist candidate we can trust.

Rich Mexicans, the "Los Angeles Times"
reports, are worried about Revolutionary Democratic Party standard bearer Manuel Lopez Obrador.

“The biggest fear,” writes Hector Tobar, “of many wealthy Mexicans is Lopez Obrador’s vow to toughen tax enforcement to raise the revenue to pay for social programs.”

(!)

Disclosure: highwayscribery likes social programs and likes the candidate, warts and all, as you’ll see from these posts: “South of the Border,” May 10; “Lopez Obrador (anew);” July 27, 2005, “Mexico Rising?” April 28, 2005.

Some of the adjectives used to color readers’ impressions of the leftist candidate, a man who departed his job as mayor of the world’s most populous city with an 84 percent approval rating: dangerous Robin Hood, absurd, danger, candidate of social anarchy and collapse, lying oddball, corrupt, manipulator, throwback and...naco.

“In the parlance of the city’s ‘educated society,’ Lopez Obrador and his followers are nacos, a slur meaning ‘rube’ or ‘uncultured’.

“'Only the nacos, the people who are dying of hunger will vote for him, just so they can get everything for free, instead of working to make this country better,' a man who identified himself as Andres Lavoisere wrote on a Mexican blog recently”.

They must have a uniter and not a divider in charge of Mexico, too.

Sure, the words are not, in every instance, the reporter’s and they come from the mouths of those the reporter interviewed, but that’s something of a reporter’s trick.

To wit: I’ll make a story about some people whose opinions I already know - which, of course, is not news at all, since everybody else knows it, too.

According to Tobar, the guy from the right wing party is running ads attacking Lopez Obrador saying he bankrupted Mexico City with expensive public works programs.

Here they bankrupt the city and you get nothing, so turn left my fellow Americans.

The article does everybody a disservice. The rich are not only greedy there, but they are racist, too. Mexico deserves better.

Nacos are going to win and nacos are stupid and ignorant.

Maybe if the other guys paid some taxes the nacos might be educated and absorbed into the dominant creole culture and not be so naco-like anymore.

Silly liberal!

And it’s good to see other countries have irrational scapegoats, too. One thing’s for sure, if the scribe were a naco he wouldn’t vote for the other guy who isn’t a...dangerous Robin Hood, absurd, danger, candidate of social anarchy and collapse, lying oddball, corrupt, manipulator, throwback or...naco.

It’s also good to see that character assassination plays as well across the border as it does here, because the world is getting so darn fair and just that it’s boring and lacks color.

The article doesn’t just shoot down the people who want government to serve as guarantor of equality and justice, it besmirches the whole idea.

And here’s a newsflash, Mexican rich people love their country so much they’ll flee it to avoid taxes. And that’s who you want governing.

Anyway, read the rest of the article and tune in as we seek new pearls both here and across the border relative to the pending Mexican election.

*******

Cristina Hardt, director of “Death In El Valle” (April 27) will be interviewed with some other “filmmakers who make a difference” on 90.7 FM KPFK tonight at 7 p.m. Outside of Los Angeles you stream it live or through their electronic archive

Sunday, May 21, 2006

"Vedette Does La Danza" Saturday Night











NEW YORK - Here are some photos from Saturday night's performance at Vin Liota's in the financial district of New York City.

"Vedette Does La Danza" was performed before an intimate gathering of 17 people including the scribe's high school Spanish teacher Wallace Sanders, old friends Martin Marmorale and Matt Fraher, plus Matt's wife, and a delightful young woman from Galicia, Spain named Anna Franco. Bill, a friend of Omar's wife's father attended with his friend as did Omar's hosts in New York, Dag and wife. Host Vin Liota was present as were his two teens. The scribe was glad he left some press releases at the Cervantes Institute following the lecture by Francesc Torres ("An Enduring Civil Peace," May 19), because two lovely ladies from the Bronx came as well as the endearing Tibby, a widow whose husband was a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade all that time ago.

The decoration included our insistent flag of the Spanish Republic and a half circle made of "luminarias" which are naught but brown paper bags with a candle inside, but which do tremendous things to an ambience. Windows were opened on to Greenwich St. and the breeze from New York harbor blew long white curtains on both sides of the performers. For Omar and the scribe, the performance represented our most harmonious effort to date. We are refining and getting better each time.

Tonight, the upper East Side at 66th St.

Friday, May 19, 2006

"An Enduring Civil Peace" Francesc Torres in New York



NEW YORK -- the scribe and guitarist Omar Torrez attended a lecture by Spanish conceptual artist Francesc Torres on the recuperation of a Republican memory in Spain. The talk was a part of the Bill Susman Lecture Series sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA).

James D. Fernandez, director of the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at New York University opened the event by expressing difficulties he had with the phrase, “recuperation of memory.”

Memory, he asserted, is not something that can be lost and then found, of a piece, and application of the singular is also misleading because there must naturally be more than one memory in the case of something quite so sweeping and complex as the Spanish Civil War.

Fernandez called instead for the, “cultivating of democratic habits of remembering.”

“Bill Susman – one of the founders of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - knew the materials are inert, that they had been recovered but not cultivated to create a pluralist democratic memory,” he said.

In introducing Francesc Torres, Fernandez referred to him as, “one of Spain’s most important conceptual artists.”

Torres himself opened by describing the sentiment behind much of his work in the visual arts as a response to the fact, “a vast area of human history has been defined by war, which,” and here he quoted Prussian military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz, “is politics by other means.”

“I might have chosen more pleasant subjects, but I could not. Why? Because the most influential event in my life happened nine years before I was born. The Spanish Civil War shaped my way of being in the world as is the case in today’s Spain, which is still challenged in dealing with it.”

His installations, Torres said, represent an effort to transfer, “historical sediment” into the “domain of the symbolic.”

The first of such politically motivated installations were exhibited in 1991 at Madrid’s Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia entitled, “Cincuenta Lluvias” or “50 Rains.”

He chose three years for depiction in three separate but interrelated installations – 1943, 1973, and 1993

For 1943, Torres used rubble (“historical sediment”) from the Spanish embassy to Fascist Germany in Berlin. An enormous building of some 300 rooms, it was destroyed by Allied bombing in World War II and left standing for some 60 years in the same condition to which the bombardment had reduced it.

The artist took the broken furniture and other artifacts for the edifice and constructed an assemblage of helter-skelter, post-bombardment disorder, a bed hanging diagonally from a ceiling, a photo of the pre-bombing building rotating intermittently on a wall.

More to the point, he scattered throughout the piece documentation pulled from the rubble clearly linking the Franco regime to Fascism. “At the time two intellectuals [here and in Europe] were describing Francoism as a totalitarian regime with very little in common with Fascism.

“I did not know what the objective of such a fine threading of the effort was,” he said, adding that the mid-40s were, in fact, a time of the most savage repression in Spain.

“Franco knew he was well accompanied by his allies in the [Third] Reich,” the artist pointed out.

Torres chose 1973 for his second piece, “because it represented the de facto beginning of the transition with the bombing of Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco’s car by the Basque separatist group ETA. The politician was Franco’s political heir apparent, the man chosen to keep the regime “Atado y bien atado” (Secured and secured well).

The artist went looking for that very same car, because his goal was to use historical sediment in a clinically pure form.

“My aim was to present a question to Spain as a whole regarding its political context: Why, under a Socialist government, had such an incredible cloud of collective amnesia descended over the country?"

Torres could not procure the actual car, but was able to procure a model of the same type used by all Francoist officials of the era. “I restored it, turning the clock of assassination back to one second before it happened. It was more art than pure historical sediment, but made its impact.”

On the walls of the room marking the installation’s parameters were the front pages of newspapers, made slightly blurry to insinuate the passage of time, reporting the event of Carrero Blanco’s assassination.

His next choice, 1993, had yet to unspool when Torres confected the final piece to his three dimensional triptych. It followed a year during which Spain celebrated the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in America and also one in which Barcelona hosted the Olympics and Seville the World’s Fair.

“It was a year that put Spain back on the map of normalcy among European states.”

Furniture used in the sleekly constructed apartment-style arrangement was chosen from the national daily of record, “El Pais,” books in shelving along the wall were those being read by the political class at the time, and it was rounded out with a Jaspers Johns-like representation of the Spanish flag.

“At the time,” he explained, “there was a movement in the cultural class to renew the history of contemporary art as if Spain had always been a part of the 20th century art movements, which wasn’t the case.”

The artist took images from printed media of that moment and used them as art for the walls of the young, urban, and professionally inspired apartment: the mouth of Isabel Preysler, a former wife of Spanish entertainer Julio Iglesias and later that of a promiment socialist Minister of Economics, Miguel Boyer; the cleavage of the famous Spanish flamenco singer "La Pantoja."

These were fragmented images; subject matter objectified, if not always sexually, as the cropped image of vice president Alfonso Guerra’s terrifying eye attested to.

The soundtrack was that of rain falling… a distant storm.

"Things happened,” Torres said, “art had lost weight, commenting on itself, deepening its servitude to the market.” Along with this change in the art world came an equally profound internal change for the artist: “An intense external social and political interest to reduce to zero the difference between my interests in my art and my interests as a citizen.”

His overarching point is that 67 years after its conclusion, the civil war is still raging in Spanish culture. “There has been no reconciliation between the two sides, no melding of a shared history between them,” said Torres.

He asserted that there is an ongoing disconnection between political discourse and the underlying reality of tension fueled largely by myths of the Spanish transition.

The crucial moment in that widely lauded transition, Torres argued, was the Pact of Moncloa reached amongst political elites on both sides of the spectrum, elites who, because there had yet to be elections, actually had no claim to representation among Spaniards.

“The agreement institutionalized what one side could not remind the other of. It was a decision to mortgage the reality of a political past,” said the artist. “A battle of memory, of how [the civil war] will finally go down in history is still being waged. There is but a narrow window of time left before those who lost the war might be made whole.”

And then there are, “the dead people lying around all over the country.”

Torres discussed his difficulty in putting together a project to uncover certain unmarked, mass graves in different regions of Spain both by governments of the right, which might be expected, and those of the left, which was both more surprising and disappointing.

There are, he said, an estimated 35,000 Republican Spaniards lying around in graves. Many lie adjacent to, or directly under garbage dumps.

“Coincidence?” Torres prodded.

Following a number of false starts, the artist was finally permitted to proceed in a location outside Burgos, northwest of Madrid.

At the outset of the civil war, he noted, there was no Republican resistance in this particular region and, for that reason, the repression was most savage. People who had been mayors, administrators, and simple municipal functionaries in Republican administrations were assassinated in great numbers by firing squad.

The specific massacre his team investigated took place, according to witnesses, on September 23, 1936. The grave contained 47 people in all. Most showed signs of having been tortured and among the bullet casings emptied by members of the local Fascist Falange and Civil Guard were found the tops of beer bottles, too.

“They were drinking and having a good time as they did their killing,” said Torres.

He projected images of skeleton feet with their shoes still on them, gnarled finger bones bearing rings; images that remind us that 70 years is not so long ago. For 70 years, Torres said, those of Republican persuasion have been denied their dignity and denied their identity.

In post-dictatorship Spain there has not been one single indictment for war crimes and not a single Republican figure has been rehabilitated.

He chose the figure of former Catolonian President Luis Companys as an example. Companys escaped Spain only to be captured by the Nazis and returned to Franco who had him shot. His crime was, in the end, that of being a democratically elected official.

Social Democratic Spain, which has held power for a total of 15 years since Franco’s death, he said, bears the largest part of the blame.

“By failing to correct the legacy of the Spanish Civil War, they have prevented an enduring civil peace.”

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Appearance on WBAI

NEW YORK - the scribe and Omar Torrez were on WBAI's "Wake Up Call" this morning at 6 a.m. You can hear it:

"Vedette Does La Danza Through New York"

Listen to 10 minutes or so of news from the left wing perspective and then our segment kicks in.

Thanks to Deepa Fernandes and WBAI radio for having us in their studio.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

New York Performance

NEW YORK - Last night the scribe and Omar Torrez set down a first performance in their mini-tour of New York.

Departure from Los Angeles was at 10 p.m. the night before. The flight, like all flights, was cramped, stuffy and uncomfortable. the scribe marvels at how air travel has descended over the years into the state of inelegance and implied misery it currently represents. It’s no wonder the airlines, peddling in discomfort as they do, are in trouble. The virtuoso guitarist and the novelist watched “Big Momma’s House II" being emitted from a very small screen above someone three seats ahead of them, with the sound off. Even this low-grade entertainment could not put them to sleep.

The arrival in Newark was hampered by a one-hour wait at the baggage claim where the duo commiserated with an actor from “Hill St. Blues” - the one with the southern accent (this is going back 20 years and more now).

The New Jersey Transit train was packed heading into Penn Station as Omar and the scribe wrestled with their luggage, the guitar, and the black bag of electronic tricks the musician brings with him. Trying to load Omar onto the "1" train for his West Village destination, it was a site to see as the working hordes surged into the subway tunnels in powerful waves at 8:46 a.m. – height of the rush.

Heading their separate ways, the guitarist and writer went to sleep for an hour or so and reunited around 2 p.m. on the lower East Side, Ludlow Street, at a music store where they tried to anticipate the technical demands of the evening’s performance before the Women’s Club of Forest Hills.

They grabbed the "F" train and slipped out of Manhattan just before the heavy rush and enjoyed some excellent pizza on Austin St. upon stepping out of the subway in Queens.

The audience was a little slow to arrive and the starting time was put off while the ladies (and their escorts in some cases) laid waste to most of the wine and snacks brought by the group’s members.

They then uniformly and dutifully sat down. The lights were turned off and a spotlight trained upon the scribe and Omar that affected the scribe mightily and Omar not at all.

You could hear a pin drop. The crowd was quiet following the first piece and remained so throughout, lending a tension and building a mood by their very silence. We were clearly before folks engaged with the show, interested in literature, and stimulated by the unique nature of the presentation.

the scribe struggled inside a bit, used to practicing to Omar’s CD in the kitchen where the table, chairs and refrigerator are stand-ins for the audience.

At one point, the scribe, sensing a deepening involvement on the part of the audience, pulled out of the recitation so that Omar could weave his flamenco magic.

Clapping gently, the slap of his palms echoing softly across the wooden auditorium, locked into a tight circle of light with his collaborator, the audience seemingly enlarged by the blackness and anonymity achieved through the subtle and intelligent lighting, the scribe felt suspended by his own words and the music, sustained and frozen in dark time, moved by a pure kind of literary bliss.

Give yourself up, move towards the fear; the world will give back, things to hold dear.

(highwayscribery)

The performance closed to sustained applause, kind remarks, and healthy book sales. It was hard to sleep, despite the exhaustion, with all the energy the evening had produced inside.

Today, a taping at WBAI Radio down on Wall St.

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Carnage

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of San Diego Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Spc. Justin O'Donohoe of San Diego:

"Maria and I are saddened by the tragic loss of Spc. O'Donohoe. Justin served his country with determination and courage. We are forever indebted to him for his service and ultimate sacrifice and will keep his family in our prayers."

O'Donohoe, 27, died May 5 when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during combat operations in Abad, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 71st Cavalry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, NY.

In honor of Spc. O'Donohoe, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Fontana Soldier


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Bryan Brewster of Fontana:

"Sgt. Brewster went beyond the call of duty and put his patriotism to work for the good of his fellow Americans. Maria and I join all Californians in extending our heartfelt sympathies to Bryan's family. His bravery, compassion and commitment to duty will live on in our hearts."

Brewster, 24, died May 5 when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during combat operations in Abad, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, NY.

In honor of Sgt. Brewster, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Concord Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Pfc. Benjamin Zieske of Concord:

"Pfc. Zieske's courageous service reminds us of the dangers the men and women of our armed forces face daily. Maria and I join all Californians in offering our deepest sympathies to Benjamin's family and friends for their loss. As we honor his memory we must also keep all of our brave servicemen and women in our thoughts and prayers."

Zieske, 20, died May 3 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted combat patrol in Kirkuk, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, KY.

In honor of Pfc. Zieske, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Leon Deraps of Jamestown, MO:

"Lance Cpl. Deraps, who served and died in the defense of freedom, deserves our utmost respect and deepest gratitude. We owe Leon and the US Marine Corps a debt we can never repay for their noble service to our country. Maria and I send our heartfelt sympathies to Leon's family and fellow Marines during their time of mourning."

Deraps, 19, died May 6 of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Lance Cpl. Deraps, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Just What We Needed


As the scribe has warned, just because the (r)epublicans have turned out to be an embarrassment as a governing party and will soon be turned out (?), doesn't mean they won't do more damage before it happens.

To wit: with everything going on in the country and the world, what they came up with is a tax cut.

It's truly the only idea they've ever had, an idea that takes no creativity and is really the antithesis to government. It's also the only thing they are capable of agreeing upon as they go straight to hell.

You can read the article linked above to the "New York Times," but here is the chapter that's important for you to keep in mind as you head to the polls in November:

"The overwhelming share of tax cuts the Senate voted to extend will flow to the wealthiest taxpayers. People earning $1 million a year would save about $42,000, and reap about 22 percent of the total tax cut, according to the Tax Policy Center, a research group in Washington. People earning $40,000 to $50,000 a year would save about $47 and receive less than 1 percent."

So go ahead, vote (r)epublican - it's worth $47 bucks to you.

The vote was party line with 44 Dems in opposition, but where the hell was the filibuster? They should have shut this crap down, but instead leave us with a sneaky feeling of what passes for an opposition having its cake and eating it: helping the rich and corporate contributors they are dependent upon, but sending out the faintest of signals that they were somehow against it.

Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana, correctly pointed out that, "There is little in this bill to be proud of. Working people have been left behind."

Your government at work.

Call Sen. Bill Frist (r), a hack who thinks he's going to run for president, and tell him what you think of this. (202) 224-3344.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

"Vedette Does La Danza Through New York"


Okay, here are the final dates and times for the scribe's tour with Omar Torrez through New York.

Monday, May 15, 7:30 p.m. Women's Club of Forest Hills, The Community House, 15 Borage Place Forest Hills, NY 11375 (718)268-7710.

Tuesday, May 16, (taping) WBAI Radio, 120 Wall St., 10th Floor, 1 to 3 p.m.

Thursday, May 18, 7:00 p.m. The Wine Room of Forest Hills, 96-09 69th Ave (between Groton & Harrow), Forest Hills, NY 11375 (718)520-1777.

Saturday May 20, 8 p.m. at the home of documentary film maker Vincent Liotta, 110 Greenwich Street, 3B - (take Chambers St. train. One block south of World Trade Center site). (212) 227 O240, (646) 515 5743.

Sunday, May 21, 6:00 p.m. Dale Nissenbaum's apartment in Manhattan (718) 263-2177.

the scribe will be doing readings from "Vedette or Conversations with the Flamenco Shadows" to pieces from Omar's albums "Dynamisto" and "La Danza."

Some of these are private affairs, but The Wine Room of Forest Hills is open to all as is the one at the Greenwhich St. loft. Come swill some flamenco wine and catch the flamenco groove, etc.

highwayscribery recommends you sample this interview with Omar Torres on KPFK radio’s “Global Village” segment. Scroll down a bit for the link. Just above the orange “La Danza” album cover. Maybe your computer can play it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

South of the Border



In keeping with our recent concentration on Latin America, highwayscribery will tell you a little bit about an Op-Ed penned by Jorge Castenada relative to the elections in Mexico entitled "Mexico, up for grabs".

We like Castaneda (the bearded one here) because he’s an intellectual who left his lair in the early heady, days after Vicente Fox routed the PRI in 2000 to try his hand at government. Specifically, he became Mexico’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, which is no small job.

During a G-8 or G-9 summit in Ottawa, Canada a few years ago, there were some tremendous demonstrations of the anti-globalization type. Asked where he would be if he were not foreign minister, Castaneda answered, “Outside with the kids.”

the scribe has always loved the way Latin American countries make senators, deputies, and even presidents of their writers. Brazil’s President in the 1980s, Jose Sarney, comes to mind as does Sergio Ramirez, vice president of Nicaragua during the reign of the revolutionary Sandinista Liberation Front.

Anyway, Castaneda’s article focus on the evaporated lead of long-time front-runner AndrĂ©s Manuel Lopez Obrador. We’ve made no secret of our interest in Obrador’s candidacy here at highwayscribery (“Mexico Rising, April 28, 2005 and “Lopez Obrador (anew),” July 27, 2005).

He seems, or seemed, to be a mellow guy of humble roots and intentions who took the Revolutionary Democratic Party and turned it into a governing entity during his term as Mayor of Mexico City, which is no small job.

He has been the frontrunner for months-and-months, but as the July elections near, he’s fallen behind a guy from the rightist PAN party.

Castaneda tries to let us in on why and highwayscribery, much as it hurts, must give him the benefit of the doubt. Among the maladies affecting Obrador’s candidacy are “hubris,” “arrogance,” and “disrespect for the electorate.”

And it must be admitted the Lopez Obrador's to skip nationally televised debates was a boner.

But what’s good about this piece is the articulate insider’s take on what’s happening in Mexico and how it’s sinking Lopez Obrador’s candidacy.

“Mexico,” he writes, “remains a terribly conservative country. Mexicans desire change only sporadically and in small doses, and they generally loathe stridency, confrontation and clean breaks with anything.”

He goes on to explain how Obrador’s party is driven by a base, “intent upon revolution.”

Of course, there are many good reasons for a revolution to take place in Mexico, but Castaneda is telling us that folks don’t want it, which creates a problem for the lefty candidate.

He says Obrador does not hail from that revolutionary base, but is hostage to it, which sounds a lot like somebody else who is (mis)ruling a behemoth directly to the north of Mexico, but never mind about that.

the scribe has to admit his sense of disappointment with Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Brazil’s Lula making hay with Venezuela’s Chavez and the decrepit Mr. Castro. Perhaps they must find friends wherever they may, but it was a natural hope they represented a new kind of Latin American left, as opposed to the anti-yanqui, anti-imperialist and mostly demagogic dinosaurs of the past.

Castaneda notes, “But Lopez Obrador is not out of the running. He has 60 percent of voter preferences in the Mexico City metropolitan area...has immense resources available to him. He inspires devotion, at time of a fanatical nature, among the country’s poor, and they are a majority. He has shown himself to be incredibly resilient in the past, shrugging off one apparently fatal blow after another. He is not finished, despite his own best efforts.”

We’re still hoping, which is no small job.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Two Fallen Fellows

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Robert Moscillo of Salem, NH:

"By joining the armed forces, Lance Cpl. Moscillo courageously accepted responsibility for protecting our country and our freedoms. Maria and I send our sympathies to Robert's loved ones. His service and sacrifice reminds us that the men and women of the United States Marine Corps put their lives on the line every day to overcome any obstacles that threaten our freedom."

Moscillo, 21, died May 1 of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Lance Cpl. Moscillo, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Elisha Parker of Taberg, NY:

"Today, we pay tribute to Sgt. Parker, who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms. Elisha's loved ones have lost a devoted family member and our nation has lost a courageous Marine. Maria and I will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers."

Parker, 21, died May 4 of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Sgt. Parker, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Monday, May 08, 2006

City Zen (poem)


Here is a poem from “Spit in a Flower Pot” if you must.

City Zen

at the crossing
an unrecorded violence
suspends the loneliness
of waiting for red
to go green

drum heat and conga cries
shattered hat rooftops
over nightshifters navigating
kitchens by refrigerator bulb




it is evening
out in the bottletop garden
the air is heaving chemical fog
commingling the perfume
of uncertain lovers

gunshots of the proper
commerce cascading waitresses
home to curtains of light
boxed by windows clinging
a common wall

until the drowning


Remember that the scribe will be doing readings from "Vedette or Conversations with the Flamenco Shadows" to the accompaniment of guitarist Omar Torrez during a series of appearances in New York, May 15 through 21.

We’ll play the The Wine Room of Forest Hills May 16 at 7:30. The address is 90-69 69 Ave. The phone number is (718) 520-1777. A second “public” affair may or may not come to pass.

highwayscribery recommends you sample this interview with Omar Torres on KPFK radio’s “Global Village” segment. Scroll down a bit for the link. Just above the orange “La Danza” album cover. Maybe your computer can play it.

The painting is entitled, "Early New York Evening" and was done by Jane Freilicher in the early '50s.

And finally, the scribe was asked to weigh-in (or guest blog) on the health care crisis in the United States by Shaun Mullen at Kiko's House. He entitled it, "Humanizing the System." The entries in his roundup are diverse and insightful.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Siege of San Salvador de Atenco





The fellow at left is an unlucky citizen of Mexico and those are the police of the citizens of Mexico surrounding him. And they’re not taking him to the hospital.

That can happen to you in Mexico, as it can in the United States or any other country in the world. And it is unacceptable that wherever the people and police clash, the violence is to the death, which is dangerous when that violence is mostly on one side, and organized.

But we have all seen again and again, be it outside an L.A. Laker game or at a rally in Indonesia for union rights, the abuse of the state’s monopoly on power.

Everywhere, the good, sound beating by baton is applied when there is absolutely no reason for it. Subdue, incarcerate, and arraign. That’s the democratic way. No bruises or cracked bones or blood. Because it is not civilized and it is unbecoming of a noble country.

Anyway, the man at left was part of a rebellion in a village outside Mexico City. The government wanted to push flower sellers out of the town square and the flower sellers didn’t want to go. Everybody got behind them, they ran the police out, and took control.

The government dispatched 3,000 police. The local groups armed themselves with Molotov cocktails and blocked the main road into town.

There was hell to pay as the federal agents blasted their way through San Salvador with tear gas canisters and all manner of explosive devices, ploughing through peoples' homes, pulling them out of bed. Beating them. The whole heavy-handed disaster.

If reports from the daily paper La Jornada are in any way accurate, much of the action was captured by a considerable media presence which, of course, would have been notified in advance of an early morning operation.

The raid served the purposes of distracting angry Mexicans from the fact President Vicente Fox had just caved to pressure from the U.S. on a sensible law to decriminalize drugs in his own country.

And let’s be clear, the little town of San Salvador de Atenco and Fox share a mutual past together. A few years ago, Fox decided he wanted to put a new international airport on the spot where the town now sits. The local farmers turned out to be a pretty obstinate bunch, taking up machetes and organizing the Front of Communities in Defense of the Land.

They governed the town themselves for a while, autonomously, before what they call order in Mexico was restored.

Which is why highwayscribery focuses upon this event: they set up a classic Temporary Autonomous Zone, taking control when they needed it, but avoiding permanent government. An important anarchist strophe.

And also because the scribe’s heroine, “Vedette,” sells flowers.

Anyway, the airport was never built and Fox didn’t like the way he came out looking; losing to a bunch of peasants and all that. So he had his reasons.

The government is blaming the whole thing on a small group of violent activists “holding the town hostage,” and by all accounts the government knew where to find them.

Since most media outlets are prone to giving government arguments the benefit of the doubt, we’ll side with the townspeople who are caught in a classic battle for survival before the great and globalized economy.

Need an airport to handle increased business and traffic? Put it where a bunch of subsistence farmers live. The Indians resist? Crush commerce and exchange, push out the flower sellers. Move them along. There are larger interests at play here.

The question now is, How many of the people arrested and roughed up will get out anytime soon? Another question is, how many of them will avoid torture?

We do it, so why shouldn't they?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

And Another One


If you're getting tired of seeing these death notices during your furtive glances at highwayscribery, good; that will give you some idea about how we feel. And we should all be uncomfortable with the increased frequency of their happening and uncomfortable at how comfortable so many of us still are. highwayscribery is literally being taken over by the death notes out of Gov. Schwarzenegger's office and we allow it to occur for its metaphorical value. The war will swallow us up.

These people are dying and there is little more than low presidential approval ratings to suggest anyone is noticing.

The president anounces, with the same casual air he used in providing the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the war ("oh, 25 or 30 thousand...") that we are going to be in Iraq ten years, and that there's nothing he can do about oil prices, and that people shouldn't depend on government if/when the bird flu slays us all...and nothing.

Except more notices.


Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Camp Pendleton Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Sgt. Edward Davis III of Antioch, IL:

"Serving our country is a noble task that Sgt. Davis took on with bravery and fortitude. Maria and I wish to send our deepest sympathies to Edward's family, friends and fellow Marines for this painful loss. His honorable service and ultimate sacrifice will not be forgotten."

Davis, 31, died April 28 of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Sgt. Davis, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Three More Soldiers

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Two Camp Pendleton Marines

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the deaths of Sgt. Lea Mills of Brooksville, FL and Cpl. Brandon Hardy of Cochranville, PA:

"In the face of danger, Sgt. Mills and Cpl. Hardy fought valiantly beside their fellow Marines. Maria and I want to reaffirm to Lea and Brandon's families that we are forever indebted to them for the sacrifices their loved ones made for our country. These courageous Marines' dedication is the embodiment of selfless service."

Mills, 21 and Hardy, 25, died April 28 of injuries sustained while conducting combat operation's against enemy forces in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. They were both assigned to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA.

In honor of Sgt. Mills and Cpl. Hardy, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Anaheim Soldier

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Pfc. Raymond Henry of Anaheim:

"The call of duty takes our troops into dangerous situations that require extraordinary courage. Pfc. Henry bravely assumed those risks and made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Maria and I send our condolences to Raymond's family as they mourn the loss of their loved one."

Henry, 21, died April 25 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations in Mosul, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

In honor of Pfc. Henry, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Oil, Natural Gas, and Evo Morales






A little politics, of which there has not been much at highwayscribery of late.

The nation’s having stirred to the sinister reality of the Bush administration has robbed us of a primary leitmotiv.

Although the Bushies are still in power and will be responsible for a thousand administrative, regulatory and legal transgressions against our well being, they are spent as a creative force and source of leadership.

Nobody trusts them anymore, and nobody ever should have. It remains one of the great mysteries how a man of Bush’s limited achievement, and abbreviated pedigree where public service was concerned, ever rose to the place he did. A masterful bit of marketing to take a president’s son and cast him as something new and other.

It is hard to remember now, in the constant rain of insults against the administration (fired from now-safe bulwarks), just how little it had to answer for from the beginning, how easy it was for Bush to say he didn’t want to talk about his past addictions, and how that was fine, even though he'd head a government that regularly jails people for the same thing. And so on ad infinium...

More than any other event, the symbol for his presidency should be that press conference on the eve of war. The one where reporters raised their hands to ask questions already submitted and pre-approved by the White House.

Still lost in that past where everything he said went, Bush commented a few days ago that the federal government should not tax the oil companies given the massive profits they’re reaping.

Wow, didn’t see that coming.

“People in Washington have a tendency to tax everything,” he told reporters.

They also have a tendency to bomb everything, but I’ve never heard Bush complain about that.

What the situation calls for is a nice heavy windfall profits tax which is then returned to the consumers (formerly "the people") as, what they call in economics, a transfer-in-kind payment.

Then you cap the price of gas so that tax isn't just passed along to the consumer. And just watch how the oil companies continue to survive and thrive, and you, too!

But enough policy. Bush called on Congress to ease the regulations that make it so hard for ExxonMobil to make that gas, which are typically the things that also prevent them from poisoning the scribe or yourselves.

Then he said the oil companies should take the money and, instead of party with it, build more natural gas pipelines.

And speaking of natural gas pipelines, Evo Morales, the left wing president of Bolivia has announced his plans to nationalize that country's natural gas industry.

For those too young to remember the failed and miserable attempts to implement socialism last century, you “nationalize” by ordering the military to occupy the facilities of a particular industry.

It’s pretty strong stuff and harkens back to an earlier era of left wing of dictatorships like that of Velasco in Peru where the army and state were mobilized, ostensibly, in support of the poor. The big question, typically, is how long the armed forces go along with such things before cries of god and country begin to whet their own appetites for power.

A utopian might dream about how the money from South America’s second largest natural gas reserve could be run through the infrastructure of Morales’ electoral coalition-cum-government to apply it where needed in building a fair, just, modern, and civil society.

But that’s probably not going to happen. And anyway, in nationalizing the industry, Morales has essentially made off with the property of such monsters as Exxon, Repsol (Spain), BP Group (Great Britain), Petrobras (Brazil) and France’s Total.

That’s a surly bunch of folks who don’t much care for violations of property law. Natural gas has a big future right now, a fact Bush’s comment might have clued you in to. The infrastructure is being laid-in for its receipt proximate to U.S. shores. There it will become re-reliquified and used to fire a new generation of power plants designed to meet and ever-growing appetite for power.

So Morales is hoeing a short track to being deposed, because to a lot of people in power elsewhere than Bolivia he's a little indian with a little army and nothing more.

That being said, there has been an obvious corroding of the 20-year consensus regarding the proper path for economics. And the rise of men such as Morales and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez are testimony to the late capitalist model’s failure to eliminate entire and enormous classes of disenfranchised people or silence them completely

Monday, May 01, 2006

Lance Corporal Ford

Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Twentynine Palms Marine

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. Michael Ford of New Bedford, MA:

"Lance Cpl. Ford courageously served his country with honor and dedication. Maria and I wish to express our deepest sympathies to Michael's family for their painful loss. We will never be able to repay him or his family for the ultimate sacrifice made by this brave Marine to defend freedom."

Ford, 19, died April 26 of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, CA.

In honor of Lance Cpl. Ford, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.



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Happy May Day Fellow Workers!


"The average price of wage labour is the minimum wage, ie., that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the labourer in bare existence as a labourer. What therefore, the wage labourer appropriates by means of his labor, merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labour, an appropriation that is made for the maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no surplus wherewith to command the labour of others. All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the labourer lives merely to increase capital, and is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of the ruling class requires it." - Karl Marx