martes, septiembre 27, 2005


This week, my office was asked to complete an "Integrity Survey" or some such thing in which the staff member takes some sort of on-line training and then takes a little multiple choice quiz, then gets a certificate. The Big Boss has asked that all staff get this certification as part of his new "Integrity Initiative". One of the big, big issues plugged in this survey, or re-educational tool, whatever you want to call it, was that staff not share ANY information that is UN related. The timing of this is pretty funny considering what all's been going on around these parts. Damn, now I have to go over in my head what gossip I've been telling you fine folks. Let's see, there was that whole Oil for Food scandal tidbit that I shared with you. But that was splattered on all the papers, so I guess that's OK. I did say, not in so many words, that the UN is one corrupt mutha. No news there. The gossip about my co-workers: no one can possibly trace that unless they know the people in question or have already heard me curse them out, by name of course. Far be it from me to be dishonest. Maybe there was that rumor about Clinton becoming Secretary-General. Well, it was just a dream apparently because a former world leader is not eligible for that post. I guess as long as I've dispelled that myth, there's no danger for me. You will also notice, friends, that I've deleted every explicit reference to my office. To those of you who remember, please shut your mouths.

During my free time, I've Googled some old friends (I don't think that sounds too good, but y'all know what I mean). Those kids have some web presences, presenting papers and starting bands and delivering speeches and whatnot! Which makes me feel just a tad inadequate. But then I remember, it's OK that I didn't get my Master's in zoology or math. I think of the years of agony I would need to endure for this. Ha! Move over to the States and see if that Master's does you any good, guys. To me, a Master's is a pretty fucking expensive piece of paper that doesn't guarantee a God damn thing (to my friends getting Master's and, heaven forbid, PhD's, this does not apply to you, and I love you, darlings. I'm just sore for obvious reasons). As for my web presence, I have some things stashed away somewheres. There's plenty mention of this little blog, and there's a couple of articles I wrote for the UN Chronicle. The Urban Latino Magazine site doesn't have any of my articles anymore. Those people are all big for their breeches now that they have a TV show. But back to my old friends. Funny that the people who spent hour upon hour in the coveted smoking circle and partied until their brains started to ooze out of their ears had time to get themselves into Berkeley and Vassar and Stamford and whatnot. Kind of makes me proud of my alma mater. Even the alcoholics and crackheads were above average. And very well dressed, if I remember correctly.

The only thing I really regret is not following through with my guitar. There it lies in the back of my closet, taking up expensive space that I don't really have while I daydream about being able to melt some faces with those Hendrix songs I have on my iPod, like Ezy Rider or Spanish Castle Magic. I now know that I should have gone and become a virtuoso in high school. Seems to me if you don't do it then, it ain't gonna happen. Kind of like languages. You have to do it early when your brain is a sponge so it'll take. If not, you will forever suck at it.

So now I am racking my brain to see what it is that I totally kick ass in. Let's see...I know just about every Led Zeppelin and Hendrix song there is, not to mention major old school hip hop, like Grandmaster Flash and Whodini (my favorite is Five Minutes of Funk. I actually time my walk from home to the subway by that song). I'm extra good at Lunch Licks, this contest that my local classic rock station holds everyday where they play the first couple of bars of a song and you have to call in and guess. I almost always know, but do not call so as to be charitable and leave room for others. I can write pretty damn good poems and long-ass opinion pieces on sociology, Latin American politics and history and the history of World War II (just a small shout to Mr. Martin, my forever favorite history teacher. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't give a shit about any of it). I could finally get on Jeopardy! And win millions, as my lovely graduating class voted me most likely to kick ass on that show with my "random knowledge of history facts", and I feel like I owe it to my father to get going on this before he goes anywhere. After all, this was our vision throughout my childhood and teen years, and it still is. Maybe I should collaborate with Jeff Chang or someone and write a Can't Stop Won't Stop kind of book (see the link "Hip Hop Journalism". It's on that sidebar over there---->).

While these thoughts may sound quite sad and pathetic, I know that a lot of you have exactly the same thoughts. You wouldn't be human if you were doubt-free, even though I pointed it out in a rant earlier on that you shouldn't let anyone make you doubt yourself. I meant on the job, because it takes your time and energy away from doing your job and it will become a downward spiral. Anyway, some things just get in the way of how you think your life should progress. For a while there, I was doing exactly what I said I would do. I would finish high school and go to New York City to Sarah Lawrence College to learn how to write and then get published, which I did. Afterwards, I kind of took this wierd uncharted turn to see what was around. My present workplace is not at all what I had envisioned, especially being on the political affairs side of things, which sucks because now I can't run for mayor of New York City since it would be a conflict of interest with "the host country and city". It would be one hell of a conflict because the first thing I'd do as mayor is kick those diplomats to the curb and take away their parking privileges on 42nd street, and they'd have to yield to New Yorkers during the General Assembly rather than the other way around.

New York for New Yorkers! Would be my battle cry, a slogan which I've actually yelled out of cab windows stuck in traffic because of tourists swarming around Columbus Circle and Rockefeller Center during the holidays. Obviously it hasn't had its desired effect.

lunes, septiembre 12, 2005

"You'll die before they come"

Hello out there! Last week I was on, uh, vacation in Washington DC, which looks more and more appealing each time I visit when compared to the brain-freeze that is New York. Too much too soon and boy what a headache! During that time, I received a request from my sivilicious friend to weigh in on the disaster in New Orleans. Well, where do I begin?

First of all, it was reported/warned a few years ago that the levees in New Orleans could break under the force of a hurricane even weaker than Katrina, so I heard, and that they urgently needed reinforcement. However, I heard that the money allotted to do this was somehow directly or indirectly spent on a certain skirmish in the middle east. Funds were also taken away from FEMA as it was swallowed up by the Department of Homeland Security. Conversely, I read in a column in the Washington Post by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who was trying his best to be egalitarian but to no avail, that the levees were "finished work". I doubted that, and then I heard at some point on MSNBC that although work on the levees had been done, they had sunken a foot or two over the past five years thanks to the rising of the seas due to the effects of global warming, and there was no maintenance done on them after that. So you see, I'm not exactly clear on this issue, nor are journalists apparently. But let's take the point to be that the reinforcement of the levees was insufficient for whatever reason and the money earmarked for the repair and maintenance of the levees disappeared under quite mysterious circumstances.

Bush's comment that "no one could have foreseen a breach of the levees" was a bunch of crap and basically a carbon copy of Miss Condi's comment to the 9/11 commission. Not only that, but he uses the words "natural disaster" with an emphasis on the "natural" every chance he gets in reference to the storm. In other words, "so there was a storm and the levees broke and thousands of people are dead. What do you want me to do about it?" The reality is the federal government is responsible for coordinating ANY kind of action by departments and offices falling under their juridiction, and this administration's unwillingness to accept blame is basically a "Yes, I'm CEO of this company but my own failures are directly attributed to the ineptitude of my assistants" kind of rhetoric. I have not forgotten the Bush administration's promise to encourage a climate of responsibility and accountability in America. Way to set an example, by splitting hairs. Bush proposes to lead an investigation, which will no doubt vindicate him completely as he wants to lead it himself, to see "what went right and what went wrong" in this whole disaster. What's even worse is that some think Bush should be absolved of some blame because, after all, he did come home early from his vacaton and hey, at least he showed up. And why, they ask, can't anyone do anything without Bush "holding their hand?" Well, numbnuts, he's the fucking commander-in-chief, and there is no team without a captain.

A lot of people will say that some blame rests on the heads of the local Louisiana government. Of this I have no doubt, although I hesitate to believe that the mayor of a city would stand by and let his citizens literally float away or drown. Stories fly back and forth that those authorities did not request aid quickly enough, which is a laughable excuse, and did not have the resources in place to evacuate the city sooner. The latter is absolutely true. After 9/11 and an always elevated terrorist threat-o-meter/election ploy, they should have taken their own inititative and devised clearer routes for evacuation rather than keeping the "every man for himself" plan. But here again the federal government needed to issue the order for every state to proceed on this. If that's not right, then what the hell are we doing paying for a department of homeland security?

As for Kanye West's comment that Bush hates black people, OK, I'll agree with that, to a certain extent. It is hidden under Bush's disgust for the poor, and it just so happens that the poor in this country are disproportionately black. I wonder: What if the residents of downtown New Orleans happened to be the beneficiaries of Bush's tax cuts? How about affluent black folks? Would it have been easier for Bush to roll out of bed? How about if the mayor of New Orleans was white or Asian? People in Louisiana actually voted for Bush, so this is a betrayal of the highest order. I would almost understand if he told New York to drop dead, since NY is overwhelmingly democratic/liberal and the city is chock full of Bush haters. However, more than anything else, Bush's delayed reaction was a result of sheer laziness. The man has never stepped up to the plate until well after the ball has been pitched and caught. Case in point, the publicity stunt he chose to go ahead with while planes flew into the World Trade Center and three thousand people died. This president is truly amazing. He kills thousands of people without being anywhere near them. How's that for a jinx? In New York City, Washington, Pennsylvania, Iraq and now New Orleans, probably about 7 or 8 thousand people have died and Bush is to blame.

I was reading today in the NY Times (OK looking over some lady's shoulder on the 7 train) about this woman who keeps tons of dried eggs, wheat and water stocked fin case of catastrophe. She fully realized that she was going to extremes, but said that having seen the delayed reaction to Katrina, no one could afford to wait for the government. "You'll die before they come."