Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Revisiting a column about the US election I wrote in '08

Still wondering if we are able to look past color or gender and truly see what's being done or what is being worked on. 
WHAT is the election about?
Sept. 17, 2008
After two years of rumors, expectations and political dramas, America finally has its four main contenders for the presidential race. Democrats Obama and Biden are up against Republicans McCain and Palin. As they prepare to face what will become one of the most historic and awaited elections, there are many questions still unanswered by either party.
Both presidential candidates have been in the limelight long enough to talk of their life experiences and ideas for how to better the nation. However, they have been so involved in obtaining the nomination that until now will they be able to further explain how exactly they plan to fix the economy, offer health care to the more than 47 million uninsured Americans, restore the ailing educational system and figure a way to deal with the 20 million plus illegal immigrants and their American families who are in the country-amongst many other important issues.

While trying to build their case and be viewed as political saviors, both candidates must also prove that their vice presidential picks were good choices… and survive the gossip media frenzy that has been unleashed. Biden has had several years of political experience, becoming a senator in 1973 at the Constitutional minimum age of 30. He was the fifth-youngest senator in U.S. history and is the current chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee aside from serving as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He can give Obama the credibility amongst voters who are doubtful he is able to run a country after only eight years as senator.

Still, Biden is not easily recognizable by the youth of America and because of his age he can be seen as just another high up politician from the bunch. On the other side we have Palin, the young charismatic female governor of Alaska. If the Democrats were making history by having a black man and a woman running for the presidential candidacy, the Republicans are offering retribution by giving the people the first ever-female vice president hopeful.

The difference between the two parties, though, is that in the Democratic side both candidates launched themselves into the race. The Republicans front chose their woman practically out of the blue and shocked even its own members by doing so. The same doubtful voters can see Palin as an inexperienced, beauty-pageant contestant who needs to fill a void to attract those who were planning to vote for Hillary. Palin served in the city council of Wasilla, AK, in the 90s until she became its mayor in 1999. The young politician, who has a bachelor's degree in journalism, won the position of governor in 2006 and serves approximately 670,000 Alaskans.

After all these political character identifications my fear remains. Is this going to be a historic campaign because America will elect either its first black president or first female vice president? Or, will it be historical because America will elect the candidate who can solve the thousands of problems that are bringing the country down the drain?

True, race, gender and experience can be considered when making a decision. But what I want to suggest is blind, educated, decision making. Blind and educated in the sense that whenever listening to debates or political commentary we, as responsible voters, listen to the facts and the options offered.

So far, neither candidate has had a face-to-face debate. Democrat team has laid a blueprint for how they plan to refurbish the educational system by providing the necessary tools inner city and poor neighborhood schools are missing. They have also expressed their interest in a type of universal health care system and offered a plan for how to better the economy by investing in fields like energy independence. In the spirit of bipartisanism it must be said that the Republican presidential nominee and his VP gal have spoken of these issues and others like immigration. The pair would implement a clear two-step immigration process that offers various levels of working permits.

It is still safe to say we do not know each candidate completely. Whoever wins the presidential seat will have to grow into the position just as the country will grow to know them. Yet one thing remains clear. In this race it is extremely important to stray away from what the two parties are constantly shoving at us, this race is important because of one black and one female candidate.

The yellow journalists will continue, "uncovering" facts behind the specified candidate's life and personalities. And although this is important-yes a black candidate and a female candidate are a first-EVER, please don't be blinded.

The facts, the plans, the solutions being discussed are most meaningful part. These will make or break our America. These will ensure we do not have another four or eight years involved in warfare under economic and societal emergencies. These will prove that as Americans we can look past gender and color, like many claim to do, and truly elect a candidate for what they stand for.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


EvaperoncasarosadaImage via Wikipedia
After a wonderful weekend in Uruguay, land of chivito and Diego Forlán, I returned to Buenos Aires eagerly awaiting Monday. I am not a Monday-hater but I don't look forward to waking up early after the weekend particularly either. But this Monday I wanted to see a local Argentine tradition. It was July 26th and 85 years back Eva Peron passed away from cancer.

Her remains lay in the Recoleta Cemetery, five blocks from where I currently live, and since her death people have placed dozens of bouquets, roses and funeral arrangements by her tomb. Whether her body was there or not.

See, Eva Peron was a fascinating and incredibly powerful woman. So powerful in fact, that after she died and her husband Juan Peron was overthrown from the presidency by a military coup, her cadaver was removed from its display at the headquarters of Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT), a labor union, and ordered hidden under another name in a grave in Milan, Italy.

The CGT was the party led by Peron, the party of the workers and poor citizens that wanted rights and services from government. The party for which Evita, a nickname given to her by the people, became a mother- almost a saint.

Evita was born Eva Duarte in May of 1919, to an unmarried mother and into a humble family. At the tender age of 15 she moved from the rural village of Los Toldos to the grand city, Buenos Aires, to become an actress. Ten years after working in the industry and becoming a small star she met Juan Peron, a then colonel growing politically, and they married a year later. The second marriage for Juan, the first for Evita. Perhaps Juan saw potential in Evita, the eagerness to become somebody and be noticed, or perhaps they were madly in love, since many endearing love letters have been found from him to her.

Whatever the reason may have been one thing is sure, Juan hit the jackpot. He found a semi-famous, attractive, outspoken young woman who would look good next to him as president. But what he didn't know for sure was how his new wife would become bigger than him.

Evita assumed his role of first lady to a tee after Peron, as he is commonly referred to, became president in 1946. She would give political speeches, lobby for social justice, encourage women and the elderly to become politically involved, always looking fabulous. And I do think that this passion she showed for reinventing her country and helping those in need was not a complete act. Yes she lived in opulence, but she also met, and touched, and spoke with commoners and kings alike. I think Evita really had no consciousness of how her actions were shaping her image, she was becoming a princess of the people long before the concept became popular with Lady Di.

And so, by 28, Evita was adored by the proletariat who were supporting her husband to get what they rightly deserved and what she promoted. When it came time to battle critiquers she was the first to round the troops as well.  The most interesting story I've heard so far about her power to rally the masses was when Peron got arrested in 1945, when he was vice president of Argentina, by the opposing party who thought he was too socialist. Evita urged the "Peronistas," or followers of Peron, to take arms, rally for him, defend their country against the opposition and, in secret, asked for an arsenal from a neighboring country to fight for her man. The great thing is that people actually listened to her. Thousands took to the streets to protest Peron's arrest; they sat outside the jail where he was held; and Evita got her guns.

The opposition caved in and released Peron on October 17, a day now honored as Loyalty Day.  After this it was settled, Peron and Evita were the leaders of the nation and change was inevitable. Obviously opposition was still present, looking for a way to overthrow Peron. But it wasn't until Evita became ill with cervical cancer that his enemies found their answer. After a fast rise to fame and a dramatic goodbye to her people, the "descamisados" or shirtless as the poor were called, she passed away. She was 33 and her followers went as far as comparing her to Jesus, who also died at that age according to the Bible.

The haters went far too, posting signs saying "Viva el cancer," or hail cancer. Two years later, Peron was overthrown and the new regime wanted so much to leave no trace of Peronismo that they outlawed naming Juan or Eva Peron (a la Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter). They also took Eva's embalmed body from the headquarters of the CGT, since a tomb hadn't been built yet it was being kept htere, and sent it to Europe.

For 16 years the whereabouts of her remains were a mystery and until the military faced new challengers was her location disclosed. It turned out she had been buried in Italy under the name of "Maria Maggi" and  several wax sculptures had been made through the years to tip off those seeking her body. Weird right? This nation has a relationship with necrophilia, that in more ways that one I like... but that's another story. Evita was returned to Argentina, her embalmed body beat up and showing signs of abuse. Since the intended monument/tomb that Peron wanted to build for her was never finished, she was buried in her family's tomb in Recoleta and here's where we come back  the beginning of this post.

Every year the alley in which her tomb is found gets filled with flowers and visitors, the Recoleta Cemetery is like a little city invaded by mausoleums left and right so the "alleys" are like streets dividing sections of this city of the dead. Tourists, Peronistas and the elderly who still remember seeing Evita when they were mere kids stop by to say a prayer, to look at her tomb or to pass fliers proclaiming the eternal leader.

That's not what shocked me the most, even if I was expecting to see tourists invading the area and a few lowers here and there. The blatant inability or lack of desire to let go is what left me at awe. The people, her followers, her fans, still rave of Evita as if she had died yesterday. And in common chats people, my age not just older, are passionate when they talk of Peron and his magnificent wife. For all she did, she was and is still either loved or hated because of a possible hypocrisy in her agenda. However, people today have more tact than to say "Thank God she died of cancer." But the sentiment is still there. You either love Evita or you hate Evita.

In my time here I've noticed this is true in other subjects. People either love Maradona or they hate Maradona. They love Kirchner or they hate Kirchner. They love mate (a local tea drink) or they hate mate. There's no gray here, and for a person who always hailed being a "yes" or "no" decision maker...I gotta say this has changed my views. I suddenly like gray because there's so much to choose from here. In regards to comments or stands about politics, economy, futbol or art. Yet, I still wonder what Evita must have imagined.

Did she dream she'd be the icon of millions, even after her death? Did she dream she'd be known world-wide, not for her history but because Madonna realized hers was one hot story to tell? Did she even imagine that after almost 50 years, people would still compare her to a goddess or a devil and praise or curse her name?

I can only imagine being her, an being scared silly to go through what she went through. At my age (25) she was already in the public eye, and maybe I could deal with that but she was about to meet a very controversial man and become his woman. In two short years (28) I would have to be in a campaign, promoting ideas that maybe, or maybe not, were in cue to what I believed. Just two years after that (30) I would have to address my fellow citizens, neighbors, friends, frenemies, family members, church goers, day after day as a first lady. Finally two years after that (almost 33) I'd be dying.

Maybe it is because I've grown up, taught to enjoy youth and become "serious" until I know what it is I want to do with my life. But when do we really know what "it" is?  Why can't we join those few brave souls and live without a regular kind of job, facing what's in front of us and taking advantage of a bad situation, seeing it as an opportunity, more often?

I guess I see Evita as a mastermind, who took what was in front of her and seized the chance to make her dreams come true, slowly realizing that her dreams also affected the dreams of those around her. But maybe she didn't . Maybe Evita never really understood the wonder of it all, of her image, her power, what she left behind. Maybe she was just always dreaming.
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Music Notes

So aside from my obsession with Interpol, a band I listen to every day and that I'm listening to as I write this, I like to think I'm musically "aware."

But not in the usual, "I know the names of this artist's parents" sort of way. I like to do analysis per se. So, I just heard Kylie Minogue's latest song, "All the Lovers," and remembered the woman has been in the music industry for 20 years. She's essentially the Australian and European Madonna. A cancer survivor who has always, and will always, done pop but not because her voice can't allow her to do other music, but rather I think because her personality is young, energetic and happy as that of a teenage girl. And because that's what's sold her millions of records.

Anyway, as I was thinking this I jumped on the YouTube and preceded to watch my favorite Minogue videos. Videos to songs dating back to my junior year in high school (yikes!) and that are certainly better than the "songs" today's teeny boppers sing about texting numbers to go out, or dancing at a club at 15. I mean, really?

And I also noticed that Minogue could very well be a Lady Gaga of the 90s and 2000s. If you watch her videos she is certainly a singer that never played it safe. Well, never played it "too safe" at least. In her "Can't Get You Out of My Mind" video we see the early tries at futuristic wardrobes. Face masks, cut outs and flashy lights included. In fact, so much did her video ( for this song remind me of Gaga's video for "Bad Romance" ( that I looked for other similarities to fight my thesis of: Lady Gaga is cool, yes, but I feel she has taken bits and pieces from artists everywhere and meshed it together to make herself "different" and people are getting tired of her act.

Now, before you die hard Gaga fans rip me a new one, I am not condemning her actions. It's a fact that EVERY singer takes bits and pieces from other artists to make a new image or find "inspiration." And Gaga has done this and pushed the boundaries much more to seem new or edgy or unique. But, I just can't be in the Gaga bandwagon any longer. I think that her initial tunes were the most original and, like any artist, she's just singing what she's given nowadays to exploit her image of crazy unique little songstress form NY. To be quite honest I am half expecting her to pass out on stage soon because the girl is doing so much at once.

If you watched the two videos I posted a few paragraphs above you will notice similarities as I mentioned. Still, I am OCD so I will point them out anyway according to what I noticed. If you noticed something new, by all means share it too.

-To begin with there's a lot of use of white; lights, costumes, skyline or props. White seems to be a color that sets the mood even though the songs are not peaceful or "white." As in the meaning of the color not the race.

-There's also the use of contrast colors in costumes, both singers use red to enunciate a change and take us to the next chapter or scene of the video, a scene where things get juicier and dance numbers heavier.

-Speaking of the dances, look at the dances! True Minogue ain't Britney Spears or anything but her routine is so robotic, boxy, purposely defined. And do you see the hands towards the end of her video? She gestures with her hands, her fingers, her motions are very much similar to what Gaga does through the whole of her own video, using fingers to point or look monster-ish.

-And as far as camera angles, Minogue gets real close and personal. Her eyes may not be altered with contacts to look larger that life, like Gaga's, but the point is the same. She is front and center in the screen, overtaking the shot completely. Just as Gaga does in this and other videos of hers.

-Finally, their outfits. Like I said, Minogue pushed the envelope to the limits the late 90s and 2000s allowed. I remember watching this video and thinking, "holly crap she's almost naked!" Well, now that I watch any pop star I am no longer surprised because they really DO appear naked in their videos. But the point is Gaga is as revelatory as 2010 will allow her, just as Minogue was back then.

All in all, the videos are not 100% equal but you get the idea. Either Gaga or her managers found "inspiration" in other artists and this is the result. Videos that make detail obsessed people, like me, write columns about there being a lack of creativity. But again, I can't blame Gaga of not being creative. Her video for "Telephone" was seriously one of the best I've seen this year. Yet, you wonder how long it took to come up with that "new" concept and how many brains had to be cracked to truly pull it through. And, to her fan's sake, I'm sure that in 10 years some new pop star will copy that video idea.

So what can you do, right? I mean after all Minogue has also been blamed of copying Madonna, and X-tina (don't even get me started on her) has been blamed of, blatantly, copying Gaga ( It's all in the game and Minogue's label, Capitol, and Gaga's label, Interscope, are rivals that must serve to the same audiences who want the same material from different people. I guess that's the key. As music consumers WE must ask for the true original, the true new, the true unique. But that's easier said than done.

And well, Gaga will continue being "unique" until a new artist comes and takes her spot because people, like me, get tired of her act. However, when that happens I hope Gaga "reinvents" herself and makes a ballad album or something that vindicates her as an actual singer. Sort of what X-tina did with "You Are Beautiful" that made her likable by the masses for no longer copying Britney. Poor girl cant get a break can she? And it will bring the copy cycle full circle!

Hopefully when she reinvents herself, though, she'll be able to change the Gaga nickname to something more smoother, mellower, and that would truly be a reinvention. Unfortunately it's not like she can do much with Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. That's a name full.

What's up!

I'm currently in Argentina working for Calrin, a respected/criticized/sensationalist and whatever else it's called newspaper. One thing for sure, it's popular and I'm happy to be here.

I figured I'd update the blog because as much as I hate to admit it, I didn't "believe in blogs" and well, being here, with so many things in my head, having the time to write, why the heck am I not going to vent off and share? Even if nobody reads this?

Therefore let's pick up before I graduated J-school with some posts that went on Facebook but that will, from now on, make appearances here. Voila!

LIBRA [September 23–October 22]
Have you been doing a lot of sweating from sheer exertion in 2010? Have you thrown yourself conscientiously into the hardest, smartest labor you've ever enjoyed? I hope so, because that would suggest you're in rapt alignment with this year's cosmic rhythms. It would mean that you have been cashing in on the rather sublime opportunities you're being offered to diligently prove how much you love your life. The next six months will provide you with even more and better prods, Libra, so please find even deeper reserves of determination. Intensify your commitment to mastering the work you came to this planet to do.

To read your mid year free will astrology go to :"