Sunday, August 24, 2003

I am trying to find more information on SuperBarrio. Most articles on him date from the late 90's.

The figure of Superbarrio combines the circus-like atmosphere of masked mexican wrestling with modern political ideologies. He is a sublime performance artist and political activist. He dismantles corrupt politicans by casting them as ridiculous and laughable straight men - not as sources of fear and power.

His first presence on the world stage struck me as one of those moments when a people's ideas and will becomes so strong that it manifests into reality. As if he was willed into existence. His masked hero routine also resonates with those other masked populists - The Zapatistas.

For all these reasons and more, Latin intellectuals adore him. Here is Alberto Rios:

Superbarrio appeared a number of years ago when the police were evicting someone from a low income house. A crowd formed in the neighborhood, saying, "Don't do this, don't do this." Suddenly, a costumed, masked wrestler appeared, jumping up onto the bed of a truck. "Stop!" he said. "I am here. Superbarrio!" He gave a speech: you can't do this, and I stand for this and that. Sure enough, everybody rallied to the call, and kicked the police out of there.

Superbarrio started showing up in different places. But he didn't look the same in every photograph. It became apparent that different people were wearing the costume. This was brought to his attention. "Superbarrio," he was asked, "how come you look different in each of your photographs?" And he gave one of the best retorts of all time: "It is because I am everybody." What a great subversive notion, that the superhero is the people! It was a wonderful rallying point. And what other hope is there? Why not this?

Make your own Super Barrio Man Masken!

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Here is a sample of what I've been listening to lately. Japanese Garage Metal:

Electric Eel Shock's - Puma
(thanks to beatbox for the file)

I'm spending the rest of the afternoon reading in the back garden at Progressive Grounds
This week Step into Liquid is playing here at the Embarcadero theatres. A friend from high school told me about it. He and I both went to school with Brad Gerlach, one of the featured surfers in the movie. This isnt a huge surprise. My high school, in a small beach town in San Diego, was a small surfing magnet school. Surfing was a dominant culture and you could surf for your phys. ed. requirement.

In the photo of Gerlach linked above, he is doing tow-surfing. The waves he is surfing are so powerful that it is next to impossible to paddle into them and so as the wave breaks, a surfer is literally towed into the wave. Its as dangerous as it sounds. And Brad is one of the best in the world.

Monday, August 18, 2003

You know when you are sitting there silently and then suddenly (this all happens in an instant!) your head turns because you thought you saw something move? Perhaps it was a shadow that played across the floor or an artifact of the wind (though your mind uneasily suspects it may be a mouse scurrying for cover.) Thats been happening a lot to me recently and nothing is ever there. Still, I am compelled to look each time.

This little visual trick fascinated me as a kid. It seemed to come from deeper inside me, beyond volition, that instinct to turn and look. Are the shadows real that I see or were they too deceptions of my mind? How could I say i was in control of myself if I could not understand my own mind?

Equally impressive to me was that capability we have (the solution must be immense and devious) of picking out such tiny movements in such a large visual field. Years later, I got so much enjoyment of the method that astronomers use to find comets or other moving objects in a large starfield. Not with computation of course but by flashing two overlayed images (like an animated gif) and letting our magnificent eye hone in on the moving target. An old slide projector will do the trick too.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

"If life is a cabaret, Pink Martini is the band in the existential orchestra pit." - CMJ New Music Monthly

Pink Martini is one of those bands that people discover either by accident or because a friend has talked about them glowingly. After this discovery, they become like a secret treasure. The woman who cuts my hair just recently told me, out of the blue, how much she adores her Pink Martini CD.

I went to school with both Thomas (bandleader and pianist) and China (singer) and lived in the same (upperclassmen) House. Thomas threw some of the best parties, the kind people still talk about to this day and are referenced in urban legends pages

If you have a chance to see them live, dont miss it. The stuff they perform could fill several unreleased albums. And China's voice is even more spectacular, whether she sings in Spanish, French, Japanese or Croatian - I am not kidding.

Here is Song of the Black Lizard from their album Sympathique. The song was I believe written by the writer Yukio Mishima for a bizarre movie that he wrote the screenplay for and in which he played a small role. But, you should go out and buy the album.
I am posting some good info (list of free programs) that I got from Roderick. It appears that the worm has hit a lot of people:

I have personally used the 1st on the list of each group with an ADSL connection through aol proxies on a W2k OS - I confirm they work well.

Sygate Firewall This product backtraces more nodes than my $60 McAfee!
Zone Alarm A respected program by all accounts but untested by me.

AVG Anti-virus by Grisoft
Avast3, Free for home users May have to dig about on the page, but it is free for home use only.

SpyWare Killers (Removes all those naughty little cookies and advertising programs that arrive with so-called free programs.)
Spybot, non-commercial So good I sent him $20
Lavasoft Ad-aware However rumoured to let a few 'selected' cookies remain on the system

Trojan Killer
Swat-It I havent tried this myself, the free links are in the left lower frame area.
I hope you find the links useful.

Friday, August 15, 2003

I was reading about coded phrases in music, in this case Miles Davis and his musicians. A tight musical outfit always struck me as the perfect example of how different people can work synchronously, almost as one - even more so than the rapidly intertwining legs of a tango dance.

Music also forms a nicely closed system. As in the coded phrases, musical language is being used to talk about music itself, laying out hints of what the next series of progressions will be, future changes in tone and key. The remarkable thing is that even these phrases were never articulated or translated into language. As the author says, "The "explicit verbal instruction" in Miles's music never existed, not even in the preparation of pieces... it is clear that the so-called "coded phrases" were never formalized in the sense of a priori agreements or even arrangements. "

The musicians, like the listeners of a piece, were acting on instinct. Its hard to describe how a piece of music really makes you feel. It communicates directly with the language of emotions which is much more rich and complex than the pale language of words. To say that a piece is mournful or joyous is to burglarize it of everything but the obvious.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

She, my cousin, my sister, reminded me of how we all played as children. I was lost in thought it seems, concocting some new game or pastime. Her and my brother were partners in mischief.

I was cruel to you, she admits as she smiles. Her husband laughs at the understatement. Yes, I said, but you were also the person who taught me how to swim. A small bit of cruelty was just the thing I needed.

Monday, August 11, 2003

A: All your favorite movies involve spaceships dont they?
me: What?! What do you mean? My favorite movie is Fellini's 8 1/2!


me: Come to think of it, that movie does have a spaceship in it...
A: Aha! I knew it.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

I was part of a Flash mob this afternoon. The email arrived and told us to go meet at different bars in the Mission organized by our birth months. Then, sometime between 1 and 2pm we were to be given instructions on a slip of paper by an organizer as to what to do next.

So we went, three of us to Dolores Park cafe. There we found others and the organizer and received our next set of instructions. They said we were to all leave the bar/cafe at 1:57pm and arrive at a certain spot in Dolores park. At 2:05 pm we were all to form circles with everyone there and await what happened next.

It was fascinating. At 2:05pm, two hundred random people suddenly assembled in Dolores park near the childrens area. What happened next? We played a 200-person game of Duck, Duck Goose. People running frantically, counting heads, screaming like children.

At 2:17pm everyone dispersed in different directions as suddenly as they had appeared. The instruction sheet told us that if anyone asked what had just happened we were supposed to lie. Flash mob over.

(I also ran into Michelle who is throwing a burning man fundraiser party tonight (her sister says: you are throwing a party to raise money for a party?) It is tonight from 9pm to 5am at 333 Fremont St. She mentioned she has some djs spinning trance and downbeat. It should be fun and surreal.)

I stopped by Borderlands books and picked up a copy of The Sparrow today. I started reading it in the hot sun, with a cup of strong coffee in hand, listening to monkey radio
Paul writes i only wish i could somehow make time stand still so i could really experience and savor my life. am i too greedy?

If we start with this, a succession of moments, then most of us are madly sprinting from one foreseen moment to the next like people caught in a rainstorm. We catch glimpses of our next shelter and race towards it, oblivious.

When the present is immense and beautiful, we want to grasp it, hold it tightly as two lovers hold each other as they part, fighting uselessly against the current of moments.

If only i could re-imagine her in my mind as a fully realized creation, he thinks. If I could carry her inside me so that that the dreary seconds expand again and become timeless. So that we could create our own small universe with its own laws of physics and halt the flow of time.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Beijing street scene, Marc Riboud
The last few years of my life have been a heroic attempt to avoid working. When I left [big Silicon Valley company] in 1998, I thought I'd just live on my savings for a while until I decided what to do next. But this was 1998 and only a month after leaving I got a random call from an ex-co-worker who said he he had heard I was free and he had loads of VC money in his pocket and would I join him. I said sure.

Only a year or so later, after some dissatisfaction with some other co-founders, I and the VP of Sales, who had become a close friend, left that company to start our own company. Again, getting money for our project was not difficult at all.

That company is where I still work now. We have had our share of turmoil, of expansion, of contraction. But I have been able to draw a good salary and also have the free time I need to travel, work at home or just mess around. Last month I was able to go to Europe on a whim. My partner decided at the same time to skip off with his wife to the south of France.

Now, this same small company is in the process of growing fast. These last few weeks I put aside my usual compunction and focused, and worked. If all goes as planned, we should be hiring soon and perhaps opening a new office. All this in the midst of a recession.

But for me this means that I can now put into action some plans I have had for the past year.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Sunday, August 03, 2003

So much is happening and yet nothing is happening at all. I dont seem to be able to write or speak or tell a story. Well, here's something.

I had a wolf in my house this past week. This is no allegory but a real incarnation. The difference between wolves and dogs is i think that wolves, more ancient creatures, are still aligned with their packs and less so with the broader world of people, of society, of dog parks.

She was fierce and willful at times. She was strong and cunning enough to all but destroy a cage and discover some hidden latches. She could not be contained. If she was upset she would rip a book from the shelf and tear it into pieces. The floor looked like the aftermath of a parade.

Other times, she was like an overgrown puppy. She would follow me around with soft eyes and stay as close to me as possible, sometimes pressing against me even as we walked. At night, she demanded attention and if you did not provide it, she would bite your feet or curl her body insistently on top of yours.

When enough was enough, she was exiled to the backyard. She would in most cases pace near the window, watching you carefully with her cunning eyes.

Last friday she was handed over to a rescue organization. The transaction took place in the parking lot of a Safeway, in the suburban east bay. It was like one of those gangster movies - precious cargo being exchanged under the cover of a public space.