Monday, June 26, 2006

World Cup Unites

Mikaela says:
Following up on Maggie's World Cup post, you should take a look at today's Democracy Now interview on how the World Cup brings people together -- the whole continent of Africa as well as those fighting racism around the world. I think I have to buy this guy's book, by the way. Such a sucker for community-building in all its forms!

Excerpted (and edited for length) from Democracy Now:

The World Cup is the most-watched sporting event on the planet. Nearly every nation in the world competes to play in the World Cup.

In Argentina, with so many kids staying home to watch the tournament, teachers showed the games at school and made the World Cup part of the curriculum tackling geography and other issues.

Only twelve countries remain in the running. The United States is not one of them. They were eliminated in the first round by Ghana, who are competing in their first ever World Cup.

AMY GOODMAN: Dave Zirin joins us now. He writes the weekly column, "Edge of Sports," a regular contributor to The Nation, author of the book, What's My Name, Fool?: Sports and Resistance in the United States.

DAVID ZIRIN: Anybody who goes to any of the neighborhood bars in your local city knows that this has the pulse of the neighborhood...especially in Adams Morgan, where there’s a wonderful place called the Ghana Café. I mean, when Ghana beat the United States, you would have thought you were in Accra, because people were pouring out into the streets, singing songs, waving flags.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the significance of Ghana beating the United States?

DAVID ZIRIN: Ghana, this was their first ever World Cup. And what's so exciting about the Ghanaian team is that they seem to be fulfilling the prophesy of the great Pele, who predicted almost 30 years ago that by the year 2000, an African team would win the World Cup. That hasn’t happened yet, but to see Ghana playing with such flare and beauty and excitement really has people excited about the future of soccer in Africa.

AMY GOODMAN: In one of your pieces, you described the commentators and the people from Ghana who were watching in the Ghana Café, their response to them.

DAVID ZIRIN: Yes. Oh, they were furious about the commentators. To watch the game, you would think that it was the United States versus some team. There was just very little mention of what the Ghanaian players were doing. Everything was in relation to the United States.

[There] was very little mention of the fact that the Ghanaian players largely don't get to play in Europe at the top leagues. [Yet] when Ghana was beating the U.S., one of the commentators said, “Well, that's because so many of these Ghanaian players are now playing in Europe. They've really been able to hone their skills,” when you’re talking about literally one Ghanaian player.

So the Ghanaian fans who are just incredibly savvy and have forgotten more about soccer than the commentators they have on the air just throw up their hands and just, like, “Are you kidding me? What is this person talking about?”

There is pride in what Ghana is being able to accomplish. And it’s worth saying that it’s a continent-wide pride. It wasn’t all Ghanaians in the Ghana Café; it was people from Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Africa, Namibia. I mean, it really was this sense of a continent unity that, I think, speaks to the best angels of our nature with regards to sports.

AMY GOODMAN: Dave Zirin, talk about Iran.

DAVID ZIRIN: Absolutely. Well, Iran was part of the World Cup. They were the Middle Eastern champions this year. And there was a push to keep them from playing in the World Cup, because of the nuclear controversy that’s been going on there. The European Union passed a resolution to try to keep Iran out of the World Cup. One of the leaders of the E.U. suggested that they get Bahrain, who came in second, to play in the World Cup, because they said if we get Bahrain here, then people won't think it's an attack against the Muslim world. It will show how generous we are... which is just an idiotic, head-scratching concept.

In the United States, this happened, as well, when Senator John McCain attempted to get a bill passed through the Senate that would call for FIFA -- that’s the governing soccer body -- from keeping Iran from playing in the World Cup. I mean, it was a transparent effort to try to use the current geopolitical situation as a club to keep Iran out of the World Cup, and it's something that failed, which is a very good thing.

AMY GOODMAN: Racism at the games?

DAVID ZIRIN: Oh, my goodness. Well, in the lead-up to the Cup, there was a continent-wide controversy throughout Europe about racism at the top levels of soccer. And this is accompanied in Europe, issues around immigration, asylum, anti-Muslim sentiment. And with that, you see a resurgence of just some absolutely awful spectacles, like star African players who play in the European leagues, every time their foot would touch the ball, fans would make ape noises or monkey noises. Fans would be throwing -- I actually don't even like calling them “fans” -- but people in the stands would be throwing banana peels at them, peanuts at them. And it got so bad that a star player named Samuel Eto’o, who’s from Cameroon and plays for Barcelona, he literally started to walk off the field and said, “I’m not going play anymore.” And it took players from both teams to get together to quiet the fans down, to eject fans.

Another player named Marc Zoro, who plays for a top Italian club, who’s from Africa, he picked up the ball and started to just walk off the field holding the ball. Not allowed to touch the ball with your hands. He was pretty mad. He was ready to walk away. I mean, it’s an absolutely horrible thing. One of the African players was quoted anonymously, saying that “in Europe, we're treated as worse than dogs.” And it got some play here in the U.S. when a U.S. player of African descent named DaMarcus Beasley, he described the situation. He said, “Every time my foot touches the ball, I fell like I’m in just some horrible racist, anachronistic film, you know, of some kind.” And this is the sort of thing that soccer is facing right now.

AMY GOODMAN: But it hasn’t happened as much at the World Cup.

DAVID ZIRIN: No, and it hasn’t happened -- we should be very clear about this, that the reason why it's happened less at the World Cup, despite some little outbursts by little Neo-Nazi fringe groups trying to organize rallies or what not, is because of the organization of players and fans themselves. There’s a group called FARE -- that’s Footballers Against Racism -- that have been organizing to keep the racists out.

There’s a star player from France of African descent named Thierry Henri, who started a campaign called “Stand Up, Speak Up,” which is an amazing campaign. He actually pressured his sponsor, Nike. You don't usually think of Nike when you think of the anti-racist vanguard in the world, but he pressured Nike to actually produce these black-and-white arm bands to sell, that fans could wear in solidarity with anti-racism. They’ve sold over five million.

Meanwhile, from another newspaper: (lest you think it's all feel-good news...)

Most racism is directed against Africans, but in Holland, Dutch fans — especially opponents of Amsterdam’s Ajax club, which is identified in the public mind with Jews — often shout things like, “Hamas, Hamas, hang the Jews in the gas.”

Germany is no different. A still from Hooligans on the March, a documentary on soccer fans by Burkhard Kress broadcast on German TV. The subtitle translates to “From Leipzig to Auschwitz.”  Photo courtesy RTLAbout a week before the tournament, a newsmagazine show on the RTL television network focused on hooliganism [I believe a MUCH stronger word should have been used here] in Germany’s lower-level soccer leagues. With a hidden camera, the program’s editor, Burkhard Kress, filmed fans in the former East German city of Magdeburg singing the “Auschwitz song” — “We are building a U-bahn train, we are building a U-bahn, from Magdeburg to Auschwitz.”

Soccer fans in other German cities also sing the tune, substituting the name of their city for Magdeburg.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Comp Plan reveries

Maggie says:
In the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Comprehensive Plan, the first page of the Appendices lists the members of the 1986-1988 Comprehensive Plan Revision Oversight Committee. Two names just set me off into a tailspin of fantasy.

Listed right at the top of page 166 are Ms. Ida Pearl "Skootie" Jeffers and Mr. Elmer Spoul. Now I don't know anything about Skootie and Elmer, but I sure do like imagining who they were and the hijinks they got into during the raucous days of the Plan Revision Oversight Committee.

I'm imagining heated debate over the glory of the strip mall followed by stiff drinks at some old-time Albuquerque bar that doesn't exist anymore. I bet there was sabotage and scheming and affairs and blackmail. I bet Skootie and Elmer were at the top of their game on the Oversight Committee, de facto rulers of the Duke City, in the know about everything and everyone in town.

Dingley Falls in the high desert. Dallas but... not. The Duke City machine with Skootie and Elmer at the helm, in all their shoulder-pad and brown-tied glory.

Ahhh... to be a mover and shaker in Albuquerque in the late '80s...


Maggie says:

My need for a vacation is so pent-up that I keep refreshing the ocean temperature page over at All morning the water in Outer Banks has been holding strong at a perfect 73. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for: a sudden surprise cold front, a tropical-water surge? Actually I think it’s more about watching a live reading of an ocean I’m about to be swimming in: I can get wave reports, the current tides, even a surfing outlook. I’m being an ocean voyeur, inching closer to it through my spying.

But here’s why: I couldn’t possibly be more restless in the desert these days. This morning on KUNM was an example of why. In a story on drought and fire danger, they reviewed all the trail closures in the area and what a crisis our hot, dry weather is creating. If I can’t be swimming, I want to at least be hiking. And I can’t do either.

The symptoms: My hair feels like it's going to dry up and all fall out if it doesn't get some humidity soon. The inside of my nose is primed for a nosebleed at any second, it’s so dry and allergy-irritated. My skin is just crying out for moisture of any kind. My beach-bum body needs to be immersed in water immediately; it’s desperate for it.

And then there’s the really important stuff: I want to be surrounded by the longtime girlfriends I adore and the family I miss like crazy. I want to eat barbecue and fish every day and drink gin and tonics by the dozen. I want to wake up with the morning sun streaming through the windows, take my achy-from-so-much-swimming body out of bed, note how many more freckles I have that morning than the one before, and drink my morning coffee on a deck that overlooks an ocean so sparkly and bright I can't help but smile at it. I want to breathe in the sea air and feel like myself again. I want to smell like sunscreen and salt. I want to be a fish.

It starts tomorrow.

First, a family birthday party where my best girls from college will be joining me from Boston, where they've been happily cheering at Fenway Park, walking through Back Bay, and battling snowstorms without me since I took up and moved to New Mexico. On Sunday, we set off for the Outer Banks with my high school best friend joining us. Then: a week of nothingness... That is, nothing but reading, tanning, drinking, talking, laughing, swimming, sunning...

Okay, you get the picture.

Really, I can't take the desert another second. I need to be in my natural element now. Sand, salt, sun: I'm coming!

PS: These photos are from last year's Outer Banks trip. I'll be posting new ones over on Flickr throughout the week, if anyone wants to see that 73-degree ocean. :-)

Monday, June 19, 2006


Maggie says:
Tonight I'm reuniting with my TV, which has been turned off for as long as I can recall. My TV night has been a fairly diverse experience, considering that I've watched the end of the hockey game, a dorky PBS show called "History Detectives" that sucked me in because I'm nerdy enough to own a book written by one of the "detectives," a program on Nat King Cole (fascinating stuff on how the high viewership of his television show wasn't enough to secure a [white] corporate sponsor), and now Charlie Rose, whose guest tonight is Al Gore.

I'm feeling bittersweet watching good 'ol Al because had he only sounded half this engaging, witty, warm, and passionate during the campaign, things could have been different.

While I'm at it: had John Kerry sounded half as engaging, witty, warm, and passionate on the campaign trail as he did when I interned for him forever ago, feet up on the conference table and pizza dripping all over his shirt, things could have been very different indeed.

Here's an idea: let's find someone to get it together before the campaign next time!

Welcoming Dukette!

Maggie says:
Over here at m-pyre we support community in all its forms. This includes ABQ's community of strong, smart, funny-as-hell women. It also includes bloggers. This week, we get a two-in-one combo with the introduction of Dukette onto the local blogging scene. Her blog Notes from Girl-land is a perfect antidote to my tired, not-feeling-witty-tonight self. I just love her take-no-prisoners fashion and dating sensibility (and she's absolutely right about double-breasted suits, by the way).

Just what the blogosphere ordered, in my book.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Duke City Shootout Winners

Not sure if anyone's following (or cares) about Duke City Shootout, but just in case, I'm listing the winners below. I like that Albuquerque is home to this festival, and I like the festival itself. I'm not sure how much I support the creature resulting from the fusion of those two things. I'd love it if more of an effort were made to tie the movies to themes relevant for our state -- culturally, historically, or even just ... really set here.

Regardless of my lukewarm endorsement, I'm happy to report that some Albuquerqueans made the cut (2 out of 7), showing up to dominate even the list of alternates (2 out of 5, with Santa Fe adding to the 505 representation for 3/5).

Winners are given everything they need to shoot, edit, and produce their movies in just 7 days from July 22-29. Look for them on the streets, mountains, fields, and valleys of the 505.

UNDER MY SKIN (horror)
Stanley Ray, Albuquerque

EDDY RAY (sci-fi)
D'Artagnan (Dart) Hardiman, Albuquerque

MAKLAR, ANYONE? (sci-fi comedy)
Angela and Phil Guzzo, Milwaukie, OR

Lauren Schneider, NYC

Pamela K. Johnson, Long Beach

THE KISS (drama)
Chidiki Whitley, Indian Head, MD

DOG DAY (comedy)
Joachim Jung, Los Angeles

OOH LA LA (comedy)
Scott and Paula Merrow, Albuquerque

A VIRGO NIGHT (romance)
Barbara Jacksha, Santa Fe

THE HOUSE (drama)
Philip Steiner, El Granada

Emile Ferris, Evanston, IL

Ron Salzberg, Albuquerque, NM

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Haikus from the Cotton Wood

Mikaela says:
Picture it: the National Hispanic Cultural Center, neighbor to the Bosque and home to shedding cottonwoods... 23 poets sit around the shade and watch cotton swirl in hot breezes while writing haiku (17 syllables and nature-based and mentions the season) and senryu (17 syllables, can be less philosophical, sometimes humorous, and can mention "I" or "you")...

Imagine yourself
in a senryu sent downward,
cotton-scent in twos.


When skies burn too hot
cotton takes a long time to
fall; summer empties.


Bricks lead to jagged
places unless they are cut
with more-jagged tools.


Scattered, cotton seeds
sew chaos across poured bricks.
Know: they are not snow.


To Julio:
Yes, you can drink now,
haikus written, senryus safely
tucked in baggy pants.


To Julio breakdancing:
With legs up dancing
how will you shake my hand? Toes
never say hello.

The Campaign for a Better New Mexico

marjorie says...

Check out The Campaign for a Better New Mexico… a non-partisan electoral engagement project of the SouthWest Organizing Project. It provides a source and an avenue for a different way to be involved in the electoral arena. SWOP has a long history of working to ensure that people turn out to vote, particularly those who are the most disenfranchised. One of the first major projects of SWOP in the 1980s resulted in the voter registration of over 30,000 people in the greater Albuquerque metropolitan area. Since that time, the organization has consistently stayed engaged in this work but in 2002 really began to study more systematically how a progressive base of voters could be built in New Mexico. The fundamental goal of this work is to transcend party politics and engage people where they are on the issues that are most important to them, to educate and empower them to make their voices heard at the ballot box.

In 2004, the national elections shone a bright spotlight on New Mexico. Considered a swing state in the Presidential elections, we were flooded with money and outside organizations doing voter registration. As many of you may remember, you couldn’t walk down the street practically without being asked to register to vote. Of course, ensuring that everyone is registered to vote is a good thing. But there’s a big lesson to learn from that experience. Just look at the election results. Registering and turning out people to vote does little to ensure that progressive issues win at the ballot box. The harsh reality is that the two party system doesn’t provide two clearly distinguished choices for many people. After that election, all those outsiders left the state and what had we built? A lot of registered voters, but all that money left little infrastructure behind. The Campaign for a Better New Mexico seeks to build long-lasting progressive multi-issue infrastructure for non-partisan electoral engagement work.

As many of you know, I’ve been involved in the work of SWOP since I first volunteered in 2001. I believe that the community organizing approach to electoral work is fundamental to building a progressive base in the state. It’s hard work that often does not show the immediate results of candidate campaign work. It requires many long hours of door knocking, phone calling, community and house meetings…in short, the process of building relationships with people who aren’t politicos, media wonks, or activists. You know: Real People. I say this of course with the best of intentions…because I know we all like to think of ourselves as Real People. I certainly do. But at some point, if we want to make real change we must start talking and working with people who think differently, act differently, and who might not agree with us on everything. The community organizing approach provides a way to do this. And organizations like SWOP could not do this work without dedicated volunteers

Changes afoot at Alterdestiny

Maggie says:
One of m-pyre's longstanding favorite blogs - Alterdestiny - and favorite friends - Erik - are undergoing some big changes, which Marjorie and I first got wind of last night.

It appears that Erik looked around the blogosphere and determined that group blogs are really where it's at. The three Ms couldn't agree more, so we salute Erik in his quest to build more Alterdestiny community.

First up to join Alterdestiny is the mysteriously named Mr. Trend (currently missing a blogger profile), who represents all that's cutting edge in Albuquerque and really, the entire Western hemisphere. Yay for ongoing goodness at Alterdestiny... and a big ol' blog welcome to Mr. Trend!

We eagerly await the next Alterdestiny member, too.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Saluting smart friends: Richard

Maggie says:
There's nothing like smart friends to inspire you on days when you're feeling less-than-smart. My high school pal Richard Morgan is now a happenin' freelance writer in New York, where he sometimes remembers little 'ol me and sends me his stuff to make sure my brain still works out here in the desert.

Think Richard's journalism is good? Doesn't even come close to the hilariously scandalous text messages he has a habit of sending out in the middle of the night (while my lame-by-comparison self is already deep in REM mode and it's two hours earlier here, I should add...).

So in the hopes of spreading snarky, smart Richard joy around, I present:

Monday, June 12, 2006

Bouncing logic edition

Maggie laughs at:

(click for larger version)

The sport I wish I loved

Maggie says:
World Cup fever is on. On Saturday, I got a call from a dear friend on a street corner in Mexico City with soccer chants filling the air around him and a description of the city scene as "soccer mania, just like it should be." Later that night, the TVs behind our table at the bar kept turning everyone's attention away from the conversation at hand. Hard to focus when there's a great game going on across someone's shoulder. Well, okay, and when there's a particularly cute Ivory Coast player featured, as a companion rightfully pointed out.

For me, soccer is a somewhat distant thing. I appreciate the people power; I love the international politics; I love the crowds and the cheering; I love how populist it all seems. But I just don't know it the way many of my friends do. I see their inspiration, but for me, it just hasn't struck home yet.

Yesterday soccer started striking home. Of course, through reading, not actually watching soccer. (Nerdnerdnerd...) I picked up the latest copy of National Geographic - which had been neglected along with all my other mail - and was completely charmed by the cover story: Why the World Loves Soccer. The essays included inside - along with gorgeous photos - are really wonderful.

If you're already hooked, read what other rabid fans have to say. And if, like me, you want to be hooked but aren't quite there yet, start digging in now.

Soon, I will know this World Cup obsession. I can feel it.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Richardson Outted as Pres. Candidate -- by Blogger Conference

Mikaela says, way behind:
Interesting to me that Richardson appears so naturally in the Washington Post story about the Daily Kos convention after all his protestations that he wasn't interested in a shot at the Presidency. Take a look.

Testifying to the significance of the blogosphere as an emerging political force was the parade of Democratic politicians who came to pay their respects, including Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and four prospective 2008 presidential candidates. "I pay as much attention [to the bloggers] as I can," Reid said by phone before his arrival for Saturday night's keynote address. "I think it's a voice I need to listen to. I listen."

The prospective candidates -- former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark -- all hope they can generate support among an activist constituency that has already expressed its hostility toward Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as a cautious and consummate insider.

The question in my mind is how much dirty laundry New Mexicans will share if he decides to take the leap, or whether we'll keep our hands over our own mouths (I'm speaking mostly to the ladies here...) out of loyalty to our state and hopes that more good than ill will come of it than if we take him down. I personally think he's taken advantage of one too many women and lots too many political opportunities to let slide. Any bets? You know there are stories already written just waiting to hit the papers...

Transition Spaces

Mikaela says:
Last night, surrounded by my favorite women and a small sample of men who adore them, I found myself unable to drink to a toast. Let me start by saying I'm not a big drinker (except when I am, which is NOT often, and hence the fireworks when I do...), but I do love drinking to things that come up in the conversation.

You know, someone will be telling some story or another, and I find myself again and again saying, "I'll drink to that." Maybe this is a carry-over from that first-ever drinking game party during the Superbowl in my freshman year of college. Rob should remember this one, even though the end of the night gets fuzzy for me.

All the best players from each team were thrown into a hat, and everyone had to draw a name. When that person took the field or was mentioned in the commentary, you had to drink. Well, the year was 1994, and I drew Emmit Smith. You can fill in the blanks.

Even so, I still love drinking to things. Maybe that's my underlying affirming nature. Maybe I just like the solidity of a good clink, a physical reminder of all those moments when those around the table share a past experience.

Regardless, last night, despite the hedonist overtones of the story being told, it ended with a statement about lack of personal discipline. Here's me, drink in hand, ready to ... wait a minute! I can't toast to that! As Marjorie will readily attest to, my life at the moment (and maybe all moments) is all about self-discipline. I'm scheduled within an inch of my life, and I still feel -- often -- that I don't do enough. Given certain facilities and resources, a conscientiousness about community, and consciousness about all that could be done to make this world better, how can you do enough?

Now that school is done, that most selfish and simultaneously self-less of all endeavors is over, what spills in to fill the void? There's work you get paid for, work you make time for, family, friends, personal time ... events that tug at you for one reason or another...

But I feel there's a debt built-up over the past four years that I've done nothing but study to give back to the groups who have entertained me or nurtured my soul. I've taken and taken, and now their patience should be rewarded, and I should give what I can, right?

For example, last Wednesday there was a little fundraising event for local playwright Daniel Hamilton (who got his start as a winner of the Manoa Project teen playwrighting competition created to honor the life and commemorate the death of the son of UNM CRP professors Ted Jojola and Dely Alcantara), who is turning his script about J. Robert Oppenheimer into a movie in conjunction with Tricklock Company. Tricklock ensemble members Chad, Summer, and Byron, with Daniel as narrator, did a fantastic reading of several tantalizing scenes.

Love Stories During the Armageddon of a Citrus Fruit
is a beautiful, poetic script -- think Waiting for Godot meets Dr. Strangelove. It might be challenging to translate to the big screen, but ... he's local boy made good. Shouldn't there be more I can do to help?

(As a total aside, I so love this town... At an event where I shouldn't necessarily have known anyone, I of course ran into my oldest ever friend -- we've known each other since we were 2, another friend I've known since elementary school, and a woman who currently lives in one of the communities where I've been working, who is the mother of the movie producer, of course!)

And Tricklock itself has provided great show after great show. Adding so much to the cultural richness of this town...

This particular strain of guilt goes on and on. Meanwhile, the Ms are all facing internal life transitions on all sorts of fronts. We're no longer school friends; now we're life friends, finding our way, redefining our relationship, re-striking the balance between our passions, our loves, and our connection. Thankfully, this one does not inspire the kind of angst that not volunteering enough does. I have no doubt the Ms will sort it all out. That's what we do. All we have to do at the moment is be where we are, support each other even from a distance at times, and keep coming back for more. There are too many strands of our lives pulling toward each other to be pulled so easily apart.

So while I may be m-pyrically silent -- or at least quieter -- for this month while I hang out with the best teens I've met in a long time, rest assured my life continues to be full and crazy and chaotic, and I do the best I can to keep my little self disciplined.

Before learning not to speak...

Mikaela says:
I salute the courage of a recent graduate, much like our own Javi, who took her moment in the spotlight to speak truth to power -- this time directly to John McCain.

Courtesy Democracy Now:

We turn now to what may have been the most controversial speech at a college campus this spring.

It occurred at the New School graduation ceremony in New York where Republican Senator John McCain gave the keynote address. McCain was invited to speak by New School President Bob Kerrey, the former Senator and longtime friend of McCain.

Nearly 1,000 people signed a petition urging Kerrey to rescind McCain's invitation. The protests continued even at the graduation ceremony when one of the student speakers directly confronted McCain over his support for war. The student was Jean Sara Rohe, a 21-year-old graduate from New Jersey.

Soon after Senator John McCain's chief of staff, Mark Salter, wrote a comment on the website attacking the student.

Salter wrote, "The only person you have succeeded in making look like an idiot is yourself." He went on to tell the student protesters: "You might look back on the day of your graduation and your discourtesy to a good and honest man with a little shame and the certain knowledge that it very unlikely any of you will ever posses the one small fraction of the character of John McCain."

AMY GOODMAN: She began her commencement address by singing a song.

    JEAN SARA ROHE: [singing] If all the world were peaceful now / And forever more / Peaceful at the surface / And peaceful at the core / All the joy within my heart / Would be so free to soar / And we're living on a living planet / Circling the living star / I don't know where we're going / but I know we're going far / We can change the universe / By being who we are / And we're living on a living planet / Circling a living star.

    Welcome, everyone, on this beautiful afternoon. I only have five minutes, so I'd appreciate it if you'd -- thanks. Welcome everyone, on this beautiful afternoon to the commencement ceremony for the New School class of 2006. That was an excerpt of the song I learned as a child called "Living Planet," by Jay Manquita. I chose to begin my address this way because, as always, but especially now, we are living in a time of violence, of war, of injustice. I am thinking of our brothers and sisters in Iraq, in Darfur, in Sri Lanka, in Mogadishu, in Israel, Palestine, right here in the United States, and many, many other places around the world. And my deepest wish on this day, on all days, is for peace, justice, and true freedom for all people.

    The song says, "We can change the universe by being who we are," and I believe that it really is just that simple. Right now, I'm going to be who I am and digress from my previously prepared remarks that I had been working on for the past several weeks. I am disappointed that I have to abandon the things I had wanted to speak about, but I feel that it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge the fact that this ceremony has become something other than the celebratory gathering that it was intended to be due to all the media attention surrounding John McCain's presence here today and the student and faculty outrage generated by his invitation to speak.

    The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded. Not only this -- please, not only this, but his invitation was a top-down decision that did not take into account the desires and interests of the student body on an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all and to commemorate our achievements. What is interesting and bizarre about this whole situation is that Senator McCain has stated that he will be giving the same speech at all three universities where he has been invited to speak recently, of which ours is the last, those being Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Columbia University, and finally, here at the New School. For this reason, I have unusual foresight concerning the themes of his address today.

    Based on the speech he gave at the other institutions, Senator McCain will tell us today that dissent and disagreement are our civic and moral obligation in times of crisis, and I agree. I consider this a time of crisis, and I feel obligated to speak. Senator McCain will also tell us about his strong-headed self-assuredness in his youth which prevented him from hearing the ideas of others, and in so doing, he will imply that those of us who are young are too naive to have valid opinions and open ears. I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that preemptive war is dangerous and wrong, that George Bush's agenda in Iraq is not worth the many lives lost. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction.

    Finally, Senator McCain will tell us that we, those of us who are Americans, have nothing to fear from each other. I agree strongly with this, but I take it one step further. We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet. Fear is the greatest impediment to the achievement of peace. We have nothing to fear from people who are different from us, from people who live in other countries, even from the people who run our government, and this we should have learned from our educations here. We can speak truth to power. We can allow our humanity always to come before our nationality. We can refuse to let fear invade our lives and to goad us on to destroy the lives of others.

    These words I speak do not reflect the arrogance of a young, strong-headed woman, but belong to a line of great progressive thought, a history in which the founders of this institution play an important part. I speak today, even through my nervousness, out of a need to honor those voices that came before me, and I hope that we graduates can all strive to do the same. Thank you very much.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

ABQ Art Event -- Today!

Mikaela says:
If you missed the Inspirados show last year at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC), featuring Santiago Perez, Mary Antonia Wood and Gustavo Victor Goler, you have another chance to redeem yourself and spend some more time focused on just one of these brilliant artists, Santiago Perez.

The Downtown Contemporary Art Center (DCAC) is featuring his work in a show running to June 23. That means you're running out of time, but if you catch this today, you can hear the artist talk about his work from 2-3 pm.

Santiago Perez: Moby Dick vs Quetzalcoatl

105 Fourth Street SW
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Activist Alert -- Santa Fe Event

Mikaela re-posts:
Courtesy one of m-pyre's favorites, Hakim Bellamy, and rockin' poet, Ejypt Clough:

Thursday, June 08, 2006

This is my America

Mikaela writes in:

Yesterday morning's Bioneer radio program featured Raw Goddess, a hip-hop feminist, who talked about "This is my America." That became our first writing prompt of the day, and here was what came out of me:

This is my America –

ashamed of its opinions

wrong even when righting,

writing its way to obsolete,

righteousness overtaking thoughtfulness

in the fullness of our obese declarations of fights.

This is my America,

adamant waste,

unbashful elbows

wrapping their way across the globe.

Stay out of our way, says America,

even if your way is the right way,

and our way is weighted with the heavy hand

of injustice tipping the scales in our favor,

currency flowing to our modernity

that we declare new in every century.

It's a bloated fight, America,

your pudgy hands gorging

on Africa, spitting out her disease,

cleaning your teeth with Indonesia,

belching Belgium, rubbing your belly

with Rhodesia, tuning in for a little Jamaica

after your feast, our famine buffet.

You've deserted us

to make mints, America,

and we line up now in silence

all over the world.

It can't help to take back

what is already yours,

but we'll treat you in kind, America.

This one's on us.

And when your serving machine stalls,

the oven overheating, the burners

caked with grease from oil corruption,

we'll squeeze you thin, America.

Bold, then.

Bigger than you


in our silence.

Carville quickie

Maggie says:
At the last minute, I found time to catch James Carville yesterday at the SUB. (By the way, read 'Burque Babble's hilarious ode to Carville's "vivacious drawl" here.)

Carville is many things:

  • Possessor of that, okay, vivacious drawl that makes me miss home like a punch in my stomach, even though I know absolutely no one who sounds like him in North Carolina.
  • Miraculous (or horrendous) romantic partner, depending on your view of how the hell he makes his marriage to Mary Matalin work. I, for one, can't even hear her voice without seething; waking up beside her each morning would be absolutely out of the question.
  • Curious authentic-or-commodity persona trapped in that strange space of having become someone larger than yourself.
Anyway, time was short for me and for Carville, and luckily he split before I had to. Listening to him is a bit like tuning into the golden days of "Crossfire." I doubt anything said yesterday was new or fresh or different than what he's said anywhere else, but he has classic one-liners to spare, and the captivated expressions of everyone around me suggested that even if his spiel could've been done anywhere, they loved seeing him do it in person.

Carville started off with something we should all be saying, and that's that the media-created myth of upcoming big Democratic wins is, in fact, a myth. This is an important point for anyone apt to get swept away in the hype that Congressional takeover is as inevitable as more war casualties. Believing we're bound to win makes us lazy, makes us stop doing the important work, and makes us stop connecting with real people over real issues. The more self-congratulatory we get, the more we forget that personal victories aren't the point. What matters is what's at stake, and that's the opportunity dangling in front of us right now.

Carville briefly mentioned "love of country," and this is something I truly love hearing him talk about. To me, "love of country" Carville is the real deal. Lines like "Heather Wilson is on the Intelligence Committee and she actually admits it?" are not. Campaign talk and packaged lines aren't my thing; authenticity is.

Carville differentiates Heather Wilson and Patricia Madrid as a "servant of power" versus an "agent of change." This is potentially powerful stuff, and the turn I hope Madrid's campaign will take to get the vote out. Power discussions are full of authenticity. So is Carville's point that "We are a better country than this."

Fun one-liners and all, I couldn't help but feel a little bit empty rushing away from the event yesterday. In the world of political stars talking to political insiders, we're insulated through and through. Yet the point is what's happening outside that room, and we can't forget that.

Making folks laugh is a bonus, but making them believe is what's most important. Politics is more than a game, and when we play it on the surface but forget the core, we only hurt ourselves.

Ummm... no.

Maggie says:
How inappropriate is it for us to display a framed photograph of a dead body at an Iraqi news conference? I don't care how macho and great and victorious it makes us to kill a "bad guy" (and never mind that I disagree with the premise of all of it). If there's a need to show proof of the big kill (gross), how about a small photograph? Or if the photo must be enlarged, couldn't a simple poster board suffice?

But trotted out in a gold frame as proof that the "tide is turning"? How is that any better than Iraqi abuse of American dead bodies? Don't both disrepect human life?

Stuck with me

Maggie says:
Yeah, sorry. Been kind of the Maggie show over here lately. Sometimes I can be more fun than of late - writing about planning or baseball or local news - but I have politics on the brain lately, so that's what's coming out.

Mikaela's off on her annual stint turning teens into world-conquering creative writers. And Marjorie's.... hmmm.... where is Marjorie? Don't you all miss her? I know I do. I miss her politics and her tone and her wisdom and her humor. Marjorie, we need you!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Fantastic news out of Montana

Maggie says:
Since there are no populist celebrations taking place in the Land of Enchantment today, I look to Big Sky Country instead. Montana continues to be one of the most exciting states to watch politically - if you're not entrenched in same-old, insider politics, that is - and David Sirota continues to be on top of it all.

Read Populist Jon Tester Scores Huge Win Against D.C. Dems & For the Rest of Us in full. Please?

That Establishment has either refused to take basic, concrete positions on the key issues of the day like Iraq, or worse, has high-profile factions publicly insulting middle-class voters, such as when former Clintonites on Wall Street insulted those Democrats who are trying to reform America’s sellout trade policy.

But as I have written before, Tester - and other successful Democrats running this year - are doing exactly the opposite. Back in November, I noted how Tester rejected Washington’s advice, and took a strong position on the Iraq War. A few weeks back, I also noted how on critical economic issues like trade. My colleage at the Progressive States Network, Matt Singer, also noted that Tester also took a bold position on health care, saying our system needs fundamental reform.

These are positions that put him squarely at odds with Morrison (who Singer noted spewed Tom Friedman-esque World-Is-Flat corporate PR), and more importantly, at odds with the national Democratic Party and the Big Money interests that control Washington. But his positions put him in sync with voters in Montana and throughout the heartland. Put another way, he made the fight against Big Money’s hostile takeover of our government a central theme in his legislative career and in his primary campaign - and he was, to the great shock of Washington insiders, handsomely rewarded by voters.

Next up? All eyes to Connecticut, where my non-violent self hopes a certain Joe gets his Bush-apologist ass kicked by Ned Lamont.

Onward and upward, folks!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Voting culture

Maggie says:
During previous elections, I've been shocked at the utter singles vibe many polling places have going on. I swear some folks get ready to vote with the same gusto as they would for a date. And when you think about it, you do find a target demographic hanging out around voting booths (politically-aware, hopefully intelligent). I've heard more than one happening single in this town comment that Election Day is the hidden gem of a political junkie's dating calendar. Who knew?

This morning, though, the polls were not exactly jumping down at Washington Middle School. Could be that this is a just a primary vote - although as some point out, primary excitement is where it's at. Could be the heat. Whatever the case, the turnout I saw today was less Seasons and more senior. I did meet two fabulous elderly women there as we navigated Washington's parking lots and sidewalks to find the hidden rear entrance to the voting location. By the time we made it we'd already broken a sweat, and Mary wondered why she didn't just volunteer to work the polls and hang out in the air conditioning all day.

Poll-watching begins tonight at 7:00. Even in the smallest of races, it's always a rush for me. My election nights began with me listening to NPR in my teenage bedroom while my dad eyed the local TV stations downstairs, each of us shouting the latest updates to each other. Then they progressed to college and the delights of cable, where I immersed myself in the joy of watching meaningless filler for hours before the polls closed, just in case something interesting broke. I've given up cable since then, but the Internet fills the void. Remember last fall, when I freaked out watching the County Clerk's numbers update live (across from Mikaela at Flying Star, no less, who was just horrified at my obsession for refreshing the page)? It was so bad I had to post poems the next day to feel better about it all.

It's a select crowd, those of us eagerly anticipating the results of the Secretary of State race and interested in dissecting every campaign, no matter how small. A self-selected crowd, of course. Some of you probably have fun, exciting plans on tap for tonight. But to the rest of us, nothing could be more fun than watching Monica Aragon talk about the County Assessor's race or Cynthia Izaguirre tell us how few people came out to vote.

PS: Isn't that image great? Apparently it's from an actual get-out-the-vote campaign... in Nebraska!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Primary schooling

Maggie says:
I'm too much of a nerd for early voting. I love going to the polls on the big day and gauging the energy in the air. That said, here's who I'm voting for tomorrow on Primary Day:

  • Secretary of State: Stephanie Gonzales. Democracy for New Mexico has done a fabulous job of covering all things paper ballot, and if you care about voter fraud and have no patience left for every excuse under the sun, you know that it's time for a real change. That means not taking Bernalillo County's problems to the entire state. Sorry, Mary.
  • Attorney General: Gary King. King seems eminently qualified and to be honest, the only issue I really have with Geno Zamora is that he seems awfully close to the governor, and that makes me awfully uneasy.
  • State Auditor: Thomas Buckner. Basing this one largely on the Alibi and the sense that Armijo's the flashy choice, but Buckner's the real deal.
  • Land Commissioner: Jim Baca. Can't find anything I really disagree with Ray Powell about, but I like Baca's planning record and get the sense that he'd be a great protector of this state's open space. And um, bloggers support other bloggers, okay?
  • Public Regulation Commission: Derrith Watchman-Moore. Great environmental record, great values, a progressive woman candidate... what's not to like?
  • If I lived in County District 1: Bernalillo County Commission: Loretta Naranjo-Lopez. I know that Alan Armijo's a great guy, and he certainly provides a lot of comic relief at the Bernalillo County Commission hearings, but I can't resist the lure of electing a smart, progressive woman like Lopez. I love the energy and good politics that Teresa Cordova and Deanna Archuleta-Loeser have brought to the Commission, and for my money, Lopez would only enhance what her predecessors have begun. Lopez is smart about planning, infill, and infrastructure - exactly what we need more of.
And don't forget:
Want more endorsements? See The Alibi and The Trib for their picks.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Darn the luck...

Maggie says:
Kudos to man-about-town Gene Grant for bringing this one to my attention. Bill Maher is such a rude genius. Makes me miss HBO terribly - I used to laugh my ass off during his "New Rules" segments. From Maher's 5-19-06 show:

Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the Army.

And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.

Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't.

I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote. But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives.

You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes. On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airlines, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky.

I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.

So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: "Take a hint."

"This is the nightmare"

Maggie says:
Another Sunday, another New York Times editorial filled with perspective, reason, and moral backbone. Last week it was the price of Iraq. This week, Haditha.

In full: A Hard Look at Haditha.

An excerpt:

The apparent cold-blooded killing last November of 24 Iraqi civilians by United States marines at Haditha will be hard to dispose of with another Washington damage control operation. The Iraqi government has made clear that it will not sit still for one, and neither should the American people. This affair cannot simply be dismissed as the spontaneous cruelty of a few bad men.

This is the nightmare that everyone worried about when the Iraq invasion took place. Critics of the war predicted that American troops would become an occupying force, unable to distinguish between innocent civilians and murderous insurgents, propelled down the same path that led the British to disaster in Northern Ireland and American troops to grief in Vietnam. The Bush administration understood the dangers too, but dismissed them out of its deep, unwarranted confidence that friendly Iraqis would quickly be able to take control of their own government and impose order on their own people.

Now that we have reached the one place we most wanted to avoid, it will not do to focus blame narrowly on the Marine unit suspected of carrying out these killings and ignore the administration officials, from President Bush on down, who made the chances of this sort of disaster so much greater by deliberately blurring the rules governing the conduct of American soldiers in the field. The inquiry also needs to critically examine the behavior of top commanders responsible for ensuring lawful and professional conduct and of midlevel officers who apparently covered up the Haditha incident for months until journalists' inquiries forced a more honest review.


These damage control operations have done a great job of shielding the reputations of top military commanders and high-ranking Pentagon officials. But it has been at the expense of things that are far more precious: America's international reputation and the honor of the United States military. The overwhelming majority of American troops in Iraq are dedicated military professionals, doing their best to behave correctly under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Their good name requires a serious inquiry, not another deflection of blame to the lowest-ranking troops on the scene.


It should not surprise anyone that this war — launched on the basis of false intelligence analysis, managed by a Pentagon exempted from normal standards of command responsibility and still far from achieving minimally acceptable results — is increasingly unpopular with the American people. At the very least, the public is now entitled to straight answers on what went wrong at Haditha and who, besides those at the bottom of the chain of command, will be required to take responsibility for it.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Ahhhh... Girls' Brunch

Maggie says:
A little more PG-13 and a lot more sober than the night of Raucousness, this morning's brunch with some of my favorite women in town was a celebration of shoes, in-town extracurriculars, and... square dancing? Stay tuned for that one.

As I've previously written, Chantal is great to have around when you need a chocolate fix. She's also great for documenting events with her camera. Hence:

The best discovery during our 2.5-hour brunch? Finally meeting - in person, not in blog-world - the real-life Scribblista!

Oh, and I also found out that I'm not supposed to write about silly things on m-pyre. That's why we have m-pyrical! Oops.

PS: Never, ever go to Slate Street Cafe in a hurry. And, um, don't go if you're dying for your first cup of coffee of the day or you're really thirsty for some water, either. But do go if you have all day to spare, are patient as can be, and are craving a Salmon and Boursin Cheese Frittata.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Series to Watch

Mikaela says:
First a newspaper series on class.... Now a series on race? What's next?

(Could media be getting better? Then what would we whine about?)

This one should be watched closely for sure!

Washington Post takes on "Being a Black Man."

My first thought stems from this paragraph:

More than 50 years after the publication of Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," black men appear more visible than ever -- a freshman senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, is the American Idol of national politics, and Will Smith is perhaps the most bankable star in Hollywood. Yet black men who put their kids through college by mopping floors, who sit at home reading Tennyson at night, who wear dreadlocks but design spacecraft, say it sometimes seems as if the world doesn't believe they exist.

As invisible as black men still are in America, what comes up for me is how much more invisible black women are. In some ways, the barriers are less impenetrable for women, but the visibility factor has got to be more severe. I'm not sure why this is, but I think it warrants much more thought. How many more years will it take before a series like this would focus on black women? bell hooks should really have a blog!

Progressive Values -- Ready, Set, Fight!

Mikaela says: took a vote for the top priorities to fight for in coming months.

Here are the top ten:

Health care for all 65091
Sustainable energy independence 61030
Restored constitutional rights ; 35675
Guaranteed accurate elections 35133
Diplomacy over militarism 28912
High quality education for all 27874
Solutions to global warming 26306
A guaranteed living wage 25527
Publicly funded elections 21096
A balanced federal budget 20945

I'm all over it! I might quibble about the order ... (whatever happened to good ole Aristotealian logic, anyway??) but okay. It's a start, and I like that the list was generated from a vote. Since Moveon is explicitly an internet organization, you can't really critique the fact that only people with computers, internet access, and technology-saavy voted. That's its membership!

Of course, now it's time to face the devil in the details. Isn't it amazing how consensus on goals is always easier to generate than agreement on actions? Saddle up and strap it. It's gonna get bumpy. At least we can say, thank god there's a ride.

Slippery Slopes

Mikaela says:
I know Marjorie's all excited because I used the S-word, but unfortunately, this ain't no day of skiing.

Nope, it's just a typical news day during these troubling times:

  1. Fundraiser for Bush is downgraded from "Pioneer" to "Outlaw."
  2. First phone records, now e-mail trails... Worried yet?
from Democracy Now

Ohio GOP Fundraiser Pleads Guilty To Laundering For Bush Re-Election
In Ohio, a former Republican fundraiser has pleaded guilty to illegally funneling thousands of dollars into the campaign to re-elect President Bush. On Thursday, Tom Noe admitted he used several conduits – including Ohio politicians and former aides to Gov. Bob Taft -- to funnel around $45,000 dollars to the President’s campaign. At the time of his indictment, Noe’s case was described as the largest campaign money-laundering scheme since new campaign finance laws were enacted in 2002. Noe was named a “Pioneer” by Bush’s campaign for raising over $100,000 dollars.

US Gov Asks ISPs For Web-Surfing Data
The US government has asked Internet service providers to keep the records of the Web-surfing activities of their customers. The government says the records would be used solely for efforts against terrorism and child pornography. FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales reportedly made the request at a meeting with a group of senior executives representing the country’s major online firms. Executives who attended the meeting told the New York Times they were also asked to retain records about whom their customers exchange e-mails with, but not the contents of e-mail messages.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

How hot is SHE?

Maggie says:
Now I'm not a comic book reader, but if I WERE one, you can bet I'd be checking out the new Batwoman comics. Why, you ask?

Because Batwoman is a lesbian now.

How awesome is that?

DC Comics says: “This is not just about having a gay character. We're trying for overall diversity in the DC universe. We have strong African-American, Hispanic and Asian characters. We're trying to get a better cross-section of our readership and the world.”

Next up I want to see a superhero who's a gay man but does not wear pink or purple leotards. Everyone always figured there was something a little more going on with Batman and Robin anyway...

As Feministing points out, it's a little silly that DC Comics feels the need to call Batwoman a "lipstick lesbian." But hey, let's cheer equal opportunity superheroes one and all, right?

My favorite Batwoman response comes from a realist, who asks, "Wouldn't ugly people as heroes be more groundbreaking? You know, a 200-pound woman, a man with horseshoe hair loss pattern, people with cold sores, etc.?”

But then we couldn't drool over this red and black number, now could we?