Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When The Madman Speaks his Mind...

INTERVIEWED by Michael James for Trick with a Knife, "magazine-blog on artistic sphere” (April 2010)

[1] I know you travel much and perform voraciously-- is this more important/equally important to the books and poems poets publish? Can you 'do more' this way'?

First of all, I grew up—or started writing poetry—around a culture that has a rich, flowing oral tradition. Poetry was performed or delivered right in the village right here right now. Even up to now, graphic novels (“komiks-magasin”), fiesta pageantry, and formulaic/melodramatic movies are the main entertainment escape route of most people in Philippine countrysides…
In the context of publishing, we know it’s a ruthless jungle out there. Getting published these days is tough. But why do desire to get published, anyway? Money, fame? These are acceptable pursuits, but as I grow older, I tend to gravitate back to my roots: Why do I write? I just want to reach out, share my story, make people happy even for few hours at time. I’d rather be in front of people—very intimate, very personal—than have my books rot in a Barnes & Noble shelf. That feeds the ego, but then… should I stop writing/reading just because I am not published? No. I love this (performing) gig and I will do this gig till I die.

[2] You're from the Philippines and write for THE PHILIPPINE NEWS-- do you find your country under represented on the global scene?

I used to write for Philippines News, the oldest Filipino-American newspaper in mainland US, and distributed nationwide and in Canada… I handled the largest bureau, the Southern California bureau where majority of the 4.5 million Filipinos in the US work and live. I did my best… The Philippines should be amply represented (in the US or the global community), could be. But most Filipino publishers in the US don’t see it that way… Before Philippine News, I edited another Fil-Am paper in New York City, and then I came out with my own, The Independent. You must ask me, why am I in a predominantly white community in North Carolina and opted to publish (and mingle) here. Says a lot, indeed. Filipino journalism is back home in the Philippines… that’s where flesh and blood happen, not here. Filipino publishers here have different motives…

[3] How do we integrate? I don't mean hybridization, where we lose culture and homogenize. I mean more like your TRAVELING BONFIRES FOR PEACE project --- how do we unite under choiceful peace without yielding to a totalitarian superpower?

We just’ve to break barriers and bridge bridges. We just have to get out of our comfort zones and hang out with all ethnicities out there. The Traveling Bonfires is trying to serve that quixotix vision-mission… I know it’s hard. But the fun that comes with sharing stuff and things supercede the difficulties. I am rockin’ and I don’t think I’ll ever tire mixing myself up with other cultures… We can’t hybrid or homogenize, but we can hang out and chill. I don’t want to dream like it’s nirvana, I want to dream and enjoy little bits of reality, you know…

[4] There's this statistical idea that I recently encountered in ADBUSTERS, talking about how computerized interaction has increased depression. That your time spent interfacing with this electrical/digital conduit leaves you way more vulnerable to depressive states. And yet this medium is essential for communication with "those unseen". And since the internet, a large aspect of computerized interface, is by nature a literature rich environment. We as artists use it to spread our message... still, there is a large portion of the world without internet access. There is no true question here, but I'd like to hear your reaction to this information.....

Well, moderate. Moderation is the key… I am not addicted to anything so I think I am fine… I will be more depressed if I don’t go online. This is my “office” (I work online to feed myself) and this is where I connect with family (who are thousands of miles away). I can’t give this up… but I can give up a PBR or strawberry cake or sex anytime, man… Besides, I don’t have a (cultural) translation to depression. But I know what sadness is, it’s a human truth. Human truths happen and our emotional/mental chemistry as human beings don’t say, we are “depressed” all our lives.

[5] I remember from our time performing and hanging out, you love to cook and eat. What is your favorite food to make?

Actually, I eat anything… Back in the islands, we eat all of a chicken anatomy. I cook based on what my friends want me to cook. I have been to many cultures and savored food and spices and herbs and all kinds of ingredients—that I am confident I can whip out a cool dish anytime. I can make the “Bizarre Foods” dude a run for his money.

[6] They say 95 percent of Serotonin is in the stomach, so how much do you think hunger informs creativity as a pleasurable act?

I don’t know… When I write or do some creative act, I just do it. I know what hunger is but it didn’t stop me from creating.

[7] Here's a cheesy question, but I'll still ask: Can art save? Do you find TRAVELING BONFIRES changing things through the fact you are taking initiative to spread the message, the concept itself, or is it the art that induces change?

Yes, I do. I believe art liberates and frees the spirit; art instigates and fosters change. Art is powerful. Artists could be a gargantuan force as a movement… The one giant arch-enemy that deters this is profit, big business. Independent art—I mean, those devoid of corporate encroachment—could rise up and be one and fight the giant machine, you know what I’m saying? We artists just have to believe that we can overcome.

[8] Where you're not writing or reading poetry, what types of literature seem to invigorate your mind?

I like work that is written instinctively and randomly. I like literature that doesn’t abide with physical form… because literature and art are human expressions. You don’t scream out of anger, cry out of sorrow, or laugh out of joy, and say, “This is the way to do it properly…”

[9] What about life, period, catches your attention?

Fun, fun is cool… I like to be smiling and laughing as I breathe my last breath of life.

[10] You've pioneered your own litmag/news pub THE WANDERER--- how is this a different way of sending out a message than your personal writing?

The Traveling Bonfires and all the publications and projects that I conceived, I hope—should not reflect the way I am as an individual. There are stuff and things that I want to pursue in life that I find it hard to pursue because my personal demons get in the way… My personal writings or work is me, the private me. But my community projects aren’t necessarily me. I published another paper in Asheville called “Blue Sky Asheville” where minds and thoughts from all sorts of spiritual/religious/cultural mores met. Just like The Bonfires—I like it that there are no doors, no windows, it’s all open… come one, come all.

--Pasckie Pascua
Asheville, North Carolina

Monday, August 16, 2010


Literary open stage at Upstairs Artspace, walk to Rogers Park, mung beans soup and a standup comic candle, and rainy nights of warm disquiet…

Tryon—a quaint little town 45 miles south of Asheville and almost the same distance to the batcave—is the birthplace of my revered blues sky and soul river diva, Nina Simone. Four nights and four days… punctuated by a “quietly” endearing Friday evening at Upstairs Artspace (“contemporary art gallery and arts education center”) where I read and shared a few poems to the “literary open stage”—on invite from artist-friend Bonnie Joy Bardos.
I will be back here in a week’s time…
I was able to whip out less than 400 words (part of my 2,000 words+/a day goal) in all of four nights/four days, which is pretty sparse—but that’s not the real deal. The deal is, right at this moment, I feel like I could seduce and inspire my harman/kardon Toshiba laptop to churn out 10,000+ words tonight, to the aftermidnight blue, and till the sun wakes up. The hot juices are flowing to a river of sweet wine—I just’ve to seize these moments on paper (or comp screen) before I jump off a waterfall, laughing…
So before I get “personal,” which I should not—I say: “Love good, live good, and eat only good food!” See you later, superhomeys!

--Pasckie The Dude
5:23 PM. 16 Aug 2010
Tryon NC

Monday, August 02, 2010

Hip and hop pseudonyms and 2200+ Facebook superhomeys...

LAST TIME I filed an entry here was November 8 last year—so that’d mean, it has been nine long months since I last blogged. It’s not that nothing really “significant” took place in my life. How could that be? “Insignificance” is synonymous to innui—the feeling of being bored by something tedious. (That is, however, my personal definition…)
“Significant” developments and conjectures did happen—or happening—in my little life in the last nine months, but majority of these are what most social animals call, “personal.” Yes, despite my seeming illicit romance or addictive concupiscence (heavy word!) with Facebook, I am still very much a private, reclusive dude. Nobody really knows what’s going on within “the womb of my batcave.*1” (Sorry about these specially quoted words and phrases. Check the footnote out for additional explanation.)
My self-imposed “reclusión perpetua*2” dates back to my childhood—but we don’t want to go there right now. My mom was very concerned that I spent too much time wombed in my room, instead of playing marbles or tag with other kids in the `hood—especially that, whenever I slid out of my shell, I was often muttering a line from a Simon&Garfunkel song (“I have my books / And my poetry to protect me; / I am shielded in my armor, / Hiding in my room, safe within my womb”). (Yes, that’s the line where I got one of my most favorite “reclusion” words, “womb”.) So imagine how thankful my mom was when I decided to pursue a journalism career at an early age of 14; at least, she didn’t wait long to find out what professional road I’d opt to tread when I grow older of sorts. That, however, didn’t sit well with my dad—who continually coaxed and admonished me to be another dude other than a writer, maybe a mortician or herbalist or milkman. Why was that? I’d like to discuss that subject but I’d rather not go there right at this juncture—lest I’d be distracted beyond what I’m trying to tackle on this particular blog, okay?
Anyways, before I move on—I’d like to mention in passing that Mark Twain’s essays in regards his abhorrence of war and US foreign policies (such as America’s colonization of the Philippines in late 1800s) made me want to get involved—hence, be part of the breathing world out there (instead of just wallowing in my shell). Of course, Twain’s Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer books were major influences in my life…
So probably one could safely say that the reason why I didn’t mutate into a full-blown hermit was—I pursued journalism in my youth and never buckled out of it—meaning, I had to interact with a specific human dynamic or community ruckus, or something to that effect. At this instance in my life, however, I am not into full-time journalism of any form or kind—following an unfruitful, unsatisfactory two-year sojourn in Southern California where I handled the Los Angeles bureau of an Asian-American newspaper. No love lost there though… I am extremely, silently pleased—although a few thousands poorer—that I am back in my adapted barrio, Asheville.
Now—where was I?

I DO BELIEVE that if J.D. Salinger was my age at this point in time, he is virulently Facebooking right at this aftermidnight minute although he’s still considered a recluse. Irrelevant of all this “privacy lost online” brouhaha, people can still choose not to give out or away their valued privacies in here (learn the apps and commands/options, dude!). On that regard, I doubt it if many people know that Salinger’s J.D. stood for Jerome David… Well, I knew that T.S. was Thomas Stearns (Mr Eliot), and O. was Orrin (Mr Henry)—plus his real name was William Sydney Porter—but I didn’t actually know what J.D. stood for to Mr Salinger until I googled it just a minute ago. (Who knew that I am “George Alfredo,” anyways? Not even my ex-girlfriends knew. Did my friends discover that online? I don’t think so.)
During those years of Salingers and Eliots and Henrys, pseudonyms and aliases were kinda hip. There was also a time—early high school days—when I toyed around with pennames. Since I was so mystified and intrigued by Alice Cooper (aka Vince Furnier), I came up with a female monicker myself: Kathy J. Cruz. I was seriously sending out fiction and poetry, and intermittent book and LP record reviews to a music magazine in Manila under that byline—that, although the editor knew my real identity, we agreed to keep the alias for maybe 3 years. The magazine (which dabbled as a chordbook), “paid” me with free subscriptions and paperbacks and LP records (those that I reviewed). Funny was, I was actually receiving steady stream of fan mails—most, quite expectedly, came from dudes who apparently were hitting up on me, thinking I was a chick. (It was only when I became more serious as a writer—upon “real” employment as a newspaper reporter at age 15—that I chucked the KJC name tag, though I remained an Alice Cooper diehard.)
But—yeah!—pseudonyms were kinda cool and hip during those years. These days though, pennames are more hiphop than hip. Only hiphop/rap gangsta artists use aliases: Li’l Wayne, Jay Z, Ice T., Ice Cube, Ludacris, 50 Cent, Eminem, P. Diddy, Snoop Dogg... I don’t imagine signing my byline as P. Pax.Key or Who.eez.Dizz, anyhow.
So forget pseudonyms. (Pasckie Pascua is my REAL name.)

AGAIN, where was I?
(This is the thing with blogs… nonsensical rambling is allowable and word-count is never an issue. Besides that, it’s absolutely fine to get sidetracked…)
I was saying—there weren’t any hugely significant developments or conjectures that rocked my world in the last nine months or so—since I moved back here in Asheville from Los Angeles late summer last year. I didn’t even engage in a major road trip—apart from a two-week dalliance in New York City and Washington DC in September, and a weekend ride to Virginia in October. That was it…
I had “little” chill-outs in Pigeon Forge, Johnson City, Jonesboro, and Gatlinburg in Tennessee, and in a number of Western North Carolina towns—but that’s it. I don’t call these breathers and getaways as “significant,” in the sense that these were “personal” trips as opposed to my usual Traveling Bonfires road treks. If there’s no Bonfires madness journey, then there’s not much to say, isn’t it?
Yes, most of the goings on around here are “personal,” I mean—I don’t think that my usual blog/ramblings readers will ever care whether I broke my heart again or I finally stuck it out with a lady beyond 3 months. I am always “public” but that doesn’t mean, I make it a habit to wag my Hanes out my front porch on a Monday morning or yell out my current blues and funk to the entire internet universe each time I feel grumpy over a shattered valentine or too broke to score a new Pay Less Converse All-Star imitation. TMI is too-much-info.
I get the kicks sharing with my 2,200+ Facebook Friends whatever I had for dinner or how kewl my latest profile pic or what’d my batcave room looked like on a weekend, but nah—I am not going to fill up a Relationship Status update any time soon. I digress…
I retain the right to my mystery… I like the sound of that word, “mystery.” I like to attach my antennaes and radars elsewhere—and share a rant or two about stuff and things (oh highly-opinionated, grossly judgmental me!) but I am still detached.
I’d like to repeat—most of my relative silence has something to do with the Traveling Bonfires’ comparative inactivity in Asheville in the last few months. We had one “Bonfires for Peace at Pritchard Park” last April 17—and we could’ve carried on in May, June, July… but a whole lot of changes have taken place in downtown’s “management hierarchy” so—well, that’s it. We still have one more BforPeace event (featuring longtime DJ-friends Touch Samadhi), set on Aug 21, but after that—I can’t tell. We had one poetry reading gig at Malaprop’s each month from January till May though…
Despite these, The Bonfires’ relentless zeal goes on unabated in the Philippines—starting Aug 21—under the leadership of my daughter Donna (with very able help from her associate, Lorna Campilan). A set of four major productions are currently in the works. [Check out a companion blog:]

ANYHOW, are you still wondering about my relative inactivity? Okay…
Here in Asheville… all is quiet. [Not to forget, of course—the local Mountain Xpress weekly magazine ran an article about The Bonfires’ return in the mountains. Here is the link: Before that, me and Marta The Nicer were interviewed by local indie radio impresario Jeff Davis on his]
Otherwise, my days and nights, are pretty much confined in the batcave—struggling over my book/s-writing, reading some bios and stuff, watching Mad Men, dance competitions on cable and Netflix movies, hangin’ out with my superhomeys Cindyrella, Chloe (the babedawg) and Cyd (the koolcat), cooking, gardening/lawnmowing, vacuuming, dusting, washing clothes and dishes, pokin’ around—with occasional trips to Westville Pub to shoot pools over PBRs and buffalo wings, and “joyrides” around WNC mountains…
Oh, by the way—I just spent my half-century birthday here (if that qualifies as “significant” at all). Marta The Nicer O had hers here in January, as well. (Thanks so much to Cindyrella, who owns the house, for all her kindness…)
So that’s it, for now…
“Significant” developments and conjectures did happen, maybe. But I’d rather not ramble and ruminate about that… I don’t think you’d be interested. Check my Facebook, instead—that is, if you are one of my 2,000+ Friends.
Meantime, love good, live good, and eat only good food.

--Pasckie The Dude
3:14 AM. 2 August 2010; 12:42 midnight. 3 August 2010
Candler NC (batcave and beyond)

*1 the womb of my batcave, otherwise known as my neck of the woods in Candler in Western North Carolina.
*2 reclusión perpetua. Spanish, from Latin: reclusio perpetua, meaning "permanent imprisonment,” is a particular kind of sentence of imprisonment in the Philippines, Argentina, and several other countries.

also drafted at Barnes&Noble/Starbucks Cafe, Asheville Mall. 1 Aug 2010.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Lazybone but comfortable moments at my Candler “womb,” red orange and red glory peppers, and lots and lots of Facebook dalliances and Netflix evenings

LIFE AND LIVING circumnavigate each other like there’s always a new frontier to explore and rediscover… My last two months—or almost five months, all and all—of my return to Asheville has been smothered, caressed, or rained out with essentially unexpected conjectures and surprise blessings that putting them down in words seemed superfluous, if not redundant. Should I put down details? Who cares—other than those who could see more than what lurk in between the lines, right?
I am putting down these words, rather nonchalantly, while the right side of my cheeseball brain watches The Food Channel’s “Iron Chef” challenge, in the lonesome company of Michelob Pale Ales, cold Hendersonville apple slices, and amidst phantom-dark night. I’d like to share some news but there’s nothing much, or nothing much that I am particularly excited to ramble about…

ALMOST UNNOTICED, we had our first Traveling Bonfires show at Firestorm Café in downtown Asheville on a rain-soaked Halloween night. Other than that though—my little life has been confined to/with lazybone but comfortable moments at my new Candler hideaway (otherwise known as the “womb”)—punctuated by intermittent albeit inconsistent writings (my book project, my novel, screenplay jottings, a few love verses, charcoal sketches…) And then, the garden gigs at Holly The Hopper’s earthy, sylvan house in West Asheville, which I really silently, immensely enjoy… the smell of carrots as I dig them up the fresh ground, the red orange and red glory peppers, kale and spinach and stuff—it’s an awesome experience, so far. Too bad that autumn has somehow slowed down my “tiny farmer’s dalliance.”
I hanged out mostly in West Asheville’s West End Bakery (mid-morning breakfasts with my Toshiba laptop) and pool table distractions and occasional PBRs at Westville Pub. Brief hellos/wassups with longtime homeys Virato and Dhiraja, Dale Hoffman and Loretta, and Matt Mulder at (and beyond) Courtyard Gallery’s Jarrett Leone’s Thursday open mic. Hanged out for few days with two sets of visiting friends from New York City and Florida (Chimney Rock, Maggie Valley, Cherokee, Hot Springs), and Texas and Alabama (in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)…
And, yes—of course, lots of Facebook wanderings and wonderings. And Netflix movies. But that’s it.

IN A NUTSHELL though, all I can say is—my Lake Junaluska respite ended in a disaster that, until now, I am still figuring out what transpired. But valuable lessons, as expected, emanated from that sad experience. It was a really bad July to mid-September “journey” for me—highlighted by an absurd conjecture by the lake.
But after that, it was all good—although on a quiet, peaceful way. Love re-bloomed and continues to blossom, warmth is all over (it always feels so good to know that someone loves so good and accepts it so warmly)… I finally got myself a wonderful pad/studio, overlooking the Blue Ridge mountain greenery. Right now, I feel a little bit bluesy and/or funky, but I know this dark/cold phase is going to pass. (I have book deadlines to deal with, damn!)
That’s all that I could share though. I should try my best to keep some of the private colors and intimate darkness behind my mystery-cocktailed green door, I guess. My “mysteries” have been flashing so bright like transparent neons with mixed-up signals lately? But, I am fine… I am taking multivitamins (Omega-3 Fish Oil Concentrate) but has gone to occasionally smoking Swisher Sweets little cigars—otherwise, it’s all good. I am struggling at working on a very detailed business plan for the return of The Indie, yes—but that’s all that I can say right now.
So take it easy, enjoy the remainder of autumn. Love good, live good, and eat only good food!
12:04am. 9 Nov 09.
Candler NC.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Greyhound dusts in El Paso...

... insistent crickets and spellbound swans by Lake Junaluska, viper smogs in Manhattan and 13th Street Washington DC, and finally back to my spirit’s refuelling station in Asheville… stuff&things

[Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. Three weeks or so ago] SUCH AN INTIMATELY sylvan relief… the insistent murmur of crickets or bullfrogs is sweet counterpoint to the dizzying freeway fray and frenetic big-city warblings in Los Angeles. Quiet. Peaceful. Imagine this—Erik Satie’s brooding piano wafts on the background, drowning the otherwise annoying creaking of the ceiling fan. An inexpensive white Bay Bridge wine keeps me company. (Ceiling fan had to be silenced…)
It’s been almost a month since we (me and my bosom buddy Marta The Nicer O) embarked on a two and half days coast-to-coast Greyhound trip from Long Beach to Asheville. It was expectedly a backbreaking jaunt but it was also a memorable, enlightening journey. I noticed that there were a number of soldiers (back from Iraq and Afghanistan) who shared our coach. Why the Greyhound? Didn’t they have enough cash to book a flight back to their families? They’ve already excised untimigating physical strain and emotional/mental energy on their tour of duty—but why the bus? I am sure they’re privileged to some discount, but…
“Not much money, bro. I’d rather save it,” blurts a 22-year old Marine as we queued back to our seats, after a brief layover in Fort Worth. “I got a 2-year old baby and beautiful wife waitin’ in Bristol.”
(Come to think of it, I reckoned—I gotta save my dough, as well—by taking the gold ole’ Greyhound against an Avis rental or U-Haul or plane ride, although I forked close to a thousand bucks for this trip alone. Tough, we also had to deposit most of our stuff & things in a storage in Lakewood CA, although the baggages/luggages/boxes that we brought already cost me $35 each.)
This wasn’t my first time to hop in a Greyhound for a West to East bus trek though, so it was nothing big deal (wait for my book, “My Life as a Greyhound”)—except that we had to deal with temporary hassle, ie three of our luggages/bags were inadvertently shipped to El Paso. I didn’t have my five 18x24 plastic boxes/containers with me when we got to the Tunnel Rd/Asheville terminal, either. But it’s such a comfort to know that Dave, the good-natured Greyhound dispatcher here, still do remember me.
“Don’t worry, George—we’ll get all your stuff. Now, rest first and then I’ll call you when they get here… By the way, will you come out with your newspaper again?”
I just smiled and uttered, “I hope so…” (Yes, I got all the baggages after two or three days. I was so scared that my DVD collection would be lost somewhere… Didn’t care about other things—such as few clothes, CDs or four pairs of shoes—just my DVDs.)
We were so spent that we decided to, first—dump ourselves at the decrepit but workable Blue Ridge Motel right on Tunnel Road, took a shower, checked my emails (wireless feed c/o the next bldg Holiday Inn), and crashed like collapsed log. (Longtime friend Elizabeth Mason picked Marta up as I slept; she’ll be staying up in Elizabeth’s Candler house, as she regroups herself…)
Towards the night, another good friend, Karen H, fetched me—for a 15-minute drive to Lake Junaluska where I’ll be staying as I reassess my options…

Will the economy improve at all? According to a recent Associated Press report, “Despite signs of an improving economy, the nation’s banks are still struggling—in fact, the pace of bank failures has accelerated.” Some 84 banks have sunk so far this year as falling home prices and worsening unemployment pushed loan defaults upward—the largest number in a year since the early 1990s during a savings and loan crisis.
Meanwhile, what I am sure about—and meticulously calculated before I finally decided to leave Los Angeles (“the most expensive US city to live in,” says Forbes)—is this: I only need less than a $1000 a month to be able to maintain life and living in Asheville. (You don’t agree, right?) In Southern California, that’s not even enough to sustain rent and internet/cable/utilities bills. But that’s not really the issue here…
For some reason, I found it extremely difficult to coexist with Socal’s freeway frenzy. Yes, I’ve always been “a small town dude with a big city attitude” all my life—I can’t really stand urban chaos and concrete jungle “coldness” longer than three weeks at a time (apartment bldgs are claustrophobic crates, people have 2-second tolerance level, nonstop street din freaks me out etc etc etc). My family back home knew that (when I was there) I made it a point to divide time between Manila/Quezon City and Baguio City/Cordillera mountains and La Union beaches… When my kids were growing up, I was traveling by bus to/from Manila/Baguio every weekend, for 8 years, nonstop. In New York, I was either in the city or in my bro Albert’s house in the Jersey shore or upstate NY (Adirondacks, Catskills etc) or Connecticutt (New Haven, mostly) or in Long Island (Nassau/Great Neck).
In LA County, I felt trapped. I didn’t know where to run when I needed to breathe or get away. There wasn’t a place to retreat, to escape. I don’t know West Coast… the closest that I could go (with friends) was in Kingman in Arizona and Tahlequah in Oklahoma, but it was all very “dry.” Or maybe, I am just high-maintenance?
Oh yes, I tried to get into and sustain a relationship—the ultimate refuge? Come on… But I felt (after many hits and misses) that she was, in so many ways, a moving-violation personification of freeway panic and California bushfire. Or, I was supplanted into one (I’m still trying to figure it out)? The 4-month so-called rollercoaster coexistence drained us like “blown-up tires on 1-40 after a burnout, incendiary jam in Las Vegas,” you know what I mean? Couldn’t fix the tires, anymore… we just have to leave them behind, and move on—separate ways.

ASHEVILLE, or Western North Carolina is my spirit’s “refueling station.” I am not yet sure if I’d like to restart a Traveling Bonfires madness in downtown or elsewhere again (like the way it was)—although a January 2010 booking at Malaprop’s is imminent. All I know is I am sure I’ll get Wander out as soon as some financial clarity surfaces in the horizon. I don’t even intend to hang out in downtown, like I used to—I just want to meet up with longtime friends for dinners or conversations over coffee or beers, that’s all. Or meet with new friends—new souls that may want to work with me on some stalled projects.
Trying to find a parallel spirit to work with is always a struggle—actually, it’s my life’s struggle. That explains why there’s only one soul who could tolerate me these days—Marta The Nicer O. Although many misconceptions and misreadings did come in between my almost 8 years friendship with the my buddy that I fondly call Dude—she’s more of a sister to me, a trueblue sister. There’s a transcendent umbilical cord that links us—sometimes it feels deeper and more connected that how it was with my own biological/flesh&blood siblings. (But, of course, I haven’t seen any of my four sisters in years…) I don’t believe that I’d ever have another soul sister like the Dude. But my connection with Marta is very familial—a profound intimacy that is very “home-based,” a true friendship.
I have been looking—honestly, sincerely—for a soul that I can be with, at the same time, work with. It’s a tough mission, I keep on finding out. But, well… as Michael Jackson Jordan told us (complete with a moonwalk jam up the rim: “I’m a lover, not a fighter—so beat it, just do it!”)

WE EVOLVE AND mature from the debris and ruins—or trials, tribulations and triumphs—of the past. I always see a new journey as totally a new page in life. I may see the same faces and places again or meet new faces and stay in new places—but I am sure my level of actions and interactions will not be the same. We coexist and co-habitate based on who we are with at certain point in time, or around whatever circumstances or situations we are in.
I maybe am angry young man or a temperamental middle-aged egghead in the past (or am I still the raging spirit, “the peaceful warrior”?) and then suddenly mutate to a sensient ruminating ascetic with a peaceful smile for each and everyone these days—or vice versa. I am trying my best…
Why is that? It’s because, I believe, saints and devils are made, they evolve—they devolve, they revolve—lives or what we are at a certain moment in time are acquired traits or characteristics. I don’t believe in born assholes or inherent good souls, either.
Hence, being with someone is a struggle. People seem to have a well-prepared checklist of who they want to be with. A vegan, lover of dogs, doesn’t get angry, drinks only local brews, doesn’t shop at Wal-Mart, only used grey-colored condoms, smokes weed, doesn’t complain about make-up clutter in the bathroom, doesn’t flirt, has perfect abs, earns 50k minimum, has good credit, knows carpentry, likes to give oral sex than receiving them, brushes his teeth before to bed, has a triple A card, doesn’t snore, likes Sarah Silverman, takes out the trash, changes flat tires in 2 minutes flat, doesn’t raise his/her voice, eats hummus.
If you don’t have at least 92 percent of those on the list, forget it. Red lights. You must be a serial killer! What’s going on with co-existence, with synergy, with being a better person because he’s with you—with working things out because that’s life? Life is a working project, a beautiful continuum. Isn’t it so boring to meet someone who adheres to one’s checklist? A ready-made lover? What is there to share anymore? What is there to learn from and teach some cool stuff and things, too—when everything is predesigned?
But, of course, it’d be great to start building something—maybe a collaborative screenplay, backyard garden, new dish for two, a road trip somewhere—with someone who shares some in common, right? I’d like to be with someone that I could convince to eat chilled raw oysters with me; in turn, maybe she could teach me what’s up with actually conversing with dogs under a full moon, you know what I mean? I’d like to learn some crazy new stuff and things as I enter my 1,000 years on earth.
At this age, I still am searching, seeking—exploring, navigating, rediscovering… I am sure, I will be at the Lex Av Funfest in downtown this weekend, and at the upcoming Applefest in Hendersonville.

[[INTERMISSION: 9:46pm, Eastern Time, 2nd wk Aug—I was at Asheville Regional Airport, waiting for a flight. FAST FORWARD: The temporary rendezvous at the airport ended Sept 1. At the same time, my new journey restarts 12 noon that day—but without leaving Asheville.
Road drive—Asheville to New York City to Washington DC back to Asheville. Allow me to skip details of the two or three weeks in between California and North Carolina, and sidetrips to New York City and Washington DC. Let me conceal some stuff&things as I fall in the cracks of some miscues and mishaps, and let me carry on.]]

[8:20am. 2 Sept. Wednesday. Hidden Meadow Drive, Candler NC]— LAST SUNDAY, at my kindred downtown bookstore (Malaprops), I met up a globetrotting/backpacking spirit from New Zealand who just purchased a house in North Asheville, who could be a new housemate—but I am still looking, nothing final yet… I have been hangin’ out few hours at a time at Westville Pub (my kindred pub), spending most of my time up in Candler (with Elizabeth M and Marta The Nicer O)—just idlin’ around, you.tubing silly love songs to share with friends on Facebook, watching/consuming my Netflix queue, trading emails with the redheaded mountain muse, it’s all open-ended right now.
Thing is, I feel new and fresh after my “rollercoaster” sojourn up north. That is over and done. These rainy days and Mondays leading to autumn, I just let my poetry take care of the memories of the last, just-concluded “journey.”
Hit me up in case you’d like to hang out some more and talk about light stuff, fun stuff—let’s laugh till we drop. It’s been a long time since I see spiritual clarity in the rain and transcendent intimacy in the mountains. (By the way, I now have a new 828 cellphone number. I promise to take my calls this time…)
Meantime—love good, live good, and eat only good food!

8:31am. 2 Sept 09.
Hidden Meadow Dr., Candler NC.

Monday, July 27, 2009

BLOGGIN’ AGAIN: Claustrophobic bullet trains, memories of bonfires, pricy Angolan sodas, and a Krispi Kreme news

WHAT IF there’s actually a “bullet train” that crosses cities and continents by merely thinking about it? Right at this minute, I am here at my little corner at Portfolio Café on 4th Street in Long Beach, moping about humanity’s hopeless state of disconnect. No, I don’t really want a “bullet train”—I just need a ride to Wyoming. What happened, no car in freeway country—how’s that? That’s not gonna work at all… I agree, it’s not gonna work.
So four o’clock pm. Marta The Nicer O should be here in an hour or so—with a car! The Blue Sky God/dess responded to my whinings the other day. Now a car! But is a vehicle—that claustrophobic lump of deadly fumes-spewing steel—the answer to it all?
I digress. Let’s talk about other things.

IT IS INTERESTING how articles are picked up by other papers via the internet. What is this thing called copyrights? Does it really work? A number of my feature/news articles have freely found room in a number of legitimate publications (ie Mindanao Examiner, Cebu Chronicle,, New America Media, pinoynursing .com, Pinoy Herald, labor blogs and ezines, people’s websites etc etc).
What do I think about this? It’s okay. That’s the way of the world these days. We can all be screaming paranoid roaches about being watched, spied on, or staked out by MIBs online and freak out each time an unwanted spam or Facebook post gets into our inboxes—but what the hell. The internet—like all smartass machinations of life and living—also has good stuff and things to enjoy about.
Like how words are shared so easily.
I just re-encountered and finished reading an “old” web-blog entry from a long-ago friend in Manila who’s now working in Quebec, Canada, Eli Guieb—the husband of another friend that I used to work with almost 20 years ago. It said:
“… In the winter of 2003, I got an email from an artist friend—Pasckie Pascua—who now lives in the US. In the Philippines, he used to organize small film screenings and poetry reading sessions. I would attend these sessions, and bring with me some of my literary pieces, mostly excerpts from a short story in progress. I had learned by then to repudiate my poetry. He is an artist whose passion for truth and love and peace and silence and anonymity has rekindled in me all the lost creative madness of our innocence in a country where dying and death are more the preoccupation than writing and wondering.
“In that email, Pasckie writes:

No more commune, no more bonfires, no more firewood, no more gazing at stars, no more walks down ricefields and cobblestones and seashores, no more butterflies, no more fishes by the river, chirping birds exhorting poetry, no more hearts… I remember the days when we rowdy, crazy, self-righteous poets and musicians and activists gather round and infuriate each other, complement each other after a metaphor that connected, laugh at each other for a spur-of-moment frivolity… we laughed, we cried, we got angry, we cussed, we smiled, we hugged, we embraced, we did the activist handshake – all in a night’s joust – it’s all humanity, naked, bold, raw but sincere… Arguments, discussions, solutions, truce and peace and passion and love and hate connecting on an aftermidnight, all in a few hours… These days, how many have the patience to sit by a roadside and marvel at people passing, jam and create music like it’s the only gift that matters on a weekend… what do we have? ‘Email me, dude!’ ‘Ah! Junk mails, crazy forwarded blah-blah!’ ‘Check my website and MP3s, man!’ ‘We can do IM, it’s faster!’ We unsubscribe from egroups that talk a lot and don’t get ‘to the point.’ We get impatient with websites that can’t get us to the next page on split-second… We refuse to listen to grandparents anymore, and just believe in what analysis say… Countries and governments bomb countries and governments for something like oil that ensures the power grid, fossil fuel, microwaves, computers, CD players, and dizzying fraud of Times Square’s neons… because humanity can’t live under the stars, beyond the road of the ocean anymore… No more ‘humanity’? I feel it’s not lost… The spirit of the bonfire is humanity converging, hearts conversing – look, no words, no hands, ma! – just hearts cutting through barriers, the beam of moonlight giving clarity to a metaphor or a guitar note… We can do the bonfire.”
[—Pasckie Pascua, 22 February 2003]

THAT WAS six years ago. Here I am, still talking about the same old stuff and things. But I digress. I am just feeling kinda downcast these days… Let’s talk about other things then.
Do you know that the most expensive cities in the world are not located in the US of A or Europe? According to an article by Bruce Einhorn that was published by Business Week last June 18th (based on a 2009 cost of living survey of the world’s most expensive cities by global human resources firm ECA International), four out of the five priciest cities on planet earth are in Japan, with Tokyo being the toughest on the wallet. However, Tokyo only ranks second overall. The most expensive city in the survey? Luanda, the capital of Angola.
In Luanda a can of soda averages only $1.30. In Tokyo it costs $1.75 but in Copenhagen it costs an eye-popping $2.12. But in Luanda the price of a quick lunch is the highest in the world, averaging nearly $58. In contrast, a quick lunch in Manhattan, the most expensive city in the U.S., averages a relatively modest $18.61.
Why are these countries so expensive? It has primarily to do with the high costs of shipping, fuel and fluctuating exchange rates. While the global recession may be showing some signs of easing, in Japan, for example, the yen soared against the dollar and other currencies. That slammed profits at Japanese exporters such as Toyota, Sony, and Panasonic. It also drove up the cost of living for expats and tourists alike in Tokyo and other big Japanese cities. Last year Tokyo ranked no. 13 and Kobe, which came in fifth this year, was no. 29.

NOW, ON A different note—something that my cousin Brighan The Gum’s wife Kristi the Krispi might not find amusing. Her favorite donut (or donut company), Krispy Kreme has been fined by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Butler County (Cincinnati) Sheriff’s Office $40,000 for violations of immigration laws.
ICE conducted an I-9 inspection of Krispy Kreme after receiving information from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office which revealed the company had employed dozens of illegal aliens at one of their doughnut factories in Cincinnati. Employers are required to complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This form requires employers to review and record the individual’s identity document(s) and determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual.
Kristi has lost her job at a local Krispi Kreme store in Florence, South Carolina where she lives with Brigham and their two kids, Molly Polly and Rolly Polly. So she’s got reason to be mad. But does it mean that she’s giving up the donut?
Nah. “I hate the owners and managers, not the donut!” she blurted out.

to write more but I feel unmotivated these days. Yes, despite the funk and the blues, there are still a lot of reasons to cut a smile somewhere somehow—but do you expect me to write all life and living’s details in here? No.
I digress.
But as ever, I’d like to tell you—and inspire you—to live good, love good, and eat only good food!

1:26am. 27 July 09
Long Beach CA

Thursday, June 18, 2009

BLOGGIN’ AFTERMIDNIGHTS: Hohum news coverages, teen-age texting champs, and memories that keep on nagging…

ALMOST 4AM. I should be in bed. Well, I am not.
Busy working my fingers on these ultra-workaholic laptop keys, like squirrel buckteeth nibbling on a drained Cheez-It box. Outside, it’s mostly humid—70s mostly, lower 50s. My side-window is half-open, careful that my apt building neighbors won’t get roused by my steady stream of Bee Gees classic standards (“Ooh you’re a holiday, such a holiday… It’s something I think’s worthwhile, if the puppet makes you smile, if not then you’re throwing stones, throwing stones—dee dee dee deeee”). KTLA-TV reports that an oil rig fell off I-91 (was that the news three mornings ago?) and a gallon of gasoline is now $3.11.
The aftertaste of Folgers “gourmet supreme” coffee off my mouth is like French kiss with a raccoon. The lady newscaster wearily rattles on YouTube: “Celebration turned to near riots in Los Angeles after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic to win the NBA finals Sunday. / The Los Angeles Police Department says about 25 people were arrested after some threw rocks and bottles, damaged police cruisers and set several small fires in the streets outside Staples Center.” She (Michael Pereira? Jessica Holmes?) sounded tired… did she Laker-party (that night) on a pitcher of Mojitos and Jose Cuervos till 4am?
Hey, what’s wrong with these Los Lakers Angelenos? We already won, what’s up with you, people?! Instead of all this anarchy, why don’t you dance instead? Shake your hips and behinds to, “I gotta be cool, relax, get hip—get on my tracks. Take a back seat, hitch-hike, and take a long ride on my motor bike until I’m ready, crazy little thing called love!”
Okay, this news is a lot more “sober”: A Sugarcreek Township (Ohio) dude “broke the law when he allegedly harassed several people while wearing a woman’s bathing suit… The man was arrested after police in Sugarcreek township received several complaints of him walking up to women and teenage girls, sporting a green, one-piece swim suit. Police say they had gotten about 20 complaints over a week’s time. Officers say the man never threatened anyone, but was scaring some people.”
Last Monday morning, I was at Ralph’s on W 9th street in LA to cover a health department “free nicotine patches and gum giveaways” news conference. Remember, $3.11 a gallon? It took me more time to negotiate I-405/605 freeways than my actual “work-hours” (actually 25 minutes) listening to the health dept dude named Fielding something. I always see this guy in most of my LA news coverages he starts to look like my landlord, really.
Tuesday evening, a Filipino “presidentiable/vice-presidentiable” for 2010 Philippine elections—who’s pretty much my height (a midget)—spoke at a Pasadena gathering. Yes, he spoke—so how do I say that, delivered a speech? We drove for more than an hour, one way—waited almost 3 hours for the guy to come around. Then, he spent about an hour or so shakin’ people’s hands. He even shook my hand when I didn’t even offer it. Ah, politicians! Yes, that’s my coverage.
(Ah, I again missed Alyssandra’s Viento y Agua Tues night open mic!) Last night, I was supposed to be at the Dodgers-Athletics game on Elysian Park because Pacman Pacquiao was to do first pitch… but, I digress—enough of my “day job” rants.
Am I boring you? Okay, this one is a “better” news—
Fifteen-year-old Des Moines, Iowa teenager Kate Moore won $50,000 as the world’s texting champ! Her 14,000 texts-per-month habit reaped its own rewards. And it’s just eight months after she got her first cell phone. So she has a message to all of us, fathers and mothers: “Let your kid text during dinner! Let your kid text during school! It pays off! “Your kid could win money and publicity and a phone.”
More from the AP story: “Moore, with a speedy and accurate performance, beat out 20 other finalists from around the country over two days of challenges such as texting blindfolded and texting while maneuvering through a moving obstacle course. In the final showdown, she outtexted 14-year-old Morgan Dynda, of Savannah, Ga. Both girls had to text three lengthy phrases without making any mistakes on the required abbreviations, capitalization or punctuation. Moore squeaked through by a few seconds on the tiebreaking text, getting the best two out of three. As she anxiously waited for confirmation of her win, tears streamed down her face.”
So what do you say about that?
I could’ve covered that event, instead. A predictable NBA finale—that culminated in a car-smashing/stores-looting rampage? A boring Dodgers game that didn’t have a Manny Ramirez (or a Manny Pacquiao)? A violent ice hockey game—so what!? “Non-dramatic” assignments compared with what it was more than two decades ago within/around underbellies of Manila, but then maybe—I’m just getting old. Getting tired? (I can hear my next-door neighbor babbling, “What? Adam Lambert is gay?!? He is NOT!”)

A FRIEND (from San Francisco) made me remember via Facebook, what was my idea of a fun and interesting news assignment. From Vivian Zalvidea, who—uhh, calls me a mentor?
“Pasckie Pascua taught me how to write news, plain and simple. Pasckie held a writing seminar somewhere in Cubao, Quezon City that I attended when I first decided that, yes, maybe I should be a reporter. I never went to journalism school. The basics I learned from Mr. Pascua’s seminar—the who, what, where, when, why, how. The pyramid structure. How to write a compelling lead. How to find drama in a story.
“Mr. Pascua also brought our ragtag band of wannabe writers to a police station and later, a girlie bar. The object of these exercises was to write something interesting. Well, I also learned how to drink and learned that journalists love to drink. And stay up late and have a good time. That all this may (or may not be) part of the job. Everything I learned in the span of a few weeks in Pasckie’s writing seminar, I leveraged into a full-blown career in news. What can I say. Pasckie started me off… From Mr. Pascua, I received the building blocks of my news career that is now on its 20th plus year. I’ve lost count.”

Am I really getting old? I don’t even remember the poems that I wrote maybe 20 years ago. Now this one keeps on nagging my memory. I came across—online—a line from an old poem (written in Tagalog language) inscribed on “Freedom Wall”—or, beside the tomb of a Filipino youth named Sigmund. It said—
“Hindi ko bibilangin ang galos sa aking pusong iniwan ng iyong pagpanaw, bagkus bubuhayin ko ang iyong alaala sa pamamagitan ng maingat na pagtahak sa bakas ng yapak na iyong iniwan...” (Loosely translated, “I will not count the wounds in my heart that your passing have inflicted, instead I will relive your memories as I carefully trace the footsteps that you left…”) This is from an old poem, “Awit sa Musa” (Song for the Muse). I wish I still have a copy of that poem. Where did the kid find it?
When I was living in New York City (and Long Island), I painted a lot—as a way to ease the pain of solitude (aloneness within a crowd). I never shared my work with my friends, only to those that I randomly met on the road or wherever I found myself along this “rock journeys and sublime madnesses.” I was able to sell some but mostly, I just gave them away. My materials, anyways—were mostly given to me, free, by a friend, Ashley Griffin, who worked at Janovic (art material supplier) in the East Village… Now, I miss those works. It’s good that I still keep a cassette/demo recording of songs that I wrote with my friends in Manila.
Now, it’s almost 3am. I am not sleepy yet. I guess, I gotta climb up the rooftop and draft a few lines for a poem. After all, I have a show on July 4th.
Before I leave you, guys and girls—don’t forget to live good, love good, and eat only good food!

3:20am. 18 June 09.
Temple and 7th, Long Beach, California