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


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