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