All posts by Andrea Gibbons

Welcome to Tijuana

Left thursday night for San Diego and a Friday presentation for the Southern California Technology something or other, and stayed at the…at the…damn, it was a good weekend! my only excuse, but it was a hotel, on San Diego’s hotel circle no less.  Who thought it a good idea to build hundreds of hotels on a mile long strip beside the freeway I ask you?  Ensuring that you must get into your car and drive if you wish to do anything but sleep or eat, I suppose it is the American way and the reason we’re the fattest nation in the world.  Still, our little hotel was a 1970’s paradise with a fake stone interior, fake tropical foliage and, I am happy to say, home to the Waffle Spot and a host of engaging breakfast characters such as the Waffle King, Sir Up, Squire Browns, the Court Eggster, Sir Robin of Flapjack, Sir Waffleot, and the Banger Brothers.  They were quite tasty.  The conference went well, I didn’t choke, and then we were off to Tijuana.

Tijuana…hard to know where to even start, I can’t…perhaps I shall just give random impressions.  The smell first of all, I think all big border towns smell the same, TJ, Nogales, Juarez…a mezcla of urine, roast meat, chiles, cheap perfume, hints of rotting garbage and sewage from time to time, sweat, leather and fresh cut wood from the shops…Naco doesn’t smell quite like that if anyone cares.  If you like cheap, colourful, shiny things this is paradise, base silver jewelry, bead bracelets, statues of every character you can imagine.  Christ and the Saints and la Virgen de Guadalupe in bottles, on towels, on shirts and ponchos, on blankets, pasted on wood plaques with shiny acrylic painted over them, as garish painted statues.  Right next to obscene T-shirts, right below the bars and strip clubs lining la Calle Revolucion.  Liquor stores everywhere.  Most of the women are sadly bulging out of skirts that are far too short and halter tops that are far too small.  Or sunburned tourists wearing flowy “vacation in mexico” clothes.  It is common practice to look a woman from top to bottom and then back up from bottom to top, and while emancipated, I have to admit myself quite glad of Jose and Ryan walking around with us because when every man does it I stop being furious and begin to be a tiny bit afraid.  But that was later really, I suppose an all night fling in TJ requires sterner stuff.

Every visitor is quickly drunk, because all the bars sell buckets of ice and beer – 10 coronas for $10.  Or shots of course, and caballitos for the unwary.  I tried one of those on my 21st b-day in Guadalajara, everyone poured out of the kitchen banging on pots and pans while a waiter tipped a shot of tequila down my throat, covered my mouth with a hand towel and shook my head roughly while blowing loudly on a whistle.  I have never been drunker. This is background, because on Friday, I saw them pour 5 shots down people’s throats and even though the poor souls were begging for mercy, shake their heads all around. We saw cops wrestling this huge pelon to the ground, handcuff him, and throw him into the back of their pick-up.  I think it must have been a slow night because the dance floors were pretty thin of dancers, and so you were able to watch some rather disgusting displays, and I am really afraid that if hear another raggaeton song playing ever again it shall bring with it incredibly disturbing flashbacks.  Every strip club had men in front to bring in the customers with a variety of propositions for ladies and gentlemen alike…the place is just a mad mixture of drunkeness, sex, mad catholicism in bright colours, desperate poverty, falling down buildings and rubble, clubs blasting out cumbias and reggaeton and hip hop from all directions…

Highlights were the lucha match, that was awesome.  Sobering up a bit in the early early morning with tacos 3 for a dollar and Vicente Fernandez singing Por Tu Maldito Amor and Volver Volver Volver on the juke box and me singing along with him – I like singing with a beer in one hand and a taco in the other.  Our taxi driver who taught us the fantastic new phrase hijo de la mañana.  Really good tapas at a Spanish restauraunt. Wandering old men carrying guitars and accordeons and bases, singing us rancheras over a late and delicious breakfast.  A Darth Vader marionette.  Playing pool at 4:00 am in a sketch bar, where there were only 3 solids yet two cue balls, only two cue sticks one of which was sadly cracked, and the table felt was stained and still wet from, er, something or other…I played brilliantly though with an incomplete set who can care but me?  It happens from time to splendid time though how I make almost every shot I really have no idea since in general I am pretty bad.

Of course the best bit was just a memorable weekend with good friends.  Hope Britain can compete, only 4 to days to go and I’m off!

death

——–

Impossibly heart-breakingly achingly sad…sadness sits as pain in my stomach and behind my eyes.  I hate viewings and funerals and guns.  I hate for the people I love to suffer like this, what do you say to someone who has lost their son?  Think i might cry after all, embarassing thing to happen at work.

In the desert when I was little I used to watch the sunset every night, watched the light dancing through creasote and across rock, the orange sun sink down red behind the mountains, the sky would turn blue and pink like the inside of a shell, the stars would come out one by one to burn so close to my face I could almost reach up and take them with my fingers.  You are always something bigger and greater and wiser than yourself when standing before them…head thrown back, proud, alive.

You can’t see them in LA, they’re something I imagined.  Like I imagined peace and quiet and content.  Is there a world without helicopters and sirens and violence and poverty and addiction and pain?  Sometimes it seems that everyone is broken, carrying shards of themselves about in their hands, razor edges that cut others, constant collisions of broken glass.  Joel Zuniga shot in the head on a Sunday morning Compton Street.

Tomorrow I might return from the darkside.

Writing

Woke up early this morning (damn the world cup, I knew this would happen), and it was already hot.  Am currently sitting on the floor in the front room with the fan on full and very little on.  If my house were cleaner it would be nothing, but given its current state that would not be wise…I keep meaning to clean but it is far too hot!  Might attempt it at midnight.

A glorious Monday and no work!  Independance days off today and tomorrow, though i don’t think we’re quite free yet.  Am reading Louis MacNeice, and it’s sent me all lyrical.  I buy old volumes of collected works from used bookstores, but I think I must stop because it fills me with immeasurable sadness to live and breathe and grow old with someone, to dream, fall in love, question, lose faith, grow tired, and then when the poems stop you have lost a friend to the silence…much better to dive in at certain points happy in the boundless possibilities of what they could have once been or what they later became.  Everyone seems to lose faith, it makes me sad because I still hope to find something…Yeats: “and I shall find some peace there for peace comes dropping slow” crumbling to “things fall apart, the center cannot hold.”  ee cummings from

the moon is hiding in
her hair
The
lilly
of heaven
full of all dreams
draws down.

cover her briefness in singing
close her with intricate faint birds
by daisies and twilights
Deepen her.

Recite
upon her
flesh
the rain’s

pearls singly-whispering

to a maze of letters and lost punctuation and black designs upon white paper and

(life imitate gossip fear unlife
mean
-ness,and
to succeed in not
dying)

Neruda, now, I do not know never having read the collected works I am free to believe he kept love and faith til the end.  TS Eliot I am equally free to believe found faith somehow after passing through the wasteland.  MacNeice had only hope and sadness

Forgive what I give you.  Though nightmare and cinders,
The one can be trodden, the other ridden,
We must use what transport we can.  Both crunching
Path and bucking dream can take me
Where I shall leave the path and dismount
From the mad-eyed beast and keep my appointment
In green improbable fields with you.

Still, it inspires me to write, can’t you tell?  Though I am no poet.  I wish my great novel, my Catcher in the Rye would take form, it would be often funny and sometimes sad and sometimes profound and find great comfort in things like a little sister riding the merry-go-round in a blue dress and if I could find it anywhere in myself it would call forth hope like a trumpet because that is chiefly what is missed.  Should I go to the beach?  Or sit here before my computer and allow it to mock my formless thoughts?

Last World Cup Game in Vancouver

my mourning period for Mexico is still not quite over, but I am feeling much better certainly!  We went to an English spot this morning to catch the game as did over a hundred other fans and therefore I did not care a bit that England is still playing like shit, though Ecuador played much worse…that shot by Beckham was incredible, and besides, I was regaling myself with bacon and eggs while singing God Save the Queen and something else quite catchy but seeming to have lots of syllables and no words and crashing my coffee cup down on the counter while chanting and clapping and jumping up and down the whole time.  And the match this afternoon, for pure drama it was brilliant!  I do love a good fight or two, means the teams have heart que no?  I was hoping for ot, but the damned dutch just couldn’t seem to find the net…still, England should be moving ahead nicely given all the red cards…and Figo’s probably out as well.  It was a noble head butt though, what possessed the man?

One observation…when Italy won earlier this week the Italians poured out of Cafe Roma en masse to celebrate in the streets.  And today when portugal won the Portuguese poured out of the Portuguese Club of Vancouver (of which i became an honorary associate member today) and shut down the street – even more of them present, it looked like a parade!  When the English won, they sang, jumped up and down, waved their arms around, but did they leave the bar?  No…they ordered another round.  I imagine many of them were planning a day of it.  I shall leave the deductions to you!

Thinking on Thursdays

I like to think on Thursdays.  Today, for no particular reason, I once again asked myself the question, who am I?  I’m not sure I’m any clearer than the last time I asked, though i am currently quite sure that I do not like uncooked vegies, I need a shower, my eyes are green, and they do not function as windows to my soul – why couldn’t it be that easy?  I do not think I am who I love, or what I do, or what I write, or where I live or where I was born or the language I speak or what I believe or how I conduct myself or how I dress or what I fear or the music I like or who I know and what I own…am I really none of these things, or a piece of all of these things?  There has to be a bit more.  I know different people who seem to pick one of these categories and define themselves by that…actually, they don’t seem to ask the question at all and so fall into one by default.  It seems much easier, every now and then i feel like giving up on the inner discussion and picking one of them too yet can’t quite manage it…perhaps I should just read more of my junk mail from astrology.com and do some myspace surveys.  In short, I could talk about myself all day but that doesn’t seem to help answer the principal question, and I want to know!  I also asked myself what I really want and damned if I know that either, apart from Mexico to beat Argentina, general justice for all, my parent’s mortgage paid off, enlightenment and a mini cooper (not much to ask for really…). The only good news is that after all this thinking I am reasonably certain that I do in fact exist, though I now have a headache and a sudden desire for a cigarette.

Well well, this is getting a bit too serious for me…I’m currently kicking it with Ozzy, a large german shepard who seems to exist solely for lots of attention, food, and two walks a day, perhaps I should try that out.  This morning I went down to Commercial St in the heart of the Italian neighborhood to catch the game…superb!  Even if it was standing room only at Cafe Roma and my feet were hurting!  The aftermath was mad celebration and a partial blockage of the street

The sessions at the conference we wanted to go to were full so we ended up wandering again…but here’s a shot across the bay

And a view from the top of a very high building…

Some cool public discussions…I’m thinking of trying this in LA, but wheatpasting is quite frowned upon by LAPD unless you work for Nike.  I have never been arrested, though, it might tell me something more about myself, so perhaps it’s time.

And finally a woman who actually knows what she wants…still don’t think I want to be married myself but I do find it much easier to live with myself than with other people, so perhaps it makes sense…

I’m off to take that shower now, I might think better when I’m clean. I imagine the general dirtiness of philosphers to date is the reason that none of my above questions ahve yet been answered…

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Tuesday in vancouver

Ahh…i feel like I’m on vacation though I’m really not.  I’m working, really, I swear!  And the alcohol is really helping my schmoozing skills.  I was just sitting on the back porch and the night is close to balmy, and I saw my first specimen of Canadian wildlife.  Alas, it was not the majestic bullwinkian moose.  Still, a live skunk is not to be sneezed at, given that to date I have only seen dead ones!

The conference is going well, today was a pretty good day and just to prove that I was here, I took this:

Lovely sunny day, no?  There is a view out over the water which is beautiful, but a little too cold for the likes of me.  Still, I saw my first Chevron on a lake.

The first forum had the irrepresible Vice-president of the Phillipines who spoke on the voluntary relocation of thousands of people, and that those same people were happily and voluntarily dismantling their own homes with the goodwill and support of the police…I believed every word of course, and when the world bank representative spoke of the “captive” bank, severely and sadly restricted in their disbursement of funds for good causes I believed him too, it might even be true in the alternate dimension both of them are clearly living in.  Luckily one of the other speakers was an inspiring speaker and tiny man from India, head of the Interational slum dwellers alliance, he reminded me strongly of Don Toñito an old FMLN guerrillero I used to work with and miss a great deal…that and the fact that the speaker’s comments were called interventions for some unknown yet very humorous reason helped me get through the morning.  I also discovered that Spain has a minister of something or other who looks just like Tim Robbins.  Shawshank Redemption – genious!  Lastly there was an exhibition before the last panel and the Swedes were living it up with wine, cheese, and crackers, and we indulged heavily before someone noticed we had no invitation…damn sweden tying it up with England!  They definitely owed me!

Wandering the city streets before eating we found very cool things and thought-provoking things, i was trying to decide which to start with, and cool seems to be in order.  We found a game shop which contained within its walls every game known to man, and a number of old arcade games known only to the sovereign few…can you feel the magic?

They had all the games i remember and more…for example, I don’t believe I ever played any of the following (but would be willing to now!)

Snifty snakes – looks like some fun times!  And these?

Smokers wild looks particularly fun, though Mid-Est Peace (from 1992) comes a close second! They also had vintage star wars action figure games, an old miss Pac-Man arcade game and one of those funky love metres that used to be down at the Peter Piper’s Pizza, I’m trying to decide what I actually want to buy, or could afford…an almost impossible decision!

Thought provoking was the street art – this is all to be found on the east side, the skid row of Vancouver…I am amazed to find that Canadians are amazed to find that Los Angeles has it much worse.  I don’t think they believe us though it’s true.

I liked this poster as well

There’s more to come knowing me, but here’s a pretty shot of the city for balance:

It’s good to be here, though strangely enough I am going through i-pod withdrawal complete with shakes since I have not worn headphones for three days together, I’m about to remedy that so no fear.  We also just found out there’s a party on Saturday night at the clothing optional beach and we’re going…though it’s not quite so balmy that clothing really is optional and I’m not too sad since in my experience those not wearing clothing at such places are generally the people you really wish were wearing clothing.  Life is unfair.

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Vancouver’s Prettier Side

First day in Vancouver and I love this city!!  Had a great day today…after the games (accompanied by mad brazilians with drums and cowbells and tambourines and shakers), my coworker Davin and I wandered the Vancouverian streets and found these…

untempted we moved on…what were tempting were the lizards on a stick.  Don’t belive me?

In fact, there were some other yummy unknown things all dried up and for sale, squids I think, and eels maybe?

There was also this guy…very tempting if you ask me!

And the bars!!

and this one…

and this one…

and for all of your meat needs (apart from lizards, squids, and eels)

And finally a store closely akin to my own heart with everything ridiculous in it, hanging in the window…can you see them?  out of focus I know, i apologize, but look closely!

You got it, Nietzsche and Ghandi finger puppets…guess who’s coming home with me to LA?  If I can only smuggle him past immigration…

I might post some nice pictures of Vancouver tomorrow!  Most of the city is beautiful, i forgot how much i like flowers and the color green!

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Fuck it dude, let’s go bowling

Ah fuck it, Dude, let’s go bowling

That’s what I felt like doing at nine this evening when I was still in a meeting at work, if the Dude had been there he would have agreed.  People are talkers man, I’m not.  In discussions I make short comments right to the point when needed, and humorous comments wherever possible, and if there’s too much of nothing being said it makes me crazy.  I do write a lot, I admit, but you can just stop reading and not insult me, rather than having to wait for that deep breath long enough to edge a word in.  Some people never seem to breathe, it’s astonishing how long they can go for without coming up for air and giving you a shot at escape.

But back to bowling, I did go bowling this saturday. It is a thing I do once a year to raise money for my amazing non-profit organization SAJE (Strategic Actions for a Just Economy), and I love it when I go, though I am truly terrible.  I was even playing in the bumper lane having a six year old on my team…she beat me needless to say, though she could hardly pick up the ball, and sent it spinning down the lane with the force of a whisper.  Still, I looked in perfect form!

Jose Esquivel took this picture and it’s awesome.  I’m keeping it for later when I’m telling lies in my old age…Look at the ball!  And the classic kitchy bowling alley!  And i’m just about to do that little kick to finish it off with flare, you can tell.

Favorite commentator quote of the day – “Ah, the Polish beauty!  Smile my love, the match is starting…Thank you!

Apple Valley

Just got back from a little staff retreat at Highland Springs in Apple Valley…how much do I love the people I work with??  Thursday late morning we drove up and did a lot of work, then we swam, lay by the pool, relaxed in the sauna, ate a dinner we didn’t have to cook, played a little soccer, drank beers and margaritas and told a lot of very funny and very innapropriate stories (which I cannot relate here in mixed company) until really late.

I got up early in spite of the late night, the fact that I was still a little drunk probably helped with that, and went for a hike, it is such a beautiful place!  The path initially went straight up…here is one of the views:

And I believe this is what I would look like if I could ever find the courage to get up onto a pair of stilts…

Walked and ran back down, had breakfast, did some more work, swam, laid by the pool, relaxed in the sauna…mmm….lovely.

We had seen the signs for a cherry festival in Beaumont, so we decided to stop on the way back home and pick up some cherries, and some pies, and some funnel cake and who knew what else?  There was a little carnival but the first thing that met our eyes was this shining example of carnie culture…

And guess who else was there?

Yep…God.  We were pretty excited until we found out that not only was it $5 to get in, but that with all of our crazy weather, and possibly global warming, there were in fact no cherries.  Although tempted to pay $5 just to ask God how he could allow a tragedy like this to happen and possibly hit him in the eye, I sadly piled back into the car and Bev drove off.  At the edge of Beaumont we passed El Rancho restaurant and cocktails,

But  no one else was feeling the same uncontrollable urge to stop there and fill up on MGD so we continued on, back to home sweet home…

Disgusting que no?  Just imagine what the inside of my lungs looks like breathing in all of this crap!  Everytime I come back to LA I ask myself, why oh why do I live here?  Soon, soon I’ll be gone.  That little white flash of light middle left is Gehry’s Disney Hall by the way, isn’t it shiny?  I live about 10 blocks from there, in the heart of the smoggy darkness…

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