Going away, for now / Con la música a otra parte

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal…. A time to be born, and a time to die” . Eccleciastes.

A trio of musicians, Disney California Adventure theme park, Anaheim (2016)

(version en español abajo) There is no lack of material to continue with this blog. My picture folder is full of images and my mind refuses to stop the ideas. Life is an adventure so rich that the task of making it memorable strikes me as futile as building sandcastles. It is time to retreat. This blog was originally thought out as an experiment and, dear reader, every experiment needs to come to an end. With almost a hundred posts and their original photographs, I have learned a bunch -needless to say-  both exciting and frustrating things in two years. I treasure my learnings and I hope to make something out of them sometime in the near future. My blog has grown a modest list of subscribers and I am grateful to those who have clicked the “follow me” button. To those subscribers I say: stay tuned, as I will come up with some other ideas, most likely in a different blog. For now, take care and best of luck in your WordPress endeavors *

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De querer continuar este blog, no tendría problemas: mi archivo de fotografías está que rebosa y mi mente se rehusa a dar tregua. La aventura de vivir es tan rica que cualquier intento de hacerla memorable me parece tan inútil como hacer castillos de arena. Es momento de hacer una pausa. Este “blog” fue creado como un experimento hace más de dos años atrás y todo experimento tiene su final. He aprendido un montón, cosas estimulantes y cosas frustrantes. Atesoro mi aprendizaje y espero hacer algo con ese aprendizaje en un futuro cercano. Mi “blog” ha acumulado un número modesto de subscriptores, a quienes les estoy muy agradecido. A esos subscriptores me dirijo y les digo que es probable que retorne con nuevas ideas, bajo un blog diferente. Por ahora, cuídense y mucho éxito en sus iniciativas de WordPress *

A soft spot for beer / Debilidad por la cerveza

In moderation, alcohol helps you make friends, it erases your awkwardness and it is even good for your health. There you have it: A magical substance, indeed.

“Hacker-Pschorr Himmel der Bayern” tent, Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany (1988)

(versión en español más abajo) In moderation, alcohol lubricates and facilitates social interactions.  This is a blessing for introverts like, ahem, myself.  In excess, though, alcohol becomes the source of embarrassment and moral hang-overs and that is a curse for introverted guys like, again, myself. That is why I say: “hard liquor? no, thank you very much”. There is a cold, industrial, soul-less nature that goes with hard liquor. I am thru with the headaches, the fatigue, the dehydration and the embarrassing memories that follow a night of 40+ proof-drinks. On the other hand, wine and beer are gentler and they hold the promise of an artful craftsmanship.  They have even been shown to bring health benefits. I welcome the light, almost unnoticeable intoxication that accompanies a glass or two of beer or wine.  I said one or two glasses: not the sort of binge-drinking that takes place in Munich’s Oktoberfest. Not that there is anything wrong with that -it is fun, come on- but you need to have a younger body and a willingness to knock-out your consciousness for days. I am just not there anymore. For now, bring me my pint of Indian Pale Ale and my fried calamari appetizers. All is set for an evening of lively conversation! *

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A cold beer by the beach at Barney’s Beanery, Redondo Pier, Los Angeles (2015)

En moderación, el acohol facilita y lubrica las interacciones sociales. Esto es pura magia para introvertidos como, ejem, yo. Por otro lado, el exceso de alcohol lleva a unas curdas tan vergonzosas y espectaculares que pesan toneladas en los hombros de tipos como yo. Por ello he proclamado: “licor fuerte? no, gracias!”.   Piénsese bien: al licor fuerte se le atribuye una calidad industrial y sin alma, y no sin razón. Vamos, ya he tenido bastante de los dolores de cabeza, la deshidratación y los recuerdos avergonzantes de una noche de bebidas de contenidos alcohólico mayor al 20% en volumen. Por otro lado, el vino y la cerveza son bebidas más gentiles y prometen a veces una manufactura artesanal. Hasta la Ciencia ha demostrado que el vino y la cerveza son beneficiosos para la salud.  Le doy la bienvenidad a la intoxicación ligera, casi imperceptible, siempre suficiente, que traen uno o dos vasos de cerveza o vino. No hablo, por supuesto, del consumo sin restricciones del Oktoberfest de Munich y otros Octoberfests en el mundo. No hay nada malo en ello. Simplemente, ya no tengo el cuerpo jóven que agunta un estado de embriaguez de varios días. Por ahora, que me traigan mi vaso de Indian Pale Ale y mi plato de calamares fritos. Estamos listos para una noche de conversación plena!

Treachery of words / Palabras engañosas

Images and words are nothing but representations of reality and not reality itself. Those signposts may not be pointing in the right direction, so be vigilant.

“The treachery of images”, painting by René Magritte, exhibited at Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA), Los Angeles (2015)

(Versión en español abajo) When asked why this image is NOT a pipe, Belgian painter René Magritte replied along the lines of: “well, try to stuff your tobacco in there, if you can”. Indeed, this painting is not a pipe Mr. Magritte, and neither the word “pipe” is a pipe. Both images and words are nothing but representations of reality and not reality itself. Images and words are signposts pointing to the essence of things. Don’t be led to believe that the representation of something is the thing itself. Moreover, as the signposts they are, words may even be pointing to the wrong reality. This is the case of lies, those misrepresentations arising from sheer ignorance or purposely intended to mislead. In a time when lies reach presidential levels, be very, very suspicious of words *

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Pens decorated as flowers or flowers in the shape of pens?, at a doctor’s office, Torrance, Los Angeles (2016)

Cuando se le preguntó al pintor belga René Margritte por qué la pintura de arriba no era una pipa, el hombre respondió “bueno, intente Ud. llenarla con tabaco, a ver si puede”. Efectivamente, la pintura en cuestión del Sr. Margritte no es una pipa y tampoco la palabra “pipa” es una pipa. Tanto imágenes como palabras no son sino representaciones de la realidad y no la realidad misma. Imágenes y palabras son rótulos que apuntan a la esencia de algo. No vaya Usted jamás a creer que la representación es lo representado.Más aún, como los rótulos que son, las palabras a veces apuntan a una realidad equivocada. Es el caso de las mentiras que  constituyen una representación incorrecta o errada de la realidad pues están basadas en pura y simple ignoracia o porque tienen la intención de engañar. En estos tiempos en los que las mentiras alcanzan niveles presidenciales, desconfíe Usted mucho de las palabras *

 

Beauty vs Chaos

A beautiful world, the one we live in, indeed. But only to some extent. Luckily.

A beautiful world? Well, yes, but to some extent. How is it that beauty happens, anyways? A completely subjective concept, beauty does not actually “happen”: it is “acknowledged”. We discover beauty in order and organized forms, natural or man-made. This recognition does not occur in a vacuum. The sense of beauty emerges only when we see order against a backdrop of chaos. Beauty itself can only rise from chaos, there is no other way to have it. And we would be blind to beauty if chaos were not present. The two go together in a ying/yang type of arrangement. The world is not purely beautiful. It is both chaotically ugly and it is orderly beautiful. Thankfully.  Because a beautiful thing would go undetected in the absence of the ugly *

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From an uncle’s perspective / Desde la perspectiva de un tío

Nephews and nieces are nothing but pure joy… So, thank you, siblings!

Leyla takes a stroll in Venice Beach, Los Angeles (2016)

Being an uncle is such a great life accident. Perhaps second only to being a grandfather. Nieces and nephews are nothing but pure joy. Yet, these kids are not your kids. You get to enjoy them and their parents are the ones getting the heart-burns, high blood pressure and headaches. So, thank you siblings, for making me an uncle!  *

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Ella enjoys the sunshine at Terranea, Palos Verdes, Los Angeles (2014)

Ser tío es chevere: un estado accidental que solamente el ser abuelo puede quizás superar. Sobrinos y sobrinas no traen sino pura alegría. Y lo mejor de todo es que estos chamos no son tus chamos. Los disfrutas y los padres son los que sufren las úlceras, la presión arterial alta y los dolores de cabeza. Así que, hermanos míos, gracias por hacerme tío! *

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Gael at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, Los Angeles (2014)

 

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Pablo gives a rare thumbs-up in Venice Beach, Los Angeles (2016)

 

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Ruben and I enjoy some quiet time at a legendary “Tim Hortons” Coffee and Donuts shop, Montreal (2006) (Photo by Pablo-son?)

 

Tick-tock goes the clock

“The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom.” Love in the time of cholera. Gabriel García Márquez.

Union Station, downtown Los Angeles, California (2015)

“Where did all time go???” a question -and a complaint-  that plagues us, as we grow older. We like to think of time as something we can control and hold in our hands, some palpable stuff. When we are young, life consists of countless possibilities. So many open doors, so much time in our hands! But this world of our youth shrinks and shrinks at each tick of the clock. With ever sharper clarity, we realize that those possibilities are nothing but illusions. One and only one exit awaits us. Old age teaches us that each moment needs to be experienced as if it were an eternity. I still get the goosebumps when I remember the wall clock in the family house of our childhood years: each second clearly marked by the moving pendulum and the top of the hour loudly announced with the strike of the bell. A bold reminder that yet one more hour has passed  *

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Taki watches in a store vitrine, Avalon, Catalina Island, California (2015)

One more sunset / Una puesta de sol más

Sundown at “El Camellón”,  Santa Marta, Colombia (1993)

(English version follows below) Mientras transito por la iconica “Sunset Boulevard” de Los Ángeles, se me ocurre que las puestas de sol son los “fuegos artificiales” de la naturaleza. A los seres humanos nos atrae la belleza transitoria de un sol poniente de maneras que escapan al raciocinio y al entendimiento. Y, en realidad, qué es lo que hay que entender? Probablemente nada.  Simplemente nos embarga este impulso irracional de sacar la cámara fotográfica y de capturar una imagen que ya ha sido capturada millones de veces antes. Contemplamos el sol dorado con devoción y, una vez que este sol desaparece, continuamos con nuestras vidas como si nada hubiese ocurrido. Pero, en efecto, algo ha cambiado y no pensamos mucho al respecto: ahora tenemos una puesta de sol menos que contemplar *

 

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Crepuscular clouds,  Caracas, Venezuela (1993)

 

Sunset in Torrance Beach, Los Angeles, California (2016)

The setting sun as seen from Torrance Beach, Torrance, California (2016)

As I travel  Los Angeles’ iconic “Sunset Boulevard” westward, it occurs to me that sunsets are nature’s fireworks display. Humans are drawn to the transient beauty of a setting sun in ways that escape understanding. But what is there to be understood? Probably nothing. We just feel this irrational impulse to take the camera out and capture an image that has already been captured millions and millions of times before.  We contemplate the golden sun in silence and then, once it is gone, we go on with our lives as if nothing happened. But something did happened: we have one less sunset to watch! *