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 *

Hiroshima, Hiroshima, Hiroshima

In a time of nuclear threats, remembering Hiroshima becomes more relevant than ever before.

The dome of the “Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall”, Hiroshima, Japan (2013)

(Versión en español abajo) Memories have a natural tendency to evaporate into nothingness. If those memories are painful and unbearable, humans are even quicker to dive into forgetfulness. Who, in his right mind, would love to dwell in past suffering and despair? Who, in his right mind, would really want to relive, for example, the horrors of  a nuclear day?   Humans are wired to forget and move on. And yet, even if history serves no other purpose, there are things that can not be and should not be forgotten. Hiroshima, point in case. For an entire new generation or two now, the tragedy of 1945 Hiroshima may not even register or be remembered. Countless fallen citizens, long rivers of blood and tear, unimaginable suffering and a lasting trauma inflicted on innocent people… that all seems so far away in time that people may be tempted to disregard piece of history.  In a time when the words “nuclear bomb” come so easily and so casually out of the mouth of the president of the most powerful nation on earth… in a time when North Korea plays to be the bad kid in town… we need to be more alert than ever. Survival of human race and the environment is at stake. Don’t dwell in the pain, that’s fine and understandable. But do remember it, mon amour. Remember Hiroshima.  Hiroshima. Hiroshima *

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School children visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park at Hiroshima, Japan (2013)

 Los recuerdos tienden a evaporarse y convertirse en nada. Si esos recuerdos son dolorosos e insoportables, más rápido estamos los seres humanos dispuestos a sumergirnos en el olvido. Quién va a querer zambullirse en un pasado doloroso y lleno de desespero? Quién va a querer revivir los horrores de un día nuclear? La mente humana está diseñada para olvidar y continuar adelante. Sin embargo, la Historia tiene el propósito de recordarnos el pasado y nosotros tenemos la obligación de no olvidar, porque dicho pasado pudiera ser relevante. Por ejemplo: Hiroshima. Ya las generaciones más recientes en el Occidente tienen dificultad identificando los hechos trágicos de Hiroshima en el año de 1945. Incalculables pérdidas humanas, ríos de sangre y lágrimas, sufrimiento inimaginable y un trauma infligido en los sobrevivientes… todo aquello parece tan lejos en el tiempo y la distancia que es fácil ignorar este episodio de la historia. En estos tiempos en los que las palabras “bomba nuclear” salen tan casualmente de la boca del presidente de la nación más poderosa de la tierra, en estos tiempos en que Nor Corea juega a ser el muchacho maluco y desobediente, en estos tiempos debemos estar más atentos que nunca. Se trata de la sobrevivencia misma de la raza humana y el medio ambiente del que somos parte. Evitar el dolor es natural, ciertamente. Pero recordemos Hiroshima, mon amour. Recordemos Hiroshima. Hiroshima. Hiroshima. 

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Reflections at the “Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum”. Hiroshima, Japan (2013)

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?)

 

Achtung! Achtung!

At the end of the day, all walls become ruble or, at best, a touristic destination and a testament to human stupidity

Brandenburg Gate, West Berlin, Germany (October 1987) – thanks to Fanny Acosta for the photo!

I was born right around the days the Berlin wall was built. For our generation -no matter your nationality-  the Berlin wall was very real, an inescapable fact of life. We grew up in a world that had walls and that was our natural habitat. And then, suddenly, one day in that Fall of 1989, the whole world watched on TV how West and East Berliners would come together at the wall, they would shake hands, they would hug, and they would dance in pure joy. The Berlin wall was not as solid as we thought it was. “Open this gate, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” ran the speech. Now, within the span my own lifetime, calls for building a new wall have arisen. This new wall is meant to be even taller, longer and certainly more difficult to conquer. This wall is to divide the North from the South, not the East from the West. It is hard to believe that humanity has such a short memory span. No wall has ever succeeded to divide. No wall has ever succeeded to isolate.  At the end of the day, all walls become ruble or, at best, a touristic destination and a testament to human stupidity*

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Berlin citizens atop the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, November 10, 1989.  Photo credit: The Atlantic.

Yo nací alrededor de los días en que el muro de Berlín fué construído. Para los de mi generación -no importa la nacionalidad-  el muro de Berlín era una realidad, un hecho inescapable de nuestras vidas. Sí, crecimos en un mundo que tenía paredes y ese era nuestro habitat natural. Y entonces, de repente, un buen día en el otoño del 89, el mundo entero vió por televisión cómo los berlineses orientales y los berlineses occidentales se encontraron en la pared, cómo se dieron las manos, cómo se abrazaron y cómo bailaron de puro de contento.  La muralla de Berlin no fué, después de todo, ni tan sólida ni tan duradera como pensamos. “Abra estas puertas, Sr. Gorbachev, tumbe esta pared!” decía el discurso del momento. Ahora, aún dentro de los años de mi propia vida, algunas voces claman la construcción de una nueva muralla. Se supone que este nuevo muro va a ser más alto, más largo y, ciertamente, más difícil de conquistar. El nuevo muro es para dividir el Norte del Sur, no el Este del Oeste. Cuesta creer que la humanidad tenga un intervalo de memoria tan corto. Ninguna muralla ha logrado con éxito la división del hombre. Ninguna muralla ha logrado aislar a pueblos.  Al final, toda pared se convierte en ruinas o, en el mejor de los casos, en un destino turístico que sirve de testamento a la estupidez humana*

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With friendly company in West Berlin, West Germany (October 1987). Thanks Fanny Acosta for the nice shot!

The way to a man’s heart / El camino al corazón

Love and food may just be the same thing.

Magda & Pablo, Maiquetía, Vargas, Venezuela (circa 1962), anonymous photographer 

“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach ” goes the line. And, let’s face it, the stomach is also the way  to a woman’s heart: that much I learned through the years. Both men and women love to be pampered and if someone else is doing the cooking for you, the person in question will likely gain  your affections. Romantic love and parental love nurture the other person, which is exactly what food does at the most elemental level. Strong liasons are born from a good meal together. Lifelong relationships and families are forged at the dinner table. There’s power in an “spaghetti alla bolognese”. There’s Eros in an artichoke, sweetheart! *

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El camino más expedito al corazón de un hombre pasa por el estómago. Y, sincerémonos, el estómago es también el camino más rapido al corazón de la mujer: eso lo terminé de aprender luego de todos estos años. Nos encanta ser mimados y si es otro el que cocina, seguro que ese otro conquistará nuestros afectos. El amor romántico y el amor de padres alimentan metaforicamente a la persona amada y la comida es la expresión tangible de esa alimentación. Los lazos más fuertes entre seres humanos nacen de una buena comida juntos. Relaciones sempiternas y familias enteras se forjan alrededor de la mesa a la hora de la cena. Hay poder escondido en unos espaguetis a la boloñesa.  Hay eroticismo en unas alcachofas, así es, mi corazón de melocotón! *

Rubaiyats / Las Rubaiatas

In the mid 80’s, I stumbled upon the “Rubayaits” by Omar Khayyam, a poet who lived in the 12th century Persia. These poems are not about love but they do speak of the transience of things – just what young passionate lovers need to hear. Thirty years later (and a waning passion), this little reading gem still rings true to me.

Esther sits in a restaurant, Vargas, Venezuela (January, 1987)

Aquí van unos versos prestados de las Rubaiatas:

"¡Amada mía!
¡Aproxímate,
para que más cerca de mi corazón
pulse tu corazon!

Te suplico,
en nombre 
de lo que hay de más íntimo 
en nuestras almas,
que no me rehuses tus encantos!
Quiero que toda te entregues
a mis caricias
¡y corones glorosiamente
nuestro amor!

Trae la botija de vino dorado.
Entrelazados
en el delirio de un amor sin fin,

bebámoslo,
antes que empiecen a modelar
otras botijas
con el barro del que fuimos hechos."

(de la traducción al castellano de Christovam de Camargo)

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Some other verses, now in English, from Edward FitzGerald's version:

"I sometimes think that never so red 
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled; 
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears 
Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head. 

And this delightful Herb whose tender Green 
Fledges the River's Lip on which lean--- 
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows 
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen! 

Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears 
TO-DAY of past Regrets and future Fears--- 
To-morrow---Why, To-morrow I may be 
Myself with Yesterday's Seve'n Thousand Years." 

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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)