flav playing

flav playing

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

ASCII Mona Lisa

My dad's desk was almost as untidy as my own is today. Perhaps more, in fact. One evening he came back clutching some piece of continuous sheet paper, the kind with perforations on the sides that would many, many years later be popular with users of dot matrix printers. He wanted to show me this thing -a print-out of the Mona Lisa done in what in much later times I would have called ASCII art, every trace of the drawing done with letters and punctuation signs. It's a glimpse into the future, he said. Soon we will have reached the moon, he said, and computers will help people realise amazing things, he said. I shrugged. So long ago, I don't know now whether I wasn't interested (this was not dinosaurs, or superman) or I just didn't get what he was going on about at the time. We ("we"?) did make it to the moon but never went back.p Computers are here, omnipresent in ways he couldn't possibly have imagined -but people use them mostly to gossip on facebook, to gawk at porn or play games. The future came and ... well, it was different. But then I suppose it had to be. There are always far more variables at play than we could possibly imagine.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

a brief farewell to superheroes

I gave away all those Mexican editions of DC comics when I was in second year secondary school. Hundreds upon hundreds of them, all weekly editions of Superman and Batman, the Wonder Woman (or, in her translated Spanish name, 'Marvila'), and the rest, bought every week for years and years from a succession of local newsagents, with money that I would have kept from shopping small change or pinched when I saw coins mislaid at home. I cannot fathom what exactly was going through my head at the time, why I gave all those comics away. Maybe I decided I was too old to read such childish literature, or perhaps the regular rants from my father about my reading tastes hit a nerve at some point. In any case, one day I turned up at school with a bag with sixty or so comics. There was a small mini riot and I ended up thrown down to the floor in the mêlée. I still did it again until I'd got rid of most of my collection.

At the same time I still drew my own comics, with the same characters from DC and Marvel, on every available piece of paper or margin that's could find. Can't recall now what the stories were, or what they were like and there is no documentary evidence extant. Vaguely remember incongruous, sketchy childish plots -but then I was a child, after all. A thief stealing the Eiffel tower, or an alien bent on destroying the world, that sort of thing, clearly taken from the original comics' stories. The real dangers of the world, away from super villains and alien invaders, I was blissfully unaware of.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


I used to climb to the water tank at the top of the back of the house to read, often after I had done -or was deemed by my father to have done, something that required punishment and a lot of shouting and shaking of fists up in the air and quite a few threats of what would happen to me when he finally got hold of me, hi useless wayward son. In the meantime, I would be roaming the baked Spanish plains ofthe renaissance with Quixote or Gil Blas, or the narrow smelly streets of Elizabethan London, sweating profusely in the tropical heat, wondering how I would avoid the hour of reckoning that awaited me when I finally got down from my makeshift urban crag. Often enough I did manage to avoid the threatened punishment, as my dad would have gone to sleep if he was drunk or off to the bar if he was not. Poor man, I lived in terror of him and now I feel so, so sorry for him, so much more trapped in his circumstance than I was, whatever I may have thought at the time -but he future was still open to me whereas for him it was already set in a path of which he could not stray.

I did believe the threats, though, reinforced as they were by cursing and fists through doors. That space on top of the back roof by the water tank was my shelter, the place where I could hide with books and escape to other worlds, live other lives, dream of times, which seemed so impossible, when we all would not be trapped in the prison of our circumstance and of the history that had brought us here. Did it appen? Maybe it has happened for them, for my parents, both now dead and therefore outside of time, of history and of being. To an extent it has happened to me, living now such a different life, so far away in so many senses from the small world that brought me about. And he, we are in good measure what we have been, we are the society that brought us here..

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


The alarm rings -well, these days it doesn't ring, exactly, it is a tolling of church bells or a a harp's, well, arpeggios that wakes me up. My hand reaches for the thing in semi-automatic mode while inside me I gasp for air and swim towards the surface of the world. Shut up, damn it. It knows, perhaps, hat I'm not going to smash it against the wall -an iPhone is too expensive a toy for that. Ok, that's better. Now I better get up. But it is so difficult. At least I did wake up and I'm actually getting up. Well, in a minute, anyway. Thinking of that silly phrase, 'worth getting up in the morning for'. Uhm. I love what i do but very little in the world feels like it is worth getting up for at 5:30 am. But, alas, has to be don offer will make it better. Well, a little bit. Good morning, world.

Then it's the train. Again. Realising, only when I'm already in a packed tube train, that I've left my phone home. Upstairs, downstairs, along the platform, change train, change train again. The Watford train once more. Three teenage girls go up and down the length of the train, singing, shouting, tussling a boy's hair on their way; they parade past and look at me without seeing me at all (this might be good thing) and continue their strange, empty journey while this mud ball that contains us spins around itself, around the fireball that keeps us alive, towards Vega and the whole lot towards Andromeda where it will ultimately smash into long, long after we've vanished and maybe our planet has as well.

Friday, April 06, 2012

good friday in catia then, in kentish town now

(in English at the bottom) En otra parte creo haber recontado algo de lo extraño (como me lo parece ahora) que era Viernes Santo en mi casa de chico. De muy chico, parte de la idea de que 'no habia que trabajar' en viernes santo, particularmente no hacer nada que involucrara martillos y clavos, etc, parecía haberse extendido a cosas como barrer la casa. Puede que sea un recuerdo falso lo de que ello conllevaba el 'barrerle las heridas a jesus cristo'. Algo así. Vivía en una calle que terminaba en una cuesta ligera, al tope de la cual estaba la iglesia local. Muy buen efecto dramático para las procesiones de Viernes Santo; no parecía importar que la lúgubre música de un Popule Meus venezolano del S. XIX fuera grabada, o que los santos estuvieran sobre ruedas en carritos y con generadores de elecrricidad portátiles (bueh, lo que sería portátil en aquellos tiempos) para las luces. Igual de niño me impresionaba aquella multitud cantando el 'perdona a tu pueblo', las velitas en las manos, los santos (y el generador ruidoso) rodando. Lo encontré impresionante incluso hasta mucho despues de que había dejado de creer en religiones -en todas y en esa en particular. Había algo primal, atávico, de muy adentro de nuestra psique, en aquel despliegue. Por contraste, hoy simplemente me levanté tarde, a fildear emails de alumnos cancelando clases, hice algo de práctica de guitarra para tratar de evitar que los dedos terminen de oxidarse, hice un pesto casero (que quedó rico) y fue un día tranquilo y placentero, sea que quizás mas en pequeño sin la compañía de agentes sobrenaturales algunos, pero igual un día con algo de meditación y reflexión acerca de nuestra naturaleza.
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I may have written somewhere else about how strange (as it seems to me now) Good Friday was in my house as a kid. When I was very little, there was the idea that you 'must not do any work' on the day of the lord, in particular nothing that involved hammers and nails. This seemed to have extended in the rural, conservative culture of my mum's family to things like sweeping the floor. It may well be a false memory, this idea that it was like 'sweeping a broom over jesus christ's wounds', or something like that. The street where I lived was on a hill that ended at the top in our local church, which helped to good dramatic effect on Good Friday processions -it didn't seem to matter that the lugubrious music of a XIX Century Venezuelan Popule Meus was recorded, or that the saints' statues on the procession were on wheels on carts and with lights powered by portable (well, what passed for portable at the time) electricity generators. All the same, as a child I was very impressed by the crowd slowly marching and singing asking god for forgiveness, candles in hand, the saints (and the noisy generators) slowly rolling by. I used to find it impressing even long after I'd stopped believing in religions, that one or any others. There was something primal, ataxic in all that show, that appealed to something deep in our nature. By contrast, today I just had a lie in, spent some time fielding mails and texts from pupils cancelling lessons, practised some guitar to try and avoid my fingers freezing and rusting terminally, made a pesto from scratch (which was very yummy) and it was a quiet, pleasant day, maybe in a smaller way without the participation of any supernatural agents but also, all the same, a day with some meditation and reflection on what it is we are...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I woke up. There were shadows moving in the room. I could see their shapes transforming into horrible figures of dread, ghosts or demons or evil unnamed things. Rubbing my eyes didn't make them go away, it only made them more visible, more clear, with blood-shot eyes and fangs, if they were indeed eyes and fangs, and they were coming for me. My dad was in the room but I knew he wouldn't see them or care about them. Couldn't wake him up just because I was seeing the most horrible things in the world -I was on my own. Would have to fight those things -or flee those things, on my own and I knew I couldn't possibly defeat them or make them go away, I was only a frightened boy. This would be a long night. In the distance, sirens and shots rang across the other side of the valley, where the 23 de Enero tower blocks were. The full moon would be gliding up the blue blue sky from behind the ink black Avila mountains. I stuck my head inside the blanket… I was surging up the Caracas sky, above the millions of tinkling electric lights, the sirens of the police cars, the red lines of forest fires on the mountain sides, towards that blue blue sky full of stars.