Thursday, March 31, 2011

Seis Días o Más

No hay un tiempo como el presente, y no hay un regalo como tiempo. OK, es mejor en ingles, pero no es una problema. Minutos, horas, años... que preciosos. Nosotros todos tenemos tiempo. Quizas mucho, quizas un poquito. Quien sabe? Tengo un gol (por lo menos) - quiero celebrar el cumpleaños 300 de mi país en 2076. Es posible, pero voy a tener casi 101 años... estoy preparando la fiesta, pero no voy a cocinar. Mi hermano Brian dice que si puede elegir su ultima cena, quisiera que yo la cocino porque sabe que va a tener mucho mas tiempo para disfrutar la vida. Hey, la excelencia necesita mucho tiempo! Pero Diós... solomente seis días. Que podemos hacer con seis días? Con un año? Con veinte? La vida es un tesoro; que loco tanto dificil esta oportunidad. Que ya has provado? Y, con algunos días más? Que regalo magnifico! Disfrutelo.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dinner Time

Some people get excited about the Final Four of college basketball. Many here in DC are happy about the Cherry Blossom Festival and the arrival of spring. I'm hyped for the finale of Top Chef All-Stars. Sure, it's a tv show; it's pre-recorded; it's reality drama. I get it... but, it's FOOD! It's a cooking competition, and that to me is worthy of figuring out the record procedure on the ol' VCR. Haha, just kidding - the DVR was never on the chopping block for the Lenten list. Point is, though, if you know me, you know I have a fondness for what can be done with food. What's more, one of our favorite burgeoning DC chefs is competing for the top prize tonight. Mike Isabella successfully headed the kitchen at our sister restaurant Zaytinya, and he is currently setting up a new culinary enterprise of his own just three blocks to the east, to be known as "Graffiato". Washington eagerly anticipates his return - Top Chef or not - and I, for one, can't wait to try some of that gnocchi.

Now, I could be bitter; little known fact is that I have already competed against (and lost to) the Top Chef hopeful in a less widely publicized event known as "The Perfect Burger" competition held a few years back at Cafe Atlantico. Yes, I represented Jaleo DC with my burger, and I put it up against the creations of chefs from the other Jaleos, Oyamel, Zaytinya, Cafe Atlantico, and Minibar. PS - I AM NOT A CHEF. Now had I thought to use Kobe beef, gold dusted bacon, and caviar as Minibar did, I may have won the day. However, Mike and his burger took home the prize. I'm not bitter. I could have executed better, but whatever. In the trials I had a pretty damn good burger. (Don made the buns.) I'll make it for you sometime.

In any case, good luck Mike. We'll be rooting for you!  

Monday, March 28, 2011


In an effort to summarize the style of my approach to art, I have looked to my ethnic heritage for clues. Strangely enough, as a general critic of most hyphenated American descriptions, I have decided on an adjective perhaps previously uncoined in "Euro-Shoshone". In any recollection of me, I would prefer to be remembered as an avid American, however I do recognize certain forces at work guiding my eye for that which should be a moment captured in time for others to see.

Quite frankly, I have spent far more time in Europe than on an Indian reservation - a decision that gives me more and more peace as I hear tales of machinations successfully designed to disqualify me from receiving funds better spent on the enlightened society commonly referred to as "the tribe". Be that as it may, I have always discovered a profound beauty in nature - the light given from the sky, life in its numerous forms, and the many hues of the earth. I have always treated what I do with a camera as simply documenting, as best I can, the spectacle that is life on this land. It may also be quite European to study human nature not through legend or through custom, but in deed and in desire. I have always enjoyed showcasing people not merely as they would like to appear, but exhibiting some truth that even they may not even see; whether the lens is of a microscope or a camera, it is a tool of examination and discovery. They say photos don't lie, therefore photography is an art form of truth.

Beginning this weekend, I will be attempting to sell my photos for the first time at the new Liberty North Community Market ( on 5th and I Streets NW in DC. Please stop by if you are in the neighborhood. I had to write this post so I'd know what to say just in case anybody asks... something to shoot for, at least.

(Exported from - discoveries in the quest for international tranquility)

There Will Be Blood

Why, yes, I do often examine movie titles when searching for a theme. While I'd have to re-watch the movie from a few years ago to give a completely coherent thesis on There Will Be Blood, it seems a recurring world theme that, as true with states, men will act to pursue and protect their interests and investments... many times, in an ugly way. In the movie, there was a man after oil, and he utilized and exploited all avenues to success. In the last decade, there were many accusing the American government of "going to war for oil" in Iraq. Many more villified a policy of preemptive action - a self-assertion of sorts that committed military resources (including my brother) into battle with an enemy that had yet to draw first blood. The American Left became furious, and empowered by them, so did many around the world.

I have to admit that I was mistaken. Prior to the last presidential inauguration, I predicted our policy would be "do not fire until fired upon". However reluctantly, our president has decided that engaging in warring activities unprovoked is necessary foreign policy. Who knew? Striking to me this Sunday, after a week of bombing campaigns facilitating a no-fly zone over Libya (something urged weeks ago by Senator McCain), was hearing our Defense Secretary Gates proclaim candidly that Libya is not "vital" to American interests. Who would have thought the US would be a dove flying with a flock of hawks? Furthermore, what happens when the terrorist Khaddafi (that's how we used to spell it in grade school) decides to fight back? Remember, guys like him fight dirty.

2011 has begun as a year of unrest. It seems, as President Bush declared, the natural yearning of the human spirit is for freedom. Whether the thirst is for food, security, prosperity, or democracy, oppressive regimes, when pressured, have given way to greater interests. We are witnessing a unique time in human history when peoples are asserting themselves in seemingly contagious revolutions, and communication technology offers a window of opportunity to do so. How unfortunate that we have gone from lone superpower, to world police, to sherriff, to side-lined bully and sugardaddy in a matter of twenty years. How unfortunate still that our values continue to pervade the world, yet it seems we have passed on our duty to lead.

There will be blood. That is certain. Whether for freedom, for resources, or for power, there are many actors pursuing their own interests. Change will occur with or without us. Our best days are when we shine for the world to see a fire we are proud not to let extinguish. I remember seeing a t-shirt depicting President Obama dressed as Superman; wouldn't that be interesting.

Monday, March 21, 2011


I remember, in grade school, the telephone was one of the most important devices in our homes. Sure, by today's standards, they didn't do much. However, with an extra long cord, you could take it to different parts of the house - even have your own privacy if you could stretch it to your room! Speed dial was a cool technological advancement, especially when trying to win a radio contest, but I generally had at least ten phone numbers memorized. We used to spend long periods of time on the phone, which became an issue if someone else was trying to call in. Then God created call-waiting.

In high school, I discovered a new form of communication (no, not short-wave radio). I guess they had been doing it for years at those public schools, but the whole note-writing concept was new to me. It was a daily thing, and you may have sent several throughout the day. There were even cool ways to fold said letters given the absence of the obsolete envelope. That was our primary form of communication throughout the day. Of course, when we got home we'd ask, "did anyone call?" I still ask that when I get home sometimes, just to be nostalgic, but nobody answers.

In the Pre-Cellular Age, also known as the mid-nineties, I had my first jobs, and I had my pager. What a marvelous, if not short-lived, piece of communication history! I could be contacted anytime and anywhere for the first time... well, since my mom knew exactly where I was at any given time, but that had probably been at least a decade. The evolution was inevitable, and finally in 2000 my boss made me go buy a cell phone. Fine.

2000 was also the year I signed up for an email account while abroad in Europe. We were just discovering a new world of communication. So, basically, for the first Bush Administration term we - for the first time in human history - had the power to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere... and hear their voice! Of course cost was an issue internationally, but we could still send an email instantly. Brilliant! Later, webcams and live video communications made it possible to see a person in Greeneville or Afghanistan while you have your conversation.

Somewhere along the way, they invented text messaging.

I don't dislike text messaging. I just dread the day that I call one of my nieces, to no answer, and she texts back because she doesn't want to answer the phone. I called a friend last week, and I could hear the dumbfoundedness in her voice. Have we reached a technological over-saturation point, or are we letting our gadgets make us lazy? It just is very curious to me that after all these advances and decades we have settled on a personal telegraph as our preferred medium of contact. Why is that? Surely it's a resting point... before the next social-technological shift.


Thursday, March 17, 2011


My friend Martina and I were talking yesterday about holidays. Conventional wisdom is that Americans like to exaggerate the importance of other peoples' holidays, such as Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick's Day, so as to have an excuse to drink lots of beer and have a party. Martina informed me that we recently missed Bulgaria's independence day, and I told her we would put it on the calendar for next year. Why not celebrate? We're supposed to celebrate life! As Americans, we've learned we are an institution of many cultures in one. So, if I want to celebrate Bastille Day... that's my God-given right, gosh darn it. In the words of my friends Kool and the Gang, "woo hoo, celebrate good times; come on."

So, today is St. Patrick's Day in DC. It's the first day of March Madness at the Verizon Center. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony tonight. I'm not working. God bless America.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


In a universe where everything is in motion, there is always the likelihood of a collision. Cars crash, computers crash, people crash, and waves crash. You could stand alone in a vacant field in the middle of Nevada and eventually crash to the ground - eventually. So far, in my short tenure on this planet, I have crashed into a swing set, a tree, a goalkeeper, a driveway, nearly all of my co-workers, a fist, a wall, a rose bush, snow, the ocean, unemployment, and a mailbox. None of them were all that fun... well, except the goalie after a penalty kick; I scored! Some were the result of bad choices; some were just life. Sometimes our ideas crash. Sometimes relationships crash. Sometimes nature crashes. Conventional wisdom is that you take precautions and buy insurance. However, sometimes the best that you can do is survive - that, and lend a hand when you can.

Best wishes to the good people of Japan and to all others finding the resolve to make their way.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hard Core

It was a rainy day in DC today, although not too cold. I decided to go for a run, of course. In shorts and three tee-shirts, I was off... and I started to get wet. It reminded me of a day back in maybe 1994 or '95, when I was coaching soccer:

My girls had played poorly the day prior - and it was raining - so I made them run around campus instead of on the field. At first, they couldn't believe it; I know the varsity squad thought I was the devil, as they got to go home. However, my team knew I was serious... and I was. We ran and ran, and did our push-ups and sit-ups; everyone was unusually quiet - high school girls are never quiet at soccer practice. What I wanted for them to understand, and I think they got it, is that no matter what your station is in life - to win, you have to be hard-core. You have to go beyond what is normal, and you have to surprise people; you even have to surprise yourself. You have to do not only what others don't, but what others won't. That's hard-core.

I sometimes have to remind myself, so pardon my reminiscing. It's a nice memory to have, and so important a lesson to remember.

Like It's 1999

"The sky was all purple, there were people runnin' everywhere..."

Ah, yes... party like it's 1999! I remember in grade school, we had to pick a song and write out its lyrics. I picked Prince's "1999". In hindsight, it's best I didn't pick one of his other tunes. Well, in the song, they were looking forward to some sort of madness. As computers began more and more to run our lives, new concerns arose a decade or so later about "Y2K"... when airplanes were to fall out of the sky and all sorts of havoc were to ensue from the changing of some digits "99" to "00". I flew from California to DC on 12/31/99, and I had the whole row of seats to myself.

In 1999, I had a pager, but no cell phone. The internet was still forming - in fact in one of my last undergraduate college classes, our Economics professor showed us around the different websites and showed us how to look up information. I had no email address. There were no Google, no Facebook, and no Twitter... no Skype. No one told you to "text" them later. There were digital cameras, but the quality was still very poor. GPS was something only used by the military, mostly, I suppose. I can't recall anyone in school with a laptop computer. We bought CDs... from the store. "Apps" were appetizers, a "droid" was R2D2 or C3PO, and "social networking" was... well... a party. "De-friending" usually involved some sort of physical altercation having to do with a girl, alcohol, money, or some combination of the three. I never would have thought to procede a colon with a closed parenthesis for any reason - certainly not to express any type of emotion. To "chat" simply meant to talk to someone casually, you know - hearing each other's voices. Friends gathering for dinner didn't all have their phones on the table.

Twelve short years ago, technology was growing and growing and setting the stage for an internet revolution and the dawn of the Information Age. We knew it then, but we didn't know to what extent technology would not just change the world, but change who we are. When was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter on a piece of paper and sent it in the mail? How devestating was it to lose or break your mobile phone and be without for any period of time? The world is going to continue to change, as will technology adapt to meet consumer demands. "Change is good" is what I keep hearing with seemingly greater and greater frequency, but nobody seems compelled to have to back that up with actual proof. Now, I like technology - I do! However, moving forward, we need to be aware of how technology is CHANGING US. Furthermore, what has gone from a facilitator of human interaction to a replacement of our humanity? Where will we be in twelve more years? It's important to consider.

As an experiment, I am using the Lenten Season to sacrifice the use of a few things acquired in my 21st Century: the internet, a mobile phone, my iPod, text messaging, and my digital camera. Yes, we're fasting like it's 1999. However, I do believe that I should be encouraged to write, so I am allowed to upload to my blog. I mean, depriving the world of me could just be detrimental to my goal of international tranquility, and that would be bad. Ya know?

So, flux capacitor is... fluxing. 1.21 gigawatts at the ready (stolen from the Libyans!), gonna go back in time!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Organized Chaos and Meticulous Poetry

Jazz is a lot like life - organized chaos and meticulous poetry with nearly every contradiction known to man:

Violent and soft,
Loving and lonely,
Repetitious and new,
Immature and weathered,
Strong and subtle,
Vibrant and dark,
Wailing and triumphant,
Out of control and by design,
Tickling and painful,
Unexpected and predictable,
Open to interpretation and in your face,
Heavenly and wicked,
Sleepy and exciting,
Harmonious and competitive,
Fantasy and reality,
Hypnotic and harshly lucid,
Confident and desperate,
Abruptly final and enduring.

I was fortunate to make some of these discoveries on a journey to the Strathmore Mansion in Maryland yesterday. The Jolley Brothers were my guide, and I am confident they will evolve, thrive, and entertain for years to come.