Wednesday, April 29, 2009

letting go...

Running like a hamster four times a week for the last month or so has taught me that the hardest part of running is slowing down and stopping once your all set in motion. While we are able to go from zero to full speed relatively easy on the machine, attempting the opposite after running a mile or so and your body feels like it's going to fall apart. Only if one is not running hard to begin with can you come to a complete stop without much trouble.

This cardiovascular exercise on a treadmill is a fitting metaphor to my philosophy with love, either with friends or, more importantly, within relationships. I hate running in a stationary way, to me it is one of the most monotonous exercises one can do. It takes a while to mentally ease into it just as it is for me to get caught up in the euphoria of love. But once am in that state of mind, changing course occurs slowly, and I could never understand people that could claim true love and turn it off quickly. Deconstructing the "love" placed into a person is much like peeling away the layers of an onion and at the end the relationship reverts back to its original essence, which for me the core friendship.

"Nelson, you need to learn to let people go, it hurts, but someone has to tell you..." 

Lessons of life are all around us. Some come in the form or writings on a chalkboard and others from a punch in the face or blow to the heart. In order to make sense of the myriad of ways that knowledge manifests itself in the world and redefine sanity within myself, I decide to explore the origins of my penchant for sticking around long after the sun has set over the horizon. A master's degree doesn't require a course of Introspection 101. Let's see where this exercise takes me...

Raised in a lower-middle class neighborhood within New York City where the majority of residents have little of material means teaches you to hold on tight to whatever tangible objects of value you can grasp. Life is not a given and in some instances more precarious and less certain, so you hold onto to people as tightly as you can. Raised in a family of extended life...four generations in one house, I held on as a young child to all of them in order to protect me from the challenges of urban life. The realities of lead paint project walls and lead bullets, inferior public schools and gangs. I held onto the love of family as the most precious form of currency when food was scarce and clothes were hand-me-downs.

no matter what i never let go...

Even when my family moved apart and some of them passed from this Earth, I never let go. When friends were killed or died from illness, I never let go of their memories or pictures or notes. When mom used try to sneak out to the club before I feel asleep, I jumped off the bed and held on, literally to her leg until a couple of smacks and yelling shook me off. An eight-year old can only take but so much before his will collides with the reality that mom's skills with the plastic hanger are infamous. 

This resilience continue into my adolescence. This crucial moment in everyone's life, a crossroads that sets a course that has lifelong consequences. As I got older, the ability to hold on became stronger. When I used to visit my father in prison, upstate New York 8 hour bus rides, I held on. When 3pm came and the prisoners had to step back from the tables and against the walls for head counts, I held onto my father's hands. While grandma resigned herself to having no more visit time and sister walk out of the cafeteria with her nerves. I held on. Inmate Caban! Hold on. Dad, hold on. Fuck their guns, laws and handcuffs! Hold on.

Odds are the majority of people in your life will disappoint you. If you know how to respond to those situations, you'll be way ahead of most people. You'll be able to live above and beyond your circumstances.

Holding on to that which I love had never failed me until now. As the years have passed and people become more self-interested in their acquaintances, those who I love have acquired more value. Luckily, in any sense, lack of material means as a youth allowed me to identify and practice the accumulation of the most important capital of all, that of love,which manifests itself in many forms not only the physical or sexual. 

Sunday, April 26, 2009


...and i hope we feel like this forever...forever, forever, ever, forever, everrrrrrrrr...

With apologies to Outkast and Ms. Jackson, love inspires such selfish thought of an eternity spent together entwined in one's arms, imagining an never-ending supply of kisses and love-making in a world made for two. Un-human are those who have never wanted to possess the power of the gods to halt time during these moments at least once in their lives.

However where do all these promises go after love has passed? What to make of the betrayal that often come from those who promised to never act in such a manner? There is nothing that requires more careful inspection. A wise jamaican woman once told me that promises are the comfort of fools but if we are not to believe those in which we give our entire body, mind and soul than what to make about all this poetry about: the union of two souls in one body, burbujas de amor, and all that. Funny how the same song can accumulate different meaning overnight.

Somewhere out there, in a liminal state between the sky and the earth, the heavens and the hells, there's an infinite graveyard of unfulfilled desires. restless ghosts of unrequited love and scorned lovers clanking their chains and heavy hearts against the inscribed gravestones of their departed love. The type of inscriptions that are crudely carved into high school desks (brittany ❤ brian, etc.). Declarations that are virtually outdated by the time the ink has dried.

...if what they say is nothing is forever, what makes love the exception? ...

Despite some setbacks it has not been all for naught, for the experiences of life are the greatest teacher of all. Foremost, i have learned that it is better to be cheated by the price than by the merchandise...haha! Relationships have real emotional as well as economic costs and quality often has a high prices in both regards, especially with women in the United States. There is a difference between understanding things and knowing people, and it is a great art to penetrate temperaments and distinguish the peculiarities of others. Distance purifies certain defects that are unbearable at close range. In love, every detail of our lover becomes mystified with tenderness and adoration.

However, one can:

Obviously superficial
Label upon someone and
Associate it with love

but it

Just isn't
Enough to
Supplant the unconditional adoration one shares
Common with one


My dear friend, the immensely talented poet, Aja-Monet said to me once, "I want some slaveship type love". The kind of love that survives against all hardships and all odds and fights for the sake of its own survival. I can dig that. Such love is a rarity nowadays; scarce in friendships and acquaintances and damn near extinct in relationships. Many have come to expect nearly anything nowadays for love, and most people will sellout their hearts for nearly nothing.

I can only hope that at the end, after the one (maybeee two) real loves I have had in life, and various other forms of attachments, encounters and relationships I have experienced and cherished. After all the Girls I have Loved Before (haha! Julio Iglesias), my heart can only hope to experience the sensations described by the words of the great Kahlil Gibran: in his poem "Of Love":

To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

Good luck out their fellow bloggers and virtual acquaintances, the journey is difficult but nothing is more fundamental to our existence nor directs our course through life as truly as this little thing called love.

"Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking.
The one is the shadow of the other"

~Carl Jung

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

zarathustra speaks...

Some simple words of knowledge that I have picked up over the last couple of years; living through some things, reading a couple of books or two, growing as an individual: 
  1. Two things bring life to an early end: stupidity and depravity. Some lose their life by not knowing how to save it; others, by not wanting to. 
  2. Virtue in life is its own award, whereas vice is its own punishment.
  3. Excellent things are easily abused. When everyone covets something, they are easily annoyed by it. 
  4. It is a bad thing to be good for nothing, but worse to be good for everything. Some lose because they win so often, and soon they are as despised as they once were desired. Such reality befalls even the best of us. 
  5. All lose their initial reputation for uniqueness, and are scorned as common. The remedy for extremes is not to exceed the golden mean in displaying your gifts. 
  6. Know how to stop, and do so at the right moment: the most difficult thing about running is stopping. It speaks well for your judgment to remain lucid at moments of madness. Any excess of passion detracts from reason, but with this attentiveness, anger will never run away with you or trample on good sense. 
  7. The brighter the torch, the more it consumes itself and the less it lasts. To win true esteem, make yourself scarce. 
  8. One who was adored by all in prosperity is abhorred by all in adversity.
  9. More is lost through holding on than can be won by defeating others. 
  10. The ears are the back door of truth and the front door of deceit. 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

a little taste of the good life...

Remember how Godiva used to be? With chocolate that was actually made in Switzerland that tasted amazing and had no equal? Well, now Godiva is crap, just another mass-produced chocolate manufacturer on par with Lindt, a mere glorified Hershey-like product. But
Leonidas of Belgium (as well as some others like Vosges out of France) are picking up the slack. The chocolates are amazing, they have a great variety of pieces for every kind of chocolate lover, at a price of course. 

These Belgian chocolates (over 80 varieties) are flown in weekly from a number of producers, including Belgium and they have stores all over the world. Matter of fact, I have never been to any of the store locations out here in New York City, the United States or Europe, even though I had my eye on the store for a while. My first encounter was a week ago in the Akasaka neighborhood of Japan Tokyo when I ran into a retail locale down the street from my hotel. Chocolate is chocolate no matter what language the descriptions are written in (the signs luckily happened to be in French) and after running in right before closing, picking up an assortment of pralines, marzipan, and some stuff that I had no clue of. With so many to choose from it was difficult making a selection but some of the best are:
  1. The Manon Café (dark chocolate variety) - a dark chocolate praline with coffee butter cream and a whole hazelnut.
  2. Les Coupes de Leonidas (Cups of Leonidas) A superb assortment of chocolate “cups” filled with delicious and surprising ganache and toppings, including: lait de coco (milk of coconut), lait d' amande, (almond milk), praline croquant, tiramisu, and truffe maracuja (passion fruit truffle).
  3. The Gianduja Emballee - wrapped in gold foil, this milk chocolate covered praline of hazelnut and almond literally melts on your tongue. 

My only knock about their product line is that they did not have any kind of SOLID chocolate at all. However, they offer a variety of gift options in beautiful little, aesthetically pleasing boxes. Probably the prettiest boxes I've seen for chocolates yet and while the prices are fairly high (as I mentioned before) so is the quality. I assume the plane ticket for the chocolate is as high in JP¥ as it is in USD$ or EU€. Which gives me an idea for a little summer affair: a liquor/wine and chocolate party. A little piece of Belgium perfection to share with some friends out here in New York City. 

"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt"

~Charles M. Schulz

Friday, April 17, 2009

mediational fragments (for jon)...

Few people live without some type of flaw or visible character defect, and they give in to it when it would be relatively easy to cure. A single cloud can eclipse the sun. It takes supreme skills to turns moles into beauty marks. We haven't always been given the best hand of cards in this little thing called life but we have been blessed in remarkable ways. First of all, it is a blessing to have you as a brother. For you I would give my life. At times, I have played the role of protector, older brother, father figure, and friend. When you were born I was the only man in a house filled with three woman. 

You have been through some things in your short little life and what's more you have had to take on the role I once held as man of the house, a role that I ran away from as soon as I could. Sorry for just leaving like that. But never forget, throughout the little troubles you have had in life, when things didn't look good, I was willing to give up everything I have ever worked for in my life to get you out of this country permanently if the need arose. Don't ever inherently believe in the just actions of "officials", with or without badges. If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees. Everyone bleeds just like you. Never second guess your righteousness and divinity if that is how you truly feel you have lived your life. 

That being said, don't be like me...strive to surpass me in all things, in all ways. Don't settle for just superior skills in Madden, Track or basketball, continue to conquer in all ways that matter to you in this life. Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother. I am merely practice for a world that will show no mercy. Be excessive in your perfection and moderate about showing it. Never open the door to the least of evils, for many others, greater ones lurk outside. 

Love without fear and exhibit patience but be apply pressure when necessary. There is no revenge like oblivion, through which you may leave those buried in the dust of their unworthiness: 

"el paso del elefante es lento, pero aplastante".

I can share my thoughts with you but you will find your own paths and live your own life and eventually we will outlive all of those who have provided us all the support we have enjoyed until now. The person with inner peace, who can live with themselves, is in many ways a wise man, in every way a god. I am here for you now and I always will be, not because we simply share a mother but we are connected at the heart.

"...prefer to be a dreamer among the humblest, with visions to be realized, 
than lord among those without dreams and desires" 

~Kahlil Gibran

Monday, April 13, 2009

this childhood is sponsored by the letter "h"...

Dear father,

Throughout my life, these 26.8 blessed trips around the sun that i have been fortunate enough to enjoy, i have known only a shell of you. The man who used to take me to the park to play baseball as a child was often not the man who read me bedtime stories. Nighttime daddy had a strange affliction. Blame it on the moon perhaps but werewolves never carry around syringes and spoons. Daddy your not supposed to nod off to sleep before we do. We haven't even eaten dinner yet; it's 6pm. 

-Are you sick? 
-And if you are sick: than why the hell does mom yell at you so much instead of hugging you like when I have a fever?
And she definitely doesn't cut up my clothes and throw things at me. 

-What's in the brown bag daddy? 

Ok, no questions. Thank you for the Nintendo games though. 

-Why are you in "Florida" for eight months? 

-And why does the phone call lady always say "You are receiving a call from an Inmate at Wyoming Correctional Facility"Is that like a special kind of school? Is that where you are daddy?

Sometimes I wonder how much you actually there when you happened to be around physically. How often was I actually babysat by saturday morning cartoons while you were on your spaceship courtesy of your rocket-shaped needles. I wonder how a man could be defeated by a white powder and brown liquid and how selfish one would have to be to allow their children to carry their cross when you were too tired (or high) to walk with it yourself...

Saturday, April 11, 2009


What if juice boxes actually looked like the fruit that was inside?!? Then they would look like this! And, also, be more expensive. Yay!

Ran into an article in The Japan Times today about Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa and his creation of a series of creative fruit juice packages that have the look and feel of the fruit they contain. And I thought to myself, wow such a genius concept and incredible execution. A perfect example of thoughtful design with no over-design. But then I realized the idea is ok in the context of Art, but I think it is definitely unacceptable to waste paper or whatever material is, to give texture or look-and-feel to a juice box which will go to trash in no time after being purchased- thanks to its packaging? 

Design and industrial design are not the same thing. Still and all the concept is definitely dope and the Japanese (and Finns...and Danes) are definitely ahead of the curve when it comes to the creative (re)designing of mundane everyday objects. Am still waiting for the next time am out here in Tokyo to see spaceships and flying cars like the Jetsons or something but for now hopefully I can catch these boxes at a Lawsons or AM-PM next time around (hopefully early 2010).

"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties"

~Erich Fromm

Thursday, April 09, 2009

planet tokyo...

Am back in la-la land for the next three days. Not Los Angeles, to which the phrase is often attributed to, but Tokyo 東京 Japan, the largest (approx. 28 million people) and richest (1.9 trillion usd) metropolitan city in the world. A city always on the move, a city where sararimen in their suits work sixteen hour shifts and young kids sit on the train dressed in kospure costumes next to women in kimonos. Tokyo is a living, breathing contradiction. A city where the trains are always packed and it is nearly impossible to navigate the major transit hubs of Shinjuku, Shibuya, or Ikebukuro station, which have between 35 to 64 exits each.

Tokyo is also a city where hundreds of people will wait for a green light to cross regardless of whether any car is passing by. A city where you still have a sense of personal space (except on the trains) despite a population nearly doubles that of New York City. A city where crime is almost non-existent and the police ride bikes and do not carry guns. The city, for all its chaotic, 24-hour, blade runner-like, landscape of hyper-consumption and anime-dressed girls has an odd sense of wa, or harmony, that allows for some form of sanity to exist in such a densely populated area. This is because a special reverence for traditional crafts pervades Japanese aesthetics. Amid the clamor of technological and economic success, a respect for age, custom, and tradition still endures.

There exists there the phenomenon of cultural politeness. Some societies seem to value the lubrication needed for people to get along with one another. While in Tokyo, I was amazed at what I presume is the evolution of a society that has to live within a fairly finite space and in ever burgeoning numbers. In subways, on trains, on the streets and in taxis the evidence of polite society was present everywhere.

When someone on a train receives a call on a cell phone, they move to the back or front of the car to be out of earshot of everyone else. This is an example of social empathy. As I was walking in the Shinjuku district I saw many people wearing particle masks. You may think, as I did, that they are reacting to industrial pollution. But in fact the majority of people wearing masks in public places do so because they have colds and wish not to spread the germs.

My biggest problem adjusting from my Tokyo study aboard trip in 2004, back into the "survival of the fittest", cutthroat reality of New York City (and America), was the longing for a sense of peace and predictability. A place where the last thing people will do is inconvenience others. A place where people act like assholes on their own time. People don't talk or rap to themselves, bump into you in the street, scream into their cellphones on crowded buses. 

Seeing the culture of the largest city in the world makes you realize how little of human nature we take for granted is innate and how much of it is learned. Unfortunately, my usual moment of "snapping back into reality" occurs when the wonderful customs agents at JFK welcome me with their trademark bureaucratic indifference and attitude that makes me question: 

why the hell do I bother to come back?

"An apprentice near a temple will recite the scriptures untaught- 門前の小僧習わぬ経を読む。"

~Japanese Proverb

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

dōmo arigatō, mr. roboto, nice to see you again...

All packed and ready to go!

I lugged my bags down my little flight of stairs this morning like 8am, naturally am awake because sleep escaped me the night before. Otherwise this 13hr trip would have started without me, even with the help of alarm clocks.  Off to JFK with laptop, cell phone, Ipod, and books in tow for what is a vacation of sorts to a city i called home in the summer of 2004. 

...funny what races through your mind when your headed to visit a familiar place after a long period of time. I will always have a love-hate relationship with Tokyo, Japan. Grateful for getting me out of my comfort zone as a young kid attending
Temple University Japan, for the dear Japanese friends that I made, and exposing me to the diplomatic life that is enjoyed by the children of ambassadors, three of which were my fellow classmates. 

- and i don't care how rich or poor the country is: from Burkina Faso to Spain, all those kids are living it up with their weekly allowances...all at the expense of their home countries-

My displeasure of Tokyo is not so much towards the city itself but rather the strain it put on some of my dearest relationships at the time. The time difference created by those 6735 miles creates distance that is greater than just the physical.

In any case, it was not my first choice, to head back to Japan, not on such short notice and not with only three days to spare. But whatever, am headed there now. I half expect Tokyo to look like the Jetsons by now. The 3G network we just started to use in the US, they had that in 2004. Miniature Netbooks 2004 as well. If not am sure that the change in weather will soothe my soul but New York this spring has been anything but warm and my mood wears the scars of a prolonged winter.

Funny thing about planes though. There is no plan B, no fork in the road to choose, no red or blue pill, once you get on them that is it. You are headed to its final destination, no stepping off halfway, no turn back I forgot something allowed. So am here. JFK to Narita. 13hrs to go. Am afraid some of my unfavorable memories have checked themselves in at the gate and are accompanying on the ride as well. How do those damn things get visas and passports anyway?!?

so my plane is here and on time (even with the menacing look of the clouds) and it's sayonara...

for now!

“He who does not travel does not know the value of men” 

~Moorish proverb

Sunday, April 05, 2009

¢apitali$m, in©...

As defined by Plato,

"timocracy is a state in which love of wealth and power is the guiding principle of the rulers".

It also was Aristotle's idea of a state in which political power is in direct proportion to property ownership. To the uninitiated in the globalism phenomenon, timocracy appears to be rearing its ugly head. The three executives at the top of the Microsoft ladder now are worth more money than 170 million Americans combined.

As an undergrad business/social sciences double major student in the early 2000's, i always found economic summits (G7, G8, WTO, etc.) to be interesting. On one hand you had all of the top economic powers in the world gathering in one place, with all the security entourage and press in tow. And then, you undoubtedly have protests and demonstrations by ordinary citizen, sometimes violent and sometimes destructive, and of course the riot police with their tear gas, shields and batons, dressed all in black like ninjas.  

The boiling point between law and the general citizenry was almost reached the last couple of days in London ahead of the G20 summit. While I am against violence or/and any form of protest that borders on criminality but the recession wave has brought along renewed forms of hardship for some of us. People are also protesting for climate change in view of how stupid we all may have been in contributing to the destruction of our planet.

There may also have been a barrage of criticisms levelled against both the US and UK in terms of the cash that is being injected into their economic sub-systems, a move some say will lead to further debt in the long term.

Yet this may not be the first time that there have been disturbances ahead of a G summit although it is being described in some quarters as "unprecedented". I'm sure most of us will be hoping an agreement can and will be reached in order to reset the thermostat at a lower temperature for this fever to be brought to an end...

"Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed"

~Mohandas Gandhi

Friday, April 03, 2009

world pillow fight day...


On Saturday April 4th 2009 @3pm local time, there will be massive pillow fights in cities around the world!!! The concept is simple, just show up with your pillow and start swinging. Just remember to wash your pillowcase before heading into battle—otherwise the potential for gross out is pretty high. New York City's will be held on Wall Street and Broad St. at 3pm and people are supposed to dressed up as executive types (i.e. investment bankers à la AIG employees). 

So, once again, this April 4th people from all over the globe will convene in town squares to celebrate International Pillow Fight Day. From
Sydney to Stockholm to Japan everyone will get a chance to relieve their stress and anxiety by attacking friends and complete strangers. Go out participate, have fun and escape from reality! So far the official New York City World Pillow Fight Facebook Event Page has over 11,000 'confirmed' participants for the event. That's alot of potential victims...and potential beat-down. 

Bring your skills...and the hardest 99ct. store pigeon-feather stuffed down pillows you own!?!!

some other locations:
  • amsterdam
  • atlanta
  • são paolo
  • caracas
  • lisboa
  • reykjavik
  • warsaw
  • quito
  • stuttgart
  • moscow
  • paris
  • cape town
  • sydney
  • washington dc
more cities located on the World Pillow Day Website