Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Live from Argentina: Sarah Palin is no Evita!

"Do you have any Evita T-shirts?" I recently asked a docent at Buenos Aires' Evita museum. I wanted a T-shirt with a picture of Evita Peron on the front. Is that too much to ask for? Apparently so.

Here in Argentina, Evita is either worshiped as a saint or vilified as the devil incarnate. In either case, no one here wants to wear her image on a T-shirt. Rats.

Even finding the Evita museum was a whole bunch of work and involved at least two subway transfers and a whole bunch of "Donde esta...." It's located out in the Palermo district, sort of like the Beverly Hills of Buenos Aires -- and there's a reason for that too, which I will explain later.

I suppose in some ways you could think of Evita Peron as Argentina's Sarah Palin. After all, our Evita did have a passion for designer clothes. Plus both Sarah and Evita cherished the limelight. But the similarities between Evita and Sarah stop there.

Back in the 1950s, before it was even stylish and WAY before grassroots bloggers like myself took up the cause of America's economic underdogs, Evita Peron seemed to be obsessed with offering help to the poverty-stricken underclasses of Argentina -- and her main goal in life appeared to be to narrow the huge gap between the very rich in Argentina and the very poor. Sarah Palin's life goal, however, appears only to try to make herself wealthy too -- while using America's discontented poor as a stepladder, climbing up to the top on their backs.

I think it is fair to say that Evita Peron changed Argentina forever -- from a feudal society of barrios, peasants and overlords to a much more economically democratic mix. And the few rich people who controlled Argentina at that time hated her. But do rich people today hate Sarah Palin? I think not.

In America today, like in 1950s Argentina, the goals of the rich seem to be to create cheap labor and to use government money for themselves. And the rich in America appear to be achieving these two goals easily -- by dividing us lower and working class types into two different camps and then encouraging us go at each others' throats so that we won't be noticing so much as our wealthiest 1% clean out the till.

And with regard to splitting America's lower and working classes into two warring factions, Sarah Palin has been a really big help.

I myself find Palin to be rather tedious and a media-hog. On the other hand, however, I find Evita Peron to be endlessly fascinating. Evita walked the walk. She built orphanages, schools and hospitals for the poor, supported labor unions, championed healthcare, etc. And when she died, the line of people who came to pay respects at her coffin stretched out for 35 blocks in the rain during the two long weeks before her body was finally taken off display. Eat your heart out, Sarah!

While in Buenos Aires, I also had the good fortune to visit Evita's tomb -- and here's the video to prove it: They buried her in the rich people's cemetery, apparently as a final insult to her love of the common man. But this move by the elite has backfired and there are still flowers being left on Evita's tomb by her "shirtless ones" -- and by all of us tourists as well.

Recently I was lucky enough to run into Dawn Makinson, a Canadian journalist covering her newspaper's South American desk. "Got any hot Evita Peron stories for me?" I asked her.
"I do." Then she told me about the time that Evita went out and talked to supplicants outside the Casa Rosa, Argentina's "Pink House".

"According to one of her drivers, Evita loved to curse. And when she saw a woman in tears standing outside the Pink House, she said, 'What the blankety-blank are you crying about?' And the tearful woman replied that a bank had just foreclosed on her home. So Evita stuffed the woman into the presidential limo and drove her off to the bank, whereupon Evita then cursed the bank manager out and saved the woman's home."

Can you even imagine anyone in the Bush-Obama administration -- or even Sarah Palin -- cursing out a banker? No.

"But what about the orphanages that Evita founded?" I asked. "Were they real or just for show?"
"No, actually I happen to know a surgeon who grew up in one. According to him, that orphanage saved his life."

Meanwhile, back at the Evita museum: Apparently it used to be a home for poor widows at one time, and the wealthy had been really pissed off to wake up one morning and find "los pobres" living right down the block.

I loved the Evita museum. It not only displayed many of her dreamy 1950s outfits but also several film clips from her old movies. She was the Lana Turner of Argentina. The museum was well worth the trip.

So. We've explored the Evita myth and we've visited her tomb and her museum, which is still going strong even though Evita herself died back in 1953 or something. Do you think that we will be having such a popular Sarah Palin museum in the year 2066 also? Probably not.

And here's even better news. I actually finally found an Evita T-shirt!

PS: Che Guevara also comes from Argentina. And, like Evita, he devoted his entire life to trying to eliminate misery and degradation among South America's poor. And guess what? Our Sarah Palin is no Che Guevara either!

Becoming America's Che Guevara and fighting for the rights of America's downtrodden is apparently not what Palin had in mind when she declared that she was "Going Rogue".

PPS: And while we are still on the subject of various famous "going rogue" legends in South America who have spoken out for the Common Man, let me remind you that Sarah Palin is no Salvadore Allende either.

When I was in Chile, someone there told me that Allende had first been a doctor who had been forced to complete his internship by doing autopsies. "He performed over 1,000 of them -- on people who had died from poverty, violence and abuse. And after this horrifying experience, he decided to become a politician so that he could improve the situation of poor people in Chile. And once elected president, Allende supported the lower and working classes and said that he wanted to make education affordable and make people healthy -- and that he would put an end to economic speculation." And the rest is history. The CIA hated it when he did that. So they nailed him.

Palin will never have to worry about that happening to her!

PPPS: When I went to the Evita Museum, I was still so dazed and confused from getting lost on the subway that I forgot to make a video of the museum. But not to worry, I put together a short video of my photos of the museum, including Evita's 1951 black Cadillac V-8 limousine and her wonderful black evening gown. Anyway, here's the video:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Buenos Aires' oldest synagogue: The worst and the best

All of my life I have harbored a huge craving for any kind of food that contains both sugar and whipping cream -- but over the years I've finally learned to fight the feeling. That stuff is bad for you. One cannot live on hot caramel sundaes and Tiramisu alone.

I also have a huge craving for any type of spirituality -- but that is a craving that I encourage. I keep thinking that if I go to enough holy places, meditate upside down long enough and/or read enough holy texts, that some of that spirituality will finally rub off on me and I will become an enlightened Good Person instead of the salty loner curmudgeon that I actually am.

So far no luck.

But I keep trying.

If the human race is ever going to evolve out of the shattered shards of pollution, greed and war that it so enthusiastically embraces right now, it is going to have to learn to spiritually evolve -- and hopefully this evolution will start with each of us individuals evolving individually. Duh.

So whenever I get a chance to visit a church, mosque, shrine, temple or synagogue, I'm there -- always hoping that something higher and better will somehow rub off on me. Hence my trip to the oldest synagogue in Buenos Aires the other day.

I've been to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and to various simple but dignified synagogues all the way from Esfahan, Iran, to Berkeley, California, but the Buenos Aires synagogue was more impressive and elaborate than most, even the one I visited in St. Petersburg. A member of the minyan gave me a very nice tour. Plus the temple also had a small museum and I got to learn more about the history of Jews in Argentina.

"Originally, there were no synagogues in Buenos Aires and minyans gathered in peoples' homes or at the Recoleta cemetery," said our guide. That's the cemetery where Evita Peron is buried. "But in the middle of the nineteenth century, Baron Maurice de Hirsh, a French industrialist, became pained and horrified by the persecution of Jews in Russia, so he arranged for Russian Jews to immigrate to Argentina. He then founded many planned communities out in the countryside here." Apparently these communities were like prototypes for the later Israeli kibbutzim.

"The Congregation Israelita de la Republica synagogue was originally constructed on this site in 1892, by Baron Hirsh's widow Clara. It was rebuilt and rededicated again in 1932."

I was awed and inspired by the tour.

But let's get back to chatting about spirituality once again. Sure, religions have their illuminating aspects. But they also have their shadow sides too. For instance, some of the most vicious attacks on human beings while using religion as a red herring since the tragic destruction of Poland's Warsaw Ghetto are now being committed in Gaza -- by Israeli neo-cons who are using the Jewish religion as a smoke screen in order to torture, starve and kill. Yet the Jews that I met in Argentina were gentle and delightful people who would never even consider condoning such crimes in their name.

And there are also terrible, grim and horrible atrocities being committed across the planet right now -- sometimes in the name of Christianity -- by Americans in Washington who possess unlimited power. Yet the average American citizen, and the average American Christian too, is also someone who, when you meet him or her individually, are individual people who you like and respect -- people who would shudder at the mere thought of shrouding innocent human babies with depleted uranium and white phosphorus.
Muslims are that way also. Take a look at the extreme difference between "Muslim" extremists as a group and the individual Muslims that I personally know and love.

What is it about mankind's herd mentality that seems to be able to condone and justify almost anything -- as long as it is done by a group? Or for a so-called religious cause.

"Snap out of it, Jane," you might say. "Stop thinking about the worst aspects of spirituality and start thinking about the best." Yes, well. The synagogue in Buenos Aires was very impressive -- and I have the video to prove it too.

PS: I really need to get off of my bottom right now and go do more stuff to try to save the world from violence and conflagration. And you do too.

PPS: At this point, I'd like to read you a quote from Chagdud Tulku, a classically-trained Tibetan Buddhist lama. "Trying to change people by aggression and dominance is like trying to extinguish a fire by putting more wood on it. You're just making it worse. If, instead, you take the pieces of wood off the fire one by one, the fire doesn't have a source of energy and it will go out -- the problem has been resolved. Aggression and dominance never work -- they only cause escalation."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Eat your heart out, Jalopnik: Chile's unique Studebaker museum

After finally getting sick and tired of listening to various people in Santiago go on and on about how misunderstood Pincohet had been and how this new guy Pinera hadn't actually supported Pincochet at all even though his brother had been one of Pinochet's original "Chicago Boys," I decided to head south and visit Patagonia and the Chilean Andes instead. The Chilean Andes are wonderful! Being here is just like visiting Switzerland. They have mountains and German-speakers and alpine meadows and wooden chalets and lots and lots of dairy cattle. I kept expecting to see young Heidi to jump out from behind the edelweiss at any minute.

But the biggest surprise of all was that right here in the middle of Little Switzerland, I stumbled across a museum that was devoted mainly to Studebakers. I love Studebakers! I learned to drive on a 1953 Studebaker! This is my kind of place.

The dairy farmer who ran the museum, Bernardo Eggers, gave me a tour of the place. And I pretty much embarrassed myself by gushing all over those cars. They were fine! And here is the video to prove it: is a specialty website out of Alameda, California, that is devoted to displaying old cars. I would imagine that if they hear about this museum, they will probably just jump on the next plane out to Puerto Montt. And as well they should. This museum is a jewel.

PS: From Chilean Patagonia, I took a bus across the Alps, er, I mean the Andes -- over to Bariloche in Argentina. Bariloche is sort of a combination between Yosemite National Park and Fort Lauderdale/Myrtle Beach. It's a beach town located on a Tahoe-sized lake in the middle of a national park. It's got students on summer break and T-shirt stores and the most heart-stopping views of mountains you would ever want to see. And here's a video to prove that too!

But you know what is the really best part about visiting Chile and Argentina? It's WARM here! An American just walked into the bookstore I'm at and announced, "There are 27 inches of snow in Washington DC right now." Good grief. I wish that all of you on the East Coast were here instead. Except of course for "our" Congressional representatives -- they deserve to freeze their bottoms off for not passing a single-payer healthcare bill but going out of their way to hand over an additional 653 billion dollars to their favorite useless wars. Huh?

PPS: If you're not totally burned out by looking at videos yet, here's one that shows some Chilean cowboys corralling a steer by galloping their horses sideways.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Judge Judy: Settling family feuds in small claims court

Matt Tabbai says that the reason that Sarah Plain is so popular is because she whines a lot and makes everything personal. Heck, I can whine a lot and make everything personal too! I got skills. I´ve been trained by the best -- a dysfunctional family that has been dysfunctional for whole generations. Palin has nothing on me. I can whine with the best of them.

Here´s a great example -- my family´s latest episode of dysfunctionality. However, since one of my family members just married a high-powered lawyer, let´s all pretend that this story isn´t about me. Okay?

"Once upon a time, allegedly, there as a kind old man who died suddenly without making a valid will -- thus leaving his greedy family to fight over the pickings. However, he did have sense enough to give his daughter -- who might or might not have been me -- signing privileges on his bank account, worth approximately $60,000, and to give his second oldest granddaughter, who we will now call ´Sapphire´, joint bank account privileges also -- in order to avoid probate."

"How long is this story going to go on, Jane," you might ask. "Get to the point."

"Okay. Pop died. Sapphire took the joint bank accounts all for herself. And also the $30,000 Oppenheimer fund. And also the new car. But then the kind old man´s other daughter dragged the whole dysfunctional family through probate court anyway. (You can´t get much more dysfunctional than that!)

Then the court awarded Pop´s oldest daughter $23,000 and his youngest daughter -- possibly me -- $27,000, all that was left of the estate after Sapphire took the car, the bank accounts and the Oppenheimer. Despite Pop´s wishes that the accounts be used to help put his younger grandchildren through college, Sapphire was definitely not going to share those.

You got the picture so far? Well, there´s more.

After the probate case closed, Sapphire came up to her mother with tears in her eyes and shamelessly begged her for the rest of the money. "If you give me your $27,000 now too, I can buy a new house and then later I will pay you back by helping to put my younger sister and brother through college." Let´s call the younger siblings, er, Ashley and Joe.

Now what real mother could possibly turn down all those tears? Not me.

However. Ten long years passed and Sapphire showed NO signs of helping either Joe or Ashley through college. She did at one time write one check for $4,000 in order to pay Joe back for money she owed him for some other reason -- but her check bounced.

"Now that you own a house, have a well-paying job in the movie industry, have ´married up,´ etc," said the poor naive mother, it's´s time to start paying the $27,000 that you owe me back."

"What money? What debt? What promise?" responded Sapphire. "I have no idea what you are talking about."

So. What is a mother to do? Sue the freak out of her daughter of course! I bet that´s what Sarah Palin would have done.

Seeing as how Sapphire´s husband is a high-powered lawyer, the only option then facing the poor mom was to take the daughter to small claims court instead of superior court.

So she did.

The poor sweet mom may not win this case because she would have to ask Joe and Ashley and the mom´s sister and brother-in-law and Sapphire´s uncle and great aunt and first husband to testify against Sapphire -- and the mom was hesitant to do that.


"Because everyone in the family seems to be afraid of crossing Sapphire." I would be too! "And also because this family is already dysfunctional enough already and dragging ALL of them into court is only going to make it worse." Oh.

But there will still be some small satisfaction for the mom in knowing that "Sapphire" hasn´t completely gotten away with lying to her own mother for money.

Plus what if the mom´s case wins? Then she would at least get some of her money back -- $7,500 of the money that she spent paying off young Ashley´s college loan.

Plus it is rather pathetic but true that going to court might be the only way that the poor mom might ever get to see her second daughter -- and her first grandchild -- ever again.

So I, er, I mean, the poor sweet mom, just filed this case in small claims court.

But, wait! There´s even more!

Judge Judy´s spies just discovered this case in the records of the Berkeley courthouse and asked both the mother and the daughter if they would come on the show. The mom, of course, said, "Wow! Sign me up!" But who knows what the daughter will say?

I can clearly imagine what Judge Judy might say about this mess, however. "Mom, you were a complete idiot not to get a written contract but, on the other hand, if you can´t trust the word of your own daughter to help out her own sister and brother in need even when she can well afford it, then who CAN you trust!"

PS: Maybe Sarah Palin should take Levi Johnston to small claims court and they too can sort out their family feud on Judge Judy.

PPS: I´m still down here in Chile. My father was a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy and was always talking about when he took an aircraft carrier ride to Valparaiso back in the 1950s. So here is a short video of Valparaiso -- in honor of my Pop:

And when I was a kid, my mother always used to drag me off to antique stores -- so here´s a video of the ultimate antique collection. It´s in Nueuva Braunau, in Patagonia, a German settlement founded way up in the Chilean Andes in 1853. Mom, this one is for you.

My mom died in 1989, but if she is in Heaven, I´m sure that her version of it will look a lot like this museum.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Amassing a fortune: Chile, Conquistadores & Afghans

Writing all that stuff about the 2009 Chilean presidential elections a few days ago has plum worn me out -- and now I can´t think of anything else to write about here in Santiago that would be even half as exciting. But my hotel has free internet so I feel like I gotta write about something. I know! I can write about how freaking WARM it is down here. I knew I had a reason for coming. It´s 85 degrees. Perfect.

I went to the main cathedral in Santiago today -- and somehow that reminded me of the war on Afghanistan. The cathedral was built by conquistadores after their war on the local Indios. It´s the same principle. You go to war. You amass a fortune. You spend your fortune on grandiose things. The conquistadores had money coming out of their ears and built this GLORIOUS cathedral -- but they built it on the blood and the bones of the poor slobs that they had conquered.

Is the amassing of fabulous wealth worth all the pain that it costs? Do the victors really have the right-of-way? And do they really get away scot-free?

What ever DID become of the conquistadores?

"Okay, Jane you are really wandering off base on this one...." As usual. But look at it this way. The conquistadores came here and occupied Chile. The occupation was profitable. The Bush-Obama administration has occupied Afghanistan -- and that occupation is profitable too. But exactly who profits? In the case of Afghanistan, it is clearly the weapons manufacturers who have been amassing fortunes (It surely isn´t me -- or the poor Afghans. Or the rest of America either).

According to an article in AlterNet, the average American like you and me is really hurting financially right now. "Can you imagine an America without a strong middle class? If you can, would it still be America as we know it? Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can't make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street."

And have the weapons manufacturers, like the conquistadores, used their wealth to build cathedrals too? Get cracking, you guys! I want to see some bell towers and stained glass produced really soon -- or at least a mosque as nice as Al Aqsa or the Dome of the Rock..

Meanwhile back in old-time Santiago, the conquistadores had obviously been living high on the hog -- if judging by their cathedral is any rule of thumb.

And in Afghanistan? Like the Indios in the old days in Chile, most Afghans today are the poorest of the poor. And if the Bush-Obama administration really wanted to put an end to the Afghan occupation, it would simply spend its billions on improving the conditions of the Afghans instead of spending it on weapons.

I really enjoyed visiting the cathedral in Santiago. And a whole bunch of Chilean Indios died to build it. And if they want to stop being hypocritical in Afghanistan, the weapons manufacturers should start building cathedrals there too because they appear to be the conquistadores of today.

PS: Here´s a video of the inside of the Santiago cathedral. Sorry it came out so dark but you couldn´t use flash.

And here´s a video of election night at the Pinera headquarters.

PPS: Tomorrow I am hopefully going up to Valparaiso for the day. It´s a UNESCO world heritage site. That should be nice.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Election flurry in Chile: Not that anybody cares...

Well, after a sleepless night on an airplane, I arrived in Chile this morning and went straight to my hotel -- which happens to be the campaign headquarters for one of the main front-runners in the Chilean presidential elections. Wow!

But it´s not that anyone in America even knows that there are elections down here -- and not as if anyone cares. But for the Chileans -- who were not allowed to have elections at all for 27 years after the bloody coup of September 11, 1973 -- they take their elections very seriously indeed.
Let´s hope that someday Americans will take their elections seriously too.

"Pinera is running as a central candidate," said one of his campaign managers. "He stood up to Pinochet." That´s a definite plus on his side. "There is probably also going to be one more candidate who will get a majority of votes in this election. And then there will be a run-off." Interesting. I´m hoping that Marcos whats-his-name will win. His father used to be a left-wing guerilla. For me, that´s a plus.

Pinera owns Lan airlines and an island and an estancia and a credit card company and is full of big bucks -- like so many recent U.S. candidates who have bought their way into office. But there seems to be a buzz here in Pinera´s favor and there are big billboards of him all over Santiago. We´ll see.

"Pinera wasn´t against Pinochet per se," said one other source I talked to. "He was just out of the country during the September 11 coup.¨ Oh. And one member of the press stated that Pinera would sweep the elections and there wouldn´t have to be a run-off. But another member of the press was rooting for Marcos. "If Marcos can get to the run-off, he will win because the other center-left coalition will start backing him instead of their own candidates."

In any case, I´m here at Pinera´s campaign headquarters and tonight is the big night! The press room is filling up. Let´s wait and see.

Chilean elections should be very important to Americans -- if for no other reason than that Chile is where we get all our fresh off-season strawberries. But also because of the strong people-oriented political wind that is now sweeping South America after so many years of rule by dictatorship and torture. And if Pinera wins, where will he stand? With the nascent democratic movement or with the old-guard Latin American friends of the CIA?

For a more in-depth analysis of the election by the Guardian of London, click here:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Visiting Little Havana: Will I run into Fidel Castro?

I'm supposed to be flying off to Chile in time for the presidential elections and then cross over the Andes by bus to Buenos Aires -- in search of Evita's ghost. But first I'm going to have a 24-hour layover in Miami. "Want to go visit South Beach?" e-mailed my friends who live there. Forget about South Beach. I want to go see Calle Ocho!

"Well, then let's go have lunch at The Versailles in Little Havana," my friends e-mailed back Yaay! I keep having this feeling that somehow I'm going to run into Fidel Castro there -- cleverly disguised of course but still...

Or maybe I'll see Jennifer Lopez.

Actually, I figure that the younger generation now living on Calle Ocho are getting tired of always hatin' on poor Fidel -- and they might actually even be glad to finally meet this here living legend.

I was supposed to go to Antarctica this week but the ship I was scheduled to go on apparently hit an iceberg, so Chile is gonna be Plan B.

According to James W. Douglass's new book, "JFK and the Unspeakable," President Kennedy apparently was secretly planning a new detente with Fidel Castro back in 1963, just before he was shot in Dallas. In fact, there is much speculation that Kennedy's plans to normalize relations with Cuba -- and Vietnam -- were the very reasons why Kennedy got shot. And I just read where Fidel's reaction to the Kennedy assassination was, "That's bad, that's very bad [for Cuba]" But here I am now, 47 wasted years after the assassination, about to offer Fidel Castro an open invitation to come to the U.S. "Meet me for lunch at The Versailles restaurant in Little Havana? You name the date and I'll be there!"

It's about time that the "Berlin Wall" separating the U.S. and Cuba comes down. And why are we letting a few disgruntled refugees in Miami dictate our foreign policy on Cuba? Do we let a few disgruntled Haitian refugees in Miami dictate our foreign policy on Haiti? Or a few disgruntled Russian refugees in Sacramento dictate our foreign policy on Russia? Or a few disgruntled Israeli neo-cons dictate our foreign policy in Israel? Don't answer that, Mr. Netanyahu!

But before I can invite Fidel to lunch at the Versailles, I have to check out the menu first. So my friends Jim and Nancy are going to take me there tomorrow. But first I have to get to Miami. And that may be a problem. In order to make my plane on time, I have to walk to the Berkeley BART rapid transit station all by myself in the dark at 4 am. "I'll walk with you," said my daughter Ashley. Now THERE is a good daughter!

PS: I made it to Calle Ocho and searched high and low for Fidel Castro. And here are some videos to prove it!

Outside the Versailles restaurant, there was an anti-Castro demonstration going on but most of the demonstrators were rather old. I don't think that young Cuban-Americans think that way so much any more. Here's a video of the demonstration:

Once inside the restaurant, we immediately set to work eating. Here's a video of our food. Yum! Fidel, I think you would love the food here, so I hereby issue an open invitation to treat you to lunch at Versailles -- any time. Just give me a call!

PPS: Then we went off to Little Haiti and visited the excellent Little Haiti Cultural Center and got lost. And now I'm at the airport, bracing myself before taking a red-eye special to Santiago, Chile.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Things fall apart: Fear of getting older

Everyone in America today seems to be totally worried about terrorism and the economy. Sure, I also worry a lot that the Bush-Obama administration's excessive love of bankers and weapons manufacturers has screwed up my country -- but, frankly, I've got far more important things to worry about right now, things that are far more closer to home. I'm more worried about getting older and watching my body fall apart than I am about terrorists and the economy.

Recently I started taking a Jin Shin Jyutsu class, wherein the instructor keeps telling me that if I only do this or do that, my body and mind will start functioning better. But, hey, just look what I have to work with! My body parts are clearly wearing out. Where was Jin shin Jyutsu 40 years ago -- when I had a much higher quality product to work with.

Here's a video of the three main JSJ self-help body holds. If you are young, you might want to try them. They will probably work better for you than they do for me.

There is one advantage to being old, however. I no longer have to worry about global warming, economic disaster, irradiation by depleted uranium and the oceans rising over my doorstep -- because within the next 20 years I'll be dead. Ha! All you young strong healthy types who can still do cartwheels and run marathons will be stuck with all this deadly Bush-Obama mess -- but I won't be. Ha!

But, like I said, the disadvantage of being older is that all my stuff is now all falling apart. And even if Americans move quickly, stop using cars, become socialists, kick all the bankers out of the Pentagon and save the world, all you young guys perhaps may get saved -- but I'm still gonna be old.

PS: One thing I would really like to do that would most likely improve my life span -- or at least my memory -- is to win the lottery and move someplace where they don't put fluoride in the water.

PPS: I'm leaving for Miami on Friday, to have lunch at the Versailles restaurant on Calle Ocho in Little Havana and keep my eyes peeled for Fidel Castro while I eat fried plantains. Hey, you never can tell. (And even Fidel Castro is actually getting OLD.)

Then I'm going to leave the next day for Chile, to be down there in time for the Chilean presidential elections. This election is a big deal! I myself am rooting for Marco Enriquez-Ominami, an independent running on a center-left platform. He's not only popular in Chile but he's also a good guy who (hopefully) won't sell out his constituency to the highest bidder the moment he gets elected on a platform of "change".

PPPS: Here's a video of Mena's friend Fami's birthday party. Fami just turned two. This video is totally non-political -- except that it's virtually living proof that we CAN "all just get along".