Friday, November 28, 2008

Stampede of Savages :: Throng of 2,000 Bargain Shoppers Tramples WalMart Employee to Death

Stampede of Savages :: Throng of 2,000 Bargain Shoppers Tramples WalMart Employee to Death. I cobbed together this headline from the words in the article.

Remember past stories of shoppers fighting in the aisles over worthless Chinese manufactured capitalist materialist consumerist trinkets? I don't shop at WalMart out of principle. The towering stacks of trinkets, the stench of plastics and all kinds of shit outgassing into the atmosphere is too much. I literally feel dizzy walking into those places.

You'd better not get in the way of some inconspicuous consumer on his or her way to buy a 48" LCD TV. Stand between a rabid, foaming at the mouth American consumer, with their nearly maxed out stack of credit cards, barely making the 30% interest payments on the aggregate balance, between them and some product the media convinced them they need - they gotta have it - and be prepared to be trampled to death, or bludgeoned to death with a 12 pack of Charmin tissue, or beaten severely about the head and shoulders with a Barbie Doll.

'Tis the season.

Sad. So very sad. The guy is dead.

I couldn't bear to watch, check your ballroom dynamism at the door, or I ate too much...

The following post is laced with profanity. Mostly the F word. Okay, only the F word.


As the organizer, the buck stops with you. Just because it's your Nth annual event, doesn't mean you can sit back and rest on your laurels.

Observe with a critical eye.

Listen with a critical ear.

Feel the energy of the room with your heart and soul.

Feel the temperature of the room with your skin. From meat locker one night, to muggy, subtropical evening the next is indicative of a problem. Make sure you've got the building engineer or facilities guy on a short leash. If guys are shedding jackets and changing into dry shirts in the men's room - check the T-stat.

Get rid of the fucking plastic wrist bands. The implied/default assumption that people are going to try to steal from you - steal a milonga, or steal a class, is insulting. Tango people don't steal tango. If a few do, fuck them, but don't fuck with the rest of us. Tickets or badges or a list or even a stamp on the hand are the best - least obtrusive.

I'm stopping here, not sure of where to go with this...each year bring in someone with a fresh viewpoint and tweak things...with a "continuous improvement" mindset and approach...and don't lose sight of the fact that your festival is for the dancers, not the teachers, not the DJ's and especially not you.



Do not ever teach or work through 'moves' with your partner [you just learned in class today] in the corner, off the dance floor, at a social milonga.


EL TANGO ES EL TANGO. Google it, do the research, and figure it the fuck out.

In a social milonga setting, do not lean against the wall and do ballet type stretching and leg swinging. Even if you are an old fart. If you need to warm up and stretch, do it in your hotel room, outside where no one will see you, or in the privacy of a toilet stall after you've taken a dump.

Wash your fucking hands when you leave the bathroom. With soap. Your followers and the leaders who dance with them after you do will appreciate it.

Ladies, do not hold on to a chair and do boleos to warm up before dancing at a milonga. This is a turn off.

For festival milongas, go buy some black slacks at WalMart for $19.95. Jeans are a sign of your lack of respect for all that tango is, dude. Especially the high waisted Wranglers, cowboy. Do the jeans at local milongas, practicas, and classes, no problem. Tango is supposed to be elegant and beautiful. Jeans ain't elegant nor beautiful.

If you can't tell by now, I am in a mood.

Your woman just wants to dance. Dance her. Dance with her. Do your best to make her feel special. Purge all thoughts of yourself, your 'self', your feet, your 'moves', the figures you just learned today. That stuff will sink in - in time - with practice - with dancing - with sleeping - but not tonight. Be present with that woman in your embrace. The Power of Now.


Think "Top 40".

You know the dance, the feeling, is totally inspired by/from/of the music. Play music that inspires, that makes people get up and want to dance.

Like it or not, you are educating the newbies. If they learn to dance to crap, they will dance like crap, and they will only want to hear crap. Don't play crap no one's ever heard before. We don't want to dance to the music you like. We want to dance to the music WE like. If it's something new and unusual, just make sure it's good. Damn good.

Invest in your music collection. Make the acquisitions. Spend the $2k to travel to Buenos Aires and listen to what they play there. Spend the $1k on music while you're there. Spend another $1k on more stuff once you're back home. Beg, borrow or steal everything else. Pay attention to what all the other DJ's are playing. Do the research. Do the hard work categorizing everything. Do the hard work listening to EVERYTHING in your collection. Do the hard work. If your collection is not there, if it's weak, if the hard work has not been done, then you are not a DJ and do not offer yourself as such - especially at the festival level.

For a milonga that goes until 3am, playing nuevo/alt music at midnight is too soon. This is a TANGO festival. People have traveled far and wide at great expense to listen to TANGO music and dance EL TANGO.

If you must play nuevo/alt music, play music that is tango danceable. Look for a 4 beat. It's not a good sign if your nuevo song has half the dancers dancing swing or some swango aberration. Nuevo/alt music should inspire nuevo and/or traditional tango, not some other dance. Again, this is a TANGO festival.

Re: Milonga tandas - there are not that many milonga tandas in an evening. There are a great many FANTASTIC milonga songs. If you are playing foursies in a TTVTTM format, there will be three milongas per hour. In a six hour milonga, usually the max, you are looking for 18-20 top shelf milonga songs. Don't play some 'off' crap we've never heard.

If lots of people are sitting, this is a bad sign. If almost no one is sitting, this is a good sign. If the people staying until the very end do not want to sit down or stop dancing, this is a good sign. If the crowd appears to be thinning early-ish, or people are noticeably just getting up and leaving, this is a bad sign.


I am NOT an authority on tango, milongas, festivals, DJ'ing, teaching, learning, etc. Take this with a grain of salt. This is my personal opinion, mis dos centavos. I ate too much and woke up from a bad dream about hammerhead sharks trying to eat me and I should have just gone back to sleep.

Oh well...there ya have it.

I did have one excellent vals tanda with a good friend tonight, and then I left.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving :: Let us all give thanks for tango

Photo by Alex.Tango.Fuego. Click here for full size.

Seriously, I have a lot to be thankful and grateful for this Thanksgiving, not the least of which is having tango in my life. My life is a better, richer life because of tango.

I'm in Austin now, starting a new life, or re-focusing my current life. I'm with my family, except my sister who is living the expat life in Ethiopia. I have beautiful people, with wonderful souls, in my life. I have new friends and have reconnected with old friends. I have people who care deeply for me in my life. I have my health. I have a roof over my head and very high thread-count sheets to sleep on. I have cash flow for the next few months. I have freedom. I have tango.

For all of this, I give thanks.

Love and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two cool products for the environmentally savvy...

Big Ass Fans

Anti-Monkey Butt Powder (To get you by temporarily, with any profuse sweating issues, until you can afford a Big Ass Fan)

Yes, this is a real product, from right here in Austin, Texas...


A well timed, well placed slap...

A comment I made over at Debbi's blog last night, well, my reflection on the comment this morning made me think of this scene from one of the Trinity westerns...

Her blog post is about a comment a prick leader made to a group of women, and the comment below is a follow-up to my first comment that "someone shoulda slapped the shit out of him"...

Here's the comment:

I think a well timed, well placed slap, delivered with the proper amount of force, can be a beautiful thing when a man is being an asshole.

That's what women did in the old days when a man made inappropriate advances or comments, right? At least that's the way it's always portrayed in film. If another man was witness to it, especially if she was close to him (wife, daughter, etc.), it would fall upon him to defend her honor, no? A duel, swordplay, a gunfight, or a general ass-kicking.

Again, I'm not advocating violence - I'm not a violent man, have never been in a fist fight in my life, have never been slapped as I recall, but I just find it interesting to talk about (and ponder) this subject.

I did however, have my right ear lobe half bit off by one of my ex's. I was being an asshole. We made mad, passionate love after the bleeding stopped. I can still feel the scar line where her two front teeth parted my flesh.

Quest for clean energy can create big job gains right now

Apparently, I'm not the only one thinking this...

Article from Newsweek...interview with author and activist Van Jones...

Chicho, Eugenia, y Biagi

Nuevo Hand Forms

Korey and Mila
Originally uploaded by mariongreenwood

What I call the 'waiter with a tray', with the palm anything less than vertical in the "Y" axis, although usually more horizontal than Korey's hand in this photo, is a Nuevo-esque anomaly/influence, in my opinion...

I hate to continue the whole traditional v. nuevo debate...but hey, what can I say? I am an admitted purist.

I'll even throw a little gas on the fire. If your hand is less than vertical, okay, I'll give you a few degrees.... if you are holding your left hand more than 15 degrees off of vertical (in the "Y" axis), then you are dancing NUEVO, which makes you a Nuevo Dancer!!!


Have at it my nuevo friends...

Hand Forms :: Ney & Jennifer

passioned embrace
Originally uploaded by leone.

Palm vertical in the "Y" axis, rotated toward the leader's face in the "X" plane...

I rest my case...

Photo by Leone...

Hand Forms :: pablo veron e lorena ermocida

pablo veron e lorena ermocida
Originally uploaded by leone.


Pablo's palm is vertical in the "Y" axis, and rotated slightly toward his face in the "X" plane...

Just like mine!


Photo by Leone...

Hand Forms :: appassiunatamente

Originally uploaded by leone.

Photo by Leone...

Handforms :: Tete' Rusconi

tete' rusconi
Originally uploaded by leone.

Photo by Leone

Actually when this subject first cropped up in a tango forum/discussion list, and my hand position was referred to as odd/quirky, I did a little research and found that my hand form is very similar to the following dancers:

Tete Rusconi
Ruben Harbyamat
Gavito (when not doing a show) (deceased)
Dany 'El Flaco' Garcia
Osvaldo Cartery
Ricardo Vidort

Gustavo Naveira
Fabian Salas
Osvaldo Zotto
Omar Vega (deceased)

Ney Melo
Detlef Engel
Murat Erdemsel

I only found Julio Balmaceda's hand form to be different, leaning more towards the 'waiter with a tray' form...

All these guys are the examples from whom I draw inspiration...

gavito hand form :: more excuses in my defense

Originally uploaded by leone.

Hey, at least I'm not doing this...

I'm man enough to be open to the possibility to possibly admit I might be wrong, perhaps....or, it's always the leader's fault...

Because I complained about getting the "thumb guillotine" sometimes, where the woman grasps my thumb like a baby chimpanzee, even to the point of the tip of it turning bright red, and thought it was a follower axis/balance issue, where she was "hanging" on for dear life kinda thing...which I do more commonly get this with beginning followers...

I've been getting some feedback on the position of my left hand in this photo ::

Heather smiles...

I looked at all the photos I have of myself dancing, and my hand is pretty much in this position in all of them...okay, scratch the "pretty much"...

Here's the "excuse" I offered ::

98% of the time I get a "normal" hand situation with the woman, where her fingertips are up in the crook of my thumb and index finger, with my fingers lightly clasped around hers...this follower always does this (with me anyway)...there's another woman here who always does this, but lets her hand slide down to my wrist, which always feel problematic to me...

I was using the photo to illustrate my thumb position (in space) more than my hand position...usually my wrist is cocked back a bit, but not into the full waiter with a tray position, which is unnatural to me...

But, all that said, I will be more aware of what's going on in that department...

[more excuses before my full blown "guilty" admission}

But see, the guy in this photo has the same hand position [palm perpendicular to his body...mine is perpendicular or facing my face a bit], and she has sweetly slid her little soft hand up into the crook between his thumb and forefinger...that's what I get, or end up with, most of the time...

I don't know who the dude is, but he's gotta be good, and gotta know what he's doing, because he's dancing at Canning, right? (grin)

Photo by Lalo de Almeida for The New York Times

So, I'm man enough to be open to the possibility to possibly admit that I might be wrong about the position of my left hand, perhaps, maybe...and, that the thumb guillotine could actually be my issue, and not a follower issue...or, "it's always the leader's fault"...(grin)

I'm dancing tonight at the first milonga of the Fandango, so I'll pay attention to what's going on...and report back...

Check out Johanna's post on this subject (of my hand position), and the resulting commentary here....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oh great. Just what we want to hear.

Economic Slump

I've been thinking how this economic morass could be solved with new investment in alternative energy and mass transit, although the time frame to 'flip the switch' from fossil fuels to other alternatives is likely decades, not years, and especially not fiscal quarters or months.

If you read the article, everyone is saying that with low fossil fuel prices, we can't "afford" to invest in alternative energy (and mass transit, which is inextricably tied).

So let me get this straight. We can't "afford" to invest, to focus, to expand our views and thinking (and our hearts), to think outside our capitalist box, to change directions in technologies (and lifestyles) which will ensure the future of humanity for at least another couple of hundred years. We should actually be looking at a five hundred year window, when the capitalists typically look at a five year payback. There's a huge disconnect for ya. Electrical pun intended.

But we CAN afford to invest, to blindly follow, to bury our collective cabezas in the sand, to keep paying our utility bills like good little citizens, to keep enriching the wealthy, and the stockholders of energy/utility companies and automobile manufacturers, to be "safe and sound" with more of the same, worsening our environment each day, raping our Mother Earth and its future generations in our indifference, ensuring the demise of humanity on this earth. I see, YES WE CAN!

Maybe this means Circuit City doesn't have to go bankrupt. If we're not going to invest in ALT Energy Inc., then maybe we can go ahead and buy that 175 foot yacht I've been wanting.

"Hey Steve, hey good morning, it's Alex. I hope I'm not calling you too early. Hey do me a favor. Will you start working on consolidating some liquid assets for me. I need $100 million for this yacht I've been looking at. Actually just 25 for now. I'm pretty sure the salesman said that was the amount of the deposit. I can take possession with 25. I want to take the little lady for a cruise around the Med as a Christmas gift. Can you pull it together in three weeks? Pirates? There are pirates in the Med? I thought they were only around the bend in the Gulf. Oh. Better make it 30. I'll need some operating funds anyway. You know anyone over at Blackwater? No? I'll call Cheney, he'll know someone. Alright. Thanks. Talk later. [click] Hey Dick! Good morning to ya...this is Alex..."

No, I'm not that naive. I know that's not how it works. I know people can't consider investment in things that don't return that investment, plus a little something we call return on investment. ROI. Perhaps that is the ultimate question...okay, not the ultimate, but pretty high up there. Would you give money away, knowing you would never see it again, to ensure the future of humanity on the earth? Would you give money away to ensure the starving of the world could eat and be nourished? Would you give money away to develop alternate energies and mass transit? Would you give money away to ensure clean water, clean air, a safe food supply, healthy topsoil, a clean and sober society, healthy people through preventative medicine, smart(er) people through better education, more justice in the justice system, and on and on and on.

That's essentially what taxes are. We give our money away never to see it again. But for me, I see that as an investment. I want to see a return on that investment. We should all want to see a return on that investment. Huge funding, HUGE return. I don't want to see it go into the black hole of government, only to be pulled out of someone's pocket next month to pay their utility bill.

I'm headin' off to work. Got bills to pay.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A better look at my hand position...

My palm is somewhere between "facing my face" and "perpendicular to my body"...Heather's fingertips are hooked on the heel of my hand...

Heather smiles...

Dear Alex

November 24, 2008

Dear Alex:

I received your request, indicating your disapproval of a bailout for Chrysler, General Motors and Ford. As you know, I voted against the earlier Wall Street bailout because it did not have enough limitations on Wall Street or protections for taxpayers. Even though there was no vote on any new bailout, last week, I introduced legislation to stop guidance secretly issued by the Treasury Department that gives away billions of dollars to banks.

I am attaching excerpts from a recent Washington Post article that describes how Treasury quietly issued this guidance that would create a $140 billion loophole in the tax code. It is fundamentally wrong that while aid for struggling families and other important national priorities must survive a long and difficult legislative process, $140 billion is handed out Treasury's backdoor to subsidize banks.

Be assured I will continue my hard work combating special interests and closing tax loopholes like these, which only increase the burden on families and small businesses.

I would also appreciate your thoughts on other issues that may be considered in Congress. If you have not done so already, please take a moment to visit my website at where you can complete a survey online.

A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks
With Attention on Bailout Debate, Treasury Made Change to Tax Policy
By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 10, 2008; A01

The financial world was fixated on Capitol Hill as Congress battled over the Bush administration's request for a $700 billion bailout of the banking industry. In the midst of this late-September drama, the Treasury Department issued a five-sentence notice that attracted almost no public attention.

But corporate tax lawyers quickly realized the enormous implications of the document: Administration officials had just given American banks a windfall of as much as $140 billion.

The sweeping change to two decades of tax policy escaped the notice of lawmakers for several days, as they remained consumed with the controversial bailout bill. When they found out, some legislators were furious. Some congressional staff members have privately concluded that the notice was illegal. But they have worried that saying so publicly could unravel several recent bank mergers made possible by the change and send the economy into an even deeper tailspin.

"Did the Treasury Department have the authority to do this? I think almost every tax expert would agree that the answer is no," said George K. Yin, the former chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the nonpartisan congressional authority on taxes. "They basically repealed a 22-year-old law that Congress passed as a backdoor way of providing aid to banks."

The story of the obscure provision underscores what critics in Congress, academia and the legal profession warn are the dangers of the broad authority being exercised by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. in addressing the financial crisis. Lawmakers are now looking at whether the new notice was introduced to benefit specific banks, as well as whether it inappropriately accelerated bank takeovers.

The change to Section 382 of the tax code -- a provision that limited a kind of tax shelter arising in corporate mergers -- came after a two-decade effort by conservative economists and Republican administration officials to eliminate or overhaul the law, which is so little-known that even influential tax experts sometimes draw a blank at its mention. Until the financial meltdown, its opponents thought it would be nearly impossible to revamp the section because this would look like a corporate giveaway, according to lobbyists.

Andrew C. DeSouza, a Treasury spokesman, said the administration had the legal authority to issue the notice as part of its power to interpret the tax code and provide legal guidance to companies. He described the Sept. 30 notice, which allows some banks to keep more money by lowering their taxes, as a way to help financial institutions during a time of economic crisis. "This is part of our overall effort to provide relief," he said.

The Treasury itself did not estimate how much the tax change would cost, DeSouza said.

A Tax Law 'Shock'
The guidance issued from the IRS caught even some of the closest followers of tax law off guard because it seemed to come out of the blue when Treasury's work seemed focused almost exclusively on the bailout.

"It was a shock to most of the tax law community. It was one of those things where it pops up on your screen and your jaw drops," said Candace A. Ridgway, a partner at Jones Day, a law firm that represents banks that could benefit from the notice. "I've been in tax law for 20 years, and I've never seen anything like this."

More than a dozen tax lawyers interviewed for this story -- including several representing banks that stand to reap billions from the change -- said the Treasury had no authority to issue the notice.

Several other tax lawyers, all of whom represent banks, said the change was legal. Like DeSouza, they said the legal authority came from Section 382 itself, which says the secretary can write regulations to "carry out the purposes of this section."

Section 382 of the tax code was created by Congress in 1986 to end what it considered an abuse of the tax system: companies sheltering their profits from taxation by acquiring shell companies whose only real value was the losses on their books. The firms would then use the acquired company's losses to offset their gains and avoid paying taxes.

Lawmakers decried the tax shelters as a scam and created a formula to strictly limit the use of those purchased losses for tax purposes.

The notice was released on a momentous day in the banking industry. It not only came 24 hours after the House of Representatives initially defeated the bailout bill, but also one day after Wachovia agreed to be acquired by Citigroup in a government-brokered deal.

The Treasury notice suddenly made it much more attractive to acquire distressed banks, and Wells Fargo, which had been an earlier suitor for Wachovia, made a new and ultimately successful play to take it over.

The Jones Day law firm said the tax change, which some analysts soon dubbed "the Wells Fargo Ruling," could be worth about $25 billion for Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo declined to comment for this article.

The tax world, meanwhile, was rushing to figure out the full impact of the notice and who was responsible for the change.

Jones Day released a widely circulated commentary that concluded that the change could cost taxpayers about $140 billion. Robert L. Willens, a prominent corporate tax expert in New York City, said the price is more likely to be $105 billion to $110 billion.

Over the next month, two more bank mergers took place with the benefit of the new tax guidance. PNC, which took over National City, saved about $5.1 billion from the modification, about the total amount that it spent to acquire the bank, Willens said. Banco Santander which took over Sovereign Bancorp, netted an extra $2 billion because of the change, he said. A spokesman for PNC said Willens's estimate was too high but declined to provide an alternate one; Santander declined to comment.

Attorneys representing banks celebrated the notice. The week after it was issued, former Treasury officials now in private practice met with Solomon, the department's top tax policy official. They asked him to relax the limitations on banks even further, so that foreign banks could benefit from the tax break, too.

Congress Looks for Answers
No one in the Treasury informed the tax-writing committees of Congress about this move, which could reduce revenue by tens of billions of dollars. Legislators learned about the notice only days later.

DeSouza, the Treasury spokesman, said Congress is not normally consulted about administrative guidance.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member on the Finance Committee, was particularly outraged and had his staff push for an explanation from the Bush administration, according to congressional aides.

In an off-the-record conference call on Oct. 7, nearly a dozen Capitol Hill staffers demanded answers from Solomon for about an hour. Several of the participants left the call even more convinced that the administration had overstepped its authority, according to people familiar with the conversation.


Lawmakers are considering legislation to undo the change. According to tax attorneys, no one would have legal standing to file a lawsuit challenging the Treasury notice, so only Congress or Treasury could reverse it. Such action could undo the notice going forward or make it clear that it was never legal, a move that experts say would be unlikely.

But several aides said they were still torn between their belief that the change is illegal and fear of further destabilizing the economy.

"None of us wants to be blamed for ruining these mergers and creating a new Great Depression," one said.

Some legal experts said these under-the-radar objections mirror the objections to the congressional resolution authorizing the war in Iraq.

"It's just like after September 11. Back then no one wanted to be seen as not patriotic, and now no one wants to be seen as not doing all they can to save the financial system," said Lee A. Sheppard, a tax attorney who is a contributing editor at the trade publication Tax Analysts. "We're left now with congressional Democrats that have spines like overcooked spaghetti. So who is going to stop the Treasury secretary from doing whatever he wants?"

Lloyd Doggett
U.S. House of Representatives
25th District of Texas

More on volcada technique...

Here's a video from our buddy Miles - Homer & Cristina demo'ing some volcada technique/vocabulary. In spite of Homer's "ever so slight" nuevo-esque stylistic influences, their volcadas look like the real deal. I have no doubt that Homer falls in the class of "good", or even "great" tango teachers.

They even do one that I have in my bag of tricks but had forgotten about - I'll call it the "volcadafollowedbyadoublepivotingcalesitaresultinginawoundupcontratensionreleaseintoanothervolcada" or perhaps the double pivoting double volcada. Whatever.

Also note that you can lead a volcada at almost any point the woman's leg is free (from a pause/stop obviously). A cool version is to get one as she unwinds out of the cross on the close side. Always a nice little surprise for her.

Note that the juiciest volcadas are tiny, milonguero volcadas - languid (my new favorite word 8) ), lush, sweeping, juicy - fluid. At least that's the feedback I've always gotten from mine.

Again, don't try this at home without some good instruction. Try as you might, you won't learn it from these videos, and you could endanger/injure her lower back.

By the way, the song is "Sin Rumbo Fijo"... sung by Ángel Vargas... Orquestra Tipica Victor... recorded in 1938...

It's not too late :: El Fandango de Tango

The Fandango, as we call it here in Austin, starts on Wednesday with the first classes and milonga. It's not too late to book a flight and a room. Drive on in if you are close enough. Although in Texas, that's a loaded statement. Nothing's close in Texas.

Los "maestros" are:

Fabian Salas y Maria Paz Giorgi
Guillermo Merlo y Fernanda Ghi
Diego di Falco y Carolina Zokalski
Nito y Elba Garcia
Alex Krebs y Luciana Valle
Pablo Pugliese y Noel Strazza

The topics of the classes are not announced until the morning of the day of the classes. The DJ's for the milongas are not announced in advance either. You find out when you get there. It's one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive festivals in the U.S. $589 for the full, unlimited pass. $159 for the "all milonga" pass (seven milongas), $119 if you skip the Thanksgiving brunch milonga (six milongas). Plus, there's no 'a la carte' class pricing, only full day passes. You could ski all four mountains in Aspen, rent skis, have lunch and drink apres ski at Ajax Tavern for less. Ricardo won't like that I am being negative, but it's a festival that really discriminates against local dancers (especially our UT student contingent), and sometimes the truth hurts. But, he's been doing it for 10 years now, and I'm sure he knows what works for him.

The hotel/venue is a nice one - the Omni Hotel Southpark - 5 minutes away. I had a luxurious delusion at one point of getting a suite, and having a "hospitality suite", sort of like a green room that all festivals are sorely lacking. It's an extravagance I can't justify right now. My recent move and then the long road trip set me back about four or five festivals, including airfare and hotel. Or two festivals in Europe, or three trips to Buenos Aires. Or one Nikon D-3 body. Oh well. We do what we gotta do.

This festival has a "ballroomy" undertone to it. At least that's what I felt last year. I understand that the organizer Ricardo comes from the ballroom world, and I hear that the event organization and pricing structure is similar to what you might encounter for a ballroom dance event.

That being said, I had some really good dances last year, one or two amazing dances, reconnected with old friends, and made some new ones. I'm looking forward to seeing friends from Dallas and Houston. My Phoenix cohorts can't make it though. Bummer.

Repost :: We Suck

We need George Carlin now...

Here's a re-post from this summer...our politicians (and system of government) don't suck...the public sucks...we suck...

This is a good one (on politicians and our political systems) that I am almost in total agreement with. Who do we have now to "give voice to an indignant counter culture"?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Big Three Bailout

Who knows if we will bail out GM, Ford and Chrysler? The best thing we can do is "not" buy one of their cars, which is what everyone seems to be doing anyway. That's the beauty and ugliness of capitalism. Companies fail when they produce products people don't want to buy.

If three million people are rendered unemployed in the process, then put them to work building light rail, mag-lev, and bullet train cars, and the rail infrastructure we will need when gas goes back up to $5/gallon, and then $10/gallon, and then runs out.

We mustn't delude ourselves that suddenly because gas prices are reasonable again, that we can ignore the problem. We are running out of crude oil. Plain. Simple. Painful. Very, very painful.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On the volcada

I just saw a rather terrible video from YouTube (on another blogger's website) on leading the volcada...terrible in that it was a terrible example of how to lead (and follow) the volcada...

Here's how you do it...

Take the follower's axis...and make a little tiny "J" with it...

There's a lot more to it than that, but I'm being deliberately/overly brief, because you can't learn it from a friggin' YouTube video...

Here's a good example (in the first part of the video, to "El Once") of more languid, fluid, elegant volcadas, although these are "big", "non-social" volcadas with rather extreme apilado. The lower backs of most women I know can't take the stress of big volcadas. Plus there's the trust issue. Gustavo has a penchant for counter-clockwise rotating reverse volcadas, but they are volcadas nonetheless.

Have a look, but hire a really good teacher to show you how to properly lead and follow a volcada.

Tango Shoe Porn

Tango Shoe Porn

Things were looking a little "texty" so here's a photo to add some color...

I did a photo shoot in Denver with these shoes, and a model attached to them. I wasn't really happy with the results of the shoot, except for one shot, which some might find offensive, so I'll just tell you about it. The model is standing in front of this window, her back to the camera, ironing a shirt while wearing these shoes (and nothing else).

I stole the name for the photo's title..."Comme il Faut"...which I understand to mean "as it should be"...or "how things are done"...or "all things right and proper"...which some may find equally offensive, unless you know/understand me, and would then know that it's only tongue in cheek...and that I do all my own ironing...I'm a zen master of ironing...

Damn! I shoulda had the iron turned on and had her press the "steam puff" button. That would have been a great effect. Oh well.

Got the picture?

Tango Resources

I'm up late (or early) doing some DJ "stuff". Here are three good tango resource/research sites with lots of info on tango in general, not just for DJ's...

Todo Tango (declared a 'site of national interest' in Argentina) Okay, this one is mostly DJ-centric, but has a few other interesting links...

And here are three others that just came to mind...

Stephen Brown's TejasTango site was of great influence and help to me in my early tango study days...

Also check out Christine Deniston's "History of Tango"...

And lastly, "Ernesto's Tango Page" is a vast repository of all things tango...

Friday, November 21, 2008

okay i'm back...

I was going take my blog private, but typing in all of ya'lls email addresses (to be readers by "invitation only") was making my fingers hurt so I gave up...


Monday, November 17, 2008

Big Milonga

Hey ya'll....

I've been dancing a fair amount of tango the last several weeks. Probably more in the last two months than in the prior two years. Maybe. Anyway, I'm drawing a total blank on anything to write on the subject of tango. Nuttin'. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Black Hole. Anti-matter. The deep blue nothing-ness.

I've also been dancing a fair amount of two-step. Texas two-step I suppose. I went to a shindig the other night called the "Fall Ball", with a live band in a one-hundred-thirty year old German dance hall. The layout was ideal for a milonga - 40ft x 70ft dance floor, with 10ft long tables along each side so the aisles between face the dance floor. The women just spill out along the edges of the dance floor and get snatched up by the men in short order. Bandstand/stage at one end, bar and food at the other end - buffet style potluck. 250 or so dancers. Nice.

Imagine for a minute if there were two or three couples at a milonga dancing full-on "dances with the stars tango". Ballroom Tango. Here's what struck me. There were two or three couples dancing full-on "ballroom" two-step. One leader would get a running start, run and then slide for three or four feet, strike a pose, and then keep on dancing. No harm, no foul. There were the milonguero two steppers - older couples taking tiny steps and modest (or no) turns. There were the close embrace/apilado youngsters taking estilo milonguero a few notches up. There were the open embrace/salon two steppers - doing all the twirly arm stuff with even some doble frente. Perhaps there were even one or two fantasia/stage dancers. And don't forget the nuevos - they were there too - mixing two-step and lindy hop and some other crazy stuff - kicking the posts along the side as they danced by.

So, you had the full range, the full gamut. Milonguero/Close Embrace, Open Embrace/Salon, Stage/Fantasia, Nuevo AND Ballroom Tango, er... Two-Step going on all on the same dance floor, at the same time, to the same song/music. Oh, and me dancing tango to the slow ones. (Only my partner's suggestion...)

Now ain't that something to consider, much less actually behold? Everyone was having fun, getting along, interacting, socializing, taking in all the various styles and techniques of dancing/dancers and dancing. Everyone was there to dance and have fun and see their friends. Sure there were the occasional bumps. Eye contact and "sorry" was all it took. No big deal. Floorcraft and navigation was as good as it gets.

What's my point? No point, just an observation to share. Something to think about. Something out there in the realm of possibility.

My favorite couple of the night were dressed in period clothes - from the 1950's. The woman was like a Jolly Green Giantess in a green ruffly mini-skirt (and short roper cowboy boots) that twirled out when her Mohawked partner would twirl her around. She had the 50's hair-do nailed, although I don't think the mohawk was on the scene then. Only in Austin.

My friend said I made a quantum breakthrough in my two-step from beginning to end of the evening. Oh, and another thing! The guys turn around and dance backwards. I was even able to do that pretty well. You just look back over your left shoulder a bit.

The polka is the milonga of the two-step world. Amazingly, you can dance milonga when a polka comes on - as such, I think I've found an outlet for my "big milonga". I got high fives back at the table after a particularly good ronda. Grinning ear to ear, she said it was her best dance of the night. That's all a man/dancer can hope for.

But then again, it may have been the mezcal greasing my wheels...(grin)...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

$700 billion bailout lacks oversight :: The Livid Level

Read the article here on

Does this surprise anyone? I'm not surprised. I have been telling everyone I know that the U.S. Government (and its Department of Special Interests) is stealing the U.S. Taxpayer blind. Robbing from the poor and the middle class and giving to the rich.

Pallets full of $100 million in cash - bricks of $100 bills - are air freighted to EyeRACK (I say Ear-rock...with a slight roll of the "r" - one little tongue thrust into the roof of the mouth - the proper way...), disappears, and no one knows what happened to it. I know what happened to it. It's back in the good 'ol U.S. of A - in the form of big houses, big boats, big vacations. Assholes.

$100 million is piss-ant. A drop in the bucket. Not even a drop. A droplet. $100 million will barely buy you four Gulfstream jets. $100 million will barely buy you ten nice sized houses in Aspen. By "nice sized" I mean at least 6,000 square feet. Red Mountain quality level.

So now we're talking $700 billion. AIG has already asked for another $40 billion and continues to blow OUR money on luxuries and posh-ass amenities at out of town retreats or whatever they are doing under the guise of rebuilding their failed business model. No doubt with the same corporate leadership philosophy and oversight that built the business model that failed. You really think they are doing anything different? These are corporate Republican assholes. Moneygrubbers. They are doing the same old thing, only with our money backing them to do it all over and fail again. Key point here - they are skimming their 'vig' in the process.

Does anyone really believe that our Federal Government (or local, county or state for that matter) can really do ANYFUCKINGTHING right? I'm not just talking about the current DUMBFUCKS of the current administration.


The momentum of the (Fed) behemoth is so great, that I don't think anyone can change the way "business as usual" has been going on at the federal level for years and years and years. Not Obama. Not God.

Alex is not pissed anymore. Alex is absolutely fucking livid. Foaming at the mouth type livid. Spitting and choking and sputtering livid - as I sit here calmly at my keyboard at 4am.

If you get 10 or 20 million livid folks - out of work - hungry - their houses and their SUV's and their boats and their jetskis and their RV's and their bigscreen plasma displays repo'd - watching AIG (and other banking executives) using tax dollars to enrich and luxuriate themselves - watching all government employees and Senators and Congresspeople safe and sound in the cocoon of taxpayer funded salaries and benefits - healthcare - retirement - lots of paid vacation days - etc. - watch what happens.

Watch what happens when you get 10 or 20 million people who finally reach the livid level.

Watch what happens.

It's called a revolution.

P.S. This is one of those posts that I usually go back and hide within a few minutes of posting it...although this time, I'm leaving it up.

Okay. There's a little glimmer of hope peeking through my lividity. Call your Senator and Representative today. Call their office directly. Tell them you read about this on MSNBC and you want to know what they are going to do about it. What are they going to do about it today? Right now.

Their numbers are below.



No excuses.

Tell them you are disappointed in them. Disappointed in the job they are doing.

Tell them you have faith and hope that they can do a better job.

Tell them that they must do a better job.

Tell them you expect them not only to "do the right thing", but to also "do the thing right".

Congressional Directory

Senate Directory

We're all going to have to get off our collective asses and get involved. Directly involved. Obama can't do it alone. It is time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wind on wheels


On the road up and back, I saw some windmills (wind generators) being hauled on trucks - parts & pcs. These puppies are huge. "Ginormous" which is a (non-word) word I hate with a passion, but no other words suffice. Here is a little verbal detailing to help you cognitate on it.

The tower/shaft sections are so large (in diameter) you could drive a semi truck through them.

The blade base section, where it connects to the turbine thingamajigger deelybopper, is large enough for three or four people to walk into - abreast.

As far as the blade itself, length-wise, imagine a bunch of guys carrying the thing into the front door of the average American upsidedowninanadjustableratemortgage dwelling unit. First, the business edge of the blade would cut up into the ceiling and likely protrude through the roof. Then, the tip would crash through the sliding glass back door, continue across the back yard smashing the swing set, level the six foot cedar fence, continue across the neighbor's back yard, and come to rest more or less next to the BBQ pit on the back deck. Note that the heel/ass end would still be resting on the curb next to the mail box in the front yard.

Another comparison is that a single blade is more or less the size of a jumbo jet fuselage - perhaps even longer.

Big mo-fo's in other words.

Wind power is NOT an emerging alternative energy technology. It has emerged. There are wind farms stretching as far as the eye can see in parts of west Texas. Right now. Producing power today.

Candice White's "Theater of Dreams" 2009 Calendar

My friend, photographer Candice White, just sent her new 2009 calendar to press. Order yours here.

Candice White Theater of Dreams 2009 Calendar

Sorry about that...

I hid my blog night before last...when I was in was showing up as "open to invited readers only"...even though I had set it to be viewable by no one...I wasn't planning to send out invitations to anyone...was going to give it up all together...for a number of in particular over-rode at 2am that night...

I'm un-hiding for now...

We shall see...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Storm blowin' in...

Finished loading for bear Friday afternoon...some tango Friday'd the monthly milonga last night...(saw lots of friends)...up early eating breakfast at a truck stop... with the butter spread crap that never melts on my belgian waffle...and watered down Tang that passed as "fresh squeezed" organge much as I'd like to head west to Moab, then south through Four Corners/Ship Rock and on to Taos...there is a storm coming in from the west...and I'd better take the straight shot...over the divide and out of the mountains...with my fifteen thousand pound cache...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fragments of a life

---------------------------The western gale,
Mild as the kisses of connubial love,
Plays round my languid limbs, as all dissolved,
Beneath the ancient elm's fantastic shade
I lie, exhausted with the noontide heat:
While rippling o'er his deep worn pebble bed,
The rapid rivulet rushes at my feet,
Dispensing coolness.-----On the fringed marge
Full many a floweret rears its head,---or pink,
Or gaudy daffodil.---'Tis here, at noon,
The buskin'd wood-nymphs from the heat retire,
And lave them in the fountain; here secure
From Pan, or savage satyr, they disport;
Or stretch'd supinely on the velvet turf,
Lull'd by the laden bee, or sultry fly,
Invoke the God of Slumber. * * *
* * * * * * * *

I lifted this fragile, crumbling book from a box, blowing the dust off its jacket, and opened it to this poem - a fragment of a poem. I read it in the bright sunlight, savoring the warmth of the sun on my face. The book has been in my family since 1855 and bears the inscription of my third great grandfather, Samuel Galitzen Newton. The introduction was also written by the Reverend John Todd, another in my ancestry, on my mother's side.

The book is Henry Kirke White's "Memoir and Poetical Remains - Also Melancholy Hours", published in 1853.

It snowed yesterday, and today I awoke to sunny breezes, with the morning mercury bottomed out at eleven degrees. This box packing and truck loading experience has been cathartic - if tedious and strenuous at the same time. Treasures and memories lie in wait in almost every box. I found my sterling silver baby cup. Found photos of trips and events and milestones in life that I had completely forgotten. Love letters. This book of H.K. White's poetry.

Memories upon and within memories. Fragments of a life.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It ain't over yet...

Thank God Obama won.

As U.S. citizens, our work has only just begun. A vast majority of citizens must now contact their Senators and Representatives and tell them that we are fed up. Fed up with partisan politics as usual. Fed up with year after year of things going down the tubes and nothing getting done. We must remind them that they answer to us, we the people. Now more than ever.

It's time for us all to get our shit together and start addressing the mountains of issues facing us. Economy, budget/deficit, foreign policy, energy, environment, education, healthcare, social security, social decay (all of the abuses/abusers, homelessness, affordable housing, etc.), infrastructure, and on and on. I think I'll ask for an appointment - Secretary of the Department for the Prevention of the Rampant Spread of Stupidity and Ignorance.

Obama can't do it alone.

Ghandi said it best - "BE the change you wish to see in the world."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How McCain could win...from Nuit

From my friend Nuit...

Obama v. McCain :: Still undecided?

This is a gross generalization and over-simplification, and is not based on fact nor research. This is a weak attempt at some level of humor on this most historic of election days, and is intended to stimulate debate, discussion, reflection. I sincerely hope that this doesn't offend my Republican friends and brethren. And, please don't judge me because I drive a big SUV and have been known to play golf. I drive slow like a grandpa, and I also own a frisbee.

Click here for the LARGE size ::
Obama v. McCain - Still undecided?

I had to throw something in there about tango...(grin)

Saturday, November 1, 2008