Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Year of Pegasus

Photo by manganite on flickr

I have been contemplating a Merry Christmas and now a New Year's post for a few weeks now. I missed Christmas - I made a video of the dog in sleigh bells, but had soundtrack/editing issues. Oh well. Having missed that one, I was determined not to miss the new year/new decade post, but I've been drawing blanks for a topic.

It seems that I have been drawing blanks all year with regard to this blog. I have a wire basket in my office overflowing with scraps of paper and Post-It notes with thoughts and ideas written on them. I have a couple of those brown kraft paper notebooks that Moleskine makes - full of jots and scribbles. I can't even find them - that office is a mess. Found them...

...China master-disciple relationship...Asset underutilized corporate-speak...Manual labor hard work...Tanda music wrong woman timing...Sentient being planet sustainably support 2 billon not 6b surely not 9b...10/22 people who are uncomfortable with close embrace deserve to have tango in their lives too...Dog name Bexar (for a friend...pronounced Bear in these parts...for a tiny shitzoo...then I told her she should name him Genghis Khan, in keeping with his Chinese heritage...). ..Hotel California in Georgia story...Climb On products...Chris Belknap design earth synergy...Parallels between architecture & tango...Going through life going through the motions would rather be bothered not blind after all the true meaning of life is nothing/ness...Book Too Big to Fail nature of capitalism maximize profits hurt the system hurt society hurt the individual...Exploiting other people's weaknesses...NPR feudal system in Pakistan no stigma re: corruption evolution of corruption in Afghanistan....China in 1 year 7000 miles of high speed rail US only 700 Chinese gov't able to form policy and quickly effect it...Hippie deluxe...

So it's not so much that I'm drawing a blank for posts. But blank on what to actually take the time to post. Blank 'cuz I've been busy. Blank 'cuz I have other and higher priorities. Blank 'cuz I'm in love. Feeling overwhelmed. Feelings of missing tango and tango friends. Festivals passing me by. Struggling with that. Trying to get my head around that. I suppose it's a good thing to feel overwhelmed. I was feeling severely underwhelmed that last year in Aspen - the first year of this blog.

Blank because of my perceived negativity in my posts? She says I sometimes come across as preaching and/or pontificating. I have recognized for some time that I bitch and moan and rant a lot. This was actually by design to some degree. I wanted to always "speak my mind" in this blog. Stuff bothers me. Stuff pisses me off. But I also see the beauty in it all every day. I tear up when the sandhill cranes honk and wheel in flight overhead. I think we are pretty much fucking things up. But I am hopeful. I think we are pretty much oblivious to our impacts and effects on the world around us, to ourselves, the society of man and to our children and their children. But I remain hopeful. I am trying to be more active and do something about it. But I have yet to make it to my first county commissioner's meeting. I have written to my reps in Congress. They reply. I am working on doing some sustainable, low-key, low-impact development. We shall see. I feel pretty certain that this is a "great correction", lasting two or three more decades, and not "recovering" in two or three years. But I am hopeful. Because I believe that a sustainable, cash based world economy is good for humankind. Hopeful ranting. Joyful preaching. Happy pontificating. I do often rant with a smile on my face.

Resolutions. I thought about that as a topic, but it's so trite and hackneyed. Part of the overwhelm-ed-ness is being more disorganized than I ever have. That comes from having my house of cards blown into the wind back in Aspen. The cards are now all settled here. I just need to pull them all together and tuck them away in their box. Need to lose a few pounds. Eat better. Cure the addiction to sugar. More exercise. More photography. More writing. More tango. Hackneyed. The year behind. The year ahead. Goals and aspirations. Overdone.

It struck me this morning that this one is also the end of the first decade of the new millennium. It seems like only yesterday that it was Y2k, the year 2000. An entire decade flashes before your eyes. Wow. What a ride. SweetiePieHoneyBunch and I were sitting in bed this morning, watching the sunrise, drinking coffee (Bailey's for her, mocha for me), talking about what I could write about. She's my muse, as women are in men's lives. She doesn't realize it. I don't think I realized it until I just now wrote it.

I'll tell a little story. It was our second date. I was living at my brother's place having just moved back from Georgia - he was off in Florida on business. Bacon wrapped shrimp were sizzling and smelling delicious on the grill, and I was running around trying to get dinner cooked for her - for us. She had just come from a gig and had her guitar in the car. She asked if I would like to hear a song. Of course.
As she tells the story now, she expected that I would just keep on cooking in the kitchen while she sang a song in the living room. I turned down the burners, topped off our pinot noir, and moved a comfy chair in front of the fireplace for me to sit in. I pulled up a chair with no arms for her to sit in - right in front of me.

Apparently the "no arms" made a big impression with her. It was without thought on my part - obviously guitar players sit in chairs with no arms. We sat directly facing each other - I was intently attentive. This was a first for me. A beautiful woman with a beautiful voice playing beautiful music on a beautiful guitar on a beautiful night in front of a beautiful fire. I was compelled to listen, compelled to a heightened level of attention. Every note, every word, every nuance, every little grace about her.

I cried. Hey, it was a beautiful song. I think I won her heart right there. She was touched by my tears. Tears of joy you might say. I do cry at beauty fairly often. Then I started chuckling, then laughing, growing into a full blown guffaw. She was taken aback, thinking I was laughing at her or about her, or something. She didn't know me - remember, it was only our second date. She asked what I was laughing at. I said "I'm just so happy that you're good, and I don't have to fake it." Faking it would have been "oh yeah honey, that was real good, now put that guitar away and let's eat..."

We savored those moments after the song, savoring the wine, savoring each other. I finished cooking, we ate, and ended up falling asleep lying in each other's arms in front of the fire. Not a bad second date.

But I digress.

So, we were sitting in bed this morning talking, as we do every morning. The image of Pegasus had come into my mind earlier. I asked her about Pegasus - she has a song called "Child of the Big Sky" with a strong Pegasus reference, so I figger'd she had done some research. I cry every time she sings that one, too. We google'd it, then wiki'd it, allowing the laptop into the bed for a moment. Somehow Pegasus and his birth of Poseidon and Medusa, somehow this winged horse whose hoofs strike the Earth and make springs well up, somehow this bearer of lightning bolts, somehow this glorious beast/myth/image represents this time for me. This day. This moment. This spot on the earth. The coming year. The coming decade. The coming years of my life. The coming years for all of our lives on this Earth. Hope. Beauty. Struggle. Love. Enlightenment.

Somehow this Pegasus represents what I want to write about. Not Pegasus himself, but the imagery, the mythology, the feeling. Something. Can this Pegasus save us from ourselves? Does he hold the lightning bolt in his quiver that will strike the Earth and wake us up from our materialistic oblivion? Hmm. I dunno.

We got to talking about security or perceived security. The want of people who avoid risk in favor of "security". Security in the form of a 30 year fixed mortgage, a 401k, diversified investments, a white picket fence, a gold watch. Security in the form of the conformism. The Conforming American Dream. Events of the past two years, of the past decade, have made anyone with any sense wonder about wisdom of the Conforming American Dream. The CAD evolved over the past hundred years or so into something unsustainable, unhealthy I believe - environmentally, socially, culturally, emotionally. I won't go there. You get my drift.

We talked about the metaphors of this life - like driving through a National Park and never getting out of the car. I don't know where I'm going with this. I like that about writing extemporaneously - something will be born of the words, of the flow. Something. Hopefully.

We were thinking of a close friend, retiring this year, doing all the right things. Conforming. Good job. Secure financially. Secure in a long marriage. Nice house in a nice suburb. Kids grown and gone and doing well. But at what cost? The cost of lost life experiences? The cost of a love affair on a beach for two weeks in the Cayman Islands? Lost writing or painting or making music? Lost love? Lost self? The cost of other dreams set aside? Not too late for a course correction. Not too late to recoup any losses - perceived or otherwise.

At the end of my first marriage, when I decided to walk away from conformity forever, I felt like I had lost my "self", my soul. Twenty years of doing what I thought was expected of me, doing what I thought was mandatory of me, doing the corporate thing - raises, promotions, increasing responsibilities, bigger house, better car, more and better "stuff". Twenty years of that, when my heart wasn't in it, was too much for a man to bear. I hid my depression by crying in the shower each night, after coming home late from work. It stripped me to my core. Perhaps I had to lose my "self" in order to find myself.

And here it comes, finally it gels. Sweet. This decade for me has been one of "self". I had to find my self. By myself. Find him and know him. Knowing versus knowledge. Knowing him, and loving him. I had to figure out how to love myself before I could find love. Writing this, I can't see through the tears right now, damn them. I had to love myself and find love before I could love this life. A good life. A life with just enough of everything. Enough love, laughter, beauty, kindness, cash, food, water, wood to build a workshop or a warm fire in the woods, whatever. Enough. Not more. Not better. Not increasing responsibility. Not a better title. Not more recognition. Enough. Just enough.

My Facebook profile says something about "I've been pondering self-actualization these days...", from Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Food/Water/Shelter/Self Esteem/Love/Self-Actualization or something along those lines. I am thankful that I am coming into these years of self-actualization, with the other "needs" largely met. For my second half-century on this planet. For the coming decades. Content. Happy. Hopeful. Full of love. Another year older. Another year wiser. My daughter called last night for advice on selecting a wine to go with seafood gumbo. That's a new one for me. I'm a dad, he realizes, 21 years after the fact.

In this coming year and decade, thrive my friends. Flourish. Bring yourself to your fullest potential as a human being, dad, citizen, spouse, friend, lover, son, brother, tango dancer. That's my plan.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vals 15

My iPhone randomly played this one yesterday...Track 15 "Vals Mix"...???

Can anyone help me with the title/composer/orchestra/singers/version...?

Thanks in advance!

My apologies for the quickie "music video" post haste mode, I just stuck one of my photos up there with the audio track...

Atlanta Tango Festival :: April 15-18, 2010

This is a re-post of an old post, from April of last year. I "drafted" or hid the post for some reason back then, I'm not sure why. Perhaps because I felt like I was being too negative, or perhaps I felt like I didn't want to "review" milongas.

Anyway, here it is in it's entirety - new title though. Originally it was Atlanta Tango Festival :: O horror, horror, horror! because of an issue the organizers had with the hotel.

My friends in Atlanta put on a great festival - estilo milonguero/close embrace - by dancers for dancers style, so don't let the title of the original post mislead you. Make your reservations now.

Atlanta Tango Festival Website


Imagine making your hotel reservation for a festival weeks or months in advance, arriving to check in, and being told that the hotel was booked, and that you were being bumped to a hotel about five miles away from the festival venue. This happened to a friend, and although I have not confirmed this, she said that a large block of rooms was bumped.

Now there is the hassle of dealing with the shuttle - 20 minutes to get to the new hotel - 1 hour to get back to the venue for the welcome milonga. There is the hassle of not having the convenience of your room just minutes away - freshen up, take a power nap, just rest, whatever.

I haven't confirmed any of this with my friend Angel - one of the organizers - but I'm sure they are livid - this is not a good thing for a hotel to do - no matter what the reason.

The only saving grace is the rooms are now comp'd - as in free.

I didn't make my reservation soon enough. I'm staying "in a van", "down by the river".


Two dickweeds were wearing fedoras at the "elegant" milonga last night. Any southern gentleman knows you take your fucking hat off when you come inside. The sun isn't shining at 3am inside, it's not raining or snowing inside, leave the hat at home or in your room.

Plus, if you know anything about tango, then you know the history of the fedora. Wearing it in a milonga just shows everyone what an idiot you are.

It shouldn't matter, I shouldn't care, but it irritates the shit out of me.


I stayed until the bitter end. It started out good, then I went into a slump, and it ended on a good note. I was having an off night in general. My walk was weird, everything was weird - internally - my issues.

THE A/C ::

The air conditioning was off for the first couple of hours or so. Here was Alex ::

Angel was very responsive in getting the hotel engineering staff to deal with it in short order.

Not a big deal.


Nice, smooth, 36" panels making 36" lanes. In spite of the organizers' announcement about using the "lanes" - most leaders disregarded this. Guys didn't seem to be able to stay in the middle of their lane, preferring, or defaulting to the edge of the lane.

I liked the organizers' choice of words - it's about "floorcraft discipline".


I bummed two bucks to add to my four to buy a glass of wine. It's nice to have the cash bar in the ballroom, but not many people were drinking.


I would say it was "normal" for most festivals. The only thing I can suggest is that teachers need to spend a lot more time on floorcraft and navigation with beginners. Also, it would be nice if festival organizers produce some sort of flyer or pamphlet. Beyond that, you can't really do much unless you want to start policing the floor, which would not be good.

I frequently found myself trapped between a nuevo and one of the many idiot leaders. I think a lot of my floorcraft/navigation issuses (with other leaders) are my own issues resulting from dancing on a crowded floor. The better I get, the more I can navigate around the yahoos.

I found myself spending time in the corners - and herding certain guys to stay in their own lanes.

The reality is there will always be leaders who won't amount to JACK SQUAT with regards to floorcraft & navigation.

DJ'ing ::

Par excellence...there were only a few times that I wasn't "moved" by a tanda...but overall a fantastic traditional mix...great good as it gets...I think it was Shorey Myers...


I noticed Robert Hauk got a haircut. Then I noticed a few women who got their hair cut. Then I noticed a lot of women with either really short hair, or bob type cuts. A couple of them told me they cut it because of tango - to make it easier to deal with on the dance floor.


I was talking to a friend who is new to tango about "stuff". I told her that for me, when a woman falls into my "happily ever after" category, that I am intimidated to the point of not or never asking her to dance. She pointed out to me that I am an idiot for doing this - although she conveyed this much more nicely than saying that I am an idiot.

Miss "Happily Ever After" smiled at me and said good night at the end of the night. I will dance with her tonight.


Florentino Ariza, in order to dull the pain of his unrequited love for Fermina Daza, began sleeping with large numbers of women. Six hundred and twenty seven or something like that. He kept a journal, numbering them, and entering a brief comment about each.

Rather than continue with the blog commonality of nick names like "Miss Happily Ever After", I'm going to use Florentino Ariza's method...


#1 :: Thou shalt not covet thy new friend's partner...

#2 :: Young and beautiful...

#3 :: Her scent, like honey, is still with me this morning... a sweet kiss on her temple after walking her to her car...

#4 :: Trembles in my embrace... I like this one... I dreamt of her this morning...

#5 :: Pleasantly large breasted... in the natural sense...

#6 :: Saved me from myself in the end... noticed the salty taste of her perspiration after kissing her cheek... licked it from my lips on the way back to "the van", "down by the river"...

Six, maybe seven followers, nine or ten tandas. Not enough. Not enough for a man who very recently said "I just want to dance..."


It was an "off" night for you...your dance was "off", but don't let that get to more and sit less...don't let painful beauty scare you...think about the "one follower, one tanda" concept...drink less vino more discerning, but dance more your "quality over quantity" approach...overcome your floorcraft, navigation and fedora issues..."it's not what happens to you, but how you CHOOSE to react to it..."...don't let your pig-like sweating propensity deter you from inviting...bring a towel...

Don't let the "horror, horror, horror" send the wrong message - that was only about the hotel issue - the horror of guests getting bumped, and the horror for the organizers - a "worst nightmare" scenario...

Overall, it was a great milonga. Atlanta puts on a great festival. It's a "warm and friendly" atmosphere. Everyone is smiling and chatting and having fun. Put it on your calendar and come on down!

P.S. To the leaders carrying on conversations whilst dancing - shut your YAPPER ...

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Architecture of Tango

Nothing profound, folks, just a concept that popped into my head this morning - a photo/graphical representation to make us think about things in a different way with regard to the ongoing debate. "Us" being Me, Myself and I.

[ Some of us don't get out to dance much, and so are left with reading and thinking and pondering about tango as the only outlet to feed our addiction. ]

Thoughts, comments, philosophies, and/or observations on the subject greatly appreciated, as always...

The Architecture of Tango

Saturday, December 12, 2009

La Revancha del Tango [en vivo]

Someone made a really cool music video...who knows, perhaps it's Gotan's original...?

Round about midnight

I was just creating a playlist for today - to listen to while I work on building my workshop in the misty rain - and ran across this one. Gotan Project meets Chet Baker. From their "Inspiración Espiración" album.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A couple of bugs, or a bug couple...

Right around dusk last night, we were out on the deck visiting with a friend from out of town, and enjoying a nice fire in the chiminea. When I picked up a log, I noticed these two hanging out underneath. Naturally, I had to go grab the camera, twist on the macro lens, and start shooting.

The depth of field on that sucker is extreeemly narrow, and with someone holding the log (e.g. not a stationary target), and me manually focusing, it became difficult to get a focused shot. I used a remote flash unit with a small softbox diffuser on it.

As far as the bugs go, I'm not sure what they are - they appeared to be different species, but might have been a male & female, or momma and (big) baby, mating, or just hanging out trying not to freeze to death.

Don't worry, I gently urged them to crawl away before dropping the log into the blaze.

A couple of bugs, or a bug couple...#1

A couple of bugs, or a bug couple...#2

[Fotos by Alex.Tango.Fuego]

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

When we build

When we build, let us think that we build forever.
Let it not be for present delight nor for present use
alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will
thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on
stone, that a time is to come when those stones
will be held sacred because our hands have
touched them, and that men will say, as they look
upon the labor and wrought substance of them,
“See! This our father did for us.”
John Ruskin

Monday, November 30, 2009

My past life as a mountain man, or "Why am I green?" :: Part One


I've been pondering the subject of "Why am I green?" for some weeks or maybe even months now. You guys know I ponder a lot, and when I'm not a ponderin', I'm pontificating. Grin.

So I've been wondering what it is that makes me (or anyone) an environmentalist - a greenist. What is it that makes me care about this planet? Sometimes I wish I didn't give shit. I have been going back to my childhood and trying to recall elements/factors in my life, locale, and upbringing that may have formed the foundations of my earthy-ness. I remember my second ex-wife telling me when she first met me that I seemed "earthy" because of my leather watch band. I haven't worn a watch since then, I'm just now recalling. Cell phones ya know.

Anyway, on to the point. Or points. Sometimes, perhaps most times, I digress and get wordy or even verbose. But I digress. Grin.


Okay, so one of my earliest memories is going down to the coolie (Louisiana-speak for a large-ish ditch, but not a full blown bayou, which is pronounced "by you") with my best bud and our black lab(rador retriever) named "Blacky". We were four. All of us. Well, Blacky was two I think. Kyle, my bud, and I were four - maybe even three. Nah, three is too young to go fishing down at the coolie.

I don't want you to get the idea my mom was a bad mom or inattentive or anything - she's the best mom a man could ask for. It was me - my fault. I used to push a chair up to the door so I could unlock it and go 'a ramblin'. I was a ramblin' man at a very young age. An adventurer, an interloper. One time, I woke up at 6am, pushed the chair up to the door, unlocked it and headed on down the street to my favorite neighbor. I knocked on the door, or rang the doorbell, at 6am mind you, okay, 6:05. The mom came to the door. Without missing a beat, or any hesitancy whatsoever (as I recall), I presented my request.

"Do you have any chocolate chip cookies?" I remain addicted to cookies to this day.

But I digress. Grin...

So me and Kyle and Blacky would head down to the coolie to go "fishing" every chance we got. My mom says she would find us by looking for Blacky's tail - wagging the excitement and flagging the notification of where we were. I say "fishing" because we were too young at four or five to do things like use a rod and reel, tie knots and handle lures and such. But that didn't stop us. We just needed a good stick and some good imagination and we were "fishin".

So that's the first "outdoor", "nature" influence I can recall in my life.

The next is Butte La Rose. Our family, along with another family, leased a fishing "camp" on Butte La Rose. It was on a bayou, the ubiquitous reddish-brown muddy water of South Louisiana. Willow trees. Skeeters. Black moccasins. Poison ivy. Thickets of brush home to who knows what - in the mind of a four/five year old kid. All surrounding a basic ramshackle little shack - our weekend fishing camp.

So it was there that my mom dutifully trained me to pee on a bush. Being in the Louisiana wilderness, and being five, there was no inclination to be private about it and position oneself appropriately behind a tree. Whip it out and let 'er rip.

Which I promptly did on the next-door neighbor's bush, or shrubbery, the very next time I had to relieve myself outside. Boy did that cause a stink. I think the family with the young daughter was coming home from church or something, and I was out there in their yard in all my glory - nature boy - answering the call of nature.


1st through 5th grades. Mm. Kindergarten, too. Ms. McDonald. Ms Viviano, my first grade teacher. Wow. She was getting married and I begged my mom to buy her a gift. Somehow, we actually went to her house to give it to her. Not something you do these days. Politically incorrect bordering on inappropriate. Anyway, we're in her living room, giving her the gift, and a card I suppose - my mom was the consummate prim and proper mom - appropriate gifts, cards, social graces, thank you notes, southern hospitality.

So we're in her living room - and damned if I don't propose to her. Well, maybe not an actual marriage proposal, but I point blank ask her not to marry this guy, and to wait twelve years for me. I'm six, she's twenty-four or thereabouts. What can I say? She was hot.

But I digress. So the New Orleans years involved going fishing with my dad, playing junior golf at the Country Club (dad was huge golfer), and running off with neighbor buds to explore along the levee. I used to climb on the roof of our house - we had a flat/shed roof up high - a cape cod/saltbox kinda thing - and look at the ships plying up and down the mighty Mississip' (river) through my dad's binoculars.

We, my buds and I, would go exploring along the levee, up to no good with the innocent bent of grade school kids. Between the levee and the Mississippi were thick stands of green and dead and broken willow trees. There were also a few stranded barges - made into flop houses for drug addicts and hookers - we would sneak and crawl around and spy on the people inside - laying around doing whatever on nasty old mattresses. Dangerous stuff looking back on it now. But those were the days of innocence.

Boy Scouts. I remember being in Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts. I begged and pleaded with my dad to build a fire. A campfire. In the driveway. On the concrete. With bricks laid around it and on top. Small. Very small. A little camp fire of twigs and dead grass. I'll be careful. Please? Please? Thank you!

My brother, who was mowing the yard (I was still too young for this ever-so-desirable activity) walked by and asked what I was doing. "I'm building a campfire!", I excitedly replied. Excited is an understatement. I was overjoyed. My little twiggy fire was burning and smoking perfectly. I think I had even started it with magnifying glass - the "no match" fire.

My brother says "That's no fire. Stand back, I'll show you a fire." He proceeds to douse my baby blaze with gasoline from the gas can he's holding in his hand. Fire, being what fire is, and accelerants, being what accelerants are, did their thing together. The fire traveled up the stream of gas to the can, at which time my brother flung said can into the yard, leaving a trail of liquid flames across the dry, dead-ish thick St. Augustine lawn, and exploded in a ball of fire some twenty feet away from us. We were fine, but the yard was not. Dad was pissed. I don't remember the punishment.

Looking back now, and knowing my dad better (although he died when I was 21), "knowing" him better as I grew into adulthood without him - I would guess that he was somehow proud of his boys. Not your average run-of-the-mill slackers or ne'er-do-wells. No. We were more intellectual and creative than the neighbors.

Nawlin's recap: The mighty Mississip, the levees, the willows, the adventuring, fishing with dad, Cub Scouts, ships through binoculars, fire on the lawn, stomping around on the golf course and Miss Viviano.


6th through 8th grade. Junior High. This is where it gets serious, so I'll try to be more serious. Grin.

We moved from New Orleans to a small town just outside of Jackson, Mississippi. My dad was a geologist with Union Oil Company and he got transferred there to run the office I think. We joined the Episcopal Church. Actually it wasn't a church, it was a "mission". Imagine in the mid 1970's, the Episcopal Church sending their missionaries into deep Baptist Mississippi to start a church. I was told I was a sinner because we drank wine in church and swam in the pool with the opposite sex. Dancing was a sin, too, for these folks. Imagine what they think about Argentine Tango. Hard core religious zealots. In school, I was also told by the same God fearing God loving morally superior 12 year olds that I was a "niggerlover" because I drank after African-American kids at the water fountain, and sat with them at the lunch tables. Hey, I was from New Orleans. New Orleans. What's the big deal? They were my friends. The first ones to extend a warm and welcoming hand to this new kid in the school.

So that was one of my early socially conscientious experiences. It was wrong. I knew it was wrong. It felt wrong. Did that come from my parents? Where did that come from?

We ended up in a brand-spanking-new 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house in a master-planned community called Crossgates. Middle class suburbia albeit in the country. The street was Cedar Cove. 12 Cedar Cove. A huge lake. Deep dark piney woods. A new German Sheppard puppy named Duke. A cat named Tiger. A banana seat stingray bicycle to explore my new world on. Yazoo clay.

My first explorations that summer started close to home - getting my bearings. Right behind our house - just a hop over the split-rail fence - sat an old, dilapidated antebellum plantation home. It was pretty run down as I recall. It had a long, straight drive approaching it, as is typical, with a row of stately magnolia trees on either side. Mature magnolias. Big'uns.

Within the first few months of being there, the developer bulldozed the house to start building condos or garden homes. As I recall they did leave the magnolia trees intact, lining either side of the new asphalt street. I remember being pissed. Angry. I wanted to do something about it. I did what any intrepid and creative 12 year old adventurer would do. I executed my first eco-sabotage. First and only? Perhaps.
I appropriated and redistributed all the rubber pipe gaskets and lubricant for the RCP drainage pipelines the were laying in the neighborhood. Appropriated on my red banana seat stingray bicycle with a sissy bar - several trips with gaskets looped over my shoulders - several trips with buckets of lube balanced on the seat between my legs - redistributed as deep in the forest as I could manage, never to be found.

Lucky little shit. Lucky I didn't get caught. I'm not sure, but I think I remember the foreman coming and knocking on our door and asking if I/we had seen anything. I was likely the primary suspect with all my explorations around the neighborhood.

I made friends. We explored the woods. We camped out, sleeping under the stars in our funky bedrolls. We appropriated plywood and lumber to build forts. We hunted in the woods. Well, we depleted the overpopulation of blackbirds in the woods. We made huge piles of pine needles and set them ablaze. No real blaze, but tons and tons of smoke. Huge clouds of thick white smoke that alarmed the National Guard. I joined the Boy Scouts. I went to Camp Kickapoo. My cat died. My first French kiss. What was her name? Going "steady". I was on the football team. All the typical Jr. High stuff. I remember writing a letter to the school administration. They had banned wearing flannel shirts unbuttoned as jackets over a T-shirt. That was the style back then. I wrote the letter. I protested. Where did that come from? My parents? Something genetic? Where?

Recap: First memories of a social conscience. Boy Scouts. Camp Kickapoo. My brother's senior trip to Devil's Tower. Running/exploring/camping in the woods and hills. Noticing nature. Watching storms roll in.

The Yazoo clay story I'll have to tell another time.

Stay tuned for Part Two.

Buenos Aires Milonga Guide & Maps

From someone on Tango-L, here is a great milonga map & guide. Very useful if/when you go to Buenos Aires. When I went on my tango pilgrimage a few years ago, I got a great milonga listing from Sharukh, found a map of Buenos Aires and all the barrios online, and figgered it out for myself. I'm geo-centric, a geophile, whatever the word is - I have to look at a two dimensional pulp based graphical representation of the landscape (aka "a map") wherever I go in order to get my bearings - download the lay of the land so to speak. I'm disoriented in a new place until I get my hands on a map. It must be from my past life as a mountain man.

I love a good segue - even if it's a bit obtuse.

Here is the website with links to maps - norte y sur: [Note that there is other jazz on the website as well - classes/teachers, etc.]

Milonga Guide/Listing PDF File:

Thursday, November 26, 2009


A day at the landfill[A day at the landfill...foto by AlexTangoFuego]

There is so much to be thankful for this year. Too much to mention. I'm just happy to be having family and close friends out to the ranch today for some sumptuous grub. A campfire to chase away the chill. Some stars overhead. Good stuff. All very good stuff.

Gratitude in all aspects of a man's life - it's a nice feeling.

Hope you are feeling it too.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I shot three deer today...

A buck and two does...

A deer I shot today #1

A deer I shot today #2

A deer I shot today #3

Okay, I gotta get my head around this...

Another blog post from my PickensPlan profile...trying to get my head around what Mr. Pickens is proposing - was proposing - when the PickensPlan first appeared on the horizon about a year ago.

A little closer...
Photo by AlexTangoFuego

This appears to be a useful resource :: EIA :: Energy Information Administration :: Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government ::

Total U.S. electricity generation capacity is currently at about 4,065 million megawatt hours [MWh].

Here's the breakdown ::

Total U.S. Electric Power Production

According to PickensPlan (info gleaned from the home page), wind turbine power is currently at about 48 million megawatt hours [MWh] or 1% of total U.S. power production. Doing the math, that would put the figure at 4,800 billion kWh.

So, for argument's sake, let's say total current capacity is at 5,000 billion kWh.

First and foremost, which I don't ever hear anyone talking about, is the concept of maximum energy production. Under the current state of "affluenza", it's all about more, more, more. We need MORE power, more this, more that. But we don't. Can we all agree that we can't continue building power plants and extracting finite resources infinitely for ever and ever until the end of time?

We need to come clean with the concept of using less energy, figuring out how to live the American dream consuming LESS energy.

So, given that, let's say 5,000 billion kWh is our max - the concept that we should never need more power than that.

Also according to the PP home page, the average American household uses roughly 10,000 kWh (per year). I backed into the figure by using the statement that "4,800 billion kWh is enough power to supply 4.5 million households...".

Keep in mind though, that infrastructure, commercial and industrial power needs are in the 5,000 billion kWh figure.

Now moving on to the dollars.

Pickens says $1.0 trillion for enough wind farms to bring the wind power proportion to 20% of total. Plus $200 billion for the electrical distribution/power grid.

So, corporate sponsorships with little decals on the blades of the turbines aside, let's start talking about where we are going to come up with $1.2 trillion dollars. Or let's say half that as a start - $600 billion.

The momentum of this movement will solve the land challenges - that is the easy part to me.

$600 the manufacturing capacity to build millions and millions of turbines.

According to this article on Wikipedia - "Wind Power in Texas", "The Wildorado Wind Ranch is located near Amarillo and consists of 161 MW of wind turbines (70 Siemens Mk II turbines each with a rating of 2.3 MW). These turbines have the capacity to meet the electricity demand of more than 50,000 households."

I'm not sure of the conversion from MW to MWh, but if it's linear, that would mean it takes seventy one [71] 2.3 MW turbines to generate 161 MW of power. It seems to me from driving by Wildorado, that there are more than 71 turbines, but let's go with that figure.

We need 10% from wind (remember, I am going with half of the 20% figures to start out) - so 500 billion kWh. 161 MW = mega is 1,000,000 right? Kilo is 1,000. So 161 million kWh?

I'm lost now. Any engineers out there care to help?

I'm trying to figure out how many 2.3 MW turbines it will take to provide 500 billion kWh....? Let's just say that's a lot of turbines that need to manufactured - not to mention the manufacturing facilities that need to be built to do it. I'm sure the production capacity is not there right now.

Also, to get your head around the dollars involved, a $250 million dollar construction project is huge - like Coors Field (baseball stadium) in Denver. $4.8 billion is the final cost of the Denver International Airport - and I think it took 10 or 12 years to build it. So, $600 billion dollars is huge - the equivalent of building 125 huge airports.

So, now I have my head around the problem...did this help you at all?

Brother, can you spare 22 terawatts?

I'm dredging up some old blog posts from my PickensPlan profile...

I just ran across a good article on ReasonOnline by Ronald Bailey "Brother, can you spare 22 terawatts?" - with great "big picture" figures from Daniel Nocera, a professor at MIT. He looks at current figures, and extrapolates them out to the year 2050 with a global population base of 9 billion.

He also compares world energy consumption at three levels: 1] U.S. levels; 2] Western European levels; and 3] Indian subcontinent levels. I find this very useful in getting my head around the "quality of life" and "living standards" issues.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

However, Daniel Nocera, a professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writes a sobering analysis of the challenge of supplying adequate energy to the world in 2050. In his article, "On the Future of Global Energy" in the current issue of Daedalus (unfortunately not online), Nocera begins with the amount of energy currently being used on a per capita basis in various countries and then extrapolates what that usage implies for a world of 9 billion people in 2050. For example, in 2002 the United States used 3.3 terawatts (TW), China 1.5 TW, India 0.46 TW, Africa 0.45 TW and so forth. Totaling it all up, Nocera finds, "the global population burned energy at a rate of 13.5 TW." A terawatt equals one trillion watts.

Nocera calculates that if 9 billion people in 2050 used energy at the rate that Americans do today that the world would have to generate 102.2 TW of power—more than seven times current production. If people adopted the energy lifestyle of Western Europe, power production would need to rise to 45.5 terawatts. On the other hand if the world's 9 billion in 2050 adopted India's current living standards, the world would need to produce only 4 TW of power. Nocera suggests, assuming heroic conservation measures that would enable affluent American lifestyles, that "conservative estimates of energy use place our global energy need at 28-35 TW in 2050." This means that the world will need an additional 15-22 TW of energy over the current base of 13.5 TW.

Here is Ronald Bailey's conclusion:

Maybe Nocera is right that solar power is the way to go, but history teaches us to scrap the Apollo Project model for technology R&D. Federal bureaucrats are simply not smart enough to pick winning energy technologies. Instead, eliminate all energy subsidies, set a price for carbon, and then let tens of thousands of energy researchers and entrepreneurs develop and test various new technologies in the market. No one knows now how humanity will fuel the 21st century, but Apollo and Manhattan Project-style Federal energy research projects will prove to be a huge waste of time, money and talent.

I agree, we need to keep the Federal government out of this. They haven't managed to come up with a comprehensive energy policy, and they have managed to screw up virtually every aspect of "government".

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mother and Son, Mother and Father

Olga Besio (Federico's Mom) y Federico Naveira in 2008 at Salon Canning dancing to Carlos DiSarli's "Bahia Blanca":

Olga Besio y Gustavo Naveira (Federico's Dad) in 1999 at Sunderland dancing to Carlos DiSarli's "El Once":

Friday, November 20, 2009

Global Milonga on 12/12 :: Pass it on

Mariano 'Chicho' Frumboli Interview

Chicho Frumboli
Photo by Bengt Jönsson ::

After unsubscribing from Tango-L several to many weeks ago, hell who knows, maybe it was only last week. Anyway, I realized this morning that I had forgotten about it altogether. Imagine that, someone actually "forgetting" that Tango-L even exists. Amusing. To me anyway, pre-coffee.

Going online to look at the recent posts, I discovered this one, from fellow blogger Joe Grohens, sharing an interview with Chicho. Thanks Joe! Check out Joe's blog "The Topic is Tango".

Here is the full interview in Spanish (with English translation) on the Argentine Tango Dance Research Center website. The interview was done in March of 2008 - I can't find the name of the interviewer. The translation to English is by Celi Arias.

The first part of the interview follows.

ATDRC: What were the influences in your life, artistic or personal, that helped you in the development of your style of dancing?

CHICHO FRUMBOLI: My father had a artistic side that was significant. He was a fine arts professor, he studied the guitar, and I believe that this had a lot to do with my own artistic development, and creativity. I also remember that when I was a child my father often listened to Piazzola, and that was my first contact with the tango; with the music more than anything. That’s why before I became a dancer, I was a musician. At the age of 13 I had my first drum set. Ten years later I began to study theatre with the great teacher and actress, Cristina Banegas.

I began my study of tango dancing like most people do by learning the basics and the structures of the dance. But all of this was so technical that it started to feel quite limited to me. I was a milonguero, I came from studying with Tete and Maria, which was a style that took into great consideration the physical connection with the person you found yourself dancing with in the moment. I needed to express with my body something more and it was at this time that I found my first tango teacher, Victoria Vieira, before Tete, and she took me to meet Gustavo Naveira who had developed a structure to the dance that I had never seen before. Gustavo and Fabian Salas had a practice group where they researched these new forms and they invited me to participate. This was all completely new for me, I had to re-learn the dance within that new form by listening and watching. In one month-and-a-half I learned what I hadn’t learned in two years. That's why for me Gustavo Naveira has been the greatest influence in my dancing, and in my early development. Gustavo and Fabian often traveled abroad to teach, while I stayed behind with all of this information, practicing, and waiting for them to return in order to know where to go with all of this new information that was changing my dance. For me, my work with the dance became a very solitary practice. This coincided with my first trip to Europe, where I went to Paris, and I gave workshops in several other cities. I went with the idea of staying one month but ended up staying for 5. During those 5 months, I began to dance occasionally with Lucia Mazer, though I was still dancing with Victoria. When I returned to Buenos Aires, I stayed for 3 months and then returned to Europe because in that moment it was difficult for me to be accepted with this new style of tango that I was dancing, which was not very well received in the world of the traditional tango. When I arrived in Paris they welcomed me with open arms. They wanted to learn that freedom within the dance, and not fall into the same basic structure that everyone was already familiar with in the tango. It was in that moment where I began working more seriously with Lucia Mazer, and we worked for 4 years together in Paris. Those were the most creative years of my career. I began working with Eugenia Parilla after this period, and we worked together both in Buenos Aires and Paris. She arrived right at the moment where I had processed a huge amount of information that I had not been able to give form to yet, and it was together with Eugenia that I had the most artistic moments of my career. In that moment there appeared a different dynamic of the tango that has to do with using the partner in order to facilitate movements. Up until that point, historically there was always a scenario where there was a lead and the woman followed, but today the connection is works differently. There is much more working with the body of the partner and the woman appears much more as a protagonist in the couple than before. We found a new way of showing ourselves, standing out both singularly and together as a couple in this new dynamic, creating new movements, because even the sacada didn’t exist 7 years ago.

ATDRC.: What is the order of priority when you think about the woman’s role?

CHICHO: I don’t think that woman is going t occupy more or less space, if not that the couple takes on more strength and power when it is a couple, with an equality between the two, and today that is really a division of 50/50. This has to do with the way the man is marking in the moment, if she can not feel comfortable dancing, than I cannot dance. If I am only thinking in my own figure, in my step, in my elegance, and I forget completely in my partner and then surely there will be an accident, or a kick or some kind of total disconnection. If I want to take the movement to create a sacada, I have to communicate to my partner in the gentlest way that we are going to do that particular movement. To do it gently I have to be subtle in my marking, I cant mark only with my hands, I have to do a completely corporal marking, or I propose something and she responds but she does it with another proposal and I then follow her. The strongest thing I achieved with Lucia was this kind of connection and balance.

ATDRC: Do you think your way of dancing has changed the tango? And if it did, in what way?

CHICHO: I think that yes in some way my form of dancing has changed the tango, I know this mostly from comments that people make to mean also because of the process I have lived over these past 13 years I have been dancing. I know that there are people who follow the method which I teach because I see them in the milongas, I see movements that were created by me.

ATDRC: Do you believe that Tango Nuevo really exists?

CHICHO: Tango Nuevo does exist, but it has so for a very long time, it’s not from 5 or 10 years back, Copes was dancing a new tango, Miguel Angel Zotto had a new tango, so we can say that there have been periods. Every once and a while there is someone who appears and proposes something new and that is the new tango of the moment. To think that ‘Tango Nuevo’ is something that occurred only 10 years ago is a commercial exploitation that we owe to the festival organizers, I don’t think I am doing ‘Tango Nuevo’, I feel that I am dancing tango. Because today there is a new generation that learned to dance 2,3 or 5 years ago, who only know how to do the new styles, the ganchos, the colgadas, but who are not in contact with everything that came before, and I go to the milongas and I see people that know how to move but that don’t know how to dance, people don’t breathe tango like they did before.

To continue here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tango v. Milonga :: Interview with Sebastian Piana

I ran across this Tango-L post from Alberto Gesualdi back in 2003.

Bruno wrote:

Milonga is the precursor of Tango these were originally written in a 2 x 4 notation and changed to 4 x 8. The piano scores left from early tangos and milongas proved this point.

Alberto Gesualdi (myself) would like to say this:

It is not very clear the date of start for tango music in Argentina . Some tangos like El Entrerriano are supposed to be from 1896 .

There is sometimes a confusion when using the word milonga , because it is considered as belonging exclusively to tango and being born within the tango environment.

There was a milonga campera or milonga surenia, sung by the peasants whith their guitars. This milonga was usually the same base music, and the changes were made by the singers , with the content of what they say . More or less like bards telling the news or the folklore tradition.

Sebastian Piana [b. circa 1900? d. July 17, 1994] is generally considered as the first musician to write a milonga ciudadana or milonga portenia, in 1932, when he made Milonga Sentimental . I include below part of the last interview made to Piana while he was living. The complete interview is at

Regarding the milonga subject as well as many other things related to tango , the words "always" . "sure" "certainty" are a bit dangerous to use, since tango origins are still very misty.

Warm regards

Alberto Gesualdi

Buenos Aires

Interview with Sebastian Piana (fragment) [For entire interview click here.]

- Do you share the opinion, held by the Bates brothers, that tango (in its development as musical genre) takes elements from candombe, the habañera and the milonga?

- Certainly. The habañera was almost the mother of tango. The milonga, on the other hand, belonged to country music, what today is known as folklore. Later the milonga arrived in town, but it was not yet that milonga of which I was the forerunner: it was a rural milonga, sung by gauchos, by that country people that, sometimes, improvised....

- Was it the milonga that Gardel and Razzano sang?

- It was a country milonga, that the Gardel-Razzano duo sang as well. The Argentine and Uruguayan payadores (itinerant singers) that had the ability to improvise lyrics: they were naturally born-poets that, among them, they ad lib rivaled to the beat of a milonga. It would not be strange that the habañera, a Spanish air well-known in Cuba, blended with black music and took advantage of the candombe small drum. Later this spread all over America. All this produces the musical origin of tango in Argentina. But tango is a Spanish word. The tanguillo is a Spanish dance.

- Originally the milonga was a music for strings, was percussion added in Cuba?

- I guess so. The Negroes, that have a great intuition and a rhythmic sense, made "their" habañera. This seems to have spread throughout America. That would be the origin of the early tango beat.

- Can we talk of a " Piana's Revolution " as far as milonga is concerned?

- It is, simply, the change from a milonga -which was regarded as belonging to the south and the Pampas, without dance or danced in privacy, and dug by gauchos and payadores-, to the milonga porteña , owed to Maffia and to me. They were melodically quite alike.

The renewal, the porteña and suburban milonga, is owed to a request made by Rosita Quiroga to Homero Manzi. We had given to her a tango that she would sing. However, she asked for a milonga.

Astonished, Manzi told me; "Rosita asked me a milonga". I answered him: but if all milongas are nearly the same thing, very much alike, because of that people improvise on them...."Look, Sebastian, I don't understand anything about milongas", Manzi answered to me. Then I told Homero that he should call me in two days, to see if I was able to devise something. During that time I had in my head the idea of a new milonga. I knew its beat because I had written a previous one so that Josi Gonzalez Castillo (Catulo Castillo's father) would write lyrics to it.

I had the need to make different milongas; and these were: they kept the simplicity of the beat, but with a defined musical shape, as if they were tangos to be sung, but without losing the milonga's essence.

When Manzi called me, precisely in two days' time, I already have composed "Milonga Sentimental", whose music only took me half an hour (the one I had prepared for Gonzalez Castillo's milonga had taken me a whole day). It was not the everlasting milonga, the one improvised by the payadores...

As Manzi, a magnificent poet, confessed to me that he did not understand about milongas, I thought for myself: will he understand mine? He understood it. He arrived to my place on a Monday, he picked up the sheet music and, the next morning, he had the lyric already written. With the lyrics added I began to like the music more. Until then I was more satisfied with the one I had made for Gonzalez Castillo.
So "Milonga Sentimental" was born. It was my second milonga, which turned out to be the first milonga porteña known.

- Catulo's father, finally did he add lyrics to your first milonga?

- No, no. It seems he forgot about it (laughs). He was a great friend of mine and of my father's.

For the complete interview, click here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Corto de animación For a Tango de Gabrielle Zuchelli

The only critique I would offer is that there seems to be a historical disconnect between the scenes in the animation and the news headlines and the soundtrack - maybe not - I don't have the time nor inclination to do the research.

I'll bite my tongue about the historical veracity of the knife fight, the fedoras and the dandy clothing. Those are my personal opinions anyway so I'll keep them to myself. This time.

Otherwise, I like it. The animation sequences are good. They are obviously done by someone, or with extensive input from someone who understands/dances tango.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

line of dance by Tony Rathburn

by Tony Rathburn...written yesterday in Buenos Aires...if I'm not mistaken, he's on the tail end of his first trip there with a group of folks from Denver, Colorado...look him up on Facebook and check out his notes - he's written some great stuff...

This is poetry.

line of dance
by Tony Rathburn

a very simple concept...
a most basic element...
it moves forward...

the pace varies...

in a crowded space...
it tends to slow...

in less of a crowd...
there may be more variation...
sometimes quicker...
still slow...

it is a part of your responsibility...
to conform to the group...
to maintain pace...
without overstepping it...

the lead who pushes to fast...
is disruptive...

the lead who fails to keep up...
is simply annoying...

it is not the responsibility of the milonga...
to conform to your desires...

if the style doesn't suit you...
you are simply at the wrong milonga...

try another...
it is your responsibility...
find one that suits you...
not the other way around...

we explore...
visiting many venues...
some will be more to our taste than others...

our preferences...
are very individual...
very personal...

we may both like the same milonga...
for very different reasons...

our paths may never cross...

the milonga...
is reality...
as you see it in front of you...

not as it was last night...
or some distant time in the past...

not as it will be an hour from now...
or at any time in the future...

line of dance...
a very simple concept...
a most basic element...
it moves forward...

we complete many turns...
seeing what is behind us...
what is going on around us...
and what lies ahead...

we rarely take a step back...
and, when we do...
it is with great caution...

has line of dance...

by Tony Rathburn

Friday, October 30, 2009

My thoughts on strippers

Resurrected from my brief stint over at Wordpress blogs...from October 18, 2009...

I want a stripper. I need a stripper. I’m going to have a stripper.

The visual overdose of her lines and curves intoxicates me. My fingers caressing her smooth skin elicits something primordial deep within my veins. I lift her and place her gently in the enfolding cool darkness. She is light, like a feather. As I mount her, I feel her settle in to me, and I further into her. Our combined mass sinks us deeper into the darkness. My knees splay a bit, pressing outward on the inside of her thighs, getting a better grip, getting better leverage, for that which is about to happen. The stiff shaft of my blade caresses the darkness, tiny soft ochos turning us into the fetch, the free and clear where we begin to quicken our pace. A few light dabbles with my blade, in foreplay. But then, full penetration, deep and full penetration followed by swift withdrawal and deep penetration again. My shaft and my blade begin to pump rhythmically. Impaling my blade into the darkness, sweetly, softly, powerfully, stressing the long shaft with my energy, propelling her forward, ever faster and faster. We reach the crescendo of the full hilt full tilt rhythm. Thrust and withdrawal. Thrust and withdrawal. And then I collapse, breathless, exhausted, heart pounding, sweat pouring off me, dripping onto the porcelain skin covering her ribs and running down into her loins. I rest, floating, and catch my breath, my shaft leaning upon her hip. We turn and now position ourselves for another run, a straight shot, back to the shore.

She is a Flatwater C-1, built to Olympic competition specifications. The “C” in C-1 stands for “Canoe”. These ladies are normally built of red cedar strips, but I will build mine of blonde cypress. Thin, narrow, light wood strips, individually and laboriously hand-laid, taking on the extreme lines and curvaceous form of this baby. Narrow, long, lean, fast, and extremely unstable. She will be 18ft-6in long, 32in at the beam, 28lbs. She will slice like a knife through the water. It will be like trying to kneel and balance on, and paddle, a wooden 2 by 4, at an extremely rapid rate of speed.

These days, I'm building the workshop in which I will build the stripper. The dream is still alive, and the river is still there.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Directions the Body Gives ::: Tango Short Film

Short documentary actually. A film by Marie-Jo Mont-Reynaud and Johanna Sophie Santos Bassetti for a documentary production class as Stanford University.

For the record.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

International Day of Climate Action :: Today!

I've been seeing and hearing bits and pieces about here and there, but now I'm keyed in on their website. They are the organizers behind October 24th being "International Day of Climate Action".

It appears that their mission is to go beyond mere action, and build a movement. Sounds like my kinda organization. Big-picture-thinking-there-is-no-box-kinda-folks.

More info at

I've just discovered it this morning, so I'm behind the eight ball on any meaningful action, so I'll have to go with spreading the word via this blog.

I'm off to read more about this...have a great weekend my friends!

Easy Like Water

Easy Like Water is a feature documentary about floating schools, solar power, and the fate of the earth.

In Bangladesh, solar-powered floating schools are turning the front lines of climate change into a community of learning. As the water steals the land, one man's vision (Architect Mohammed Rezwan) is re-casting the rising rivers as channels of communication, and transforming peoples lives.

More info at

For me, stories like this give me hope that humanity can rise above the floodwaters of petty squabbling and full blown military action, eschew the politics of power for the power of the sun and the wind, and eventually find that the profits of lives and lifetimes lived are about community and family and friends, art and music and creativity, literature and education, and not about capital gains and living the luxe life. Human endeavor is not about money.

I, for one, remained convinced that capital gains and profiteering remain the root source of the largest environmental challenge this planet and its occupants will ever face. I hope that three billion of us can figure that out very soon, for then, the tides will change. Spread the word my friends.

Come to think of it, see if you can get the documentary shown in your community. Here is the trailer.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Acid Tango

I was driving home to the ranch, having attended the rare milonga last night, and something popped into my head. If you've dug deep into my past posts, you'll know that some obtuse shit pops into my head.

Acid Tango, like acid rock, like LSD/acid. The hard stuff. That which addicts. You can trip on acid tango. Head trip, heart trip, soul trip, energetic trip. You can get high on it. You can have an out of body experience on it, transporting yourself to another time, another era, another city, another country. The Acid Tango addiction, like none other.

You have to be careful with it, though.

It can burn a hole in your life.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vida Mia

Here is an instrumental version of the song "Vida Mia" by Osvaldo Fresedo, featuring Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet. It was written in 1933 - music by Osvaldo, lyrics by his brother Emilio Fresdedo.

According to the details of this video (of photographs) on YouTube, they played together at the Night Club Rendezvous Porteño in 1956. From the looks of the photograph, there is audio recording equipment on a table - I'm not sure if this is the recording they made that night. Does anyone know?

This version of Vida Mia has been one of my favorite songs for some time now. I gather that Fresedo is something of an acquired taste.

There were five recordings with five different singers over the years - 1933/Roberto Ray, 1934/Tito Shipa, 1944/Oscar Serpa, 1945/Pedro Vargas, and 1952/Héctor Pacheco. I'm not sure which one this is below.

Boy I'd sure like to get my hands on the Tito Shipa version. I've got the original La Cumparsita, before it was re-arranged by Francisco Canaro, with Tito Shipa singing. That one may actually be my all time #1 favorite tango song.

Here are the lyrics:
Siempre igual es el camino
que ilumina y dora el sol...
Si parece que el destino
mas lo alarga
para mi dolor.

Y este verde suelo,
donde crece el cardo
lejos toca el cielo
cerca de mi amor...
Y de cuando en cuando un nido
para que lo envidie yo.

Vida mia,
lejos mas te quiero.
Vida mia,
piensa en mi regreso.
Se que el oro
no tendra tus besos,
y es por eso que te quiero mas.
Vida mia,
hasta apuro el aliento
acercando el momento
de acariciar
Sos mi vida
y quisiera llevarte
a mi lado prendida
y asi ahogar
mi soledad.

Ya parece que la huella
va perdiendo su color
y saliendo las estrellas
dan al cielo
todo su esplendor.
Y de poco a poco
luces que titilan
dan severo tono
mientras huye el sol.
De esas luces que yo veo
ella una la encendio.

And here is a translation by Ruddy Zelaya:
Always the same is the road
that illuminates and gilds the sun...
It seems as if destiny
extends it even more
for my pain.

And this green ground,
where the thistle grows
afar touches the sky
near my love...
And from time to time a nest
so that I may envy it.

Life of mine,
from afar I love you more.
Life of mine,
think about my return.
I know that gold
will not have your kisses,
and that is why I love you even more.
Life of mine,
I even hurry up my breath
shortening the moment
for caressing
You are my life
and I wish to carry you
fastened to my side
and thus drown
my solitude.

It seems already that the track
is losing its color
and the appearing stars
give the sky
all of its splendor.
And little by little
lights that flicker
give a somber tone
while the sun flees.
Of those lights I see
she lit up one.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Secret of Golden Age Tango Music

BandoneonesPhoto by Alex.Tango.Fuego

There is some dialog going on right now on the Tango DJ group about "We need new danceable music!" and "If you must play alternative..."

Reading the various posts, I was reminded of something I posted to El Tango back in January of this year, more or less on topic with the Tango DJ topics. It's about the crucial elements that make Golden Age Tango sound the way it does, and why it is so difficult/impossible for contemporary orchestras/musicians/groups to reproduce that sound we all love so much.

I've been wondering lately what it is that makes so many people "not" love the sounds of Golden Age Tango - perhaps the subject of another post.

As the first paragraph states, I was simply recapping others' posts, and expanding on the subject a bit...that's what the names are about...

Here it is:

To Pat's question about crucial elements that may be required to achieve the character and quality of Golden Age tango sound...recapping prior posts to help gel my own understanding...note that I am not a musician, nor have any special technical knowledge...I just know what sounds good, what moves me, and what doesn't sound good...

Critical Elements :: Interesting points made by posters [paraphrasing]

1] Zeitgeist - World/Social Context :: The time period during which the music was played...[Ron] 'Inflected' by world events and social mores of the time ... this cannot be reproduced...ever...

2] Space/Suspense :: Golden Age orchestras/musicians deliberately or unconsciously allowed for space, suspense, suspension, openness in the arrangements...versus modern orchestras/musicians (in general) not recognizing this, and hurrying the music, just as many/most dancers hurry their dance... [Tom]

3] Orchestra Dynamics :: The smaller size of orchestras today versus in the Golden Age, the larger size of orchestras and the increased number of violins and bandoneons provided a richness and depth to the sound...[Christopher, Myk] Inexperienced musicians without sufficient practice time and not enough emphasis on ensemble playing...[Christopher]

4] Subconscious Awareness :: The fact that the human mind 'knows' that this is no longer the Golden Age, and may impact how we 'hear' Golden Age vs. Modern Age tango... [Bruno] Were the listeners of the Golden Age as moved by the music then, as we are today? Who knows?

5] The Fifth Element :: Whether you ascribe to Ilene's 'magic' quality, an intangible that simply cannot be reproduced, or believe that there may be some other quintessential element, possibly metaphysical energy, which takes this 'magic' quality, and pulls in the Zeitgeist of that time. Add to the mix the emotional energy of the composers, orchestra leaders, and individual musicians - more musicians, more energy. Finally, top it off with the emotional energy of the dancers and listeners they were composing and playing for at that time. Let's just call it 'energy'. This had to be a profound influence, in my view.

I doubt that the sound and emotion of that music, from that time, can ever be reproduced. More importantly, why? Why even attempt to reproduce it? Not that Pat suggested this in the originating post, but there does seem to be a gentle undercurrent of a desire to somehow reproduce the sound. It's interesting to discuss and ponder, which I'm sure we all have, and will continue to do.

My feeling is to leave it alone. I'm not saying not to discuss or ponder it, but to let the music be what it is. Let the musicians of today create their own music - free in their own creative juices. They say "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", but I think in this case, it is not. There is something very beautiful about spontaneous, unhindered, free flowing creativity. Let ColorTango be, and sound like, ColorTango. Let the others be and sound like themselves. When a painter today is commissioned for a work, hopefully the patron doesn't say "make it look like a Matisse..." - the patron wants the artist to create a uniquely individual, one-of-a-kind, work of art.

One of my favorite tango quotes is by Jorge Luis Borges. He said "The tango can be debated...but it still encloses, as does all which is truthful, a secret."

Let's keep that magic, that energy, that secret...let's keep it secret...

Or, you may ascribe to the philosophy that tango is "just a dance..."

Ilene also added a comment after my post about the recording technology of the time. No doubt that played a role as well - as compared to the digital recording technology in use today. There is good, skillful, highly crafted digital recording going on today, resulting in very rich sounding recordings and then there is the not-so-good.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Spread of Tango

Just an FYI...this blog received a hit last week from Libya...a tango related search string entered into Google.

And then today, a hit from Tunisia, from someone googling "tango quotes".

As I recall, there was a hit from Namibia sometime last year.

Who knows, it might be the same person. I suppose I could take note of the IP address.

I've also started getting a few *non* Monica Bellucci hits (tango hits) from within Saudia Arabia, Iraq, the UAE and a few others.

Anyway, just found it interesting....

Friday, October 2, 2009

Looks pretty milonguero to me :: Another vals

I unsubscribed to the Tango-L daily digests a while back, but this morning, I figger'd I'd check the archives and see what was going on.

The original poster of the message "Nuevo Milonguero" feared his posting of the video was tantamount to treason, and went on to express his fear that what is shown on the video would spread like wildfire to the far corners of the world. I'm paraphrasing and embellishing a bit here - for dramatic effect.

First, the video is from a 2006 Seattle workshop with Susanna Miller and Maria Plazaola. So it's nothing new. They are doing what appears to be a didactic demo at the end of a class. A vals class I suppose. Again, nothing new.

I can only guess that what he might be talking about is the switch-up of lead roles during the dance between the two women. Or perhaps same sex dancing? Can two women dance milonguero style? Sure. Can two women interchange the lead during one dance - assuming they both enjoy leading and are good leaders? Sure.

So, from the self-appointed/anointed arbiter of all things milonguero, it looks pretty milonguero to me. I'm not concerned about some new "nuevo milonguero" movement or influence bubbling up somewhere on the planet. El Tango es El Tango. Milonguero es Milonguero. Nuevo es Nuevo. They are different animals. There is no mistaking them.

Admittedly, this is a weak post, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

A couple of final notes on the video: I don't care for the rotational, up-and-down movement of the leaders' hands at times - not-so-milonguero if you ask me.

Also, the demo doesn't feel very "vals-y" to me. It's not the vals I aspire to.

It's still nice to watch - and it would make me happy to see this danced on the pista in my community.

Very happy.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tango on UNESCO World Intangible Heritage List

ALX_0509_PSPhoto by Alex.Tango.Fuego

Tango on UNESCO World Heritage List
By BARBARA SURK Associated Press Writer
Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 9:43 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 9:43 a.m.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Tango was declared part of the world's cultural heritage by the United Nations on Wednesday and granted the international seal of approval Argentina and Uruguay have long sought for the dramatic dance and its sensual moves.

The 24 members of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Committee of Intangible Heritage granted the tango dance and its music protected cultural status at its meeting in Abu Dhabi.

The designation may make Argentina and Uruguay, which both claim to be tango's birthplace, eligible to receive financial assistance from a specialized fund for safeguarding cultural traditions. It will also help both governments justify using public funds to preserve their most famous export after to beef.

"We are very proud," Hernan Lombardi, the minister of culture of the autonomous city of Buenos Aires told the Associated Press on the phone from the Emirates' capital. "We hope this decision will help spread the tradition of tango all over the world."

Tango emerged as a dance style in the late 1800s in the suburbs of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, Uruguay. It is popular in Europe, Japan and the United States. The recent spike in tango's popularity throughout the world is in part attributed to the Broadway hit "Forever Tango" and TV's "Dancing With the Stars."

"Tango is a feeling that can be danced, and that feeling of course is passion," Lombardi told the AP on Wednesday.

The popular image - willowy, spike-heeled women spinning, kicking and lunging across the floor in the arms of tuxedo-clad men - is known as show tango. The kind danced in milongas, or tango dance halls, is more waltzlike, but equally sensual.

Argentina and Uruguay have long been embroiled in a clash over the birthplace of the great tango crooner Carlos Gardel. They kicked aside their differences last year in a joint effort to persuade UNESCO to list tango among UNESCO's traditions worth safeguarding for humanity.

India's Vedic chanting and Japan's Kabuki theater are among the dozens of U.N. protected traditions.

By BARBARA SURK Associated Press Writer

Monday, September 28, 2009

I like to watch, or "You might want to sit down for this vals."

It might make you dizzy. A found YouTube object by Rigoberto. Real Tango. Tango Tango. Okay, vals, really.

This video is further evidence supporting my theory that Tango Tango does not involve white shoes, and that when white shoes are present (on the male of the species), Tango Tango is not what is being danced.

Sebastian Arce y Mariana Montes.

Enjoy. And comment. I like comments. (In the voice of Chauncey Gardener (Peter Sellers) in the film 'Being There', when he says to Shirley McClain's character, "I like to watch.")

(flip the switch if you don't want it in high will load faster....)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

One hell of an enrosque...or if all New Yorker readers danced tango

Cartoon by Danny Shanahan of The New Yorker.

Caption by Alex.Tango.Fuego.

I hope I don't get in trouble for copyright infringement.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

New Blog :: Poesía de gotán ::The Poetry of the Tango

I just ran across this on Facebook. Check it out.

Derrick Del Pilar has extensive experience studying the history and language of tango in Buenos Aires. He also has a B.A. in Creative Writing and Spanish & Portuguese from the University of Arizona, and is currently working on an M.A. in Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. His specialties are Argentine literature and Iberian Linguistics.

To foster an appreciation of the poetry of the Golden Age tango lyricists in Anglophone dancers.

Freely available translations on the web! Just visit the blog.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Life Trumps Tango

Feelin' proud of my trench...

This blog is two years old today. I went back to check the date of my first post last night and was caught by surprise. I thought it was later in the month.

So, I'm caught and fraught without much to say on this anniversary. I let the first one pass by without fanfare last year, without so much as a mention. I'm not one to brag about visitor statistics, or where all my hits and visitors and readers are around the globe. Visitation is not much to brag about anyway.

I suppose I should look back at the blogging year, like we look back and reflect on our year when our birthday comes around. But it's early in the morning, I need some coffee in me, and I've got to get my day going. Life calls. Life trumps blog. Life trumps tango.

I've been thinking of a post titled "Maturation or saturation?". It will be, or would be, about the maturation process in tango. Our feelings and needs and emotions and goals change with regard to this thing tango in our lives. It would be about how I don't have much to say on the subject of tango anymore. Believe me, I do rack my brain on a daily basis trying to make something shake loose and spill out. But it doesn't.

The stimuli aren't there anymore. I'm not dancing much. I don't attend classes or workshops or festivals anymore. Partly due to nano-economics, but mostly due to the fact that my brain is saturated with past stuff. There is tons of information up there that I've never incorporated into my dance. Changes of direction. Single axis turns. The Fabian and Gustavo volcadas. Tons of stuff. Practice. Practice and conditioning are needed, but that is a subject for another post.

There has been a burst of fairly good discourse on Tango-L of late. But it's all ultimately a bunch of drivel, signifying nothing. So I unsubscribed the other day.

I'm not reading the other tango bloggers' blogs like I should. I'm not playing the Blogger game and engaging with commentary on their posts, nor the tit-for-tat dialog with commenters on my posts. Oh, I forgot. I don't get any comments on my posts. Not like some of the other more profound and eloquent bloggers. Whining is not attractive, dude.

I'm not watching YouTube, or even keeping track of new videos that pop up. Not much these days on YouTube moves me to post them and/or talk about them. I could bitch and moan about the prevalence of white shoes that I am seeing in the videos, but to what end? To put the white tango shoe cobblers out of business? What about my own (never worn) white shoes? How do I explain that? Better to keep my mouth shut on the subject.

I don't write about my local community. I don't nickname and write about the women I dance with. I don't write about what I feel and think, what it feels like, to dance with them. I don't write about technique or teaching or teachers or community building. It's all too close for comfort. Plus, that's just not me to talk about how some woman's hairy mole affects my posture and tweaks my lower back. Oh yeah, there was "Miss Delicious Mons", I almost forgot about her. (Grin)

I don't write about organizers who stage tango workshops, then cancel them, then don't issue refunds. Or at least not timely refunds. It's called wire fraud, a Federal crime, and this is not a tango crime blog. Luckily, these stories are few and far between in our tango world.

I don't write about or review festivals or workshops, because I don't attend them any more. Not that I ever did much reviewing, or was comfortable about what I did review in the past. The one thing I would like to see at future festivals is a green room. I did recently think about an angle on the proliferation of festivals. It seems they must be getting diluted. I even thought about organizing my own milonguero festival in Austin - with no visiting instructors, no performances - just dancing. Tom's mantra - by dancers for dancers. Malevito has a good post on "not" attending festivals.

Come to think of it, I don't write. One of my goals in this blog was to get more practice writing. Actually WRITING. Composing. Editing. Structuring. Literary type bullshit. That went out the window long ago. Pretty much every post has been off-the-cuff extemporaneous. Oh well. I'll write my masterpiece someday.

I ponder my addiction to tango. It "was" my life for mas o menos four years. (Sheesh, I just realized I'm at the five year mark.) Is this the normal tango maturation process? Where it's relegated to the back seat of our lives? Where it becomes about quality and not quantity? Where it becomes more about friendships and good solid connections than festival/milonga hopping to seek out the next tangasm? More about tango the community and the culture and less about tango the dance and the technical. Maturation or simply evolution?

I came out of the end of the tunnel of twenty-five years of married life and had a head-on collision with Argentine Tango. It saved me, I suppose. In a way. It saved me from my own oblivion. The oblivion of continuing on the path of the average white man with absolutely nothing in his life. (Excepting my beautiful, intelligent daughter of course.) I was living the upside-down life in Aspen, Colorado. Lost. Up shit creek without a paddle. Boxed in in a box canyon.

They say that you don't choose tango, that tango chooses you. They say that everyone who comes to tango has something missing in their life. Some key element that tango somehow fulfills, replaces, rejuvenates, substitutes, corrects, satiates, is the thumb-in-the-dike. The answer.

Tango has enriched my life in so many ways. This blog has enriched my life. I've made some great friends through this blog. Friends I look forward to getting to know much better. Friends I have yet to meet. There's the answer I was looking for in this post. Tango, and this blog, have enriched my life.

I have a life. There is true love and laughter in my life. There is growth in my life - where I was stagnant for so many years. There is deep, contented sleep in my life. I have a place on this Earth to finally put down a tap root. I have my health, and someone who cares about it. Thank God. So many people don't have this.

Tango is a part of that. Albeit a smaller part. I'm coming to grips with that these days, but I have a better understanding of what's going on having written this post.

That first post, two years ago, stated that I was going to use this blog simply as an archive for 'cool' tango stuff that I ran across. A repository. It grew into much more. A dear diary. A too-much-information, Alex. A soapbox. A diatribe-unal. Was that a quasi-Freudian slip? A diatribe-urinal? I suppose I'll keep at it, struggling for something to write about, vacillating on an almost daily basis about whether to delete the damn thing.

Nine hundred forty-four posts. In two years. I've already said a lot of what I have to say on the subject of tango. And life. And the universe. You will have to dig deeply into the archives for the good stuff.

Thanks, friends and loved ones and kind readers. Thanks for being here. In this blog and in my life.

Now for that coffee.