Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tango in the Dark :: Earth Hour 2010

Earth Lights at Night

Okay, not really. But I had to pull in my tango readers to another one of my environmental posts. Plus, Earth Hour 2010 [tonight, March 27, 8:30pm local time wherever you are] is too early in the evening for us to actually dance tango in the dark. Dancing tango in the dark/absence of light would be disastrous.

But this statement makes me wonder if there are not, in fact lots of people dancing tango in the dark, figuratively speaking. But that is a subject for another post.

Earth Hour is largely symbolic - in theory, millions of people coming together across the Planet Earth to turn the lights off. Symbolic of climate change, which for me translates into energy usage, or energy over-usage. It seems no one, especially not any world leader, has the balls to say something like "humanity is currently using levels of energy (from all sources) that are unsustainable over even the next one hundred years". In fact, most world leaders only talk about how we can/must produce MORE energy.

I don't want this to turn into a diatribe, or "troglodytical rant", so I'll leave it at this: One hundred years ago the world at large barely even had electricity - let's call it zero energy - unless you want to count horses and oxen as energy. Today, with the flip of the switch or a tweak of the T-stat, we don't even think about the energy we are using, much less the effects of burning those hydrocarbons on the planet. We can't even comprehend life without limitless energy. We can't even comprehend live with a 25% reduction in our energy use through conservation. People actually used to live without refrigerators and air conditioning in the not too distant past.

I'm not advocating this as a solution. I'm advocating it as a conceptual trigger to get us to start thinking about something between zero energy usage and current energy usage. Sustainability is the key word.

Sustainability. Energy Frugality.

How we get there is the subject of another post.

For now, turn out the lights for an hour tonight at 8:30pm. From then on, be aware of your own energy usage around the house - lights & t-stat mostly. There are other conservation measures we can all take - weatherstripping, caulking, additional insulation, sun shading, bring back the screen doors - again, lots of stuff that is the subject of yet another post.

You might also want to check out my post from last fall - "Brother can you spare 22 terawatts?" - where I tried to get my head around the energy usage/capacity/requirements for the entire planet.

Here's the text from the "About Earth Hour" page:

Note that you can "join" the movement to show your support.

On Earth Hour hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour. The movement symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in this fight, protecting our future and that of future generations. Learn more about how Earth Hour began, what we’ve accomplished, and what is in store for 2010.

Here's another cool image I ran across in my search for the one at the top of the post - a composite image from NASA showing the sunset over Western Europe and Africa, with the night city lights showing. Keep in mind one would never see something like this with the naked/nekkid eye, as it is a composite of many satellite images.

Europe Sunset Composite Image

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Los Desaparecidos

[Photographer Pepe Robles]

Today is the 34th anniversary of the military junta that started the Dirty War in Argentina...24 Marzo 1976...Nunca Más...

We take for granted in the United States our political freedom, our freedom altogether. There are so many countries, Argentina (in the past) among them, where to speak out, to speak your mind, to speak the truth, puts your life and the lives of your family members at risk.

Roughly 30,000 people vanished or were "disappeared" in Argentina between 1976 and 1983.

Today is the day to remember, and for people around the globe to say "never again". But it is still happening even as I write this.


In spite of all the partisan bickering here in the U.S., in spite of all the issues that face our people and our country today, this democracy is a beautiful thing we have today. Thanks to our forefathers. It is a most beautiful thing that we can speak our minds - Constitutionally protected freedom of speech - without concern for a knock on the door in the middle of the night.

Let's not forget, let's not take for granted. Cherish it. Protect it. Exercise it.

Here are a few links to more information:

Here is a YouTube short titled "Los Desaparecidos"...

Here is a YouTube Video of a longer documentary short from Journeyman Pictures...

Tango as a symbol...?

Please bear with the 30 seconds of advertisements at the beginning.

A Political Tango

And another titled "Desaparecidos":

Monday, March 22, 2010

World Water Day :: Part I

pequeña cascada
[Foto by Alex.Tango.Fuego, I took this a few weeks ago on the day it snowed here, it's a little creek around corner and over the hill, flowing for a change...]

I was aware that yesterday was World Water Day, but couldn't get anything posted, so I'm post dating this one. (I'm writing this on the morning of the 23rd.)

I thought about this one most of the day yesterday, trying to come up with something - an angle if you will. An interesting angle, a meaningful angle. I didn't know (yesterday) the exact nature of World Water Day, but I assumed, correctly, that the emphasis was on clean water sources for the masses. The "event", or more accurately a milestone date to bring attention to this problem, is primarily focused on developing and Third World countries where there are no reliable water supplies.

I'm guessing the date went largely unnoticed in First World countries like the U.S. - especially when most people are unaware that even we have water problems. Yes, we have clean water to drink, use in cooking, brush our teeth with and even bathe in. But is that water really safe will all of the chemicals and prescription drug residues that are left after treatment processes? Safe in the long term? Or are cancers and other diseases (and the resulting deaths), after drinking municipal water for forty or fifty or sixty years viewed as "acceptable" losses?

We do occasionally hear about municipalities - usually small ones - have real problems with their water supplies. The ones that come to mind are one up in Garfield County, Colorado where the water became undrinkable (and rather toxic I believe) because of hydraulic fracturing operations by oil & gas concerns looking to extract more natural gas from extant wells.

Another is the contamination of ground water at Camp Lejeune (the U.S. Marine Corps Base) with VOC's or volatile organic compounds. Stuff like Tetrachloroethylene aka Perchloroethylene, TCE (Trichloroethylene), DCE (Dichloroethylene), Vinyl Chloride and BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene).

Bad shit.

Then there is the story behind the story of the film "Erin Brockovich" starring Julia Roberts. She plays the real life Erin Brockovich who, without an real legal background, put together a landmark case against Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for polluting the groundwater in Hinkley, California with hexavalent chromium.

More bad shit.

Locally, back in 2000, there was a scare of the gasoline additive MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether aka "bad shit") leaking into the Edwards Aquifer from the Longhorn Pipeline (Longhorn Partners) right through the heart of the Texas Hill Country. As best I can tell, they agreed (or were required) to "not" introduce MTBE into this particular pipeline. Yeah, right. I wonder who is testing /checking this?

We also get occasional alerts that certain municipal pumps around here are testing positive for E. Coli - which in theory, gets into the groundwater from people's septic systems.

It also doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that all the green slimy aquatic vegetation growing in Barton Springs, Town Lake aka Lady Bird Lake, Barton Creek, and even our little wet weather creek a hundred yards down the hill, isn't a healthy sign. Septic effluent, lawn fertilizers, golf courses, household weed killers, agricultural pesticides, oil changes, spilled toxic stuff on the driveway, paint/stain dumped in the drainage inlet (by idiots). It all contributes, right from the swale behind the neighborhood, to the slough, to the creek, to the river, to the lake. It all runs downhill.

To the groundwater - to the aquifer. (Yes many cities obtain their raw water from surface water sources, too.)

I remember first coming to Barton Springs back in 1970 or so - it was pristine, crystal clear, with minimal "green slimy" stuff growing in it. It was a natural, healthy ecosystem. The pool is routinely closed after heavy rains. The E. Coli levels spike and it's not safe to swim.

Stay tuned for Part II.

Great Blue Heron
[Foto by Alex.Tango.Fuego, just downstream from Barton Springs]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pa' Bailar :: Bajofondo :: Acura ZDX :: Austin TX

I heard tango music emanating from the boob tube a couple of days ago, and jumped up to see what it was - an Acura Commercial. When I Google'd it, I discovered it was Bajofondo's "Pa' Bailar".

Here is the Acura ZDX commercial:

Here is the full/official Bajofondo "Pa' Bailar" music video:

It's a pretty cool, and actually very hot music video. Very well done. Anyone know who the milonguero is? I'll try to do some checking and find out more about the cast of dancers. Let me know if any of you guys know anything - just leave a comment. (Thanks in advance.)

Coincidentally, Bajofondo is playing at Auditorium Shores in Austin tomorrow night - part of SXSW (South by Southwest Music & Film Festival) - or as the locals call it "South By". It's one of the few free shows during SXSW. Auditorium Shores is a vast open space next to the Colorado River (Lady Bird Lake aka Town Lake). I imagine it will accommodate 50,000 plus people - perhaps even 100k. Traffic and such will be a monumental clusterfuck. I know I shouldn't be so negative - I should look at it as a great opportunity to partake of some of the live music this town ("The Live Music Capital of the World") has to offer. I do love that about Austin, and do partake on an almost weekly basis, but I hate the traffic and parking issues.

I'll admit I'm an old fart. Okay, not that old, but sometimes I feel like an old fart. The young bucks and bambies can go at it all night long. I don't know if I can muster enough energy to deal with the hordes and the traffic and the parking - especially on a week/work night.

I would rather sleep and rest up for the festival next week. Actually, come to think of it, there is no rest for the weary. I'll be at sweetpiehoneybunchdarlin'heart's ThirdCoast SXSW Showcase gig.

Bajofondo live in Austin. A whole slew of Austin tango folks dancing, I think. I hope. It will be good large scale exposure and tango PR for the Austin tango community.

In the words of Martha Stewart - "It's a good thing."

Plaza Dorrego Milonga in Jeopardy

Here's an appeal for help that's going around:

Many of you who have traveled to Buenos Aires went to Plaza Dorrego on Sunday and danced at the Milonga del Indio, the open air milonga there in the afternoon and evening.

This is a free milonga, not sponsored by anybody, but by the love of the dancers who come to Buenos Aires, and is possibly the longest running event in the city (I believe for about 20 years).

For a few months (and maybe longer), the bar, restaurant and cafe owners around the plaza have made the life of the milonga miserable. They are verbally and physically threatening the organizers, stealing or damaging equipment, etc. because they want the space for tables and chairs for the people that come to the market. El Indio, the organizer, has been fighting for the space for many years, trying to get official recognition from the city (the event is listed in all guide books, recommended by hotels and travel agents, but is not officially supported by the city government of Buenos Aires).

Please sign the petition: they need to show the support from people, dancers, visitors from all over the world that came and danced at the milonga. For many of us, it was one of the first milongas we went to when we came to Buenos Aires, and is still one of the nicest events here.

Also, he has a page on Facebook: the info is in Spanish but will be translated to English shortly.

One last thing I wanted to share: El Indio is using this milonga to reach out to less fortunate Argentine people. The donations he collects every week are going to charities, hospital, to those in need in and around Buenos Aires.

Please sign the petition, show your support to El Indio, and the Sunday milonga at Plaza Dorrego.

Thanks and abrazos to all of you.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Miniature Earth

What would the Earth look like if you took all of today's demographics and applied them to only 100 people (instead of 6,808,615,758, as of today) - on the planet or in a village...?

Sometimes, the obvious is lost in a "can't see the forest for the trees" scenario. Maybe not the obvious, but the obvious boiled down to something the human brain can truly comprehend. All it takes is one person to present the numbers, or the situation, or whatever, in a slightly different and creative way, and BINGO!

Houston, we have comprehension.

Thanks to Miss E for the find...

Text verbatim from YouTube:

"The text the originated this movie was published on May 29, 1990 with the title "State of the Village Report", and it was written by Donella Meadows, who passed away in February 2000. Nowadays Sustainability Institute, through Donella's Foundation, carries on her ieas and projects. The Miniature Earth project was first published in 2001, since then more than 2 million people have seen this website.

The statistics have been updated based on specialized publications, and mainly reports on the World's population provided by different resources, like UN publications, and others. Bear in mind that these are only statistics, and consequently changes might occur after a few months or only after years.

Please see them only as a tendency, and not as accurate."

Piano Song By:
Yann Tiersen - Comptine d'un autre été
Beginning/Ending song by:
Celtic Women- You Raise me up.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Art of The Cabeceo [from Tango Chamuyo]

The Watcher
[foto by alex.tango.fuego]

Here is Janis Kenyon's letter to the editor on the subject of Milena Pleb's interview in El Tangauta No. 168 [July 2008]. Thanks to Mari over at My Tango Diaries for sharing this on Facebook.

As I was reading, the first thing I noticed was this: "He may not have seen a woman dance with another man yet."

That's an important one for me, perhaps the most important.

99% of the time I won't invite a woman to dance unless I have watched her dance. What am I looking for? First and foremost - is she dancing close embrace? If her eyes are closed that always catches my eye - bonus points. I observe the nuances and character of her walk - leg extension, caressing the floor as she steps, collecting her feet, waiting for the lead.

Auto-boleos, excessive un-led embellishments or shoulder musicality are sure-fire deal killers for me. I'm probably missing out on some good dances, but that's just me. I find it difficult to get past that stuff and enjoy the dance. It's a distraction for me, distracting for my lead.

I'm way too selective/critical/picky in my invitations to dance. I freely and publicly acknowledge that. I try to work on that at every milonga I go to. That's the best I can do.

My experience in Buenos Aires was that cabeceo didn't work for me. Zero, zilch, nada, one rather large goose egg. My tango at the time was intermediate mediocre at best - so that was working against me. With porten~as, they generally won't respond to strange gringos - especially strange gringos, or I should say yanquis, who have a fucked up walk.

It worked just fine with European and American followers. Verbal invites worked with them, too. Verbal invites do not work, or at least didn't for me, with porten~as. Unless you are really good looking, or a really good dancer. Or unless you have had a personal introduction through a mutual friend. Then you are no longer a stranger from a strange land. That's my take on it.

The time-honored codigos of tango are important for us all to be learn and be knowledgeable about, incorporate them into our tango as best we can, and spread the good word.

We should all try to work on our cabeceo here in the U.S. - number one because it works - it's a proven method for non-verbal invitations. Number two - for when we make it back to Buenos Aires. Some day.

Monday, March 1, 2010

carlitos y karina :: danza maligna

Carlos Espinoza y Karina Antonucci. How did these two miss my radar? Google is devoid of anything about them.

Thanks go to Eduardo for this find - he must have one of those new-fangled Phased Array Pulse Doppler tango radars.

Not that my tango radar is that good, or is even functioning properly any more. (Although I can pick up a flock of sandhill cranes wheeling overhead at 2,000 feet, so it must not be that bad. [grin]) I was thinking just yesterday, as I was driving or working (I can't remember which), that I should do a "life trumps tango, life trumps blog" post. To basically put the word out that I've been busy these days and not writing much. Hell, not writing my ass. I continue to draw blanks about anything to write about tango related. I'm feeling very out of the tango loop - and missing my tango friends in the far corners of my world.

I was able to conjure up a topic yesterday after all, albeit a very old one - "Energy in the Molinete" - old in the time continuum of this blog. I remember our little tango group in Aspen debating this one ad nauseum - having drinks and a late-night snack at Jimmy's after tango class. Perhaps it was me debating and the others experiencing the ad nauseum. The gist of my drift is that in the ideal molinete, the follower takes over the leads "energy" as she takes her "back-side-front" steps. She doesn't take over the lead itself, she doesn't back lead, but just assumes the dominant/active/athletic energy, and then relinquishes it when the lead ends the molinete.

When this happens, it's amazing. It is subtle but intense. Two followers who/m I know can do this. Or rather, do it all the time by default. One in Atlanta. One in Denver.

Anyway, perhaps I'll expand on the subject when I have more time. It's a little more esoteric/abstract and difficult to explain and conceive of in here...I dunno...we'll see.

Happy tangos y'all...check out Carlitos y Karina...can anyone tell us more about them?

Oh, and the song is "Danza Maligna" by Enrique of my favorites...