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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How About We Call it a Sui-Stick?

I want to start marketing a selfie stick for potential homicidal maniacs like school shooters or anyone out to harm another human being. With this device you put the gun (or in the recent case here in Spain, a crossbow…Yikes!) on the end of the stick, point it towards yourself, and perform a “final selfie.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Are Blogs Better than Graffiti?

First they came for the putos, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a puto…although I am very fond of musicals.

-Martin Niemöller

P.S. I am eternally grateful for this blog because even though it’s very far from dignified, it beats being a graffitist. and I don’t have to buy paint.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Your Cell Phone Makes You Look Fat


You heard me; your cell phone makes you look fat. That’s the only thing that I could think of that might convince people to lay off their phones just a little bit. Telling people that cell phones may cause cancer didn’t do anything to damper our enthusiasm for this gadget. No one seems to care that it's a dangerous distraction. Money seems to be no object when it comes to this technology as most customers seem thrilled to pay almost anything for the latest model in addition to a frighteningly high monthly service fee so any economic disincentive is unlikely to get people to hang up and join the human race. I doubt that a childish insult will do much to hold back this zeitgeist tsunami.

It shouldn’t bother me or anyone else that you spend your entire life punching itty-bitty keys and staring at a Lilliputian screen on this thoroughly obnoxious device that has done more to change modern society than anything since the automobile. The tiny miracle of the cell phone has also become almost everyone’s best buddy. However, it does bother me especially when we're sitting together at a table in a restaurant and you're playing with your new toy while ignoring everyone around you. Is there ever a time or a place when using your phone isn't appropriate? I don't go to church but do people use their phones there? Is it OK for your doctor to check his messages while he's operating? That can't be any more dangerous than you texting while driving.

Now that I’ve told everyone that their cell phones make them look fat there probably will be a stampede to buy phone cases with vertical stripes to make folks look thinner. Or is it horizontal stripes that do that? This is something that I should know since everything in my wardrobe was purchased to make me look less plus-size, even my umbrellas.

I’m far from being some sort of hippie Luddite (or is it Luddite hipppie?). I get it; cell phone technology has revolutionized countless aspects of our society. This doesn’t mean that we have to hold the things in our hot little hands every waking moment. The only thing humorous about this essay is the fact that 3-5 years from now when we all have phones surgically implanted in our faces like some comic book bogeyman we'll look back with fondness on the annoying habits we have today.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sex or Violence?

I saw a movie poster at a kiosk today, some total piece of crap with Liam Neeson—if that isn’t being too redundant. In the poster he has his arms at his sides with a pistol in his hand. This made me think that perhaps we should be as prudish about guns and violence as we are about sex.

Let’s look at the movie poster again and imagine the furor that would erupt if instead of a pistol he had his cock in his hand. The entire nation just about lost its mind when we saw Janet Jackson’s tit on TV for a nanosecond yet someone getting decapitated with a chainsaw in a movie doesn’t provoke the slightest whisper of disapproval…and we wonder why we live in such a violent society. Imagine if we had the same taboos concerning graphic depictions of violence as we do for the very natural act of sex between a man and a woman (or other logical combinations). I wonder how the film industry would react if only people 17 years or older were able to see movies in which a violent death is shown on screen.

I’m no prude nor am I a hypocrite; most of my favorite films and TV series are rather violent in nature, but then again I’m an adult. I just think that blood and gore and violence does a lot more damage to the psyche of young people than graphic depictions of sex. Which is more vulgar: someone cutting off someone else’s head with a machete or two consenting adults performing a Dallas Fuck Rodeo? I don't know what a Dallas Fuck Rodeo is so you‘ll have to use your imagination an invent your own sex act.

I’m writing this in a café and on the TV they just showed a trailer for the movie Red (rate PG-13) in which every character in the movie had a gun or a bomb. Just after this commercial there was another for some hair removal product that showed a beautiful woman in a thong bikini. The trailer for the horribly violent Bruce Willis piece of trash could be shown on American TV but not the one with the woman with the absolutely spectacular ass. There is something wrong with that. There is something wrong with us.

What harm could possibly come from having fewer slasher movies? Why do we think that it’s OK for young people to watch a movie in which someone is stuffed head first into a wood chipper but not OK for the same kids to watch a nice, wholesome oral sex competition or an orgy in a Russian college dormitory?

If we treated violence like we do sex in movies producers would think twice about making so many gratuitously violent films. We’ve even changed movie ratings so there isn’t as much of a stigma attached to an adult film as there used to be. Now instead of an X rating—something that connotes hardcore sex—we give horrifically violent movies a more gentle-sounding NC-17 rating. We've made it really easy for producers to pump out incredibly violent movies whose target audience is young adults. Just what a violent movie would have to show to earn an NC-17 rating is a little fuzzy but even a hand job will do it in the sex department.

Monday, April 13, 2015

From My Bicycle

Another bike ride, another XIV century castle, at least that's when it was begun. In Albalat dels Sorells just outside of Valencia. I was riding in honor of the Paris-Roubaix race on mixed surface roads north of Valencia. I had never seen this castle before which tells me that I need to stop riding over the same roads day after day.
 A couple kilometers down the road.

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Tale of Two Cities (or one city and a suburb)

LA Suburb

Ruzafa Neighborhood, Valencia

Two equal areas: one is a typical suburban housing development and the other is my wonderful neighborhood in Valencia. It would be difficult to calculate exactly how many more people live in the lower photo than the suburban area but one thing is apparent: there are no businesses in the top photo, it's strictly housing while everything at street level in the city photo is dedicated to retail. Lengthwise these photos represent over one kilometer which encompasses an almost infinite variety of choices for the city dweller. In the Valencia photo there are probably over 50 restaurants, and that is being very conservative. I would have to think very hard to come up with something that I couldn't find in this small section of my city. 

How far would you have to go to get to a major supermarket, a pharmacy, two fruit and vegetable shops, two telephone company outlets, a shoe repair shop, an appliance store, a couple of shoe stores, a newsstand and internet café, a hairdresser, a yoga studio, a stationery store, a second-hand store, and a tobacconist? I can walk to these places without crossing a single street. If I cross over the street to the four blocks adjacent to my block there are over a dozen cafés and restaurants, three banks, two variety stores (or "Chinos" as they are called here), a Latin American grocery store, two pre-schools, a surf shop, two bakeries, three dentists, a printing shop, a copy center, a tailor, a boutique beer store, a launderette, two car repair garages, an auto parts store, a hardware store, a furniture store, three travel agencies, an electrical supply store, and an architectural firm. All of these businesses are less than about two hundred meters from the front door of my building.

How is this possible? It’s all about population density. An average city block here has around four buildings on each side and each building has about six floors of apartments with two apartments on each floor. This translates into 190 apartments on one block. That means 190 families living on the land used for perhaps ten suburban homes.  Being very conservative let’s say that there are only two occupants in each of the 190 apartments on my block and four people living in each of those suburban homes which means 380 people on my block and 40 people in an equal area in suburbia—almost ten times the density in the average Spanish city block than in the 'burbs.

I spend the better part of my life inside the boundaries of this urban grid which represents the neighborhood of Ruzafa (the biggest building you see towards the left is the food market, the epicenter of the hood). 

Of course, in my neighborhood everyone walks. If you need a bicycle there are five bike-share stations within the confines of the area represented in the photograph with another 5-6 just on the outer boundaries. Just why anyone even bothers to own a car here in Valencia is a mystery to me. I think that most car owners could probably just rent a car once or twice a month and save themselves a lot of expense and headache because if there is one thing my neighborhood doesn't have it's parking, which just isn't my problem these days.
Kent, WA