Thursday, August 10, 2017

Politics, Mexican-Style

It's a bad sign when these fights end up on tourist beaches. No one benefits. Blame the recent removal of El Chapo Guzmán, the world's greatest drug lord, who was able to keep things quiet in the past, but is now living in a U.S. jail. His sons Jesús and Iván are prime targets.

In August, 2016, Jesús was kidnapped from La Leche Restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, and held for a week. He was held by Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which is a considerable surprise, since Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa Cartels used to be frequent allies. Jalisco New Generation got angry for some reason. Kidnapping is the Mexican way, even if you don't want to hurt the victim, but just make them squirm.

Life for Los Hermanos Guzmán has continued to be tough. They were ambushed by their father's ally Dámaso López in February, 2017, and barely survived, probably only because they were in the heavily-armed company of one of Mexico's most-powerful drug lords, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. Dámaso López was arrested in early May 2017.

Now this thing on the beach.

Politics, Mexican-style.
Three people were shot and killed and two others were wounded Sunday when gunmen opened fire at a popular Mexican beach resort that was crowded with tourists, officials said.

The gunmen attacked the group at the entrance to Playa Pamilla in the Los Cabos tourist region at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula.

Mexican and foreign tourists were sunbathing on the beach when the bullets started flying.

“We heard the shots and just ran to get somewhere safe. It was automatic weapons fire,” a tourist told the BBC.

"Breaking Bad" Is Never Far From My Thoughts

Lately I've been puzzling about two matters. When Jesse has a triumph in "Breaking Bad," he is often shown affiliated with electricity and magnetism, for example, by showing him near power lines. Part of this may have been simple joy in the wizardry of technology and "action at a distance."
I was wondering whether Chuck McGill's fear of electricity was conjured when the writers were first trying to establish his character. They may have wanted someone whose character was the polar opposite of Jesse Pinkman's. Lawyers distrust action at a distance and instead get their power by trying to contain information under hermetic seal.

In physical Albuquerque, both their residences are located very close to one another. A clash between them can easily be imagined.

My second concern regarded the semiotics of "Breaking Bad": specifically, clerestory windows. I've noticed these windows are associated with healing in both "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul."

Even though I've eaten there several times, only now did I notice that clerestory windows are present at Garduño's Mexican Restaurant ('tableside gucamole', Season 5b, episode "Confessions"). There is no healing at all in that episode, however. Indeed, the venom was flowing more freely than ever. It's a big challenge to my idea.

If you remove all the bric-a-brac, the interior of the restaurant seems to resemble the interior of a Romanesque church. Maybe Vince was reaching for a different association than healing. A house of worship? With venom spilling everywhere? Strange. There's some subtlety I'm missing.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Can't We Reschedule?

Glen Calls On Elvis

Trump Throws Paul Manafort Under The Bus

But Manafort knows where all the bodies are buried. So, pass the popcorn:
So, six weeks after Trump seemingly admitted that he can use National Enquirer stories as leverage in personal disputes, the Enquirer has published a sensational attack on an individual who may (may!) possess incriminating information about Trump-Russia collusion.

Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell, Albuquerque resident and lead guitarist for Dick Bills and his Sandia Mountain Boys, 1954-1960.
"Wichita Lineman" is a song written by American songwriter Jimmy Webb in 1968. It was first recorded by American country music artist Glen Campbell with backing from members of The Wrecking Crew, and widely covered by other artists. Campbell's version, which appeared on his 1968 album of the same name, reached #3 on the U.S. pop chart, remaining in the Top 100 for 15 weeks. In addition, the song also topped the American country music chart for two weeks, and the adult contemporary chart for six weeks. It was certified gold by the RIAA in January 1969. The song reached #7 in the UK. In Canada, the single also topped both the RPM national and country singles charts.

In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" ranked "Wichita Lineman" at #195. It has been referred to as "the first existential country song". British music journalist Stuart Maconie called it "the greatest pop song ever composed"; and the BBC referred to it as "one of those rare songs that seems somehow to exist in a world of its own – not just timeless but ultimately outside of modern music"

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Yaquis See A Jogger

Another Tucson jogging story:

Near I-10 in Tucson, just off W. Grant and behind the smog inspection station, there is a distinct barrio, New Pascua, where many Yaqui Indians live. The Yaquis, originally from Sonora, started trickling into the U.S. in the 1880s, with a big surge after 1910 - refugees from the Mexican Revolution. The Yaquis established several villages in southern Arizona, including, by 1920, New Pascua, on what was then the fringe of Tucson. 20th Century growth engulfed the barrio as the city limits expanded. My customary jogging path ran right in-between the smog inspection station and the barrio.

One day, perhaps during Holy Week, I was jogging past the barrio when I suddenly noticed a number of Yaqui men, in full ceremonial Indian regalia, dancing in a line to the sound of tribal drums – perhaps their famous Deer Dancers. I had never before seen such a thing. I tried to jog past without drawing attention, but the Yaquis saw me. They broke their line dance, rushed up beside me, and began jogging in an exaggerated way right beside me.

The Yaquis were mocking me! I didn't know whether to be angry or to just laugh out loud. I smiled at them and continued jogging. After a while, the Yaquis broke off, and we parted ways, with a few waves and slight smiles.

"Atomic Blonde" Blue Monday

Just love this film! James Bond, reimagined. Blue Monday....

Or, depending on your taste:

Starting A Book About College Days

In March, I finished a book about my childhood. Now, I'm starting one about my college years, and thinking about those days.

I went to grad school at U of A in Tucson. In those days, I used to jog for exercise. Here's one jogging story:

On weekends, I used to jog in the light-industry area northwest of U of A, towards Grant Avenue, and beyond. Strange stuff out there.

For example, there was a welding yard full of metal artifacts, surrounded by a formidable fence, with several large Doberman guard dogs standing guard. They raised a huge ruckus every time I ran by. I taunted them by running back and forth right along the fence, just a few feet away from them, sending the dogs into an unholy frenzy of barking. I’d insert my hand through the fence, then quickly withdraw it as they lunged for an attack. We did this on weekends, for months.

One day, I sent the dogs into their customary howling fits as I jogged past, but I suddenly stopped short. The gate to the yard was wide open! Someone was inside! The dogs could easily reach me! And I could reach them! I was at their mercy, as they were at mine! All antagonists were now uncomfortably exposed.

I quietly walked past the wide open gate. For their part, just feet away on the opposite side of the property line, the powerful guard dogs did the same. Then I resumed jogging and dodging, and they raged in fits once more. Because, after doing this for months, the dogs had come to know me. They didn’t fear me; they just wanted our little game to continue.

Monday, August 07, 2017


I need to give technology its due. I came home exasperated after driving all over town without my wallet. I inadvertently grabbed the iPhone and shouted rhetorically, "Where is my fuckin' wallet?"

With bright good humor, Siri answered "Good question!"

(Michael McElroy pictures this.)

Watch Those Plants!

Trump Has Herpes

That's California for you!

(The concerned CALTRANS spokesman mentioned in this story was part of our theater, 1998-2000.):

DIXON, Calif. (KCRA) — An electronic message board on Interstate 80 near Dixon was hacked, allowing someone to type a few words about President Trump.

A KCRA 3 viewer sent in a photo of the sign on Thursday night, which reads, "Trump has herpes."

The hacked sign was originally used to warn drivers about a major road project happening on the Pioneer Bridge. Because of the hack, motorists are not seeing the warning.

"That's an important message for motorists, so they can plan for congestion or take alternate routes," Caltrans spokesperson Gilbert Mohtes-Chan said.

"Atomic Blonde"

Saw "Atomic Blonde": LOVED IT! Like a garish, amped-up version of Deutschland 83, with amazing fight choreography and serious style.

Caveat Emptor

Man sues Republican National Committee and others, accusing them of fraud and racketeering, for raising money by promising to repeal Obamacare, when they knew damn well they couldn't. He wants his donations back. Good luck with that:
A retired attorney in Virginia Beach is so incensed that Republicans couldn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act that he’s suing to get political donations back, accusing the GOP of fraud and racketeering.

Bob Heghmann, 70, filed a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court, saying the national and Virginia Republican parties and some GOP leaders raised millions of dollars in campaign funds while knowing they weren’t going to be able to overturn the law also known as Obamacare.

The GOP “has been engaged in a pattern of Racketeering which involves massive fraud perpetrated on Republican voters and contributors as well as some Independents and Democrats,” the suit said. Racketeering, perhaps better known for use in prosecuting organized crime, involves a pattern of illegal behavior by a specific group.

Shrkeli, Convict

Ultra-special Alt-Right snowflake is convicted. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy:
Businessman Martin Shkreli, once dubbed the “most hated man in America” for raising prices for critical drugs, was found guilty Friday of two counts of securities fraud and one of conspiracy in a federal court in Brooklyn.

The baby-faced and gutter-mouthed 34-year-old, often known as "Pharma Bro,” had been charged with eight counts of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit both securities and wire fraud. He was acquitted of five of the charges, including the most serious, which allowed Shkreli and his defense team to claim victory.

Prosecutors claimed that Shkreli ran what was effectively a Ponzi scheme, defrauding investors by exaggerating his own credentials – for example, claiming that he attended Columbia University. He used their money to capitalize a new drug company, Retrophin, which he then looted to pay them back, they alleged.

Shkreli was acquitted on the charges relating to Retrophin, but convicted of making fraudulent misrepresentations regarding two hedge funds he ran.