Important for a day

by bicyclemark 1 Comment

Well, I’m scrapping my theme idea, because I have way too much to talk about after yesterday’s activities. Three major events took place in my world yesterday: 1) I attended a speech by Diana Kerry to promote her brother’s candidacy 2) I gave a speech along with two other important types at the opening ceremony of the academic year. 3) I attended a fancy-pants dinner with all the honored guests. Normally I hate name-dropping, cause it’s lame.. but today I must. So now, let me present the highlights in no specific order:

– Diana Kerry asks what state I vote in, and I shout “IF and WHEN I vote, I do so in New Jersey. But I disagree completely that voting in the US is a responsibility, and I’m considering not voting at all.”

– The president of NYU is telling a story about a certain presidential candidate from 96′ who spoke at a graduation. When I ask “who?” He brushes me off and says “You wouldn’t know” So I insisted… “who was it?” And he says… “You wouldn’t know the name.. Lamar Alexander” And I shout… “oh.. the guy from Tennessee or Kentucky who wears flannel all the time!” He was shocked.. and proceeded to fake-bow to my memory.

– I’m having a little laugh with some important lady seated to my right, and a photographer pokes me on the arm and says “YOU KNOW YOU’RE TALKING TO A MINISTER!” And I look at her, and then I look at him… and I say “GREAT! Thanks.”

– A gentleman who was knighted walks over to congratulate me on my speech, and after only two glasses of champaign I reply “Oh thank you. I know you.. you received something special today too!”

– A Dutch guy walks over to me and introduces himself.. saying he noticed my name and thought I had to be either Brazilian or Portuguese. He was the Netherlands correspondent for Expresso.

– At some point I’m talking about how I couldn’t find any ladies to be my date to the dinner, and immediately a group of ladies raise their hands smiling.

– After discussing New York and US politics with a Dutch Brooklynite… I agree to vote in the next election, not for myself, but for him since he’s not allowed. So in the next election, I’m voting for Kerry because my new friend Jiri deserves a vote.

– And finally, someone at my dinnertable says the magic words “What exactly is a weblog?” Bam.. the floodgates open.. I barely stopped for a drink of water.

A most interesting evening where I received a very inside look at the conflicts between government and educational institutions. I was impressed with the way students and University officials were not afraid to look right at the minister of education and say “Your program stinks! We won’t stand for it!” I saw this a few times… very fun.

On a different note, I was totally impressed with my brother’s last blog entry over at Foggy Recollection. Furthermore, he has very much hit his stride as a blogger, as far as I’m concerned. I’m both impressed and proud… hopefully it’s in the genes and my shit hits right sometimes too. The point is, he’s become one of my favorite bloggers and I swear it’s not JUST because he’s my bro.

Slightly more normal blogging will return next time. I still have to tear into Putin and his new-old battle cry of “war on terrorism!”

Today’s Music: Clash – Story of the Clash V.1

Dalai Lama of the Mic

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

It is the eve of my bigass speech at one of the biggest Universiteit van Amsterdam events of the year. I just noticed my name on the website, it’s in Dutch, but if it helps any, my name is still spelt the same. Speaking in public is my fort? normally, but this audience has me a little worried, a mix of students, faculty, and important government types. Why be nervous? I don’t know… maybe I should resort to the traditional “everyone in their underwear” fantasy. Then again.. that could prove disastrous what with all the good-looking folks in this town. I’ve written a speech which I have no intention of using… I’m tempted to physically rip it up on stage.. I love spontaneous speakers, or at least those who make me think they’re doing it off-the-cuff. Later maybe the text of my speech will be made available on the Communiqu?. Most of my speech training today has consisted of watching my Eddie Izzard DVD (given to me by king B of Queens)… so you can bet I’ll sound like him tomorrow. Someone should stop me when I start doing the “Death Star Canteen” skit.( commence downloading!)

Today’s reading included this article about how Iraqi squatters in luxury homes are being punted out by the police. I’m disappointed. These houses used to belong to all the powerful government types and they all ran away or whatever, I feel it’s a finders keepers situation! I hate hearing the same disneyfication going on there that we saw happen in time square and I see happening to squats here in Amsterdam. What am I talking about? This government push to make housing that only the very wealthy can afford in city-centers, so that the regular people have to go live in shitty neighborhoods in the outskirts in the shadow of a nice paint factory or nuclear power plant. (oh wait.. they still haven’t found those in Baghdad… hahah.. I kid.. I kid) I just think if the owners have fled the country and they’ve abandoned their nice house, someone who needs a place and takes real care of it should be able to move in. Maybe over time they can even be encouraged to legally take steps to acquire the building they’ve squatted. This has also happened in Amsterdam.

In my quest to explore the wild-wild west of the blogosphere.. I came across Bunny McIntosh. She’s quite well known in some circles I think, but for me it was a great new discovery reading her blog. I think she’s crazy and creative in just the right way, and so I wanted to recommend her to you. Plus after one quick IM from me.. she told the tale on her blog. Oh and don’t miss the photoessay of her meeting Tony Pierce.

Two last things:

Tuesday begins my South America theme, so look out for that.

And how the hell am I ever going to get into these hip blog conferences if I can’t afford the 90 Euro plus entry fee. Fucking elitists, gimme a nice 9.99 price.

Today’s Music: King of Convenience – Versus (dam these guys are great.. Chris Missick was right)

Toast, Wi-Fi, and Beirut

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

It seems as though Blonde But Buttery and I have these semi-daily chats where we conduct the blogosphere round-up. This whole week we’ve been working as co-group leaders for new students via the International Student Network, and I’m pretty sure our whole group thinks we’re either insane or the biggest internet nerds EVER. Despite the fact that we have a lovely collection of Spanish, German, Israeli, Canadian, American, Japanese, British, French, and Polish students, this is our third intro gig and we’re considering retirement. The parties have lost some of their luster, the routine is too routine, and shit – we’re workin’ folk. Still there’s so much to learn from these dynamic people who find their way over to Amsterdam academia.

Speaking of academia, ESchool had a post about Philly wanting to become the wi-fi capital of the US – having the largest wireless internet hotspot citywide. Now it sounds lovely in theory, and I admit that if it comes true I might have to make a pilgrimage there like a hippy to Woodstock. HOWEVER, It is hard to believe.

Only two years ago my little Plymouth Sundance was set ablaze overnight in South Philly, and suddenly the city has prioritized putting wi-fi everywhere? All I ask of you Philly, is that you first tackle the problem of random arson and say – violent crime, before (or at the same time as) you make everyone into a Netizen. I’m sure the kids will love it though, after a hard day of setting things on fire, jump on the web and learn about nuclear fission.

My dear friend, co-worker, and occasional musical partner Amy (she’s a celeb so I can call her by her real name) recently returned from a personal pilgrimage to Lebanon. Her stories and her photos have completely fascinated me, add to that a pair of wonderful Lebanese ladies that I befriended in the last months… suddenly I’m learning tidbits of history and culture. So I started flipping through the Daily Star, which I haven’t done since June. I have noticed in the last few days the news about France and the US pushing for Syria to pull its 20,000 troops out of Lebanon. They’ve been there since the end of the civil war that I believe started in the late 70’s til the early 90’s. Obviously this blogger is in favor of such a move, at long last. But I digress, the point was Lebanon seems like a beautiful and mystical place, and when I look at these photos I see scenes that remind me of Portugal. Guess it’s a Mediterranean thing.

I might ask Amy to guestblog a bit on her experience… yeah.. that would be fun.

Also next week I’ve decided to have a theme…. “South America.” Pretty broad, I know, but my each of my posts will have some element related to that part of the world, besides my usual verbage.

Today’s Music: Rancid – indestructible

We the Other People

by bicyclemark 1 Comment

Yes, it's a bear with a bikeOfficially moved in and back with my ADSL connection, hence redecorating and all kinds of changes in the near future. Let me know if the changes are to your approval. While it’s true to a certain extent that I blog for myself, you the readers are what fuels my commitment to blogging every-other-day. Speaking of which, big spike in my blog readership yesterday, surprising numbers coming from the European Union. Thanks to everyone for sticking with the communiqu?. But enough about me.

So as part of being back in my cozy pad in Amsterdam Centrum, the roomates and I tend to cook dinner together. Today’s kitchen conversation was a classic, which I’ve had with various international friends for the past few years: How much they wish non-Americans could vote in the US election. Before you start yelling, stay with me; the US is obviously a very unique country in the world. Nothing to do with the usual bullshit about freedom and democracy, both of which are relative terms and exist all over the world. It has to do with the influence: economic, cultural, political, that the US has over the world. Basically, as I’ve said before on the blog, what happens in the US effects everyone everywhere. It is this reason, as far as I can tell, that so many international folk will sigh as they watch the lame speeches in MSG and demonstrations on the street, and they’ll say “I wish everyone in the world could get to vote for the US president.”

When you think about it, it’s often very frustrating normally for Americans to look at their own government. Here I’m talking about folks who share the frustration, and have no say in the matter. And the opposite cannot be said, it wouldn’t really matter if Americans could vote for the president of Colombia or the Netherlands, because no other nation wields such power over everyone’s future.

Onto other business: My/Our blog generation continues to grow. JZ (he needed a nickname) recently launched “Sunlight Disinfectant”. While I rarely agree with the man about politics, I do agree with his idea to blog and I’ll gladly – sometimes disagreeably – read his writing. This increases the number of bloggers I’ve helped get started to 4 in the last six months. Did anyone notice the term I coined: BLOG GENERATION, you heard it here first from the finger tips of Bicyclemark. It’s “catch-terms” like these that will propel me into a career in academia… yeee haw.

Oh yeah.. I should talk about Agassi next time.

Today’s Music: Bouncing Souls (cause I saw them the other night)