Utrecht and Back

It happens few and far between, but I found myself heading out to another fine city in the netherlands, late at night, for a party! A Portuguese party no less, where you can walk around and speak Portuguese to everyone and don’t worry, cause they speak it. At this same party, the Dutch are relegated to a corner where, for once, they are the minority in our republic of Portuguese-Transplanted. If you’re doing any tourism in the Netherlands anytime soon, don’t miss a journey to lovely Utrecht. Much smaller than Amsterdam, but brimming with life and history stuff.

On the train ride home, being prevented from dosing off by the annoying choral group that decided 3am is a good time to rehearse the highest pitch music you can imagine…. I started thinking of impeachment. That’s just what came to mind.

When oh when will there be enough evidence unearthed. Evidence that this government in the White House has deliberately manipulated the public, mismanaged resources, and abused the power of that office. Clinton got a BJ and they almost tore him to shreds, W bombs two countries to the stone age, gets all his old buddies nice government contracts, and takes the country on the modern-day crusades…. isn’t there enough to Bring on the Beef?

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People’s Herstory

Twas the night before liberation day and all through the city, not a creature was stirring, except maybe a Portuguese-American riding back from Rock-n-Roll Amy’s. Some children are probably nestled all snug in their beds, while bm sits at his powerbook and listens to a People’s history of the United States on audio book.

Perhaps you know of Howard Zinn’s thick but compelling History told from the people’s experiences. Nothing to do with that crap they’re dishing out in American public and private schools. I would know, I went through both and in the end — learned more from the people than from the outdated, poorly compiled history books. But I digress, this audio version is narrated by Matt Damon. I’ve never thought much of him as an actor really, wasn’t he the star in Ryan’s privates? Well, I can say that it’s cool to hear this book narrated by this voice. It’s crisp, familiar, and well.. nice.

Who would you like to hear narrate your copy of People’s History, or any other book for that matter? I’d want James Earl Jones! When I was little, his voice was the official one of NJ’s phonecompany… Bell Atlantic. It was always fun to hear him whenever you dialed information. Some voices instantly ellicit respect and attention.

I would also like to add that Howard Zinn himself reads the preface and conclusion, and I’ve heard him on Democracy Now many times. He has a good New England voice. We have a friend in common, so hopefully one day soon, he and I will sit and have a drink. I’d like to hear more of his life and his experiences. I can just picture it; that will be a truely great day.

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My Favorite Day

It’s a bit pathetic, yesterday was my most favorite holiday EVER, and I didn’t even notice. I didn’t flip open the Portuguese newspaper, I didn’t reflect or write, I didn’t salute a beautiful event in the history of the world. I just kept repeating the date to myself like an old man losing his mind: 25 of April. 25th…. April… 2o plus 5. And only now, after receiving an email from my father, do I realize why the date echoed in my head. It’s the anniversary of the Carnation Revolution in Portugal. April 25th 1974… 31 years ago.

31 years ago a country that had lived under decades of dictatorship, torture, and lies, awoke from a long slumber. Led by the armed forces, who were tired of fighting brutal colonial wars, people took to the streets. The tanks rolled down the streets of Lisbon, but not with the intention of killing. In the barrels of their weapons, carnations, what would become the symbol of the revolution and later, the socialist party. A symbol that stood for peace, democracy and human rights.

People tend to say that it was one of the few bloodless coups in the history of the world. Though that’s somewhat true, people did actually die on that day, when the murderous secret police opened fire from their headquarters, on the singing masses outside. But beyond that, the revolutionaries successfully booted out the dictator and the fascists behind them. They demanded socialism (their form of it) and a society opened to the world.

Of course, 31 years later, it’s pretty telling that even a fairly intellegent boy like myself forgets to celebrate. My generation doesn’t really notice or remember. They see Portugal and it’s many problems, and don’t feel much like cheering. The reality of the situation is that the global economy hasn’t worked to well for the average citizen. Quality of life is good for some, but everyone knows it’s far below what it could and should be. The ideals of the revolution were discarded along the way, the political class has firmly implanted itself, complete with the same ol rhetoric of empty promises and populist ideals.

Still, as is clear from my post last year, I love allowing myself to get caught up in the romance. Because it must have been an amazingly romantic time. Everything I read and watch about that time oozes hope and passion about the future. Who doesn’t like feeling that?

Feliz 25 de Abril Portugal. O povo é quem mais ordena.

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When I Was French

Between the now successful move to a new host, busy days at the fishtank complete with overtime (easy thing for the part time king), and the arrival of my love – my powerbook g4, I haven’t been blogging properly. Take one of these and call me in the mornin, I should be telling you. I’ll get to the thank you’s and the Powerbook Porno shots tomorrow, today I wanted to tell you bout how my present and my past are linked.

One of the French fishes at the tank decided for all my hard work and all the bla bla bla I have to endure from international students, I deserved to have dinner cooked for me. And she decided she’d do the cooking, and baking I might add! And so I made the trek to that suburb that -I vow- I will never live in. because it’s just NOT Amsterdam when its that far away, and sat down to a meal full of reminiscing.

This because she’s from Marseille, and I studied just outside that city, in Aix-en-Provence, Southern France. But that was a whole 5 years ago, back when every weekend you’d find BM in a different country and I was heartbroken about some feminina back in Jersey. Aix was a ritzy city with cushy programs for foreigners like myself. School shacked me up with a lovely yet quirky madame, probably because we were both veggies or because I myself am quirky.

But I digress, this is about my meal and the conversations about Marseille. We talked and talked. I still remember the street names and the different neighborhoods, 5 years and I still know what goes on all around the Vieux Port. She spoke of the towns we used to invade for the day; St. Tropez, Cassis, and even the poshy-posh Cannes. Some of my memories of those places have spilled over into each other. St. Paul de Vence tastes alot like Grasse. Antibes smells like St. Tropez. Sloppy memory, making a mess.

She had even cooked a few familiar dishes, a very provincial salad, a gateaux, and that cheesebread that I forget the name of. For shame, I’m forgetting names. But one thing for sure, I’m not forgetting that dark city. The mountains of Couscous, the fleet of ships, the Gateway where France meets the wondrous realms of North Africa and the Middle East. Snobs in Aix used to say “Marseille, ce n’est pas la France.” Ah non? I used to respond, well that not-France city over there, overflowing with culture and history, I absolutely love it!

I also met the Mindcaster today. More proof that if you get along online, you’ll have just as many laughs and things to talk about in real life. More on those great conversations in the next podcast.

Today’s Sounds: If I lean in close, I still cant hear I peep from the New Powerbook


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