OOPS … That marvelous New Mexican café that I stumbled upon on my Mexico journey last month was not “Maya,” but Los Mayas Restaurante – the one with the “fabulously delicious New Mexican-style rellenos and enchiladas. Natural ingredients. Moderate prices. Even the beans were delicious” … And that’s all true. But there’s more that I hadn’t unearthed from the accumulating loose-leaf dunes of piled important papers in my office … Turns out their chile en nogada has won local awards. Their guacamole is made fresh “tableside.” And they provide Flamenco guitar at dinner, no cover … “be transported to a Mexican village café,” according to Frommer’s magazine … “succulently spicy but not necessarily hot” … 409 Water Street behind the Hilton hotel … <www.losmayasrestaurante.com>
BOOKS … I’m bad. Old gen. I love to read. And as a crusty veteran of strong opinions, I’d love to review books. Squeeze them for juice to see what distilled drops of golden-hued wisdom I could wring from them in a review. But that’s a luxury political life doesn’t much offer, nor my lucky times as weekend dad for an 11-year-old … So almost compulsively, I stack up volumes I’ve read beside my desk – until they take on haphazard as some kind of temporary tower of Pisa (that Italian icon a daughter has climbed, but I’ve only imagined) … I do intend to review them, I tell myself. But reviewing books is a full-time job of its own. Not just to read, but to actually grok. Imbibe. Reflect on, in order to extract the core essentials – before spinning a context in which to understand an author’s tome. … Done well, it’s a genre of literature all its own. Done poorly… Well, I figure – duds or delights – it’s about time to clear the deck. So, for a while, I’m gonna try and knock off a few sentences each week about some of the books that have grabbed me of late.
VOTER CHOICE? … Theresa Amato’s Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny (The New Press, New York, 2009) makes the case that the Republican and Democratic parties use their control of the electoral machinery to exclude and thus marginalize third-party and independent candidates for office … Nuclear power is a good example. Both Repubs and Dems support this tainted industry. Internationally, the Greens are adamantly opposed; but in the U.S., as a minor party, Greens haven’t been able to have much influence … It wasn’t always this way: numerous parties such as the Union Labor Party and Free Soil Party campaigned freely throughout the 19th Century, before “fusion” was outlawed. Fusion allows a candidate to draw endorsements from more than one party. In the early 1900s restrictive ballot laws were passed to suppress the Communist Party from gaining power in the U.S., which led to the current ban on multiple party endorsements. Currently, only New York State allows fusion.
LISTSERVES … As my email piles up like goblets in a dragon’s treasure hoard (sorry, I’ve been reading Beowulf), I sometimes rue the dozen or so listserves that I still endure. Reluctantly, I don’t unsubscribe because they do have great value (Subscribe was a practice long ago ended – the victim of a self-imposed ban).
JUST MISSED … Seems like life is just so furiously fast at times. I had a number of items I wanted to write about in Up Bear Creek, and just couldn’t find the time (space?) to work them up. So, let me just touch on some as noted & noteworthy … I caught the last lecture the triumvirate Lawrence de Bivort gave at the Wilkinson this winter, and enjoyed his hopeful nod to Cartesian inventiveness – suggesting that we could think our way out of the current global upheavals, if we just could learn to shrug off our brain’s primal shackles … Had a whirlwind of a good time in Moab (our sister city New West anomaly in an Old West sea) … Mountain peoples share a certain distinctive way of looking at the world. And Nepal, like San Miguel County, is mountain country. So it was wonderful to watch the sparkle in the eyes of internationally acclaimed Nepali poet Yuyutsu Sharma when he came and read at the Wilkinson (thank you, Scott Doser!) … And finally, another poet friend, Gary Lawless of Maine, recently sent me email comments from the great Mountain poet Gary Snyder (below) on the anniversary of Wounded Knee two years ago (Dec. 29, 2009)
GARY SNYDER … Liu Xiao-bo just sentenced to eleven years in prison by a closed court in Beijing, really a scandal and an outrage. What he did was to compose a dignified memorial calling for more freedom and transparency in the government of China, and movement toward a multi-party system. Thousands of people signed it. He, as author, goes to prison … But as Americans consider this, let's not forget (and the Chinese government won't let us forget) that Lakota Sioux Indian Leonard Peltier has been in prison for 30 years now, even though the original prosecutor in the case has long declared him innocent. Peltier is charged with having killed an FBI Agent. Even though another person declared himself to be the one who did it later, the FBI insists that Peltier must keep serving time … On this day in 1890 U.S. Army troops murdered 370 Lakota Sioux men, women and children at a place on Pine Ridge near a creek called "Wounded Knee." – We must protest the incarceration of Liu Xiao-bo. And that of Leonard Peltier as well. And honor the memory of those who died at Wounded Knee.
THE TALKING GOURD
Simba: The Physics
-for Rick at 60
with the untamed feminine
I let the dakinis
See the sun set
waist deep in quark soup
as the skies part
tuxedoes instead of lab coats
I’m mud-dancing in the dark