Saturday, March 28, 2009

When A Teacher Doesn't Teach, But Thinks About Beer

I shifted the classroom discussion into the impact of technology on our lives. I asked each kid, ages 12-13, to tell me how they use technology and what they would do without it, et cetera et cetera. Typical teacher bullshit to pass a Friday, and about 5 minutes prior, Dave popped in to let me know he just put the beers on ice. So, mentally, class was over. Getting through it physically was all that remained. They raised their hands and said things about their Nintendos, MP3s, cell phones and computers. When it was Pedro's turn, he seemed flummoxed.
He is the thinker of the class, and his responses are usually a bit more complex.
"Well, es downloading. I download all de time," said Pedro, startled. He then went quiet and I could tell his thoughts were trailing in darkness.
I didn't really know what to say to the boy, but just getting him to expel whatever was in his head seemed like a good move.
"Ok Pedro. Well, what do you like to download?" I felt ridiculous asking such a question. A human asking another human what they like to download...
"No!" he quickly shouted. His voice remained loud and his eyes were wild. "Es no about what I like or what I don't like to download. But my whole life, I think I can download it."
Some of the kids laughed, but when Pedro didn't smile they stopped laughing.
"You can download your life, Pedro?"
"Yes! My father, he es always filming everything. I am serious. Everything. Then he puts into a file. Always files. A file for everything. I am a file. My seester, she es a file. My mom, everybody, a file. And anytime I have question about when we live in Columbia, or Venezuela, or wherever, I must download. I have so maaany questions about everything so I must always download!"
Wow. I was blown away. This was deep. Poor Pedro, so young and already in the matrix. But again, this was Friday, the humidity was heavy and I knew we had beers on ice at home.
"Wow Pedro. That is really crazy. Technology has really impacted your life. Maybe just stop downloading for a little bit. Ok class, no homework this weekend. Get outta here. Have fun!"

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Mask, A Revolver and A Police Chief

9 o'clock in the evening. Monday night. I'm in Brazil... Christ, let's be honest. I'm in some oil-town, ragged-ass Brazilian holdover. It's edgy as hollowed eyes. And the heat won't relent. My shirt is off now and the beers don't do a god-damned thing after a certain point.
I'm trying to wrap my head around the assassination. The assassination that was on pg. 6 in the local press. The assassination that read "a masked man using a revolver" blew away the Police Chief while he was picking up his wife's prescription in the pharmacy.
A revolver....A mask...the Police Chief? It's getting Western out here.
The reports said it was related to what happened a week before; when this notorious favela gang came to town to have a shootout with the police. The police had apparently shot and killed a member of the gang some odd weeks ago. The favela had been planning the attack since. Everybody knew when and where it was going to happen. So to prepare for the shootout, the city blocked off downtown as if it were expecting a parade. The shootout happened. And nothing happened at the same time. No deaths, just wounds and such. I guess the moral is that if you want something done right, make sure you have a mask, a revolver and a police chief.

Monday, March 16, 2009

“We Honor You With This Chicken,” says the brother.

I'm on the back of Marcelo's Kawasaki and we're speeding through O Centro. Kids shooting marbles. Black woman breast feeding. Trash fires in the street. It must be 100 degrees out.

We cut up a small hill and race across a field towards the mountains, and now we're nearing what resembles a ranch. Chickens everywhere. Squawking and pecking and bobbing and Marcelo says we're here.

It's becoming dark. The humidity says it's only getting worse. We're in a shed now with who I think is his brother. He holds a knife, but a machete is on the wall. On the ground there is some hay, there is some blood, and I'm guessing a killing stump. His brother exits the shed.

Marcelo rubs his hands together, says I'm going to love this. His brother returns with a whale of a chicken. It's going nuts, and it's getting loud, really loud and I hate this. I hear the wings hoping they will finally fly and the brother's feet shuffling for position through the hay. Marcelo yells "Ya!" as his brother becomes too large to be human. I can't feel anything.

The brother looks at me and smiles. He's missing teeth, and what I finally think about is, "he's missing teeth." Then, wham! Cuts through the chicken's neck.

Marcelo whacks me on the back and looks to see how I like it. I look at him like I've suddenly gone deaf. But then, I smile. I look at the scene again and feel the moment's exclamation flush quickly to my face the way a new bruise pulses pain. I laugh or cough, can't really tell, but I'm ecstatic. My throat clears and I'm howling now, whooping it up with Marcelo.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

There It Is

Today I leave for Brazil. Or how about: Today a monster drowns in my wake. Its last breathe ignites me to new waters and the cosmic ricochet blasts like it hasn't in years, rattling the green light so that it flickers through the fog just enough to show me it is still there.
Goodbye, and so-long suckers!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thoughts Are Heavy Tonight

sink, think, sink, think, sink, sink, think, think
rarely float, think, float, think,
mostly float
never swim, think, swim, think
but swim, swim, swim.
sink from thinking, thinking of sinking
sink, think, sink, think, sink, sink