Parlez moi d’amour

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. Today, September 23, 2020, Juliette Gréco, the great French chanteuse, passed away in her home of Ramatuelle (Var) at the age of 93 years old. She was the singing muse of Saint Germain des Prés, the bohemian mecca of Paris after the devastation of World War II; her unassuming elegance on stage and her hand acrobatics during her interpretations captivated the imagination of millions of music lovers all over the planet. She interpreted the songs of Brel, Gainsbourg, Var, and she schmoozed with all the intellectual icons of Post-War Paris like Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus. With her classic black outfits, she cut an immense figure on every stage.

She worked until very late in her life, claiming that “in order to resist the coming of the end we must love what we do, in a crazy way, to love your work like I love mine, meaning in an out of bounds way, without limits, to the point of going to sing in a small theater of the suburbs in the matinée section and relish that a young man at the end of my singing said: ‘She’s good, hein, Gréco!”

Amongst all her dazzling interpretations we have listened, there is one that is one that stands out for its tenderness. In a regular drawer of a Parisian cabaret, the singer Lucienne Boyer discovered the forgotten lyrics of “a little song” that Jean Lenoir had written in 1930. The songwriter did not see any commercial value in it and he stashed it away. It could have been easily forgotten or lost forever but luck made Lucienne discover it. She sang the first version of Parlez moi d’amour, with great success in France, the rest of Europe and the Americas. Juliette Gréco made an astounding version, which we invite you to enjoy in this You Tube post. Please close your eyes and start dreaming.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful 

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Happy Rosh Hashanah

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Today, September 18th. 2020, at sunset, the festivities of the Jewish New Year begin, lasting for two days, until Sunday September 20th. We would like to wish all our Jewish relatives, friends and acquaintances a Happy Rosh Hashanah, in these days of tough Social Distancing due to the pandemic. However, as long as one faithful still blows the shofar, the presence of God will be felt.

Shanah Tovah!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Sad “sovietization” of WP Customer Service

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. We would like to share a major concern about the Customer Service provided by WordPress that has been annoying us for weeks.  We had paid for a Quick Start session for a personalized session to develop our page with several items almost two months ago. So far we have been unable to schedule an appointment at a reasonable time (not at a birdy time like 4 or 5 AM) and we have been shocked by their effective indifference to help us out. Trying to get a miserly half-an-hour time-slot with one of their so-called “happiness engineers” (whose happiness are they talking about? Not ours, for sure)  has been so far as frustratingly pitiful and humiliating as the sorry search of this endearing Mamushka in a barren store for a loaf of bread.

Moreover when we have tried to politely chat with one of their representatives, they invariably show up without identifying themselves, as if they were trying to hide from their customers. Why are they so afraid of us? We are  honest about our identities and they should know that we are not “out to get them”, just interested in using their services. The service experience has been quite patchy but this “cat and mouse” game is plainly Un-American, redolent of the Soviet Union, where there was a total disrespect and disdain for the citizenry by the governing nomenklatura. The extravagant pretension of trying to hide their identities from bonafide customers might be an expression of the power asymmetry that, sadly, seems to be searing into the business ethos of this once innovative web company. They might be slowly pivoting from service to self-service.

We know who you are and where you live. You are not entitled to any info about us. Watch out.

Perhaps this company, comrades, has become too big and does not care any longer for us, the “poor little guys.” Perhaps we should adopt a “little obedient” attitude, hoping to one day receive “a little morsel” of their attention. Perhaps we should start trembling with the possibility that they might send us to a “gulag” for rebellious bloggers. Perhaps we should shut up and not complain at all, lest we develop a dangerous reputation of a “troublemaker.”

Oh no!!! Someone is knocking at our door right now. Is the Cheka finally coming to detain us? Will we have time to pick up our toothbrush? How is the weather in Siberia today? Anyone?

Bud’ osthorozen!

Dasvidaniya!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Feliz Declaratoria de la Independencia

Queridos conciudadanos, amigos y familiares de la República Oriental del Uruguay:

Buenas tardes. Ayer 25 de Agosto celebramos la Declaratoria de la Independencia en 1825 que marcó nuestra liberación del Imperio del Brasil y la adhesión a las Provincias Unidas del Río de La Plata.

Se celebró en la pequeña localidad de Piedra Alta, en las afueras de la ciudad de Florida, a casi 100 kilómetros al Norte de Montevideo, la capital.

Ese hecho histórico fue posible gracias al Desembarco de los 33 Orientales, en la Playa de la Agraciada, que representó la chispa insurreccional que despertó nuestras conciencias.

Juan_Manuel_Blanes_-_El_Juramento_de_los_Treinta_y_Tres_Orientales

Este cuadro del pintor Juan Manuel Blanes inmortaliza ese gran momento histórico.

Al gran Pueblo Oriental, salud!

 

George Orwell’s relevance for us—part II

Right in the middle of your biologically needed pause of sleep, in the intimacy of your bedroom, some savvy operators are scurrying into all your digital devices—especially the infamous little screens—to carry on their dubious task: data mining. They are actively spying on all your lifestyle, buying and entertainment choices to gather critical information that they will sell to vendors for targeted advertisement. And what is worse, it is facilitated by the trust you put on some companies to handle your personal information for an e-mail address, shop, contact other people, etc.

In his novel 1984, George Orwell narrated the story of Winston Smith, a wretched middle-age bureaucrat from the imaginary nation of Oceania where its governance is assured by the constant surveillance of all its citizenry at all times, everywhere. In order to achieve this logistics nightmare, the authorities count on a technological marvel: the telescreen. It is a device where citizens get their news and entertainment but that also actively spies on them , sending their private information back to the authorities. We have to remember that Orwell wrote his novel in the late 40s, when the television was just an experimental device used in exclusive circles of USA, Great Britain, and France.

Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Truth where all the previous day’s news is being daily re-written to conform to the authorities’ political discourse. The actual facts are mendaciously manipulated to design a lot of fake news for the gullible; the bureaucrats use newspeak to conceal the true facts from the common citizenry and create “alternate realities” for the social, political and economic developments of their repressive State.  There is a constant disinformation campaign that leaves the citizenry fully confused; Winston Smith knows that his nation has been in constant war with Eurasia but he has doubts if the nation of Eastasia, a former foe, is now really his nation’s ally. The police finally arrest Smith and torture him to get a confession of a non-existent crime.

In a 1984 article, Mark Crispin Miller argued that the famous slogan “Big Brother is watching You” had been really turned into “Big Brother is you, watching television.” Contrary to the role of TV in 1984—where it abets a total conformity with the ruling party—Miller argued that television in our modern societies is used to promote an unrestrained consumerism through aggressive advertising and focus on celebrities. At the same time, he argued, it transmits a message of “material success” to the larger masses, duping them into believing only hard work and civic virtues matter. The viewers derive their “satisfaction” by measuring themselves against what they see on TV, such as dress, relationships, and conduct—the standard of habitual self-scrutiny. Aware that any “faux paus” will not pass unnoticed by the authorities, prods the viewers to take a very passive attitude while watching their telescreens.

Miller stated that the same paranoid obsession about not conforming to “the official story” in Orwell’s novel has mutated into our present-day infatuation with the social messages being peddled in our “little screens” (Not even Orwell could imagine this) Joshua Meyrowitz showed that the majority of the network programming in the USA is based on the premise that people like to engage in a scandalous voyeurism; it is a rational explanation why many millions of people spend hours watching Reality TV. Meyrovitz argued that television has totally changed the very nature of our social interaction by pushing some hitherto private behavior out of the backstage into the very center of the stage, which exposes our intimate truths to tough public scrutiny. The video surveillance of strangers was “commoditized” by commercial television to render that snooping “acceptable” for the whole family to gawk at it, guilt-free.

There were multiple Social Psychology experiments during and after World War II—conducted by the Allied and the Axis nations as well—to study crowd control. The “internalization” of TV images that makes us copy attitudes and acts alien to our feelings/thoughts might be the ultimate success of those intent on controlling us.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

Thank you very much, Sir Alan Parker

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. One of the strongest sensory experiences of our life happened when we watched together with Mary (the “mother of our children”, mind our delicate naming) the film Midnight Express in the small cinema of her native city of General Belgrano, in Buenos Aires state. It happened in the 1980 Southern Hemisphere’s winter, under the military dictatorship that had taken power in 1975, cowering everybody into submission.

MidnightExpress

The epic escape of Willy Hayes, an American college student condemned for drug smuggling in Turkey, from that hellish prison had an outstanding surrogate effect on us. Watching him outsmart his captors and elope to the street made us all very happy; we were enjoying by proxy the collective dream of escaping our “Ottoman-like prison.”

We know that we should not be mentioning this…But we have always been so un-PC. When Billy managed to unlock the embrace of the sadistic prison warden, who was intent on raping him, and he pushed him against a mounted wall hanger, where he died, many in the audience rose to their feet, stomping their feet and wildly applauding. Did we participate in that spontaneous outburst of contained primal rage…We can’t remember.

Parker worked in many diverse genres, including the great musical Fame, with the New York’s School of Performing Arts, Mississippi Burning, the fictionalized exposé of the murder of three civil rights activists in 1964 and Evita, the film adaptation of the Broadway musical. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Director’s Guild in 1998 and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2002. Even though he was twice nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Director, he never won an Oscar.

Alan Parker receives an award

The super-acrobatic dance sequences in New York City’s streets, the playback singing of Madonna at the balcony of La Casa Rosada and the big jump of Willy after he checked over his shoulder that the incoming police jeep had passed by him, will stay in our retinas to relish again and again. He passed away last Friday at the age of 76 years old.

Thank you very much, Sir Alan Parker, for so many moments of cinematic ecstasy.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

George Orwell’s relevance for us—part I

In 1949, Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith, an influential American sportswriter that won a Pulitzer Prize, was asked if doing a daily column was exhausting. “Why, no,” he said. “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”

Recently someone asked us if, even though we have always wanted to write, we only seriously sat down to carry it on at the supposedly “late age” of 55 years old. We paused for a few seconds to rummage through the dark attics of our Subconscious, clandestinely peeking at the long litany of emotions that tough circumstances provoked in our spirit. “Well,” we replied, “it was the inevitable moment…Memories finally got the best of me.”

Eric Arthur Blair—better known for his pen name of George Orwell—was born on June 25th 1903 in Moltihari, Bihar, British India, as his father worked in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service and passed away on January 21st 1950 in University College of London, a victim of Chronic Tuberculosis. He had a very tumultuous and exciting life that spanned several countries and political realities. As he could not afford to continue studying at the prestigious Eton School, he joined the Indian Imperial Police force in Burma—now the country is called Myanmar. While he was still very young, he had multiple policing responsibilities in the Burmese countryside, and he got a firsthand exposure to the exploitation of farmers. He had a reputation of “a loner” that preferred the company of books and church services.

After returning to England in 1927, he lived in the city of London where he continued his writings; in 1928 he moved to Paris where he settled in a working-class quarter. He contracted tuberculosis and was admitted to the Hôpital Cochin where medical students received clinical training—still operational to this day. Like Jack London, his hero, he liked to explore the down-trodden sections of the cities.  He returned to England in 1929. Based on these experiences he published The Spike, an essay, and his first book titled Down and Out in Paris and London in 1933. He wrote reviews for Adelphi and he worked as a private tutor for children. In 1932 he became a teacher at The Hawthorns High School, a preparatory school for boys. After finishing A Clergyman’s Daughter—based on his experience as a rural teacher—he moved to London and took up a job as an assistant in the Booklovers’ Corner, a second-hand bookshop. He traveled to Northern England to study the working people’s plight and in 1937 he published a book on the subject titled The Road to Wigan Pier.

Blair sympathized with the Socialist cause but abhorred the excesses of Stalinism. In June 1936 he married Eileen O’Shaughnessy and when the Spanish Civil War broke out, he traveled to Barcelona as an international volunteer against Fascism. There he saw first-hand the bitter divisions of the leftist organizations and how they manipulated the information to justify their violent methods and sectarism; he was incensed at the strong elbowing of the Communist Party against the P.O.U.M.—the acronym of Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista—a more moderate formation. They were falsely accused of collaborating with the Fascists by the Communist press. Caught in the middle of that factional fighting, he retreated to a roof to read . He was sent to the relatively quiet Aragón front but, in May a sniper’s bullet almost killed him; with a serious wound to the throat, he was referred to a Lérida hospital. He returned to England in July 1937 and published Homage to Catalonia in 1938.

At the beginning of the Second World War, his wife Eileen started to work in the Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information; Blair applied for a similar position, but he was rebuffed to his delicate medical condition. In 1939 he wrote Inside the Whale, a collection of essays, and collaborated with several publications by reviewing plays, books, and films. The death of Lawrence, Eileen’s brother, in France, shocked them both. He joined the Home Guard, a people’s militia that started civilian training  for a possible Nazi invasion of the island. In 1941 he started writing for the Partisan Review, an American magazine of like-minded socialists that became anti-Stalinists after the Molotov-Ribbentrop (or Hitler-Stalin) pact.

In 1941, Blair was finally accepted in the Eastern Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to do what he actually was longing for: “war work.” The Joseph Goebbel’s Propaganda Ministry in Berlin was actively broadcasting to India to sow dissent in the civic institutions against the British occupation; he supervised the counter-Nazi propaganda cultural programs, committed to its military mission. He became active in leftist intellectual circles and started writing for The Tribune—a leftist weekly publication, directed by the Labour MPs Aneurin Brevan and George Strauss; Brevan was the mastermind of the National Health Service (NHS)

The Blair couple moved to a better apartment with a basement in a middle-class neighborhood; unfortunately, a few months later, a V-I flying bomb totally destroyed it. Blair resigned to the BBC in 1943 in order to have more time to focus on writing his new book, Animal Farm, which became ready in April 1944. As the Communists considered that book an open attack on the repressive Soviet regime, they pressured the British government—allied in the fight against Hitler—to block its publication. In March 1945, Eileen was surreptitiously admitted for a hysterectomy in a London hospital and she did not give proper notice to her husband due to financial worries. She did not survive the anesthesia and Blair was devastated by the abrupt loss.

Blair continued to take care of Richard Horatio, the child they adopted in May 1944. After the war ended, Animal Farm: a fairy story was published on August 17, 1945.

The publishing success of Animal Farm opened the doors of the English literary establishment for Blair, which enabled him to contribute to several newspapers and magazines. He started to write Nineteen Eighty-Four but felt distracted by the city bustle. His friend David Astor helped him secure a farmhouse in the isolated island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides (Scotland) where he settled down with his young son. Before Christmas 194 he became seriously ill and was admitted to Hairmyres Hospital in the outskirts of Glasgow where they made the clinical diagnoses of tuberculosis. His physicians secured the help of Aneuris Bevan, then UK’s Minister of Health, to obtain a much-prized schedule of streptomycin to treat his infection. In July 1948 he was able to return to his seclusion in Jura and finished the manuscript of 1984 by December. Extremely weakened, he was escorted by his friends for an extended admission to a hospital in Cranham, Gloucestershire, in January 1949.

In June 1949, Nineteen Eighty-Four was finally published, becoming a great success. In mid-1949 he announced his engagement to Sonia Brownell before entering University College Hospital in London for further treatment. On January 21st ,1950, a small artery burst in his chest and he passed away at age 46. Following his wishes, he was interred following the Anglican Rite in the churchyard of All Saints’ in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire. His gravestone has the following simple epitaph:

“Here lies Eric Arthur Blair, born June 25th 1903, died January 21st 1950.”

In a follow-up article, we will discuss the precious literary legacy of George Orwell.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

Feliz Dia de la Independencia

Queridos amigo(a)s y compañero(a)s de blogeo:

Buenos dias. En el Dia de la Independencia de nuestra queridísma República Oriental del Uruguay, queremos desearles a todos nuestro(a)s compatriotas un muy feliz día. Siempre estuvimos, y todavia estamos, muy orgullosos de haber nacido en ese paisito que, a pesar de tener muchas más vacas y ovejas que seres humanos, es una de las sociedades más educadas de toda América Latina. Incluso ahora en esta pandemia atroz que azota el mundo, es uno de los pocos países que ha podido controlar los índices de infección gracias a la colaboración cívica de sus habitantes y su buena infraestructura de Salud Pública.

En el último viaje a Montevideo donde compartimos una sobremesa, nuestro querido padre Mario nos regaló unos libros de cuentos de autores nacionales diciéndondos: “Son de este país tan maravilloso que tiene aspectos tan sorprendentes…Para bien y para mal.”

Muchas gracias, Papá y Mamá, por “hacernos” en un país maravilloso que siempre nos da alguna lección de vida y nunca nos permite aburrirnos ni un solo minuto.

Feliz Día de la Patria!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do yo think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Happy Fourth of July

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. We wish all our American relatives and friends a Happy Fourth of July. Today we celebrate the national day of a unique country that, even with its many flaws, has been a great nation of socio-economic opportunities since it was founded in 1776.

Today we are having a very subdued celebration due to the ravages of the pandemic in our society, with millions of infected people and, sadly, too many deaths already. However, we believe that finally the local and state authorities have realized that this is a problem that will not go away with silly magical thinking and improvised measures.

Here in Dade County the beaches have been rightly closed for the whole weekend and there is curfew from 10 PM until 6 AM to dissuade people to carelessly congregate. Only with the concerted and honest effort of all the major institutions of society and the common citizenry will we be able, not only to surmount these sanitary challenges, but also to face the drastic economic consequences of the upcoming New World Order.

The American people will find the wherewithal , enthusiasm and faith to surpass them.

Happy Fourth of July!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Happy Father’s Day

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning and Happy Sunday. Today we are celebrating one of the nicest holidays there could possibly be and we would like to wish a Happy Father’s Day to you all. Humans are not born out of a cabbage but are the result of a loving bonding between a man and a woman that create the most wonderful phenomenon: a new human being.

Two years  ago we published an article in honor of our dear father Mario Laplume Salguero. We still stand firmly behind each and every word that we had used then. Moreover, watching our son Gian Luca become a great writer and cinematographer, we feel fortunate that his precious genetic material could be transferred through us to him.

20180804_144007_Burst04

Muchas gracias querido Pápá.

Tus hijos y nietos te agradecen haberte conocido y disfrutado tanto. 

Que siempre descanses en la gloria de Dios Todopoderoso.

For those lucky enough to still have them alive, please congratulate them on our behalf.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful. 

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.