Wednesday, August 29, 2012

For Whom The Horn Blows…


Well… that line about the tolling bell was already taken, so…

Once upon a time, there were two brothers who roamed the plains, searching for great deeds to accomplish in order to gain fame and fortune and, especially, to reach the Holy Grail… well, in their case it could be called the “Holey” one, for it seemed to leak everything. They had made it clear they both wanted the big one, and that each one was willing to do anything that needed to be done in order to get it. In other words, they were ready to duke it out.

The prize they both wanted was a job. Yes Virginia, a job. Now, please understand this was not a common job, no run of the mill niner to fiver deal here, no siree. This was a job that brought prestige, fame, fortune, position and power beyond belief. It brought power to control the destiny of the plains ands all the plainers who lived therein.

But it also brought with it the opportunity to blow everything around you to smithereens; to embarrass yourself and to be always remembered, in the texts the plainer children would forevermore study as… the Failed One.

Oh, it was a special job, that one. So special that all others paled in comparison. It truly was the embodiment of a lifetime’s dream; a realization that only a few could ever think of achieving and even less would actually accomplish.

How would the brothers go about getting such a plum?... you are certain to ask.  Well, as it turns out, there are no real qualifications written down, other than being a born plainer. Just perceived ones. You see… you don’t really get hired by a personnel manager… sorry, human resources specialist. One of the brothers would actually get pegged by an “at-large” committee of a majority of plainers who on hearing their discourses and seeing their shows, would either buy their montage … or not.

Truth be dammed…

So, imagine Inny and Minny (Ahh… real names withheld by request and for their protection or… maybe mine)  had to go out and convince their fellow plainers that each one (separately, of course…) was the best available for the position.

-“He doesn’t know squat…!” would shout the one to whoever would listen…
-“He has no clue…!” would answer the other one, from his corner and surrounded by his personal staff of highly trained advisors…
-“He lies…!” would come back from the other hidey hole
-“He doesn’t know truth…!” would be heard from the other brother…
-“He’s a caveman…!”  Insisted the first;
-“He’s a flightless dodo…!” screamed the other …

The funny thing is, they would actually pay people to come up with these ditties… I think they called them “staff writers”… the real purpose of all the shouting was to mask reality and their respective failings… to push the plainers’ attention to the banal instead of allowing them to visualize the actual bottom line(s).

And so it went… on and on and on.  If nothing else, the ongoing show was good for some laughs, except that once in a while some tears of anger and frustration came along for the ride.

So, Fellow Plainers… whenever you hear Inny and Minny shouting and discoursing, remember this is The Greatest Show on Earth… it has everything:  music, noise and noisemakers (galore), make believe, songs of promises and, best of all… a host of supporting clowns... although often they are not really that funny.

Look beyond the lights and listen beyond the noise. Look at and question the real issues that can make us or brake us here in the Plains… don’t let the show confuse you… don’t let the easy and folksy talk lull you to sleep.

In the end, “he who blows harder will probably be short of breath”… Hopefully, whoever makes it to the highest Seat On The Plains, will have enough wind left to fill our collective sails.

In the meantime…  Let the Show Go On…

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

On The Eve of Destruction…


No, I don’t really believe we will come to a fiery end sometime around midnight of December 12 (or, is it the 21st?)… Nor is this about that...

Actually, late last night I was watching one of a series of fund raisers for public television (better than watching the one and only slicer/juicer/vacuum package and coffee maker for $29.99) and this particular one had to do with folk music of the 60’s. These years (late 60’s to early 70’s) were particularly rough on the country.

On the one side, the radical social movements of the left and the Afro-American movement, on the other side the Viet-Nam conflict (it was never actually declared a war…) which turned out to be a great divide in our country; not to mention the VN issue being a useless war (I’m not sure there has ever been a “useful” war) where thousands of kids died, on both sides. In the middle, as usual, a throng of somewhat bewildered people just trying to make a living and go on with their lives in the midst of Prime Time body counts.

This era spawned some of the most meaningful music (and a host of silly entries as well) we had seen (and have, since then) especially in the folk music movement. There were individuals who rose to the top, like one Pete Seeger, who became one of a kind. His best known work was a little ditty which went something like “To every season… turn, turn, turn…” remember that one? It was sung by many. The best known rendition came from McGuinn and the Byrds, I believe. My favorite take? Judy Collins’… she of the incredible voice…

Many trios, groups and individuals with a lot of talent justly rode the movement to glory and fame; some others just latched on to their coattails. Clarence Clearwater, The New Christy Minstrels, PP&M (that’s Peter, Paul and Mary, if you had to ask…) James Taylor, and so many others. In that music, there were stories, as were also in the music of one Harry Chapin, a trailblazer of new songs in the traditional story telling mode.

One such singer, who became prominent after he left his original organization, the before mentioned New (never knew the “old”) Christy Minstrels, was Barry McGuire. He had collaborated on their initial big hit “Green Green” and, on leaving them, he wrote the song for which he is best known and remembered “The Eve of Destruction”. His gravelly voice made it unique and the message was deep cutting for the times. A favorite quote from it… “you’re old enough for killin’ but not for votin’… you say you hate war, so what’s that gun you’re totin’?” 

Last night, I heard him sing it once again, gravelly voice intact, but not so the mop which covered his top back then… this Barry version, obviously older (why is it they all get older but one doesn’t?) had a shiny top where that mop used to sit… a little heavier around the belt but still rendering the message.  It was a déjà-vu moment, a moment which, at 1 in the am, very easily takes one into that reverie land where time evaporates and the mists of the years disappear but for a fleeting moment.

Army time and Penny Lane (came to really dislike that song in the beginning…), the flower movement, the VN conflict, the night classes at the university, the stints at the different radio stations where I worked, the feeling of joy at exploring a new universe… A time when new thoughts were being espoused, never before defined horizons explored and society was being rocked out of complacency and into a new reality… even if it was done while that very society kicked and screamed at the top of its lungs.

It has been said by more than one historian that from 1967 to 1972 it was the closest this country had been to a civil war since the North/South war… Alabama’s Governor Wallace standing at the University’s doorstep, trying to stop black students from coming into the heretofore lily white halls; the oh so brave kids coming to class and having to walk between police dogs which looked at them as looking at a potential meal. These kids were unsung champions; what they braved then, in the name of that very society which was trying to maul them emotionally, if not physically, was indeed the stuff of heroes.

Daily demonstrations in just about all University Campuses (Campii?), disruption of classes, the 1968 democratic convention where blood actually flowed in the street and hundreds were jailed…  If we were to describe these images today, the listener might think we were talking about a Middle Eastern country in the throes of social upheaval… And it was social upheaval all right, except this was happening in our own backyard, our country.

But we survived, and the system once again (and God Bless it for this) proved to be stronger than the individual causes and interests; we are here today, facing other issues and other problems, but with the knowledge that we don’t have to stage a take over or a revolution to resolve them.

We just have to exercise the right to vote based on our own beliefs and convictions.

So, many time softened memories and much thought and remembrances, all sparked by one song whose message was as real then, as it is now. 

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sepia Moments… and a Correction..


I will take care of the correction first: in this blog’s last entry, it was stated that we, as a country, are over 4 Trillion in debt… I WISH!!! … Actually, that was what president Bush accumulated over EIGHT Years… Our current White House denizen has managed to add well over 5 Trillion in just THREE and one half years… Not the picture of fiscal management that would be approved by a Board of Directors…

Now on to better things… When one hears the term “sepia” … What comes to mind? Most likely an old picture, a snapshot of something which was a moment in time… usually many years ago, often in a different part of the country or even, in a different country altogether. Sometimes of generations past…

When I look at my life, there are moments which will now take center stage without any hesitations or doubts; moments which I know were defining to my future but that, at the time, were perhaps deemed insignificant. The reason I say now is that before, the moments which would come to mind were usually “impressive” ones, but not necessarily defining.

How often do we go back in our minds and pick one spot; a moment in time which may have been happy and carefree or a moment of great loss and pain … a moment which we might have thought could not be survived. Then, as we reel forward, we understand that indeed it could be survived and, not only this, but that it actually provided us with a stronger base (if we chose to accept and learn instead of spending our time complaining) from which to deal with issues that came after.

These postings started originally due to a request to put into writing that span of time which included those days immediately before our coming to this country and then a few years into the future. As you can tell, if you have read all along, these  writings have metamorphosed into other areas. Going back to those days, no doubt that they were life defining but, in reality, that life changing decision made by our parents on our behalf was not made in one day, or one month… or even one year.
                          
I can, through deductive reasoning (boy… that sure sound smart don’t it?) and much thinking about many conversations had with exiled family friends while they were still alive, that this process began as early as 1960, 2+ years prior to my actual leaving. It seems it began with (like much in my life) my grandfather, who had a good eye for what was to come. He apparently understood that the so-called leader he as well as many others had supported while they were still in the mountains was nothing but a farce who wanted to control the country, in ways that were far beyond what any other dictator had ever done.

This decision was reaffirmed when the schools were closed … in order to continue to attend classes one had to belong to the militia … I did not join… then, late in 1961 I was put in jail for not having done so (collateral punishment, I suppose) and taking part in a catholic procession. I now know this was the final trigger to a long and -I will assume- painful decision process which would definitely change the life of all concerned, especially ours (my sister's and mine). Yet, at the time I was in that jail waiting for my parents to come and rescue me, all I could think about was being there and what would I say to my friends…

We all have sepia moments in life… an ever expanding list of them… some are being added today, we just don’t know it yet. Decisions made, decisions not made… relationships started, relationships not started… roads taken, roads avoided… words said, words not said… intents met, intents not met… moments of grand joy, moments of intense pain…

In the end and, as said before and more than once, the aggregate effect of these moments is what makes us into who we are now, for better or worse. I happen to believe it is always for better, not worse. 

Enjoy your moments, past and present … so you can then be ready to enjoy the future ones, whenever they come.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From Wally’s Pond… (muddy waters to you!)


It’s been a while since I had a chance to (figuratively) sit at the water’s edge… and think a little.

It is something I would like to do whenever possible, but it seems to be less and less so of late…

Just heard a piece of music I had not heard in quite a while… The Banana Song by Harry Belanfonte… It certainly brought back a flood of memories of years ago, a much more carefree stage of my life. Also heard in the news yesterday that Phyllis Diller has died and gone on to the everlasting stage somewhere, to perform never ending versions of her routines and shticks… She was really unique… I can’t say I was an immediate fan in the beginning, but she won me over with time and her really funny routines… May the ethereal applause be as loud as it ever was here …

Politics is heating up… what else is new in an election year? We continue to have very lopsided reporting by a very lopsided press corps. But… what else is new in an election year? Traditionally, roughly 80% of the nationally listened to media corps, leans (often very heavily) to the left of center and to the Democratic Party… right or wrong.

What comes out of this “reporting”, is biased misinformation of what goes on a daily basis, where news made by members of either party are covered very differently. If an error is made by a Republican (even a minor figure) it will get top billing… repeatedly. On the other hand, if an error is made by a Democrat (including several heavy tongue errors made by the Vice President - not a minor character), it is hidden as much as possible and forgotten quickly. This very special brand of “reporting” is geared to making one of the sides the “friend” side, while the other is made to be the avowed enemy.

The incumbent most likely will remain as the President. Not my choice by a very long shot and for far too many –in my opinion- valid reasons but, in reality, the government’s publicity machinery is at his disposal and I am sure he knows how to use it.  This is an advantage; perhaps unfair, but a major advantage nonetheless. Traditionally, there have been very few incumbents who have lost a re-election; even those who proved to be less than efficient at what they were elected to do. On both sides.

The truth of the matter is that the current White house inhabitant has, for 3 and a half years, done extremely little of what he promised to do as President. Suddenly, coming close to an election which may be a lot closer than his friends at the news media would have the guts to admit, he has discovered the powers of the presidency and is trying to hurriedly pass through a number of mandates which are intended to have the effect of making him look good (actually better than he is in reality) and especially so before the eyes of certain groups that have bought the mantra that the other guy will be bad for them.

Budget crisis? Nah… we are only over 4 trillion in debt, more than ever before (and no, this is not the result of inflation); Work issues?  Can’t even read much about it, since the news is about as bad as it has been since the Great Depression on this front… Bureaucracy?  We now have more Departmental “Czars” in place than the Russians ever dreamed of having…  Another little addition from this government…

Medicare is on the brink of disaster. This White House has been advised every year of this fact by the very people who manage the area but these warnings (required by law) have gone ignored. And Obamacare is certainly not the answer. Actually, one President had the guts to try to do something about this major issue… yes, it was President Bush, but his initiative was totally ignored by the Democratic House and Senate (read: Pelosi and Reid)… and let’s not go into the Social Security area… The potential disaster here would really scare the pants of most people who depend on this supplement to eat and pay rent.

These are times when my thoughts wander about and latch unto the questions that begin with the dreaded “Why?” Not many answers I’m afraid but… I will keep on asking them. And being here at the pond helps me clear my thoughts a bit… We will believe what we prefer to, regardless of whether its reality is in doubt. As one very astute (and very cruel) German maker of public opinion used to say during WWII: “If you say it enough times, they (folks) will believe it” (or close to this)… So, the lopsided image and public opinion shaping machinery will continue on and so will politics… business as usual.

Aw shucks…! I think I got carried away… my feet are getting muddy at the pond… and so is my mind… better move on…  See Ya!!!

Be Well … Be Back!!!
Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saturday Night with the “In-Laws”


It had been a long time since I had a family (of sorts) dinner reunion…

-“When we get to Miami, we will get together with the new In-Law branch… they really want to meet you…” said my wife, as we were getting into the car, ready for a 12 hour drive.

There are cultural differences among all our societies, including groups which come from the, supposedly, same background. It has been said that Latin America is a compendium of countries divided by a common language; it happens to be (with the exception of Brasil) the same language for all… Spanish. Each country -and often parts of each country- has its own inflections, pronunciations, accents, sayings, words of popular misuse… all in all, we barely get to understand each other.

I have been away from my country of birth for half a century, time which has been spent mainly in this US of A, where its mores, customs and culture have been mostly assimilated by yours truly, putting what was left of my own childhood background well into the back of my mind and persona … Please understand… I love my country of birth, Cuba, and its culture… just that after so many years of being away from this mélange, whenever I find myself submerged in it, it all tends to be a little overwhelming at times.

We gesture, we yell, we scream, we embrace, we kiss, we insult each other… we waive our arms like windmills and this is all while we are simply saying hello… What comes after is a true tour de force in how to hold 6 conversations at the same time, on 6 different subjects and every one involved is speaking louder than the next person… what tends to be troublesome in this scenario, is that everyone understands the other five people and actually keeps up with whatever that particular individual is saying…

It’s actually scary, no???

As Saturday night wore on, some of the children went into their own version of screaming … one because the other had something he/she wanted and the other one because he/she had something the other wanted. And they are both afraid that if he/she doesn’t scream just a little louder, then the “other” will win out.  Confusing? No, not really… I think…

Just early life training for budding vocal chords…

Our Caribbean culture is such that we do not stay still, nor do we go gently and quietly into the night. We are indeed boisterous and loud… yet we can be very gentle and very loving as well… We can yell into your face… I WILL KILL YOU UNTII YOU DIE!!!… then cry with you if someone close is hurt… Paradoxes and contradictions; redundancies, complexities and simplicities, all rolled into one package.

As I lived through the night’s get together of these three generations (mine being the oldest… and not necessarily the quietest!!) mostly enjoying the noise, the decidedly Cuban meal, the children running upstairs and downstairs, the folks in one room talking (rather loudly) with folks walking around or in the other room… didn’t make any difference the receiving party was not there, in front of the talking party…  the old time music courtesy of You Tube which brought on a bit of dancing (no self respecting Cuban will have his partner at hand and let a good piece of music go by unattended)… it then came to me that this is really what gave me the base to become whatever I am today.

Of course, added to this was a heavy dose of family upbringing… as most of us have had.

It comes to me that I don’t really want to be someone else; it is “I” who sits here and writes these entries. They would not be possible if it was someone else sitting here at the computer and banging these very keys… different lives, different experiences, different pains and joys… a different result altogether.

Each one of us is real and is kind of unique; it is not an issue of better or worse, just of being different. Learn to enjoy those differences that make you into who you are… and allow the differences of those around you to enhance your everyday experiences.

It is life’s gift to each of us.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

If You Like… Click This Here Button…


The new social media surveys… will shackle your presence into the cybernetic world.

Have you ever received a survey request at some point while traveling through the cyberworld? (I am getting a red underline under this last word folks… MSW apparently doesn’t recognize this as a valid entry… hmmm!) Of course you received one… or… more likely, a hundred… We all have.

And what do you do? ... As most of us, you probably hit the “DELETE” button… in fact, my delete button is blanked out… Overuse perhaps? What you may not know, is that ignoring these requests is causing havoc with the social networks, which rely on these answers to justify their existence and the high cost of advertising, which in turn helps cover the high salaries paid to the hired help…  and, of course, to the executives.

So, what do the social networking gurus do? Imagine the following, imaginary (maybe??) conversation within the sacred halls of Facebook Nation…

-“Hey man… we are going to get cut out here”
-“Why?”
-“Man, we’re getting killed in the ratings and the add stuff’s not coming in” … “Got called in to The Man’s office yesterday and I was told that unless the ratings go up, we are all getting canned”
-“WOA… hold on there…. What’chu mean?” “... this is a good gig man…”

A serendipity moment comes in…

-“I GOT IT!!!!” yells guru Jr…..
-“What…. What?” asks the other, while chewing on a breakfast energy bar…
-“HIT THE ‘LIKE’ BUTTON” yells the first techie (Hmmm… another red underline)
-“WHAT DO YOU MEAN?” asks the second, getting caught up in the excitement…
-“Well… we put up some nonsensical, syrupy junk and ask the user to hit the “like” button….” … “Then we track the likes and dislikes and present this as proof of user participation”

So now, instead of getting the survey requests no one answered, we get these nonsensical stupidities like the picture of a cute puppy wagging its tail and get asked that “if you like this cute puppy, hit the like button and if enough do it, we will give it a home” Of course, most people who ignored the heretofore insipid “survey requests” will have their humanitarian  instincts kicked into high gear and hit the like button… therefore identifying themselves into a demographic group which will receive specifically designed adds in their pages.

AHH!! The mahveluss ways of the cyber world… 

So now… I am seriously thinking about getting off FB… there isn’t a time in which I open the bloody app, that there aren’t at least 6-10 of these… “If you like the cute kitty/doggie/horsie, hit the button…” or some such invitation. I guess they must be getting desperate to show their numbers, since the stock value of the thing has gone down almost 50% since the famous brouhaha which accompanied the public issuance… Mr. Z has lost some 600M, but then he has another 600M worth of unattended funds … what about those who lost and don’t have that much left over? Well… such are the ways of capitalism… you get greedy, you bet and… maybe you win, maybe you lose.

In the end, all these electronic gadgets and their accompanying social networking capabilities, which are making themselves an impervious part of our lives, will eventually (and this is, by no means, a far away eventuality, mind you!!) take us directly into that Orwellian land of Big Brotherhood, where every step we take and every action we carry out will be recorded somewhere, by someone who is a total unknown to us.

And all will be done for our protection and security, of course…

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Is it the Spirit… Or the Material Rewards?


Maybe a bit oversimplified but believe me there are moments when this question comes to mind… and very strongly.

During these past two weeks we have had the chance to watch many athletes who, from most of the world countries, come to a central place being this time the city of London, in order to compete their hearts out … not to mention their bodies.

Most have worked feverishly to get here; long hours (very) of training, special nutrition (to those who have this extra item available) and constant supervision brings them to what they hope is the apex of their physical conditioning, so as to do their best in the limelight of international competition.

So far, so good. So then, what is this entry about? As a long time ago athlete (yes Virginia, inside this somewhat mature and at times tired body, there rest the remnants of a once fierce (well OK, intensive) competitor) who spent many hours training and doing less socializing than others my age because of this, there is a “kinship” felt with these modern warriors, albeit from afar.

There is also the understanding that for most of them, the sacrifices have been very real in money, time and efforts. In most cases, unless the athlete hails form a country with a centralized government where funds are made available, these are mostly private efforts. And in many poor countries, training is done in ridiculously underprepared venues. Yet, they come and they do so to proudly represent their respective colors and with the intent to give their all.

The giant marketing machines, spearheaded and amply fueled by mass media communicators that have spent enormous amounts of funds (funds which, if put to meet basic needs in some of those very countries where most folks cannot afford the equipment to watch their message, would save an incredible number of lives and futures) for the rights to send their signal to those markets which can afford to buy the products that sponsor them at a cost of millions of Dollars per minute, create a hysterical feeding frenzy; their food? those medals and the count which builds up or down… As if this was the real reason for the games.

Unfortunately, if an athlete comes in second or third place and not with the golden prize, he or she is deemed to have failed; especially when the “failed” athlete comes from one of the major markets. I guess whenever the maximum prize is not won, the anticipated earnings go down the golden drain.

I am not sure where it all may eventually lead, but the spirits of the Olympics mean -or should mean- much more than just the financial aspects and the medal count… the gathering of hopes, the interminable hours of trying, the hard work and the long days, the constant sacrifices made by athletes and their families, for in many instances even jobs are postponed in order to give their all to training…

Olympic frenzy… even the sight of the “eternal” flame is being kept only for those who can pay for the ticket to get into the stadium where it lights up the empty and waiting seats…

I know… this entry will not change anything, nor will it inflame the spirit of the Games into what it has ceased to be for many… I guess there will always those who will be honestly ecstatic for the privilege of having made it there and there will be those who sacrifice some years of their lives in exchange for the possibility at the ultimate golden prize… the marketing dollars… Is this wrong? I do not have an answer...

Enjoy the competition… in the end, it is the pinnacle of sporting events (yes, I know… FIFA will not agree with this) and these are the prize athletes of their respective countries… their performances are a joy to behold.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora”… The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Goodbye… Until we meet Again…


I Suppose we’ll do so on the celestial (I hope…) byways…

No, not me… Hopefully there’s still some wood left in this particular fire, but too many folks who were a part of my growing up into certified manhood seem to be disconnecting from the earthly networks, hanging up their keyboards and earplugs and reconnecting into the Ethernet… literally!!

One such was Gore Vidal… Now, you now that I am not an avowed liberal so… why should I be talking about someone farther to the left than any one with whom I could possibly identify? Well, yes, he was an intransigent liberal mind, falling off the left side of the scope but, what a mind he had!

His encounters during the ‘68 elections with William Buckley, as acerbically far to the right as Vidal was to the left were so incredibly fascinating that they spawned a TV show based on debating issues and viewpoints; this show became an instant hit. Whether one would root for one or the other the exchanges were, on an intellectual level, incredibly stimulating. I can respect this; to be able to argue, debate and discuss two very different and totally opposing viewpoints at this level was, as those who would express their thoughts on the contents of these shows would say: “Wow!... Fascinating Stuff!”  Today, we regularly witness shouting matches where those who shout the loudest will seem to carry the day… back then the decibel level was less important than the content of the arguments…

As often expressed in these entries, whether I agree with you or not, I do respect your (or anyone’s) rights to express an opinion… even when totally wrong!!! Really…  It isn’t a question of having to convince each other about what we individually espouse, this usually will not happen. However, intelligent discussion has to do with having a basic sense of respect for the other person’s ideas and beliefs; of course… all I ask in return, is a similar respect for my own ideas when they differ.

On another stage, in a very different world, another meaningful soul was lost; one which was a lot closer to my heart and hopes. This, to a road accident; an accident which will be forever in question for, despite official claims to the contrary, there are and will be doubts as to whether this was a true accident or a staged one.

Osvaldo Paya was a fighter in the mold of Gandhi; he believed in peacefully questioning and confronting an establishment which has choked a country for over a half a century. He believed there was a pressing need for change and, to this effect, he acted while others watched from afar, usually in fear of retaliation from the very government they would see change.

He founded the Christian Liberation Movement in 1987 and created a project for change, which he called Project Varela, in memory of a Cuban priest (Fr. Felix Varela) who dedicated his life to the liberation struggle against the Spanish rule and to teach generations of Cubans to think and to grow intellectually. Paya was able to collect a surprisingly high number (25,000) of signatures in a decidedly hostile environment and was internationally recognized with several prestigious awards. In doing this, he also guaranteed that his life would be in jeopardy.

The accident was and will always be questioned; the looks of the car involved show that it received a very heavy rear impact and, although it is not impossible to hit a tree with a position impact, it is highly convenient that this crushing blow was directly received on the side where this man was sitting. He had been the subject of more than one attempt by non-official, official elements before. Including having had his car run off the road by another car on more than one occasion.

Regardless… he is now a memory whose reason for living must be kept going. Although during his last years his connection to the newer, internet oriented generation was in question, the fact will always remain that he accomplished what no one else had before him: to bring the struggle for a wider blanket of freedom to the people of his country into the international stage. To have it discussed and questioned in those very circles where the intellectual left had always looked the other way when confronted with the realities of a very totalitarian and crushing system.

Be at peace… one from the left and one from the right. Each one arguing for their beliefs, their hopes and goals. My heart goes out to both families and, especially, to Mr. Paya’s family in Cuba and to those who lost a true champion of their potential rights. 

That’s all of us.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
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Veterans Day

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