Monday, July 14, 2014

Las Memorias del Taxista Millonario

Ojala hubiese tomado una foto, pero a veces en el anonimato de la noche la gente puede hablar mejor, especialmente cuando van manejando.

Era un Jamaiquino, probablemente de 41 años de edad, tenía un acento que no logre identificar si era de Kingston o de Hays, pero siempre que lo vuelva a ver recordare al taxista del vehículo 939 como otra persona más en la que la población Afro en la Florida es representada por el sistema que se vive.

De pronto, el discurso de George Wallace en la posesión de Gobernador de Alabama en 1963, sigue estando en el imaginario de la gente a lo largo del país. La realidad Afro en los Estados Unidos es en cierto punto extremadamente negativa, ya que uno no requiere estadísticas para poder darse cuenta.

El taxista 939, en los 15 minutos de paseo el sábado pasado me pude dar cuenta que la realidad para muchos del sueño americano es más que una simple pesadilla social, en donde no hay promesas divinas pero si todo los menú de un dólar que puedas comer.

El taxi estaba algo sucio, al menos el aire estaba prendido, había envolturas de McDonald's en todo el piso, debí haber bajado de ese taxi y haber pedido otro, pero aparte del cansancio y la curiosidad mórbida de poder analizar a una persona que me llamó la atención, opté por seguirle la corriente.

Usualmente cuando un taxista se queja que tiene hambre, aunque vea las envolturas, no lo confrontó llamó a la central, y me salé el paseo gratis; pero en la simple curiosidad mórbida de poder analizarlo sencillamente le seguí la corriente hasta el final, interrogándolo hasta mi destino.

La realidad de 939, es la realidad que muchos Afro-Americanos viven, una realidad de comodidad basada en las ayudas gubernamentales y la discriminación racial a nivel laboral, escolar y social. La primera vez que llegue al país, en mis primeras dos semanas, de la boca de una prima que nunca había conocido, y que dudo hasta el día de hoy que sea prima mía, siempre decía "Los negros siempre son los más sucios y nunca confíes en uno."

Mi problema, más allá de esas palabras es que yo no confió en la gente, y en una ironía mi supuesta prima tenía ínfulas que ella era Alemana, blanca de ojos azules.

Acá en Tampa, hay varios barrios en los que uno se da cuenta de la desigualdad social; realmente Norte América no es la tierra de las oportunidades, al menos que las busques; pero, si hay oportunidades del gobierno en las que pueden poner a uno estancado por la comodidad.

939, me parecía un sujeto patético, un moreno de dos metros, con voz grave y suplicando dinero, suplicando dinero que me percaté que debajo del asiento del pasajero tenía latas de Budweisser light. Así como el taxista, cuando hace un par de años fui a las oficinas del seguro social cuando mi vida se vino abajo, me percaté que la mayoría de los que estaban reclamando ayudas eras Afro-Americanos.

Habían mujeres que iban con una camada de hijos, me enteré un par de años después que el gobierno les paga por la alimentación y vivienda, mientras sigan pariendo. Esto no es algo de la administración de Obama, pero que va mas allá con la administración de Reagan, de la cual no solo de la cual creó una discriminación consistente contra los negros pero al igual que otras minorías que hasta el día de hoy perdura.

El taxista me dejo en la gasolinera que me queda cerca la casa; un 7-11 que a veces se ven sujetos y mujeres de dudosa procedencia pero que al mismo tiempo es conveniente porque está cruzando la calle y venden buenas donas que uno puede conseguir a cualquier hora del día.


Le di el dinero, cosa que no debí haber hecho porque el aliento le apestaba a alcohol barato, sin mencionar que le regalé un helado, pero de lo único que me arrepiento es que el paseo no hubiera durado un poco más de tiempo para poder entrevistarlo y hacer una crónica con mas detalle.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The LGTBQ Chronicles: Five Questions With Musician Brett Gleason

Brett Gleason by Doug Seymour 'Starry Night'
There is some mystique behind his deep voice and enchanting persona. His blue eyes and stage presence can mesmerize every individual that is on the audience; but his songs, his lyrics are what can catch many people attention to Brett Gleason.

Originally from Brooklyn, Gleason discovered his love for music at a young age; a speech impediment caused him to spend his free time involved with music and books. His style is eclectic, as he mixes between an electronic presence as well acoustic piano song.   

There is a complex individual beyond the stage, a sensitive artist that is in touch with his emotions, his own personal history and the history of the community; such, as growing up with bipolar disorder; coping up with his identity as a gay man, and a singer songwriter that is willing to defy every label and create his own. 

With his self-titled debut album, there is an image of a really promising indie artist; with a fresh musical proposal that reflects his own struggles and growth as a person and a musician. 

One of the nicest aspects about the internet, is that the users can find a wide array of interesting proposals; as well support independent musicians, that are trying to be known to a public that are eager for a new musical proposal; and what better way to see their work, such as Brett's around Youtube and finding their songs through iTunes as well other electronic media.

How you discovered that you wanted to follow a path in music.?

BG.  I grew up with a bad speech impediment so I got involved in solo activities at a young age, lots of sports and arts – I was a gymnast,a writer and played multiple instruments. As I grew older and began to experience more intense emotions, I started to employ these skills to help clarify and master my feelings. At 13 I started writing songs and knew this was going to be my life.

As I read on The Huffington Post, you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder when you were 19 years old, as well as the time you started to become sexually active. How have those experiences, molded you in the path to find your identity as a musician but as well as a person?

BG.  Being bipolar and gay have further solidified my status as an outsider which I think is useful for an artist.  It’s given me an opportunity to see things from a very different perspective as well as freed me to pursue my artistic pursuits.  I think I’d feel a lot more pressure to find a steady job, marry and have kids if I weren’t a gay man with a history of mental illness, as things stand I’m free to create my own divergent path and follow my own crazy dreams.

How do you describe your music.? Who where your influences.? And, what do you think about labels many people place over artists, such as avant-garde or queer.? Do you see yourself with or without any of these labels.

BG:  I create a kind of fusion of alt electro rock with a piano based singer/songwriter sensibility.  I grew up listening to large, epic rock groups like The Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails but also solo artists like Tori Amos, Fiona Apple and Elliot Smith.  I like to write songs that can be translated both as a full rock band sound as well as solo with just me at the piano.  Like most labels, genres do more to exclude than to inform.  My goal is to reject them all.

How was the process of releasing your eponymous debut album.? Taking in consideration that sometimes people as well the industry markets the work towards more of the life and image of the artist, than the work itself.

BG: Making my debut record was a long process. I played all the instruments except for drums and produced all the songs myself. I did however do a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the record which brought some great people on board to inspire and motivate me along the way.  Using my name and face to represent the record make it a very personal process but also a very transparent one. My name, my face and music – those can all speak for themselves and they speak candidly.

What is your opinion toward the use of social media,  in order to position not only a product but the artist himself.?


BG: To be honest it’s hard to have a position on social media as I haven’t known any other way to connect with fans and release music. Whereas maybe ten years ago, recording a record was a really private process it’s now something that you live tweet, share early mixes from and document publicly on a daily basis.  I used to think this was a shame but now I see how you can use this as a way to not only get feedback along the way but to feel more connected throughout what can be a very isolating experience for a solo artist.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Because of Winn-Dixie and The Problematic Positioning the Retail Chain Has Found in Florida

Sometimes competency the main problem can be redefining the public perception of the supermarket, so it can compete on a more efficient way and differentiate itself from the competition.

That's the problem Winn-Dixie is facing; what to do,? how to attract customers,? and how to make people shot in the stores.?

The answer relies on the combination of lower prices, good customer services among all the employees and giving the customers good amount of food by profiting from the margins of the deli and the bakery items.

Winn-Dixie is not Publix and less Walmart, is just another long line of supermarkets who try to position themselves in the Central Florida grounds and fail really badly, albeit it's not going to follow the step of Sweetbay but that doesn't mean the supermarket is not impervious to bankruptcy as with his "previous incarnations."

Price wise, the store is expensive and even with coupons is not necessarily friendly with the customers. People complain that other stores are expensive until they find themselves in Winn-Dixie without a Winn-Dixie card and paying full prices of every single item they buy, unless a cashier or manager inform them that they need a card in order to get the savings such as the BOGOS or the 2 for US$5 sales.

The image of the store never projects fluidity, as the aisles they don't follow an "organic" sequence, where you can find certain juices in one aisle, such as their private brand; then on another aisle you find more juices mixed with some other items, and then a few aisles ahead you find soda, and more aisles ahead you find water along some other shopping goods.

Is as the aisles were designed to confuse, or in a lesser case to convince the customers of buying more by getting them lost. On certain neighborhoods, the store maintenance doesn't look clean, and the aisles and bathrooms they look dirty, which that is an uninviting factor to the guests who shop there.

On a image level, the corporation is trying their best to match their competition by mimicking certain aspects of Publix in terms of an image outcome, but watching some of their employees not having a clean image the customers can get a negative perception that there isn't friendliness, or from a retail point of view a customer satisfaction perspective as well a lower volume and more discontinued items, which means people will go to the competition.

Winn-Dixie parent company Bi-Lo Holdings took over SweetBay stores last April, in a US$265 million deal, where they purchased 165 fives stores from Delhaize America. While there is some speculation that the interim move into re-branding the brand as it can compete with some more upbeat stores; as well to lower the item prices, it is a move that in what has gone in the of the year nothing has happened and the prices are still high as they were.

Not only with the prices as it was mentioned previously, but they have to restructure their external communication system in order to reach more customers, because right is failing to attract new people.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Colombia, El Futbol y Una Realidad Olvidada

Colombianos somos muchos, Colombianos somos pocos; al estar atento no la Copa Mundo, pero si a las reacciones de mis compatriotas a través del Facebook y otros medios sociales. Me he quedado con la duda ¿Cual es la identidad de nosotros como un pueblo,? y ¿cómo un grupo cultural.? Si somos un grupo cultural entonces, ¿por qué nos estamos dejando definir por el deporte.? y ¿porque nos alegramos y tomamos en cuenta, solo cuando hay un evento que a la larga el único que sale favorecido es la FIFA y no el pueblo Colombiano.?

Al momento en que alguien critica la felicidad masiva del conglomerado entonces esa persona se vuelve enemigo público, solo por decir una opinión diferente. Aquí el escenario yace en la mentalidad "en un evento que gane un Colombiano, entonces el país queda por alto." Como un grupo cultural, no deberíamos tener esa mentalidad tan superflua, pero esa mentalidad viene de la guerra civil que ya ha sobrepasado los cincuenta años y como sigue, llegara al centenario.

Deberíamos tener una identidad nacional mas allá del deporte, pero no la hay, nos estamos dejando definir por la cultura de las masas y no por la esencia que nos hizo un pueblo.

Colombianos somos muchos, y estamos en todas partes. llevando con orgullo el nombre de la patria. Pero la validancia de la FIFA para definir la identidad patrimonial es nula, y lo que sucedió ayer en que Colombia quedo eliminado en los cuartos de final en quince años no significara nada, porque a la larga es solo un juego y nada más.

De pronto, si nos enfocáramos mas allá de la línea imaginaria, y apreciáramos lo que los artistas, intelectuales y deportistas hacen, y valoráramos a largo plazo su contribución al patrimonio nacional de pronto este podría ser recuperado. En aprender y no olvidar los nombres, de pronto se podría crear una diferencia, pero con lo vanal que la sociedad se ha vuelto, en 20 años nadie recordara a los jugadores de la selección mas que los aficionados al deporte y uno que otro historiador.

¿Cómo ser orgullosamente Colombiano.? No, vistiendo una camiseta con un equipo de deporte y decir que eres Colombiano solo cuando están a la luz pública en un aspecto que parece positivo; pero, haciendo la diferencia y ayudando a la comunidad así uno es orgullosamente Colombiano. No poniendo en Facebook o en otra red social, mensajes burdos, demostrar el amor a la patria va mas allá de un clic o un icono, sin importar la tierra que uno este, uno no puede negar de donde viene y a donde va.

La realidad olvidada, está compuesta de diferentes reinos y planos, la crítica es una que ya ni existe, y el apoyo nacional se ve solo reflejado en las pantallas de los computadores en los que se quiere aparentar que una reunión por un partido deportivo puede hacer una diferencia a nivel local, regional o nacional.

Pueden decirme hipócrita por no sentirme emocionado por la FIFA, pero mi amor por la patria va por la sensibilidad literaria y artística que diferentes Colombianos representan a nivel internacional, por los deportistas y filántropos que hacen una diferencia día a día mas allá de las medallas; por los héroes de la patria que han luchado por lo poco que tenemos y las personas que estamos en el exterior para hacer la diferencia, demostrando que no todos los Colombianos somos mafiosos o cocainamos, que somos gente humilde que solo estamos tratando de salir adelante y dejar el nombre de la patria por lo alto en las diferentes comunidades donde vivimos.

Retro Game Reviews: Roller Coaster Tycoon 3

There is something nice and wonderful about the Roller Coaster Tycoon games; the third installment is not bad, it had some difficulties towards the graphic rendering due the low processors on many computers, but there is something nice about the third installment, even if the creator Chris Sawyer only acted as a consultant.

There is something magical about roller coasters, as well quite of a nightmare for many people as the simple idea of being in the top and the thrown into an out of control but controlled ride, through a series of steel mazes and loops can terrorize or delight someone.

The beauty about Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 lays that it let the user to be submerged into the theme park environment, as well to ride the rides; two elements that were completely absent in the first two installments, as well there is no more isometrically view.

The idea of the game look so ambitious but yet so enjoyable, as it can appeal perfectly to theme park enthusiast and is a game that everyone in the family can play without any inconvenience.

Watching the Rhinos 
RCT3 has two expansion Soaked and Wild, where the player can add water park elements as well a zoo into his theme parks. The game itself, could be a nice idea to incorporate into the Oculus system as it can let the players to traverse and explore unique environments and theme parks.

The idea of RCT3 as a virtual reality game seems to be coherent, as is one of those games that the player can interact perfectly and there are no doses of ultra-violence with the exception of the occasional accidents.

The game interface is really easy to understand, and is quite intuitive, as the main screen menus are divided into a series of balloons, where the balloons can be clicked in order to access a description of the scenario as well a few images.

Each scenarios is divided into three sections: Apprentice, Entrepreneur and Tycoon; where the level of difficulty improves but is not impossible to win.

The game offers a wide variety of roller coasters and rides that you can find in actual theme parks; as well it lets the players to create their coasters.

The game can be found in Steam, or if you are lucky enough in Amazon, to find an original copy of this game. You will have hours of fun; but there are some negative aspects as they were with the first games, the game can turn repetitive as well monotone after a few scenarios but yet is still a nice sandbox game, that it can be enjoyed little by little.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Conversations in a Bus: Religious Materials Spread Around on Route 16 of HART

There are moments when I want to spread The Scientific Method, and create a competition to the religious groups that conquer people and get adepts, through this kind of cheap propaganda.

Yes, it is cheap to try to get more adepts whenever exploiting their weaknesses and moments of sorrow. Not many people realize how the mass transportation system, can be used for preachers and missionaries, to expose them to the good news, but what good news.? If at the end you are going to be bounded by a series of outdated rules that form no part of a viable social contract.

Jehovah's Witnesses are the latest material I've found in the last couple of months, around route 16 with the Hillsborough Transportation System, there should a separation between State and Religion, but avoiding and cutting these people on using public system into spreading their message is almost impossible.

It makes me think that a humanist approach is less acceptable on the public light, than a religious approach, on a political environment not accepting God is an inspirational suicide, as well in certain companies that follow a Christian doctrine.

Not matter how many times I go outside, it seems savings souls is a big business, what happened to follow any noble truth without buying the propaganda.? It doesn't seem profitable for a bunch of individuals such as The International House of Prayers or almost any other newer and growing denomination.

There are some guerrilla tactics on these methods, as much of the time the spread of materials could be done by placing them strategically that someone will find them, also people sitting silently in the bus, or some other people who try to engage in conversation and try to disarm the speech of the interviewer, as he or she needs God.

There are plenty of ways to disarm them, to counter attack as even if there is an existence of a mighty being in this universe, that has no body, that being wouldn't go into such as cheap tactics into gain followers. With the different informational supplements that can be found anywhere, it can be seen how humanity is essentially divided into seeking an absolute truth through a series of fragmented ones. Maybe, we are seeking that truth on Earth, while the truth could lay outside in the vast mantles of the universe.

It is true that every head is an universe, and different people think vastly different even if they can agree on similar points; but yet there can be some discomfort on the religious aspect as it tends to represent the conjunction of social momentum of an individual. Yet, there is the ideological war, where we tend to forget our own humanity.

The main problem on this ideological war is when we start to attacking each other; every time I find a Watchtower magazine in the bus, I read a magazine filled with accommodated truths and some pseudo scientific content, that only contains support from the Bible to claim anything. Yet, how can believe in a cult that has tendencies of seen the apocalypse everywhere and almost and at every time a tragedy happens.? People believe so, if someone emotionally is broken they will go the first light they will see.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Shivah - Retro Indie Game Review

The Shivah Intro Screen
This beautiful and well written game, comes from the mind of Dave Gilbert. The Shivah (or the mourning) tell the story of a Rabbi Russel Stone, a New York Rabbi of a small congregation, that after years of ups and downs has turned him into a bitter person and a congregation that is in ruins.

After receiving a visit from the police department, Rabbi Stone is informed that a former parishioner named Jack Lauder was murdered and left him US$10,000 as an inheritance.
Cantor Josh with Rabbi Stone
Rabbi Stone embarks in a spiritual and personal journeys, in order to find out why Jack Lauder left him that sum of money, after he refused to married Jack with his Hindi wife Raj. The game has two versions, one remastered version that was played for this review, as well a 2006 version that had a similarity to the old LucasArts games such as Monkey Island, Loom and Indiana Jones.

The Shivah is such a charming game; the gameplay is really easy to catch but is not necessarily intuitive for the player; as, there are moments of the game where the clues on how to move forward are extremely subtle in order to continue with the story-line. As well the game is quite short, which if could be taken as a multi-episode game where the Jewish faith as well personal philosophies could be explored, not only through the eyes of Rabbi Stone but as well through other characters, because the idea itself of a game where the main character is just a mere Rabbi, a mere person who beyond facing the extraordinary, faces himself as well as his faith, there aren't many around the mainstream market as well the indie.

The Rabbi and Detective Durkin
On terms of the script the game has some flaws, as leaving the only police agent Detective Durkin outside the game, and maing the rabbi to do justice with his own hands about the murder of Jack Lauder.

The music and incidental sounds, are quite OK, they give a perfect mood to the game and let the player be immerse in the noir story about a rabbi searching for redemption.

Overall, the game is quite enjoyable and being able to be played at Steam gives the opportunity to play the game whenever they can download it; as well for price is not bad, because after many years the price was lowered at US$1.49 which you can't beat towards finding a good indie-game that will keep you entertained for a couple of hours.

What is beautiful and intriguing about The Shivah, is that it explores human nature as well personal ethos, it shows that even the so called holly men aren't that saint towards earthly issues, and yet they will make mistakes much as everyone else in this land.

The complexity of Rabbi Stone is quite unique, but yet shows his own mortality as he tried to made amends with his past by finding the killer of a man he shunned from his congregation, but yet feeling regrets because of the act of generosity after he misbehaved.

Stone and Raj
How many times, we had thought about what we do.? About how many times we could had fixed mistakes, or the second chances that we left go through.? Is difficult to say, but we always try to find the way to make things right, and to make amends with mistakes.

Life, will give you several second chances but is up to you if you can take them and create a difference; because at the end, when we mourn and we joust mourn without learning from the grief of life, we haven't learned to live and probably that could be another meaning to a Shivah beyond giving our respects to the departed.