Monday, January 28, 2013

Hipster America

By means of that strange force called fate...invisibly lurking behind my use of google maps to program the most efficient bus route to a job interview...I took a walk along Fairfax Ave., right around my old Elementary school, Hancock Park, today.
 It had been seven years since I moved out of the neighborhood (which was five years after I stopped attending the school), so getting a sense for the changes that have occurred provided the impetus for a broader reflection.

A "wine and sandwich" now stands on the old Christmas tree lot. Two blocks down, the corner barbershop (that I never stepped inside) still boasts its colorful, traditional wheel but with a suspicious Arial lettering...

Next, a Jack-in-the-box. Then, A hallowed out modernist box structure with the poster Office Space-FOR SALE (the graffiti indicating a condition carried over from the recession). Emerging from an arbor of trees brings me face to face with a vaguely-memorable "Frank's": breakfast all-day" accompanied by an unfamiliar (also-boldfaced) Espresso shop featuring "cozy roasts" and "cats allowed." The block huddles beneath a billboard for a suburban nude strip joint and just to the right, a homeless man (oh how terrified I used to be!) bears a cardboard sign.

And all of sudden, out of nowhere, the catchy "whistle" of Florida breaks in to accompany the gait of quaint coolness

In more than one sense of the word, I was walking through "hipster America", a society of twenty-something starving college graduates (or dropouts), middle-age book-club holding "fitness moms," and any other urbanites who can pull off the gambit, striving to conform towards risqué non-conformity, supporting the bourgeois system by rebelliously parodying its "dandy" aesthethic, giving prime weight to an image-based façade while explicitly denying its importance with a stereotypically prominent "sense of irony."

Usually the image of the "hipster" is confined to specific locales-Williamsburg, Brooklyn or Portland, Oregon for instance- but as an article in today's Atlantic indicates, Center-city "gentrification" the weathervane for the process of succumbing to hipsterism, has taken place throughout the past decade in a diverse array of locales ( ) at an astonishingly swift pace. Even in those neighborhoods that aren't on the list (or lack the initial economic impoverishment that defines gentrification's transformative nature), a good deal of businesses-from the long time coffee shop to the newly-opened Starbucks or Target (the "CityTarget" in Westwood boasts a Starbucks inside!) have refurbished their lettering and added organic items to capitalize on the latest faze of cool.

The result is that I sense a briskly catchy tune as I walk past the dressed-up dogs while sipping my handcrafted latte, a pervading sense that big-city, liberal, trendy, youthful urban America has achieved a perfect consumer society: until, upon arriving at the bus stop I encounter starving homeless, a 60-something Mexican woman resting on the bench between her day and night jobs... I just keep sipping my latte though and meddle with the plastic "made-in-China" tag on my I-pod touch.

You want to know why liberal Democrats can be so obstinate on legislation for the (white) working-class, why young liberal arts students aspire towards being baristas, living off pell grants as the fight for welfare goes on elsewhere, and why organic food has done nothing to solve the fate of climate change? I feel I have an answer...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

0 dark thirty, the cult of violence, and America's fin de siecle

As a full-time politico, whose Facebook feeds routinely flare with threads on the legality of waterboarding, drone strikes, and the presidential appointment process, the first thing I did when my evening dinner plans were canceled last Friday was to walk to the Bruin theater in Westwood to see what all the fuss over Zero Dark Thirty was about.

Following a mandatory 2 minute tribute sequence of 9/11 voiceovers (okay, we get why the CIA is dead-set on capturing this bin Laden guy), I get my first pangs in my gut: within the rundown confines of a Pakistani prison, a group of operatives ominously clad in Ninja-like masks watch Jason Clarke's character (named Dan) physically jostle a Saudi detainee named Ammar, his (Ammar's) hands and legs are chained to the walls like a rabid dog

 I definitely felt a reactionary wince, but the incomplete context of the scene on its own made for no more than a primary impression, an acrid psychological backdrop. Next, Dan, with a hooded companion at his side, proceeds to step out into the harsh Pakistani sunlight, but at the insistence of the now-exposed female partner (the will-be protagonist, Maya), he returns to the prison cell to enact a considerably lengthier demonstration of CIA "enhanced interrogation techniques" (complete with a sickly play "Good Cop, Bad Cop" routine by Dan and a riveting chaining-up of Ammar).

Eventually, over a platter of meze*, Ammar will provide the crucial lead of Abu Ahmad al-Kuwaiti, bin Laden's supposed courier, but before Bigelow reaches that point she must throw in another prolonged, unproductive grill session, in which Clarke's character-again playing the good cop, bad cop routine- gives Ammar some food, only to lock him up in a wooden box when he refuses to speak. Later, still, Maya's pursuit of the "Abu Ahmed" lead is accompanied by a series of videotapes of confessions being coerced from detainees by kindly Saudi intelligence.

 Attributing a definitive perspective on a political issue like torture to Zero Dark Thirty (e.g., or any movie for that matter, is always a shaky proposition, influenced as much by one's gut reaction to the work (dependent on personal experience, origin, etc.) as by the structure of the work itself. One can more objectively discuss the aesthethic form of the work, and my biggest concern with the movie is that it wallows in profuse display of dehumanizing acts of violence that are not entirely necessary for advancing the plot.

If the film's first hour lingers on the sickening intricacies of the Bush-era intelligence efforts, the film concludes with a sequence depicting a US Navy Special Forces team shooting down (two at a time) most all of the adult male inhabitants of the Bin Laden compound. (following which, they blow the house-with women and children inside-to pieces).

In between, even in a less memorable scene such as where Maya's car gets ambushed outside the US embassy in Islamabad, the violence-militants shoot at Maya's car with semi-automatic assault rifles- is drawn out (as the car waits for Embassy's slow-moving bulletproof gate to open-and then close behind her) in a matter that is suspenseful but gratuitous.
Bigelow's decision to draw out violence may very well reflect an artistic choice for "journalistic" realism (   and yet, vetted by a large Hollywood production company, Bigelow's film had to have passed the test of the consumer market. That Bigelow's film can be successful focusing so intensely on the deathly acts of torture, shooting or bombardment reflects on the parameters accepted by American society at large.

 This is, after all, a population that not only readily consumes "kill-em-all" video games like Call of duty and Grand Theft Auto but that casually patronizes the blood-drenched works of Quentin Tarantino(e.g. Django Unchained) and the bluntly grotesque Saw franchise.
In an age in which military action has been placed (through use of a volunteer army, special forces units or even remote control "drone warfare") safely beyond the social realm of the American public, a lack of active awareness desensitizes violence -if not giving it a romantic appeal. Ironically, the very aloof yet decisive relationship of Chastain's character to the battleground in Zero Dark Thirty mirrors that of the American public towards violence.

 Maya discerns an attack on her CIA colleague-attempting to meet with Al-Qaeda spies at an Afghan air force base- through a cut-off aim thread from Washington. She tracks Abu Ahmad's phone calls along Rwalpindi and Peshawar streets on a diorama from Google Maps (also, safe in the capital) and, even the climactic final operation plays out for her (with camera cutting back and forth of course) from the control room of an Afghan air force base.
Maybe Maya is on a terrorist "kill list" (for her anti-Al Qaeda activity). But her access to internet and remote technology, as well as the protection she enjoys from one of the largest armies on earth, cushion her "battle"-outside of Pakistan- in a office-cubicle backdrop of scribbled "countdowns," frenzied typing and bureaucratic maneuvering. In contrast, the security guards, hotel staff and  ordinary civilians in Pakistan get caught up in the cross fire of terrorists and US operatives on a day-to-day basis.

Most (white, middle-class) Americans are similarly blessed to go through day-to-day life in an almost monotonous state of stability. They can dispense petitions and march in rallies  favoring or opposing another drone campaign without going exercising more than the vaguest theoretical or emotional capacities. Even for the most liberal soul, violence-whether at Abbottabad or Newtown- is marketable as an invigorating entertainment-arousing lethargic endorphins over a morning pastry or a Friday evening.

I point to America's banalization of a largely absent variety of free-flowing violence with worry because it reflects social trends occurring in Europe exactly a century ago. From around the 1880s to 1914, the period of the so-called fin de siècle witnessed a previously  unparalleled standard of living in Western Europe, whose growing middle-classes (thanks to advances in technology made by the Second Industrial Revolution and political reforms) encompassed an increasingly wider share of the population, accompanied by peaceful relations amongst all of Europe's "Great powers."
But, in such a tranquil milieu, tension simmered. A brute interpretation of Darwinism that embedded the principle of "natural selection" in the struggle for power between nation-states complemented a romantic nostalgia for masculine military expansion, labeled as  "hygiene" in the manifesto of the Italian futurist painters.  These sentiments at first played out at a safe "distance," as European powers vied in the depths of Africa and Central Asia for the establishment of colonies and spheres of influence. Ultimately, in the balmy summer of 1914, an act of terrorism by a no-name Serbian nationalist group would enabled the war-thirst in each European country to drag Europe into the bloodiest  conflagration history had ever seen.

I do not doubt that Zero Dark Thirty spiced and diced its story so as to maximize its market appeal. What I can say is that by simultaneously marketing to and portraying a society numbingly immune to from the warfare it craves, the movie inadvertently made me question the sustainabilityconcerning the continuation of the current pax Americana.

Now why do I worry about America's desensitization to violence in the year 2013, in an age when the a majority of the American public stood behind president Obama's withdrawal from Iraq and now supports a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan ( so strongly (see that even the republican presidential candidate (Romney was compelled to agree.

I worry because America still boasts military bases in more than thirty countries across the world ( ), the largest stockpile of Nuclear warheads possessed by any nation in history  ( and largely unchallenged supremacy on the UN Security Council (which enables America's first-strike capacity).
I am almost certain that our drawdown from Afghanistan, like that from Vietnam, will not impede one bit the US ability to keep violence as far away from its borders as possible. Shrouded in blissful ignorance, Americans' memories of the "economic ramifications to taxpayers" incurred by the Afghan war will be replaced by hysteria should (once the economy recovers) the bubble be punctured by say,a bomb blast in some downtown square...

For better or for worse, warfare has changed since 1914.  New remote-controlled technologies such as the Predator drone (e.g., and use of a select volunteer army (along with elite divisions such as the "Naval Special Warfare Development Group"-responsible for executing the bin Laden raid) for fighting make unlikely the recurrence of a mass-based "total war." If an era of violence dawns on America's shores it will be of the embedded, insiduous variety such as shatters Maya's dinner at the Islamabad Marriot, an erratic sequence of Israeli-style bus bombings, Newton style murders, or computer hackings by hostile non-state actors or state-affliliated guerillas.

 I am not trying to predict the future but point out (a very-plausible) violent scenario that has the appeal to be drawn out over a three-hour story and marketed. If critics like the New Yorker's David Denby praise Zero Dark Thirty for its "radical realism," they do so bluntly accepting the film's immersion in gore and harassment as representing phenomena that are logically imminent but psychologically in the realm of fetish.

 Returning to the film's final scene, when Maya gazes at Bin Laden's mangled corpse- her life's "dream"-in silent reverence, I advise viewers to take note of the the inherent metaphor: the dichotomy that juxtaposes the career objective of a nail-biting American civil servant, and the earthy bloodshed that America exerts afar in order to mainten of the insulating tranquility of this fin de siecle lifestyle.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I've been sick the past few days.
Fever, cold, and all that haze.
Sitting up here in my loft.
Just got back from the doctor
 he prescribed that I take a shot.

The aches and pains won't dissipate
Aspirin gives stomachaches
The cold compress I place will freeze to my heart
Without that warm one he used to rub in my gut
Now he's under cordon now, shrouded in white.
No one to make chicken soup.
Or clean up after Lizzie

It's awful tough just gettin' up.
But when in bed I imagine
That same sort of passion
Companionship's the antidote
It can start out erratic
But ends up estatic..

That chemistry that makes us better
Walking down the stream forever
on and on and on and on
til the edge of dawn.
Get me out of quarantine!
wa ah wa ah
Get me a vaccine
wa ah wa ah wa
Save me from quarantine

It started out in the throat
On the evening that I wrote
Your leather jacket reeked of Old spice (Yeah)
The mountain forestry looked too goddamn nice (?)
By the second chapter, the tears filled my eyes
and then I coughed and the pain metastasized 
Some ghosts kept me up all night...

And a shiver runs down my spine
To fall for storybook personas
When you're contagious for the real ones.
Create a new dimension of time:
When you start to imagine,
you can feel such a passion.

That chemistry we'll have together
Walking down the stream forever
on and on and on and on
til the edge of dawn.
Get me out of quarantine!
wa ah wa ah wa ah
Get me a vaccine
wa ah wa ah wa ah
Save me from quarantine.
Save me from quarantine.

My morning's been dark, it is filled with hate.
But that is something I try not to contemplate.
Focus on love, focus on you.

Poem for Sandy

Some days, I bawl hysterically
Some days, I hardly talk.
Some days I run for hour times
Some days I just eat up

Twelve hours, life doles out:
What conference, what ceremony
What class to attend...
and sleep through?
A new news article, the equation?=
the least time writing and the most polished resume.
In the peak of the sun,
I ruffle my ear
with loud but constant beats
and play a few rounds.
Then I check my mail.
responses to answer,
and people to meet.

Real people, my family
hanging on the wall by my bedside.
The years tick off,
 the inbox grows,
and a new modell
But,...what about the guy?
Who helped out at Pesach?
Or brought bedtime stories.
Will we see Next Year?
She then gave him three weeks.
The guarantee of the schedule of life,
hijacked by a tumor.

Oh cousin Sandy!
If only I could see you now
With the smile, you could always put on our faces
The gentle love, concern for all
The years have gone by,
I've brought life up to pace
But those like you
who always stood by.
Now leave me to cry
and cause all to awe
of how much earth means
to appreciate it,
and others
so that they realize what fun they had,
while mourning your loss.

the way he used to
What to do

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blog post

My nasal canal, oral cavity, cerebellum and the rest of my anterior skull are almost universally swathed in that intolerable plaster known as mucus. My forehead, although no longer throbbing like a rebounding spring, still shoots a discomforting chill down my spine and my body reacts accordingly with the slightest change in temperature.
Despite my meddlesome fever-turned-cold, I have been convinced by my roommate to go ahead and help him write a song. Go figure. Anyhow so we goofed around dicked off what not for about thirty minutes with lyrics and then he had to go to sleep. And that leaves me here, my nose as clogged as a tenement's plumbing and no one to care but my whiny little self.
Anyway, being sick makes you realize how precious each day is, as an increment of time. Monday night, I returned from class feeling fatigued and headachy, and felt the full-on chills as I lay down to rest. Tuesday, I had a recurring headache and chills most of the day and managed to get through my classes and do some homework barely enduring the rhythm of aching, tingling, shuttering (I conked out earlier than usual). Wednesday's early-morning queasiness confined my schedule to attending a single discussion which culminated in my dashing out of the Public Affairs building to-not vomit, but-poop diaherretically on the grass. I quenched a modicum of vitamin water, broth and a Tylenol tablet and napped (with occasional breaks) for the remaining duration. Now it is Friday by the calendar (though I conceive of it more as a "late night" Thursday) and I realize that, aside from that previous "drowsy" rant that I wrote when first descending into illness, have gotten little if anything accomplished. No office hour visits to impress. No language clubs to practice. No drawn-out sessions of article writing for the Generation. The day-to-day routine of my existence hollowed, I realized what little value I had given to the increments of time that I utilized.

Now I conclude this piece three days later, in the wee hours of Monday January the 21st. It has been a decent weekend. I participated in a mock "Model UN" competition that is a prerequisite for joining the travel  team that will compete in the actual Model UN competition in Berkeley to be held this March. I then went home for the weekend, found (after eating yogurt without harm) that I had finally kicked the last vestiges of my cold, and have since boded time working writing pieces such as this. Ah, life runs so smoothly to the pace of words. Next time, folks!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Drowsy morning

Today, January 15th '13, what did I do?
I woke up yesterday morning with water in my eyes,
and the sensation of a brick over the front of my head,
that seemed to communicate that I was not meeting the necessary quota of snooze.

I mechanically propped my spine up-my spine conjoins with my thigh at an unnatural angle (this being the result of a decade of sitting at the computer with bad posture and improper workout routine factors that give me an unpleasant jolt when the dream ends and I awkwardly slouch on the mattress), requiring that my hands exert a vital thrust upwards to get me out of bed- and I, my spine unnaturally arched and my feet teetering (both as usual) propelled myself towards the cell phone. Using only my thumb, I unlocked the setting and pressed the "alarm clock" icon: 10:35. I sensed instinctively, at that moment, that I must bolt towards the stair, down the stairs, and escape under the yellow "EXIT" sign. But Deutsch with Sanaz's elegant chrome-colored gradebook (and suave Persian figure)  notwithstanding, the gravitational pull on my cavernous eyes and on the forehead-bound brick served to pull me back to the bedside, but not under it, halt lethargically above my center of mass in the manner of an obtuse angle, and stare mindlessly through the cascading waterfall for five minutes before painful acceleration by the ticking in my mind...dragged yesterday's jeans, the nearest suitable plaid shirt and a checkered vest over my body... Teetering down the stairs and beneath the EXIT, I rambled through a blistering wind and chapping sun until 11:01, I tiptoed cautiously around the edge of a filled classroom...

The open seat in the corner, the one with a newspaper on it, reeked of smoke and I soon found myself redden mit a lanky fellow named Yonaton, who sported six crayon tattoos. Yonaton and I hit it up with a vorstellungsgesprach, getting to know about place of origin (Washington D.C.) favorite movie (blade runner) and the like, via pedagogy of language. My voice drooped continuously due to m(g), naturally synthesizing with his Seattlesque cool, only to, within moments, sense the closing hausaufgabe Ankündigungen. I bid the obligatory "so long" to my new friend, "Tschuss" to Sanaz before teetering off once again, with less velocity, towards that white-rimmed, tessellated edifice that reads "Charles Young Research Library."

Drag impeded the advance of my feet and body, made painfully evident my deformed spinal anatomy and the icy northwest wind snarked at my dry face. I had no lunch plans, no afternoon courses and certainly no desire to exchange a cup of cocoa by the fireplace for a barely air-conditioned study chamber. All that compelled my reeboks, inch by shaky inch, forward was a vague sense of urgency to write an analysis, Middle Eastern politics, so by an affixed date of 01/29, I would have some concrete magazine publication worth mentioning at a graduate school interview two to three years down the road. Trapped by instinct, I, incrementally, let envious imagery, a ticking clock and space carry me to the workstation.

The problem is that the scheming of the mind can never prevail against an obstinate heart or soul. I sat down on the wooden bench, took out and turned on my laptop but one the window appeared, I could not even open the “word document” that bore my assignment. Catching a link to The Atlantic on my toolbar, I clicked on one article about urban fare structures, another about “minority gentrification” or “Hagel’s relationship to Israel:” such crisply-written commentary should have motivated me but instead, I diverted my own creative abilities to the fawning consumption of those of others. There are few adjectives sufficient to describe the sheer angst one feels, watching others seamlessly execute an act that one is under deadline to accomplish. Perusing through samplings of world-class journalism only reminded me of the odds I fced in my writing, making me more consigned to let the effortgo undone. When I finally managed (with two hours left in the day) to begin, I was not only demoralized but grasping for the original strand of inspiration, biding my time on an already-flawed project…

In the three hours that I spent in that library, the baggy eyes, head pain, and slouching set in only more vigorously.. During the following round of sleep under my belt, my headache-of monstrous proportion-had me tossing and turning. I woke up this morning under the weight of a fever. However, my mind acting as it does, I ended up-for the sake of personal fulfillment- to chain myself again to the laptop, my shameless desire to appear the dilettante resulting in this abstruse blabber that you have been (hopefully) reading so far.
When I wake up with drowsy eyes again, I think that I will just go with gravity…and get back to sleep.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The (nocturnal) painted lady

I saw a painted lady,
with opaquely-stockinged wings
her ripe yellow flesh,
'neath black leather,
for birds or bees to sting.

The painted lady,
on grass a sprawl,
does justice as she sings...
The tortured tenderness of her rhapsody
Makes a virgin of an enchantress

But like butterfly,
the eyes do fall
on men and beast to sop....
I stare at you my heart's content
but you cant' run away

The lighted wings deject for secrecy
Hit my heart with camouflage...
sputtering, fluttering to safety
While two legs compel me to run...

With gumdrop lullabies
Juicy mangos, lanky fig tree vines,
the feet that tuck beneath define...
An organism...blood through spine

Yet SHE...for food...will never be mine.
Through the leaves sway silk beauty...
beloved and fine.

*Note: The painted lady is a species of butterfly that is a regular source of food for the hawk. The hawk swoops down, crushes the endoskeleton, and extracts the juicy flesh incrementally.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blog Post 2: in-class Eurocentrism

The first week of my winter quarter have gone by uneventfully as planned so far. I thoroughly enjoy three out of my four professors and the one that I do not like explicitly declared that his course would be "straightforward and comprehensive." (code talk for easy A)  The courses I am taking are Global Studies 100A (i.e. "History of globalization"), History 134C ("History of Modern European Economy"), History 125C (History of Germany in the 20th century) and History 121E (History of Europe, 1914-45). As you can easily discern from the latter three course titles, I am a History major with a concentration on Modern Europe: it may come across as a surprise then that two of the three history courses count as foundational units toward my second major of Global Studies. The History 121E professor troublesomely reminded me that "Europe is responsible, for better or for worse, for most of the attributes of the modern age." Additional reminders of the paramount importance of 20th-century Europe's economic history on the "world" vis-à-vis the dictates of its imperial powers (and influence on the west), only further hammered home in another "Global Studies course" (History 134C) the ultimate metonym embodied in a peninsula that could fit into Canada.
And yet, isn’t history more about examination and introspection as opposed to mere description? The arc of European dominance, I have been told before-runs from ancient Greek democracy to “Medieval” law codes and “Renaissance”- only to see a culmination in the twentieth century’s suicide of the Westphalian nation-state system and the spread of world communism and fascism. However, prior to the 19th-century imperialism, the vast majority of the world’s landmass (and a good deal of its people) remained outside of the “western” tradition (which within Europe, was largely confined to elites) and though the next century saw European ideas, institutions, and political implanted on all corners of the globe, these structures (with the exception of the “settler colonies” in Southern Africa and Australaisa) largely failed to diffuse beyond a select grouping of local elites. Today, following Afro-Asian decolonialization and the recognition of (non-western) minority rights in the West (particularly the US), the political and economic dominance of America (as opposed to Eurpe) have resulted“imperialism” of commodities such as rock music that is as much representative of the hybrid  “African-american” folk culture as of anything explicitly "western," while the rise of "Confucian" China enables a further threat to the early 20th-century "Judeo-Christian," "West European" hegemony. But then again, I am getting ahead of myself. When we step back to view the full course time, Europe’s (or the “West’s”) “modern” dominance of global affairs occupies but the last hour of the day. At the time of China’s Tang dynasty (not the first nor the most recent of that civilization’s “Golden ages”) and the Ummayad Caliphate, half of Europe was a tribal backwater still caught up in the Bronze Age. The Greco-Roman was more world “Mediterranean” than “European” geographically and one could easily argue in fact (as Martin Bernal does in Black Athena) that it emerged from the latching on of Near Eastern and Egyptian civilization to the extremety of Europe. When European kingdoms first established foreign colonies-during the so-called “Age of Exploration”-, the Chinese Ming dynasty, the Ottoman Turks, and the Indian Mughals managed vast, efficiently centralized empires. The very “Greco-Roman civilization” that proved pivotal to fueling Europe’s rational scientific and intellectual tradition during the Renaissance was largely filtered back in from the “Arab” commentators such as Averroes (see )-who reconciled Aristotle's rationalism with monotheistic religious belief- and Avicenna ( -who espoused Platonic "logic" and Galen's and Hippocrates' idea on Human anatomy. Additionally, one cannot forget that such fundamental mechanisms of modern “civilization” as firearms and paper came from “Eastern” China.
All of this does not deny the fact that it was Europe (firstly, Britain) that first underwent the decisive processes “industrialization” and “liberalization” that would define the condition of modernity (thereby enabling Europe to politically subjugate less-advanced parts of the globe). But prior to that most recent historical millisecond, the "traditions"of intellectual rationalism, economic entrepreneurship, and political constitutionalism developed in Europe in tandem with through Europe's interaction with other Eurasian cultures'. By framing Europe's regional history, even in the colonial era, as a "global" one, one implicitly reduces civilizations that (both before and after) have not only rivaled the "West" but helped shape it as colorless cogs in the mechanism. An alternative to such pedagogy can be exemplified by another course I am taking this quarter, Global Studies 100A: concentrating on a single, fixed period in time (1400-1800), the main text (Charles H. Parker's Global Interactions in the Early Modern Age) portrays the era of  centralized monarchies that promoted trade and territorial expansion across the “whole” of Eurasia  (including entities as far-removed as Bourbon France, Ottoman Turkey, Mughal India, and Qing China) as a coherent period of “early modernity."  Though still limited in scope to those societies arguably advanced enough to be deemed “complex” civilizations, Parker's analysis (regarding a time, when as previously mentioned, Europe was a growing fish in a crowded pond) focuses on comparative developments and "points of contact" to "pursue a more balanced global approach." (Parker 9-10) I only wish that the Global Studies program could build on Parker's humanism, excluding from the  "Global Foundations" requirement, courses like History 121E that are so blatantly regional  ( though, then again, that would make the department's literally “ahistorical”).


Monday, January 7, 2013

typing on Livejournal while surfing Wikitravel and checking Facebook while drinking a PEPSI at 4 am (i.e. an electronic rap song)

The modern world leaves little room for thought.

Amidst tons, bs, bs, bs,


nature couture PVC


fb chat...and bottle of skyy

and herbal-grown...and light rail

and breakfasting....basil grained

loose leaf....Pink autumn day

bs bs bs bs bs bs bs bs

Sitting by my





First blog session of the year

Today, I return to school following my three-week winter vacation.

I feel refreshed, well-fed (thanks to the gratuitous appetite only encouraged by Chinese family Holiday banquets), and energized by the possibilities that abound for the year 2013!

For one thing, my Global Studies major (interdisciplinary, international relations-like program) requires that I "study" in Europe before the end of the year, an obligation that I will likely fulfill during the summer months. I will travel alone, for my first time, enabling for all sorts of adventures and hopefully, the development of a greater sense of independence and self-responsibility.

More immediately, I seek to raise money to fund the trip costs, my current tuition, and sky-high living expenses. (yikes!) Being young, 21, in Hollywood, with a roommate studying theater, I hope to dabble in film-writing, song-writing (utilizing my sister's talent). as well as writing research articles, and see where it all leads.

With that said, it is getting past my bedtime. Good-bye for now!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Setting sun after a winter rainstorm day by Royce Quad

Cloudy whisps of pink, grey and white
too dark for day, too mellow for night.
Blocking out sun, filtering in light
at this hour, we scurry with fright...

Back into the suburb, the shtetl, the barrio...
Driving at 50, ears blasting radio
Or grating against concrete, gunning to fight...
push and shove human pillars...pedestrian lights

The day is over.
What's done is done.
Atoms fall proportionate to mass.
And clouds and people...drift.


Armageddon averted, life passes by

When did '97 transform into '11?
When did stout petunias crust on edge and turn to new ones?
When was my beloved beholden to another?
What must I do after I turn 22?

The old corner store has gained another window board.
The boy at the newsstand, wears dreads and a caftan.*
The bosom buddies have moved miles away.
But the bullies, inside now, torment always.
(NOTE: composed 12/21/2012)

*Orthodox Jewish ritual garb. The Author grew up in a neighborhood populated by secular Jews, many of whom later become Baalei Teshuva (returnees to the faith).

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Scanning an ex-friend's Facebook.

When you swing from side to side,
between two eras or galaxies
and your face quivers like a monkey's...
You face those dirty little secrets.

On the phone…
Her voice stammers softly, like a child’s
Still…couched by lost desires
At twenty-one,…this barbituated alibi
In 2011, online…has the face aged?

A private photo, a new name,
Icons that would put to shame...
Amidst the timeline, comments flash,
Once "friends" poked, now they're blocked.

The two dates, "created"..."today,"
Different dimensions, one Facebook page.
When #s were low and convo feeds longer...
Before the wasted nights, futile binges, spent sex and drugs...
When we just frolicked and joshed...
on playgrounds, at playdates.
Immediate laughter, encroaching euphoria
that you now shoot up in silence ...?

The messages I last sent now fall "deleted,"
The spikes in your haircut make me shiver,,
Who is that "husband"? Where are our photos?
Once a source of youthful joy,
now divided and torn...