1. Le nouveau “The Descartes Highlands” est arrivé! Out of the box, literally. And I am drunk with joy.

  2. The Descartes Highlands: Sneak Preview. Take a sneak peek at The Descartes Highlands, the new novel by Eric Gamalinda, at the Asian American Arts Alliance Town Hall Meeting. RSVP at the Eventbrite address above. See you there!

  3. The Kiss: Poster showing Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and Khazak composer Kurmangazy Sagyrbayuly for Studio 69, a club located at the corner of Pushkin and Kurmangazy in Almaty, Khazakstan. The streets were named after two of the most prominent cultural figures of that region in the 19th century.

  4. What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here. Radiohead live at The Astoria, 1994. A little musical treat for all you followers of ataraxia.

    Tagged #radiohead

  5. Genocide

    In the horror happening right now in Gaza there is NO place for distance or neutrality. It’s a war of occupation and extermination waged against a people with no means, confined in a minimum territory, with no water, and where hospitals, ambulances, and children are targets and presumed to be terrorists. It’s hard to understand and impossible to justify. And it’s disgraceful that western countries are permitting such genocide. I can’t understand this barbarism, even more cruel and incomprehensible considering all of the horrible things the Jewish people have gone through in the past. Only geopolitical alliances, that hypocritical mask of business —for example, the sale of weapons — explains the shameful position taken by the U.S., the E.U. and Spain.

    I know that as usual certain people will discredit my right to express my opinion with personal attacks, which is why I would like to clarify the following points:

    Yes, my son was born in a Jewish hospital because I have very dear close friends who are Jewish and because being Jewish does not automatically mean you support this massacre, just like being Hebrew does not mean you are a Zionist, just like being Palestinian does not automatically make you a Hamas terrorist. That’s just as absurd as saying that being German makes you Nazi.

    Yes, I also work in the U.S. where I have  a lot of Jewish friends and acquaintances who reject such interventions and the politics of aggression. “You can’t call it self-defense while you’re murdering children,” one of them said on the phone to me yesterday. And others with whom I openly debate our conflicting positions.

    Yes, I’m European and I’m ashamed of the European Community that claims to represent me with its silence and its utter shamelessness.

    Yes, I live in Spain and I pay my taxes and I don’t want my money to finance policies that support this barbarism and the arms industry along with other countries that get rich murdering innocent children.

    Yes, I’m outraged, ashamed and hurt by all of this injustice and human beings getting killed. Those children are our children. It’s horrendous. I can only hope that those who kill will find it in their hearts to show compassion and be cured of this murderous poison which only breeds more hate and violence. That those Israelis and Palestinians who only dream of peace and coexistence can some day find a solution together.

    — Javier Bardem, in El Diario

  6. “My saddest photo yet”: The war in Gaza as seen from the International Space Station

    “As astronauts we have a unique view of our planet looking down from 400 km above. Some things that on Earth we see in the news every day and thus almost tend to accept as a ‘given,’ appear very different from our perspective. We do not see any borders from space. We just see a unique planet with a thin, fragile atmosphere, suspended in a vast and hostile darkness. From up here it is crystal clear that on Earth we are one humanity, we eventually all share the same fate.

    “What came to my mind at the time of this photo was, if we ever will be visited by another species from somewhere in the universe, how would we explain to them what they might see as the very first thing when they look at our planet? How would we explain to them the way we humans treat not only each other but also our fragile blue planet, the only home we have? I do not have an answer for that.”

    Alexander Gerst, International Space Station

  7. A Palestinian boy’s head in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle, posted on Instagram by Israeli sniper Mor Ostrovski.

  8. #SayNoToRacism

  9. The Changing Face of America: What Will the Human Race Look Like in 2050? Read this amazing post from National Geographic.

  10. These guys crack me up. Right back at you, Ann Coulter.

  11. A Parallel Universe

    Every four years, the world is split into two parallel universes. One is the universe of the World Cup; the other is the Dark Matter, the other side of humanity whose indifference to this most breath-taking sport is inexplicable, if not inexcusable.

    I live in that exceptional universe, and every four years I feel I am more deeply embedded in it. Here, life is at a standstill. I have not been to the grocery, pharmacy, or barbershop; my library CDs will soon be overdue; I was only able to do my laundry when I realized I had to stay home and finish a report for a government agency, or risk being hauled to jail, if the tenor of the agency’s latest letter is to be taken seriously.

    The universe of the World Cup is open and welcoming, or at least the people that I know have made it so for me. Now I believe every tyro, every novice, is gently guided through the arcana of the game, as though he were being prepared for membership in a secret, mystical society. This society is ecumenical; immigrants to the game, such as myself, are welcome; the more people join the better off is this universe, where the population, especially outside of the United States, which has only recently caught on, thanks largely to its own immigrant population, is staggering.

    Of course, once one has chosen one’s team, one’s alliance, then one deals with regionalism, nationalism, ethnocentrism, and ethnic cleansing. Such is the reality of this universe as well as the other, the Dark Matter, where it is our collective misfortune not to be able to avoid our human idiocy… 

    Read more at Ticky Tocka

  12. Must-Have Book This Summer. Linking Word and Image bridges visual and verbal communication through tips and guidelines for writing essays, critiques, art and design statements, and other aspects of art and design production. This book is a helpful guide for Filipino students and young professionals in the various fields of the visual arts with exercises meant to turn the writing task into a creative and enjoyable learning experience.

    Celine G. Borromeo has written many articles on art and design. She teaches at the College of the Holy Spirit Manila (CHSM) where her extensive experience as an art and design educator has given her many opportunities for varied and innovative methods and approaches to teaching interior design and the visual arts. She has served as area chair of the CHSM Fine Arts and as member of the Commission on Higher Education Regional Quality Assessment team for Interior Design. During breaks from the academe, she explores various mixed media techniques such as chalk and oil pastel, acrylic, crayon etching, and printmaking. Her book illustrations have appeared in children’s literature, poetry, and various other publications. She has joined group exhibitions in several prestigious galleries in Metro Manila.

    She also happens to be Eric Gamalinda’s sister! Yay! So proud of you, sis!


  13. Searching for Sugarman in Manila

    Searching for Sugarman is quite possibly one of the most moving documentaries of all time. Winner at the Academy, BAFTA and Sundance Film Festival Awards, the film also won rave reviews and other awards all across the US and around the world. The death of its young, talented director, Malik Bendjelloul, in Sweden last May only adds to the heartbreaking mystique of this project, which is bound to be a classic in filmmaking.

    I heard about the film when it was nominated for the Oscar, and nearly watched it during a residency in Spain in January 2013, where one of the fellows was an Academy member and had brought along copies of films he was going to vote on. We never got the chance to watch it, and I must confess I wasn’t that interested in the film, my skepticism mostly coming from my distrust for the Academy, its hype and its marketing machine. I never thought about it until I heard of Bendjelloul’s death. I was in Paris, and the outpouring of emotion in the French online press rekindled my curiosity about the film.

    A few days ago, I happened to find a copy of the DVD at the New York Performing Arts Library, and decided to check it out. As I was watching the documentary that evening, about fifteen minutes into the story, I nearly fell off my seat.

    As many of you know, Searching for Sugarman is about Mexican-American songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, who released two albums in the early ‘70s to resounding indifference, and who sank to obscurity in the US. But not in South Africa, where, unbeknownst to him, he became a leading voice of the anti-apartheid movement, and where he was virtually a superstar. The film takes you through this fascinating narrative of rediscovery and resurrection, and gives you such a deep insight into the soul of this immensely gifted, humble and generous man.

    The film plays much of his music as the soundtrack, and this was where my experience became my own personal journey of rediscovery itself. Back in 1971, the year before Marcos declared martial law, my siblings and I were big fans of this unknown, mysterious singer named Sixto Rodriguez. Like the South Africans, nobody in Manila knew who he was or where he came from. In fact, no one in Manila was even aware how popular his music was in South Africa. But he was possibly the biggest hit of that year, at least among a certain crowd of, shall we say, more sophisticated listeners. His single, the heart-rending I Think of You, played every hour on the hour over DZRJ and DZUW, the twin stations that, back then, played the most cutting edge music of the time. These were the only two stations my siblings and I listened to, and I would spend many hours just waiting for the song to come on. I remember my younger sister Diana coming home one day to tell me she had a surprise: I Think of You had just been released as a single, with the equally haunting To Whom It May Concern on Side B. We played the single over and over, never getting tired of it. Diana even learned to play the chords on a guitar, and often sang it to me. Plucking the opening bars of I Think of You became our standard for guitar playing: Diana did it well, but my fingers always got tangled and I sucked. We kept wondering who this singer was: I thought he was probably Filipino, possibly a reclusive artist from Baguio, where all the best folk singers were coming from. Diana managed to find a rather blurry picture in a local music magazine, and I thought that face confirmed my suspicion, that this was some kind of mystery Filipino artist. We even came up with a fantastic theory, that Rodriguez was probably the pseudonym of one of the DZUW DJs, and that his music was produced and recorded by the station itself, for why else would the other stations not play it?

    I called my older sister in Los Angeles to tell her of my wonderful discovery. It turned out she and my oldest brother also were big fans of Rodriguez. My oldest brother, who back then had a rock and roll band, in fact used to play his music at the band’s gigs all the time. My sister, who used to deejay at DZUP, the student station of the University of the Philippines, had a copy of the entire album, Coming to Reality, and swears she had played the album so much at the station her copy was virtually all worn down.

    The fate of Rodriguez’s music in Manila did not end as gloriously as it did in South Africa. In 1972, Marcos declared martial law and sequestered all radio stations. That put a definite end to any airplay of Rodriguez’s two hits (To Whom It May Concern was already starting to pick up a lot of notice as well). Marcos not only banned rock music, but also portraits of any musicians with long hair, calling the look decadent and demonic. Rodriguez, with his lush, long hair, would certainly have been censored. The military raided the UP campus, and I believe everything in the radio station was either confiscated or destroyed. I never knew, until I saw Searching for Sugarman, that most of Rodriguez’s music was anti-establishment and political, but perhaps the Marcos intelligence people knew, and that was enough reason to put him on the censors’ radar.

    That definitely consigned Rodriguez’s music to extinction in Manila. But for years thereafter I continued to wonder who this musician was. I used to keep asking Diana, “Remember that Sixto Rodriguez, the brilliant guy who just vanished into thin air?” We didn’t know about the spectacular myths that sprouted in South Africa about his alleged death; we just presumed this guy probably just decided to stop singing, and wanted to be left alone.

    Rediscovering Sixto Rodriguez in Searching for Sugarman has closed over forty years of wondering and questioning for me. I still love the music, anachronistic as it may sound today. These songs were part of the soundtrack of our years of innocence, the final year before the Philippines would be plunged into one of the darkest eras in its history. It amazes me to realize how, back then, we shared nearly the same aspirations as the South Africans, though their struggle was vastly different from ours. We wanted to change the world, we wanted love to reign supreme, and we paid attention to the musicians who told us we could and we should. We would never be so young or so hopeful again.


  14. a+arax|a

    New life phase, new name. Ataraxia: said to be the only true happiness possible, a state of equilibrium and tranquility, without politics and vexatious people, and in which one strives to be a virtuous person surrounded by trustworthy and affectionate friends. Hope you guys like it!


  15. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1927-2014

    "The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary."