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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Me, me, me...always me (and me too!)

It's been said that an image is worth a thousand words. So....

Friday, June 24, 2005

My top 10 rock bands!! (Finally something not so psycho!!)

Amongst the many mechanisms that I've chosen to soothe the friction against the very harsh reality that everyday routine seems to bring around, one of the most powerful is my Discman. It might be a moment when the situation is just unbearable, when I feel down or simply when I feel like taking a break from so much sticky mediocrity.

I've been doing that for almost ten years now, and I've come to make my little own top 10 of what I consider to be the best rock bands alive. So without further ado, let me explain my criteria for such honorful choosing!

1. Livin'

The group must be alive and touring or recording or getting hammered at the local joint.

2. Originality

How can I explain this? Well, these guys had to somehow reinvent rock so it stuck into my head without ever leaving again.

3. Power

Sometimes this means raw violence, sometimes this means raw beauty, sometimes is both, but it has to blow me away.

4. Technique

Yep, this also matters, they gotta rock their gear.

And here are, from 10th to 1st, my nominees:

10: Slipknot
I've quite recently become hooked on these guys. At first their image kind of kept me away, they looked like the average costume-party-invitees that populate death and doom metal. But once I heard duality, I had to face the awesome power that these guys harness with their music.

Afterwards I got to hear Vermillion and some of the other works, and I was forever hooked.

A lot of musicians, a great emphasys on drums and loudness, very straightforward lyrics and drops of sheer genius on their playing make for a fitting 10th.

9: Garbage
When I first heard them, it was Queer, both the name's song and the whole sensation of hearing this eerie music led by a beautiful, sexy and determined voice. I'm only happy when it rains seemed to be the perfect depiction of our ironic ways of living. I thought they were good.

And after listening to their 3rd album (Version 2.0.) it became clear that these guys were seriously good. They merged electronic psychedelia with hard guitars, sweet melodies and brutal lyrics.

Their later CD's have been good, not quite as impressive as Version 2.0., but quite awesome anyway, and some of their B-sides are simply brilliant, such as their contribution to the Romeo & Juliette Soundtrack (a kick ass soundtrack, BTW) and their very own legacy to the 007 tradition with the bleak The world is not enough.

And they keep on playing. Life is good.

8: Korn
No one knew exactly what hit them when these bad boys shook the radios almost 10 years ago with "Shoots & Ladders" first and with "Blind" afterwards. Just when everyone thought that a signature rock sound wasn't possible anymore, they introduced the organic groove weaved by the slap bass, the scratchy, almost hip hoppy guitar and the erratic, yet precise voice of that huge frontman called Jon Davis.

And they mirrored anger and frustration and sweetness in their lyrics, hitting us all where it hurt the most. Their following CD's just seemed to keep on driving the nails deeper and deeper inside the collective spirit. Life is Peachy, Follow the Leader and Issues seemed to bring more and more loathing, trying to cure those festering wounds that modern western society bears all over its decaying body. Their latest effort seems not so angry at first, but it seems as if there's still stories to be told by these really ill-disposed fellas.

7: Nine Inch Nails
There's simple facts in life, like the fact that Trent Reznor is a freakin' genius and Nine Inch Nails is Trent Reznor. A very twisted mind that has managed to share that self indulgent, beautiful but at the same time noisy, chaotic, furious and caustic galaxy that floats in Reznor's head.

NIN has recorded songs that range from the almost teenage sweetness of The Fragile to the senseless violence of March of the Pigs, visiting the hallucinogenic lovey obsession of The perfect Drug and dwelling on the almost sadistic sexuality of Closer to God. No matter what this guy records, one thing is for sure, like it or not, you're going to pay attention to his songs.

6: Coldplay
Sometimes the emotions don't bear the heads of the dragon and the anger of the predator, sometimes they fly with angel's wings and appeal with the sweetness of hope and melody. A band heavily influenced by some british bands of legend -such as the Beatles- and more recent marvels -such as Radiohead-, Coldplay reminds us that sometimes we are sensible, hopeful and sometimes even, gasp, optimistic.

While they could be considered as the most typical pop available, the truth is that these guys don't take particular delight in revisiting old formulas -like typical teen love or masochistic self destruction- sometimes they just seem to be making music to make you feel good without needing an unforgettable kiss, an excruciating orgasm or a frenzy of hysterical massacres.

Y'know, sometimes feeling good is allright...

5. Deftones
While most people will agree that "Korn is the master and Deftones the apprentice", I find a lot more identified with the Deftones phenomenon. Being more of a guitar person than a rhytm person, I find Deftones raw hardcore aggresivity much more genuine and powerful.

Their first CD unleashed the unholy power of a song called 7 Words, later followed by more hissing violence with Bored and Engine No. 9. And their second album accomplished the impossible: a darker, harder and even more scarring sound. Their classic My own summer (shove it) earned much attention with that hypnotic, evil and weird riff that is the backbone of the song.

Their 3rd work, White Pony, while a little less agressive, still delivered truckloads of power and mind-blowing with such jewels as Change (In the house of flies), Digital Bath and Back to School, while starting to show a much more melodic side of the band. And their latest, self-titled CD, brings back some of the power level of the first days with Hexagram, while progressing on their melodies with the almost epic Minerva.

I hope they keep on going, I really need that adrenaline rush sometimes.

4. System of a Down
Just as we mourned the loss of one of the most political bands of all time (Rage Against the Machine) these iron-curtain inmigrants and descendants burst yet another hole in the fabric of history with their first CD. But their real breakout was in the form of the paranoic, eardrum shattering blitzkrieg called "Chop Suey". And then it was Toxicity, and Aerials....

Their 3rd album couldn't come in a better (or worst) moment. Steal this album hit the shelves just in time to witness the Iraqui war and the brutal display of power exerted by an abusive country with a medieval-minded leader. And their songs were the soundtrack for the indignation of a world that witnessed the horrors of a crafted war, specially "boom", which was the perfect anthem of indignation for the moment.

As I write these lines, their 4th album is Taking the world by force, and these wacky, opinionated, noisy mofos seem to have a lot to say yet.

3: Pearl Jam
Yep, the surviving angle of the holy trilogy that gave birth to the 90's grunge (along with Nirvana and Soundgarden), they still keep making some of the most beautiful and moving music that the western world has heard in the last twenty years.

What started with the incredibly energetic display called Ten kept on rolling and evolving until they reached what I consider to be the best and least recognized album of the Seattle band: No Code. An almost solo work by Eddie Vedder, it's the most intimate, vulnerable and moving work I've heard from an american band.

But, in the end, there's no secret behind the band's success: they're all simply great musicians. And they might become for the next generations what the Rolling Stones are for us now: a living legend.

2. The Mars Volta.
These guys have been around for much less time than all the other bands in the list, but their intensity and overwhelming genius have earned effortlessly this spot on my list.

I first saw them on a live presentation for the MTV Latin American video awards, they were introduced by Zack de la Rocha with quite flattering words that were promptly answered by a bunch of Afro-toting wackos, with the most violent, most passionate and nerve-wracking live song I'd ever seen. The song held me in its thrall for it's whole length, and when it was over I felt like I'd been riding a rocket straight into hell. A singer that would be Robert Plant's reincarnation if Plant were dead. A guitar player that could actually be Jimi Hendrix's reincarnation (well, Jimi is dead, allright). And a team of virtuoso musicians that machinegunned a dense mix of punk, progressive rock, latin groove and pure insanity.

I ran to the computer and found that the name of the song was "Drunkship of Lanterns". I found a copy and downloaded. And I heard the glorious studio version. And then I looked for anything recorded by the Mars Volta, and then I found that there wasn't a single store in my city with the CD. I rebuilt the CD with the downloaded songs. And then somehow a copy of the De-Loused in the Comatorium found its way to the local music store. And Val gave it to me. And I heard the CD to the point of physical stress (the thing is already craking at its center).

About three months ago I learned that their second CD was in the streets. This time the word had been around, and I found the album a week later in the store. It's name: Francis the Mute. 5 songs. Ok, so maybe it's an EP. Let's hope it's good.

Forgive me guys for doubting you. Forgive me.

Francis the Mute MUST be considered amongst the best albums of the year: unconventional, experimental, fractally complex, hallucinogenic and original barely scratch the surface of Francis the Mute. In a single album, these guys have reached the level of such names as Rush, Frank Zappa, Dream Theater and other prog rock giants. Their influences? Everything ranging from the Sex pistols to Fania All-Stars, which includes other acts such as MC5, Fela Kuti, Celia Cruz, Santana, Buenavista Social Club, Ruben Blades and Led Zepellin. Their only possible single is the second song, The Widow, easily the best power ballad of the year, and you know what? This awesome song is almost lousy when compared to the rest of their CD, specially with that unstoppable, 30 minutes rock opera called Cassandra gemini, a true moment of glory and redemption for the new millenium rock.

And it's only their second album. Omar, Cedric and company, if you don't behave yourselves you might wake up one morning and realize you're the best rock band of the world.

1. Radiohead
They simply have it all: power, beauty, genius, lyricism. In one word: greatness. It's a shame that most of the people associate them with their most played and abused song, Creep. While the song is a portrait of all Radiohead's glory when it comes to mix the crooning of Thom Yorke's voice with the demented guitar of Johnny Greenwood, it also creates the image of a depression-driven emo band..

When most bands in the world sounded phony and hollow, these guys were making music as if their lifes depended of it. After their first record, Pablo Honey, they pushed the hard-rock sound in The Bends while at the same time redefining the rock ballad with such classics as High and Dry. Proving that the world was not ready for them, The Bends wasn't the commercial success their fans had expected, but it now holds a place amongst the classics.

And their third album, OK Computer, is widely considered as one of the best (if not THE best) rock recordings of the last 20 years. If you haven't heard it, you haven't lived your generation.

Afterwards, Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief have done nothing but confirm their genius. A band with such talented musicians that has chosen to completely ignore the success models developed by corporate rock and preconstructed recipes will keep on impressing us with music that echoes of our very own souls. Many of us have felts like agents or hostages of the Karma Police, many of us lick our betrayed-love scars with Fake Plastic Trees, many of us have dragged a senseless day of nothing grasping the lyrics of Street Spirit, and many of us wish we were living on a place where 2+2=5.

While many other groups will keep on arguing and clawing at their chests while the mainstream hail them as the best of the best, Radiohead keeps on playing, trascending with music that will haunt our ears for years to come.


This is the music that makes me feel alive and shelters my sanity in a world plagued by cheesy bands, makeshift ideals and rotting structures. If you felt touched by any of these ramblings, go ahead and post a commentary, even if you copletely disagree with me.

And long life to rock.

Monday, June 20, 2005

On winning and other special needs

Therapy is going fine guys, y'know? It seems as if I've been hiding most of me from myself, and now that I start discovering it, I'm feeling such a rush of power in me! It's like discovering the tip of an iceberg. and boy is it a HUGE iceberg!!

One of the things that I've come to accept is that I'm hooked onto competition. I dig competition, I live and breathe for competition. I am in many ways competing always, and is not competition for the sake of it.

I like to win.

There, I said it, I like to win. When I win I breathe relaxed, smile and shine like the sun for everyone. When I lose, I get anxious, I grimace and sulk and become like a black hole.

But the other thing that my therapist, me and my friends know is that I'm no fool either. In fact I'm pretty smart by all standards, and with that blessed intelligence I get to know that winning always is impossible, those who try to end up bitter and self-destructive quite quickly. So the "smart" thing to do would be to limit your areas of winning to a set of manageable ones, not ones where it would be too easy to win, nor ones where it would be fairly impossible.

So, in the end, the two fields where I want to win are the ones that give me the most satisfaction and the ones that show intelectual skill.

The intelectual skill one is easy: magic the gathering, but how about the satisfactory ones?

Well, I really like to win in the emotional area too!! And then is when conflicts came around.

High school was hell for many reasons, but one of the most traumatic was the conspiracy to tell me how I was so hopelessly ugly while the class goons were, of course, gourgeous and irresistible. At the time, to be honest, I had not enough knowledge nor enough self-esteem to discuss, only to yield. So it had to be right, and I dragged my "ugly duckling" trauma for almost 10 years....

Now that things are different, I get to see the truth. I was never a monster and those guys weren't so hot after all. In fact, they were pretty cruddy themselves...

After the test of years, I have to confess that one of them might have actually been handsome. But right now he is so fat light bends around him, and the other usual suspects, well...

* 2 Were really small (and I don't even want to start measuring between those dwarvish legs, guys)
* 2 had this sickly red patches on their cheeks (think Ronald Mc. Donald, there you go!)
* And the other 3 looked like they could rob you in a dark, moist corner.

The really good looking guys never bullied the others, and some in fact had the wisdom to leave my -ironically- God forsaken high school.

Mental note, hack the freakin' high-school site.

So the consequences is that I would just sit and watch as everyone just went and dated and had disastrous sex with the girls I was interested in. I believed I didn't stand a chance, and kept, in my inner victory-addict-self, losing and taking massive damage to the ego.

But in the late years I have to confess that, in spite of my best efforts to sabotage any girls' interest in me, I've seen quite a bit of action. And I've come to discover not only that I look kinda good, but that my personality and vision of life and skills and whatnot ACTUALLY make me a very interesting person.

So now, for the first time in my life, I feel on the winning side, emotionally and -why not- egotistically too. If I can't outrun other guys with my looks, I can get a lead with my intelligence, or with my natural personality, or if push comes to shove, with my mad pimipin' skillz. Now I feel decided, ruthless and empowered.

I feel like a badass!!

But badass or not, having to live and learn that love is not always about stats or clever plots, I have to accept not only that winning won't be that easy, but that I will sometimes do everything right and STILL lose.

This is me, and this is my time. And for once, I'd like to win. Bear with my cockiness, and thank you for reading.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Memories of an old cellphone number

Let's start by the obvious: As of today my cellphone number changes from 09831175 to 099218037. Please those of you who keep cellphone contact with me switch to the new number.

It's pretty trivial, ain't it? You switch phone numbers, give away the new one and keep on going with your routine, right? Then I come to think about it and find that the whole cellphone thing has a long history behind it.

You know, I never wanted a cellphone to begin with. I believed that such a wretched device was nothing but a money outlet, an apparatus to keep you controlled and evidence of you slowly selling out to the system. And when I finally got my cellphone, I felt pretty disappointed with myself at first, as if I were giving up on my values or something.

This happened at a time when I was just starting to taste the bittersweet flavor of the young life, who would have thought that the "cellphone era" would be a good timeframe for most of my known emocional life. For the curious, I started with the classic Nokia "brick", big enough to kill somebody if used as a projectile.

With this number I spend the season with my friends in the University's central park, I fought with Ximena (my first real serious and longest relationship) over this phone, I would message and arrange my dates with Marithza and Giselle over this line, my first cellphone died and my sister lent me one in the meantime, and with that phone I met Val, and I wrote about 600 messages with her in only a month, back in those golden days where I dated her.

Over that line, I built up much of the actual Magic playing community of this city, I kept my friendships (with a new Nokia, a gift from my father) and flourished on another ones, such as that misfit friend of mine, Jazie, who would wind up becoming one of the most meaningful persons in my life. Of course it also become my main feedline for the people that wanted me to work for them, and recently, it witnessed the entrance of new friends in my life (Liz, JJ and the guys in the store, in particular) and it had to suffer the assault of Maria Fernanda, who in fact sent today a couple very angry messages to the old line. It's kind of funny and sad at the meantime to know that the only way I could get out of such a sickening relationship would be with laissez faire ("let things free" for the French impaired).

And now I have a new line, and what should be trivial and meaningless suddenly has a sense of renewal and change. Something as dumb and inconsequential as a change in a cell number becomes the sign of a new era, the end of one of the most joyous and at the same time, most miserable times of my life. A time when the passion and intensity of a few, priceless moments seem to balance the years of anguish and frustration. Indeed I feel kind of surprised to accept that, through all the shit, I can still confess to be happy and thank a mysterious God for every single moment and feeling.

Now I try to start over and build a new self, for myself. And along cames a new number, 099218037. In that line I hope to make new job contacts, meet new people and perhaps be able to build for that relationship that somehow resembles the one I've been dreaming about all these years.

There's a song by Caifanes that says "para un alma en pena toda piedra es un altar" (for a haunted soul every stone is an altar) . In the end trivial things are no longer so for those that actually live through them. Which is another way to say that nothing is trivial after all.

And before I move on to -hopefully- bigger things in my life, another seemingly trivial thing seemed to provide me with an answer I've been looking for years. Why would a sane, stable, mature and rational person need such a thing as a couple relationship? I could go on wanting one just because I felt I needed one, but y'know, intellectual acts such as mine prefer to feed on reason than indulge in senseless passion. Besides, sometimes I need to snap an answer when I get asked about the biggest obsession in my life. And as such things often happen, the answer came from the most unlikely of places; an Anime series!!

Those brainfuckers called Gainax -producers of Evangelion- also made a teen-love-flick called Karekano, a redemption of "Danielle Steel meets Sigmund Freud meets The Three Stooges". Take your average teen-love story, add a lot of hysterical humor and add to the mix self-analysis and interiorizing worth an entry to the Arkham Asylum and you start to get the picture on what Karekano is.

At one point the girl in the series, a very clever and pretty girl with an absoulte obsession with image and accomplishment, discovers that her relationship with his male equivalent becomes increasingly complex and uncertain to the point where she wonders...

how comes that I can accomplish pretty much everything and my relationship with him seems impossible to me??


And after things sort themselves out much in spite of the effort on both sides to sabotage the whole thing (as usual in humans) she realizes that the reason she wants to be with him is because it's so nice to have someone to support you now and then. She had supported herself for all those years without needing anyone else, but it was so soothing, so relieving, and so rich to have someone that would hug you when you were cold, talk to you when you were down and caress you when you felt almost lost.

But of course, the whole beauty of it clicked on her head when she realized that HIM, in turn, could lean on her for support, because no one has it soft and every help you can get to make your life a little easier is always, always welcome.

Bingo, my answer lied there right before me.

You don't need anyone else to fly high, but ain't it grant to feel supported enough to visit the stars?

I hope can tell you about it sometime, about the time when I soar to the skies with that roguish person that flies along with me to meet the future.

Good luck in your flights my friends, may God take care of your wings and never let you drop again.

Friday, June 10, 2005

t3h h4unt1n6

I just wanted to tell you all, this morning I woke up and fell haunted...

And I'm seeking a friend for the end of the world

Thursday, June 09, 2005

God's thoughts

"I only want to know God's thoughts, the rest are Details"

-Albert Einstein

That beautiful quote is embedded in the poster that looks at me every time I'm on my therapy sessions. Psychotheraphy, you know. While my doctor and I keep tweaking inside my head, trying to protect what's working right and to defuse what's going wrong, the beady and somehow delusional eyes of the great Dr. Einstein look at me, soothing and reproachful at the same time.

Just so you know, I think it's going great. I've discovered that I seem to have pretty much the right attitude about life and all the bargain that comes along with it. And the greatest problems were the ones I suspected for a long time: a clear breach between the reality I could acomplish and the dream that everyone but me seemed to hope for (beginning with the usual suspects, my parents).

As I was about to leave the session and head for The Great Outside, my doctor looked and me and told me one last thing, as if reading my brainwaves "Don't do things you don't want to"

Let's isolate the phrase and watch it apart for a little while:

Don't do things you don't want to
So then I tried to do some of the things I wanted to. Which things you wonder?
I went to a chapel
That's right, you might at this point believe someone hacked my password and started defiling my precious, precious blog. But don't worry, dear reader. I indeed went to a chapel, and knelt there, and prayed.
You know, all the things that I've come to learn these last months have shown me clearly that God is there, just like a good teacher should be: not the soft pansy that forgives everything and pretends nothing is wrong, not the tyrant who will punish you for every little mistake. He will send you clear, explicit messages in the mouths and actions of such people as your friends, your parents and your everyday life, he will provide you with the understanding to separate the bullshit from the actual good stuff, and sometimes he will even let you get away with a real goof-up.
But eventually you come to learn the lessons you're meant to, and in the funniest and most ironic way possible; sometimes you have to impart the lesson you were told long time ago, but refused to learn because you were plainly stubborn to understand it.
Most people think that justice will be served when, after much struggling and toil, you stop learning these hard and cruel lessons inflicted most of the times by good -but quite idiotic- humans that live with us, and start getting it right with everyone and getting the things just the way you want them. Then you wake up one fine morning and discover that justice IS served when you become one of the idiots that HAS to inflict the hard and cruel lesson to some other poor S.O.B.
To put it simply, you think it will get fair when they stop shooting at you and can finally spend a day unharmed. But then you realize that it all gets even when you get the gun and have to shoot the poor bastard that now has that same look you wore yesterday, wondering when would it end.
And then, of course, you realize the only way to stop this madness is to drop the gun and run for the rainbow.
So then, I really wanted to thank God, I don't think I know his thoughts -does any of my students know mine?- but I start understanding the whole point of it, as much as I expect that my students in fact understand that the whole point of going through my grueling classes is to learn, damnit!!
But perhaps one thought that God does have is that lingering, almost secret phrase my doctor told me: "Don't do things you don't want to". I mean, I'm pretty sure at least God is pretty free to do whatever he goddamn pleases (there boys, how can you fit a blasphemy, an irony and a pun in the same phrase? Ask me!). And I've learned that when you keep on doing things you despise, you become really angry.
Now that we're here, let me tell you the only two times in this week I've done things I didn't want to: the first one was meeting with my very-recently-former-girlfriend for ice cream. I've finally cornered her harassing to the thursdays, and if she keeps being the pain in the butt she's become, I'll be forced to do another thing that I don't want to: tell her that I have as much desire to see her again as I want to have a splitting headache. The catch? One thing I will do once, but the other I'm doing every thursday.
Maria Fernanda, if you read this girl, I'm sorry to tell you, but GO AWAY!!! BE HAPPY SOMEWHERE ELSE!!! GO GO GO!!
The other thing was to hear one of my best friends tell me about her grrrreat sex session with another friend of mine. I know you're reading this, honey, and perhaps most people my age can hear for hours upon hours about how horny you guys were, and how many times you and he orgasmed, but I've become very sensitive about sex talk. Remember what I once told you, I know that everybody out there and even their sisters are having great daily sex while I have to be self-sufficient (so to speak), but I DON'T NEED TO BE REMINDED DAILY!!!!!!
Good, that's something else I did not wanting to, and it felt like shit.
But the rest of it was fine. Tomorrow I'll try to go out with this new girl (new for me but not for everyone else in my friends group is seems) and see if there's something coming up with her. If nothing clicks in place, I will try to party on saturday with yet another girl, and see if something clicks in place then. And if not I will try with someone else until finally I find at least someone I'll feel comfortable to go out with.
You see? I want to do that and it feels good! Just like I want to go tomorrow, play Magic and kick some butts. Just like I want to visit Sabine for ....Germany World Cup 2006!! How do you like that my friend? And just like I'd love to have a nice, sound humping with someone. But that my friends, will have to wait I guess ;-)
Don't forget it guys!! Enjoy yourselves and if you really don't have to do that thing that grinds you and makes you feel bad, then don't do it and...thank God for it.