Thursday, December 27, 2007

8 Differences Between the 1950s and Now

Scenario 1: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.
1957: Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2007: School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1957: Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2007: Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3: Jeffrey won’t be still in class, disrupts other students.
1957: Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007: Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario 4: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957: Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007: Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy’s mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario 5: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1957: Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on the smoking dock.
2007: Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 6: Pedro fails high school English.
1957: Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2007: Pedro’s cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro’s English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario 7: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.
1957: Ants die.
2007: BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny’s Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 8: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957: In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2007: Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy. Johnny’s parents sue the school for negligence and the teacher for emotional trauma and win both cases. Mary, jobless and indebted, commits suicide by jumping off of a tall building. When she lands, she hits a car and also damages a potted pot. The car’s owner and the plant’s owner sue Mary’s estate for destruction of property. They both win.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

GhettoTango & Nocturne in NYC


Since I started my blog I used initials to refer to various people but that can get quickly confusing as there are a lot of people with the same initials. The reason I didn't use their names is because this blog is public and I didn't want everyone to know precisely who I was talking about, but at the same time, I didn't mind allowing people I know to be able to tell/guess the identities of the characters in my posts. Another blogger gave me the idea to come up with nicknames for the people I am writing about. The choice of the nickname would allow the "subjects" and a few others to know who I am talking about but protect their identity from most of the other readers. I will slowly update (some of) my past posts with nicknames.

Pajama tango

There is something about dancing tango in pajamas right after waking up that makes it really, really dreamy. It was around noon on Saturday when we (about 10 of us who took advantage of Adam & Ciko hospitality and crashed at their loft) got up after dancing the night @ GhettoTango. After having coffee Mr. TangoSuperNut took out his ipod and by sharing the ear buds he started dancing with Ms. TinyNorthern, as they didn't get to during the night. Shortly after, he took out his laptop and started playing music we could all hear. There was one woman there that I didn't know and while I've seen her during the night, we didn't get to dance or even talk. After the introductions were made I asked her to dance. She was wearing her PJs (so her nickname will be Ms. Pajamas) and socks. I was in socks too. I was also wearing other clothes ;) We danced for a while and it was absolutely lovely. We were both barely awake, which translated into a warm embrace with zero tension. We just enjoyed the dance, the music, laughed out the "hiccups" and only stopped dancing when we were warned that we'd be left without food if we didn't go join the others for breakfast. Breakfast tango is great, I wish there would be more of it soon!

Too short!

When one has a good time, the time passes really fast. The Nocturne felt like it was only an hour long, even though it started at 10PM and ended at 3:30AM. I danced a lot yet there were so many people I didn't have a chance to dance with. Why do all these milongas have to end so early? I wish we could dance until there is no one standing.

Taking the bus

For this trip I had the unfortunate idea to take the bus. I was thinking that if I take the bus I will be less tired when I get there and I was hoping to save some money as my car is a Jeep, not exactly known for it's fuel economy. Boy that was a mistake. Why? I left work Friday at 1:15. Drove to a t-stop, parked the car, waited for the subway, and made it to the bus terminal at 2:30. At 3PM the bus left and we made to chinatown a little after 8PM. We walked to WTC, waited for the train and made it to Adam's loft around 9:45 (we only took a 30 min "break" to have some dinner). So, subtracting the dinner time, I was on the road for over 8 hours. Pretty much the same when we got back. The cost? Between the bus cost, the trains, parking for the car, a short cab ride the grand total for both Debbi and I was ~ $100. The gas cost for a round trip with my car is about $75 and it would've taken us about 4-5 hours to get there. That was the last time I will ever take the bus anywhere.

NoTango Land

A few of the people I met during this trip live in places where there is virtually no tango. They all used to live in tango cities only to have to move away to follow their career. I was thinking, what would I do if I got a fantastic job offer in a place where there is no tango? Would I take it? I don't think so (unless of course I would have no choice). Would you?

Tango chat at sunrise

The Nocturne ended at 3:30AM, by the time we got out it was already after 4AM. We (the people staying with Adam & Ciko) were not going to make it to the 4:30 train, so we decided to have some food and take the 5:15 from Penn Station. When we got to the loft it was close to 6AM. You'd think that after two full nights of dancing everyone would just pass out. Nope. We hung out for a while talking about the music, DJing, tanda selections, etc. If this is not evidence of true passion, I don't know what is.

Seeking perfection?

Someone wrote a post about "tango stages". I was thinking about where I am in that classification and I believe I am in between the "Disenchantment" and "Contentment" stages. In the last few months I got increasingly frustrated with my tango experiences. I would dance with someone and manage for a brief moment to completely connect with the music, to feel it "perfectly" only to have the follower missing completely what I was trying to convey. I would be so disappointed that the moment was "wasted". I would allow that then to "taint" my experience and allow myself to come back home from the milonga depressed. But recently something started to change. I went to a local milonga a little while ago and I was able to enjoy some of the dances despite frequent little mishaps, despite missed leads, despite imperfections in the embrace, despite not being a "perfect dance". That gives me hope, as "perfect dances" are few and far in between. The dances I could not enjoy were the ones where I didn't feel the follower's desire to be in the embrace and I didn't feel her joy of the dance. Those were the dances I just wanted to be over. Most dancers have some endearing qualities, it's just a matter of finding them and enjoy that instead of "lock on" to shortcomings of the dance. How is that related to the subject of the post? It's not.

New space for nocturne

The space Adam booked for this month Nocturne is fantastic in my opinion. The dance floor is basically a "fishbowl", an area separated from the rest of the space with glass walls. You could sit at the bar without being subjected to loud music and still see all the "action" through the glass. The decor is tasteful (except for the Christmas decorations which were cheesy at best) and the location is great, just two blocks away from Penn Station. The dance surface is fantastic, the sound system is top notch, the seating areas have an intimate feeling without being isolated. I hope they manage to book this space on a permanent basis.

Something "old", something "new"

I realized that for me, one of the attractions in tango is the comfort in dancing with people I know I like to dance with combined with the thrill of discovering new favorites. The first few dances with somebody you haven't danced with before can be truly magical. Sometimes you KNOW it will be awesome the moment you get in the embrace. Every one of the people I love dancing with has a different embrace. Some connect chest to chest. Some in a slight V embrace. Some connect with their entire body from the waist up. Some rest their forehead on my cheek. The variations are endless. Some times the embrace it's not "perfect" at first, maybe there is some tension for example, but sometimes those imperfections melt during the dance. Or they become irrelevant. You discover the signature moves the other person has. Some move very slowly, like through molasses, some are energetic. Every step is a new discovery. The process is intoxicating. It was no different this time at GhettoTango. After dancing with a few of my favorite dancers I asked to dance someone I haven't met before. Of course, you watch the people dance before asking or accepting a dance, but watching someone dance can't tell you a lot. You can tell you're not going to hate dancing with them, but that's about all I can tell. When I asked Ms. ScarletCarnation to dance, I knew already she was a good dancer, but that was about all I knew. A tanda later I knew I had a new favorite dancer. There was another new face there which I will call Ms. GoldenJoy. The main reason I asked her was because I saw how her eyes would light up when she was watching the blissful look on the other dancers faces. I could feel her joy through the embrace and her sadness when the music stopped. One of the things that make an embrace great, even if it's not "technically perfect" is when you can feel your partner REALLY wants to be there, when you can feel their reluctance to break away the embrace when the song is over.


I had a great time. I'll be back in NYC really soon!