Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cuba sí?

The title of this article makes reference to a cuban web page that contains news, comments, reflections, music and even multimedia files. Until now, all seems to be as current as any other web page, except for one thing: this cuban page is the reflect of life in Cuba: tendentious, filetered, censored, controlled, audited, and muzzled. All is directed for the government.

While I write this lines, I stop for a while and think about things that any of my compatriots and people around the world haven’t done before. I have gotten up, eaten breakfast, and then, gone to the desk to turn on the PC and read the newspapers, my e-mail account and run Skype to see if any of my friends are online to chat a bit. All what I have described right now, I do already mechanically everyday and seemed so routine and simple that I did not realize what fortunated am I.

Because I got a computer and I could buy it in any store and not only in the government’s stores, because I did it without giving any justification before the authorities with a “valid reason”, because I can pay for a telephone line and ask for an Internet connection; because I can read any colored and flavored news and in any language, because I can talk to my friends and my relatives in the distance, download, upload music to share, write poems, narrative, chronicles and even insults those who deserve them.
Because I can read about an artist I like, a country I want to visit, a dish I want to try, a tattoo I want to make, a job I’d like to apply. I can learn German, French, Mandarin Chinese, buy CDs and DVDs, create and manage blogs, watch videos and uploads the mines.
I can see live the Academy Awards ceremony, the artist who paints with his penis, Deep Purple arriving to the Jorge Chavez airport (Lima), the little pig who has a hearted spot in its body, the kosovars celebrating their independence…

Because I don’t have to pay 3.5 euros in the cybercafe for 3 hours of internet connection, because I don’t have to ask permission to have internet at home, because I don’t have to lie to get access to internet in a hotel, because I have not a obligatory e-mail account given for the State, because I won’t fill any form in the cybercafe and won’t have to say why I have to surf the web, because I don’t have to go to the black market to get a modem, an antenna, a crack, a password.

Because I won’t see only filtered and chosen – for – others pages for me to read them, because the service won’t be slow and inefficient, and because if it is, I will be able to complain and sue my provider.

And finally, I am fortunated because I am free and can think like I want, say my opinion, discuss and generate the ideas I like, because I can sit down in my desk, turn on my PC and scream it outside, without expect that the uniforms come to my door to send me to jail, saying me “comemierda” (shit eater), or “counterrevolutionary”, or “worm”.

Because I am what I want to say, what I want to choose, what I want to think, and in my poor 3rd world country, it is –thanks to God- a right. And we are fortunated for this. Our Cuban brothers have not this luck and live inside that forced isolation, in a vertigo of backwarded and repressive laws that have 50 years. It have been changes of government, promises of changes with them. Cuba sí (Cuba yes)? Now yes? That is the question we ask with a sort of optimism… but nobody there seems to preserve it. Although the last thing we have to lose is hope, we pray for this new government to do something really revolutionary in the story of this beautiful and sad isle.

Related Links
Generation Y (blog written from Cuba)
Cuba sí (spanish and english version)

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Talent of Conrad Oberg

The Universal Wisdom. Who write this lines, sometimos imagine it like a stream of an invisible water that moves over our heads. It moves endlessly while the world goes on and each one of us continue with our own current lives, under it presence, without realize of it, almost without knowdlege about its existence.

Only few people, with an extraordinary sensitivity seems to get up over the crowd and touch this sacred river where the present, past and future melt, the Alfa and the Omega, where all the secrets of the universe go on without end. We call to this fortunate people, genious or talents.

Shakespeare, Mozart, Picasso, Einseinstein, are some onames of the this chose people who have illuminated the world, from time to time, with the magic that they got after touching this stream. But there are others, anonymous or in development who appears nowadays, to amaze us with their awesome abilities.

Who writes this, came across with one of them, unexpectedly, while looking for some info in the famous video page Youtube. His name is Conrad Oberg, he is 13 years old and lives in the US. He is a real virtuous, and not only because of his ability with the guitar, his fast manners with his fingers in the piano and the scenic self control of a man who knows what to do; but because, when the spectator is before him, immediately catch what the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca called “the elf”; it means, that thing that trap the spectator at this moment, making him feel exactly what the performer wants to transmit through his art.

And Oberg does it perfectly.

Conrad was born with some disadventages. With a very low weight (six month only in pregnancy), one eye blind and the other one barely in function. But, more than a impediment, all this was like a fuel to develop his extraordinary talent in music: at age of 3 he learned by himself, to play the piano and, at 10 to play the guitar by ear. Nowadays he is 13 and is an expert in this instruments; he has played –even is friend- with some of the masters of the blues like Pinetop Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Guy, among others.

His musical knowlegment in this musical genre is impressionant: Ray Charles, Edgar Winter, Reese Wymans, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Stevie Wonder, Stevie Ray Vaughan, T-Bone Walker, Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters,John Hammond Jr., Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Billy Gibbons, Rory Gallagher, Eric Johnson, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Steve Morse, are some of the artists he likes to listen to.

Some little time will pass to see Conrad in the fame – palace with the living legends who wrote new chapters in the history of the music. But in the meantime, he has two albums issued: Decade and A Dirthy Dozen (one of them recorded in the Studio and with the band members of Jerry Lee Lewis). A third one ad portas: Juke Joint 2007. He also is appreciated by the great blues men, the critics. And, last but not least, Conrad has a big future in front of him, that will give him more experience and wisdom.

Now, I invite you, dear readers, to watch some Conrad Oberg videos, for you to let trap by his magic as I did when I met him.

Conrad Oberg - Hey Joe

Conrad Oberg - Steve Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood

Related Links:

Official web page

Interview with Conrad Oberg (EU Jacksonville)

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Dylan were here

En español

Bob Dylan were here. Not live in person, as many people wish, but he did. His life, his songs and, specially, his music, were the topic of a lecture organized by the Faculty of Architecture of the Federico Villarreal University. The organizers were gentle and invited me to participate there as a lecturer, so, I can tell that, this activity (maybe the first one about Dylan made in Peru) was very well organized and was one of the most interesting meetings I have ever seen.

Before a very crowded auditorium, the session was opened by the architect Manuel Zavala who explained the reasons about why a faculty more related to civil-construction (that is the way people non involved in such topics, can see it) decided to organize a symposium about the songwriter from Minnesota.

He said that, against all believings, architect’s interests are not only about structures and maps, but this career implies an artistic way of seeing things, a moment of creation based in inspiration. And that was why they started to look for poetry beyond their works and designs. And they found Dylan.

“Bob Dylan, poetics of the transgression” (that is the name of the event) had as a lecturers (besides who write this), the following people: the musician and TV host of the celebrated local TV program “Disco Club”, Gerardo Manuel, and the TV host Cucho Peñaloza. This last participant couldn’t be in the meeting, so, only Gerardo and me, said some words of our own vision about Bob Dylan. The mine, was very academic: I read a work, written in 1998, about the poetic of Dylan (this lecture is posted in this blog). And Gerardo’s intervention was about his appreciation, plus a very nice story about how he run into Bob in a flight to Brazil, among other things.

But, time before, we had the chance to watch excerpts of No Direction Home, the Martin Scorsese’s documentary, which gave to the public, some idea about the author of "Knockin on heaven's door".

Finally, the meeting was closed with a musical segment. Several youngers from this university played some of the most known songs of Dylan, for a public who had fell down, already, under the inevitable enchantement of this ancient , modern and universal trovadour who is Bob Dylan.

Spanish version

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tragedy in Peru

A terrible tragedy have invaded Peru. A 7,9° earthquake (Richter scale) have occurred damaging the cities of Ica, Chincha, Lima, but specially Pisco. As a result nearly 500 people have dead. Walking through this areas is like to do in a middle of a city devastated for a bombing: hauses nearly destroyed, whole streets to be true, light-posts and cables swaying, arms, legs between the rubbish, corpses who are rigid because of the time, here and there, people walking by all sides trying to get some water or food; there are no basic services (water, drainage, electricity, telephone nor transportation) the total abandon, sickness and death is the only one thing that you can find in those towns.

The news and specials on TV show us every time reports of the tragedy, horrible and crude stories inside the big one that Peruvians wont forget: images of houses that fell down like paper-castles because they were built with a material poor in resistance (adobe) or because they did it negligently without observ the seismic impact... images about a mother who believes that her daughter and mother-in-law are alive below all those tons of stones that is now the cathedral of Pisco... about a father who holds a child who are completely and so rigid, that he doesn’t bend when is holded, seems a dummy with the arms up, in a rictus mortis that lasted several hours... about a neighborg who looks for her neighborgs who were standing in front of her home and now are lost... about a man who cry and claim to God why they are punished so severely... uncles, cousins, brothers, nephews, grandparents, everyone looking for the other one, crying, screaming with howls that mix with the wind… also we can see how some corpses are laying in line in the main square of Pisco, now turned into a improved death –house where their relatives kneeling down and crying endlessly… we are shocked seeing and hearing every time that vortex of horror that we lived also in Lima because here, we felt nearly the same strong shaking.

And maybe, that is the reason for which all population have answered to the help asking of the authorities for clothes, water and all basic material. Time before, when similar tragedies happened in other parts of Peru, people used to act with indifference, because they only read about them in papers, they never felt it as much as nowadays… this time everyone saw how the pictures were shaking in the walls, how the crafts fell down and crashed, how the windows broke and how everything was shaking without control: everyone run desperately to reach the street.

Anyways, it is good that all of us are able to help and learn many lessons, we live in a seismic country and we have to prevent before it will be too late, we have to take into account from the moment we plan to buy or bould a wall, a column, a second floor, a whole house, that we have to be sure that all of them will be made with all security measurements for seism. Also, we have to know how to act before, during and after a earthquake. With this, we can avoid at least in some, tragedies like the one we are living now.

I have posted also, links from the TV report made in the program La Ventana Indiscreta about the impact of this earthquake, it contains the most complete information (until now) about the tragedy. But it contains also images very crude THAT CAN AFFECT SOME PEOPLE. So watch out carefully.

PS: I was about to end this report when another earth shaking have occurred again. Experts say that it is normal and will occur in the next weeks. All that we have to do is stay calmed and to be prepared.

Related links:

Eartquake in Perú report of the TV program La Ventana Indiscreta

Warning: because of their crudity some images CAN HART YOUR SUSCEPTIBILITY

Pisco 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72EX-idEaQk

Pisco 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xx0afFmWdpM

Chincha 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HC0On0H-ydg

Chincha 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSEsNdIt_7g

Ica: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIu3bx0vn1Q

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A story of a kindnapping

Crime and delinquency is so common issue in Lima that if we reed in the papers that someone suffered a robbery attack or was beaten or raped, it is not surprise for us. And what to say about kindnappings. Almost every day we are known that someone was kindnapped for big bands of delinquents with a large and obscure bloody - sheets resumes or bands of police officers who deal with that mean habits for money, and betray their principles they swear to follow. This people makes the wickest plans of kindnapping from the apparently more secure prisons like Piedras Gordas, a maxime-security prison that was created to isolate the commanders of this mentioned bands.

Their next victim is now a 28 years old- manager called Mirko Slavkovic, who was kindnapped when he was going to visit his sister with his mother. Until now there are only a rumors about where he is, but it is no hard to imagine the bad moments he is passing throught the shadows, with the hands and feet tied inside some dirty place.

However, andI dont know why, although this fact worries me, it doesnt make me feel anguished. Something in side me tells me that this big guy with a spreadly joy and energy with whom I talked to some weeks ago, is resisting bravely. I know that he guess, like me, that his robbers are not winning at all with it. There are two witnesses who reached to see their faces; the police is closely behind them and, in Piedras Gordas jail, criminals like "Negro Francia" are now under severe interrogatories, very know kindnappers who use to work from the comfortable cells with radio, calble tv and cellular phones beside the big eyes of their watchmen. In the meantime, the media and people who knows him is claiming together for his liberation. Their kindnappers are with with few time to enjoy their freedom, and the light can be seen at the end of the tunnel, the light that will take my cousin Mirko out of the darkness.

Related links :

La República (newspaper) news

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Days and nights of music

Actual members of The Morning Comes. From left to right: Jörg Tinnes (guitar), Tom Paatsch (bass) and Oliver Batz (lead vocals and guitar). Behind them, Bernie Meizinger (drums).

The presence of music in the current life of our society is as neccesary as the air that we breath. It has remained with the human being in many ways and genres. This report shows a little bit about this topic, throught a group of people from overseas who live and work like us, but that –at the same time- is abbocated to another hobbie that , is more than that. The rock music. Here is the surprising revelations of two of its members.

This is the story of four men who lives thousand of kilometers from here, in a place, in the other side od the Atlantic called Velbert-Langenberg, town located 35 km from Düsseldorf (in the State of Nordrhein-Westfalen), Germany. All of them dedicated to different professions and interests , but sometimes they meet to come true some projets that are really interestings and with good quality.

The trajectory of the rock music in Germany is hardly known excepting some cases that have reached the international recognizement like the music and stunning lyrics of Udo Lindenberg or the rising of the rock pop way called "deutsche welle" (german wave) in the 80's, but the interest and the permanent dedication to this genre has been always alive. And this is the case of The Morning Comes rock group which these boys belong to.

From up to down: Oliver Batz, leading voice and founder of the band and Jörg Tinnes (guitar)

This rock band was created in 1993 by Oliver Batz almost like a game, but now its a hole serious work and passion. From that time to now, they haven’t stop making music and going on in a short and long term – projects. They perform ocassionaly in local bars and pubs and some of their albums have been sold in the music stores of their town. All of this is made, aside of the musical industry –cannons and/or the charts of the radio media.

And we say that because the majority of rock bands from here, from Germany or the India, can't sleep because of the idea of hearing some of their songs in the top hours of the radio station –shows, and, with it, the fame and the succes that allows them to fill their pockets and live of music. However the members of this bands are not interested in that.

The Morning Comes in a rehearsal

Living of what they know to do

“Singing and playing what you want, is actually the great thing about being a musician. No restrictions from producers and so on. Comment Jörg Tinnes, guitar man of the band. “So you got to decide: being a professional, or being yourself” And no doubt that, they have chosen the first option” .

Jörg joined the band a year ago and, with Oliver, nowadays is involved in new projects and, most important, reformulate the stylistic part, now that the keyboarder Gunnar Köllmann, one of the oldest members has left the band.

“Gunnar left us a month ago (to do some personal projects) and now we are involved in working more intensively on the tracks nowadays” says Oliver, who is not only the voice and first guitar, but the composer of The Morning Comes songs like Dayly blues Angelina, Electrocuted and Hold on.

(Who writes this lines had the chance of hear a good repertoire of its production and verify the quality and beauty of its works).

Jörg adds to this that “i think that depends mainly on who is joining your band and what is possible with these people not only from the technical point of view” . And it has been many times that The Morning Comes has changed of members, for one or another reason, and with it, the spirit and style of the band.

Nowadays in the group, besides Oliver and Jörg, Thomas Paatsch (bass) y Bernhard Meinzinger (drums), participate on in, but the idea of making music remained always there. And more, since they remember, they have loved music.

"i think that depends mainly on who is joining your band and what is possible with these people not only from the technical point of view

Born to the music
For that reason, we can say that the story of each one of the actual members of this band can be written easily in ruled staffs.

Oliver tell us his story: “I began to play guitar with a schoolfriend in 1990, we created the band three years later as a "school-mates-joking-party-band. But all became into serious project in 1996. I remember singing since I was three years of age. I wrote my first songs when I was about 11 years”. And in his very early ages, he already used to hear and sing The Beatles and other classic bands .

In these days, Oliver spend time in this passion and working as a computing supporter in a telephone company.

In Jörg’s home, music was like the bread of each morning. “I grew up with my father being a free time tenor in a classical choir and my elder brother being a professional musician. So i heard a lot of classical music at my parents house” tells who is also violoncellist in a loca l orchrest 25 years ago, and a criminal inspector of a ressort in his city. But, beside this, Jörg plays also in a cover band called Big Deal. And, in this point of our report an obvious question appears ¿how Jörg does to have time, being part of so many musical bands? “I play with The Morning comes on tuesdays, with the orchrest on thursdays and with Big Deal on fridays.

Bernhard (Bernie) Meizinger played in several progressive rock bands in the 70’s and now, while he is teacher for mentally handicapped children, he takes the drumsticks giving life to Oliver’s creations. And Tom Paatsch is the bassman of the band. He is an inspector in a buiding company and played before in a hardrock band called “Exkremtor”. Both of them now have the responsability of build the rytmical basis and orientation of the band.

Rock in english or german?

Since its foundation, The Morning Comes has produced four albums: Live (1999), Never what it seems (2000), Jesus & me (2001) y Already there (2003).

All of them made carefully and with a surprising quality in vocals and instrumentation. The first one with tracks from a presentation in an open air summer-festival. Jesus & Me was a mainly acoustic due-project with Gunnar, and the last one, more compact and with deep and vibrating lyrics.

However, curiously these ones have titles and lyrics written in english. In fact, the band’s name is in this language also, why?

“Well, i've started out with German songs of course but then I switched without thinking to much about it. It was just "normal" to me to compose in English. Another reason maybe was, that I've learned a lot of music of the 80's / 90's that was in English” express Oliver who adds also that the rock as a genre, due to comes from the tradition and roots of America, is more instinctive in English than in any other language. The lead voice of The Morning Comes, even says that “it would be a step back to compose in German” .

¿But this fact would implies a divorce between the German language and rock? ¿why the German language, which has the same origin as English, seems not to get along with this kind of music? Jörg explain us : “when you are used to listen to English and American rock music, you can hardly imagine to compose in German “Both musicians admit that in this last decades it have appeared very good composers and musicians in Germany, however, the essence is in the language of Shakespeare.

Bernie Meinzinger, with the drumsticks in hands

And the opinions of this two partners of music is coincident: Oliver sets that maybe “English/American rockmusic is one step ahead and there's a reason” . Jörg also says “the people who are twenty years old now might think different, but not those of our generation".

In Germany most of its population dominate the English language in an advanced level. And its good to add, after this surprising revelation made by this rock fans, that the closest influences of them are The Beatles, The Velvet Undergraund, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, among other masters of the rock. From their country Oliver listens to Niels Frievert whose songs, of course, are not in the charts and they dont need to be on it, like is the case of his band .

Present and future

¿Any project besides The Morning Comes? Oliver answers: I'm doin' some kind of stuff with the Ex-Hölderlin (very known German band in the 80's) singer Bernd König” and Jörg only doing music in his three ways and with new ideas under the sleeve.

Both of them see the future of the band with optimism, without desperate for catching the music industry attention or for filling stadiums, they only think in who wants to enjoy –like them- of what they do and have fun doing that. After all ¿how would be the life without music?

Oliver: I can’t think about . No matter what other people think about the quality. It's best thing to do. And its a lot of fun to share this with other people, band-members and audience”
Jörg: “I rather cut my eyes off than losing my ears”.

Related Links:

In Spanish

The Morning Comes. Official website with discography, lyrics , info, gallery and demo tracks to hear.

Rock in German language (spanish) (article by the DW)

Some foreign rock bands are interested in playin in German language (spanish) (article by the DW)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Year 1995: Violent riot outside San Marcos (between Venezuela and Universitaria avenues) stopped by police with tear pumps

I was afraid . I even asked to mayself if maybe it was a suicide adventure to enter to San Marcos. All what I had seen about terrorism and contraculture was only by TV and now it was very close to me: young people, younger than me (I was 17 in those times) leading strikes, marchs, given so anarchist speeches, putting "quesos rusos" (lit. translation: russian cheese: bombs hidden under the flags with the sickle and the hammer, that blew up with any contact) or entering into the classrooms to give official notices, denounce-boards, marchs, and more marchs. And finally the taking of the local places as a last appeal.

But many years have gone and the student from San Marcos is not the same anymore. He is not the country side-guy with simple clothes who came to apply with notebooks and photocopies behind the arm, paying 5 soles only(about 1.5 dollars) for the whole study -year and that felt in common rapidly with the answerer - clasist -fighter left movement that you can find even in the soup of the public dinning room , and that feeling was stronger if the rising of the costs, fees (the half fee that students from Universities and institutes pay) became a threath . The student of San Marcos now is younger, more from middle class family and more indifferent with a social surroundings that, even if it can compromise him, wont puts him away from his closer friends He is not interested about what happen with his authorities, with the university government and he barely shows interest about what happen in the country . The student of San Marcos nowadays, only comes to study to look for a job and earn money. Researching, developing social conscience and feeling compromised with the social issues is a past stuff. Thar explains the almost total absenteeism in student election times in the moment to present candidacies and that is worse in the time to vote. That is the reason for why the last Votation commitees thought in the idea of making obligatory elections and if you do not vote, the puts a fine . Es por eso que ahora las autoridades hasta se jactan de la masiva asistencia a las urnas.