Human Side

Making my worst since 1975...

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Location: México City, Mexico

I am a very nasty person, indeed. Ask my friends. Se habla español en el club de los insomnes.

Monday, May 29, 2006

One Sober Knows The Sorrow

I hope one day they forgive me for what I have done.

Here the translation of the broadcasting number 4 of Itinerario. (You can listen it here) .

The characters:

1. The old drunkard,
2. His son-in-law
3. Me

The scenery:

Some place on the road, Honduras.

November 2005.

The son in law:

-…socially, economically, everything is lost…

The old man:

- only losses…

The son in law:

-Think about this: There are some people that get drunk and they are arrested because they kill their son, their woman, anybody, and when they are in jail they don’t believe what they have done. Because the alcohol numbs the sense of consciousness. We have a sense of consciousness and a sense of unconsciousness. For example, I can say, “I want to be naked on the streets”, but my conscious mind says to me: Forget it, what are you going to do? Everybody is watching. But one drunkard can do that, because the sense of consciousness is numb…

The old man:

-His father died because the alcohol.

The son in law:

- Cirrhosis in the liver. So much alcohol… and there is no alcohol more dangerous than “Yuscaran”



The son in law:

-Yes: 45 degrees of alcohol


-Stronger than a tequila.

The son in law:

-Yes, you can imagine the damage on the stomach when you drink it. At the beginning you feel good, but the damages are scaring. Ah, in the past I used to say: I can’t take my meal without my drink, but once I became conscious, once I analyzed and thought about it... [pause] because I made a reflection about what I was doing to myself…

Me, to the old man:

-And you stopped going to Alcoholics Anonyms?

The old man:

-Yes, I just went to a Convention, in El Salvador...


-And why did you stop going?

The old man:

-Such things happen... you are weak as human being, and when you have a lot of responsibilities in home, you think that the drink helps...[pause] it happened to me...[pase] some times you could think that everything is easier if you stop drinking, but when you leave the drink everything becomes harder, cause if you are drunk you can do everything in an easy way, but on the other hand, when you are sober it costs… because one sober knows the sorrow… he, he, he.

[ music fade in]

[ music fade out]

The old man:

...So, we have very interesting things here. They say the problem with us is not to admit our condition... they say we are alcoholics, but when we admit the problem with humility, the perspective is different. They say to us: You are a drunkard. Yes, but only when I drunk a lot! he, he, he... But you are a drunkard since the first coup! I have already worked so much, I am too old, I am father of 3 sons, and I say to my sons: You have seen the alcohol problem on my mind, on my body... If you want to drink, then drink. But if you think that the alcohol has hurt me, it will hurt you too... and thanks to god I have 3 sons, and they don’t drink.

The son in law

- But that is the problem: What if your sons see you drinking? How can you advice them?

The old man

-That’s what I am saying! I don’t forbid it to them. How could I tell them: Why are you drinking? That fact is how they have been raised, because I was not raised in the situation they were raised...


-Do you have grandsons?

The old man

-Grandsons? Yes, I do. I have a little boy from him…


- And when you are drunk, you are with your grandson?

The old man

-No, no, When I am drinking neither my sons are with me… I do live alone...

[ music fade in until the end]

Monday, May 22, 2006

50 hours per week

Job stuff.

My new task is to find the answer to the question: What is the economic impact of disease among women from mexican rural communities?

Our goal is to find support for the
hypothesis: It is cheaper to work in prevention than in treatment and rehabilitation.

When you get a disease (e.g. cancer), your everyday activities are perturbed. So, the first step is...

take a picture of the typical day of these women. Measure the time invested in everyday activities. To categorize those activities.

As part of the exploratory research, we have depeloved an instrument in order to measure the invested time (in minutes) for each activity, since the woman wake up in the morning until the end of the day. Then, we went to small rural communities where 38 women were interviewed . Here a couple of interesting charts:


Domestic work = Household duties (To cook, to clean, do dishes, etc)
Economical Activities = Formal employement.
Personal Activities = Personal care, leisure, etc.

Time dedicated to Personal Activities could be a sign of life quality.

On the other hand, I had the data from another countries about the hours per week dedicated to domestic work, including a national average for Mexico (click on the image for a better view).

Denmark = 21 hours per week.
Finland = 25
Canada = 31
France = 33
Sueden = 34
Mexico (National Average) = 35
Australia = 35
Mexican rural Community = 50

Fifty hours by week are dedicated only to domestic duties in the mexican rural community. Usually, this domestic work is not economically weighted. That would be my...

Next step: To make an estimation of the economic value of the domestic work. My task will be to translate time into money.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Deconstructing Güero

In the context of what is happening these days, I have been listening so much this remarkable song. I think it is an accurate description of coexistence between mexicans and americans, as well as a picture of the everyday passion you can find on the streets of my country. Someone has described the song like "an entire Mexican street festival compressed into 4 minutes".

Beck was inspired in his childhood in Los Angeles, California, where he grew up like a pale skin boy in a Latino neighborhood.

“Qué onda” means “What’s up” or “Hi”, and I am almost sure is exclusive Mexican slang. On the other hand, “Güero” literally means “blond”, “pale skin”. For a woman the word used is “güera”, and the diminutives “güerito”, “güerita” are pretty common. Very often the word is used as a polite word to interact with a strange, not necessary a blond one. For example in the markets of Mexico City the sellers try to get your attention yelling “¿qué va a llevar, guërita?” ("what can I offer you?")

In a specific context, “Güero” also means “American”. We call Americans nuestros primos los güeros (“our blond cousins”). But there is a difference between “gringo”, and “guero”. Despite both of them could be use to name an American, “güero” usually is more familiar and friendly. It is actually inclusive, so the character in the song, Beck himself, is so familiar that, although he is not mexican he is accepted as a friend.

A last note about the subject: I have no conflict to call “americans” to the U.S.A citizens. I have known many Mexicans and latinos that get very upset when a gringo refers to himself as “American”. Well, they actually are in fact “Americans” as well as all latinos are. We could use the same word in reference to us. If we don’t use the word, it is our problem.

Following are the song lyrics, with some notes about the Spanish phrases. You can listen the song here. Listening very carefully, I have been able to rescue almost all Spanish phrases, despite a couple of them are almost inaudible or incomprehensible. Any corrections are appreciated.

(intro, men talking)

--¿Qué onda güero?
¿Qué onda José?

(inaudible) jojo... marido(3)[3]... no te inquietes? ¿Qué onda José, qué ha pasado?-(4)-

See the vegetable man
In the vegetable van
With a horn that's honking
Like a mariachi band
In the middle of the street
People gather around
Put the dollar-dollar-dollar in the can
¡Ay güey(5)[5]!, ¿Qué onda?
TJ(6)[6] cowboys hang around
Sleeping in the sidewalk
With a Burger King crown
Never wake 'em up
Más cerveza(7)[7]
Til the rooster crows
Vatos de gallos(8)[8]
¿Qué onda güero?
¿Qué onda güero?
¿Qué onda güero?
¿Qué onda güero?

Mano Blancos(9)[9] roll with crowbars
singing rancheras(10)[10] on cheap guitars
Abuelitas(11)[11] with plastic bags
Walking to the church with the Spanish candles
Daily borracho(12)[12] says: ¡Qué putas!(13)[13]
Ándale joto(14)[14], your popsicle's melting
Run better run, da doo run run
Mara Salvatrucha(15)[15] in the midnight sun
¿Güero, where are you going?
¿Qué onda güero?
¿Güero, where are you going?
¿Qué onda güero?

Rampart boys with loaded rifles
Guatemalan soccer ball instant replays
Mango ladies, vendedores(16)[16]
And a busstop singer
Banda Macho(17)[17] chorus

(woman: ya ves?
Ya ves(18)[18]?)

¿Qué onda güero?
A donde vayas(19)[19]
¿Qué onda güero?
A donde vayas

¿Y dónde encontrastes ese? En un hoyo
Allá en La Pico (maybe Tampico?)

La Pico y Vermú (Vermont?)(20)[20]
Hey vamos a jugar futbol ahí en el Griffith park
¡La locura!(21)[21]
Yeah now I'm going to LACC, man
I'm taking a ceramics class

See the vegetable man

(Man saying) --…chela(22)[22]--

James Joyce

¡Michael Bolton!--

Qué onda güero, where are you going?
Qué onda güero, where are you going?

Hey what's up güero?
"You doing pushups?"
¡Hey güero!

¡Hey güero ven acá(23)[23]!
Qué te pasa, no te pasa(24)[24]
¡No te veo güero!(25)[25]
I dunno I saw a puppet at Tang's
with a mullet and a popsicle.

Hey Güero!
¡Qué locura!(26)[26]

Hey Güero!
Yeah Bro?
Hehehe, footlong?

Let's go to Cap'n Cork. They got the new Yanni (27) [27] cassette.

[3] 3. Seems like two persons playing “albures” or word games with sexual content. Seems like a man says to other man "where is your husband?"

[4] 4. “What's happened?”

[5] 5. Mexican slang for “What the hell?” Or “What the fuck?”

[6] 6. Tijuana, border mexican city, 1 hour from San Diego.

[7] 7. “More beer”

[8] 8. I have no idea what Beck is saying here. "Vatos de gallos or "Vatos vergallos" could be "the rooster crows" “Gallo” is also “man”, for exemple: “Ese es mi gallo” “That’s my man”. Also, "Gallo" is slang for a joint.

[9] 9. “White hands” Maybe a musical group? By the way, the correct would be “Manos blancas”

[10] 10. Popular mexican music, played by mariachis.

[11] 11. Grandmas

[12] 12. Drunkard

[13] 13. “What a bitches” We suppose in reference to the catholic grandmas...

[14] 14. “C’mon you faggot” or "Hurry up!"

[15] 15. A central-american gang. Originally from El Salvador, it has become a serious problem in countries like Guatemala, Honduras and the South of Mexico.

[16] Sellers; usually in reference to street sellers

[18] “I told you” (literally, you see it?)

[19] “Whereaver you go” Maybe Beck wanted to say “Where are yo going” that should be “¿A dónde vas?” Another possibility is that he is called “guero” everywhere, in a city full of Mexicans.

[20] Where did you find it? –In a hole, there in La Pico, La Pico y Vermú. It could be about anything, but I like to imagine the man found a body in a hole.

[21] “Let’s go play soccer at the griffith park, pure joy!”

[22] Beer

[23] Come here

[24] What’s happened, nothing happens

[25] I can’t see you

[26] What a crazyness! What a mess! What a joy!

[27] This... thing , very popular among some Hispanic-Latin people

Friday, May 05, 2006


You saw her

or none did it maybe

walking on dudas west

you were so distracted

with the firemen trucks

and the fire itself.

you couldn’t see her

but I did.

Still do.

und weiss aber nicht

ob wir uns nochmals

sehen werden

sehen werden.

She showed me her pictures in underwear.

I said I'd prefer

to sleep on the other room

and she smiled.

She showed me the recording of the storm

that destroyed

her family and her house.

So I showed her mine

and we both laughed.

Walking on St Abraham

a dozen of frenchies


by frozen frozen death

but they still built

this city of fantasy

where I met her.

und weiss aber nicht

ob wir uns nochmals

sehen werden

sehen werden

I killed there

All the fears

And all the doubts

And I built a beautiful monument

of privacy

and integrity.

(only god knows
is a terrible sin

not to take the chance)

and then she pointed

those Japanese characters

Everything was so ambiguous

And charming.

Walking on Vieux-Port

watching the seagulls

Attacking the homeless

taking the peace from them.

si la vie etait jolie

manger, dormir


et parler francais.

Und glaub jetzt gehts

Uns beiden besser…

I meet her in the store

And I take her.

(Photograph by Cynthia Münster)