2008 Notebook: Weak XXV
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18 June 2008
No. 2,112 (cartoon)
I’m going nowhere.

You’re already there.

19 June 2008
Mexican Fecal Dust
When I think of Mexico City, I think of Robert Cameron, the photographer and publisher who made a series of books featuring his aerial photographs of large metropolitan areas, with popular titles such as Over This City, Over That City, Over the Other City, et cetera. I clearly remember him saying he decided not to create Over Mexico City for a simple reason: fecal dust.

That’s right, fecal dust. And so, when I think about flying into and out of Mexico City tomorrow, the only thing I can imagine is fecal dust. At least I should enjoy a colorful sunset, rich in airborne Escherichia coli.

20 June 2008
Latin [sic] America
I’m on my first trip to Latin America, and I’m thoroughly confused before I’ve even arrived. None of the flight attendants on my United Airlines trip to Mexico City or my LAN flight to Santiago seem to speak any Latin at all.

I’m resourceful, and am getting along fine on the plane by first tapping the bottle of wine on the flight attendants’ cart, then pointing to my gullet while making guttural “glug glug glug” sounds.

I wonder what I’ll do after the jet lands? The same thing, probably; drinking is a language that’s even more widely understood than Latin.

21 June 2008
Greenpeace Runs on Whale Meat
I’m here in Santiago at another tedious International Whaling Commission meeting. Everyone’s talking about the recent Japanese police arrest of a couple of Greenpeace members for stealing whale meat. The alleged activists claimed they were investigating an illegal whale meat syndicate, but I know better.

It costs a lot of money to operate a ship, and one of the ways Greenpeace can afford to operate several oceangoing vessels is with cheap—or apparently stolen—whale meat. When I was on the Rainbow Warrior in the eighties, we had huge stores of whale steaks, whale bacon, and even whale oil to lubricate everything from winches to engines. The boat, and everyone one it, had the rubbery patina of whale.

I particularly enjoyed minke sashimi; that was the captain’s favorite. Anyone who says that don’t like whales hasn’t tasted them with soy sauce and wasabi.

22 June 2008
Curious Chilean Drinking Practices
Everyone here in Chile calls Coca Cola, “la aguas negras del imperialismo,” or, the black waters of imperialism. And, curiously, they still drink the sugary swill. But then things get worse.

South American farmers grow some of the world’s best coffee, but what do they serve here? Nes, that’s what. The generic “Nes” comes from Nescafe instant coffee. It’s like being in Oklahoma.

Of well, at least the Chileans know what to with their grapes; the wine here is both tasty and efficacious.

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23 June 2008
Boring Santiago Maids
Alexia joined me in my hotel room for a drink. I was surprised when she said she was disappointed with the view from the eighteenth floor.

“How can you go wrong with a view of snowcapped mountains?” I asked.

“I’m talking about the maids in the apartment building across the street,” she replied. “They’re all wearing the same stupid, blue uniforms. In New York I’m used to seeing maids wearing fetish outfits or nothing at all.”

“Empirical evidence suggests that we’re not in New York,” I concluded.

I was tempted to ask Alexia how she came to be such an accomplished voyeur, but I didn’t. There are some things I don’t want to know.

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24 June 2008
Armed Unrest
For reasons unknown, heavily armed soldiers are surrounding the convention center where the whaling commission is meeting. I wondered if there is any relationship between the military show of force and the bullet holes in nearby buildings.

“Why are there so many troops here?” I asked the concierge. “Are you expecting trouble?”

“Don’t worry about the soldiers, señor,” he replied, “they are not here to cause unrest, they are here to maintain it.”


25 June 2008
The Andy’s
I’m enjoying seeing the Andy’s mountain range, even if it reminds me of the brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet.

The tyrant was infatuated with the mediocre pop star, Andy Gibb. He sent Gibb hundreds of love letters; there’s no indication that the singer ever replied. Perhaps the nadir of the despot’s courtship was the 1988 video in which the paunchy tyrant pranced around the military academy, dressed only in fishnet stockings, gold lame epaulets, and large sunglasses.

“These mountains can be yours Señor Gibb,” Pinochet said waving his riding crop at the mountains outside Santiago. “From now on, I’ve declared that they be called Andy’s.”

Unfortunately or not, Gibb died (was it a cocaine overdose?) about the time Pinochet made his bizarre video.

The film was even too much for the generals who’d supported Pinochet’s terror campaign of torture and murder; the wretched dictator was deposed less than two years later. Why the mountains are still called Andy’s, this I do not know.

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©2008 David Glenn Rinehart