The Man Who Had No Story to Tell

Rory lived in in the Scottish highlands where the winters were long, cold and bleak. One late afternoon Rory went out for firewood. He carefully closed the door to his cabin and walked into the woods. Rory lived alone. The silence was broken only by the crinkling of leaves underfoot as Rory strode toward a tree whose limbs were now dead and dry. These would make a fine fire, thought Rory.

He paused, struck by the whispered beauty all ’round and the peace that twilight drapes over the earth. Fond memories of family, hearth and home warmed his soul. Rory lost track of time. Suddenly, he realized the feeble sun was rapidly retreating toward the horizon. He hastened his efforts and gathered more wood. He tripped and dropped the entire lot. By the time he was able to once again recover the precious fuel, darkness had fallen. It was too dark for him to walk with armfuls of wood. It was too heavy. He needed his hands to clear the sharp branches that obstructed his path as he groped in the darkness. For a moment he felt a flutter of fear. He was lost! The thought made him shiver.

He decided to try to walk back to the cabin and endure the cold night; if he could only orient himself. After twenty minutes, with no moon to aid his trek, he realized he’d been meandering aimlessly. The birches and oaks now sported the same color, black. Rory was determined and strode purposefully in one direction, toward the clearing he sensed was just ahead, where the shelter of his humble cabin sat. He chided himself for not leaving a lamp on near the window so that he might use it as a beacon. He shook his head — anger at being so irresponsible. Suddenly, he saw a flicker through a small clearing in the woods and quickened his pace. There was light and where there was light, there was life. In the field was a cottage not unlike his own. He approached and just as he went to rap on the door, it flew open on its own accord.

A jolly man greeted him: “Rory, how the hell are ya?” “Come in won’t you?” “You look cold.” Rory did not know the man but the warmth beckoned, and in any case, he had no choice but to accept the invitation. “Will you have supper with me, Rory?” Said the man. Before Rory could open his mouth, as if by magic, by the corner of the room where nothing had been before, a table appeared draped with linen cloth. The smell of food and hot cider permeated the cottage and seduced the nostrils. They sat to eat in silence.

They ate in silence and drank in silence. After they were done, the man rose and said “You know what, Rory? In my house after we have a meal we sit by the fireplace and smoke a pipe. Will you join me? Rory was silent. Suddenly, two chairs appeared before the fireplace and the flames seemed to intensify, radiating more warmth into the room. The man snapped his fingers and two pipes magically dropped out of the ceiling, dangling in front of them, defying gravity. As they sat in their chairs the man pulled out a pouch filled with fine tobacco and they began to smoke. Rory was befuddled but content. He said nothing.

The man said “In my house, Rory, after a fine meal and a smoke by the fireplace, we like to tell stories. Tell us a story, Rory!” Rory replied that he had no stories and that even if he did, he was not a very good storyteller, then once again fell silent. The man scowled. “Everyone has a story, Rory. C’mon now, tell us a story, won’t you?” Rory stared at the fire in silence.

The man scowled and became angered.

Suddenly, he rose. The chairs disappeared as if by magic. Rory dropped to the floor. The fire went out. The table and dishes and cups all vanished. The man grabbed Rory by the scruff of the neck and marched him toward the door that opened wide on its own accord. Rory was unceremoniously tossed into the cold night like so much refuse, and fell to the damp ground. The door closed behind him with a thud and the lights inside all went out. Rory walked away dejectedly, back toward the woods. He sensed his cabin was on the other side but to get there he’d have to once again enter the now even darker gloom of the forest patch.

Rory walked through the forest, now demoralized by the harsh eviction from the cozy confines of the warm cottage; wondering why the jolly man had become so angry. “What did I do? I was polite and grateful. I didn’t deserve to be treated that way.” His indignation turned to carelessness as he slipped and fell, face-first, into into a bog.

Covered with slime and rot, Rory rose dripping wet and once again quickened his step. Suddenly, he caught a peripheral glimpse of light flickering through the woods. He cautiously approached and witnessed a bearded man sitting on a stool, in a clearing by a fire. Over the fire was suspended a large boar; skewered and slowly roasting. The man paid no attention to Rory and continued to turn the handle that spun the dead beast over the flames. The aroma borne by a slight breeze was pleasant and reminded him of the supper he’d had at the cottage, but that seemed a very long time ago and Rory, covered with muck, was now hungry… and cold.

“Pardon me. I’m afraid I’ve gotten lost and now I’m wet and cold. Do you mind if I sit by the fire.” The bearded man just nodded and Rory approached the pit in the middle of the clearing. The man continued to spin the carcass, evenly distributing the heat unto the slowly-roasting boar.

Not a word was spoken for what seemed an eternity. The bearded one coughed, spat and muttered to Rory “I’m going to go into the woods to do my business. You mind spinning the handle? Rory nodded. “Sure.” The bearded man warned, “Make sure you spin it nice and even. Don’t you let it burn!” Rory nodded again and the man walked away into the darkness. Rory sat on the stool.

The fire and aroma lulled Rory and comforted him. His clothes began to dry and he made an effort to remove the muck from his face with one hand as he spun the handle with the other. Slowly, evenly… The rhythm became hypnotic. The crackling of the flame played counterpoint to Rory’s even breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Rory’s head became heavy and rested on his chest, asleep. His hand fell off the handle. The boar stopped rotating. The flames now had their chance at a motionless target and began to lick and burn and singe.

Rory entered a dream state, or so he thought. A loud and hideous voice cried out an indignantly plaintive wail: “YOU’RE BURNING ME WHISKERS! YOU’RE BURNING ME WHISKERS!” Rory, startled, quickly awoke, smelled the acrid smoke streaming from the boar and hastily turned the handle. The voice faded away. Did he actually hear it? Was he dreaming? Regardless. No harm done. The man wouldn’t notice the seared patch of flesh. The crackle of the fire gave off fireflies of light as Rory once again regained his composure.

“How odd,” he thought, “The bearded man is taking so long. “ The warmth once again blanketed Rory with drowsiness and soon enough his head bobbed up and down until it came to rest on his chest. Asleep again, his arms limp, the handle idle. The boar’s flesh burned, this time badly charring and making popping noises as skin turned a charcoal black.


Rory snapped out of his sleep, startled, only to see the boar whose eyes were streaming jets of red fire in anger. Out of the nostrils, streams of sulfurous fumes, yellow and pungent, pulsed out in powerful jets.

It wriggled and squirmed, not so much in pain, but in fury. Little by little, it began to free itself from spike upon which it had been impaled. Halfway now, writhing, coming closer to Rory, who in disbelief, fell off the stool.

The beast was free. It stood on the burning stumps of its half-cooked legs and began to accelerate toward the fleeing Rory who was now running as fast as he could toward the relative safety of the tree line. The demonic beast armed with dagger-like tusks, gained on Rory who had now soiled his pants and cried out for help, though no one could hear. The chase continued and Rory glanced back only to see the giant orbs of the boar’s irises getting closer. The pupils were blood-red, fire streaming like two laser-like flame throwers. In despair, Rory ran into thorns that pierced his skin and tore at his already tattered clothes. He ran into a tree, gashing his forehead — blood streaming from his face and down his chest.

Out of breath and out of hope, he saw a ladder leaning on a tree. Probably a fruit tree. Thank God for whomever had seen fit to pick fruit earlier that year. Rory climbed frantically, slipped, fell again, regained his footing and reached for a sturdy limb. In the crook of the limb, by the trunk, was a bulge. He hugged it for dear life, then with one hand grabbed the ladder and pulled it up, away from the boar, who was now unable to reach him. From the bulge came a buzzing. Hornets awoke and pounced on Rory, blistering his exposed skin with stings. They swarmed, invading his nostrils and ears. Now Rory had to choose between the torture of the hornets and the fury of the boar. He slithered away from the nest and out unto the branch that became thinner and thinner until it swayed under his weight. The boar waited in demonic anticipation. Pure evil emanated from the eyes. It snorted and scratched at the ground like a bull ready to charge.

Rory was now delusional. The toxins from the hornets were causing his nervous system to falter. He was on the verge of falling. What awaited was unimaginably terrifying.

The branch began to bend under Rory’s weight. It was only a matter of time. The hornets had halted their assault now that the intruder had retreated, but the boar glared in anticipation, sensing Rory’s demise.

A snap! The branch began to give way. Another snap! The branch was now a bow, impossibly bent into an inverted U. Rory closed his eyes and began to pray. A crack! The branch gave way, peeling away from the trunk and in doing so creating the sharp end of a wooden spear that hurtled in an arc, powered by tension, like a rubber band. Like a catapult, it became a missile with Rory as the unwitting payload. In the darkness, he fell for what seemed eternity. The boar opened its maw but instead of prey, he was instead penetrated by the deadly wooden spear. Just like that. A coup de grace. Lobotomized in one fell swoop! Rory landed on his duff a few feet away. Now night became day for just an instant as the boar’s eyes exploded in a burst of fire. The entire beast began to deflate like an old balloon. It shriveled and settled into a pile of sulfurous ashes.

All was quiet. Rory’s labored breath drowned out the crickets that seemed to mock him. His heart beat like a drum and he convulsed, then tucked himself into fetal position and began to whimper.

Hours passed before Rory was able to rise.

He crawled toward the edge of the forest and between the branches and in the darkness saw, on the periphery, a flickering light.

Where there is light there is safety, thought Rory as he stood upright and made his way toward what seemed to be the very cottage he had been so unceremoniously thrown out of. But that didn’t matter. He had no choice.

He approached slowly and raised his arm to knock on the door, but before he could do so, it flung wide open. The same jolly man looked down at him.

Rory was silent. The man’s eyes slowly inspected the battered body from head to toe. Rory was half-naked, covered in welts, bleeding from multiple wounds, covered in bog-stench. He’d lost his boots. His feet were bare. Thorns stuck out from his hair.

The man made a grand welcoming gesture with his arm while a small smile played across his lips, and then he thundered: “Well, look who’s here again. Come on in, Rory! This time around it certainly looks like you have story to tell!



Filthy Joe and Pickle’s Last Stand

New York’s Lower East Side. Orchard Street circa1960. Kaplan’s pickle stand is just a few yards away. Filthy Joe and I shuffle nonchalantly down the sidewalk. Eyes down. Kaplan is inside. He’s known as “The hummer.” His doctor told him to hum to keep his anxiety in check after a heart attack. Kaplan hates/loves us. He knows we want his dills and have no money to pay. Suddenly, Joe makes a dash for the wooden barrels filled with brine, thrusts his arm deep inside and fishes out a few glorious gherkins. I’m right behind him. Kaplan stops humming and starts running. The chase is on! No chance. We’re ten years old, sneakered and fleet of foot. This old cat and young mouse game would continue for years but Kaplan never called the cops. He got even by kicking us in the ass as hard as he could on the rare occasion when he caught us. That was good enough for him and it was fine with us. It was all about the game; the sweet and sour game. Was it a bitter “dill” to swallow? Sometimes. Yet it was a world of adventurous dreams. A lovely place in space and time where a child could run free and dare to pilfer pickles from a guy who had as much fun as we did but would stubbornly refuse to show it. Without us to antagonize him and snap him out of his “hum”-drum existence, his days would be without joy. He lived to catch us. And when he did, he was transformed by glee as his boot landed squarely and repeatedly on our bottoms. The humming would stop for hours, replaced by a self-satisfied grin. Kaplan was a prick but we loved him. I know he felt the same way about most of the street urchins. Many years later, I learned Kaplan got himself into a “pickle” with the tax man. He stopped humming and suffered another heart attack. He was preserved in brine and buried in a barrel. He was survived by his wife Dillma, his son Gherkin, and his daughter Relish. I miss Kaplan. Wait. I hear someone humming by my door! I gotta go.


In Search of Thirteenth Avenue

The boy trudged down the cold, grey city street toward the Hudson. His parents urged him on as his ears, bright red from the cold wind, ached and throbbed. The New York snow, in its grey-yellow decay, made ugly sounds beneath tattered galoshes. The wind cursed them, spitting stinging gusts at their faces.

The three began the last leg of a long journey westward from the 8th avenue subway station at 42nd street toward Hell’s Kitchen and the westernmost extreme of Manhattan where dad plied his trade as a wholesaler in an ugly storefront in a neighborhood known for violence, racial tension and squalor. “The Kitchen” was the setting for West Side Story; it might as well have been the Wild West.

The ears were now numb, toes too far away to feel. The tiny family, their dreams of happiness often juxtaposed with nightmares of reality, seemingly small and powerless against an imposing cityscape, immigrant pioneers and strangers in a strange land, emerged unto 10th avenue where tall buildings gave way to a panorama of promise that persistently played in the young boy’s mind.

The Hudson was in view, indifferent and pale, a prelude to the steep and distant New Jersey coast. Pennsylvania Railroad trains rumbled beneath the streets, their locomotives emerging for a fleeting moment at 11th avenue like leviathans breaching for air just before plunging under the river on their way west and south. Their journey captured the boy’s imagination.

The last Y-Axis of New York’s Cartesian grid was 12th avenue. The boy knew this because he’d played by the riverside and on the crumbling piers that once berthed majestic transatlantic liners. He deduced that on the other side, the first roadway would be 13th.

And so began a lifelong fascination with distant horizons. Having spent his entire young life in New York and its orderly arrangement of thoroughfares, the boy logically deduced that the entire world was made of concrete and correspondingly organized.

The wind stopped for a brief moment only to change direction, staging an ambush at the corner of 10th, stabbing repeatedly, and making a last ditch effort to impede progress. A few more steps. Dad fumbled with the lock. The door gave way to the sound of a hissing radiator and the smell of warmth.

Finally, in the relative comfort of the shop on 41st Street and 10th Avenue, the boy pressed his face against the glass and peered westward toward the river. He envisioned avenues being longitudes and streets latitudes, stretching full circle around the globe and re-emerging somewhere east over Brooklyn. And because of that, his first adventure was one of mind and imagination. He’d spend countless hours by the window and on the sidewalk, peering westward into the distance in search of Thirteenth Avenue.

2 –

Gus owned the greasy spoon across the street. A proud Italian immigrant from Naples, he wore a soiled apron and stank of honest sweat. His ambition to be a restaurateur in the big city had long ago given way to the low-brow demand of Hell’s Kitchen’s denizens. A certain sadness spoke from his old, wrinkled brow as he toiled over a smoky grill flipping burgers and slinging hash. To hear him go on about Naples and the beauty of the “old country,” a reference to Italy and only Italy, as if there were no other old country on this fair earth; it made one wonder why he ever left in the first place.

Truth be told, Gus was a proud man, an honest man who believed in hard work, family, and all that lets us sleep the sleep of the righteous. Not one to be pushed around, Gus once leapt over the counter at a gun-wielding robber, plunging a knife into the hapless bastard’s neck while loudly cursing in Italian. The son who was in the cellar, grinding meat, ran to help, repeatedly swinging a Louisville slugger at an imaginary baseball suspended between the now-victim’s terrified eyes.

Gus and his son were, in today’s vernacular, “old school,” that is, men that ignored laws, favoring self-defense and the preservation of honor. To cross Gus or his family meant vendetta; a lifelong vow of revenge. And so it was that these old timers would rather die than live with dishonor. These men were a far cry from the spineless sheep the boy would encounter later in life.

The boy dashed rabbit-like across the avenue on an errand that would repeat itself many times each day; he was sent for coffee. Coffee with an overabundance of sugar and too much cream. The parents drank the brew to fuel energy, to stay awake, to get a sugar rush.

Breathless after the sprint, the boy pushed in the door as the little brass bell announced his arrival. “Hey Bambino! Come say hello to Gus!” The old man liked the boy. He reminded him of his youth and the way he ran alongside bicycles in Naples. Gus rounded the counter, wiped his greasy hands and reached out to pinch the boy’s cold, red cheeks. “Ouch!” Gus laughed a deep belly laugh. “Here. Mozzarella, may-ka fresh by mia moglie, my wife. Try. Try.” The boy squirmed as Gus pushed the cheese into his face. He chewed and smiled. “Good, eh!” “Look sonny, I’m a gonna make you an Italian one of these days. You can’t be Portorrican, they are lazy drunks and stupid. Except your papa and mamma. They are good. I tink dey are Italian. You have smart eyes. I’m a gonna haf to give you a real name. Listen to me. You are Giuseppe. Capish?” The boy just smiled, handed him the crumbled paper with the coffee order and walked to the back where the kittens were. He loved the kittens, black and white and purring while they suckled on the mother who gave him a look that only cats can give. Slit eyes that can slit throats. The boy reached in. The mother hissed. He quickly reached again and grabbed the nearest one. He stroked it and marveled at the life within. Gus bellowed, “Giuseppe, take the coffee while it’s hot. Get atta here. Say hello to your mamma but pay me first!!”

Coins clattered on the counter and the boy pushed the door only to run into Willy the wino. Stinking drunk and filthy, yet jovial, Willy was looking for a warm place to collapse. The boy cried out “Willy, get out of the way.” Willy tried to kneel down to hug the boy but fell over. Not knowing what to do, the boy ran back inside to find Gus. Gus was already on the way, a look of disgust clouded his face. “Willy, get atta here. You scare away customers!!” The drunk looked up, staggered to his feet, and broke out in his usual song: “On the outside lookin’ in. On the inside lookin’ out. I’m stuck in the middle and I…….” He forgot the lyrics and started to mumble. Willy was tolerated. He was an old wino, a panhandler, and a joker, a nuisance yet harmless. This was his block. Each block had a stray dog, a wino, and a crazy person. Everyone seemed to have an obligation to care for them. Perhaps this was socialism, perhaps just decency. Willy earned his keep once in a while when he was only half-drunk, hauling garbage, shoveling snow, or scrubbing the toilet. His favorite job was in the storeroom where he could pilfer bread, cheese and other foods small enough to fit in his trousers. A pat down routine began when Gus wised up. The son, Gino, hated blacks and wanted to put Willy in the meat grinder but Gus wouldn’t allow violence against a helpless wino, even if the wino happened to be a moulinyan, an “eggplant,” the Italian equivalent of the N word. Willy never realized it, but he’d been breathing thanks to Gus.

Gus dug into his pocket and pulled out a couple of quarters, throwing them on the sidewalk. “Willy, take de money. Buy a bik bottle of wine and go to the train tracks where there is steem. Get atta here or I tell Gino to punch your face OK?” Willy spun around, reflexes like a much younger sober man, and snatched the coins, smiled a toothy yellow smile, rivulets of frozen spittle forming on his raggedy beard, and said: “Thanks Gus, you is my father.” Gus bellowed, “You black sonofabitch, if I have black son I keell him, keell his mamma and keell myself. Get atta here. Go. GINOOOOOOO!!” Willy began to quickly shuffle away. He was drunk not suicidal.

The boy dashed once again across the busy avenue, dodging cars and watching for trucks. He was already street smart in his own way. Mom and dad were not worried that he would be run over flat by an eighteen wheeler rumbling northward up tenth avenue. Safe on the other side, the boy glanced back. The impotent winter sun was low in the sky over the high plateau of the Jersey shore. He paused, breathed in the frigid air and squinting his eyes against the wind, gazed out beyond the river at the washed out yellow half-orb setting in the western sky. The sun had left the city and its last lingering light now shone ever so briefly and perhaps mockingly over Thirteenth Avenue.

Bridge & City

Beneath the glorious, Gothic span flows the river deep; undulating serpent-like on tidal swells, first north then south, flushing and cleansing the effluvium that gurgles endlessly from the city’s dank bowels.  The waterway is endowed with baptismal qualities of renewal and rebirth – symbols of life and motion.  It colors its moods, shimmering slate during the day, deep dark indigo blue at dusk ; transforming into an ebony mirror at night, reflecting surreal and ghostly images of its imposing surroundings.

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Reflections From The Shattered Fragments

We lie on the soft coral sands of Brewer’s Bay, Anguilla on a sultry moonless night, entwined in each other’s arms. The star-strewn canopy of the heavens above us, the soft coral sand beneath us. The warm Caribbean breeze caresses our skin, tosses her hair and whispers salty-sweet poetry in our ears. Distant reggae music seems to harmonize with the rhythmic, lapping murmur of once mighty waves, that having been mortally wounded by their struggle through the reef, come ashore to meekly die.The perfume of newly-blossomed gardenias in the air, the laughter of revelers on the hillside terrace, the endless ocean in all its mighty glory. We share the fruits of youth. We are enthusiastic and somewhat naïve, but as alive as any of God’s children can ever hope to be.

Excerpt from Pretty Pink Poison

Scene 1 – A bar –  Night

A local hole-in-the wall. Famous for its bawdy barmaids and cheap, butt-kickin’ drinks.

Our eye is drawn along the dreary wallpaper, now yellow from decades of smoke. It is dark and the colors are leached from the scene. Through the haze our eye comes to rest upon a pretty girl, Kit, dressed all in pink, late 20’s, standing by a vintage jukebox. Totally out of place. She’s a pin-up version of herself. All pink roses and white linen and plenty to look at. She pecks out her selection and sits at the bar, smoking and staring into space. She sips her drink, closes her eyes; thinking to herself: “I wouldn’t be caught dead in a place like this”, yet here she is.

A melancholy tune begins to play.

Conquering Homelessness

Last month, I heard the sad voice on the phone say, “Alex is dead,” an apparent suicide from prescription medication. Two years ago, I heard a stout man announce, “Juan jumped from the 417 overpass — rope around his neck.” A year before that, the stench of decomposition led us to Bill’s bloated body. He’d been missing for 10 days.

Alex was my close friend, the others were acquaintances. All three were victims of despair, hopelessness and neglect — fellow travelers on the harsh road of homelessness. They succumbed; I survived.

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Hispanic Heritage

A cacophony of sound, a kaleidoscope of color. Scads of stimulation. My father’s shop specializes in Puerto Rican and Mexican folklore music. Traditional stuff. Wholesome, noisy, busy, abuzz with energy. This is where I spent my formative years – a wonderfully enriching place. Melodies and lyrics in the air – people of all sorts. I had the run of the place and all the streets around it and lacked nothing, reveling in the cultural diversity of the Lower East Side. The multi-ethnic smells, sights and sounds were wonderfully intoxicating and are the fondest memories of my happiest days as a child.

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On Poetry

Poetry is the expression of art and beauty through the use of language. It is a lot easier to say what poetry is not, than to define precisely what it is.

Poetry contains the essential element of verse, as the French playwright Molière so cleverly observed: “All that is not prose is verse; and all that is not verse is prose.” Samuel Taylor Coolidge, put it this way: “prose – words in their best order – poetry—the best words in their best order.

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Poe, Hurston, Updike, Hawthorne

Victor looks, but cannot touch, dreams, but cannot live. He exists in the moment, mired in turmoil and doubt. “I thought little of the future. I did not know whether I would ever speak to her or not or, if I spoke to her, how I could tell her of my confused adoration.” He sometimes keeps to himself and seems to enjoy rummaging through the debris of the past. He describes a back room in his house: “Air, musty from having been long enclosed, hung in all the rooms, and the waste room behind the kitchen was littered with old useless papers. Among these I found a few paper-covered books, the pages of which were curled and damp. I liked the last best because its leaves were yellow.”

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Orozco’s Epic of American Civilization – Anglo-America Panel

Jose Clemente Orozco was born in 1883, which placed him only twenty-seven years from the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution. He along with Diego Rivera used their art to comment on social conditions and further political aims. “Epic” created in 1930, is currently on display at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and consists of twenty-four discrete panels that make up the entire mural. It chronicles, as the title suggests, the evolution of the New World, beginning with pre-Columbian times and moving chronologically through the age of the conquistador and the eventual clash with the U.S. in the Mexican American war. It also depicts the struggles within Mexico after the revolution, the military leaders as well as the popular folk hero rebels such as Pancho Villa and Zapata. The title seems to use the word “civilization” with a bit of sarcasm since Orozco, as well as Rivera, saw civilization as something imposed on the indigenous population with tragic consequences.

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Alfonso Cuarón’s, Y Tú Mamá También

Alfonso Cuarón was born in Mexico City in 1961. Gravity (2013) earned him an Academy Award for Best Director. Three other films have received  nominations: A Little Princess (1995),  Y Tú Mamá También. (2001,) and Children of Men (2006.) Y Tú Mamá También makes a lasting impression on the viewer by juxtaposing the tale of three characters, their attitudes and the world around them, with Latin America’s  evolutionary history.

The entire film is a metaphorical statement of the Mexican condition in a region experiencing the growing pains and awkwardness of adolescence, trying to discover how it fits in to the greater whole. The actions of the main protagonists represent in microcosm, the dynamic of an entire nation. The film serves as the culmination of a historical sweep from pre-Colombian times, through the colonial period, and ultimately, to the present day.

The three characters around which the story unfolds are Luisa, Julio, and the symbolically named Tenoch, whose name is part of Tenochtlitlan, or the Aztec name for ancient Mexico City.


Hamlet & Eggs. An Oedipal Omelet

Psychoanalysis of Shakespeare’s Hamlet would seem to be a vain attempt to mold the storytelling art to suit the needs of a theoretical prejudice. As far as the character of Hamlet is concerned, there is paltry psychoanalytical structure to his development, unless it is through considerably dubious leaps. For this reason, an interpretation based on historicism would hold more validity for the play, as historical circumstances are intrinsic to the playwright, his audiences, and future generations of observers. From a historical standpoint, Hamlet shows humanity, its psychological state and is a measure of its mental evolution.

Human beings can’t escape the world into which they’re born. This applies to Shakespeare, Hamlet, and we sentient beings observing and breathing life into the continually evolving organism that is Hamlet. Hamlet is an introspective character that understands the inexplicable and capricious nature of human existence: “But I have that within which passeth show; These but the trappings and the suits of woe,” he says when commenting on customary mourning rituals of his time and Gertrude’s inquiries into his grief over the death of his father. He is a misplaced character, knowing himself “a little more than kin, and less than kind” (Shakespeare 673) to Claudius his uncle and stepfather. A universal human distaste for the situation that Hamlet finds himself in reverberates across all times and cultures, and to this day audiences can relate to his pain and torture. Anyone in any time would be less than content seeing their mother wedded and bedded with their deceased father’s brother so soon after his passing (or at all!). If Hamlet suffered from any oedipal complex, as the psychoanalysts would have us believe, he wouldn’t need any ghostly specter to act as impetus for his repressed sexual and patricidal desires; the circumstances would be enough! He is certainly disgusted at the state of affairs, but hardly incestuous and homicidal.

Food Insecurity in America

Food insecurity among children has been an ongoing problem in our nation. Approximately one in five children does not get enough healthy nutritional food to sustain an acceptable quality of life. One in seven adults is also food insecure. This problem is extremely complex and involves many disciplines and sub disciplines that have to date, been unable to solve the problem by using a multi-disciplinary approach. Attempts have been made by having groups or individuals from different fields look at the problem through the prism of subjectivity. The problem has also been approached in a manner I will describe this way: Each field of expertise has linked arms and marched forward toward the problem, perhaps being adjacent to each other and having some overlap and influence, yet failing to integrate into a synergistic mass that would further the knowledge necessary to custom tailor a solution.

Food insecurity among children, as well as in adults, encompasses a wide range of disciplines. There are many variables involved that contribute to the problem as well. Anything having to do with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs spans many fields. With food insecurity we see economics, sociology, behavioral science, political science, agronomy or agriculture sciences, meteorology, nutrition and health experts, policy advocates, legislation, financial experts, community organizers, hospitals, non-profit organizations, churches, and myriad other entities.

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