It’s Your Bird’s Day

Thank Goodness, We
Could Use the Excuse

Late November

Après un Rêve

A stroll, some laughter, an unexpected Autumn adventure.
Time to mint new memories to keep you warm for the cold days ahead.

- Well, ladies, would you care to join me?
It all had been a little bit of a trek albeit a fun one at it. Walking around the old neighborhood, and finding this empty house, one they had no need or intention of buying, or even renting it, but that seemed storied enough to elicit a casual stroll inside.
– I need to take a quick shower, before I go to work, he proclaimed, for heaven knows I won’t be retiring anytime soon. You’re under no pressure to join me, of course, but if you do, it’d make it all memorable and worthwhile, wouldn’t you think?
The last statement was carefully designed to trigger a certain titillating arousal among them, but it felt more like a déjà vu of all the boring come-ons and phony invitations they’d to endure on their way to where they stand right now.
So, they were ready to dismiss this yet another slightly creepy but harmless pontification of a man way passed his prime, when, to their astonished pairs of sore eyes, he then proceeded to shed his clothes and head to the bathroom. They’d both seen it all before, certainly, but still were not prepared to watch him act so preposterously fresh, despite their over century and an half combined age.
Standing still while the moment of startled silence settled in following his announcement, they turned to each other and exchanged a quick wink and a glimmer that surprised even them. After all, it’s not that those same tired eyes hadn’t met the glaze of happiness and glee before today. But he was no longer there to witness it.

Already at the full steam of soap and remembrance (yes, the hot water worked), the old foggy had already almost forgotten the challenge he sowed behind, when the two formerly statuesque beauties showed up at the doorstep of the washroom. In the buff, as they used to say in some forbidden past.
– Welcome, girls, well done, he said, trying to put the perfect combination of spring and nonchalance on the tone of his voice. Now I think that all that came before is shaping up to gather it all together, he added without any irony or mischief in his voice. Just like the ingredients of a cake would.
As the two entered the warm jet, they all took a moment to enjoy and reconnect with that feeling, long ago stashed in the storage place of their souls, of letting the kissing water touch their soft bodies, and the proximity of each other’s pulsating, and equally soft, skins, bringing back emotions they didn’t believe were still there.
Not shame, at all, but a mix of discreet embarrassment for, and one can’t help remembering it even for a second, the quiet desperation to realize that this moment would have evoked way more assailing emotions, had it occurred some two or three decades ago.
Part of the maturity they were supposed to have reached though, and despite the fact that deep within themselves, they all still felt unfulfilled and not quite as wise as they’d have expected to be at that quadrant, was the not too subtle understanding that this is no longer a life-altering event.
More like an extra glass of wine, shared at the end of the night, or a puff of pot, when the children, i.e., everyone else, are already tucked away sleeping, such moments, being so rare and far in between, no longer entitled preparations and feelings of anxiety for what they may have in store. Except when they do happen, of course.
Laughter and animated conversation erupted, as if there was still need to fill the space, while the old devil managed to squeeze in yet another alluring thought.
– I don’t remember the last time anyone soaped my back, by the way, so if you’re not too busy

Continue reading

Curtain Raiser

Open Graves Across the Border, Colltalers

President Obama’s decision this week to temporarily allow about four million undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. may have another positive implication, besides its intended goal of giving them a fairer chance to apply for legal residency. It may help weaken Mexican drug cartels’ bloody reign, specially in combination with the increasing decriminalization of pot use in this country.
Even if much remains to be done on both fronts, and that south of the border immigration has been on a steady decline, such broader context approach doesn’t come a minute too soon. The recent ‘disappearance’ of 43 Mexican students, now all but presumed death, only exposed once again the horrible collusion between officials and drug lords, aggravated by U.S. aid to the so-called Drug War.
More on the missing, and on the president’s announcement, later, but let’s start with the money trail. It’s estimated that the U.S. has spent, or rather, wasted, some $3 billion dollars since the inception of what former President Felipe Calderón considered in 2006 a priority for Mexico’s future, the elimination of drug traffic. The evidence of the catastrophic failure of such approach is all over the two countries.
In less than a decade, about 150,000 Mexican nationals have been killed or ‘disappeared,’ while consumption driving demand in the U.S. has only increased. The iron-fisted handling of the social crisis caused by drug criminality and its impact on public health resources has also being paired with violations of civil rights, childhood abuse and neglect, and the rampant institutionalized rape of poor women.
And while repression against minor drug offenses, mostly by blacks and Hispanics, has caused the inmate population in the U.S. to soar to unprecedented levels, in Mexico, lacking the American for-profit, minorities first, one-way-only-ticket-to-prison, model, there’s just one likely outcome for anyone caught in the crossfire between pro and con drug armies: untimely death.
The Mexican society seems to be slowly waking up to the reality that after two years, President Enrique Peña Nieto won’t play any role in a eventual resolution of the crisis, and last week, tens of thousands took to the streets to demand a government response. Their answer came in the form of riot-geared police, and what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration, wound up in violent clashes.
What happened to that particular group of 43 students and teachers would be enough to fill volumes of sorrow and grief by an entire nation. According to what’s known, three busloads of Rural Teachers’ College students were stopped Sept. 26 Continue reading

Immigrant Break

A New Hope for Millions
of Undocumented Americans

As President Obama announces his executive order to temporarily keep an estimated four million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., giving them a rare chance to argue their staying in this country, we thought we should republished some related posts.
As the order may impact millions of immigrants with no access to legal status based solely on their labor and contribution to the American economy, it may be their children, which account for 6.9 percent of the U.S. population, who may benefited the most.
The president’s speech also give us a chance to dig deep into Colltales’ vast archives, while taking the time to watch it. Despite four major U.S. networks having decided not to carry it on live, this executive order is one of the most important of his term.
It has huge implications and, even if it took him so long to go alone on this issue, and that a Republican congress may do what it shouldn’t to reverse it, we hope it’ll help correct a great injustice perpetrated by our nation: the way it treats its immigrants.

Unprivileged Children

Fate of Early 1900s Young Laborer
Reminds Us: Our Kids Are Not Alright

The harrowing life and sad death of a young child laborer, who lived in North Carolina a hundred years ago, uncovered recently by a Massachusetts researcher, may have at least some positive effects. It may bring to mind the fact that much of what we take for granted today, about labor relations and children’s rights, cost countless lives and took several decades to be achieved.
Also, even though officially no kid under 16 is allowed to be hired as a worker in this and most countries, it may serve as a reminder that in some parts of the world, such a regulation if even exists is all but a joke. Child abuse, prostitution, forced to join murderous armies or traded as a commodity, are all still rampant and very much part of the daily lives of millions.
Reading about poor 12-year-old Giles Edmund Newsom, whose picture above was taken in 1912, days before his 12th birthday and after losing his fingers in an accident at Sanders Cotton Manufacturing Co., in Bessemer City, also made us go back a couple of years. That’s when we published a quick post about child soldiers of Mogadishu, massacres in Brazil, cases of underage farm labor right here in the U.S., and the Army’s use of computer games as a recruitment tool.
We invite you to read that post keeping in mind that some of events described have had developments in the past two years, and most of the protagonists of those stories have changed. But the substance of Continue reading

Curtain Raiser

The Unfinished Business Pope, Colltalers

In the end, Jorge Mario Bergoglio can’t complain. But after a fairly good run at the top, the extended honeymoon that greeted and insulated Pope Francis I, the first Latin American pontiff, is officially over. And it’s unlikely that he even cares about it.
Gone are the niceties; in are the heavy guns. Criticism that he’s been too liberal, or overzealous against the conservative right within the Catholic Church, however, won’t get our nod. But dark allegations about his past just might.
One of the stiffest tests of his papacy so far may be what comes out of the U.S. bishops conference, held last week in Baltimore. Despite public assertions that all is fine with Francis’s steerage of the church, there have been plenty of signs to the contrary.
Perhaps weary of those signs, just days before the conference, the pope took the unusual step of demoting a major critic of his policies, American archbishop Raymond Burke. He was summarily knocked out of his cushioned Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of Apostolic Signatura post to a ceremonial role, after characterizing Francis’s charting course as a ‘ship without a rudder.’
Still, as the religious press has been reporting, the pope’s facing an uphill battle with some segments of the church, comparable in its predicament to, say, what a certain Democrat president faces with a majority congressional opposition, or even an entrenched majority of supreme court justices nominated by previous commander-in-chiefs. Not a pretty picture, for sure.
Taken on the surface, Francis’s ascension to the Vatican has been an unlikely revolution, at least to his flock. After two popes bent on keeping a strict and tight lid on any hint of liberalism through the church’s rank and file, and who have all but prioritized the doctrine over social concerns, Bergoglio did bring in a breath of recycled air to the musty millennial institution.
Instead of disavowing the legitimacy of the Theology of Liberation in South America, as John Paul II did, or reinforcing the secrecy of files on priests accused of sexual abuse, as fashioned by Benedict XVI, in little over a year, Francis has managed to stir some of the church’s most sensitive subjects, from gay marriage, to celibacy, to women priesthood, to income inequality.
Nothing too substantive so far, it must be said, but still, even talking about these themes has been enough to conjure both hopes, to those long ostracized by the Catholic hierarchy, and downright disgust by traditionalists. To the latter, he’d do much better sticking with matters concerning pomp and ceremony, or even Vatican finances, which are reportedly ridden with irregularities.
On the other side, applause to the pope’s timid incursions into new territories has come from progressive quarters of the faith, to whom he could venture even further, perhaps turning some of his informal homilies into practical and more enforceable policies.
Both irreconcilable sides, however, are unlike to see fruition in Francis’s tenure, for reasons that go from well established procedures, carefully watched over by the Vatican’s inner circles, to ingrained beliefs still shared by the majority of Catholics around the world, to the more prosaic matter of his own’s political stability at the top of such a large organization.
But, even when taken into context and in their totality, these issues represent only a superficial, housekeeping approach to Bergoglio’s papacy, one that will be eventually settled, if some of them are not already, into a plateau of half-measures and crowd-pleasing compromises. Make no mistake, expect no earthshaking changes under this Jesuit’s skillful watch.
Potential for a real, destabilizing blow to his legacy, however, comes from a theme haunting his trajectory since his priesthood days in Buenos Aires and could shatter way more than his affable public image: his relationship with the brutal military juntas that ruled Argentina for the mid 1970s to 1983, a period roughly coinciding with his Society of Jesus’s Provincial Superior post.
As a high-ranked Jesuit, his critics have pointed to his past as an indictment to his alleged coziness with the militaries. And, an even more serious charge, that he somehow facilitated the adoption of children, whose parents had been killed and persecuted by the regime, by members of the military. He’s repeatedly refuted such claims ever since.
But they arise just often enough to throw a shadow over his sunny public disposition. Continue reading

Hit Parade

Hey, Hello There.
Nice of You to Stop By

Dear readers: Thank you. For some crazy reason, Colltales’ readership hits are kissing the sky today. Since I haven’t done anything to spike the stats, I assume it’s some kind of fluke, some search engine going awry and drawing people to come and visit. So, welcome you all.
Still, if you have any idea, feel free to speak up. I see that our dear people in Turkey are leading the way, so perhaps something in Istanbul or Ankara is driving attention to our humble site. Well, now that you’re all here, make yourselves comfortable and take a good look around.
Let me tell you a little bit about ourselves. We’ve been on for four years, give or take, and our posts, as you can see, cover a wide variety of subjects. So, after scrolling down for a little bit, perhaps you may want to look up favorite themes through our own search engine (middle bottom left).
Our guess is that among, say, five choices of issues you’re interested in, we have at least one post about or related to one of them. That’s because there are over 1,300 hundred articles on this site, including news stories, curiosities, current affairs, and even non fiction.
Try Children, or Space, for instance. Maybe Brazil, or Poverty, Cats, even Religion. There are headlined stories and opinion pieces, as the Curtain Raiser series. Hope you enjoy it. We put a lot of effort on this space, which you probably noticed, is independent and ad free.
Of course, we could never compete with a giant such as the Huffington Post. Or Justin Bieber. Compared to them, over 600 hits in a single day is no big deal. But as we say, if this blog were about people taking the NYC subway F line at 10am, everyday, it’d be a smash hit.
Then again, how would we be writing about the Amazon Rainforest? or the mysteries of space and time? Even the NYC subway F line. To each, its own, then. We hope you make stopping by here a daily habit; there’ll be always something new to be discovered in these pages.
Thanks again for the nice feeling you’ve given us. Specially you, Turkey. It’s almost like having a warm meal in your belly after going hungry for so long. Almost like an early Thanksgiving, without the family fights. Feel free to tell your loved ones about this friend you now have in New York. Hey, we may even hit the 1000 mark today. And leave your comments, so we know you’re there. All the best to everyone. WC