Fake fight dancing

I attended a reading yesterday by someone I knew slightly and made the mistake of sitting in front. My original intent was to offer support but as he drifted about making remarks, some smug, most lame, one about his girlfriend and “chick” who was helping him that day, I realized that I had to leave. I did to him what I hoped no one would ever do to me, getting up and walking out. I apologized to his chick, saying I had only wanted to say hello to her friend.

And so I found myself by Oakland’s Lake Merritt and began walking along its shore. There must have been a hundred Canada geese in and out of the water and two cranes. On the grass were ongoing picnics and amorous couples and children playing ball. Halfway on the north shore I came on a group playing the berimbau. The What?

The berimbau is a primitive instrument native to the north of Brazil; it is nothing more than a long curved wooden stick with strings attached along its length. The sound emitted by plucking the strings is a plain BOING BOING BOING on and on accompanied by singing. It’s all about folklore, and with that comes a capoeira show, or pretend fight. The fighters prance and do handstands and lunge at each other but never connect.

It was irresistible. I got close behind a berimbau player and sang in his ear, “Capoeira mata um!” He turned his head slightly and cried, smiling, “You know!”

Yes I did. What a bag of oddments I have in my mental closet.

Brawling in Rio de Janeiro

A news story of animal abuse dredged up this bit of history. Our Doberman, Jeff, did admittedly bark at the occasional passerby, standing up at the metal gate to do this, but he was particularly emphatic whenever a certain neighbor walked past. And one day Tonia came up to tell me she had seen the man hold up a can of some chemical and spray it into Jeff’s eyes. I ran downstairs and found him whimpering and pawing at his eyes. After I washed them out with water, he seemed much better, and I girded myself for war.

This elderly, white-haired man was not Brazilian and I had heard him speaking German to a companion. In my rage, I willingly leapt to the conclusion that he was an escaped Nazi, perhaps even that despicable Mengele who had been reported to be hiding in South America. In any case, I went over to his house and pounded on his gate. When he came and opened it I launched into a tirade of English mixed with Portuguese and my most powerful Italian epithets while he kept saying Get out of my yard Get out of my yard.

Instead, I advanced with my fists clenched and he advanced toward me. I did not care that he was three times my size. Fury made me reckless. Had not another man come out of the house and stepped between us we might have fought. I knew exactly where I would kick him. Difference in size doesn’t matter then.

I marched back home and when Renato returned from work I told him all about it. Renato said Hmmmm. Next day he reported that he had sent a delegation — he did not specify who it was made up of — to the man’s house. Apparently that impressed him, for he took a wide berth around our house after that.

Carbon Carbon Carbon

California Governor Brown addressed a UN Summit Tuesday attended by 120 world leaders on the subject of carbon emissions. For California, he set a target of 2030 for drastically reduced emissions which will be more ambitious, more difficult to achieve, because technology has to step forward to help as well as a very large political input.

Notably absent from the summit were the president of China and the prime minister of India, whose countries along with the United States are the worst polluters.

Isn’t it interesting how the enormous slate of GOP presidential candidates has been evading mention of climate change? Wonder if they are working behind the scenes to convert the coal-fired industry in their states so they can finally can come out of the closet? But Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma? He’d rather drown on his mountaintop than even mention climate change.

Carly Fiorina said What?

Why on earth she has thrown her hat in the ring again is beyond me, although I am bemused at the further splitting of votes for the widening field of GOP presidential candidates. At this rate, each might receive 10,000 votes. Just kidding. But that is the gist of what may happen.

I am taking exception to Fiorina’s comment that she is against the right to abortion. She is saying that no one should have the right to choose, that a 15-year-old child should carry her pregnancy to term and find herself unable to care for the baby, and to hand it over to her parents (if they were around) or give it up for adoption — if that were available.

Life is precious, she implies. Well, yes, even if the unwanted baby must join others of its kindred neglected or inadequately nurtured for lack of time and resources. Imagine its future in this beleaguered society.

At least she is in accord with Pope Francis who also is against abortion. Again, no one speaks of expanding access to contraception, which at least Fiorina could do if not the Pope. Then she might be making sense in her campaign.

The China syndrome

China is burgeoning at an alarming rate, her original communist manifesto now thoroughly mixed with capitalism. My mother’s country wants to expand, install naval bastions in waters in Southeast Asia. Korea is alarmed and her former ally Vietnam is stirring uneasily.

I will never never go back within a thousand miles of that country. If I were of an age to do so I would enlist and fight them if it came to that between countries. I hold a grudge that goes deep for forcing my mother to beg on her knees in Shanghai to join us, her children waiting for her in Hong Kong.

Even being interrogated for six weeks at the hands of the secret police, cold-eyed men trained in the north by Russian communists, does not linger in my psyche in anger. That was what they did — hundreds of foreign nationals were put through the same treatment. Holding Italian citizenship through my father, I was lumped in with the others. Sign this confession or be executed, they told me. I was 18 and a bit young to be charged for spying, for the United States, no less, but I suppose any crime would do in the process of eliminating the unwanted elements of their new society.

Stubborn and angry, I refused to sign, and they didn’t execute me. The Italian citizenship was a deterrent and they executed only Chinese citizens anyway — 20 million, most for nothing more than being “capitalists” or for having been reported for saying something uncomplimentary about the regime. Parents stopped speaking their minds in the presence of their children, who got medals in school for telling on mommy and daddy.

The basic grudge I hold includes the sending of my family out of China with 50 American dollars each to start a new life. My father spent the entire 33-day voyage from Hong Kong to Italy in the cargo ship’s sick ward. His dying was completed a few months later.

Do I forgive China? Do I turn the other cheek to the new China’s billionaires for their causing the approaching extinction of elephants for their tusks? A pox on them, to the death.

HP printer follow up and the Pope

To assure all HP users or would-be purchasers, I hasten to report that my ENVY 4502 all-in-one is working faultlessly.

As for Pope Francis, I was bemused to read in the newspaper recently that he has sent out warnings on climate change, saying flat out that global warming is upon us and the world’s populace should take heed. This announcement is particularly interesting, coming upon, so to speak, the heels of Pope Urban VIIl’s condemning Galileo in 1634 to life imprisonment for the heresy of his belief in heliocentrism. The sun does not revolve around earth, he asserted; it is the other way around. The Roman Inquisition begged to differ.

Times have certainly changed. Pope Francis further speaks out on marriage equality, and the right of women to equal pay and recognition. What next? Is he ever going to countenance contraception beyond the “rhythm” method? not that many Catholics are concerned about that doctrine anyway.