Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Commodities


bookshelf
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
This morning, I received an interesting email about the selling of books. It seems that book buyers troll universities looking for those who may want to sell the advance or desk copies of books acquired during the school year. Good timing too as the gift-giving season is around the corner and who doesn't need extra money. Whether I would or not (because I'm not allowed to anyway), is not the reason for writing here. It's about seas of papers and shores where flotsam and jetsam end their days. While I may be scraping off the foam of the idea, I may be incorrect in some of these statements. And, if that's the case, then I apologize in advance. But I think I have it about right.

Until today, I was not aware people actually came around to buy books by the pound, and this got me thinking. In many ways, publishing is akin to the fashion industry in the way that the remainders, overruns, and shelf worn end their days—in landfills, second-hand seller databases and garages, and developing countries. The latter receives remaindered t-shirts, shoes, and pants. It is the former where books end their days. This brings up a weird confluence regarding the publishing industry and tax law. This, I suppose, can also apply to how the fashion industry operates too. Which also happens to vehicles, or any commodity for that matter. But vehicles are also parted out or chopped, while books and to a lesser extent, clothes are resold, redistributed, and recycled by the item. It all still adds up to the idea of books as commodity whether we like it or not.

Remaindered books, which are those that booksellers have left over (and at a decreasing rate as physical booksellers are rapidly disappearing,) cannot be donated to libraries or goodwill, and then written off as a charitable deduction. For example, a publisher cannot give away extra or damaged books, and then take the cost of those books as a deduction. This is because they already have COGS (cost of goods sold) factored into their bottom line that was accumulated from producing them in the first place. However, i can purchase books from them (presumably they can give them to me, too) and i can take a tax deduction if i give them to a charitable organization. This is because i don't have a cost of doing business associated with those books (and, as the libertarians would argue, we don't have a flat tax). We get to itemize deductions if we already jumped through the hoops and fallen into Shadow, the homeowner vortex with the much sought after interest deduction. Such a precious.

But what about the books? They become denuded and remaindered, their covers ripped off (paperbacks, for example) and the front matter struck with a magic marker.
Sounds like rape, doesn't it? These books are shipped from say, B&N or Target to the publisher who must then destroy them. If you've ever bought (or even received books in that condition, you've held contraband in your hands. It all seems so unseemly.

Yes, book publishing is a strange kind of enterprise. We are horrified at the thought of destroying books, but publishers have to do it because of taxes, balance sheets, assets, liabilities, and just plain doing business. Moreover many of those destroyed books end up that way because 1) the price rose and they need a new cover, and 2) they redesigned the cover art because they sold a few and now want to 'refresh' the item, and must now take back the old copies and bring in the new. For a long time now, books are neither a vessel for literature, art, knowledge, information, or dreams. They are simply a commodity with a shelf life, like milk and white bread. I would have added Kodachrome, but we all know what happened to that.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Lincoln Park murals: Pachuca

A couple of weeks ago, there was a terrific car show and gathering beneath these I-10 flyovers at Lincoln Park. Sadly, I missed it, but yesterday I was able to capture a few quick shots of new Chican@ murals. Like Chicano Park in Los Angeles, the murals depict important people and events in Chicano history and feature visual topics pertaining to Aztlán, the Guadalupe, folk art/rascuache and social-political themes and history important to Latin@s as the Mexican Revolution, the murder of Latino journalist Ruben Salazar, President Kennedy, brown pride--topics pertaining to La Frontera's culture, art, and people.

In the Pachuca I see all the defiance, strength, and passion of a young woman--she wears a stripped down version of the zoot suit and carries a daggered sacred heart, while wrapped in the flags of her land, family, and culture. Strong, proud, brown, and armed with what signifies her strength. Ready to battle anything that comes her way or tries to harm her family and friends, this Pachuca stands tall.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

October butterfly in a Saturday backyard

Seeds that blew into the yard have taken over spaces originally created for pine trees. These interloper native plants are now huge and blooming. As I shot the images, I suddenly realized the butterfly was not the only insect feeding. Alongside and above me a host of honey bees, bumble bees, and the biggest black hornet I've ever seen were feeding, too. Their humming and buzzing all around me, I decided to finish capturing these images to let them feed in peace before they took a shine to me.

I have a hardworking fellow come help with the shaping up the hedges. i told him we'd work on getting the backyard in shape after we do the front. And because these big backyard interlopers are blooming now (and they really are ugly to me,) MJ and i decided to cut them back after the first frost, or when the bees disappear from the yard.

Later, I'll go outside again to see who's there today. Last week, when he was working on the frontyard hedges, my yardman was accompanied by the biggest yellow swallowtail butterfly we'd ever seen. Yesterday, I saw a tiny yellow warbler on his way south to Peru. Warblers, according to our Peterson book, terms warblers as "birdlet," which is a perfect name. This little warbler (by coloration a male) is a little bigger than a zebra finch. i'm hoping to capture a better picture of him today, too.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

fresh violators

I had a very Felliniesque group encounter the other day at the "Costcos" when I went to buy another set of shelves for MJ's workroom.
fresh violations graffiti on wall
Standing in line, I saw 50-inch flat screen TVs being wheeled out in all directions by middle-aged Mexican men with iPod shuffles clipped to their shirt pockets; women, wearing variations on a theme of tan espadrilles and pencil skirts, escorted brown leather club chairs and sets of pots and pans behind the men—sure sign of more newly filled safe houses.

Suddenly, I heard a southern-sounding woman slap a boy that looked to be about four years old--her son? She slapped him in the face as he sat in the cart. It was not a loud slapping pop. Instead, it was muffled in tone. The hit sounded and looked like one might smack a puppy for peeing on a rug. Why, hit the boy, I wondered.

At that moment, I saw him try to lick her arm. Lick it like a puppy or kitten. The woman screamed and smacked him again while the man walking next to her yelled threats at the boy. His son? The child, dressed in a camouflage outfit, remained silent. And the man and woman looked around, as it to check and make sure no one had observed either them or the boy. Then they saw me watching them. Quickly, the man and woman headed for the exit while the camouflaged child silently kept trying to lick his mother again. He tried to lick her fat, pink, non-tattooed forearm. Pretty soon, it looked like he did it just to make her scream. One lick for each smack on that blonde, butch cut head of hair.

Playing PA, I thought he has a mineral deficiency, celiac, pica, or is just plain neurotic from having to endure such horrible, screaming, ignorant parents. I last glimpsed them was as they walked out the door, just ahead of another 50-inch Visio TV destined for one more quiet scared street in El Chuco.

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Tumblr website: ¡fuckyeahguadalupe!



Canutillo:: Laundry with Nachos and Guadalupe on the Side


For a while now, I've been experimenting (OK, using to a greater extent) the Tumblr web ap. My first site is here, with a new one here. The later is solely devoted to all things Guadalupe because it seems El Paso contains a large collection of urban art, etc., about whom Wikipedia explains is the Queen of Mexico, Empress of the Americas and Patroness of the Americas.

What I enjoy about posting to this new Tumblr is how I can publish new images about Guadalupe (and other topics) in a more timely manner than I've previously be able to do with Blogger. However, I don't see me abandoning this site anytime soon; this site should be about general El Paso images and the occasional (!) picture of our cats. But back to the Guadalupe.

I've located many instances of beautiful urban art that transcend the original meaning of rascuache--the common, the wretched, the poor--in El Chuco and elsewhere. This is all quite intriguing as she embodies so much about mestizo identity and the affect colonization has had on out indigenous psyches. Above all else, people seem to have an inordinate need to capture her, which in turn, makes others happy--all this wellspring of creativity brings out the best and most artistic in those who try to create her image.

While I have not forgotten this blog (as seen by the many spontaneous posted images from my camera phone), a lot of my online writing and research is now divided between three blog sites and my twitter account. And if that isn't the way to push out web content I don't know what is. Cheers!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

urban art: cesar chavez/campbell

One of the fun things about going out to shoot pictures with mj is that while he drives, i try my hand at drive-by shooting. I cheated somewhat with this one though because we were stopped at the light.
This mural is quite old and if memory serves, was vandalized at one time. Behind the palm tree is a portrait of the artist, Manny Acosta. Acosta passed away in 1989. Here is a bit of what Askart.com provides about Acosta:
Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Manuel Acosta settled in El Paso, Texas where he became a painter, muralist, sculptor and illustrator. He studied at the University of Texas at El Paso and at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Student's Sketches article from the Monthly Illustrator (1895)

Currently, I am having too much fun reading through PDFs of“The Monthly Illustrator” from 1895. One topic of interest at the time was how illustrators had to contend with photography, and the ever-increasing technological challenges to their status quo.

However, even a pencil is a form of technology.

Another idea was that from the first pen stroke, students thought they were creating something special and good; and, this reminds me of how we must continually work at helping students to become better writers. While the article, “A Student’s Sketches” by Speed and Heustis is too optimistic as to whether or not a student actually thinks they are accomplishing something from their first drawing; this idea does bear consideration. Do other subjects in the humanities, business, or sciences allow students such instant feedback?

In accounting, you know when you the cash flow balances. In chemistry, you achieve something every time the lab stays intact. The same with dance—you didn’t fall down; or, music—the dog didn’t howl and your calluses are forming to perfection as are the glissandos played on a piano. Would perhaps a student of voice and music hear their errors and correctly sung/played piece? More than likely they would. However, what about those disciplines that are more subjective?

Why is it that writing of any sort, whether a resume or literature review, such a painfully acquired skill, art, or ability? Techné is hard, but when achieved, it is artfully composed and may even persuade. Yet, what pedagogical differences exist between teaching writing and teaching music, singing, and painting? What do finance teachers do differently from teachers of business writing?

If group work helps students become better writers through peer reviews, etc., do illustrators or musicians become better through collaborative methods, too? Peer reviews for artists helps. But does working on the same project (a mural, string quartet, or choir) lend itself similarly to what composition instructors see as good progress when student writers work together? I’m not talking about the end result, but whether or not their rate of learning or skill building increases or improves when working in groups.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mobile Post

found in our yard. it appears that it hit our bedroom window while being chased by a red tailed hawk.
found in our yard. it appears that it hit our bedroom window while being chased by a red tailed hawk.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Buddy II and Baudrillard.

Buddy II contemplates his place in Baudrillard's System of Objects. Pet: A domesticated animal that occupies the space between humans and objects.

Friday, February 26, 2010

El Pisto Restaurant

Originally, we were going to the L&J for dinner, but the place was too busy with no parking around the place for 3 or more blocks. We then decided to go to Overland Street near the convention cener and bus station. not too quiet, but great service and excellent food.

Lucille and the Royal

Sunday, November 4, was my mother-in-law Lucille’s birthday. She would have been 101. I say this because one of her proudest moments...