Sound and fury
My friend Diana Wright is in Puget Sound, where she got to see a spectacular celestial show the other night. Besides saying "Wow!" she transmitted this AP story by DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP on the meteor shower: Meteor Light, Sound Rare Over Puget Sound

Here in Gotham, we've had nothing but rainstorms alternating with bursts of sunlight. For a little meteorological excitement, we went to see "The Day After Tomorrow," and watched the waves rise up to Lady Liberty's torch before the whole city froze over. Great scenes from inside the NY Public Library, one of my favorite places. The filmmakers blew all plausibility at the end, though: they had the Dick Cheney-like character say he was sorry (about having permitted the mass destruction of life by ignoring warnings of the catastrophe). The real Dick Cheney would never say he was sorry. It was also a mite implausible that, after everybody surviving in the U.S. had been evacuated to Mexico, the United States still had a government to make such pronouncements.


Hispanic Nation (Anonymously famous)

Bored and restless for other reasons, I just did a Google search for my 1996 book Hispanic Nation: Culture, Politics and the Constructing of Identity, to see if either the book or the phrase was being mentioned. First thing that popped up was this article in the MARCH 15, 2004 issue of Business Week, "Hispanic Nation". It would have been nice if my book were mentioned -- there's really nothing in the article (except the interview of María Velázquez) that you won't find in my book, including the comparison with German immigration of a century ago. But then what I really wanted to do was insert the phrase and the argument into the debate, and it looks like I've done that.

See also America Becoming a Hispanic Nation, by Phil Brennan, Monday, Mar. 15, 2004, at NewsMax.com. And this Associated Press article, Professor Predicts 'Hispanic Homeland', wherein "A University of New Mexico Chicano Studies professor predicts a new, sovereign Hispanic nation within the century, taking in the Southwest and several northern states of Mexico." (That was just my phrase, not my argument -- I wasn't talking about a sovereign state, and don't expect one.) And for something a little weirder yet, NO FUMAR PARA LA SALUD DE LA FAMILIA (Don't Smoke for the Health of the Family), where the author manages to work this sentence into his anti-smoking argument: "The United States, long priding itself as a nation of immigrants, is well on the way to becoming an Hispanic nation."

I wanted to create a meme, and it looks like I did. OK, now back to work.
A luta continua
... as the Mozambican and Angolan revolutionaries used to say. "The struggle continues," and on at least one front we seem to be winning. Check out Nat Hentoff's report on resistance to the "Patriot Act" in the new Village Voice.


They swoop to kill dissent
"Everyone knows by now (or should) that the Patriot Act allows the FBI to conduct surveillance on Internet and email usage. Using so-called National Security Letters (NSLs), the FBI directs Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide passwords and identifying information that will allow the government to target people who are plotting terrorism or who are otherwise potentially dangerous to national security. I am sure that many of you reading this (and I, likely) have the government in our computers."

So begins Elaine Cassel's deeply troubling report in Counterpunch on the US Government's current efforts to suppress dissent, The Secrets of Surveillance. According to the ACLU's own report, these include "a broad gag order on any entity that receives a National Security Letter, or NSL. 
"The gag provision silences those who are most likely to oppose the Patriot Act," ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in his affidavit to the court. "It is particularly troubling" he said, that while the ACLU has been gagged from discussing the Patriot Act power, "President Bush and representatives of the FBI and Justice Department are engaged in a public campaign in support of the Patriot Act."
See ACLU website for more background.
The poetry of architecture
Saturday evening after a hard day of spring cleaning, we took a stroll from our place at 4th Street and Broadway to the Hudson River, but this time, instead of turning southwest on Christopher Street for a short walk past theaters, bars and headshops, we continued on 4th Street where it jogs sharply northwest for a much longer walk past other micro ecologies. Busy little restaurants spilling onto the sidewalk, complicated nineteen-teens cornices on the four- and five-storey apartment buildings, little trees along the kerb. And, because it was our less accustomed route, it all seemed fresh. At the corner where 4th Street crosses 12th Street and Eighth Avenue -- the grid of Greenwich Village is skewed and overlaid against the grid of the rest of Manhattan -- I had to stop and marvel at the many textures of brick, idiosyncratic roof lines, varieties of shops and signage, and colors or the buildings and their roofs against the layers of pink and purple of the western sky. One step in any direction would thrust me into a different narrative of the multistoried city.

This morning then I was glad to have the leisure of this holiday to read Ciudades habladas, poems celebrating cities, especially the city of Buenos Aires, by Jorge Ramos -- that is, Jorge Ramos the Argentinean architect, not the Mexican anchor on Univisión or any of the other Jorge Ramoses you and I might know. More on these tomorrow. I want to quote some of the verses to you. They are as delightful as a walk through any grand city at dusk. And you know, poetry and architecture have this in common: they are both kinds of built environment.