Friday, July 13, 2007

Young Spirit, Old Soul

I went on a long hike today by myself and thought about old souls and young spirits. I have been told I have a young spirit and on the same day told by someone else that I have an old soul. More than once. This got me thinking, how can we be young and old at the same time? Young energy and old wisdom??? When I ask people what they mean by it, they often can't elaborate. I want to hear someone say both in the same sentence and explain what they mean. People seem to notice only one or the other.

My interpretation is that young spirit has nothing to do with age, but rather energy like that of a child. I frequently notice kids in the supermarket who are trying to point something out to their parents. Their parents say, "Just a second. Hold on. Not right now." Then they go back to searching for that perfect piece of corn, peeling the husk just enough to see the color and the kernel and missing the look in the eyes of their children as they almost squash the eggplant or the mango, never having seen one before. I notice the look in that kid's eyes as he/she sees something for the first time. Vagabonds have that same look in their eyes. Life and everything in it becomes new and they do too. But, how do we keep that energy as we see the same fruit or the same color or the same people? That is what keeps us young spirited. Finding that energy. Age is irrelevant. Keep on vagabundeando.

I will let you comment on the old soul...

Monday, July 2, 2007

God here...

Just wanted to remind you all that I am here, omnipresent in this blog, spreading the love. Can you dig it?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Best of film

I recently watched the AFI (American Film Industry) top 100 films of all time. It was interesting and has proved to be a very good conversation peice. I'm wondering what films are your favorites? Feel free to categorize them too (i.e. comedy, documentary, horror, etc...)

Here are some of mine (my age is my bias):

Best Musical Film: Jesus Christ Superstar - seeing those hippies dancing and singing in the middle east was great cinematography. Moulin Rouge was solid and I would be remiss to leave off the Sound of Music. All well done masterpeices.

Best Horror Film: The Devil's Rejects - just scary and graphic, this writer is one sick puppy (or was I for enjoying it?) Psycho is also a classic and well done, as is Halloween.

Best Comedic Film: tough because I love comedies, too many to narrow down...

Best sports film: I like Hoosiers or Rocky but Victory is also a classic. Wow, Stallone in two of three?

Best Action film: The Lord of the Rings trilogy was fun to watch. I also like the Matrix trilogy here. The Indiana Jones trilogy gets special mention. (Tough category, best trilogy)

Best Dramatic film: gotta go with The Godfather. The combination of 1 and 2 are just masterful. To bad 3 sucked.

Best Foreign film: Haven't seen many but Life is Beautiful was extremely well done.

Best Sci-fi film: 2001 is a classic but I am a Star Wars kid.

Best Epic: Forrest Gump is timeless. Titanic was sort of cheesy but it will be a classic.

Best Documentary: I love Baraka (thanks Karim).

Just a few to get you started...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Little Paper Cups

This is an email that I sent a little while ago to the manager of Carberry's Cafe and Bakery. I'm not sure but I thought maybe it would be appropriate for this forum.... ?


Dear Carberry's,

My name is Erik Uzureau and I was in Cambridge on business last week staying on Amory street. Every day I would walk to work on Mass Ave, passing your cafe. I stopped in on a Sunday to have a coffee in the sunshine from the parking lot. Very relaxing.

One thing really did bother me, though. I notice that you do not have any option other than paper cups for your coffee. For take away orders, I guess that's the only way to do it, but when people are taking their coffee in the establishment, it would surely be nicer to offer a real coffee mug, wouldn't it? I personally prefer the drinking experience from a ceramic mug to drinking from a waxy paper cup immensely.

Beyond the mere issue of "preference", I think it is worth noting that by offering only paper cups, your establishment is generating massive amounts of unnecessary paper garbage. It may be the case that you are somehow recycling these cups, but even so it is still a wasteful process.

Why is our society so comfortable with this style of disposable goods? Have we managed to completely forget that these cups are actually made from trees (and chemicals to paint them pretty colors)?

I tend to think of Cambridge as a pretty "progressive" neighborhood. I am frankly disappointed, however, to see how many local establishments like yours seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that our planet is being progressively destroyed by human beings and their wasteful habits.

Sure, one guy using a ceramic mug instead of a paper cup is not going to change the world. But a whole cafe eschewing paper cups could make a difference, especially over time. And imagine if *every* cafe followed that model? Then it could really make a difference.

Now, I imagine the counter-argument is that you will have to not only *buy* these mugs, but you will also have to wash them on a regular basis, and maybe even pick up after your customers. Well, I imagine that there is a kitchen in Carberry's as it is a bakery, so there is probably already a dishwasher. How much extra effort would it really be to collect the mugs and get them back there?

I bet if you gave people the option of paying 10 cents extra for a mug instead of a paper cup -- and you explained to them the reason behind it -- most people would probably be happy to chip in the extra ten cents. I actually make it a point to get my coffee at Mariposa Bakery on Mass Ave, a little further along on my walk to work, for the simple reason that they don't serve it in paper cups.

Anyways, these are just some thoughts I had that I thought I'd share with you. I bet there's other people out there who think the same thing, but maybe just don't say it. That's sort of the way things are in America these days. People are afraid to say what they really think because they're afraid other people will call them a wierdo. That goes on long enough and people become afraid to think. I don't like that.

I think the heaping garbage can full of senseless garbage is a real eye-sore in your business.

Erik Uzureau

Monday, June 18, 2007

Aging and Praying but Living

Sitting in my teetering cotton-lined desk chair,
I wiggle my toes, grimacing,
enduring pain from an ingrown toenail – the big toe.
Unsure whether or not my body is nutrient deficient,
I hope for the best,
praying that the nail will recognize it has strayed from its proper path,
or that my brain will tell that damn nail that it must change its course.

As I rise from my chair to relieve the body of its 9:00 (AM) build-up of
caffeinated waste,
I groan,
quads aching with age and perhaps over-use.
To prevent muscular degeneration I try to bike each day
but after a while it wears down on me,
I need a break,
some simple down time would be nice.

As I enter the restroom I lift my heavy leg to access the elevated toilet,
plopping my bottom upon the cold porcelain...
I rest,
taking in a deep breath of aerosol-flavored lavatory air.
My lungs are not as strong as they once were
but I am grateful for my regular bowel movements
for it is one small thing I can still count on.
While washing my hands, I notice the mirror reflecting a potential sun-borne illness
as bits of old dry skin peel from beneath my tired eyes.
I am awfully tired today,
Too much play yesterday,
It was just too much.
It seems that my sleep cycle has missed a beat and that I can never catch up.
I have been told that as we age
this just happens
and that there is nothing that I can do about it.

After my short bathroom break a co-worker mocks a brochure for a Quick-Link service
aimed at assisting those living independently
but yet in need of personal assistance
and he asks, “what has our society come to?”
I have no response to his comment
and to this lack of proper response, he explains,
“I am sorry, never mind, I am being philosophical today.”

Debating whether or not another cup of coffee is worth an upset stomach,
I fidget, despairingly,
dreading the lunchtime plight;
make food or to spend my limited monthly funds on a precooked meal?
Cooking is a lot of work
and I live alone so cooking for one can get to be a lot.

I drove my car to work today and it felt weird
as I do not drive much anymore.
These days I feel guilty when I drive
for I am beginning to realize that the cost incurred to society has become significant,
though, these days,
it is the easiest way for my body to get around this town.

I am praying that;
this ache in my quads go away,
I get a better night sleep tonight,
I am not developing skin cancer,
My toenail will correct itself,
this extra cup of coffee does not disrupt my stomach
and that life will be a little easier today.

I am 23 years old.
Last night I played in a softball game and hit an in-the-park homerun,
I bike 6 miles back and forth to work everyday,
cook massive meals for myself at lunch and dinner time,
drive to outdoor adventure destinations almost every weekend,
and generally try not give a seconds thought to the condition of my body
or the amount of effort it takes to do what I do.
I try not let my body hinder a desire to do,
But honestly,
I must try a little harder.

A short explanation-
I am no longer sure what it means to be old. Our 51 year-old softball coach is one of the fastest on the team. We were incapable of guessing his age until we asked him. He is truly dedicated to his passion of softball and is thus able to play and blend (kind of) with us young bucks.
My grandma, nanny, now sends me messages on Facebook. Nanny is quite concerned about how her driving affects the Polar Bears in Antarctica, though she is a huge fan of Rush Limbaugh. I am proud of my grandma for this. The mind can be viewed as part of the body and an ailed or old mind is one that is incapable of accepting change. My limber-bodied grandma proved that she was fully capable of mowing her own lawn after my grandpa died. She now embraces her physical ability to accept change and lets it spread throughout.
I recently read an emotionally-charged article about an elderly man who was griping about the same digestive and reproductive tract problems as my adventurous, twenty-something friend. Ought I feel sorry for the elderly man while my friend goes about his daily life without a word about the problem? Sure, feelings are important and should not be ignored but when those feelings are disseminated only to illicit a response from others, how necessary is it? Babies tend act in this way when they cannot have their way, as we age do we somehow forget that this is not acceptable? That such an act is a definite indicator of age? I believe there is a great beauty in defying the sociological prescriptions of age.
When do we become old? When we feel old? What does old feel like? I feel old and talk as if I am old, therefore I must be old, right? Or at least I hope that is what I lead you to believe in “Aging, Praying but Living.” Every feeling that I wrote about is real. The way that I express those feelings can have a big affect on how others view me and thus, I intend to act accordingly.

No more complaining about aches, pains and minor bodily deficiencies, Tim, it’s not necessary.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Supplying American Idol

But why is it so popular? Sid took the neo-classical argument of demand, then supply: people demanded it, so Fox supplied it. Simple economics.

I'm not so sure. Is it demand, then supply, or supply, then demand? Traditional economics assumes that the market merely responds to consumers' wishes: if we crave gas guzzling SUVs, that's what Ford will make; if we want vapid, mindless television programming, that's what ABCNBCCBSFOX will make. Neo-classical (i.e. the kind you learn in college) economics takes as its initial assumption that people are rational, and that their explicit decisions are perfect reflections of their internal, even subconscious, desires.

But what if that's not true? What if people are not only irrational (which Daniel Kahneman recently won the Nobel Prize in Economics for demonstrating) but, to be blunt, mindless sheep who take rather than make cues? Is it me, or does it seem that television has gotten increasingly dumber over time? If so, is that because viewers have becoming mentally lazier, and implicitly demand television that demands little to no mental output, or is it flipped? Is it that networks produced empty TV--programs where the resolution was swift, where critical thought was not required, where the answers would be delivered to the couch by platter--we then got addicted, and the final demand followed?

I'm inclined to believe the latter. I tend to view fast food and television as more or less the same. Ray Crock realized that people became addicted to his hamburgers and milkshakes, and McDonalds took off. Over time, they've perfected their formula--adding sugar to the french fries, for instance--to become as addictive as possible, as did cigarette companies like Philip Morris and RJR. It wasn't that people wanted their product first, then, but rather they created the demand, and then the demand followed. It became a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Still, I don't imagine it's that one-sided, and I take a certain amount of solace in that. Because if you look at what's happening in the fast-food industry now, it seems that healthy options are becoming more and more prevalent: McDonalds advertising salads. Where is this coming from? I like to believe that a critical mass of people--through education, through heart disease, through childhood obesity--recognized the nutritional emptiness of fries and pies and began to demand something better. In that sense, it was supply, then demand, followed by a demand, then supply rebuttal.

So as people tire of having their minds numbed, will networks begin to offer more thoughtful programming? I hope so. I'm inspired by the fact that American Idol is now being challenged in popularity by Dancing with the Stars; even though the latter isn't exactly a documentary on rocket science, it is rooted in positivity--people watching others dance well and appreciating beauty--rather than negativity, the manna for American Idol. (Maybe people watch it for the good singers, though I'd imagine that just as many tune in to laugh at the bad singers who make fools of themselves). Even if we're not necessarily getting smarter in this instance, at least we're getting nicer.

Maybe American Idol serves as a good social commentary, then, and maybe we are indeed on the upward swing of the parabola: the slope has finally turned positive. Still, it is worth looking at other facets of our daily experience to see where we're heading. While IMing might spell doom for the complete sentence, are blogs conversely helping people become more literate and expressive?

It's easy to shake a fist at corporate boards and TV producers, and some of the anger and frustration is probably justified. But if we're more than just sheep, then maybe there are examples out there--salads, Planet Earth--that could give us hope. Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thank you

I am honored by your invitation to contribute to this blog and accept your challenge. I also look forward to interesting (and not so interesting) discussions. Thank you for the opportunity.

Karim, any thoughts on your next movie project?