Doublemint Spam

August 13, 2008

Hmmmm, do I want Summer Susy or Winter Susy to be my ‘space friend?

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Awkward, but with Poise

August 13, 2008

©Ruthie Hauge | Lightstalkers I see a bit of Sally Mann here, and a bit of Rineke Dijkstra. 

(photo by Ruthie Hauge)

I see a bit of Sally Mann here, and a bit of the awkward with attitude posing that reminds me of Rineke Dijkstra.  Hauge is employed as a newspaper photojournalist, but her journalistic endeavors also give us a chance to see some impromptu slices-of-life.  When you think about it, both a photojournalist and a photographer try to capture the moment, except that a photojournalist can’t tell you to do it again. 

Hauge’s online portfolio is available here and check her forays into video reporting here. (Type “Hauge” into the search video box for all of her pieces.)

Dijkstra

Mann


Military upheavel is benign, bordering on boring

August 12, 2008

Adam “Mauritania” Fiebs is doing just fine in Africa.  The coup going on there is, in so many words, “boring”.  Meanwhile, it’s been generally agreed that Mauritania Peace Corp work is the least-desierable of all assignments.  Yay Adam!

…as you can see, as predicted, the coup is boring and goes with the saying “maritania…worst…coup…ever.” oh well. … i guess peace corps took an unofficial poll and has concluded mauritania is the least desirable, if not hardest, service in peace corps. hilarious! hope all is well

adam

Adam (Right)

Adam then reposted the email he’s received from his P.C. director, of sorts, Obie.  (I’ve edited it for brevity and entertainment value).:

Hello PCV/Ts:

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say hello and provide you with a brief update on the political situation in the country.  Not that I am counting, but this is now my third coup d’etat since arriving in Mauritania!  As happened in 2005, this looks to be a rather benign coup … At this stage, there are no indications that you (or other foreigners residing in the country) are in any danger as a result of the recent action taken by officers of the Mauritanian military.

The airport has remained open and business and government offices seem to be functioning as usual.  The U.S. has suspended all non-humanitarian aid to the country.  Peace Corps is considered a “humanitarian” agency and as such is not immediately impacted by the cut-off in U.S. aid.

Hmmm.  I would think that a coup just might shake-up a government.  Apparently not.

…Some things to keep in mind as we move forward:

  • In order to protect the integrity of Peace Corps’ mission, it is imperative that you do not engage in sensitive political discussions concerning Mauritania.
  • Please avoid large gatherings or demonstrations.
  • It is very important that everyone respect out-of-site policy (please keep your APCD informed of your whereabouts).
  • Do not allow yourself to be interviewed by any media outlet without first clearing it with me.
  • Keep in contact with your family and friends in the U.S., it goes a long way to reassuring them of your well being. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call or eMail any of us.  The after-hours emergency duty officer number is xxx-xxxx.

Very Best — Obie

P.S.  With all of this great material, I would think that a pretty good PC Mauritania tee-shirt could be designed!

If they do eventually make a t-shirt, I will insist Adam send one my way so I can put it up for sale at TeeCycle.

Don't know if that's food or something else, but it's gross.


Worst. Coup. Ever.

August 8, 2008

Man walking in Nouakchott

Well, if you check back a few blog entries, you’ll note that my pal Adam “Fiebs” is currently serving as a Peace Corp doctor in Mauritania.  Also, if you’ve checked the news recently, you’ll note that Mauritania is currently under a military coup.  This is scary, but as history (and Adam) will inform us, this is a very common occurance here, and he’s pretty well insulated from the stuff that going on in Nouakchott — closer to the coast.  Adam writes:

yes. all is well here. you just  cant get in or out of Nouakchott. but being in Rosso, thus far, i have been unaffected. if it turns violent, which by Mauritanias past history of coups shows it wont be, peace corps is pretty good about pulling us right away. but the saying here goes, 
 
Mauritania…worst…coup….ever.

they tried this in 99 and nothing changed and i suspect this will be similar but i guess only time can tell…we will have to see about the aid.

anyways hope all is well. heading to senegal in two weeks for a couple days and to have my first beer since ive been here. damn these dry islamic countries. hope all is well in chicago. the alumni reunion looked like a blast! wish i couldve been there.
fiebs
ps farve is a jet…wtf!

Indeed, Fiebs, indeed.  Obviously the coup isn’t that bad (and the internet must be better than I thought) for a Wisconsinite in 3rd-world Africa to be more concerned about a Packers trade than a Military Coup.


The Emergence of the Hipster Prep

August 6, 2008

Boat shoes, fencing, polos, crew shorts, over-the-shoulder sweaters, oxfords, wayfarers, and indie rock.  Wait… what?

You have to love Vampire Weekend’s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” video.  It’s a nice reminder that at the height of the 80’s New Wave scene U.S. culture has re-fallen in love with, there was another wholly opposite trend also at it’s epitome — the Super-Prep.  As it is the nature of nostalgia to forget the bad portions of two decade year-old trends, it’s not surprising to see a resurgence of both of these styles right now.

Both cliques are equally-reviled but by different crowds.  But ask yourself if the sulking/satanic Goth-Punk kids at the ending of “Kwassa Kwassa” are any more or less ridiculous than their preppy counterparts?   V.W. kindly reminds us that, as this generation mines John Hughes movies for style pointers, that super-priss Molly Ringwald was adored just as much as misunderstood alterno-rocker Ally Sheedy.  And if I recall, in Hughes idealized world, Ringwald’s prep was the heroine of a lot more movies than Sheedy’s dark dandruff artiste.

 

and, just for old time’s sake, back when this used to be more of a joke:


The Creepiness Factor of Cellphone Cameras and The Internet

July 30, 2008

While I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve recently fell in love with Tumblr, and it’s ability to post cell phone pictures, there’s something creepy and slightly obnoxious going on over R.O.C.K. on the CTA.

 

      

    

Sadly, the poor taste only begins with what I’m assuming is a John Mellencamp song reference. 

Here’s the gist of what RotCTA does — “David Rockwell” takes covert cellphone pictures of people on Chicago Transit Authority trains and buses (they also accept submissions from others at ROCKontheCTA@gmail.com) and then posts them for the world to see.  David describes his blog thusly: 

a somewhat snarky, sometimes cranky, borderline stalker-y view of the world from my seat on the bus. No offense meant to anyone.. all of these stories are just made up. I really know nothing about you. And I care even less. I love watching the urbanites as they do their daily dance along the train tracks and bus routes…They make me happy. And sleepy.

Borderline stalker-y indeed.  It all seems harmless, but the site irks me for the following reasons:

  1. They are rarely that funny
  2. They are more likely to be mean-spirited and petty
  3. Their idea of a “hunk” is any dude dressed business-casual
  4. Their idea of a stylish or cute girl is a trixie dressed business-casual
  5. As you’d expect, photos are taken almost exclusively on the northside brown line and red line.
  6. Tons of creepy anonymous ass photos, and even some moose-knuckle.  Why?

If you’re on the CTA and you’re old, overweight, asleep, not cool looking, or a minority; prepare to be ridiculed anonymously.  Otherwise keep using public transportation in Lakeview and you might just become famous — if you wanted to or not.


Kiffa

July 25, 2008

My friend Adam is continuting being an amazing person.  Currently, while I blog in an air-conditioned building and complain that it may just be too cold right now, he’s here:

Adam is expanding his borders and putting his medical know-how to work for the Peace Corps in Kiffa — a moderate-sized town in the (Islamic Republic of) Mauritania, Africa.  Do yourself a favor and scroll around Kiffa for a while — it’s pretty humbling.  Also, note that no one’s bothered to draw the city’s roads, and they extend like a starburst to other Mauritanian cities.
 
Mauritnia, as I’m now reading, has had a fairly eventful half-century.  Given independence from France in the ’60s, within 15 years they occupied then relinquished an area now known as Western Sahara because of Polisario guerrilla raids.  They’ve since set up an “air quote” Republic with a few iffy rulers and a pretty nasty Afro/Arab conflict.  Anyway, Kiffa’s a small market town known for it’s decorative beads.  Judging by the history, discriptions and images, I’m simultaneously proud and nervous for Adam for the next 2-year stint… and herrrrrrrre’s Adam:
hello everyone!
just thought i would write a brief email enlightening everyone to what has been going on in the last month.  well, it has been quit busy.  “Stage” (french for training) is quite a grueling, but entirely necessary, process.  so far, though, i have found myself enjoying it immensely despite the difficulties assimilating into a new, very different, place.  at first, the level of garbage and poverty in the streets is somewhat overwhelming. however, it is genearally considered the norm all over the county and thus far i have met countless peace corps volunteers and mauritanians who have been fantastic in helping me ‘adjust.’  already, i feel like my time here will be worthwhile and successful! already, i can tell my french is improving and hopefully hassaniya will follow.  i am assigned to Kiffa, which is in the assaba region.  it is drier then rosso (where i have training) and that, for the time being, means less bugs which is great! i have been here for 3 days (for site visit) and the PCVs already here along with the trainees in the region wih me are great! I will become very close with them in the next couple years.
 
also, the great thing about kiffa is the many ngo’s that are already based here.  i already connected with USAID and the head there is really excited to work with me.  if i did nothing in my 2 years but work with them, that would be fine. i will have the opportunity to travel on ‘missions’ in the region and will be privy to the inner working of USAID and the WFP (world food program) which i am extremely excited about (especially for my time post -peace corps!). 
 
anyways, back to some training things. i just wanted to check in. once i hit swear in and get to site permanently (sept 1) i will have much more time to write in more detail and more often.  i am enjoying every bit of my time here thus far and the people who are with me are as supportive and enthusiastic as anyone would hope for. once i get my camera in the mail (inshallah) i will be sending pictures on a soon to be started site. TBA. miss you all!
 
adam.
 
 
 
 
Picture from Nomad Intent