Yes, We Have Art

Atlas Obscura

There’s an odd “library” plopped in the desert of New Mexico.  Inspired by American artist Gordon Matta-Clark’s site-specific work from 1973 “Fake Estates,” it was meant to poke fun at those businesses and individuals who were at the time buying up acres of land on Mars for their own utopian desert plots.

The strange sight is the work of Cabinet, a New York-based magazine of art and culture that was founded in 2000. In 2003 the nonprofit announced it had acquired a plot of land in Luna County. The magazine dubbed the turf, over 2,000 miles from its offices in Brooklyn, “Cabinetlandia.”

The library was added in 2004. Essentially, it’s a file cabinet cemented into a concrete arch on the rectangular bit of land. According to its creator, Matthew Passmore, the idea was to “make it look like the cabinet grew naturally out of the landscape; as if, in Cabinetlandia, cabinets are naturally occurring elements of the ecosystem.”

About a year after christening the land with the Cabinet mailbox, Passmore borrowed a minivan and drove the supplies out to build what is lovingly called the Cabinet National Library. He stocked the top drawer with a library card catalog, a guestbook, a pillow to sit on while you read, and an umbrella to shade you. The middle drawer contains the first 13 issues of Cabinet, and the bottom drawer, as he left it, contained warm beer, water, and size-10 men’s boots (for avoiding rattlesnakes, apparently).

In 2005 when Passmore went to fix the damage from heavy rains, he added the graveyard, a spiral stone formation, and, for good measure, arranged a toilet shape out the same stones for a “biodegradable water closet.”

Cabinetlandia has drawn more visitors than the folks at Cabinet initially expected.


Know Before You Go

Cabinetlandia is located 10 miles east of the town of Deming in Luna County, New Mexico, off Interstate 10 heading east.


Sad Piano Music from Syria

Ludella Awad, 16, author of Sad Piano Music from Syria/ No photo credit

Over and over,  children show us that their voices can ring out with more authority and power than any adult discourse. This is the second collection published by 16-year-old Syrian-American poet  Ludella Awad, who lives with her family in Albuquerque,  New Mexico.   Ludella has said that she began to write about Syria when she was fourteen because she couldn’t talk about it.

She’s talking about it now.

In addition to two books of poetry,  Ludella has done several public readings, been featured on a radio show, and attracted the attention of the University of New Mexico.

Most importantly, she hasn’t allowed the people of Syria to disappear between the cracks of fickle  Western memory.

I think that’s what she set out to do.



Syria’s Bloody Nightmare

I am in a dream about Syria’s war.
I am in a dreary place where
Everyone is dressed in black;
The chairs are white, lined up in rows.
The people’s faces are wrinkled with grief.
They are picking up dirt with home-made shovels,
Throwing it on the bodies in the open graves.

The people are standing in a graveyard, smelling blood.
I hear the screams of mothers crying for their children.
I see dead roses on the ground;
I hear the wind blowing.
I look at the ground,
And see the photos and memories of Syria blowing away.

My head is spinning and spinning
With photos and memories,
Remembering my grandma,
Seeing my grandma waving to me.

By Udella Awad

Stop the press!


I interrupt this program to announce that I’ve added text to my previous post, One Boy’s Pablo Neruda.  I knew you’d all want to stop whatever you are doing and rush to read it,

As always, I aim only to please, and remain your humble and deeply modest servant.

Heh heh heh… or, as they say in Central America !JaJa Ja!

This is a children’s book by well-known  Chilean writer Poli Délano, who was born in 1936.  At that time,  his family was living in Madrid, Spain, where they become friends with the poet Pablo Neruda and his wife Delia del Carril. Both families were originally from Chile.

Between 1940 and 1943, Neruda and his wife lived in Mexico City. This memoir is set at this time and follows the beloved poet’s relationship with the young Enrique Délano Falcón – whose nickname became Policarpo and eventually shortened to Poli – and his adventures and misadventures.

Adults and children will be equally charmed  by Poli and his encounters with the most amazing animals and insects; by his experience of being bullied in a boarding school where he had to stay when his family and Neruda travelled to New York. Perhaps the most touching story is that of Poli wanting to buy a fountain pen and a watch and in order to find the money he decided to sell chewing gum at the cinema and clean cars in the car park. When the poor children saw him taking over their job, they violently sent him away. Poli was very angry and frustrated by the incident but his parents and Tio (uncle) Neruda calmly explained that those children needed the job to eat while his motives were purely superficial.

This memoir is full of intricate little accounts about Neruda: for example his passion for collecting things and the time spent in the antique markets in Mexico City looking for strange objects to add to his unique and growing collection; his very strange food habits, including insects and monkeys. But what clearly stands out here in this memoir is his touching relationship with a very young boy.

There are six of Neruda’s poems included in the book and a short biography of the poet that will clearly serve to introduce his life and work to younger generations. Manuel Monroy’s illustrations perfectly match the spirit of the text.

One Boy’s Pablo Neruda


After two years in the mountains, the rebels joyfully enter Havana.

Che  Guevara  liked to tell this  little story about himself and the early months of the  Cuban Rev olution.  He told  it, if not often,  well –   often enough.  It always made  Che laugh at himself and it always makes me  laugh too, although it’s not funny in any kind  of hilarious sense.  It’s the kind of small joke  you tell when you miss someone you never knew, because it can feel like a memory.

“A better world’s in birth –  Let each stand in his place – The International Working Class Shall be the human race!”


Fidel Castro scheduled a meeting with his new Cabinet.  He had recently fired the president of the  National Bank  and needed a replacement.  Fidel had several people in mind, but he was in no rush. In fact, some of Cuba’s major bankers  had been  invited to stick around for a while at their customary capitalist wages, and a few of them had.


“Can I wear your hat tonight?  Oh,  come on!”










“I need a good economist”, said Fidel.
Che immediately raised his hand.
“I didn’t know you were an economist,” said Fidel.
“Oh!” said Che, “I thought you said you need a good communist.”
He got stuck with the job anyway.
Che started his studies off  with calculus. (He already had an M.D. degree, having passed himself off as a doctor throughout his famous motorcycle trip around South America a full year before he actually graduated from medical school )
Although Che studied alone with his tutor,  periodically a government official or educator  joined the class for the duration of a specified topic.  At first, Che asked these people to volunteer, but no one showed up.  He had to order them to class to get them there:
Every day at 3:00 am.

Latin America Says No to Violence Against Women

Tens of thousands of women across Argentina walked off the job Wednesday to “make noise” against gender violence and economic inequalities in the first national women’s strike in the country’s history . Photo / Cobertura Colaborativa Nosotras Paramos


Not One Less! Latin America Says “Ya Basta!” to Violence Against Women 

By Telesure IN PICTURES: Multimedia > Galleries Click for more.
The gruesome rape of a 16-year-old girl has united women across Latin America to demand an end to femicide and sexual violence.

Women from over 150 cities took part in marches to call for an end to the epidemic of violence against women. The marches were organized by the Argentine collective Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, after a 16-year-old girl was brutally raped and murdered.

Protesters showed signs with the stories of missing or murdered women, chanting “We won’t forgive, we won’t forget!” /Photo: Facción


In Costa Rica, women smeared signs reading “I’m tired of being afraid! I want to be alive tomorrow” with red handprints to represent the victims of sexual violence. Photo: Ale Ara


In Peru, women held a candlelight vigil to honor the thousands of women who are killed at the hands of men.

Women in Rosario, Argentina yell “We want us alive!”

A man in a march in Chile stands with a sign that reads “I am half naked, surrounded by the opposite sex … and I feel protected not intimidated. I want the same for them.”

Women placed candles in tribute to the victims of femicide, committed primarily by their spouses and partners.

Sign reads “66,000 women are killed each year worldwide.”

UN Monitoring Abuses Against Standing Rock Protectors

Indigenous water protectors face off with police during last week’s military-style raid. (Photo: Wes Enzinna/cc/flickr)

The increasingly violent attacks by North Dakota police and private security forces against peaceful, Indigenous water protectors have caught the nation’s attention as well as that of the United Nations, an arm of which has begun an investigation into the protesters’ claims of human rights abuses, including “excessive force, unlawful arrests, and mistreatment in jail,” the Guardian reported late Monday.

Observers have begun collecting testimonies from those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline and, on Monday, Grand Chief Edward John, a Native American member of the U.N. permanent forum on Indigenous issues, met with police officials in Mandan, North Dakota and visited the cages where some of the 141 arrested protesters were held after last week’s military-style police raid.

Those detained at the Morton County Correctional Center said that while they were held in the 10-by-14-foot cages they were forced to wait for basic necessities, such as “access to bathrooms, food, water, and medical attention,” the Guardian reported.

“We embarked upon a peaceful and prayerful campaign,” Standing Rock Sioux member Phyllis Young told the U.N. representatives. “They were placed in cages. They had numbers written on their arms very much like concentration camps.” Young said that the police’s treatment of native people was “not only conditions of colonialism, but conditions of war.”

“The government is allowing the police force to be used as a military force to protect an oil company,” added protester Kandi Mossett, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nation.

The Morton County Sheriff’s office has also been accused of tracking the activists through a feature on Facebook, a claim which spurred more than one million people worldwide to “check in” to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation on Monday in an attempt to “overwhelm and confuse” law enforcement and express solidarity with the demonstrators.

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The fact that a campaign of “intimidation and repression” is being waged on behalf of a private company is not to be overlooked, according to a coalition of environmental groups, which late last week sent a letter (pdf) to the owners of the $3.7 billion tar sands pipeline, reminding them of their “complicity” in the ongoing human rights abuses.

“As joint owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline,  you have a corporate duty under international law and the laws of the United States to respect human rights and to avoid complicity in further human rights abuses.  It is imperative that you take action to stop the attacks on peaceful occupiers immediately,” states the letter, which is addressed to officials with Energy Transfer Partners, Phillips 66, Enbridge Energy Partners, and Wells Fargo bank.

The violent raid and mass arrest last week “has created a situation of urgency in which the companies must take immediate responsibility for the human rights impacts of their actions, including the companies’ complicity in the actions of others,” the letter continues:

As a matter of international law, your companies have an affirmative responsibility to protect human rights, including the responsibility to: avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts to peaceful protestors through your companies’ own activities; and to seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to your companies’ operations. These responsibilities also apply to banks and other institutions that provide financing for a project that will cause such adverse human rights impacts.

“We emphasize and caution that the active involvement by persons acting under color of governmental authority, including state or local law enforcement, does not absolve your companies of these duties,” it further states.

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The signatories, who are leaders with the Center for International Environmental Law, Honor the Earth, Bold Alliance, Climate Justice Programme, EarthRights International, Oil Change International, and Greenpeace USA, note that they “have spent decades advocating and litigating on behalf of Indigenous communities outside the United States,” whose rights are too often “violated by proponents of extractive industries around the world…And we are alarmed that these all-too-familiar patterns are playing out in the United States at Standing Rock.”

Similarly, Roberto Borrero, a Taino tribe member and representative of the International Indian Treaty Council, who is assisting the U.N. in collecting the testimonies, told theGuardian, “When you look at what the international standards are for the treatment of people, and you are in a place like the United States, it’s really astounding to hear some of this testimony.”

International human rights watchdog Amnesty International has also sent a delegation of human rights observers to monitor the police response to the ongoing protests. Meanwhile, the water protectors have vowed to maintain their vigil throughout the winter and continue their resistance as the pipeline construction encroaches upon their sacred land and water.

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