Monthly Archives: May 2005

I went down to the war memorials on sunday afternoon. Most of the bikers had packed up and left to begin their long journey home after coming across the country for the Ride to the Wall. Sadly, I missed the actual ride earlier in the morning, but I was happy to have made it downtown to remember those who fought and died for this country. I took pictures of the memorials, but most of them came out poorly because I’m still trying to figure out the settings on my new digital camera. I visited the women’s memorial (Dedicated on November 11th, 1993) first.

I’m always struck by both the vigilant and nurturing nature of the poses of the statues. The piece presents very powerful imagery of womens’ capability and strength. The second I passed was the Faces of Honor sculpture. The three bronze men stand ready but relaxed – or as relaxed as anyone can be in a DMZ. I’ve always seen the Faces of Honor sculpture as a powerful symbol of unity and brotherhood.

– excerpted from the pamphlet about the memorial –

Maya Ying Lin conceived her design as creating a park within a park– a quiet protected place unto itself, yet harmonious with the site. To achieve this effect she chose polished black granite for the walls. Its mirrorlike surface reflects the surrounding trees, lawns, monuments, and the people looking for names. The memorial’s walls point to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The 58,202 names are inscribed in chronological order of the date of the casualty, showing the war as a series of individual human sacrifices and giving each name a special place in history. “The names would become the memorial,” Lin said.

The names begin at the vertex of the walls below the date of the first casualty and continue to the end of the east wall. They resume at the tip of the west wall, ending at the vertex above the date of the last death. With the meeting of the beginning and ending, a major epoch in American history is denoted. Each name is preceded on the west wall or followed on the east wall by one of two symbols: a diamond or a cross. The diamond denotes that the individual’s death was confirmed. The approximately 1,150 persons whose names are designated by the cross were either missing or prisoners at the end of the war and remain missing and unaccounted for. If a person returns alive, a circle, as a symbol of life, will be inscribed around the cross. In the event an individual’s remains are returned or are otherwise accounted for, the diamond will be superimposed over the cross.

As I reached the end of the wall, I saw a teenage girl crying in reaction to the enormity of it all. As I passed her, she was being quietly consoled by her friends. There is a quiet respect that visitors pay to the fallen as they walk along the path of the long black wall, reading off the inscribed names and looking down at the thousands of cards, gifts and poems that people paying their respects leave every day. Watching bikers break down in tears as they remember fallen comerades is almost heart breaking. I remember one year when a group of bikers at the entrance were handing out single white candles that they would light for you so you could ‘bear a torch’ for those who passed. Whether you feel the war itself was right or wrong, it’s a very powerful feeling, standing in front of that wall and acknowledging the sacrifices that those soldiers made.

After The Wall, I made my way past the Lincoln Memorial over to the Korean War Memorial (Dedication Week July 26-29, 1995). It consists of 19 larger-than-life U.S. soldiers equipped for battle. They are arranged in a slightly triangular marching position, and they’re all wearing ponchos. All of them appear to be slowly marching toward the American flag at the front of the memorial. Etched into the black granite along the right side of the memorial are photographs of hundreds of faces taken from military archives. The granite curb on the return path coming from the memorial lists the 22 countries of the United Nations that sent troops or gave medical support in defense of South Korea. The numbers of those killed, wounded or missing in action and held as POW’s are etched in the stone around the Pool of Rememberance.

My stepfather fought in the Korean War, being one of the few to walk out of Chosin. For this reason, remembering the Korean War holds a very special place in my heart.

Last day at the beach – Santa Marta, Colombia

Today is the last day that we´re going to be in Santa Marta. Tomorrow morning, early, we head back to Barranquila. I´m going to be coming back a little early – likely Wednesday, so I´ll use the extra days off to compress from my trip. I´m still thinking about possibly going in to work friday, but I´m not sure. For my own personal sanity, I´ll likely just stay off until I have to go back in on Monday.

I can´t explain how much I´m going to miss this place and want to be back here, but I´ll get back here as often as funds permit. Over the last couple of days, lots has happened, and I haven´t had time to document it all in my little diary, so it´ll likely sound pretty disjointed.

The merchants in this area are all centralized throughout the halls of the large condominiums on the beach. They´ve got permanent little stalls set up that they sell all their wares out of, and it´s like this wierd little maze of really keen things to buy. Two days ago, while I was walking through a part of the market that I hadn´t visited yet, I saw this booth full of beautiful necklaces, earrings and dreamcatchers.

At this booth I met friends that speak english, which surprised me. Jasmine and John are these two amazing people who makes these amazing macrame necklaces and hair weaves, as well as painting temporary tattoos with the juice of an inedible fruit called Jagua.

A little about Jagua:

— The jagua is an inedible fruit which the Waounan and Embera people have long used as a body dye. (The Embera People live in the Darien of Panama and the department of Choco in Colombia. In Panama they inhabit the same areas as the Indigenous group Waounan with whom they share many cultural similarities. ) It is used as a black dye to paint people’s skins. The pigment remains embedded in the skin until the external layer is naturally exfoliated, generally lasting between 10 to 12 days. It is indelible dark blue or black, like a two-week tattoo. The fruit is hard and needs to be grated. The pulp is then mixed with a very small amount of water and squeezed by hand or inside a piece of fabric to extract a liquid that darkens as it oxidizes. To make it stronger, the liquid is often heated in a pan over a fire to make it more viscous. Then the jagua juice is ready to be applied directly on dry skin. It dries in minutes and the indelible markings cannot be removed with any type of soap, detergent or chemicals. It remains in the skin until the upper layer of skin is naturally exfoliated by the body. —

This info yanked from: Native Planet NGO

Jasmine is from California, and decided to get out of the US and travel the world, and she´s been going through various countries in South America for about 6 years. She´s in her early twenties, and has the most amazing energy and awesome attitude in general, and it was truly joyous to be able to spend time with her and her boyfriend, John. She speaks english, but John doesn´t, so there´s been some interesting translation going on. I´ve been telling her about a lot of the changes in the states, and she´s been telling me about these amazing travels through the Amazon, Argentina, Brazil, etc – where they collect the majority of the materials that they utilize in their craft: Crocodile teeth, various vegetable seeds, monkey teeth and various bones and such. The work that they do is truly inspiring, and they fairly radiate with this really positive vibe.

I did my best to buy them out of as much of their stock as possible, both to help them out, and to avail myself of the amazing stuff that I ended up picking up. Both of them also put hair weaves in my hair with brazilian wax string, crocodile teeth, seeds and fish vertebra. They turned out amazing. I really need to learn how to do macrame now.

Tommy is a very relaxed, laid back man from Estonia who has been in South America for ten years. Both Jasmine and Tommy speak very good english, so I´ve been hanging out with them a lot and hearing about interesting local stories as well as getting a great chance to be social with people that my brain doesn´t have to work so hard to translate with. His little section of the market is full of ornately beaded rosaries, because apparently that´s the big thing down here this season.

Throughout the day as I hung out with them, I got to watch Jasmine and John paint tattoos on people with the jagua, and I decided to get my fingers painted. The tips are now black, and interestingly festive. I wish I could find a jagua artist in the US. I´d get designs done all the time.

I´ve got their contact information so that I can stay in touch with them as well as sending them blackberry jam and other things from the states that they miss. While I was walking to get some rum for the gang at some point, I ran into a guy who asked me, in spanish, where I was from. I told him that I was from the US, and he gave me the little woven bracelet that he was wearing, telling me that he wanted me to take it with me to the US. I smiled and kissed his cheek, thanking him and the women he was with, and they smiled and headed off to the playa.

Last night, on the playa, I sat with Madrina and Padrino and with friends of theirs that had driven in from Barranquila while this very interesting older gentleman with the wierdest musical ´one man band´ contraption that I´ve ever seen came up with these hysterical songs on the fly for every person that he spotted walking by. At some point, a really trashed guy stumbled over to us and started blithering about something that I couldn´t understand, and at that point we decided it was time to call it a night. I think this was about 12:30.

Yesterday afternoon, we went to Playa Blanca (the white beach), and while the water was nice and clear, the dropoff was steep and the little rocks on the beach were frelling murderous on my feet. I covered myself with my little white sheer hoodie in the hopes that I wouldn´t burn as badly as I did that first day out, and it worked well. Madrina said that I looked like a momia (mime) though. Momia del Mar. That´s me. We had the amazing lizard fish again, which was delicious, but I didn´t realize that they were going to cut up the ENTIRE fish and serve it to me. The fish is ENORMOUS. The rest of it is currently in the fridge, waiting for me to chow down on it.

Later today, I´m going to head out to the ocean for the last time (sniff) and say my goodbyes to del Mar. It´s been a wild, wonderful trip, and I definitely want to come back out here in another year or two.

Fun with Profiles

People ask my why I don’t just stop announcing my Yahoo! profile to the public.

Truly skin crawly conversations and stories like this are an example. Today, I get this innocuous IM from a woman who claimed to be from Texas. She seemed nice enough, so I went ahead and start talking to her. I’ll refer to her throughout the IM conversation as [TXOccultFetishist], since that’s pretty much what she came off as when I figured out what was going on.

She started off by asking me about Erotic horror, and then asked if it ‘fit in’ with my interest in Voodoo. I explained the difference in connection for me between the two, and she sounded dissappointed, stating that she was getting this ‘evil idea LOL’. I did my best to explain the spiritual aspect of the path to her, and after hearing this, she sends:

[TXOccultFetishist]: Would it be too forward to tell you the erotic horror idea I had?
ninjac00t3r: please do. – (thinking that she actually had one, I figured why not?)
[TXOccultFetishist]: I’m imagining a Voodoo priestess taking mental control of me…. transforming me from a Jewish housewife into a Voodoo practitioner….. dressing me in the ritual clothing…. even taking my expensive jewelry from me as an offering

Uh…What? It took me a minute as my mind boggled before I answered:

ninjac00t3r: it sounds more like a fetishist fantasy more than erotic horror

Hoping that she was going for an honest story idea – something that might be strangely humorous, I told her that there were writers in the industry that came up with stories that ran along these kinds of lines. She mentioned having an ‘occult’ fetish, and I tried to work with her to figure out where that might come from – hoping that she was perhaps looking for insight of a sort.

Unfortunately, I was wrong:

[TXOccultFetishist]: Could I ask a favor?
ninjac00t3r: sure
[TXOccultFetishist]: If I sent you my pic, would you tell me what I’d be dressed in?

A momentary image/idea flashed through my head about a dominatrix Voodoo priestess, and I winced, almost slapping my forehead before I answered:

ninjac00t3r: this is something you should explore within the fetish scene, not with a spiritual priestess.

(RodSerling-on)A Jewish Texan housewife looking for a little ‘spice’ in her life who wants to be forcibly dressed up and forced to adhere to a certain religion.(RodSerling-off) I thought I’d heard it all, but then something like this comes along.

I almost pine for the mysterious german penis stranger at this point.