detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Thursday, April 12, 2001


: . Right before bed, Geoff Dyer (writing like Michael Ondaatje) on Michael Ondaatje:

“Ondaatje’s interest in character…is not psychological but forensic. In the slow strobe of his prose, action is broken down into small increments. Any motion leaves a slow blur of intention in its wake. A character’s movement across a room is registered by the disturbance of light angling through a window.
“This is point is anything but incidental. For…it is light that frames and sustains Ondaatje’s unique imaginative vision. The bleached glare of the desert, trees making a ‘sieve of moonlight,’ ‘pink late daylight,’ ‘lightning that ‘drops towards any metal spire that rises out of the landscape,’ the chiaroscuro of candlelit meals in the ruined villa, the blinding flash of news that brings the novel to an end…To cite every mention and inflection of light would be, in effect, to transcribe the entire novel, for light is its shaping force, its valency
“’The long Cairo evenings. The sea of night sky, hawks in rows until they are released at dusk, arcing towards the last colour of the desert. A unison of performance like a handful of thrown seed.’”

: . A must-read:

Nickel and Dimed: Or Not Getting by in America
By Barbara Ehrenreich

“Our sharpest and most original social critic goes ‘undercover’ as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity.
“Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job—any job—can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour?
“To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly ‘unskilled,’ that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not
enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.
“Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity—a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how ‘prosperity’ looks from the bottom. You will never see anything—from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal—in quite the same way again.”

Barbara Ehrenreich's latest column in The Progressive (a great magazine btw) in which she "measures Bush's distance from 'real people.'"

More Barbara Ehrenreich from Common Dreams:

: . Requisite Filipino-related items:

Filipino film-makers on NPR’s Morning Edition.
"Filipino Culture In the US--Beth Accomondo (ah-cah-MAHN-doh), from member station K-P-B-S, reports on several new films that attempt to shed new [light] on Filipino culture in America, and in the process battle the subtle racism against it." Listen here.
The most sublimely rediculous segment: Francisco Aliwalas claims that his film was made for altruistic reasons. So many unemployed Filipino actors in NY he says. He had to employ them. Let the Fil-Am 'artivist' catfights begin.

A reading of Mona Simpson’s story in which a Filipino maid gathers spare change for the trip ‘home.’ From PRI's This American Life.
"$82.50 a Day...This excerpt is about the daytime life of Filipino nannies, during the hours in which they run the lovely homes of certain Los Angeles neighborhoods." Listen here.

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