Annoyingly 20/20 (“Frustrations” Part Two)

This post is the second in a new series called “Frustrations,” an unplugged retelling of some of the difficult circumstances I’ve endured in the past year or so. 

‘Twas the first weeks of December, and a phenomenon which may very sadly and unfortunately never repeat itself again took place – my grandparents traveled more than 2,000 miles from Buenos Aires, Argentina to come see me and my family in Miami.

Well, they traveled by plane but hell; it’s still a stretch.

Continue reading Annoyingly 20/20 (“Frustrations” Part Two)

Busking on 37: a documentary

I am very, very proud to finally present to you all my latest documentary film, Busking on 37.

The film stars my good friend Yero Lopez – a.k.a. Crescendo – who spends time playing his saxophone on a local street corner, having interesting conversations with passersby and making it a good time.

Beyond the fun, however, there’s a person who used to jive to a different beat in high school, and as a close friends of his, it’s both interesting and heart-wrenching to see him where he is now.

Check it out and let me know what you think. Thank you to the wonderful musicians on the Newgrounds Audio Portal for providing the music for the film, which really helps make some of the scenes. Details for these and the materials used are as follows.

EDITING: Tomás Monzón
MUSIC: “A World of Blue” by Matthew Pablo, “Smooth Fall” by Macpherson
CAMERA: Sony HVR-V1U HDV/MiniDV Camcorder
AUDIO: Sony HVR-V1U Onboard Microphone
SOFTWARE: Sony Vegas Pro 13

In praise of the internal combustion engine

I recently took a flight to Houston with my best friend to visit his girlfriend, who’s been living there for nearly a year and is anticipating their moving in together. The trip was fine and dandy, but on the way there, I was treated to a free and endlessly looping preview of a show called Diesel Brothers, where a very skilled group of mechanics wrench on lifted diesel pickup trucks and test them on dynamometers, take them to a test track and more.

I was fascinated. Not by the wisdom these guys possess, not by the size of the trucks and not by the power under their hoods. Rather, I was fascinated by the fact that these guys spend hours and days and weeks and months rubbing their temples and cursing at the machines in their garage in an everlasting pursuit of … speed? profit? a solution to encroaching boredom?

I’ve owned scooters and cars and other types of motor vehicles before, and I too am guilty of having attempted to wrench on them before. Sometimes I did so out of necessity – something was broken and I didn’t have money to take it into a repair shop – while other times I wanted to push the limits of whatever vehicle I was messing around with it.

Some of those attempts were fruitful but most were not. Anytime I tried to do something against the manufacturers’ recommendations – by fitting an exhaust that shouldn’t be fitted or by removing a cover that shouldn’t be removed – I was met with anything but a smoother ride.

How dare I challenge the genius of hundreds or thousands of inventors, mechanics, engineers and thinkers that populate the factories and design labs of vehicle manufacturers by thinking I’ve got a better idea than them on how to do something?

Check out the views you’re missing out on by choosing to not mess around with small motors!

Of course, I’m no mechanic. The guys on Diesel Brothers sure know a thousand times more about motor vehicles than I do. But the frustration they undergo mimics the one I went through during these half-baked repair and modification attempts.

So in the end, we’re both on the same boat. When their trucks’ transmission fails or suspension cracks, they’re rubbing their foreheads and exasperating heavily just the same way I did.

I’ve since stopped messing around with those things and figured I’m better off leaving it to the professionals. After all, what’s the point of modifying a motorcycle or car or truck to stand taller, drive faster or make more noise? What a waste of time.

One thing’s for sure – the modern internal combustion engine is a common factor between all those possibilities. There’s something uncannily exciting, it seems, about a relentlessly cycling piece of aluminum filled with gasoline and power steering fluid and air that can quite literally be the foundation for an hour-long TV series about a group of young guys talking shop about the damn thing.

Forget women, forget sex, forget alcohol, forget video games and forget sports. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can rile a man up so much as to work on and later enjoy – or be frustrated by – the raw power that an internal combustion engine can develop. It’s quite interesting, and quite senseless.

Aghast at the time wasted on these things.

Yes, that’s right, senseless. On a show like Diesel Brothers, the feats being accomplished are not spectacular. The trucks are lifted as high as the level of pollution their engines emit, and I find it to be all for naught. The pursuit of speed? Of profit? A solution to encroaching boredom?

They do occasionally turn a profit off of the trucks, and that may be lauded as the brothers’ most redeeming accomplishment. To “work” on “improving” beat-up trucks by elevating them to unnecessary heights and making money off of it is really quite genius, but the senselessness of the whole affair – removing money as a valuable commodity – remains.

Losing my peace (“Frustrations” Part One)

This post is the first in a new series called “Frustrations,” an unplugged retelling of some of the difficult circumstances I’ve endured in the past year or so. 

There’s a decent share of posts on this blog where I vaguely allude to a current life situation and then proceed to support some larger-than-life hypothesis about what it means for my future or why I’ve been burdened with it.

Starting with this post, I’m changing that style in favor of explicit explications of my life story. After all, I pride myself on keeping no secrets, so why not?

Furthermore, I’ve built up a small share of anger over the past several months. Anger at myself, anger at my circumstances, anger towards the actions of others. Some of it began as frustration and transitioned to that dark red emotion. It’s out of character for me, though – an individual whose pacific demeanor has been a personal staple for years – and therefore noteworthy in my book.

Continue reading Losing my peace (“Frustrations” Part One)