Journal Entry #1

January 4, 2008

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Here’s the first entry of many from the journal I kept while in the RAAN. I would have posted this sooner, but I got caught up in Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano and Jung Chang’s Mao: The Untold Story. Word to the wise: Don’t start two epic books on the same day you restart your blog. It’s a great way to go crazy.

From my 11/07/07 journal entry

Driving along the uneven dirt road from Puerto Cabezas to Sahsa, the first things you notice are the houses. Against the bleak, viridian landscape of the RAAN, the bright orange tarps used as temporary roofing immediately draw the eye, standing out against the felled trees and vast plains. Only the lucky families have plastic tarps protecting their homes from the elements, donated by various governments and humanitarian aid groups. They occasionally bear the logo “USAID: From the American People.” The unlucky families make due with what they can find: the occasional wooden plank, broken metal sheeting salvaged from the wreckage of the storm, and dried palm leaves, all thatched together to form a precarious, temporary shelter. Next to these houses are the vacant frames of wrecked houses, abandoned in the days after the storm by families seeking temporary shelter from neighbors. This is the scene in practically every town on the way to Sahsa, and for someone hoping to understand post-Felix Tasba Pri, it’s a crash course in the daily realities of the residents of the territory.
Read the rest of this entry »

Merry X-Mas…

December 26, 2007

 …I’m back.

I know it’s been a while, but I think you all will be happy to know that I’m alive, in one piece, and back in the US of A. I’m still getting used to wide open spaces, unfettered access to the internet, and all things American (apple pie, football, Republicans, etc.). It’s been a tough adjustment at times, but I’m getting through it ok. The first time I took a hot shower I almost fainted. I still feel the urge to throw toilet paper in the wastepaper basket, I can’t believe there’s no power cuts, and driving! Oh, sweet driving!

 Things here in the US are wacky. Looking back, I guess it was pretty cruel to put up a “Worst Case Scenarios” post that lists all the ways I could die and then not post anything for a few months. I got out to the RAAN to discover that not only did my town not have the internet, but it didn’t even have telephone lines. So for the worrywarts out there, I wasn’t eaten by rats, I didn’t get leprosy, and I sure as shit wasn’t kidnapped. So to make up for lost time and to ease the transition of Nascum to a music blog (more on that later), I’m going to post a page from the journal I kept while in the RAAN every day for the next few weeks. So get ready for steady updates!

Oh yeah, new flickr photos. Enjoy!

Worst Case Scenarios

October 31, 2007

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So I’m preparing to head out to the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua in a week-or-so, but I just wanted to list off a few really terrible worst case scenarios that could happen while I’m working in la Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte. The RAAN is a pretty safe place, but that’s not to say that there aren’t at least a few unsavory situations that I could run into…

I get attacked by a horde of rats and die

I remember picking up the major newspaper here in Managua, La Prensa, a month or so ago and seeing a headline that sorta kinda translated to “A Plague of Rats Ravishes the Atlantic Coast.” My first thought when I saw the Spanish phrase “Plaga de ratas” was, “I hope to God that’s not the Spanish translation of “The Bubonic Plague.” Fortunately, it only translated to “a plague of rats.” Whew. For a minute there, I thought I was in danger. Apparently, for the last year or so, there’s been a huge rat infestation up in the north of Nicaragua. They’ve destroying crops and terrorizing the population near the Coco River — where I’ll probably be staying.

Ok, so I’ll be honest, I don’t know if a horde of rats really can eat a human being. I mean, I’m guessing it’s a possibility, right? They’re would have be a lot of rats to take down a full-grown man — like a Rat King or something. And I’ve actually had some pretty cool experiences with a friend of mine’s pet rats. But still, they’ve got teeth and I’m pretty sure there’s more than a few cases in recorded history of someone being bitten by a rat. So it only stands to reason that if you get a lot of them together… Ugh. I don’t want to think about it. At least it’s not the Bubonic Plague…

I get leprosy and die

So the people here in Managua are all atwitter about the number of people showing symptoms of leprosy in the country. Yesterday, the Vice Minister of Health announced that there are 2,000 people with symptoms of leprosy, 76 of which have been clinically diagnosed as having the disease. The situation has been described by La Prensa as “chaos.”

Ruh roh.

To be fair, these cases are pretty spread out across the country, and are not exclusive to the RAAN. But if the Vice Minister of Health is correct, the disease is in the RAAN right now. Well, at least if I get leprosy, I’ll be able to tell who are my real friends. If someone stands by you while you’re infected by a disfiguring disease of biblical proportions, you know they’re a keeper.

Another hurricane hits and I die

We all saw the Al Gore movie. It’s always a possibility.

So I figure I better do this now. If I die, Angie gets my record collection, Brooke gets my Mac (she always wanted a laptop), and I want “peperony and chease”on my tombstone. Actually, fuck that. If I die, cremate me and shoot my ashes out of a cannon in the middle of the desert as Metallica plays an extended version of “Creeping Death.” And there needs to be fireworks, lots of fireworks. Yeah, that’d be sick.

Pin Politics

October 27, 2007

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“Why do we wear pins? Because our country is under attack!”
– Sean Hannity

Ahhhh…brain hurts…can’t believe… people… think this is news… ahhhhh!

You’d think being a few hundred miles away from the U.S. would make stupid “controversies” like this seem less stupid. Nope. They’re still really stupid.

Ok, let’s try these photos again.

October 14, 2007

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So flickr has been kind of a pain in the ass lately, but I finally think I’ve got my photos uploaded. For future reference, you can check out my photos at www.flickr.com/photos/nascum. I’d upload this stuff to facebook, but that place is crawling with potential employers that look down on bearded weirdos that go to Nicaragua.

In other news, I’ve been gaining lots of traffic lately. Unfortunately, most of my traffic is coming from search terms like “Nicaraguan dicks” or “Nicaragua + dicks.” I knew that post was going to come back to haunt me…

Where I’ve Been…

October 10, 2007

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(Thanks to Johanna Schnell for the above campo photo )

So it’s been a while since my last update, so I’m going to reward everyone with new Flickr photos! Hooray!

Anyway, updates have been sparse lately because I’ve been traveling around Nicaragua for the past few weeks. I spent a week in the countryside — el campo for the Spanish inclined — working with a campesino family in the town of La Estrellita. The man I lived with, Juán de la Cruz Guiterréz Hernandez (which is about the most Hispanic name of all time), was a big-time Sandinista and spent most of my time with me talking about Fidel Castro and letting me know that there’s this thing called poverty that’s kind of a bitch. (Who knew?) I thought I’d met leftists before this guy, but this guy’s Revolutionary Curriculum Vitae makes Jake Bell seem like Ann Coulter. Waka waka. At 14, he was a guerrilla fighter. After the Revolution of 1979, he trained in Cuba and fought Contras in the countryside. He quit the army in 1990 when they told him that it was being de-politicized — a change he said was total bullshit. He then went to the countryside and started running a coffee cooperative, with no previous farming experience. In the ’90s, he fought against a law that would have confiscated all collective property and spoke in front of the General Assembly on Nicaragua. He’s now a Sandinista political organizer.

All you American Leftists, you’re pussies compared to this dude.

It was a pretty exciting experience. Juán de la Cruz let me plant some beans and husk some corn, so I guess I’m a bona fide country boy now. Also, if you eat Nicaraguan beans in the near future, it’s likely that my grubby hands have been all over that shit.

One morning we went out to visit the people that tended to Juán’s cows. Their house was like something out of a Faulkner novel: a run down shack in the middle of the muckiest muck I’ve ever seen, kids playing with dead birds, and exotic, psychedelic fruits (the father of the home gave me a red and white spotted pear to eat. No shit.). I was halfway expecting one of the kids to run up to me and say “Mi madre es un pez.”

I spent this past week in Orinoco on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. I’ll post more on that when I get a chance, but until then, I’ll leave you with a photo of my awesome facial hair after the break. Read the rest of this entry »

El Aborto Ilegal

September 20, 2007

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Aren’t Christian Fundamentalists cute?

From abroad, it’s hard to take things like the Voter Values Debate seriously. I don’t know why, but when you’re separated by a couple thousand miles from this kind of homophobic, anti-choice, reactionary bullshit, it just seems kind of kooky and funny. And there’s nothing better than sitting in bar with some Nicaraguans, explaining to them that in the United States our most retarded voters ask leading, loaded questions to empty podiums and consider that a “historic” political debate.

But imagine for a second that these batshit-insane fundamentalists actually guided policy. Imagine that they actually struck down Roe v. Wade. That’s what it’s like here in Nicaragua, where all forms of abortion — including cases where the woman’s life is at risk — are illegal. Read the rest of this entry »

Nicaraguans Love the Dicks

September 18, 2007

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You see some weird shit here in Managua.

The other day I was walking down the street near my house, and all the sudden, a horse drawn carriage-like thing comes barrelling down the road. These horse-drawn carriage things aren’t too uncommon down here. Sure, it’s not a major form of transportation, but I’ve seen more than a handful of these horse-drawn carriages in the few weeks I’ve been here.

What was weird was that the driver was wearing a “Dicks” t-shirt. Yes, that band. For all my friends who aren’t up on there obscenely named punk bands, The Dicks were an obscure ’80s hardcore punk group that wrote a lot of songs about homosexual sex (they really broke boundaries back in the day). Their first single “Dicks Hate the Police” is arguably the best hardcore punk song of the ’80s. If you’ve ever heard a queercore song, you’ve got The Dicks to thank for that. They’re pretty much the best hardcore band of the 80s that didn’t come out D.C. Pick up The Dicks – 1980-1986 to see why.

I stood there in shock for like five minutes. I mean seriously, what the fuck? Was he a Dicks fan? He can’t be. It’s hard to find Dicks albums in the U.S., much less down here where the new Kanye West album doesn’t exist. (1,000,000 hugs to the first person to up that to sendspace to me. Austin/Jes/Rebecca, I’m looking in your direction.) And even if he was a fan, I find it hard to believe that he’d import the t-shirt all the way from the states. That would be a rediculous waste of money for a guy who’s still using transportation from the 16th century.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that somewhere in the states, some generous punk thought it would be funny as hell to donate all his obscure punk t-shirts to a Nicaraguan charity. In fact, when I get back to the states, I’m going to make it my goal to donate random obscure punk t-shirts to charity. So keep an eye out for Haitians wearing Suicide or Drive Like Jehu t-shirts in the coming years.

Estoy Vivo…

September 4, 2007

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In case you might be curious, I’m alive and well in Managua.

Managua is an extremely strange city. There are no tall buildings because they were all knoced down in the earthquake of ’72, and ever since then, nobody has wanted to build tall buildings because of the cost associated with making them earthquake proof. So everything is low to the ground, and the tallest building I’ve seen is the Holiday Inn.

I’m currently living in a working class barrio in the center of the city with a really nice family. Managua is rationing electricy right now, so we don’t have power from 2-7 p.m. The water only runs from 3-8 a.m., so if I wake up late, I have to take a shower by dumping a bunch of water we have stored on myself. This means that I always wake up early. My host father was a guerrillero that fought in the revolution and against the contras. The mother of the household participated in the literacy crusade. They’re die-hard Sandinistas, although they seem to have mixed feelings about Daniel Ortega, for obvious reasons. They also have 5 year old niño, who’s really funny (Although I can’t understand a word he says because everything he says is a couple of octaves above what I’m used to).

The guy in the photo at the top of the page is Sandino. The FSLN put this on top of the hill between old and new Managua when they transfered power in 1990.

I’ll have more updates once I’m done with my Fulbright application, so expect more soon. Until then, check out the photos I’ve uploaded to Flickr.

Chau.

“Can You See the Dove on My Shoulder?”

August 29, 2007

Justice’s next album cover.

For as long as I can remember, hobos have loved to fuck with me. I can’t explain it. Maybe I just look like an easy target. I don’t know. But for some reason, hobos get great pleasure out of messing with me. A hobo once attempted to mug me outside of an Andrew WK concert by putting a rolled up newspaper under his shirt and pretending it was the barrel of a gun (I gave him 20 bucks for creativity). An Argentinean hobo stole my lighter.

I’m like hobo catnip. Read the rest of this entry »