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July 5th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

I am home for the most patriotic of holidays and a cluster of July birthdays.  What a better time to test out a new lens (literal and metaphorical) on my hometown and family.  Here are some test shots of fireworks up on Mt. Washington with my folks!

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mi pueblo

June 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Living abroad, I introduce myself in the following way…

Spanish speaking person:
Where are you from?

Me: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (phonetically spoken, “PEETS burr geh, pen seal BANE yah”). Do you know it?

Spanish speaking person:
This is the Steelers?

Me: Yes, also, the Pirates.

I rarely get into New York, Colorado, my stint in Texas, up and down the east coast, Italy, the boat… So many words. I don´t have all that vocabulary, and who has that kind of time? When I am being asked this question, I assume people are just looking for a general “what type of gringo are you” answer. Something that helps them know how to deal with me, not a dissertation on my journey through life.

I was in a market in a pretty remote area and I saw this guy across the checkout area with a Pirates t-shirt on. I was just smiling and waving him down like we were dahn the Iggle or something. (We were NOT. This was a stranger in a strange land.)

Nonetheless I went over and was like hey man, I am smiling because that shirt is from mi pueblo. Which, could be a confusing statement on its own, so I generously went on explaining about how the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins all have the same color combo – Black and gold! See? –  and how seeing that gear so far from home makes me happy. Either that story was a real stunner, or my new bud was just letting the clock run down until F got through the checkout and came to collect his girl. And you know, standing in silence with another person takes real grit.

F sees this – high key talking to strangers in combination with wandering off –  as a genetic trait passed on from both – BOTH, I say – of my parents.  In the simplest telling of the story, its just the way of mi gente.

 

sardine hypnosis

May 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Sardines are a perfect food. They are easy to catch, low in the food chain bioaccumulationaly speaking, and live everywhere. They *can* be caught easily and with minimal waste, or you can find them canned in nice oil or sauce in any tienda. I have a lot of stories that center around sardines.

Sardine hypnosis. #sealevelliving

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My first positive sardine memory is during planning school. Our studio project, a greening plan for a section of the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, was doing our final presentation during a full on community board meeting. I was supposed to do the speaking part for my section, and I was nervous before the talk. My classmate Anthony Gelber, who was a little older than me and knew some stuff, pulled me aside to run through the talk one last time.

From a deli bag he retrieves a carton of OJ, a loaf of Italian bread, and a can of sardines in tomato sauce. I´m running through my note cards, and hes listening and pouring out cups of OJ, scooping out the center of the bread and layering in the sardines. He hands me a sardine sandwich with sauce all over, which forces me to put down my cards and run through the talk on memory, with sauce all over.

This story gives me so much nostalgia – for the camaraderie of school in the city, for the Bronx, for bodega meals. Also for the practice of balancing expertise with real communication (asking, listening, not just talking), being and sometimes staying nervous, and trying things for the first time. Over a decade later, living a very different life, I find daily use for all of this training.

Another day, another sardine. #mandalatogo

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A few nights back a friend broke out a cast net, and we applied it – with the help of a local who had the rather tricky deployment of a cast net on lock – to the roving schools of sardines that thread around the docks. In a few moments we had more than we could possibly eat, and we fried up batch after batch, stuffing our bellies and looking for more people to feed.

So maybe I am elevating the sardine a bit. Maybe this is a more general post about how sharing a meal builds community. Maybe its an even more general post about seeing abundance where it is. Pretty sure this one is not that deep. I just woke up thinking of my next meal, which F can attest is a pretty regular day.