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Swahili lesson: Unataka kuchuliwa? = Do you want a massage? Tulia, samba! = Easy, lion!

Sarah Enid and Congolese School Girls
Sarah Exports the Peace Sign

I’m still in Kinshasa. I missed the earthquake in the East by a matter of days. Somehow, I forgot to factor natural disasters into the list of possible dangers. Here, in the capitol, my bad education continues. Over the past week I’ve met with high school girls, college students, parliamentary officials, women’s groups, a local private television station, and a priest. My list of fragmentary knowledge grows. Here are a few examples: There is a culture of NGOs in Congo which have been described as the New Colonialism. The only people with jobs in this country are those working for NGOs. Every other vehicle in this smog choked city belongs to the UN. They have a sweet set-up and they do nothing. They do nothing. They know where rebel groups viagra reviews comments are located. cialis how long to work They know everything about the Interhamwe’s whereabouts and doings. But instead they just act as a fat parasite, leeching like every other outsider who has their hand in Congo’s honey pot. Meanwhile, the Chinese are offering Congo a huge chunk of change so they can get at the resources. Congo’s belly is swollen with oil, as it turns out. So if you know Congo only for its diamond mines, well this puppy has resources beyond belief and EVERYONE wants some.

OMG

On the equally frustrating social scene I’ve learned that many of the rape victims in the East are ostracized because people in the village believe that they are cursed, or even that they somehow asked for it. Across the country there is a huge problem with sexual violence and general oppression of women. The high school girls I talked to told me that their teachers are always trying to get them to sleep with them and often their grades depend on it. And the real frustrating part is that when violence and oppression is the norm and there is also a huge problem with impunity many women don’t even think about their rights, or that there really is such a thing as women’s rights. I’m really glad I’m not a radical feminist because I’d likely get all, “I’m GOING TO CRUSH SOME SKULLS!!”. And I am wildly angry, but I have met is there a generic viagra a lot of women who are trying to re-educate people about some pretty basic human rights issues. So, there is at least faction attempting to influence basic awareness. If I come back to Congo again I have been asked to appear on a local private television show, they are going to have a special program. Yeah, hilarious and possibly a disaster, but in any case we’ll get that shit up on youtube. Barring any last minute disasters, I will fly out of Kinshasa on Sunday and be back in SF the 16th. It’s so strange here and I’m really going to miss it. The traffic is the worst. I’ve never had so many near misses in my is viagra blue life, and he roads themselves are really just a series of kiddie pool sized pot-holes. There are vendors of everything, in fact they stand on the side of the street canadian pharmacy online hydrocodone and

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hold out puppies to passing cars, Puppies. They sell crocodiles in the market and I also saw a monkey just tied to some log. We have been lucky to have electricity and running water almost every day. Often power lines get cut and stolen to be sold. I ate a pile of caterpillars, they tasted good. Oh, crocodile tastes like fishy chicken.

Sewing Circle

Okay, I think that covers the basics for now. Oh, here is a Konono #1 video so you can see what Kinshasa looks like:

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Sarah in Kinsasha with an Congolese Police dude

I have avoided writing about my trip because I don’t really understand it. I experienced my first real culture shock when I landed, maybe not because Congo is so different than I expected, rather because it’s just as it promised it would be. It met me with green haunty hills and gashes of jungle and the twisting spine of the Congo River, and then we landed and it was havoc.

Kinshasa has a post apocalyptic quality that I have now gotten used to, but at first, after flying for days I was out of my body out of my mind.

Congo is, well I’m having a hard night so I hesitate, but I mostly want to say, terrifying and fucked, but I will re-frame by saying that it is blood stained for generations, and the whole country suffers from post traumatic stress– they are survivors. Everything seems corrupt and in perpetual quagmire. A kingdom of ghost and guns. Everyone is stunning.

For now I will just give you some disconnected highlights that make even less sense to me than they will to you:

I learned that my travel companion was hit by lightning when he was a child and smoke came out of his mouth.

I watched TV with Kabila’s (the assassinated president) vice-president. Er . . . The former president had four vice presidents, and I hung out with one of them. His slipper fell off at one point and I put it back on his foot. In his office I saw a photograph of him with Che and another with Mao, and then we ate some chicken.

We were in Goma during the big Congo Peace Conference, and when our plane landed one of our interpreters turned to me and said, “You know, there are rebel groups no less than 40 kilometers from here”. The conference was deadlocked for a few days and in the end I fear that paper signing is the last thing that will do this country any good.

I crossed Lake Kivu, which rests upon a layer of natural gas, one crack in the basin and the whole lake would explode and the surrounding region would be suffocated by the gas. Seriously, they have exploding lakes here.

Laurent Nkunda Tutsi General from Rwanda

Eastern Congo, really. We had a police man from the presidential guard when we went outside of the city into the villages in the Walungu region. I just found out today that there had been another rebel raid on a village in Walungu while we were there. We don’t know where exactly, they could have been on the other side or it could have been a few miles away. Yes, pretty much scary, but I knew this going in.

I was able to interview a few women, rape victims, in Walugu, and interestingly I actually met and interviewed the same woman that was in that Anderson Cooper thing I sent you. I don’t really know what to tell you about this. It was disturbing, of course, but really my brain is only allowing a little of this information to register at a time.

The next day we were invited to a gun exchange in which a local organization was trying to get villagers to trade in their weapons for useful items like tin roofing or bicycles. It failed; no one would show because this would be a public admittance of being a thief and rapist. I didn’t think it was a realistic plan, but I was there to bear witness anyway. The army was there and then the UN showed up. In this region the UN is made up of a bunch of terrifying Pakistani men that ride around in jeeps. They were like, what are you

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white people doing here in this village in Eastern Congo?

A fine question.

And then I left the jungle and now find myself back in sweltering Kinshasa. I am trying to follow what is and has been going on in this country since the war. I now understand that Rwanda is trying to carve out a piece of Congo, and that the Interhamwe were once found eating UN food. I don’t know!

shitfuckmutherfuckingjesuschristbaby

ok.

Anyway, I’m safe still but pretty well frustrated and misanthropic. Well, no, not completely, but if you want more details I’ll try my best to pull together the fragmented mess that i know and have gathered from my time so far. I will be here for two more weeks, more interviews and filming and then I will pull myself from the motherlands dark loins and return to our white bitch of a country.

I am missing everyone something awful and I feel so so far away. But, all this said, I wouldn’t trade a moment in Africa for anything.

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In Serbia a lot of people hate me because they want to westernise, not understanding that the western world is bipolar, with very good things and very bad things. Since they don’t have experience of the west, they even believe that western shit is pie.–Emir Kusturica

Despite my predilection for hiding in my room events overran me recently, out into the Richmond and in front of what used to be the jock-lite Last Day Saloon and has now become the yuppie-lite Rockit Room. True there was a birthday to celebrate and true two people had invited me but I was a little shocked at how readily I had consented to being taken away from my room. Maybe the mood was just there, perhaps the moon was in a special phase– I dunno. It may have been because two Serbian/Rom style bands were playing. Years ago I dwelled in a dank little hovel called Leather Tongue which was so similar to the dank little hovels I hid away in on purpose

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that I kept going. It didn’t pay well and it didn’t help any minor mental issues I might have had but it did introduce me to plenty of movies I would never have chosen to hunt down and rent on my own. After renting it out to hip Mission scum a thousand times I checked out “Black Cat White Cat” by Emir Kusturica which drilled into my mind and deposited some of the most flamboyant images ever captured on film as well as some of the most scintillating music ever, er, captured on film. If Fellini had been into carnies more than circus freaks and was thrilled by saturated colors (and been Serbian) it would have been his movie. I travelled back in time a couple of years and caught his earlier festival success, “Underground“. Last year at a different job I was hawking shit on eBay when I pulled the soundtrack to “Underground” from a bin of CDs. My hands were shaking and I played it on the office stereo. Then I played it again and again until I was quite certain that everyone was going to kill me so I had my boss price it out. Not in the store’s computer– Argentinian release so it’s $1.99… Awesome! To this day I think this is the only CD that I have danced to with another person. Waiting for my ride to The Rockit Room I played a couple choice cuts and bobbed around while finishing my roommate’s beer. The first band of the evening took their identity-crisis cues from Hector Babenco’s depression-era drama “Ironweed“, glorifying the hobo/drifter lifestyle by not bathing and playing guitar, a washboard and a bass made from a washtub, broom handle and a single tightly wound length of twine. The kids, friends of the birthday girl, ate this up and had skipped their showers special for the event. I tried not to be bothered by this and watched them play but wondering what to expect from the next two groups in the bill.

Brass Menazeri

Zoyres was a quartet: full kit, tuba, clarinet/sax and trombone. Fascinating shit, ultimately danceable and exactly what I was hoping for. It’s weird how the tuba took over where the bass would be and the trombone player kicked ass playing with a brash style reminiscent (tho probably because I can only name two others: my dad and Labamba from the Conan O’Brien show) of Don Drummond. The Brass Menazeri was even more bombastic with nine members, three tuba type instruments, accordian, clarinet, saxaphones and trumpets along with two drummers (a hand bass and a couple rack snares) and vocals. Both are local and I would recommend you check out either if your local is the Bay Area. So the evening went quite well even tho the drinks were horribly over-priced, most of the attendees living as caricatures running around like sugar-addled, snot-nosed brats and my getting home past my bedtime. I should just stop here… But it makes you think, don’t it? So far as I could tell everyone in these bands were American born and bred but both bands played distinctly Eastern European (with some Klezmer mixed in) gypsy music with no obvious Americanization taking place. It’s as authentic as The Dropkick Murphys but somehow entirely less offensive. Hell, the opening band, The Inkwell Rhythm Makers, co-opted not only their music but their dress and shtick from impression of a time long gone. Does America, appropriate outside culture so readily and so completely that there’s no bothering with integrating it with our own? Or do we just not really have any cultural identity not relating to commerce so we borrow heavily from places that have more than a couple centuries under their belts? Ysabella Dolfin wrote in her blog:

Watching local access Asian TV In Japanese. A cooking show. I have no idea what any of the ingredients are… but I recognize ground beef and some type of musrhoom. I am getting the feeling they are cooking “American” food. But they are serving it over rice with sliced fresh spinach. The theme song is some kind of Japanese rap music.

Japanese Ad

Now that’s a proper culutral mish-mash– anything the Japanese have done since 1945 has basically been one form of cocktail or another. Pop music, art, fashion, day to day living, advertising, food… it seems that every aspect of Japan has been touched by America and has incorporated, in the most fucked up way possible, the source material by taking what they think they understand and dumping tradition on top. Hell, the Japanese advertising industry has essentially become the hallmark of the Japanese approach to international relations. Why are we so fascinating to them? Cowboys? The independence of owning your own car? Where the hell is our culture out in the world that’s not a McDonald’s? PS- my efforts to make these pictures integrate into this post have failed but I’m sick of the second one disappearing so I’m gonne give up. Deal with it.

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I recently saw the Christopher Nolan (“Memento”) film The Prestige starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and a mossy, disappointed-looking Michael Caine. The film began in a manner that has become formulaic: the opening image is a panning shot of dozens of top hats clustered on a grassy hillside. It is a seemingly mundane but also unusual image. A Michael Caine herbal viagra alternatives voice over begins, wherein he explains the three parts of cialis is there a generic a magic trick. These three parts are enumerated several times throughout canada pharmacy the film, so I will not rehearse them here–if you choose to see the movie you really let yourself in for about seven minutes of explanation in total, tallying the time for each reiteration. The prestige is essentially the dramatic release of a magic trick. Michael Caine’s voice over carries us to a scene where he–using his skills as a behind-the-scenes trick designer and act consultant–completes a magic trick for a little girl, its stages unsubtly punctuated by his voice over talking points. This scene is to be bookended at the movie’s close with a

badly executed, suspension-of-disbelief disrupting plot twist. From there a winding tale of professional competition, quasi-adultery, envy and revenge uncoils. The plot is driven by the pathologies of the competing magicians, who are cleanly divorced from humanity, social skills, and any recognizable india cialis emotional register. One character, for instance, seeks revenge against someone whose wife he killed. This occurs perhaps to drive home the fact that anyone is expendable in two mens’ quest to be the best magician, but it makes the entire plot feel like it’s trying to sew with its left hand. We are to assume that the cialis 20mg ou 10mg plot is right-handed–the universal and fundamental, culture-bridging urge to be a master magician notwithstanding. Despite canada drug pharmacy these narrative flaws, generally good performances by the numerous big name actors make it all seem OK. David Bowie is http://viagracanada-onlinerx.com/ in the movie, too. In truth, the only reason The Prestige merits mention is because of director Christopher Nolan’s knack for weaving what could be described as either a) philosophical conundrums, or b) cheesy mental puzzles to be loudly argued about in restaurants into the midst of his chaotic tales. can you mix levitra and cialis The movie contains two significant ideas, and the following paragraphs contain spoilers. Hugh Jackman obtains a machine from Nikola Tesla which the withering inventor warns him never to use, mentioning vague horrors. The horror is specifically the fact that the machine creates duplicates. The implications of this are suggested rather than explored, as generic cialis for sale the audience only realizes at the film’s end that Jackman has been accomplishing his tricks at the cost of his own life. At each performance, he drowns himself, trusting that the machine will

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deposit a duplicate in the theater’s upper rows. The question of whether or not he has been killed is fascinating insofar as it applies to our own lives. We have to trust that we will be here in five minutes, and do it so willingly that we almost always ignore the quantum, constantly regenerative nature of our existence, in favor of ascribing continuity to our infinitely individual experiences. The other idea is presented as a conceit, the subject of which is hesitation, which could be construed as some people’s need for a get online cialis prescription savior, a return to the security, absolution, and wholeness of our time as infants, or simply the need to have an end to a story. The audiences attending the magic shows in The Prestige are a few times times denied the promised resolution to the trick, on some india online pharmacy occasions because of a death on stage. Their dumb, disrupted reaction in the face of the unexpected is in marked contrast to the initiative and drive of the performers. The prestige is a dramatic lek za potenciju cialis release, one of the criteria for a performance to count as theater. Another is for the audience to know they are the audience and the performers to know they are performers. In theater it is safe to accept one’s role as a passive audience, and is http://cialiscoupon-onlinenorx.com/ in fact kind of ass not to. In life perhaps the opposite is true.

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deadwoodIt’s been a comfortable ride on the bandwagon this week as I just started watching Deadwood on DVD. I don’t feel strongly one way or another about westerns, but neither did I care for police dramas before NYPD Blue, also written by David Milch. The way Milch pairs characters and actors makes you feel as if you’re constantly catching both with their pants down. He tweaks clichés enough so that you’re watching fictional archetypes battling real circumstances for the first time instead of just running through a narrative. It’s like seeing Hamlet getting a colonoscopy. You don’t know what’s going to happen because the character types have jumped the rails and are along for the ride just as much as you are.

The gritty fetishizing of tough times is immediately sexy, at least partly because it stands in such stark contrast to today’s comfort-laden world. If I was living back then, the horror of day to day events (in addition to holding my bowels for weeks at a time because a bowl filled with my own shit sitting across the room scares the poo out of me, not to mention the hoardes of mites, parasites, and bacteria all waiting for the smallest scratch in your paper-armor skin to ‘fester’ you to death) would be unbearable.

I have no convictions or nobility to carry me through the uncertainty of a mountain pass or to steady my hand in a shoot out. This is because the things around me are more understandable, more predictable. I’m able to rely on health care and public transportation without thinking twice about it. Everything I interact with is so god damned dependable, my own character becomes ambivalent and weak. For the characters in Deadwood it’s the opposite. No one knows why people die of mysterious illness, or what to do about it; no one knows if they’re going to find gold or be killed by mauraders. There’s no time to hmm and hah over who you are, or what to do when someone’s in trouble.

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You just do it. You’re the only thing you can rely on.

Despite the thinnest of opportunities available to Deadwood‘s characters, each one seems to have more persistence towards these tenuous payoffs than I do for ones that are far more concrete. Everyone seems to believe their salvation lies just beyond the next shot of whiskey (wait, maybe we’re not so

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different after all…).

I’m glad I don’t have to be quick on the draw to survive from day to day, but at least staying alive back then was a black and white gauge of success. There are so many dumb and/or reckless people alive today who shouldn’t be that those of us looking for validation of the path we’ve chosen need to read between varied and blurry lines.

Maybe we’ll find a way to meld comfort and engagement without intentionally putting ourselves at risk, but until then it’s interesting to see the ways people are searching…

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