Archive | August, 2014

The obscenity of guns

16 Aug

I am this week in Seattle. Many great and good things I could and maybe I will write about. But here something that I felt I need to write about.

The Seattle Times – nine-time winner of Pulitzer prize for journalism published this week in its first page an article about the many problems and serious dangers due to poor gun control law in Washington state.

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The main advertising found in the same newspaper that day was for a company that sells guns. Nine pages of it.

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Asked about it an US official (State Department) told me proudly – “this is a great proof of no interference in the editorial policy of the newspaper on behalf of the advertiser. “

I was expecting that – dealt with the European Commission bureaucrats for many years. It is disturbing for a European, I said to her. To exemplify I asked her is she would think it is normal to have in a main newspaper an article against pornography and sexual violence and at the same time to have as the main advertising a porn-site known for the horrific ways it portrays women – splashed on nine pages.

She ignored my parallel and undisturbed told me that in fact the advertising is for hunting. I thought for a moment she could have been a Commissioner or at least a Director General if born in the European Union. For sure she could have lead the Roma initiatives in Brussels.

I showed her the pictures of small guns and told her that I doubt that can be used for hunting anything that is more than 10 meters away.

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I kept for myself that I think those could be used against rats and some of the cockroaches I saw in the US and in Ferentari. Considering the cost of ammunition – advertised generously on another two pages in the same newspaper it would be indeed cheaper than most of the rats extermination campaigns ran by some of the Romanian local administrations.

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I asked her if she thinks advertising things that kill people is worst than advertising anything else. She switched to –“ I am not a pro-gun” person “but I respect the second amendment of the US constitution”.

Guns kill thousands of Americans each year – over 12.000 in 2013 to be more precise.

The US official I write about is a very nice, polite and bright woman. The US is an amazing country and the goodness and generosity of most of the Americans is something I wish I could see us, Europeans, replicate.

But neither politeness, intelligence, goodness and generosity will prevent the death of thousands of innocents. The courage to speak up against a decrepit first amendment , against the most powerful arms lobby in the world and populist , irresponsible politicians will do it.

Guns have no place in being advertised by newspapers. It is obscene and irresponsible. And considering how many Americans die every year because of shootings it is also very much anti-American. Over 12.000 times so. Every year…

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Nunta frate …

10 Aug

Biserica este desigur cea mai ciumeaga din oras. Statui urate cu spume dar poleite cu aur sau cu vopsea galbena ca sa para de aur. Masini de masini afara.

Smecherii sunt imbracati toti identic. Costume la fel, veste la fel. Cefe groase, burtosi, tatuaje. O parte din familie – a fetei- sunt bruneti tare. Ma asez inspirat in partea lor asa ca albii din stanga imi zambesc cu gurile pana la urechi. Probabil ca par singurul mai aproape de neamul lor si care nu poate sa manance o vaca de unul singur din familia miresei.

Mirele e imbracat bine tare. Costumul Armani alb lucios pare sa ii dea siguranta. In mod sigur nu ar putea nimeni sa il calce cu masina in timpul noptii – respinge lumina mai bine decat triunghiul meu reflectorizant. Uitandu-ma atent la moaca lui ma gandesc ca in fapt ar putea sa fie multi care sa isi doreasca sa il calce cu masina si probabil i-ar sta mai bine in costum de camuflaj. Camasa e spectaculoasa – un violet dur. Baietii de onoare ( am scris initial si probabil destul de exact de omoare ) au si ei acelasi tip de camese dar sunt in costume negre.

In mod firesc domnisoarele de onoare sunt imbracate ielegant in violet. Nea Gogu ar fi murit de invidie vazandu-le nu de alta dar pare acelasi material ca furourile in care o imbraca pe tanti Ana. La cat de mari sunt unele dintre dihanii nu cred ca mai exista materialul ala pe stoc nicaieri.

Marea lor majoritate, atat barbati cat si femei, poarta cu stil ciocate din piele de sarpe. Afara nu sunt decat 40 de grade.

Mireasa e super piti. Jur ca atunci cand merge se aude piti piti piti piti.Tac-su are un lant de aur care ar putea lejer sa tracteze un TIR. Se rostogoleste cu ea pana la altar. Muzicieni sunt mustaciosi, imbracati sukar cu pantofi rosii si costume negre. Camasile si papioanele sunt atat de stridente incat inteleg nevoia unora sa isi tina ochelarii de soare pe ochi desi biserica este destul de intunecata.

Preotul este asa cum m-am asteptat foarte alb. Inteleg brusc termenul de Marele Alb. Pare gravid in ultima luna cu fata gravida in ultima luna a lui Petre Roman. Nu cred ca am vazut vreodata ceva mai mare. E bine ca se misca caci aerul e destul de statut in biserica.

Mariachii canta impecabil. Cei doi isi spun juramintele – par a fi scrise de varu’ Guta intr-o criza de melancolie.

Ceromonia se termina si ma trezesc pupat cu entuziasm. Ma simt bine. Imi promit sa mai vin in Texas la nunti. In jurul meu spaniola se amesteca cu engleza . Am fost inspirat sa intru in cea mai veche catedrala din San Antonio. Am incercat sa scap de caldura si am trait o super experienta.

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Imi cam lipsesc pustii din Ferentari si mai sunt cateva saptamani bune pana cand o sa ii vad.

Boston, o buna parte din New Hampshire vazut. In poza de mai jos sunt in Concord – firesc la jumatatea drumului intre  Manchester si Liban.

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Urmeaza coasta de vest a Statelor Unite. Mai jos cateva sute de mii de liliaci pe un apus de soare in Austin Texas.

bats

about dreams

1 Aug

Since the beginning of the week I am in the US – received a scholarship. Has nothing to do with me being a Roma as people that nominated me and selected me had no idea I am one.

Last night I had a humbling experience. As an young, dirt poor adult I dreamed of seeing the National Press Club in Washington DC impressed by an American movie I saw.

So, last night I had an amazing dinner at the club. 20 years ago telling anybody about me eating here would have made people think I was insane.

At the entrance in the club there is a bronze plaque with the Journalist’s creed. I took a photo of it.IMG_0592

The last part reads  – I believe that the journalism which succeeds the best-and best deserves success-fears God and honors man; is stoutly independent; unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power; constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of the privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance, and as far as law, an honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship, is a journalism of humanity, of and for today’s world.

I wish the many talented Romanian and European journalists I know and I read could live up to this creed. There are many reasons why it is much easier and profitable not to. But if to make the European project successful we badly need people that have the ethics and incentives to do it. And I decided a while ago that I will try everything I can to help this to happen. I will also try to control better my “pride of opinion” while keeping “unafraid” and “quickly indignant at injustice” when writing about the systemic failures of the intergovernmental organisations, governments and NGOs dealing with the most vulnerable people.

In 1994 I had an issue of The New Yorker left by an American that visited Craiova. I struggled to read it. I thought it was amazing. I write this in my hotel room in New York. What I can see on the window is this.

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20 years ago I was afraid of dreaming too big.I was wrong. I  hope that in 20 -30 years to read similar letters from a few of the children in Ferentari.