Las Chicas de Xela



Young girls at a Saturday morning market.

Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala
June 1992

[Click the photo for a larger image.]

“tenango” translates loosely as “the place of” so Quetzaltenango is the place of the Quetzal, a resplendent bird entwined with religious and mystical beliefs among some native people in Central America and Mexico.

Quetzalcoatl, for example, was or is a native deity. The name roughly translates to feathered serpent.

Elvis Perkins

PORTLAND – Monday night I saw Elvis Perkins at the Doug Fir lounge. Not a music reviewer, I will spare you my impressions – except that I enjoyed the show.

Just now I re-read the Wikipedia story on Mr. Perkins. I was reminded some of us think we have dramatic family history. And then there are those who do.

Perkins is the son of actor Anthony Perkins and photographer Berry Berenson. He was raised in Los Angeles, California, and New York City with his older brother, actor Oz Perkins. Perkins is a great-grandson of the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who was a great-niece of Giovanni Schiaparelli, the Italian astronomer who believed he had discovered the supposed canals of Mars, and a nephew of the actress Marisa Berenson, Berry’s sister. His paternal grandfather Osgood Perkins, was also an actor. His maternal great-grandfather was Count Wilhelm de Wendt de Kerlor, a theosophist and psychic medium. His mother was a great-grandniece of art expert Bernard Berenson (1865–1959), whose sister Senda (1868–1954) was an athlete and educator and one of the first two women elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Perkins attended Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, after graduating from high school at the Harvard-Westlake School in 1994.

Perkins’ father was an Elvis Presley fan and thus named his son Elvis. Perkins took to music at an early age, briefly learning the saxophone before picking up the guitar in high school and taking lessons with Prescott Niles, one-time bassist for The Knack. While he played in rock bands, Perkins developed an interest in the classical guitar, and began to compose music in both idioms. He also wrote poetry, and that gradually morphed into lyrics. After a short stint at college, he began to cultivate the idiosyncratic, highly personalized style that distinguishes Ash Wednesday.

“It’s been a long journey, long in the coming,” Perkins admits, when he discusses the album, and it took a serious detour on September 11, 2001, when his mother, a passenger on the ill-fated American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, perished in the attack on New York City’s twin towers a day before the ninth anniversary of his father’s death. Ash Wednesdaywas shaped in part by that event and its aftermath.

Berry Berenson was the younger daughter of Robert L. Berenson, an American diplomat turned shipping executive, who was of Lithuanian Jewish descent; his mother’s family’s original surname was Valvrojenski.

–Wikipedia, on Elvis Perkins

Florida: If You Care About Your Kids, Get Out Now

A story in the New York Times reports that where kids grow up greatly determines how well they will do in life. This includes jobs, housing, health care and, I suppose, happiness.

The thing I noticed – of course – is that the Tampa Bay Area is pretty much a disaster. For every year parents keep their kids here instead of moving someplace . . . . better, the chances for their kids decline. This is largely because schools are awful; crime is high; transportation is a disaster; cultural opportunities minimal. Do I need to say good-paying jobs are few. Perhaps this is why Florida has so many personal injury lawyers: These people need to pay their law school loans and the best way to do that is to follow the money and squeeze as much as possible from multibillion dollar insurance companies because most people are skint.

The trend is true across all economic classes except one: If you’re poor in Pinellas County, where I live, your chances of earning a little more than the national average increase. So you might earn about $200 more a year – or 10 cents an hour in a full time job. This, I believe, is mostly because of the rebound in tourism and because parts of St. Petersburg – known 30 years ago as “God’s Waiting Room” – have become hip, young and trendy.

Still, it’s a bleak report: The best thing parents can do for their kids is to move as soon as possible. People of means should be moving en masse. That will erode conditions even more. And, given the state government’s current “What, Me Worry?” attitude it seems unlikely things will change anytime soon.

Kathmandu Valley: 1980


This gallery contains 25 photos.

Notes. Somewhere I have notes – a journal, actually – from the three months I spent in Nepal in early 1980. I’d made the somewhat terrifying overland trip from Darjeeling via something called the Rajdoot Express. I’m not certain if … Continue reading

Fracking Leads To Earthquakes: Oklahoma Temblors Now Top California

In a Thursday story from The New York Times we learn:

“Oklahoma used to experience one or two earthquakes per year of magnitude 3 or greater, and now they’re experiencing one or two a day,. Oklahoma now has more earthquakes of that magnitude than California.” – Mark Petersen, chief author of a recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey.

The report about the rise in earthquakes in booming oil areas cites “disposal of waste water left over from extracting fuels and from drilling wells by injecting water into the earth” (a/k/a fracking) as major causes, according to The Times.

You can read the entire story for free on The Times Web site if you haven’t used your free-story quota for the month.

you may not copy this message or disclose its contents to anyone

Received today at my supposedly spam-proof email address.


Netscape? Really?

Fast Loans.  Small & Medium sized companies in every industry and we
have a 91% approval. All Day  Approval Process. Good and Bad Credit
Just apply: [URL deleted by me]

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The integrity and security of this message cannot be guaranteed on the

I clicked on the URL. It forwards to a Web page for Swift Financial and Swift Capital of Wilmington, DE. (I clicked on the link on a computer running Linux – a relatively safe move.)

Ha, ha. Nice try.

This isn’t as good as the emails from a London solicitor claiming an uncle I’ve never heard of left me $50 million. A cousin actually told me I should respond “just in case”.

” . . . a guy in his underwear . . . “

Quote of the century on the financial markets:

“If a guy in his underwear can manipulate markets, anybody can.” — Mark Cuban, American businessman (he owns a professional basketball team among other things), talking about the Tuesday arrest of London financial trader Navinder Singh Sarao.

Regulators accuse Sarao of taking part in the 2010 “Flash Crash” which saw U.S. financial markets fall almost about 6 percent in less than five minutes – a huge drop from which markets mostly recovered by day’s end. Sarao does not want to be extradited to the United States for criminal proceedings (surprise, surprise).

Financial cops accuse Sarao of making $40 million for his part in the swindle.

It’s a classic tale of incompetent regulators, greedy investors, international financial institutions already accused of numerous illegal activities, computerized trading and the “what me worry?” attitude of politicians, the wealthy and (let’s face it) voters who allow this to happen.

Sarao’s arrest is the beginning. He will make a sweetheart deal before squealing on his co-conspirators (criminals always fink on each other – no honor among thieves). Politicians and other “leaders” will holler and moan. Maybe – finally – someone will go to jail.

Then everyone will forget about it. And it will happen again. And again.

[To read a story about Sarao and the charges against him go to and enter the headline “U.K. ‘Flash Crash’ Trader Navinder Sarao Fighting Extradition to U.S. Granted Bail” (without the quotes). Click on the top link in the subsequent search – you can read the entire story in today’s Wall Street Journal.]