Friday, January 31, 2014

Paquito at Grand Central Market

Juzno:  What is the secret to your great skin?

Paquito:  I only use organic and I don't use soap on my face.

Juzno:  What is it then?

Paquito:  Olive oil.

Juzno:  Is that a spike hair-do that you sport?

Paquito:  Si.  I had it for mucho anos.

Juzno:  And what is the secret for it staying in place?

Paquito:  Aloe Vera.

Happy Chinese New Year

Juzno:  Where are you guys going?

Masked Men:  We are going to a party-party?

Juzno:  Will there be dancing?

Masked Men:  Oh yes.  Line dancing.

Juzno:  Can I come?

Masked Men:  Are you Chinese?

Juzno:  No.

Masked Men: Then you can come.

Juzno:  What if I'm Chinese?

Masked Men:  Then you can come.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Conchita at the Grand Central Market (reworked)

Rose suggested that we go out for a change to shake off the rut that I have been dragging these last few days.  We ended up in Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles and met some very interesting people.  Here is the first of the ones I shot.   (More to come later.)

Conchita:  Vamos.  Vamos.  What you want, M'ijo?

Juzno: Nothing really.  I'm just here to take pictures.

Conchita:  Then take mine!

Juzno:  Okay.  [Snap]

Conchita:  Lemme see.

Juzno:  Here.  [Shows her the LCD screen.]

Conchita:  Oww, mi cha-cha.  I loook soh preetty.  Gracias, gracias.

Juzno:  De nada.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Juzno Responds to Mr Mojo Rising about Miles Davis

Dear Mr Mojo Rising,

Sorry for not getting back at you sooner.  By the way, my English teacher warned us that the worst thing one can do in starting a letter is to begin with the word "sorry".  No wonder I barely passed English class.  My recollection is that the class was brutally lethargic - filled with exercises of dispositioning correct conjugations, grammatical confusions, and faulty pronunciations.  My English teacher had an accent that was thick as a brick that following her lead scarred me for life.  For the longest time, I would pronounced Sue - a character in one of our required reading books - as "zoo-weh".   Hence, when I first came to New York, people would laugh at my accent.  I've learned to overcome this handicap after I religiously watched episodes of Seinfeld.  I am forever grateful for the wonders of Television.

I realized I am pretty off by this time because my education was not the reason that I am writing to you.  This is actually my response to your missive to me with regards to the very gifted Mr Miles Davis.  You see I've lost most of the pirated music CDs of Mr Davis so I had to go to the library and borrow whatever music of Mr Davis they have.

I managed to get hold of Kind of Blue.  It has been years since I listened to that album that it brought back trippy memories.  My old friend Duane Allman and I would hang out stoned out of our ears and listen to each track of this album.  They all sounded the same.  Nonetheless, I have now made a conscious effort to listen to the tracks with objective ears.  I must say that listening to the songs sober feels like fishing on a tepid creek in a lonely place down in Big Sur.  If you've never been to Big Sur, I would not recommend it for fishing.  The creeks are as dry as the aqua duct in Los Angeles during summer.  I further digress.  Back to Mr Davis.  Yes. Listening to his music required  a bit of of work.  At the moment, I am still listening but eventually I think I'll make it through.

I never figured out what’s likeable about jazz in the first place.  For instance, it smells funny.  I will listen to the album for a couple more times, and then I'll let you know what I now think of it.  In the meantime I'm attaching this photo, which I've taken while getting lost in the streets of Manhattan as I was trying to find Soho.  I ended up being swept into a Turkish Parade.  I'll tell you about that in my next letter - assuming there will be another one.  Hope you enjoy this photo.  It's called Rock n' Roll in case you're wondering what it is about.

Take care.

Yours freely,


P.S.  Sorry for this long winded response to your letter.  It seems only right to start and end my response with an apology.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's still summer in California

People in East Coast: "Wahhhhhhh!"

The Existential Customer

What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet. - Woody Allen

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Angel Tree 2013

Angel Tree, a program of Prison Fellowship, reaches out to the children of inmates and their families with the love of Christ. The First United Reformed Church in Chino, California shares Christ’s love by helping to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the families of prisoners.  The following documents the activities in December 2013.

© 2014 Rob Castro

Monday, January 13, 2014

Retrospective on receiving my award: How I remember it three days ago

Juzno has successfully transformed Rob into an abstraction.

Sucking on my pipe briar packed with Lane 1Q (whatever that stands for), sipping on Stone IPA, and listening to Coltrane outside where the feisty Santa Ana winds bring forth winter allergies here in So Cal.

Three days have passed since I received an award from the Big Guy at my previous work.  It was the the first time I got real close to him and I suddenly realized that the Big Guy was a dead ringer for Rodney Dangerfield - only the Big Guy's head was larger.  It was so huge that it perfectly matched Dangerfield's bulging eyeballs.

He was reading from a script but he sounded as if he has known me for decades.  That is what politicians do and they are good at doing it.  "I feel you, bro."  Clinton was great at saying such things with Salon Pass warmness full of empathy.  Too bad, Gore couldn't learn from his former boss.  But I'm digressing.

The Big Guy was ready to hand me my Crystal Bird award.  He was going to make me say something in front of 300 people.  We were in this auditorium filled with corporate greeds on one side of the aisle and environmental wackos on the other side.

The environs dominated the auditorium by 3 to 1.  They have bus loaded a group of Latinos from neighboring communities.  They were given free white hats and T-shits that said "Exide Kills".  Outside was a small kiosk where one just have to sign up to get freebies along with Doritos and popcorns.  Were they expecting this event to be like a movie?

Fortunately that wasn't why I was there.  The first order of business was to give me my retirement award.  There I was on the stage with the Big Guy.  I tried to present my best side as the video camera was rolling.  Am I going to be on the 6 o'clock news?

An hour ago, I felt sick immediately after eating home made breakfast cereal.  I must have thrown up everything I ate.  And now I was about to say something to these 300 people.  Don't be stupid.  Don't try to sound smart.  It's only going to make you look dumber.

Minutes before approaching the Big Guy on stage I asked Rose, "What will say?"

"Just say thank you."

Good idea.  Brevity is always best in this kind of gig.  Now it was my turn to speak.  The Big Guy was handing me the Crystal Bird.

"Thank you," I plainly spoke to the microphone.

"Oh you can't get off that easy.  You have to say more," insisted the Big Guy.

"Uh… thank you?"

"Come on.  What are you going to do now that you are retired?"

"Sleep in?"

"How come people who retire always say that?"

"Uh… thank you again."

I left the stage after shaking hands with all the Big Wigs.  One lady pulled me aside and told me that I should check the Annenberg Museum since I was into photography.  One consultant shook my hand and said that I should have my work displayed apart from the district lobby.  I felt like an egghead.  It was a matter of minutes that my ego would implode.   I didn't realize people actually have seen my photos that have been displayed at the lobby.  I have my fifteen minutes of fame.

And then it was over.  I was glad I didn't throw up again.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

I'm Moving On

Dear Rob,

Days actually go faster I noticed when one is retired.  I've been doing more stuff now than when I was doing regular gig.

Today, I cut down my tree.  It was getting huge that I couldn't see the hills anymore.  I live a few yards away from the hills where the coyotes roam and the black crows hang out.  I wanted to make sure that they never get anywhere close to my backyard.  My middle aged dog and my octagenarian cat are easy prey for these varmints.  What do I do to keep them off?  I have installed an electric fence mounted on a four foot high wall.  The fence is tall enough that my dog cannot reach it.  As for my cat, he is way too old and has severe arthritis that he hardly jumps on walls anymore.  Anyway, the buzzing sound from the electric fence scares the heck out of him that he wouldn't even get close to it.

Yesterday, I went out to pick up my shot gun.  I bought it just in time before it would be required to be registered in the state registry.  It's getting more difficult to buy a gun here in the states - especially in this very liberal state of California.  There is a proposal in the ballot to break the state into different states because California is just too big to be governed.  I hope that passes as the majority of the state has become dependent on the government, which of course means more taxes and more government control over our lives.  But the measure will probably fail because a lot of people here are stupid.  I'm not sure if you follow politics closely here in the states.  Quite frankly, I'm worried about Obamacare, which is a disaster.  In a few years, we are all going to get screwed.

How is your own retirement?  You'll get used to it like I do.

I'll call you up tomorrow after you do your photo op with the big guy who will give you your retirement award at your previous work.  If I were you, I would ditch the award.   I'm not really interested in the award.  It really doesn't mean anything to me.  I feel that the ceremony is faked and contrived.  I've put in over 25 years and I'm done.  I'm moving on.  I don't need an award.  The only reason I can think that you should do it is because it would seem to be the right thing to do.  Slaves obey your masters, right?  I'm glad that this will be the last time.

Let me know how you are doing. Maybe have lunch or dinner one of these days.  I'm very much interested in your alcohol arsenal.  I'm taking you up on your offer for me to grab a bottle or two from your stock.  Hey, maybe I could grab three.  Heh.



Monday, January 06, 2014

Mr Mojo Rising responds to Juzno's Blog on Miles Davis

Dear Mr Juzno,

I am writing to let you know that your short monograph "I'm still listening to Miles" has come to my attention.  I do thank you for your attempt to blog about the great Mr Miles Davis but I had to correct you on some of the points that you have written.  

I have played with Mr Davis for years and have known his penchant for being cool.  I do believe that what you describe him as cool is a bit of an understatement.  Mr Davis IS the definition of COOL.  If you look up the word "cool" in the Oxford Jazz Dictionary you will see myriads of images of Mr Davis.   Hence to call him merely cool is a bit of an insult.  He is the personification of Cool, and therefore proper credit should have been made when you wrote about him.  

Just to prove how cool he is, let me cite a few examples.  When I auditioned as a drummer in his band, Mr Davis would not be bothered on how I play the drums.  He inspected my wardrobe and quickly had an interest in my orange scarf.  He went to ask me where I got it.  I told him that it was given to me by a friend from Morocco.  Mr Miles asked if I always wear the same way.  To which I replied that I did.  Having learned my sense for outlandish attire, Mr Miles immediately hired me.  

"Make sure you wear that orange scarf every time you play with me," was all said.  How cool is that?

The second encounter I had with him was when I got a call from his manager one early winter.  "Get up, boy, you're flying to Madrid.  Mr Davis will be waiting for you to play the drums for him."

"We have not practiced anything since he hired me," I complained.

"No need.  He doesn't practice with anybody."

"Does he have at least a song list?" I asked.

The manager laughed.  "You expect the Cool One to have a song list?"

After that experience, I learned that Mr Davis was indeed the very essence of Cool.

In your short monograph, you also implied that the band Mr Davis leads would go on different direction.  Far be it.  Mr Davis would always tell us what not to play.  He would instruct us to play all the notes on our instruments except B-flat.  When I asked my fellow musicians why we couldn't play that note, they explained that Mr Davis hated that note because it reminds him of his classical days at Julliard School.

Mr Juzno, I hope you can appreciate my concern to clarify some misinformation about Mr Davis.  Please make the necessary correction to your monograph.  I am quite sure that this would please the Cool One.

Yours Truly,

Mojo Rising

Sunday, January 05, 2014

I’m still listening to Miles

Crescent moon looming over and I’m listening to Miles Davis.  In his prime, the guy ruled.  I’ve read somewhere that Miles played differently when he was recording than when he performed live.  But what do I know?  I’m an idiot savant when it comes to the history of jazz.  Ask me anything about rock and roll and I’ll give you a quick one and two but jazz – it just smells a bit too fishy to know how it got there.  People call it progress.  Personally, I like the older style.  I once told my sister that I listened to jazz and she asked if I ever tuned in to KWAVE FM radio. 

“Yuch.  No, excuse me -  I don’t think that Kenny G is jazz.   Just because he plays the sax doesn’t qualify him to be jazz.”

But she goes, “it’s smooth jazz.”  Forget it, jazz is never about being smooth.  At least the way I remember it.  I think I’m old enough to remember unfiltered jazz.  After all I’m only 105 years old.  I seem to recall jazz was more about being cool. 

Rose is perusing on new recipes on the Costco Cookbook.  I’m still listening to Miles.  And I’m still rambling.  I’m jamming. 

Jazz can be a philosophy.  Imagine a bunch of musicians each going in his own direction.  Yet amidst the chaos they are trying to blend in.  It’s the ying yang … a perfect irony if there was ever one.  There is no definition.  Just the melodic sense that something was going on.  It’s brilliant. 

“Why are you crying?” Rose noticed me.

“Because Miles is dead and he will never play again,” I answered.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

My choice of poison

Juzno:  I see that you have in your possession a bottle of St George Absinthe.

Rob:  Yes, Kamilah gave it to me for Christmas.  She really knows her father very well.

Juzno:  Have you tried it yet?

Rob:  A couple of times.  The stuff is real strong.  One thing I learned is not to drink it when you have a flu.  It's going to make you more sick.

Juzno:  So why do you drink it?

Rob:  We all have our choice of poison.

Juzno:  I want to change the topic and talk about your retirement.  Today is officially your last day of work.  How does it feel?

Rob:  It feels great.  I'm moving on to work on different stuff.  Making art more actively and going back to writing music again.  Really, a  lot of my plans are arbitrary. They depend on God's calling.  I see that I really didn't quit work but I'm just going to be working on different things.

Juzno:  But you are not going to be paid, right?

Rob:  The Lord will provide.  He is the Perfect Employer.  I trust I'll have all kinds of fringe benefits.

Juzno:  How was your previous employer like?

Rob:  Like all human employers, mine was not perfect.  So it was a drag.  But you learn to deal with the bad and take the good. Bosses tend to inflict fear to get what they want.  I think of Camus, "nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear."  The whole system is based on either of the three things: [1] people are fearful, [2] people are greedy, or [3] people are stupid.

Juzno:  Did that work for you?

Rob:  Oh yes.  Sometimes scared the daylights out of me.  Even if you are always doing the right things, people can still be critical about what you do.  Of course being an idiot as myself, I  just move on and hope that the next day I still have a job.  In the schemes of things, I was working for a boss, who was working for a boss, who was working for a bigger boss, and so on.  So yeah in a sense they were all looking to please their bosses - hoping that in doing so they would advance their agenda.

Juzno:  And what agenda is that?

Rob:  Greed.  Pride.  It's really a kind of idolatry.  They worship the idols they make.  In this case, money or fame or career advancement.

Juzno:  You sound like a communist.

Rob:  By what you mean is we don't really own anything we have, then yes.  All these things that we have are not ours but loaned to us.  We are just stewards of whatever we have in possession.  That includes our children, friends and ultimately ourselves.  We are all going back to the dust and return everything that we had to the Giver of all things.

Juzno:  What is the first thing you are going to do on your retirement?

Rob:  Sleep in.