thomas locke hobbs | weblog
travel, latin america, photography, urban planning and stuff.
...and now my New York chronicles

June 27, 2001  
Legiao Urbana was one of the big rock bands in Brazil in the 80s and 90s. I like their stuff, it sounds very 80s, somewhere between The Cure and Duran Duran (except in Portuguese). If you're going to Sao Paulo you can pick up a pirated copy of their greatest hits for $2 downtown (as opposed to $23 from Amazon)
posted by Thomas

June 24, 2001  
Casual Out, Biz Suits In.
posted by Thomas

Richard Posner's New Book. (NY Times Review) After all, if economics can help us understand the human behavior that gives rise to the law, then why not psychology, anthropology and sociology?
posted by Thomas

Death by Chocolate. Seagulls, not Humans (via Obscurestore.com).

What's wonderful about Obscure Store is that the headlines read like The Onion, except the stories are real.
posted by Thomas

Penn Jillette on Weightlessness. Recounting experiences on "vomit comet", plane used to train astronauts. Check out picture of ZZ top guitarist floating free of gravity (via Metafilter).
posted by Thomas

June 23, 2001  
Rock en Español

I just dug up Mana Unplugged which was a constant on my stereo back when I was in Buenos Aires. The album is a fantastic live set of their best songs. Great songs and great playing. Mana, Mexico's biggest rock band, mixes in rock, salsa, a Police-sounding reggae, ranchera and more on their songs.

Back in 1995 during my first trip through Central America their song "Oye Mi Amor" was in heavy rotation on the radio. Only later did I connect the song with that ridiculous big-haired band called Mana. Only later did I discover their music. And in fairness their hairstyles are more Led Zepplin 1971 than Whitesnake 1987.

Rock en español is a relatively recent phenomena in Latin America with the exception of Argentina where it goes back to at least 1965 with Sandro singing "Hay Mucha Agitacion" (that's "There's a whole lotta shakin' going on"). The absolute best of the early stuff is Sui Generis who put out three albums between 1972 and 1974. It's a mixture of Beatles, Crosby Stills & Nash, and The Beach Boys and at the same level of quality. I own 700 CDs and the Sui Generis greatest hits is in my top 20 easily.
posted by Thomas

June 22, 2001  
Slate reviews PT Cruiser, Ford Focus, VW Beetle. Brainy and intellectual, but very well written: The PT Cruiser will be the equivalent of the Chippendale pediment on Philip Johnson's AT&T Building.
posted by Thomas

June 20, 2001  
Virginia Postrel on Bush's protectionist pandering to domestic steel producers. NY Times.
posted by Thomas

June 15, 2001  
Divine Diets. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker:

... the fatted calf that was prepared for the Prodigal Son is evidence that God approves of filet mignon.

posted by Thomas

June 14, 2001  
The Beach, Tortel, Exclusivity, Prince William

I recently read The Beach by Alex Garland, which was made into a mediocre movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. The novel is great, however-- sort of Lonely Planet meets Lord of the Flies. Basically the narrator is looking for that perfect travel spot, unspoiled by hordes of travellers or (worse) tourists. He finds it but it turns out to be more hell than heaven.

The book got me thinking about this fetish of exclusivity in travel. The whole deal is to go to the new hot spot, the yet-to-be-discovered resort, Bali 20 years-ago, etc. There is something about this that strikes me as morally distasteful, like spending $1000 on a baseball card. I tell myself when travelling not to make my enjoyment of some destination based on any perceived exclusivity.

And yet, here I was last November in the small hamlet of Tortel in Chilean Patagonia. To get there you have to take a three hour ride on a leaky wooden barge down a river. The village has no streets, roads, or cars. All the houses are built on stilts and connected by rickety boardwalks. I was the only tourist there. As sun set I stood on a ridge overlooking the village. In the distance I could hear the moving of rocks and the crushing of boulders as construction crews worked to complete a road connecting Tortel with Chile's Camino Austral (also known as Pinochet's folly). I thought about how drastically this place would change and savored the un-touched beauty of the place, soon to disappear.

I'm exagerating the remoteness of Tortel. I was alone there mostly because I went off-season. The place is well known to Chilean summer vacationers. Actually, if you search for the place on Google you'll find all kinds of links, mostly about Prince William's stay, as part of a public service project. I can empathize with the desire of exclusivity. It's a fundamentally conservative wish. The smallness of a single place is amazing in the face of the transformative power of trend and fashion of the larger world -- tabloid culture briefly touching down in some heretofore remote spot in the world.
posted by Thomas

June 13, 2001  
200 Years of Sexual Tourism. UK Guardian. Book review.
posted by Thomas

June 11, 2001  
Recently I've made the Lonely Planet Daily Scoop part of my frequent reading. It's very simple. It is a page of short AP wire stories from far-flung places across the globe. It's the kind of stuff that doesn't make the New York Times but gives you a bit of the flavor of what's going on out there.
posted by Thomas

June 07, 2001  
Rolling Stone Album Guide, 5-star albums: from the 1983 Edition and the 1992 Edition. From Rocklist.net

This guide played a big role in the growth of my music tastes. Once I discovered their taste roughly matched mine I could go out on a limb and buy CDs by artists I'd never heard of like Richard and Linda Thompson, Television, or the O'Jays.
posted by Thomas

June 06, 2001  
The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski. The first chapter (in a book of essays). Polish journalist, hard-core traveler in the third world.
posted by Thomas

June 05, 2001  
Compañero, A Biography of Che Guevara is the book that's currently keeping me up late nights. A tidbit: Che was from Argentina (his nickname comes from Argentine's frequent habit of saying "che", sort of the way a surfer might say "dude"). He hooked up with Fidel Castro in Mexico and the first time he even ever saw Havana was on Jan. 1, 1959 when the rebels rolled in upon the heels of a fleeing Batista.

You can read the first chapter for free at the NY Times book section. It talks all about his distinctly upper-middle class upbringing in Argentina.
posted by Thomas

June 04, 2001  
Review of new A*Teens album. Village Voice:

The ABBA Generation might well be my favorite album of the past five years, and that's all I'm allowed to say on the matter. But the news last fall that the A*Teens were gonna be hawking "all-original" material this time out certainly qualified as a bated-breath alert....the gonzo dance-pop tune "Halfway Around the World," 10 times cuter than even "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" by Edison Lighthouse.
Review by "Metal" Mike Saunders of California Punk Band, Angry Samoans.

Their first album, composed entirely of ABBA covers, was a monster hit in Argentina, riding high on their special Spanish version of "Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie" ("Dame! Dame! Dame! [amor esta noche]"). I wondered how this teen pop group (admittedly not a genre known for the longevity of it's acts) would do after they had exhausted the ready supply of ABBA hits. Never did it occur to me that they would do an album of all original material. Hardcore fans can get more info at the official A*Teens website.
posted by Thomas

June 03, 2001  
Chess, Memory and Narrative

From Pg. 67 of the June 4th issue of the New Yorker, in an article about Bruce Pandolfini, chess teacher and inspiration for the 1993 film "Searching for Bobby Fischer". On learning old chess games:

After his first tournament, Pandolfini decided to study the game more seriously. At a used-book store in the Village, he found a tow-volume set, in Russian, containing five hundred games played by Mikhail Botvinnik, the father of modern Soviet Chess, which he went over methodically for a year. Then he resolved to play sixty games from the 1941 Absolute Championship of the Soviet Union in his head, move for move, without sight of the board or pieces. "It was Very hard," he said. "But I forced myself to do it. If I lost a position in my mind, which was quite common at first, I started again from the first move. To remember the moves, I would create a story line that tied all the logic of the game together. I would find relationships between the board and the pieces, the way certain squares naturally tie into typical maneuvers. And then you develp an intuitive sense of how to handle similar positions, and your moves flow naturally."

posted by Thomas

June 02, 2001  
Mud Skyscrapers, Yemen

Hadramout, Yemen

The photo above is taken from a simple page with photos of cities and towns in Yemen. I found another site which has a better photo of Hadramout. Yemen has definately been added to my must-travel-to list.

[Good photography is hard to come across on the web. Photos don't index in search engines. Professional publications rarely put up good, high resolution photos. Amateur stuff suffers from the triple whammy of bad photography, bad scanning, and bad editorial selection.]
posted by Thomas

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Send me email: hobbs@post.harvard.edu
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About me

My name's Thomas Locke Hobbs. I used to live in Argentina, now I am in New York City. I grew up in California. I'm a bit suspicious as the value of keeping a weblog, but I do it anyway. Go to my home page for more about me.

Weblogs I read:

Xblog, Virginia Postrel, Signal vs. Noise, Peterme, Obscure Store, Metafilter, Media News, Lonely Planet Daily Scoop, Lightningfield, Kottke, Joel on Software, Dan Bricklin, Camworld, Arts and Letters Daily,

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