Tuesday, March 10, 2015
UCLA Professor of Biology Peter Narins has been studying the coqui for 41 years. In 1983, he began a longitudinal study of the coqui, studying male frogs at 28 different altitudes, from near to sea level to up in the highest hills. Checking back in two decades later in 2006, he found that frogs had grown smaller, which is consistent with moving upward in elevation due to a rise in ambient temperature. Basically, the frogs found their current elevation too hot, so they moved upward in elevation, thus causing their offspring to be smaller as they migrated upward. During this same time period, the temperature had raised .5 degrees.
Not only had the frogs migrated to a higher elevation, but their songs had changed. Usually in Puerto Rico, the frogs at a lower elevation are shorter with a higher pitch in comparison with the lower, long songs of their brethren in the hills. Narins and his research partner Sebastiaan Meenderink found that, within a certain elevation, over the 2 decades, the frogs' song pitch had risen and also had grown shorter in duration.
The song is used for two purposes: the "co" part of the song is for territorial defense against other males, while the "-qui" part of the song is intended to impress female coqui frogs. Since the purpose of the latter song is to attract females to mate with, scientists predict that the briefer, higher-pitched song will decrease the coqui's reproductive success. In other words: briefer & higher song, fewer coqui females attracted, fewer baby coquis grown. This spells potential trouble, since the coqui exists within an entire interdependent web: the coquis are the prey of other animals such as "owls, snakes, land crabs," according to Stuart Wolpert.
Read the original research here
at 9:27 PM
Check out this excerpt from his long poem "Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude," which appears in the beautiful online journal Waxwing.
Thank you the ancestor who loved you
before she knew you
by smuggling seeds into her braid for the long
journey, who loved you
before he knew you by putting
a walnut tree in the ground, who loved you
before she knew you by not slaughtering
the land; thank you
who did not bulldoze the ancient grove
of dates and olives,
who sailed his keys into the ocean
and walked softly home; who did not fire, who did not
plunge the head into the toilet, who said stop,
don’t do that; who lifted some broken
someone up; who volunteered
the way a plant birthed of the reseeding plant
is called a volunteer, like the plum tree
that marched beside the raised bed
in my garden, like the arugula that marched
itself between the blueberries,
nary a bayonette, nary an army, nary a nation,
which usage of the word volunteer
familiar to gardeners the wide world
made my pal shout “Oh!” and dance
and plunge his knuckles
into the lush soil before gobbling two strawberries
and digging a song from his guitar
made of wood from a tree someone planted, thank you
--Ross Gay excerpted from his long poem "Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude"
Photos are from the Bloomington Community Orchard, where Ross volunteers, site of inspiration for much of his poetry
Read Ross Gay's whole poem here
at 9:16 PM
Friday, July 4, 2014
This might not be so worrisome if we hadn’t noticed other recent antidemocratic moves: for example, when the Supreme Federal Tribunal ignored constitutionally required processes of consulting indigenous people before approving enormous hydroelectric projects, including Belo Monte Dam.
According to the People’s Portal of the Cup, “the level of political repression of protestors during the 2014 World Cup, put on by FIFA, has proved to be beyond the level acceptable in a democratic state.” (July 1, 2014) Read more in Portuguese.
Here's a poem by my friend, Alex Simoes, poet & activist. Even before the cup, he and other citizens of Salvador, Bahia, were struck by tear gas as they tried to protest.
hell, I’ll tell ya, fuck the cup! “damn,
you’re messed up.” I’ll tell all, notwithstanding
I have so many reasons for screaming thus,
that it makes me happy to not have near at hand
such a grenade. skin open
& tears spouting are not the whole of the complaint.
it’s that I’m run rough trying to express
myself where, on the contrary,
protest is not possible. only because “in the end
it’s one immense political boondoggle”: coverup.
hell, I’ll tell ya, “there’s no need
for the use of bombs for moral effect
nor deployment of tear gas as a creed.”
yup, I say: fuck the world cup.
This World Cup in 2014 in Brazil has cost more than the last 4 World Cups--why?
ora (direis), foda-se a copa! “certo,
perdeste o senso”. e eu vos direi, no entanto
que para assim gritar eu tenho tantos
motivos, que me alegra não ter perto
de mim uma granada. o peito aberto
e a lágrima escorrendo não é quebranto,
é que tenho passado pelo aperto
de me manifestar onde, no entanto,
não é possível. só porque, “no fundo,
tudo é uma imensa ignorância política”,
ora direis, “que não é nada crítica
a utilização de bombas de efeito
moral e o gás lacrimogênio é bem feito”.
eu digo: foda-se a copa do mundo.
at 11:14 AM
Saturday, June 14, 2014
In Jan. 2014 in Salvador, Bahia, I observed firsthand evidence that the government had cleared the area of poor residents. My hosts, Dalila Pinheiro and her partner, Sereno, were driving us along the low road that hugs the border of the Bay of All Saints. Salvador is divided into what locals call the high city and the low city, Cidade Alta and Cidade Baixa. There is actually a geographical fault that divides the two parts of the city, making the high city rise quite abruptly over the low, like a castle overlooking lowlands.
As we drove on the low road, Sereno (yes, it does mean Serene—his parents raised him in a hippie alternative community on the edge of Salvador) pointed out notable features.
Sereno gestured far up toward a structure jutting out from the steep escarpment above, and connected by a thin, high column to the lower city. This is the Elevador Lacerda, at 236 feet high the main transport between high and low city. The Elevador transports people to and from the Plaza Cairu to the Plaza Thomé da Souza, where a central market is located, and major free concerts take place. A week or so later, I would hear Brazilian pop giant Daniela Mercury play in the lower plaza.
Elevator seems a strange word for what is, since every other elevator I’ve known has been inside a building, guarded in its core. This elevator is 236 feet high, a stand-alone, straight up and down column. From its well-fortified base in the upper hillside, a long “hallway” juts straight out, in width and depth mirroring the column it adjoins, forming in shape something like half a picture frame.
Driving now with Dalila and Sereno below the Lacerda, I followed his finger as he pointed up the steep hill toward it. Beneath the form of the signature structure, a green lawn adjoined its base, running in length perhaps an 1/8 of a mile.
The lawn cued my U.S. self, trained to see green lawn around public edifice—say, a capitol building, a stately Frank Lloyd Wright-designed public garden—as a mark of the distinguished quality of said edifice.
“Nice!” I thought, as I craned my neck up toward the wall of the upper city edged by a swath of green unusual in Salvador.
If I’d thought a moment, I might have wondered: In a city crowded with poor, where every meter is contested and used territory, how would such an unfenced section of lawn have come about, here in the center of Salvador?
The unasked question found its answer in the next moment. Dalila explained that the government had expelled the poor families who had been living in crowded buildings, which were razed. The relatively tidy green, to which my U.S. self responded as a marker of beauty and social order, in fact indicated the opposite, an unseemly uprooting of families, many of whom had been living in the spot, growing community for generations. These families had been on this spot in the descriptions of novelist and son of the city Jorge Amado, who wrote his famous novels on the city and its denizens.
After this first wave, uprooting families who had lived in the area for generations, the city implemented other actions to clear the area. I was shocked to hear from Alex Simões that the city arranged for a big truck to go through the streets, literally washing, with high force water jets, the streets. Anyone living on the streets was literally washed away. As Alex ironically noted, "Solution: no beggars in the city center." And then, quickly were put on the city's books two ordinances that allow for dozens of buildings to be appropriated "for public ends." Public use for these cleared-out buildings has yet to occur, leading Alex to suspect collusion between city government and private hotel companies, which have long wanted to create a hotel zone of this area.
Dalila reports that, since I visited, even more removals have occurred around the general area of the Avenida Contorno, near to the Marina Bahia. The removals include the Ladeira of the Mountain. When I told her I couldn't find much online to do with the removals, she noted that this is not by chance, as the media channels in Salvador have observed a blackout on the theme.
These removals in Salvador are part of a larger trend of pre-World Cup actions. According to the Portal Popular da Copa in an article dated March 4, 2014, on that day in the 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Giselle Tanaka, from ANCOP (National Articulation with the Public Committees of the Cup), would present briefly on forced removals made in the context of preparation for the World Cup and for the Olympics. ANCOP would ask the Council to demand that the Brazilian government stop all forced removals of people, make a plan to give removed residents reparations, and a plan to guarantee human rights in the future in unforseen removals by act of nature. To read more in Portuguese, click here.
And every so often, which is to say often, I looked down the steep incline to the lower city, where new, white lights illuminated the bright green lawn below, impeccable as a park.
Thanks to Dalila Pinheiro, Alex Simões, and Nilson Galvão for their reportage.
at 12:06 PM
Monday, May 5, 2014
One poem is based on my experiences in Rio de Janeiro in June 2010, in a community (some would say favela) called Chacara do Ceu. Roughly translated, it means "little ranch in heaven."
Read "Samba in the Sky" here.
The second poem, "Medusa on Sansome and Pine," is set in San Franciso's Financial District, and features a conflict of perspectives about what it means to be successful.
Read "Medusa on Sansome and Pine" here.
Thanks to Don Share, Lindsay Garbutt, and Fred Sasaki at the Poetry Foundation.
at 1:43 PM
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
here. Listen to me reading my poems.
at 4:10 PM
Monday, October 28, 2013
Watch the video here.
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