Friday, July 31, 2009

Guilty As Charged

I wrote this poem before,"I'll show you love in a handful of dust the way Eliot showed us fear."
I used bits and pieces of this poem, which to some people was a bit too bleh, like a series of statements - no cohesion, in the final poem.

Just a brief warning: I wrote this when I went through a heavy Nihilist phase in high school.

Guilty As Charged

The world is still at midnight - time

Stands still, or rather seems to yield when dawn meets dusk

Sleep is the everyman's escape tool.

Reality is mundane

You're not the ink you write your rantings on.

Anticipations lead to disappointments.

Disappointments lead to apathy

Indifference. Indifference is the left-fold path

To nirvana

It's a mirror image.

I don't care enough to be nonchalant

In the grand scheme of things, you are marginally as important as the paper you are reading this on.

I'll show you love in a handful of dust the way Eliot showed us fear.

You can only live when you realize that you will one day die.

Apathy is irony and the verdict reads we are all guilty.

Showing apathy towards the misbegotten, while enjoying Oliver Twist.

This is the way the world works.

Angst is standard operating procedure

No worries, no reality; to worry is to be calm and to be calm is to be chaotic –

in nature, anarchist at heart, primitivist in brain and nihilist by the book.

Calm is not a virtue and requires no intellect of thought, no spark of spirit.

The true geniuses are the tortured souls who never stop thinking.

Critiques lend character to a useless frame

All your choices are illusions; bad faith has missed its aim.

Cheer up, we are all guilty as charged.

I'll Show You Love in a Handful of Dust

A poem I wrote some time last year. The slight zig-zag spacing is deliberate.

I'll show you love in a handful of dust the way Eliot showed us fear.

Sleep is the everyman's escape tool as dawn meets dusk.

Words are spoken:

“Reality is mundane.”

“I don't care enough to be nonchalant.”

“You're not the ink you write your rantings on.”

“In the grand scheme of things, you are marginally as

important as the paper you are reading this on.”

Images that strike you like a calculated gaze.

Words are noted:

“Anticipations lead to disappointments.”

“Disappointments lead to apathy.”

“Apathy is a glamorized indifference and

indifference is the left-fold path to nirvana.”

            The mirror image of Eastern enlightenment

How are we amused?

Apathy towards the misbegotten after “Dickens had it right!”

Anarchists by law, nihilists by the book, and agricultural primitivists...

When don’t humans plummet into contradictions?

              We are our own ‘noble savages.’

Angst is standard operating procedure.

Assimilation: requires no intellect of thought, no je ne sais quoi

You may already be a member.

            This is the way the world works.

Critiques and critics: lend a character to a useless frame.

All your choices are illusions and bad faith has missed its aim.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Uneasy Being Green

Here is an op-ed article I wrote back in Febuary, entitled: "Uneasy being green."

Go Green! Save the Planet! [Insert your favorite eco-cliché of choice.] For the past few years these slogans have become the mantra for environmentally conscious consumers. Many companies, in an effort to remain au courant have followed suit, producing a number of all-singing, all-dancing "green" products.

The release of Al Gore's doomsday prophecy An Inconvenient Truth marked a new era of fervent environmentalism, a "second coming", if you will.

The Monkey Wrench Gang, once a favorite novel of 1970's Green Anarchists has been replaced by the more kid-friendly and considerably less anti-establishment, The Green Book, reusable totes are now a third option to add to the paper or plastic category, and nearly every clothing company has proudly printed t-shirts with an array of crying globes, screaming trees and the infamous recycling logo, illustrating the concepts of "reduce, reuse and recycle."

As expected, MDC has hopped on the bio-diesel gravy train.

Last September, College President Eduardo Padron announced a college-wide waste reduction program, made in partnership with the Southeastern Recycling Corporation. Southeastern and MDC negotiated a zero-cost, one year contract. Southeastern made suggestions to each campus as to the number of bins needed according to campus size and population. The large bins were provided free of charge, but the college still has to shell out for the smaller, blue bins in offices and the collection of the materials.

The contract will be revisited in August to determine whether the college will receive any revenues from the program. The college is currently hoping to break even.

According to Judy Schmelzer, Dean of Administration for Wolfson Campus, the recycling initiative is currently not appearing profitable. She suggests that it may be due to the economic recession.

College administrators and directors for Southeastern were supposed to hold a meeting after the first of this year to discuss potential ramifications of the recycling contract. To date, the meeting has not yet been held.

It is unclear whether the self-appointed yeomen in charge of the program will reject the contract in August if it is shown that a cost-benefit analysis of the new recycling initiative reveals an incurred deficit.

Recycling is often incorrectly regarded as an environmental panacea; this is far from the truth.

Let's put aside the naïve assumption that these new efforts towards saving the planet have nothing to do with a company's natural predilection towards profit and focus on specific, little-known facts about recycling.


Most of the plastic containers produced are non-recyclable. A common misconception is that the arrows printed on the bottle indicate recyclability; in actuality, the arrows are meaningless. Currently, plastic products are collected, but not generally recycled.


Aluminum is the one material that is unequivocally beneficial to recycle. Even recycling critics will agree that it is more efficient to recycle aluminum than it is to extract more of it from the earth.


The vast majority of the paper we consume is derived from forests that are specifically grown for this paper. These trees, regardless of their "farmed" status, still produce an important resource: oxygen. If paper production is vastly decreased, the acres of land reserved for these pulp forests will become obsolete, causing land owners to cut the trees down and build towards a more profitable venture, usually made of concrete. Our demand for paper thus increases the supply of trees.

Separating recyclables

A lot of fuss is made over separating materials into their designated receptacles. The truth is that, at least in Miami-Dade County, trash and recyclable goods go to the same center and are all mixed together – employees at the individual locations sort through the rubbish themselves, dividing it into separate plastic, aluminum and paper piles for later processing.

The question of profit

Where does the money paid to the recycling companies go? Is it used towards advocacy campaigns, advertising the benefits of the practice? Does it go towards research for the development of new recycling procedures? We are unsure what hands the money fall in. Could the profit from the separate bins even go towards paying the employees that will eventually sort through the trash?

Landfill Space

The National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) estimates that the existing landfills in the United States have about 20 years of disposal capacity left. Some states have less than five years of capacity remaining, and there are NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) issues with the creation of new landfills, but jurisdictions wiling to build landfills still exist. There are some landfills that make use of the methane gas released from decaying waste, using it for energy to power neighboring towns or cities. Granted, this may not be as "clean" or "renewable" as some would wish for, but nevertheless, quixotic hopes and non-solutions should be replaced with practical answers.

Ask yourselves: With the college already struggling economically: uncomfortable students piling up in cramped classrooms, parking spots becoming ever more elusive, and clubs raising nearly all of their travel funds; should we really have to back a hip program with dubious benefits that may actually result in a loss of money?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


This is a 500 word essay I submitted for a writing contest. The topic was to choose a photo in the journal and write no more than 500 words on the ethical issue it arises.


The photograph ‘No More War’ depicts a young woman with a peace sign on drawn on her foot, comfortably reclining in her chair in front of a computer. The subject appears to be taking an “easy” approach to the issue of war, one that gives the impression of outward concern, but inward nonchalance.

In this generation, perhaps more than in past, vacuous symbolism is very economically viable. Today’s businessmen must be perpetually gleeful at the flocks of eager college kids clamoring to purchase trendy advocacy regalia: peace symbol jewelry, bags and clothing; think ‘Garanimals’ - for the “ethically-conscious” young adult.

Add in groups titled ‘Free Tibet’ or ‘Save Darfur’ on social-networking websites which only work as a mug’s game to provide a “care” badge for members- not to advance the causes, and what is left is a vast neo-hippie segment of the population with a lesser, 1.0 version of 60’s-era civic involvement.

Many of the anti-war protests held by college-age “activists” have strong undercurrents of anti-corporatism. Ironically, it doesn’t seem to be a problem for these progressively-minded individuals to capriciously choose which corporations to rally against, while privately supporting others by purchasing the aforementioned peace paraphernalia.

The worldly concerns of these individuals live in margins they attempt to keep wide, although the disconnect between their vocal philosophy and personal weekend habits reveal these margins to be unconscionably narrow.

Does this store-bought activism cheapen the efforts of real activists who choose to directly donate their time or money toward their chosen causes, instead of settling upon wearing a t-shirt or carrying an organic cotton tote bag? I would argue it does.

We must ask: Which is more of an ethical compromise, being truly apathetic toward a cause or aspect of human misery, or outwardly transmitting distaste for a crisis, while not actually doing anything to solve the problem? Is lying preferable to not caring? It appears to be a truism that when the latter is the case, two ethical criteria are violated: upholding honesty (perhaps with the exception of cases where the truth may cause harm, like a situation involving an inquisitive murderer), and the reasonable sacrifice of a morally incomparable good in the interest of saving lives.

It is best to drop arrant pretension in the interest of moral consistency. If you deck yourself out in peace symbols - support legislation to cut military funding and don’t pick fights with others; if you claim to be a strong environmentalist, stop supporting the meat and dairy industry at mealtime.

One shouldn’t pretend to believe in certain causes because it may be “politically correct” or of-the-moment to do so. If you don’t care about x, y, or z, that’s okay; no one is going to attack you for it, this is not the USSR. But hopping on the bandwagon by giving off the appearance of virtue is elitist and dishonest, it’s preferable to avoid the topic altogether and allow the real activists who believe in the cause to work toward enacting change.

Friday, June 19, 2009

How the idea came to be

I always had my mind set on writing a political satire. At first, my idea was a 'Breakfast of Champions' inspired story about a group of future archaeologists who uncover the remains of a quasi-ancient civilization, the Akirema. My intent was to satirize our current pop culture and consumer product obsessions using an abstraction technique, strongly influenced by anthropologist Horace Miner's satirical 1956 essay, 'Body Ritual Among the Nacirema'.

Because the intent was to be scathing, but humorous, I changed the name to Akirema, or "Amerika" backwards, the 'k' of course, a nod to fascist regimes.

I did not write that story, I just couldn't wrap my head around exactly what I wanted to attack or how to make it "stage-friendly." Around this time, I remembered a story idea I had about two car insurance agents who try to one-up each other by doing more and more fraudulent modifications to the cars in order to insure a sale (think Matilda Wormwood's father in Dahl's 'Matilda').

Being strongly influenced by the Brat Pack lit movement of the 1980s, and 80s culture in general, I decided to make write a play about aspiring yuppies.
It went through a variety of changes. The first draft, 'An American Con' (homonym of 'Unamerican con') involved the land grant scam and ended with the two men being arrested, but sure that "the system would take care of them" - being the rich, white men they were. I had a money laundering element in there, but the concept was apparently too much for an audience to take in within 10-15 minutes, so that was cut.

The final product was a coke/alcohol induced testesterone driven frenzy between two business partners who become suspcious of each other.

The dialogue was slightly arcane. I used a lot of cliches and yiddish insults, inspired by 'Goodfellas' (one of my favorite movies of all-time) and Ellis's dialogue. The coke use, among other things, was a nod to the 80's yuppie subculture I wanted to emulate, only the play is set in the present.

Overall, I'm proud of the script and all the feedback I've received points to it being one of the most well-written plays performed in the production, which is great.
I hope to do something like this again, and hopefully keeping up this blog will inspire me to go for it.

On with the show!

Well, now that that first silly post is out of the way, let's begin with the "meat" of things.

I recently wrote a play, 'The Ratchet Men', and it was performed along with other 5 other student written and student directed plays at Miami Dade Kendall Campus. I consider it a pretty good feat, since I never thought I'd dabble in theater. I like reading plays and analyzing language, but the experience of writing this one-act play has put a proverbial "fire in my belly" to write some more.

I'll probably begin by expanding the current play into a 3 or 4 act play, and when I have some more ideas laid out, I'll write up a screenplay.

I've got some songs already in mind, two of which were unfortunately not used in the MDC production.
So I've got a total of 3 songs I definitely would like to use in the film version.

I won't actually post the script of The Ratchet Men here until I register it, but I'll give a synopsis. It sounds a bit odd because it was part of a press release that I and a fellow writer, my very good friend Jennifer Fumero wrote up to send to a few outlets. You can read it at:

The synopsis, as quoted in the press release is as follows:

The opening play, ‘The Ratchet Men’ was written by MDC graduate and Philosophy major Katherine Concepcion. The play was inspired by the true-life story of Larry Smith, a con-artist who drafted phony land grants and sold the contracts to worried property owners, in the hopes that their property would not risk foreclosure. The play begins in media res, after the scheme began, with the two businessmen attempting to balance their books in a drugged out and drunken stupor. When one of the men accuses the other of having stolen some missing money, violence escalates and an unintended murder is committed. The remaining man’s paranoia increases and the play ends with a final, unexpected twist and shocking climax. Concepcion was also inspired by the British “Angry Young Men” literary genre, American writer Bret Easton Ellis’s tales of greedy, amoral “yuppies” embracing excess in all its forms, and playwright David Mamet’s high-testosterone, edgy action and dialogue.

In the interest of terse blog posts, I will write a bit more on the development of my idea in a future blog.


My very first blog post

Hey readers,

I've abandoned my idea of starting a blog long enough, so I figure I'd jump in with both feet and just start writing about whatever pedantic or pedestrian topics come to mind.

I also want to post more interesting things here, like original research, etc.

I've got a little investigative project right now that I'll be blogging about soon.

I'll consider this my "intro" blog, so I wont feel weird about writing in the future.