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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Sofi Stambo - A Bunch of Savages

It wasn’t common during socialism for families to have three children. They either had one or two, or none. In our building, only our family and the gypsies on the second floor had three kids. That always made me suspicious. I would look at my mother’s long dark hair, dark makeup, and peculiar taste in bright colors and I’d be like: There’s no way she is not a gypsy.

I have a birthmark above my butt, which is undeniable proof of gypsiness, ask anyone. Birthmark above the butt, and a small dot under any number 3 in your passport—this was how you knew you were a gypsy, according to the kids in my building.

My mother’s official version was that when she was pregnant with me (out of wedlock, let the record show), she stole a plum. When they caught her, she hid it behind her back. If a pregnant woman steals or was startled and then touches her face or body, her baby will have a birthmark in the shape of the stolen thing at the same spot she touched. So pregnant women would often throw their hands away from themselves whenever they stole or when they were afraid of something. You often saw these women, standing like balls with two arms sticking out on each side, like snowmen. Whenever I saw a pregnant woman I would run in the opposite direction. I didn’t want to be near the hands that left marks on everything they touched.

“Why didn’t you buy a pound of plums? Or just ask politely for one. Why would you steal like a gypsy?”

“Hormones,” she answered. ”You don’t think properly when you’re pregnant, you’ll see.”

“I don’t want to see, I’m ten.”

“Plus,” she added, “I could always find you by your birthmark if you got lost.”

My mother quit stealing after I was born, so my brother and sister ended up with no birthmarks and were jealous of me. They lived in constant fear that sooner or later she’d lose them somewhere. It was just a matter of when. Buses and trains were torture. A trip to the women’s market in the center of the city always turned into a tragedy. My siblings screamed and refused to get on the bus, because if the doors closed before my mother got on, that would be the end. We’d never see them again. They would live between umbrellas and purses in the lost and found department, until they turned ninety, no one to recognize them.

Because of this fear of separation we learned to love each other and cherish moments of togetherness, since any one of them might be our last. While trains and buses roared around like kidnapping machines, we were obsessively holding onto hands, legs, hair, and parts of each other’s clothes, so we could literally be in touch.

Some days our parents called us Huns, because of our excessive running around, yelling and breaking property. My mother yelled at us that grass was not going to grow in our wake. We were happy to have this power, though we didn’t know how to use it in our small apartment. Other times, my parents looked at each other and said, “Barbarians.” We were proud since any agreement between those two was rare.


Our barbarian days went something like this:

The three of us, smelly and itchy, clinging to each other, waiting for the gasoline and vinegar in our hair to start the killing. We had lice. Our heads were wrapped in bright turbans made from my mother’s old hippie skirts. She was reading my left palm to see if I was going to pass my math test. With one hand, my sister was holding my nose, and with the other she was drawing skulls and bones on my brother’s arm with a red pen. With his left hand he was holding her foot, and with his right, the table. We were always prepared in case somebody tried to separate us by force.

Loud arias from Carmen would waft in from the living room radio. They were the background my father needed to get a tick out of Charlie’s ear. Charlie was our Irish setter, named after Charlie Chaplin. Carmen, herself a barbarian of some sort, had moments where she sang too high, and Charlie howled with her for a while, then lay his head back obediently on my father’s lap to be cleaned. Fighting parasites was a big part of life, especially when you had so much life running around in your tiny apartment.

My father was an artist and the biggest opera lover I knew. He wasn’t an opera goer though, because as he’d explain it, he didn’t own a suit to go in. He’d worn a suit only once in his life, on his wedding day, and even that one had been borrowed. That was proof he wasn’t a gypsy, because they wore suits all the time. Dirty, shaggy, wrinkled, but suits, nevertheless. But on the other hand, as my grandmother liked to repeat daily, “Whoever you join, that’s who you become,” meaning—he’d joined my mother, and become a gypsy.


We had reasonably normal childhoods for a bunch of barbarians, and our days continued something like this:

The toilet seat fell thunderously every fifteen minutes; the faucets ran noisily all the time; the TV, the radio, and the parakeets were competitive chirping, volume on max, all of them winning. In the same time slot and on the same channel, you could also listen to a battle between the phone, the doorbell, and the dog. The apartment smelled of burnt toast, or cake, or hair. Somebody was yelling at somebody else, I’m not going to name names, because I was asked not to air my family’s dirty laundry, but all the yellers and the yellees were blood-related. Outside, three car alarms, with the complicated new five-song repertoire, were ringing simultaneously. A big night for car thieves, but at least those were two problems we didn’t have to deal with: first, we didn’t own a car, and second, our tribe didn’t steal anymore.

My mother took out the garbage (lice, ticks, and everything else), tied up the bag, and dropped it in front of our door—not next to it, in front. She expected one of us to trip on it, feel guilty, and take it down to the dumpster. We never did. The four of us and the dog would jump over the trash bag and continue about our day. The neighbor, a respectable man in a suit and also a huge opera fan, would cave in and throw it out for us. But my mother was convinced that one of us had done it, and was pleased with her modern pedagogical techniques. The neighbor stopped saying hello, but continued to throw out our trash, out of civic duty or pity. For some reason, we didn’t care.


Money was a dirty word, my father thought. His encounters with money went something like this:

He would hold the money, in small denominations, away from his body. With his elbow, he would push away the opponent’s hand offering him money in a battle over who should pay for a cup of coffee. He somehow always won, and paid, and then turned back to us to explain that it is not a matter of money, but rather of dignity. He had enough dignity to pay off Bulgaria’s national debt, but did not have the money.

My mother would shout at him, “How can you be so naïve, beh?” They never cursed but instead used “beh”—an insulting way of addressing someone by making him sound stupid and stubborn, like a cross between a sheep and a mule. We were told to not say “beh” but they always would.

“And why are you so mercantile, beh?” he would shout from the other room and slam the door.

She would run after him, open the door, and wave her broom threateningly, because she was constantly “cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry” (and liked to chant it in that order, too).

“Who are you calling mercantile, beh, if I was mercantile would I be married to an artist?” This is pronounced with a grimace of disgust and irony.

“Oh, village woman, you will never understand!” (probably a line from Verdi), and he slams the door in her face. She opens the door and yells, “Who are you calling a village woman, beh? Varna is a European city! Look at where you were born!” He knew he was the one born in a village, during a World War II evacuation. And this would go on for as long as needed.

I locked myself in the bathroom, the only room with a key, and studied for a math test in the empty bathtub. Ignoring the knocking on the door, I periodically flushed the toilet, to make it all sound real. I was enjoying (you may say) privacy, only that the word did not exist in Bulgarian, neither did the concept. I wrote my equations on the mirror with a piece of soap, even though I knew I wasn’t supposed to write on mirrors. You were also not supposed to look at yourself in the mirror in the dark, because you would become ugly. And most of all you were not supposed to break the mirror, which somehow I managed to do by pressing too hard with the soap. Seven years of bad luck were to follow.

This is how a suicide attempt became the only option. I decided to leave the apartment so as not to contaminate them all with the bad luck I was to bring. Next to the giant dumpster in front of the apartment building was the big gray electrical box with a red sign “Do not touch, dangerous for your life” and a drawing of a lightning bolt and a skull and crossbones below it.

I went and touched. I don’t remember how long I stayed there quietly crying (I was always a quiet person). There were things in life I loved and only realized it after I touched the box. Red sugar roosters and bunnies, merry-go-rounds, hot dogs, Pifmagazine, my brother and sister, and most of all, swimming with a life preserver.

While I was waiting for death to come and take me to a better place, Crazy Mary appeared out of nowhere. We were all afraid of her and her cartful of cardboard to recycle. She was always yelling at kids and waving around a gun-shaped lollipop. She always carried some of those with her and tried to get children to come closer. She looked like the witch from Hansel and Gretel, enticing you with sweets to fatten you up so she could eat you. We would scream and run away as fast as we could. Somehow on the day of my suicide attempt I didn’t run. I took the revolver from her. She patted me on the head and took my hand and moved it way from the electrical box. Then she left. The candy revolver tasted really good and lasted twice as long as a sugar rooster. But it was more expensive.

Realizing I was immortal, I started betting with the neighborhood kids that for twenty cents I could touch the skull and crossbones box. I decided to buy a bike, and I would only need to touch the box 425 more times. But there weren’t that many kids in the building, so around the eighteenth time my enterprise slowed down. I didn’t have enough for the whole bike, only for a handlebar and maybe a bell. I went and purchased all the lollipop revolvers they had in the store and distributed them fairly between my friends and family. We stayed in front of the skull and crossbones sign like a bunch of savages, sugar guns in our mouths, and in the eyes—no fear whatsoever.

Brigit Pegeen Kelly - Song

Listen: there was a goat’s head hanging by ropes in a tree.
All night it hung there and sang. And those who heard it
Felt a hurt in their hearts and thought they were hearing
The song of a night bird. They sat up in their beds, and then
They lay back down again. In the night wind, the goat’s head
Swayed back and forth, and from far off it shone faintly
The way the moonlight shone on the train track miles away
Beside which the goat’s headless body lay. Some boys
Had hacked its head off. It was harder work than they had imagined.
The goat cried like a man and struggled hard. But they
Finished the job. They hung the bleeding head by the school
And then ran off into the darkness that seems to hide everything.
The head hung in the tree. The body lay by the tracks.
The head called to the body. The body to the head.
They missed each other. The missing grew large between them,
Until it pulled the heart right out of the body, until
The drawn heart flew toward the head, flew as a bird flies
Back to its cage and the familiar perch from which it trills.
Then the heart sang in the head, softly at first and then louder,
Sang long and low until the morning light came up over
The school and over the tree, and then the singing stopped....
The goat had belonged to a small girl. She named
The goat Broken Thorn Sweet Blackberry, named it after
The night’s bush of stars, because the goat’s silky hair
Was dark as well water, because it had eyes like wild fruit.
The girl lived near a high railroad track. At night
She heard the trains passing, the sweet sound of the train’s horn
Pouring softly over her bed, and each morning she woke
To give the bleating goat his pail of warm milk. She sang
Him songs about girls with ropes and cooks in boats.
She brushed him with a stiff brush. She dreamed daily
That he grew bigger, and he did. She thought her dreaming
Made it so. But one night the girl didn’t hear the train’s horn,
And the next morning she woke to an empty yard. The goat
Was gone. Everything looked strange. It was as if a storm
Had passed through while she slept, wind and stones, rain
Stripping the branches of fruit. She knew that someone
Had stolen the goat and that he had come to harm. She called
To him. All morning and into the afternoon, she called
And called. She walked and walked. In her chest a bad feeling
Like the feeling of the stones gouging the soft undersides
Of her bare feet. Then somebody found the goat’s body
By the high tracks, the flies already filling their soft bottles
At the goat’s torn neck. Then somebody found the head
Hanging in a tree by the school. They hurried to take
These things away so that the girl would not see them.
They hurried to raise money to buy the girl another goat.
They hurried to find the boys who had done this, to hear
Them say it was a joke, a joke, it was nothing but a joke....
But listen: here is the point. The boys thought to have
Their fun and be done with it. It was harder work than they
Had imagined, this silly sacrifice, but they finished the job,
Whistling as they washed their large hands in the dark.
What they didn’t know was that the goat’s head was already
Singing behind them in the tree. What they didn’t know
Was that the goat’s head would go on singing, just for them,
Long after the ropes were down, and that they would learn to listen,
Pail after pail, stroke after patient stroke. They would
Wake in the night thinking they heard the wind in the trees
Or a night bird, but their hearts beating harder. There
Would be a whistle, a hum, a high murmur, and, at last, a song,
The low song a lost boy sings remembering his mother’s call.
Not a cruel song, no, no, not cruel at all. This song
Is sweet. It is sweet. The heart dies of this sweetness.

Hoje no Doc

Legendary master filmmaker Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Cave of Forgotten Dreams) examines the past, present and constantly evolving future of the Internet in Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World. Working with NETSCOUT, a world leader in-real time service assurance and cybersecurity, which came aboard as a producer and led him into a new world, Herzog conducted original interviews with cyberspace pioneers and prophets such as PayPal and Tesla co-founder Elon Musk, Internet protocol inventor Bob Kahn, and famed hacker Kevin Mitnick.

These provocative conversations reveal the ways in which the online world has transformed how virtually everything in the real world works, from business to education, space travel to healthcare, and the very heart of how we conduct our personal relationships. In the words of executive producer Jim McNiel, “It’s a journey even Werner, with his immense imagination and inquisitive mind, didn’t expect. Unless you have lived in the technology space, you don’t yet fully appreciate what dwells there.” Herzog adds: “It is one of the biggest revolutions we as humans are experiencing.”


“Look at the pictures.” With these words, Jesse Helms denounced the work of Robert Mapplethorpe. Twenty-five years later, the first and most complete documentary about the artist since his death, by acclaimed directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, does just that, with unprecedented unlimited access to his archives and work.

Jenny Hval - Conceptual Romance

Directed by Zia Anger
Cinematography by Jason Marlow and Billy Feldman
Production Design by Caiti Hawkins
Produced/Skin Suits by Annie Bielski

Innocence is Kinky Runner / Zia Anger
Workout Ball Woman / Jenny Hval
That Battle is Over Mother & Child / Cornelia Livingston & Georgia
Blood Bitches /  Destefano DeLuise , Julie Hackett, Shanekia McIntosh
"Artist" / Annie Bielski

Thank You: Frances Sultan, Adam Weinert, Nick & Christina, Theo Anthony

Mike Kelley - Airportraits










Mike Kelley is a Los Angeles based photographer specializing in Architecture, Interiors, Commercial Spaces, as well as Aerial and Aviation Photography.


A native of Ipswich Massachusetts, Mike studied Studio Art and Environmental Science at the University of Vermont before venturing out to Lake Tahoe, California in hopes of becoming a professional snowboarder. A couple of years and countless injuries later, Mike found himself taking up an offer to photograph a few homes for a developer friend he met while recuperating. What started out by chance turned out to be the perfect mix of technicality and creativity for Mike, and he was immediately hooked with photographing architecture and interiors.


Mike is known for his light-painting method of photography, where he uses both natural and artificial light to artistically capture indoor and outdoor spaces. Every single image is meticulously crafted with expert attention to detail. Mike strives to create fun, laid-back environments when shooting, whether it be a small house or a downtown skyscraper overlooking the ocean.


When Mike isn’t photographing architecture and interiors, he is always working on exciting new projects — anything from photographing planes taking off from airports, documenting the architecture of Iceland, recreating a vintage Pan Am airline advertorial, or publishing a book of aerial images of Los Angeles.

Let Me Get There

Lead single from Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions featuring Kurt Vile off the third studio album, Until the Hunter.


Directed by: Ben Smith (XLVI) & Tendril Tales
Digital Art: Ben Smith (XLVI)
D.P. / Art Direction: Robert Karns
Sculptures by: Ron Sandoval (aka Ronaldo)
Concept Development: Barry Bödeker