Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mexico 3: The Ms Oosterdam

The best part of the Air America Radio seminar cruise, was not surprisingly, the seminars. Usually two a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, though sometimes more. I hope at least a few of them are broadcast on the network.
After the first seminar, I attended a lecture about Miro, given by the ship’s art gallery which is also selling Miros and others. Even my tour of the Miro Foundation in Barcelona in 2002 wasn’t as educational as this talk. We are shown a Miro and asked what it looks like. One person said “Snoopy.” I said “an amoeba” and the lecturer said yeah, the biomorphic resonances abound in the painting. On understanding Miro, she told about how when she first saw this ship, she wondered how it would have enough fuel and carry enough food for all the passengers, whereas a child would look at it and says “big boat.” That’s what Miro wants us to think about art, at least His art. I remember taking Bit as a child to art galleries in Tokyo and learning from her how to look at art.

At the opening party, I saw Jim Hightower’s towering Texas hat and made my way over to him. I gave him an Adbusters, and told him how much his commentaries inspired me when I was writing articles in the mag’s beginning.. He remembered having Kalle on his long format call in radio show in the 90s. In general, a wondrously warm individual, just like on the radio and in his books.
In a seminar, when someone mentioned getting Democrats to agree was like herding cats, Jim said, “anyone who thinks you can’t herd cats has never tried a can opener.” Although I’d rather be Cat than cat food, the metaphor was apt.

I'd never heard Lionel or Jon Elliot's radio shows but really enjoyed their seminar contributions, and promised them I'd listen to their shows. Air America's resident radio goddess Randi Rhodes was as entertaining in the seminars as she is on her afternoon show I usually listen to. I talked to her for a few minutes at the opening night party, about her dog and my dog and when she started talking about her passion for gardening, I wanted to continue that thread but she was whisked away by the 400 other Air America cruisers who demanded her attention. After the humour seminar, where perhaps she shone because of the humourous company, including one of America's funniest and wisest men, Jim Hightower, I told her that was the funniest I'd ever heard her- and she always tries to be funny on her show and usually succeeds. Laughter can create a better world than the one we have now.
I had an omlette prepared to my choice of ingredients at the "Omlette Station" on the Lido Food deck on Sunday, then opted for a room service omlette to save time before boarding the whale watching boat in Cabo on Monday morning. This "room service" meal, my only one of the cruise, was far better than the one made to order for me on the "food deck." The rosemary potatoes were restaurant quality, and I mean the restaurants I go to (see the entire rest of the blog). Most (but not all-the fish was edible only with lots of $9.00 a glass wine) of its food was edible, if your standards are quite low.
The Crow's Nest, on the 10th floor, was the scene of the continuing Air America party that began every night at 10:00. Sometimes it was a race to finish dinner and get there while seats were still available. The bar was quite minor league in terms of drinks it could prepare. My throat was usually so sore from talking to dinner companions, I'd order a hot toddy and they had to go to a different part of the ship to get hot water for it.
This chamber is supposed to put you in an alpha state. Darkness, magic fingers, new age music on headsets= the alpha state? Most interesting to me was the rocking of the ship when combined with the other effects. Worth $100 for 5 half-hour sessions? The ship was relentless in trying to separate you from your money.
I signed up for the yoga class given in this gym, before discovering that by taking it, I was missing the first half of the first seminar, given on Sunday morning. Yoga seems like a good thing to pursue, and well worth $11.00
The 9th floor is called The Lido Deck, where all the free food is, along with the pool and the only place on the ship I could breathe real air. Most of the air on the ship seemed less healthy than the average airplane's air. I never entered the pool, but appreciated its existance, if only because it was surrounded by fresh air.
Our 2nd Mexican destination was Mazatlan, where I'd signed up for the shrimp feast. 3 kinds of shrimp and numerous local beers in the garden of a rich person's house, overlooking the many poor, not quite disguised by the flowers. The most enjoyable part of the feast was talking with a lunch companion, who'd been a soldier in Mao's army, first against the Japanese and then against Chiang Kai-Shek. When Mao took power, he realized that he was even worse than the others he'd fought against, and fled to the west. For all the political savy of the Air America folks, they seemed like smart kindergarteners next to this old guy.


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