Mike Gonzalez

Here With Us Still

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Review of 'Memoirs', Pablo Neruda, Souvenir Press £12.99; 'Pablo Neruda', Adam Feinstein, Bloomsbury £25; 'Selected Poems', Pablo Neruda, Penguin £9.99; 'Isla Negra', Pablo Neruda (translated by Alastair Reid), Condor £14.99

There are very few poets of the 20th century who have made their voices heard in public places - but Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean writer, can claim his place among them. His early poetry, the writings of the thin and rather shy son of a railwayman, focused on the peaks and the disappointments of the discovery of sexual love. Later, as an underpaid consular official in Burma, he veered between the same extremes: passion for his irrepressible Burmese lover, and a deeper feeling that the world was a hostile and unstable place.

Two Worlds Collide

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Mike Gonzalez speaks to Chilean director Andres Wood.

Sometimes the truth about historic events is told best by those who make no attempt to understand their meaning but simply live them out. That's the case with the two young boys and the teenage girl at the heart of Andres Wood's moving film Machuca. Machuca is a kid from the slums (the poblaciones) of Santiago, Silvana his slightly older friend. Gonzalo is the child of a wealthy middle class family.

Edward Hopper: All The Lonely People

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There is compassion and hope in the art of Edward Hopper, says Mike Gonzalez.

'bring on your fireworks... very well
provided an instant may be fixed'

(e e cummings)

It is always hard to remember where or when you saw your first Edward Hopper. Or perhaps the places and the people that he paints are so familiar that they were somewhere in your memory already - and Hopper simply brought them back to mind.

Urban Solitude and the Mobile Phone

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There are two sides to the communication revolution, as Mike Gonzalez explains.

Standing in baggage reclaim at Luton airport the other day, it struck me that almost everyone around me had taken out their mobile phone. The 'William Tell' overture vied for space with 'A Little Night Music', while everyone spoke at a rising volume to be heard above all the other people speaking at the same time. What was the urgency? From what I could overhear there were two basic conversations: 'I'll be out in a minute - I'm just waiting for the bags' was one. The other just announced a safe arrival.

Sects, Lies and Virile Monks

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The history of decadent, out of touch rulers should worry Tony Blair, writes
Mike Gonzalez.

Listening to Blair's Churchillian blast at Labour's spring conference was a peculiarly unpleasant experience. As usual, he mobilised his two good old standbys - moralism and fear. Like Canute, Blair stood resolutely on the beach looking out across the water and commanded the waves to turn back. This was a man so obviously lying to himself and others - so obviously acting a part - that not even the toadies and sycophants lined beaming along the front row of the hall could have believed a word of it.

My Kingdom on a Horse

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Four centuries later, Mike Gonzalez finds Don Quixote a strangely modern tragicomic hero.

’Tilting at windmills‘ - it‘s a phrase you often hear whenever people launch ferocious assaults at imaginary enemies. But perhaps not everyone remembers that the first man to charge at slowly turning sails was an elderly Spaniard wearing a pudding bowl on his head. Don Quixote was his name - and the only witness to this particular attack of lunacy was a plump peasant riding a donkey who found it impossible to convince the old man that these were not giants with flailing arms who needed to be brought down a peg or two. The reluctant witness was his squire, one Sancho Panza.

Power to the Beetle

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A decade on, the Zapatistas still inspire resistance, writes Mike Gonzalez.

In January 1994, some new and unexpected faces joined the public gallery of political images. Actually, the faces were barely visible - just the eyes through the slits in the woollen balaclavas they wore. The Zapatistas, unknown warriors from the Mexican south, had stolen the thunder of the three presidents meeting to announce the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) to the world's press corps. But their slick Armani suits made very boring pictures compared with the rough blankets and open sandals of the guerrilla fighters of Chiapas.

Music, Dreams and Desire

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Mike Gonzalez commemorates the extraordinary music of the Buena Vista Social Club.

The last time I saw Rubén González play piano he finished one tune with a visual joke: running his fingers up the keyboard, he continued beyond the edge of the piano, playing in the air. It was as if his extraordinary dexterity and skill had conquered what was there and needed some new challenges. Bumping into him a little later in a bar near the theatre, I realized how tiny he was, and how bent and arthritic his hands were. It made his artistry even more astonishing.

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