Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
Burning the Old Year
Monday, January 2, 2023 | Cinthia Arias Auz
Every year on the first midnight of January, Ecuador celebrates La Quema del Año Viejo (the burning of the old year). My father used to build our family’s monigote — also referred to as the “old man” — using his old clothes. At the waist, he would stitch a shirt and a pair of pants together. Later, he would fill it with sawdust and old newspapers. He would then close the legs and arms with stitches. We would purchase a prefabricated paper mache head with a painted face of an "old man" as the finishing touch. We would bring our monigote to the middle of the street, where our neighbours would come out with theirs and we’d pile them all together. Everyone would buy gasoline and explosives to set them on fire, we would jump over the burning pile while laughing and hollering. Granted, these were not commercial fireworks, and all I can recall was staring out the window from the safety of a car, entranced.
Diversity is a narrow achievement 
Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | Cinthia Arias Auz
As we know them today, branding strategies have moved through several stages of transformation. From advertising new inventions in the mid-nineteenth century and supplying proper names for generic goods to helping corporations find their soul in what writer Naomi Klein refers to as the “brand essence.”1 According to Klein, in the late eighties and early nineties, students were fighting a battle over issues of “representation,” which she defines as “a loosely defined set of grievances mostly lodged against the media, the curriculum and the English language.” However, she elaborates that corporations did not see students as the enemy but as a brand-content source to produce a “new identity.” Corporations managed to assimilate the urgent call for representation and mass-produced diversity as a result. All the social struggles that students advocated for quickly became a continuous supply of content for the branding giants who turned themselves into instant allies to every cause under the sun. There is nothing branding cannot touch. It learns new gimmicks and develops a shallow conscience in the name of revenue.