``It's all right if my clothes aren't new, out of sight because my heart is true,'' Stevie Wonder declared as El Conde soothed his bird.
``I guess her folks brought her up that way ... No one is better than I, I know I'm just an average guy.''
El Conde considers the proper balance of life as the 30-year-old hit single _ ``Uptight, Out of Sight'' fades into the background.
``Birdie, are we here to accumulate plastic toys? No, but our economic model is successful,''' El Conde says, rolling an 8 1/4-lb granite cylinder between his fingers.
He has been exercising by walking to work with the cylinder, cored by a huge diamond studded drill bit for a drain in a sidewalk installed near his office. The marketplace that brought all these items together is a phenomenal accomplishment _ granite, perhaps from Portugal; industrial diamond dust from South Africa; workers from Central America unconcerned about the route to market.
The workers would rather be back where they came from, but everybody has to have something to trade _ if you don't, you have to go somewhere where they do. The rich also flee, giving up on trying to make things better at home.
Is this a discussion about leadership?
El Conde's parents and grandparents left, but they fled poverty, a Spain weakened by the United States they fled to, robbed of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam in the Spanish-American War _ the last vestiges of a great empire. But they never forgot, sent clothes and money back until they were no longer needed and visited once they could afford it, providing tourist dollars to the culture that once could not support them.
What can each of us do?
Hristo, the Bulgarian waiter and IT student, walks in. He is setting up a wireless network in Sofia.
``We have some customers, but we also have debt. We need to expand the network, but that costs more money,'' he says.
The slow process of building/rebuilding the homeland continues.
Thank you for the answer, Hristo. The answer is not the Lexus, its the nexus _ not forgetting those left behind.