The here and now... and what and why

Complacency is a trap. At least that’s what I was thinking when I up and left the comfort of a Yankee prep school gig, where I taught music, amongst other things, for 28 years. There was also that life long career as a composer, musician and artist.

First, it was a year in St. Thomas, USVI, working as a reporter and shooting photography and then, a year in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Time passed.
More time passed and a year back in the Athens of America followed by a hasty return to Oaxaca where it is all happening.
A couple of years in San Sebastian Etla and now, just down the road in San Pablo Etla. Life is good.

Click on an image to see it larger.
For additional photography please visit my flickr page.
You can find my music on Jango (World & latin - Worldbeat) and at iTunes and most online stores.
¡Soy consciente de todas las tradiciones del Internet!
If you are coming to Oaxaca, please contact me for tours or advice.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo
The view from Corazon del Pueblo

The hereafter re me

My photo
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Musician, photographer, videographer, reporter, ex-officio teacher, now attempting to be a world traveler

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Flyover country

On my annual trek to El Norte to get the house ready for winter and, like most people, I'm always captivated by looking down.. a mandatory shot..
Different patterns
Heading north
Brrr.... just in time.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

No more rabies!

Given the number of feral dogs in the country, this is really an incredible achievement.

from the LAHT:
Mexico has become the first country in the world to be free from dog-transmitted rabies, according to the Pan American Health Organization on Monday announcing the World Health Organization validation.

To achieve WHO validation, Mexico implemented a strategy that included free mass-vaccination campaigns for dogs from the 1990s, as well as continuous surveillance and public awareness-raising campaigns for a timely diagnosis.

“Eliminating rabies doesn’t happen by accident. It takes political resolve, careful planning and meticulous execution,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in the PAHO statement.

The WHO considers a country free from rabies after registering two years of zero transmission to humans. Mexico went from having 60 cases in 1990 to three in 1999 and none since 2006, the statement added.

The last two cases of rabies in humans transmitted by dogs occurred in the State of Mexico in 2005.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

She blinded me with science... uh, I mean, music

I have been trying to get a shot of this, one of my favorite pieces of street, for weeks.  However, it's in a tough place, on a hill on a busy street and there is always a car parked in front of it.  I have to stand in the street and jump up to get over the car and snap numerous shots in the hopes that I'll get it.  And finally, I did.  I love what it says to me.  I am definitely the guy with the boob tune for a head.  Music, all music, always blows my mind and cleanses the soul.  So there it is...zap....mind blown.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Muertos - Families and Friends....

That what Muertos is really about: Families and Friends.  It's not scary or anything like Halloween.  It's a time to gather together and share memories... and food and music and each other.  Our ancestors and our friends are remembered and live again in our hearts and minds.... and it's a good time as you can see from these photos.  Happiness, love and pride abound.
My friends in New England can't imagine cemeteries filled with so many people, smiling as they  decorate graves.  Entire families, parents, kids, grandparents, aunt, uncles cousins, all celebrating and honoring the spirits that all live on in our minds.
These are some of the things that bring smiles to our faces.
As well as toasting them with a couple of beers.
And note how many young people are involved in keeping these traditions going.
Imagine being involved in creating this...
It's the people, living and dead, that make Muertos so special.  It's such a healthy way of looking at life and death.  Maybe you just have to be there....  next year?

Friday, November 1, 2019

Muertos - Tamales in Teotitlan del Valle

It just doesn't get any better than this.  Muertos is such a special time and one of the highlights for us each year is getting to savor the remarkable tamales in Teotitlan del Valle.  Emilia Gonzales and her daughter-in-law, Virginia, get up at 3AM and make 250 of these beauties. 
Wrapped in fresh corn leaves and filled with a velvety masa and chicken and mole amarillo.... absolutely sublime. They are made only for this special day as dictated by tradition and it is an honor and blessing to share the day and the food with them, our Oaxacan family.  Tomorrow, it's back for her mole negro and if you have read this blog, you will know I think hers is the best in the universe.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Fields of Dreams...

This is one of my favorite days of the year, the day when flowers are harvested in preparation fo El Dia de los Muertos.  The fields near my house are overflowing with cempasuchil (marigolds) and terciopelo rojo (celosia or cockscomb). 
It's amazing how they seem to peak, perfectly timed to be picked. 
And somehow, the growers do it every year even through the weather conditions vary widely.  I wasn't the only one enjoying the blossoms.
Bees are loving it, but odds are, they will all be gone tomorrow.
And away they go...
More mañana....

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

It's beginning to look like... Muertos!

As always, the street decorations as Muertos approaches are so inventive and inspiring.  People can do the most amazing things using the simplest of materials. 
I watched as one man lowered dried corn to another on a ladder as they slowly assembled this stunning installation.
And above the streets...
A wonderfully subtle and evocative use of marigolds or cempazuchitl, one of the most important flowers used throughout the celebrations.  They go on for blocks;
Of course, not all the decorations are quite so subtle, but still, perfect.
There's always more.....

Thursday, October 24, 2019

It's beginning to look like... Muerteadas!

It seems like there are more muerteadas each year as villages get into the action and excitement.  What's a muerteada?  It's an all night dance party that's an extension of the various celebrations surrounding El Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead.
The costumes, the infectious driving music, the going from house to house, it's blast.  On the north side of the city, in the many Etlas, muerteadas are the thing.  And each village paints a mural to advertise the event.   Here, a beautiful image from the one for Santiago Etla.
I try to go to San Agustin Etla every year, where two neighborhoods, San Jose and El Panteon, come together after twelve hours of dancing at the base of the mountains and yell and scream at each other, but all in good fun...  I think... maybe not.
Each thinks they are the best and the originals. San Jose, la cuna, the birthplace.
El Panteon, The Mother of all muerteadas,
And San Sebastian has one just for women the following week.
Party on Garth.  Be there or be square! Or poof.... you've missed it... again.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Lady of the House

I found this beautiful Catrina at a sale from Linda Hanna, the renown folk art expert and collector and La Catrina has taken over the hallway in all her splendor.  She is sculpted tin, the creation of Enrique Badillo from San Miguel Allende.
Here she is with her beautiful fan of feathers,
A work of art in itself.
I look forward to seeing her everyday as I go up and down the stairs.
She looks up to see the incredible Arbol de Vida from Fidel and Maria Luisa Cruz of Casa Cruz in Teotitlan del Valle.
Ah.... the maestr@s of the arts, Mexico's treasure.... and mine, too.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Catch it before it disappears....

Oaxaca always has some of the best graffiti and street artists who present many powerful images.
There is an ever changing art show one can see just by walking the streets.
Or you can just walk on by.
Or bike on by.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch,
The city has an ongoing removal policy, but it varies in terms of what gets taken off or painted over. 
There will be more next week.

Monday, October 7, 2019


It is always such a pleasure to see living traditions, as the danzantes de plumas in Teotitlan del Valle danced in celebration of the Rosario this past weekend.  In this, the first year of their three year promesa, this group is filled with exceptional dancers and wonderful tight choreography.
Such beautiful colors, just dazzling.
The coordination of elements, the weaving on the back.
And the rattle and eagle paddle, all the work of the dancer.
Rene Alaves Lazaro, a happy Monctezuma.
He is a remarkable dancer, so lithe and graceful.
And La Malinche and Doña Marina, Jimena and Yaretzi, are both also excellent dancers, full of life,
And always right and tight with the music.
Next big performance is in December for Guadelupe.  Be there or be square.