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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Now that's a headline

A rough translation "Fuck Oaxaca!

From Imparcial this morning:
Business leaders, leaders of social organizations and unions thundered against the Interior Ministry by apathy and neglect that has addressed the problem of Oaxaca, where ineptitude and lack of authority a popular insurrection lives and a siege that held incommunicado the entity and the Oaxacan plunged into chaos.
The social rebellion facing the State of Oaxaca right now capitalized not only the teachers' discontent, but the social irritation road closures and economic losses that have recorded the productive sectors, said the leaders who questioned that every day is increasing the government's impotence against the excesses of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE).
Also, business leaders agreed that the company deserves respect and official indifference hurts Oaxacan, who are already thinking about a general strike and taxes.
The secretary general of the Federation of Markets Oaxaca, Amancio Pérez Ruiz said that it seems that the federal government is willing to "fuck Oaxaca" at the slow pace that has addressed the magisterial conflict.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Love affair with Tlacolula

It is always such a joy to visit Tlacolula. 
 It is a wonderful palette cleanser, an immersion into a rich stew of humanity in all its glory.
Sunday market is one of the the most popular and richest experiences, intense, at times, but fun.
The produce is always as good as one can find.
And some of the the very best street food anywhere.  These tacos and gorditas are from the stand right at the very beginning of the market. 
Under an orange canopy.  That's why the colors are off, but, oh my, the taste.  
The tacos are exceptional, but that gordita.... maybe the best street food combo, good fillings, deep fried in a patty of masa and then cut and filled with sour cream, lettuce and all the salsas and condiments you want.  So good!!  There was a time when I drove to Tlacolula six weeks in a row just to get a gordita.  True!  Just writing about it.....  I want one right now.....

Sunday, June 26, 2016

And so it goes...

Life, I mean... it goes on. 
Obviously, lots of words have been written, opinion opined, even some significant actions like Brexit, the release of some political prisoners here, and negotiations abound.  Whether or not anything comes of any of this remains to be seen.  But in the meantime, as I say, life goes on.  I tried to make a run to the market in Etla, but was immediately met with a blockade which pretty much stopped me in my tracks and sent me back to the house.
So it was a short drive, however, some pretty dramatic shots, remnants of last week's turmoil.  Yes, taking the stones from the memorial to Benito Juarez to use in barricades.  Hmmmm....
The burned out hulk of the destroyed construction equipment.  I guess it will be a while until they return to finish the never-ending construction of the Metrobus lanes.
Yes, I have thoughts on all the turmoil here, but as I always note, I am a guest here and no one really gives a hoot as to what I think.  All I can do is remain positive and hopeful.  And at times, that is pretty easy.  Just look at how lush the countryside is with all the rains. 
Wait until you see pictures of the garden!!!  Keep hope alive!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Life goes on...

Check out these graffiti images from last Monday over at Casa Colibri.  And these from yesterday.   A detail..
The full image.
Having people in the picture changes the perspective and effect.
People continue to live their lives.
This..
and that
Things that make you go, "Hmmmm..."
The parties are back at the table engaging in meaningful dialogue... Ojala!  Maybe they can work this out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Keep the faith...

More marches and blockades today.  I'm sure everyone hopes for some sort of resolution to all these conflicts.  The guelaguetza is upcoming and already people are canceling hotel reservations.  This does not bode well as tourism is mother's milk to Oaxaca.  My walk through the city yesterday was uneventful.  The rains put a damper on things, but mostly, people were out, living their lives.  I did notice lots of repair work on recently broken windows, but how does one replace this. Actually, I am sure they will, with typical Oaxacan resiliency.
A metaphor for a broken window of opportunity.
The Oxxo that was trashed was being restocked.
And ATM's out of use.  For many people, that's how they get their money... or maybe that's just how it is in my house.  As I said, people were out leading their lives as we tend to do no matter what the situation is.  However, on the bright side, yesterday is was raining, today, the sun is out and everything is green and lush.  Think positive... when it rains, sell umbrellas.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Aftermath....

Ain't no sunshine, a rare rainy day, time to venture out to the market in Etla.  It is busy and quiet at the same time.  Things are back to normal, but there is an edge. 
 
I live to the north of the city and the stretch of road between Viguera and Hacienda Blanca was one of the key points of blockades and protests.  It is just before the entrance and exit to the toll road north, so it is always a popular spot for blockades.  However, these were a different sort of thing. 
Every few hundred meters there was evidence of a fiery blockade, a line burned into the asphalt.  I was surprised by the sheer number of them.  Rocks, tires and debris lined the road after a quick cleanup. 
There were several burnt out husks of semis and trucks. 
Even a huge road excavator/scraper they have been using to construct the Metrobus route, a never ending road project, was totally destroyed.  I made it to Etla and back with no problems, but with the rain and all the damage, it was somber.  Then I headed into the city to check out the action and was greeted by this sign of the times.
The city was quiet, but depressed.... or maybe that was just me.  More on that in a bit.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Polarization brings chaos and death.

I returned late Saturday night to a city and state in turmoil.  There are protests and blockades in various key spots and lots of police.  Some of the most intense action yesterday happened quite near me as there was a blockade at Hacienda Blanca, the northern entrance to the city.  I watched the smoke from fires rise and helicopters flying very close to the ground from my house which is up in the foothills.

I would venture a guess as to what was really happening, but it would be just that, a guess.  And it would be wrong no matter what.  There are just too many issues and the sides are firmly entrenched.  And of course, there are the anarchists, a real entity, who are just messing with everyone, wanting to crash the system.  Agents provocateurs? Probably.

It is sad to see the deaths and destruction.  How did it come to this?  Lack of empathy and compassion and the rigidity of positions.  No chance for compromise.  Sounds like that is the case in many places.... but as I said, that is just a guess, and, no doubt, wrong.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Love that dirty water....

Well, it's not that dirty anymore, the Charles River of story and song.
Right off of Comm. Ave, there's a popular canoe and kayak rental place.  It's a very popular spot for many including dogs.  This guy had a life vest on and was having a blast.
I guess one can rent boats other than canoes.
Looks like fun.
Even some swan boats.
For those of you who don't know the song referenced in the title.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Celebrating the Artist

One of my favorite "very Boston" excursions is to take the Green Line in from Riverside and get off in Copley Square.  It is always bustling with activity and filled with people.  And right in front of the square, on the Boylston street side, complete with palette and brushes, is this wonderful statue of John Singleton Copley.
I love any city that celebrates its artists.  That's Trinity Church behind him.
Iconic architecture.
Speaking of iconic buildings.  The John Hancock building. Note the little tiny plane.  Things that make you go hmmmm....

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I'm tired

Well, things are not going well either in Oaxaca or in El Norte.  There seems no easy way out of the problems in both places.  The sides are intractable.  Kinda wears one down, don't it?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Flights to Cuba!

Progress....
The United States approved scheduled flights to Cuban cities other than Havana from five U.S. cities, with service starting as soon as this fall, the U.S. Transportation Department said in a statement on Friday.

American Airlines Group Inc, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways Corp, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines Co and Sun Country Airlines will be allowed up to 10 daily round-trip flights, the department said. The flights will be allowed from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia and Minneapolis/St. Paul, it added.

The United States and Cuba signed an agreement this year restoring commercial air service between the former Cold War foes for the first time in decades. Under the agreement, 20 daily round-trip flights will be allowed to Havana but U.S. carriers have requested nearly 60 flights per day, far exceeding the limit.

The Transportation Department said it expects to reach a final decision on which carriers will get the limited Havana slots this summer.

O boy, soy!

This is one of the reasons I always love coming back to Boston, the CMart in Chinatown.  It is an Asian supermarket with everything from live fish to the freshest vegetables.  I go there to stock up on soy sauce and sesame oil.  Look at this selection.
And it just keeps going.
And here's my choice.  That's a liter for $3.69!
It has a wonderful rich taste and aroma.  You can put a little in a spoon and sip it, just like good balsamic vinegar.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

73 pesos ($3.95) a day

That's the minimum wage in Mexico, the lowest in all of Latin America.  Could you live on that?  Support your family?  Think about it in economic terms as well as migration, loss of culture, division of families, but most of all with compassion.  Without compassion, there can be no positive solutions and outcomes.

Essentially, walk a kilometer in those shoes.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

My own moment with Muhammad Ali

I lived in Louisville, KY when I was young.  Every Saturday, I had All-City orchestra rehearsals. I played the oboe, the "ill wind that blows no good."  After rehearsal, I often went to a nearby steakhouse for lunch.  It was a thrill to eat out alone or with my brother.  One day, then Cassius Clay came in for lunch.  He was born in Louisville, a local legend, and was already a hero to many, so he caused a big stir in the place when he came in.  I just had to get his autograph..... but the only thing I had was my state-issued math book.  He signed the inside cover.  I was so happy..... but at the end of the year, we had to turn those books in and, being a little goody-goody, I did just that.  Boy, did I feel stupid afterwards.

So, somewhere, there exist an early autograph.  I sure hope someone ripped the cover off the sucka or at least tore out the page or stole the book.  Anyway, that's my moment with Ali.  He was my hero very early on in my life, always loved and respected.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The comedy skits just write themselves

"Bueno, no tengo piel fina," Trump protestado. "Tengo la piel muy fuerte y gruesa."
 
Is it better in Español? 

"Well, I don't have thin skin," Trump protested. "I have very strong and thick skin.
 "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" You can't make this stuff up.....

If a tree falls....

I am on a quick trip to El Norte because..... So I had these two large trees that needed to be cut down.  I just cut one down myself in San Pablo Etla last week.  It was not quite as tall as these, but still a pretty big tree.  And slightly different tools of the trade.  There, a hand saw and a machete.  Here, chainsaws, a crane, a huge chipper and three guys.  And they were good.  It was all over in just four hours.  From being there..... the one in the back.
 It was tall.
The one in the front.  It was old and .... tall.
Going, going, gone....
Break time
Way up there.  He made it looks so easy.
A lot of years.
All gone through the chipper.  OMG... I want that chipper!!!

And another thing.  They had a big truck so I had to go around and ask the neighbors to keep the street clear for a few hours.  They are finishing up a McMansion across the street and all the plasterers are Brazilian.  The Brazilians are in all the trades here big time.  The tree guys were all Chapines, from Guatemala.  My new neighbors are Chinese and are putting in a huge garden.  It all sure works for me.


Fox vs The Donald?

Sounds like a match worthy of Lucha Libre. 
from Politico
One condition ... that it's done in Mexico ... because I need him to see what Mexico is all about, to see what we Mexicans are all about. He will change his attitude toward Mexico,” Fox said. “I invite him to San Cristobal to a free lunch. No cost for him.”

But shortly after, the former Mexican leader softened his home-country requirement, saying he would be willing to meet in the United States as long as it’s solely with the Manhattan businessman himself.
"I'm willing to come here, to come here, to the States, if it's for a debate, direct personal debate with him ... so that we are bringing our arguments and we discuss what can really be the answer to ... how the economy works and how the jobs are created ... Yes, I would debate him here in the States or invite [for] a free lunch in Mexico."
 Do they have taco bowls in San Cristobal?
Uh... do yourself a favor and don't bother to read the comments on Politico.  I did and well.... we're fucked.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pochahontas?..... Sounds familiar

Mexico has Malinche, who is a wonderfully complex and tragic figure.  Malinchimo is a part of the Mexican psyche.  Read this description

These words by Ruth Hopkins ring so true and made me immediately think of Malinche.  At least Mexicans remember and contemplate what she means.  Not so in El Norte.  We don't even acknowledge our own history before Columbus, those thousands of years, which is ignorant, sad and serves as an indictment on our culture.
Let’s be clear: Donald Trump isn’t calling Senator Warren “Pocahontas” to honor her. He is using it in a derogatory manner, to belittle and insult her. This is what he thinks of Native people and women in general. Such statements are not only arrogant, they’re misogynistic and racially charged.

Contrary to Hollywood lore and textbook mythology, Pocahontas wasn’t a buxom NDN Princess built for sex who couldn’t wait to help the white man defeat her brutish Tribesman. Pocahontas was a little girl who first met John Smith around age 11. She was kidnapped, held hostage, imprisoned, and raped by European invaders who only released her when she agreed to marry one of her English captors. She was then promptly carted off to Europe as an example of what successful colonization could look like. She fell ill soon after and died far from her traditional homelands at the age of 21. Pocahontas is not a stripper name or a Halloween costume. She is Exhibit A in the case that would hold the United States and its founders guilty of Indigenous genocide.
Painful.... so painful

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Seccion XXII brings the chaos

I don't get it, but it is sure getting to me.... and many others.  Seccion XXII is making life difficult.  They have shut down roads, streets, shopping centers, and today, the airport.  As you can imagine, it is beginning to get serious.  There are lots of federales here, but still all this stuff takes place.  It is downright ugly.  And it ain't just here.  Lots of other places, too. 
Here, they are protesting in front of a school on Juarez and subsequently, the surrounding streets are either closed or a mess..
If you know Oaxaca, you can recognize the gazebo in the background.  Yes, this is the NW entrance to the zocalo.  Where is that meteor when you really need it?
Here's the thing... I'm a former teacher, a pacifist and a Buddhist, so I wrestle with my feelings of wanting to smack someone up side the head with a 2x4.  I don't like feeling this way.  And I don't even have a dog in this fight.... except I need to take a flight on Saturday.  This is just a small street with a tiny school on it and it is being shut down by teachers from Tlacolula.  This makes sense???
 
And I don't understand the strategy of making life hell for everyone, pissing them off, and thinking that this is progress and will make others sympathetic to the teacher's demands.