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

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Hometown boy makes good....

I flew up from Oaxaca so I could celebrate the many achievements of one of our high school classmates, Paul S. Grogan.  I, along with many of Boston's illustrious civic and political leaders, was there to hear from Paul and his co-author, Cathy Merchant, as he released a memoir, "Be prepared to be lucky."
Our Clinton Central School (NY) classmate, from the mighty class of 1968, as the head of The Boston Foundation, has been so important to the growth and revitalization of Boston and in developing a blueprint for action that was adopted by over 700 public/private foundations across the nation.  Ms. Merchant was the CEO of the Cincinnati foundation and spoke to how Paul had been the initiator and driving force in advancing policies that engaged various governmental and private sectors to make all of our lives better.  The moderator, Robert Lewis, Jr., is also a mover and shaker, known as a catalyst for collaboration between diverse business, civic and public sectors and a tireless advocate for urban youth.
Paul worked closely with many of Boston's mayors during his thirty years of service and many people wanted him to follow in their footsteps, but he chose a different path and his achievements are legendary.  Really, he was a key figure in making Boston the city it is today.... and Boston is really a remarkable city on so many levels.

I, true to form, had to rise to say that our class knew he would be a game-changer, as we were all there when he was the very first person to ever dunk a basketball at our small school.  It was the 60's and it was still illegal to dunk during a game, so he did it warmups.  We all went crazy, one of my sweetest school memories.  And all the CEO, presidents, heavy hitters and power brokers loved hearing the story.  He went on to lead such a remarkable and productive life, a positive and driving force in making so many people's lives better.  Much love and respect... and so proud of what a boy from a small town in Upstate NY has achieved.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Palm Sunday - Domingo de Ramos 4/2/2023

First time I've missed this in years, but car problems meant a no go this year.

Power to the people...

 Yesterday, at 6AM, the power went out for ten hours.  It was a good thing.  CFE (La Comisión Federal de Electricidad) was installing new poles, new lines and a new transformer and wow, what a difference a day makes. 
The power has always been sketchy here with dramatic fluctuations everyday.  Some days, things like the fridge or microwave would barely crawl along.  And everyone has big surge protectors. About a year ago, one of the neighbors circulated a petition for a new transformer that we all signed. Well, look at this! 
The difference is so noticeable. Everything electric is just purring.  Gracias, CFE, who showed up with a huge crew and got the job done quite quickly.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Knives out...


"Get your knives sharpened on the spot." One of the special services to be found on the streets of Oaxaca. For some reason, and maybe it's the brutal heat, but this shot makes me think of Sisyphus... just keep pushing and pushing.   And, as always, the street art tells many stories.  No knives here, but bottles. 
And where else could a simple picture of corn, maiz, which was developed in the Mitla region 10,00 years ago, elicit so much pride and respect. 
This saxophonist appears regularly in different guises. Wonderful stencil work.
The juxtaposition of these three images across from Santo Domingo is good food for thought.  Tourists love taking photos with the figures from Tehuantepec, but the locals are not quite so enamored with them.  You can see how they're are feeling by the scowls on their faces.
And of course, someone is always watching.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

What a world...

Trying to get back into the groove of posting after just returning from Boston to Oaxaca. Water is a big issue in both places.  In Oaxaca, there ain't none.... well, very little. The city has so little, it cannot meet the needs of its inhabitants.  It's dire.  It is possible to buy water from a pipa or water truck, but only if you know someone and are willing to pay expensive prices.  And who knows where they are getting it?  And it's even worse for the 22 million people in Mexico City.  No water - no life.

In Newton, it's a different world. There's abundant water, but the city estimated water bills for years due to faulty meters and people are getting huge bills.  Mine was $600 and I was only there a few weeks.  Others have been in the thousands.  I heard of one for $56k... maybe they have a pool.

My blogger buddy, Shannon and I, joke that we are now living in a dystopian world like those that we've read about in our audio books.  Well, here we are. 

Hottest ever... war, famine, corruption.  We are in for some hard times.  This may look like a happy scene but... it's warm enough in Antarctica for butterflies?

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Closer to home..

I've been sticking close to home.  I suppose it is a learned behavior acquired during the pandemic, but life is quite full within just a few kms.  I love the sights and sounds that surround me. I mean, these are the firewood or leñas campesinos, the delivery means, I see all the time. 
As I walk the hills near me, I am aware of the sounds in the air.  Being a John Cage follower, it's all music to my ears... the dogs barking, roosters crowing, music from bands, moto taxis, the tortilla guy, the gas guys... and the wind... And don't forget about the smells.
The funny and nice thing is that these guys recognize me and we always exchange greetings.  I think I am more of an amusement to them as the old gringo... "What's he doing out here?"  As the Buddha would say, "I may be insignificant in the universe, but it would not be complete without me in it."

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Siesta - Jes' Chillin'

Well, it's been a couple of months since last posting and all I can come up with are Dylan's lyrics,

Time passes slowly up here in the mountains
We sit beside bridges and walk beside fountains
Catch the wild fishes that float through the stream
Time passes slowly when you're lost in a dream.

But not really lost.  I guess I always imagined living this way as I approached what's left of  life. It's the time when you are supposed to figure things out, right?  Madeline, my ex and best friend, used to say, "You just want to live like those old Buddhist monks you see in the movies."  Well, here I are.

Lotta water under the aforementioned bridges.  I've let a lot go.  PDQ Bach just passed and someone had to remind me I once did a concert with him.  And I make curious observations.

When I first came here, all the tourists walked around with guidebooks and paper maps, looking lost.  So I would stop and try to help and there would be some human interaction.  Well, those days are gone.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a cell.  I have one, I mean three, too.  But I still can't text with my thumbs nearly as fast as I see the kids do.  Kids meaning anyone under sixty.  And Oaxaca is changing.  Lots more people, cars and notoriety.  I know it is happening in many places around the world and I also know I am part of that change.  I'm one of the old gringos that has brought change just by being here.  Although living like a monk, I try not to rile the waters too much. 

So, I'll return to the dream with the words of Korean Master SungChol, “I’m just a mountain recluse who really doesn’t know a thing.  I spend my days looking at the eternally infinite blue sky and staring at the dancing white clouds.  So don’t be fooled by anything I say.”

Friday, November 10, 2023

Oaxaca:Boston Streets and markets

Just some shots from walking around the two cities.  And it's always fun going to different markets.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Autumn Leaves...

This was the first Muertos I've missed in many years, but I longed to see autumn in New England at least one more time.  I suppose it is just a different way about thinking about death, as each leaf lived a its life and soon will be returned to the the earth. 
Leaves have always been a source of inspiration and meditation for me.  In New England there are billions of leaves each year and yet each one can be singularly beautiful. 
I once had a leaf impale itself on the star on the hood my old Mercedes as I was driving 70 mph.  Kinda makes you think, don't it?  And Muertos teaches and allows us to remember and respect all the lives that have passed.  So this trip was just what I needed.... "Love that dirty water..... Down by the River Charles."

Friday, October 27, 2023

The Ladies Who Lunch....

Actually these are the ladies who make me lunch every week.  I am traveling north and bringing all traditional Oaxacan gifts for friends and family: tortillas, quesillo, mole, chocolate and mezcal.
That's fifty tortillas de mano! Heaven!  And look at how fresh that chicken is.
There is nothing better than having a personal relationship with the people who take such good care of me. 
And I do see them most every week.  Also, knowing that I am getting some of the best Oaxaca has to offer ain't bad, either.  I'm spoiled and I'm bringing it all north.
In order of appearancethe ladies provide:  fruit and chocolate, tortillas, pollo and mole, quesillo, chocolate and mole, and the best sandwich rolls.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Saturday, September 23, 2023

How does your garden grow?....

As Ole Blue Eyes once sang, "When I was 17 (give or take), it was a very good year." and so it was for the gardens.  There was decent rain and, after years of trying to figure out what can actually survive and thrive here, the gardens did just fine with minimal care.
This was mainly because everything is pretty well established and can survive the dry seasons.  Remember, this is where I started, with a bare lot. 
And now...
No matter where you work with nature, there is always a learning curve, of what works and what doesn't.  I let the plants make some of the decisions, like the ornamental grasses and all the flowers.  They are all self propagating from year to year now. 
The mango tree I started from seed, the flor de mayos from cuttings, the organ cacti, they are all so big now.  I love it.  And now, the dry season begins, little or no rain for months, but they should be OK.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

A patriotic taste treat on Independence Day

Chiles en nogada is the classic Mexican national dish with its flag colors, green chile, white sauce, red pomegranate.  It is a poblano filled with shredded meat, fruits and spices and topped off with a walnut cream sauce and the pomegranate.  Its creation has some wonderful stories behind it.  It was first served by nuns in Puebla to Emperor Irturbide, in celebration of Mexico's independence from Spain  One story has it that the winds miraculously blew the unusual ingredients together for a nun, Angelica.  And rumor has it that she and some of her sisters had been stationed in Spain and the Middle East where all of these ingredients were a part of the cuisine. 

Anyway, it is a wonderful dish and this years version from La Casa del Tío Güero, right next to SAT, was exceptional! Riquisimo!!!  Late August and September are the only months to get it.

If a tree falls...

This is one of my favorite trees.  It sits atop a hill overlooking the valley that stretches from Atzompa all the way to the Etlas.  I've sat under it, as I know many others have. 
It has a wonderful fragrance and the locals know that if you rub its leaves on your temples and around your eyes, it relieves stress. And it is/was in a prime spot for a lightning strike. 
And so it goes.
There is new growth, so in a few years....  for now, there are still leaves to relieve our stress.... and memories
If a tree falls....

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Get on the bus for real...

OMG! Another bus post?? (I got a million of 'em) As a followup to the previous followup, I finally got shots of one of my favorite tour buses.  It is just so perfectly Oaxaca. 
The jaguar mask on the top front is a version of a ubiquitous classic woodcarving. 
The brown low border is filled with images of the stone work in Mitla. 
The back is equally stunning, a work of art. 

The front ... classic alebije style.
They must have had so much fun designing and creating this bus.  Oaxaca at its best!  So get on the bus, Gus.