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, September 28, 2010

Disaster in Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec

from NPR (Reuters)

An early-morning landslide triggered by persistent heavy rains swept a remote area of Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least four people and burying homes in an impoverished town.
It appeared the disaster in Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, a town of about 9,000 people, was less deadly than originally feared. Officials earlier had said hundreds were dead or missing after rains brought a drenched hillside down in between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.....

The landslide is another blow to Mexico as it grapples this season with unusually heavy rains that have triggered floods, forced thousands of people from their homes in vulnerable parts of the country and hit crops.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Street Art cont.... good to be back

The rains continue and continue and continue.  What a year!  I have garden photos from before and I want to take ones to show how much things have grown, but it is simply too wet to shoot.  I did manage to whack back some incredible weeds.  With all this rain, they are thriving and producing some incredible specimens.  Man, I can grow those weeds.  What a crop.  Same in Boston.  Coincidence? Really the garden here is full of flowers and good things to eat, but for now, street art.

I love this stuff, always so vibrant, colorful and meaningful..... and subtle.

Incidentally, from the top photo, a "bichito" is a little insect and the talk is by an entimologist and is for kids.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Gotta love that question mark.
For my bday, Zack and Henry Wangeman took me out for one of the best meals I've had here.  Unbelievably good!  It was at Carioca, restaurante brasileño, in Col. Reforma.  The place has a fixed menu in which they bring around skewers loaded with various perfectly grilled meats.  They give you small pieces of sizzling beef, chicken, or pork, cooked in different ways and a few vegetables, all absolutely delectable! 
And yes, they played Las Mananitas over the sounds system.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Feliz cumpleaños?

After this hiatus.... I return to Oaxaca and its my birfday.  Best comment of the day comes from our friend at Amate Books - "Think celsius!

Hey, I am only 15.5!!!

In truth, the trip to the north was depressing.  First, to repair all the damage to my house done by my tenants.  I may never rent again... well, I need a few months to recover.

Second, the US is really messed up.  Sure, there are many good things and people, but dios mio, at an institutional level, whether it be finance, government, religious, corporate, educational, ethical, media... name one that is functioning.  It is like swimming in a sewer.  Okay, maybe that is too harsh, but every time I return I notice great changes everywhere I look.  The systems are not functioning well, often blatantly corrupt and yet very few comment on the obvious.  And nothing gets done... except the rich get richer.

Of course, Mexico is screwed up.  We all know that.  And what's more, they counted on me to lead the revolution on the 16th and I bailed and what out of the country.  So I guess, it is all my fault once again.  What am I supposed to?  It is tough being the Center of the Universe (COTU).  I know, I know, you think you are, but that is only because I kindly let you think that.

Speaking up screwed up.  Mexican politics are soooo weird and corrupt. 
from the Latin American Herald Tribune

"A Mexican politician wanted since May 2009 on charges of colluding with drug traffickers was sworn-in Thursday as a member of the lower house of Congress..... The newly seated lawmaker, who is the half-brother of Michoacan Gov. Leonel Godoy, told reporters he entered Congress through “the main door,” apparently eluding the Federal Police said to be waiting to arrest him..... Julio Godoy, an attorney, said he would represent himself in the criminal case.... Though he now enjoys parliamentary immunity and cannot be arrested, the congressman said he would voluntarily appear before judicial authorities if asked."
You can't make this stuff up. It is like playing hide-and-seek.  Allie, allie, all home free.
¡Viva Mexico! Glad to be back.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Betwix and between

The eve before the big day, El Grito, September 16.  2oo years since winning independence from Spain and 100 years since the toppling of the dictator, Porfiro Diaz.  Viva Mexico!

In the early hours of September 16th, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato, rang the church bell to gather the townspeople. He called for the people of Mexico to rise up against the Spanish Crown, thus initiating Mexico's War of Independence. The country did not achieve independence until 1821, but it is this event, known as the Grito de Dolores which is commemorated every year in town squares across Mexico.
I wish I was there, but... I'm not.  So start the revolution without me.

And i guess I am not sure where I am, maybe between worlds.  So much has changed in El Norte in such a short time.  I barely recognize the place.  Sure, many things are the same, but in case you haven't noticed one of the political parties has gone Galt or something like that.  And the rampant greed and hatred, what people are openly saying, well, it has done a number on me.  And there is NOTHING on teevee, just total sh*t, reality shows and idiot talking heads - as Sting says, "they all look like game show hosts to me."  Man, I am paying big bucks for expanded basic cable and I've got a channel that show nothing but old hockey games all the time!?!

So I feel like an alien here and I feel like, and always will be, an alien in Oaxaca.  Being of two places is really like being of neither.

It makes me think of the kids we used to teach that came from inner cities or foreign countries.  They were never gonna be preps and when they went home, they were no longer homeys.  It was and is a tough way to live, but it opens many doors, many insights.  Back to the other world, Oaxaca, in a few days.  Eyes wide open.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dirty Projectors - Who knew

Last night I went to concert at the Wilbur Theater in downtown Boston to see Dirty Projectors, one of the hottest bands who are just coming off a world tour.  They will end up on the west coast in a couple of weeks.  Their music is quite something, hard to describe, but so inventive and advanced while at the same time popular.  The crowd was grooving and wildly enthusiastic. Kinda gives me hope for the future.  This was some kickass music with influences from many sources.  Man, the vocals were amazing.  They even used hocketing to achieve the most marvelous sounds. Damn....
Click on the vids to see them in full wide screen. 
The thing is that the bass player, Nat Baldwin, was one of my former students.  In fact, the rumor is that I help start him on bass, but in truth, my memory is getting hazier and crazier, so who knows.  I can say this.  He was one of the brightest and most gifted kids I ever taught and his work ethic was off the charts.  He is music incarnate.  He was a blast with whom to work and it was really quite humbling.  You know, when you see someone that is just sooo good, sooo gifted, well, it helps keep one's ego in check.  Here I have been a musician for over fifty years and I ain't got a tenth of what this kid has. 

I went with a couple of great friends, colleagues who are more like brothers and who had known and worked with Nat back in the day.  And his parents and family were there from Maine  While watching what was truly a remarkable and inspiring concert, I flashed on a memory of  maybe fifteen years ago, watching his father, Ben, also a fine musician, upon hearing Nat's first bass solo.  Ben was in the wings, offstage and I don't think he knew that Nat was going to play.  The kid was/is such a monster player.  Now I know you can imagine a father's face hearing the power and magic of his son's playing for the first time.  Yeah, ponder that one...
Now the world is discovering it with a little help from others like  Bjork and David Byrne. 
Ah.... the intangible rewards of teaching.... manna....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In this heart

It is strange to be here on September 11 and to see how a divided country commemorates the event. In terms of weather, it was one of the most beautiful days of the year in New England. At times, I feel as much like an alien here as I do in Oaxaca. I could go on, but...

Sinead O'Connor, a woman of strength and vision, sings what is in my heart.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I heart Bobby

Bobby McFerrin is simply magical. Here he uses the pentatonic scale, one of the world's oldest and most natural.

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In short supply

Whether here or there, we are watching and hoping.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Congo Women Secrets Unveiled

My friend, Sonya Melescu, has a remarkable and very powerful film on the Women of the Congo. It is a submission in a linkTV competition. Please watch it and go vote. Every little bit helps.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Still rainin', still dreaming

Yes, a Hendrix quote, even though I am temporarily not there, I still follow what is happening. This is tropical depression Eleven-e. The heavy rains continue to cause problems as many village are suffering severe flooding and are isolated. My house is directly under it.

And Oaxaca itself is partially isolated with the stoppage by Mexicana, one of the main means of transport into the state. I believe they are responsible for 70% of the traffic in the state.

Continental will carry me home.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Just thinkin'

A quick observation or two as I while away the hours waiting for Earl to arrive. A quick visit to El Norte, first torrential rains, then searing heat and now a hurricane? Was it something I, the Center of the Universe, said? Yes, I do know that you think you are the Center of the Universe, but you're not. It is meeeeeee!

First, mosquitos are very slow here. In Oaxaca, I don't even know I am bitten until the awful itch starts. They are more potent there and fast? I can hardly ever swat them while they are on me. I have to try and grab them while airborne. Here, molasses in January.

Second, a shoutout to Apple. I brought a dead battery back with me, took it to the Apple store on Boyleston and had a replacement in under a minute... free! Makes the whole trip worthwhile.

Third, I don't know how to say this, but there are lots of grotesquely fat people in this country. I never see anything even closely resembling this in Mexico. Oaxaqueños can be thick, full bodied, tortillas and tamales can do that, but I have been blown away by the gross obesity which seems fairly common here. Weird.

And I almost forgot, it was magical to be back here for the end of the War in Iraq. The celebrations have been inspiring. Oh, there weren't any? It started out with "Shock and Awe" and ended with "Aw, shucks."