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

Monday, January 23, 2023

We're all in this together...

Yesterday was tequio day here in San Pablo Etla.  I went on an early afternoon walk and the roads were filled with people cleaning the neighborhood.  What is tequio? According to Wikipedia: "the task or collective work that each person owes to their indigenous community is known as tequio. Since it is done for the benefit of the community itself, it is not paid work."
And folks were out in force, working hard.  I walked several kms and saw many different groups. 
Not only do the neighborhoods get cleaned, but it's also social occasion with people having a good time, very Oaxacan.
Shared work and shared happiness, so typical to the indigenous communities here. And yes, I did my part and cleaned the sides of the road near the house, too.

Friday, January 13, 2023

The truth hurts...

I wonder if there is any city in the US where these images could be seen.  States are passing laws banning any discussion of Critical Race Theory(CRT).  Here's a list.  I guess if we can't talk about it, none of it ever happened. 
It's like Mexico passing a law banning any talk of Spain... even though everyone speaks Spanish!  So much of the culture that is "American" comes from, dare I say it?...
Better not.  I wouldn't want to offend anyone with the facts.  I guess it is like Jack Nicholson said, "You can't handle the truth." 
And yet here it is in black and white on the walls in Oaxaca.  These are all shots from a couple of months ago on the street that abuts the north side of the Botanical Garden, seen by tens of thousands of people.  I went by it yesterday... 
Ah yes, work closed, suspended .... perfect. 
The truth hurts...

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Word for the day - Amortiguador

That's right, shock absorber.  Living in the land of tope's, serious speed bumps, my 2004 Jetta was long overdue for some new ones.  I went to the same place that installed the old ones, maybe ten years ago.  It was just past this fine flying VW bug on the Pan-American Highway, a handy landmark.
I had to take a couple of moto-taxis back to the house to get more money and then returned, where I just sat patiently listening to an audiobook for the couple of hours it took them to complete the work. 
I have to say the new shocks, amortiguadores, made quite a difference in handling and feeling the bumps and topes. It was a job well done and long overdue.  A point of interest: no two topes are the same.  They can be easy to get over and then there are the ones that hit the bottom of your car, not to mention the invisible ones.  After a while, one can sense where those are.  You don't want to take them at 40 kph.  So when's the last time you changed your shocks?

Monday, January 9, 2023

You never know.....

What you'll see in the city.  For me, it is always a breath of fresh air, filled with lots of smells, fragrant aromas, like those coming out of Bamby Bakery.  Or the aroma of freshly brewed coffee that fills the air just to the left of this little work of art. 
Ah, yes.... Oaxaca's sights and smells and always some amazing street art. 
That is a pro-choice piece, really thought provoking.  "Here's look'in at you, kid." 
And this beauty should be on the cover of some lit car magazine.
And as always, on display, Oaxaca's wonderful diversity of its folkart and textiles. 
To mangle a famous movie quote, "I love the smell of Oaxaca in the morning.  It smells like...alebrijes?"

Thursday, January 5, 2023


Back to the city...

OK, it's been a while since I posted anything, but baby, I'm back... at least I'm gonna try to do better.  We'll see how long that lasts.  Given all that's happening in the world, my words, thoughts and photos don't really matter... except to me.  Anyway, I ventured into the city for the first time this new year and it felt great.  It was just nice to see the place so vibrant.... and different. 
Here's the NW corner of the zocalo where those huge laurel trees dominated the scene for so many years.  Lots of tourists in town and they present some of my trepidations in going into the city.  In case you hadn't noticed, covid is still out there and actually there's a new surge going on.  Of course, this is Oaxaca and there is not much info out there as to how things are going. 
So half the people are masked and the other not.  Anyway, it did my heart good to see some of the iconic Oaxacan figures like the Maestro of the dogs.  He is so good with them, he normally would have five or six with him.  He must be a trainer or something. 
This shot has so much in it, but please note the rider on the dog's back.  I also ran into a woodcarver whose work I have in Boston, two large and unique mirrors.  It turns out he lives right around the corner from me.  His shop is Tribus Mixes.  I will have to dig in the files to see if I have pics of the mirrors.  So that's for another post.  On my way back I saw this...
"Open paths to love"..... I have not called.... yet.  Oh, and I have a nice video upcoming of the danzantes in Teotitlan del Valle.  Happy New Year!  Feliz Año Neuvo!

Friday, December 2, 2022

Back from Beantown...

Ahhh.. it's so nice and warm here.  And so good to be back at my Friday market with all that good produce. I was just in Boston where it was cold and iconic.
But the cost of fruits and vegetables was crazy.  And the quality?... Well, I know we are spoiled here with all the fresh food, but it was really driven home this time. 
I loaded up with all sorts of good stuff today and plan on eating nothing but fruits and veggies to balance out all that good Thanksgiving food of which there was an abundance. 
Still, there is nothing like a New England autumn.  Always a meaningful time.  Good to see people wearing masks here.  They were not in abundance in Beantown, but I wore mine.  I'm too young to....

Monday, October 31, 2022

It's Muerteada Time...

In the villages it is time to put on those dancing shoes and get ready to party hearty for about sixteen hours.  There are muerteadas, elaborate costume dances, in villages all around me.  They go from house to house with a killer bands.  Oh, the music!  A little food, some beer and mezcal, it's a party.  I think there were two in my neighborhood last night, as I heard the bands each trying to play louder than the other.  Six tubas can makes some serious noise.  This mural is for nearby Santiago Etla.
They always do it right and it's on the Pan-American highway, so it gets lots of exposure.  Each year, it's more elaborate and beautiful. 
This one is on the outer wall of the mercado in the Villa de Etla.  In this shot, you can see a traditional costume for this area, pants and vests covered with bells and mirrors that weigh a ton. 
I can say this from personal experience.  I have no idea how they can dance starting a six in the evening and ending up at 10 AM the next morning.  However, the music is infectious and you can't help but move. 

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Flores for the Souls...

One of the joys of this time of year is finding the fields filled with flowers for all the Muertos ofrendas, offerings and decorations.  This one is tucked right in near the house.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

You've got the look....

It's beginning to look like....


Saturday, October 22, 2022

A rare sighting...

My garden is full of mariposas, butterflies, but this is the first time I've seen a Smyrna blomfildia or Blomfild's beauty. She was feeding on some rotting nisperos yesterday. Males are more orange, while females are more brown.  What a treat to have her visit.  Bring friends next time.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

We Flew to OAXACA MEXICO for the Food

This couple from Italy has the best reactions to first tasting the food we eat every day.  I follow them on Youtube where she is an absolute pistol.  She is a really good cook and a really tough judge of all things... cooking.


Saturday, October 1, 2022

Convite in Teotitlan del Valle...

It felt so good to be back in Teotitlan del Valle for another celebration, a convite or procession of hundreds of girls and women, all unmarried, through the streets of the village.  Each carries a canasta adorned with a religious image, flowers and flags. 
It is no easy thing to walk several kms with one's arms up and battling the winds.  You really need to start young to be able to manage it, but so many do and it is always a glorious sight and a joyful time. 
And, of course, the light at this time of year is always perfect.  I'll try to post video mañana.  I got some nice shots.

Friday, September 30, 2022

International Artist Day?....

That's everyday for me.  We are surrounded by so many talented artists.  They are everywhere.  I follow a lot on social media (kiptoe, Ten Hundred, Jess Carp, Nerdforge, Smoe Nova, Terri Danso, Bobby Duke, etc.) and am a patron to a couple (Blackbean CMS and an amazing young student at Stanford, Jackie Liu.)  I encourage you to check them out on Youtube. 
And by following these and many others, I am made more and more aware of the beauty and talent that surrounds us.  Here, Margarita from Mexico City and her gorgeous murals in Jalatlaco, is a perfect example.  Such beautiful work, gorgeous colors.  And then there is her smile and the fact that her clothing looks just like her art.  Wonderful!  Again, I encourage to check out those artists.  You will be amazed and inspired/

Thursday, September 29, 2022

International Coffee Day?

Coffee Day?  I thought that was everyday, but maybe that's just in my house.  And for the absolute best coffee in Oaxaca, there is Cafe Pluma in the SW corner of the Benito Juarez Mercado.  Run by Mario and his sister, Sofia, they have a wide selection of coffees, some of the tastiest from the coast. Once you taste their coffee, there is no going back.  Everything else pales by comparison.
Here's this week's supply, two kilos.... just kidding, that's at least ten days worth ;-)

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Seventy Two...

So this is 72 …. who knew…. and who knew that you could still have a zit on the tip of your nose at this age. Many thanks for all the birthday wishes.  So many of you said such nice things, I’m touched and humbled … yes, and touched in the head, too.  After 15 years here in Oaxaca, I could tell you so many stories and important life lessons…  and even more from my life before, but as the Buddha said, “ I could tell you, but really, you have to figure it all out for yourself.”  So I’ll leave you with this, a quote from Korean Master SongChol:

“If you'd like to know whether you were good or evil in a former life, than look at yourself now to see if you are fortunate or unfortunate.  And if you'd like to know whether you will be happy or miserable in your next life, take a close look at what you're doing now.”

Saturday, September 10, 2022

It's an art : A Wall Update....

Just look at this gate!  Imagine entering that everyday.  It's a real work of art.  Almost ready for a saint to be placed into it.
And it is all the work of this albañil, stonemason.  Maestro!
This work site is just around the corner and
I've been following the progress for weeks.  I always stop and tell the albañil how amazing his work is and that he is a true artist.  He just smiles.  I joked and said, "You must be a rich man."  He said, "Right. Just look how I'm dressed." And we laughed because I was dressed just the same.  Haute Campesino!  He says it will be finished in another week. 
Can't wait to see the finished entrance to go along with his beautiful walls.