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, July 29, 2008

Insectos - hormigas y mosquitos

Ants and mosquitoes are much different in El Norte. In San Agustin Etla it was a real war with the ants and I think they almost always won. The small ones were everywhere and their bites were painful and over time, after a few hundred of them, one developed a toxic reaction to them. It seemed as if they could easily tunnel through concrete and, as terrible as it sounds, we always had some gasoline to pour down the holes to force them to move on. As I say, they won, most of the time. I hardly ever kill anything consciously - yes, I am aware that millions of dust mites die as I walk around the house - but they were so aggressive and destructive, it was on! Not to mention the leaf-cutting ants for which the area is known. They could defoliate plants in the blink of an eye, the very model of efficiency.

Here the ants are plentiful, but not a problem. Black and shiny, they occasionally visit, but leave if not fed and never bite. They are probably reading this and laughing as they eat the house starting at the foundation.

I vaguely remember some Buddhist saying, "All day long I sit and contemplate enlightenment while swatting mosquitoes."
In Oaxaca (and St. Thomas) they are too fast to swat. My friend William at La Casa de mis Recuerdos told me it was because of the warm climate. Their prey is faster so they have to be as well. At any rate, in New England they are fat and slow. Fortunately, I don't have many here so I can sit and contemplate without those kinds of distractions.

The figuras are by the Blas family in San Pedro Conejos. Their work is always exquisite and beautifully painted.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Consiga su motor corriendo

Get your motor runnin'.... from the back alleys of Jalatlaco.Don't start the revolution without me.... if I could only remember where I put my leathers....Actually while I was shooting this, an armored van pulled up right next to me and a bunch of guys jumped out with very large guns. I thought my cover as an international secret agent had been blown, but they were just delivering money to a nondescript warehouse. I beat a hasty retreat. I am sure they never realized how lucky they were.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dogs and Walls

I always liked this shot of the traditional Oaxacan dog on the roof. That is where many live just doing their jobs, watching the street and protecting the barrio. The pose reminds of images from the ancient Greek or Phoenician ceramics.

And then there are these guys.
Same shot with a fresh coat of paint.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

La Diferencia

It is like the difference between day and night - es como la diferencia entre el día y la noche -
living in El Norte and in Oaxaca and it ain't that easy to adjust. However, I am taking advantage of the time to regroup and work off all those tamales y rellenos from my abuelas in Etla. I am trying follow the words of Satchel Paige, "Don't look back. Something could be gaining on you." So I took a quick trip to the Caribbean. Of course Satchel also said, "Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching." and "Not to be cheered by praise, not to be grieved by blame, but to know thoroughly one's own virtues or powers are the characteristics of an excellent man."
Still, I need to get back to Oaxaca soon. I have too much to see, do and explore. And thanks to all of you who wrote in and said keep the photos coming. I have videos as well.

I have only one mantra these days. "Patience - paciencia." That and perseverance and perspicacity.

The images are from a little box made in San Martin Tilcajete. I am not sure of the artist.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Casas para mi

Here are two houses that haunt me. Actually, haunt is not the right word. They pull me and I wonder what it would be like to live in them. One is a classic upstate NY brick beauty that is isolated, but is visible from the NY Thruway. I am not sure of the architectural style, maybe Federal. Anyone? I am not sure if anyone lives in it. One of the windows is boarded up and it looks forlorn. It lies near the Erie Canal near Auriesville. Oh, those Upstate winters would make me think twice. I lived through too many in my youth.

The other is near Apoala in the Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca. It is classic construction for the area. I guess I like the remoteness. What would it be like to live there? No snow anyway.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Not too sarcastic?

Image from Getty

From today's Guardian

As the food crisis began to bite, the rumblings of discontent grew louder. Finally, after a day of discussing food shortages and soaring prices, the famished stomachs of the G8 leaders could bear it no longer.

The most powerful bellies in the world were last night compelled to stave off the great Hokkaido Hunger by fortifying themselves with an eight-course, 19-dish dinner prepared by 25 chefs. This multi-pronged attack was launched after earlier emergency lunch measures - four courses washed down with Château-Grillet 2005 - had failed to quell appetites enlarged by agonising over feeding the world's poor.

The G8 gathering had been seen as a "world food shortages summit" as leaders sought to combat spiralling prices of basic foodstuffs in the developed world, and starvation in the developing world.

But not since Marie Antoinette was supposed to have leaned from a Versailles palace window and suggested that the breadless peasants eat cake can leaders have demonstrated such insensitivity to daily hardship than at the luxury Windsor hotel on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

After discussing famine in Africa, the peckish politicians and five spouses took on four bite-sized amuse-bouche to tickle their palates. The price of staple foods may be soaring, but thankfully caviar and sea urchin are within the purchasing power of leaders and their taxpayers - the amuse-bouche featured corn stuffed with caviar, smoked salmon and sea urchin, hot onion tart and winter lily bulb.

Guests at the summit, which is costing £238m, were then able to pick items from a tray modelled on a fan and decorated with bamboo grasses, including diced fatty tuna fish, avocado and jellied soy sauce, and pickled conger eel with soy sauce.

Hairy crab Kegani bisque-style soup was another treat in a meal prepared by the Michelin-starred chef Katsuhiro Nakamura, the grand chef at Hotel Metropolitan Edmont in Tokyo, alongside salt-grilled bighand thornyhead (a small, red Pacific fish) with a vinegary water pepper sauce.

They have told their people to tighten their belts for lean times ahead, but you feared for presidential and prime ministerial girdles after the chance to tuck into further dishes including milk-fed lamb, roasted lamb with cepes, and black truffle with emulsion sauce. Finally there was a "fantasy" dessert, a special cheese selection accompanied by lavender honey and caramelised nuts, while coffee came with candied fruits and vegetables.

Leaders cleverly skated around global water shortages by choosing from five different wines and liqueurs.

Earlier, the heads of state had restricted themselves to a light lunch of asparagus and truffle soup, crab and supreme of chicken served with nuts and beetroot foam, followed by a cheese selection, peach compote, milk ice-cream and coffee with petits fours.

Fresh from instructing his population to waste less food, it can only be hoped that Gordon Brown polished off every single morsel on his plate.

Andrew Mitchell, the shadow secretary of state for international development, said: "The G8 have made a bad start to their summit, with excessive cost and lavish consumption. Surely it is not unreasonable for each leader to give a guarantee that they will stand by their solemn pledges of three years ago at Gleneagles to help the world's poor. All of us are watching, waiting and listening."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

1000 words

Hail the size of grapes

There was a 20 minute storm today with very high winds and lots of hail - large hail that came in horizontally at 50-60 mph. A real freak event the likes of which no one in the neighborhood had seen before. I expected the skylights to break, but they didn't. However, when I went out to shovel(!) off the deck, I noticed that the hail had literally taken the paint off the side of the house. Flakes of paint everywhere. Lots of plant damage, but that's Mother Nature. She can be feisty at times, but the sun is out now.