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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Finalmente - Muertos!

I am just back from a long day shooting the beginnings of El Dia de los Muertos. I drove back until a full moon after a remarkable day. This is why I am here. Lots to post in the coming days, but it will take some time to go through the hundreds of shots and then the video. I will start posting tomorrow..... in reality, I should still be out there drinking it all in, but one can only drink so much in any given day.The entrance to el panteon in OcotlanFlowers for sale everywhere. Everyone was carrying a bundle.Rosas, mis favoritas!Ofrendas everywhere.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Graffiti remains a very hot art form in Mexico.
Here are some shots from both the DF and from Oaxaca. Can you tell what came from where?Jesus saves.... but Moses invests.Here is Oaxacan graffiti artist, Luis Rodriguez, who is working on codices now.


Here is my pan de muerto that I bought from two young girls, maybe six or seven years old, in Tlacolula yesterday. I also received this chocolate from Rosa Blum of Amate Books, whose comadre, Yolanda Santiago of La Union woodcarving fame, makes the best chocolate in all of Oaxaca or so they say. I am all set.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thursday @ 7 PM

If you happen to be in town, please stop by Amate Books for my riveting talk on the woodcarvers of La Union Tejalapam and San Martin Tilcajete. Not only will some of the artesanos be there, but there will be mezcal and snacks afterwards. Gracias to Henry Wangeman and Rosa Blum for hosting these talks.

Back to Oaxaca

I made the drive down from the DF to Oaxaca with no problems.... aside from a slight detour to drive though Puebla. Note to self: don't drive in Mexico alone without a map. I hit construction south of Tepoztlan and made a wrong turn by simply following the car in front of me. My sense of direction is always good and I knew I was heading east instead of south, but what's a few extra kilometers when it gives one a chance to see the country. I know I should have taken pictures, but you know how it is when you're lost and clueless. I'll take them next time. However, I was struck by the wide expanses, the mountains and the fields of flowers and vegetables. One picture is worth a thousand words and seeing as though I don't have the photos, I will spare you the thousand words. It is good to be back in Oaxaca, but Mexico City, wow, what a place. It really put the hook in me.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

La Ciudad

The classic tourist shot of CoyoacanCuidad de Mexico, what a place! As I continue to experience this city, I keep remembering things from David Lida's book, "First Stop in the New World" about this amazing world capital. It is a great read and I highly recommend it. So when I visited the beautiful old cantina, "La Guadalupana" I thought of his chapter on the cantina culture. The same as I walk the streets and go by bakeries or watch street performers or experience traffic or visit shopping malls and supermarkets, his words come back to me. He loves this city and I can see why. It is a huge sprawling entity and obviously, I have not seen much of any of it, it would take years, but I like this place.

The headless organ grinderOranges and OnionsLennon overlooks the parkNote the classic tourist shot in the right hand corner, same as mine.
Lida has his own blog which is always interesting.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Buttons - Botones

Button, button, who's got the button? ¿El botón, botón, quién tiene el botón?

Cake! Pastel!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Xochimilco is one of the DF's delegaciones or boroughs, about 28 kms south of the center of the city. There was a time, hundreds of years ago, when Xochimilco was a lake, but now all that is left is a series of extended canals which lattice through the chinampas, raised areas or artificial islands which are bordered and contained by ahuejotes, trees in the weeping willow family.Most of the area is only accessible by boat. Lots of families live back there. On weekends the canals of Xochimilco are packed with people, many of them come to party very hearty. Mis hermanos. I never had any gigs like this.... or did I? Block parties in DC came close. There are boats with mariachis and marimba bands and others with lots of food and drink for sale.Hilario, the "gondolier" of our trajinera boat had lived his whole life there and had many stories. He quickly debunked the legend of the many creepy dolls on one of the chinampas, that the island was haunted by a spirit of a little girl who had drowned nearby. He said the story of Don Julian, the previous caretaker, had hung a doll on a tree to appease her ghost and soon people began bring more. But Hilario said it was all hype, a great way to get people to visit and of course, spend money. He said, "Keep those ghost stories (and $$$) coming. Whatever you do, don't tell them the truth."

The area is full of nurseries, plants and flowers everywhere. Xochimilco has four different micro-climates and this one is absolutely perfect for growing things.The day we were there it was very quiet with primarily families on the boats. These kids were having a great time. Those are cempasuchitl (marigolds) in the background, peaking just in time for El Dia del Muertos in another ten days. I love this phrase carved into one of the boats. Loosely translated, it reads, "This is all I got for not studying (in school.)

La Feria del Mole

All through the month of October in San Pedro Atocpan, people flock to la Feria Nacional del Mole to sample the many varieties of one of Mexico's most famous dishes. We chose to go on Monday to avoid the crowds and we had the place almost all to ourselves. As we walked up the aisles we were handed spoonful after spoonful of various kinds to taste. There were moles negros, rojos, verdes, con frutas, almendrado (almonds), pipian (pumpkin seeds), an almost endless list. Of course, even within one particular kind of mole, say negro, no two moles taste the same and everyone takes such pride in their products. We ended up eating in one of the restaurants right next to all the stalls, but it all tasted so good, I ate it before taking a picture. Muy riquîsimo!
Still, none of them came close to the moles I have eaten in Teotitlan del Valle made by Emelia Ruiz.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ruling on Ulises

From the AP

MEXICO CITY — The governor of a southern Mexican state says he will not resign despite a Supreme Court ruling blaming him for rights abuses during deadly 2006 protests.

Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz says he respects the Supreme Court ruling but disagrees with it. He says he has no intention of resigning.

Ruiz spoke to reporters Friday, two days after the Supreme Court ruled that he had "plain responsibility" for the 2006 conflict that paralyzed Oaxaca's picturesque colonial capital and left at least a dozen dead.

The ruling has no binding consequences but carries moral weight.

The conflict started as a teachers' strike and quickly ballooned into a broader movement to demand Ruiz's resignation over allegations that he rigged his electoral victory.

From Narco News

With an historic 7-4 vote the Supreme Court of Mexico this week held responsible Governor Ulises Ruiz (URO) of Oaxaca for violations of human rights. Rejecting the opinion of Justice Mariano Azuela, the Court, for only the second time, blames a sitting governor for violating citizen’s individual rights. The one previous condemnation followed a massacre of seventeen campesinos in Guerrero in 1995. The governor later resigned.

The present ruling justifies the claims of violations of many civil society organizations, the APPO (Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca), and Section 22 of SNTE (National Education Workers Union). The teachers union now hold symbolic leadership of the struggle for social justice in Oaxaca.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


What you see is what you get. These shots are of a tree right around the corner. You can see how much change there has been in just a few short days. These are not adjusted in any way. WYSIWYG.This is my last day in El Norte. Mañana, it is Mexico City. What a difference a day makes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An Afghanistan Mexico Comparison

from The Economist: full story

Over 1,800 people have been killed in drug-related violence this year in the city of Ciudad Juarez alone, right across the border from El Paso, the Guardian reports. Local newspapers call the situation "criminal anarchy"; a government human rights investigator who recently fled to El Paso to escape death threats suspects many of the executions represent "social cleansing" by the Army, murdering drug addicts, street kids, and other vulnerable targets.
So, what should America do? Should we deploy troops to northern Mexico, employing an extensive counterinsurgency strategy to hunt down drug gangs and protect local populations, and send thousands of aid workers to establish jobs programmes and reduce corruption in the Mexican government? Most Americans would treat such a proposal as absurd. And rightly so.

Read the full story.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Autumn leaves - holas de otoño

There should be a little Miles Davis playing....This is one of the classic New England weekends, the Columbus Day holiday, prime time for leaf peepers. I have five more days here so I am just enjoying it.An amazing year for acorns.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Misperos y Rosas

My work in El Norte is finished. Everything went better than imagined and I leave knowing that all is in great shape for the coming winter (brrrr). I am psyched to head back to the place and people I love. Misperos y Rosas await.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Traffic - Goats

While shooting the palenque in Chichicapam a few weeks ago I ran into this traffic jam. I love the woman at the end. What a smile!