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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Toledo y Leyva - Un evento

The other night in the Plaza de la Danza, right next to La Soledad cathedral, there was an event.  I guess it was a combination of an installation and performance art.  I used to do these sorts of things all the time and I am sure that many people who saw mine walked away saying, "That was cool, but what was it?"

And so it was with this piece.  There was music that was Eno meets Meridith Monk meets Glass meets Oaxaca.  I showed up very early, mainly because I was already in the city and decided to just hang and wait.  I watched the set-up and listened to the band.  The music was subdued, but this guitarist looks like he could really wail.

One part of the installation, the part by artist Francisco Toledo, was a long tube of fireworks, like those one can find in many castillos.

In the tube were grooved aluminum sheets that acted as runners for a series of tortugas, which were also laced with fireworks.  They loaded the turtles and shoved them down the tube.

Turtles are a favorite image for Toledo.

The other part of the installation was conceived by artist Ruben Leyva and was essentially a large painting(?) made up of fireworks.

At 8 PM the music began, the turtles shot out the tube as men lifted the entire structure a few inches off the ground.  A group of traditional toritos danced a wonderful ballet of fireworks, smoke, and explosions.  Then the Leyda piece was lit.

There was the traditional cascade of sparks along the side of the church.

And finally a series of large hot air balloons were set adrift into the night sky.  Some went so high and so far there were just glowing specks in a star-filled sky.

So what it was, I am not entirely sure, but there were lots of people there and everyone seemed to really enjoy it.  I concentrated on the video, but have not seen it yet.  If it is decent, I will post it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Well, not really, but under the weather.  Light posts.

Zack's Back

This is Henry and Rosa's Wangeman's son, Zack, back from NYC and doing the honors of carving the holiday leg of lamb.  He has been working in one of the city's finest pastry kitchen's and believe me, he knows his stuff now.  Cakes, croissants, cookies, candies, he is an endless stream of taste treats.
Everyone had to get a shot...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

La Noche del Rabanos cont.

La Noche del Rabanos was fantastic, as always.

Simply one of the best days one can spend in Oaxaca or anywhere in my opinion.

I arrived early to watch the the pieces being assembled.
La Catrina in Radishes?  Fantastica!

With the radishes, some arrive fully completed, but many are constructed and carved on the spot.  It is not like the work can be done a week ahead of time.  Once they are carved, people spray them with water just so they will make it through the day.

With the dried flowers and corn husk pieces, they are all made before hand and then arranged and assembled the day of the competition.

As much as I like the art, it is the people that make it, who always gets to me.

With my improved Spanish I was able to do a better job talking with the artists and learned plenty.  The dried flower and corn husk pieces took, on average, four months to create.
This woman spent one year working on her display, which must have been four meters long with hundreds of figures.

I have shot Rabanos a bunch of times now and I recognize people who participate every year.  This woman for San Antonio del Flores, one of my favorite villages, has participated for years.

  She must have won a couple of times.  Her work is always so beautiful.

A smile from the creator of the Mitla rendition.

Some piece are small, filled with delicate detail.

Amazing work, no?.

Others quite large.

How about this amazing rendition of Frida's famous work?

This post has been a rush job, but I have a Christmas dinner to attend and I'm hungry.  I have lots of shots and will post more later.

Friday, December 24, 2010

La Noche del Rabanos

Rabanos was fabulous.  Give me a day to process the shots.  In the meantime, here is La Noche from 2008.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The hits just keep comin'

This is normally one of the peak seasons for tourism here in Oaxaca.  Tourist's dollars, euros, yen, you-name-it, are the mother's milk of this place.  Occupancy rates at the hotel are at 20 percent!!!!
This is not good.  But this is.

There is still time to come.  Where else are you gonna see tree ornaments like this?
Incidentally, the pinata in the shot above is normally a large display of lights.

Austerity in action?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oaxaca Tradition - Buñuelos & Chocolate

This video is getting quite a few hits.  Must be the time of year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

La Noche del Rabanos 3...2...1....

It is coming.  One of the best days of the year.  December 23rd.  La Noche del Rabanos.
It is an annual display and competition in three areas.
Rabanos or radishes.

Corn husks.

And dried flowers.

I plan on searching for radish harvesters tomorrow and then I will be there at 10 AM Thursday to watch and shoot the setup.
By sundown, the zocalo will be jammed with people to see the finished pieces.
Then it is all cleaned up for the Noche Buena celebrations the next day.

In the News

After months in the zocalo, the protesters and traveling vendors have moved out (or been moved out) just in time for the holiday celebrations.  Apparently the zocalo is now clean and fresh and the whole mass migration occurred without event. (Story in Spanish from Noticiasnet))

Not so just up the street where protesters from San Reyes Nopala were dispersed by city and state police using tear gas.  Several people were injured.  (Story in Spanish from El Imparcial)

Finally, I like to juxtapose events that happen here and imagine what it would be like in El Norte if the same thing happened there.

Just imagine if John McCain or John Kerry had been kidnapped and held for seven months by some nefarious and nebulous organization and was finally released.  Well, that is what just happened here.

(from The Latin American Herald Tribune)
Former Mexican presidential candidate Diego Fernandez de Cevallos was released in the past few hours after spending seven months in captivity and is in good condition at his house in the central state of Queretaro, Televisa reported Monday.

“He was released a few hours ago. He is in good health, he is weak. He spent seven months and six days in captivity,” Televisa reporter Joaquin Lopez Doriga said on one of the network’s morning news shows.

“The news is that Diego Fernandez de Cevallos has returned to his home. He is weak but strong over having been released after this extremely long abduction, which is undoubtedly the longest registered in Mexico,” Lopez Doriga said.

The veteran politician “is at home, he is sound, he is safe and, most importantly, he is free,” the Televisa reporter said.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Street Art cont....

I thought this was an interesting combination.
What does this say?  You need graffiti eyes to read it.

I am not sure what either one is, but I like them.

Friday, December 17, 2010

¡Viva La Revolucion!

Taxes cuts for millionaires or the puppy gets it.

Misa para madre

One of my friend's mother turn eighty on Wednesday and her family, which is huge, threw her a surprise party which started with a special mass for her at Carmen Alto. 

It was a joyous affair and they were an exuberant group, a family of gregarious and extremely happy people. This is about a tenth of the family.
A good time was had by all.  Of course, the mass was followed by a meal, but I ate it and forgot to shoot it.

You want me to do what?

You want me to go where?

 Actually, after awhile it makes sense, but the additional art and graffiti make it even better.  Worthy of any world class city.