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, August 30, 2011

It's quiet.

The city is fairly quiet.  I guess it is the lull before the lull.  School has started and there are lots of kids out and about, but not many tourists.  It is nice.... but too quiet.
As I shot my favorite graffiti spot.... whoosh.
A little artsy shot.
 You never know what will become iconic.  The fab four on the back of a Nissan.
Pssst.... didya hear?  Paul is dead.  That's why he has bare feet.  (Pass it on)

Wassup? - Fuuaa

From Tim Johnson's blog Mexico Unmasked.
Check it out.
This is pretty funny.  A viral video and now viral word, "fua."  It makes sense and hey, it is definitely fun to say.  Try it.  "¡Fuuuuaaaa!"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dinner? Chapulines!

While this little guy, well, not so little, was munching on a zinnia, many of his fellow grasshoppers were being harvested by the locals for the Oaxacan delicacy, chapulines. 

from Wikipedia
They are collected only at certain times of year (from their hatching in early May through the late summer/early autumn). After being thoroughly cleaned and washed, they are toasted on a comal (clay cooking surface) with garlic, lime juice and salt containing extract of agave worms, lending a sour-spicy-salty taste to the finished product. Sometimes the grasshopers are also toasted with chili, although it can be used to cover up for stale chapulines.
One of the regions of Mexico where chapulines are most widely consumed is Oaxaca, where they are sold as snacks at local sports events and are becoming a revival among foodies [1]. It's debated how long Chapulines have been a food source in Oaxaca. There is one reference to grasshoppers that are eaten in early records of the Spanish conquest, in early to mid 16th century[2
Really they are more than a delicacy, there are an everyday food, a good cheap source of protein.  They are out in droves these days and one can see people catching them, sweeping them into their grasp with clothes or bags.  Here's a handy recipe if you should want to try them.  They really are quite tasty.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Return to Los Reyes

You will recall the Feria de Queso, the Cheese Fair, in nearby Reyes.  Well, the setting was so beautiful, that I wanted to return there when it was not full of people.  After going to the Etla market yesterday, drove the couple of kms and was not disappointed.

The church sits on a point that overlooks huge lush valleys.

This is the view as one comes out the door of the church.

This circle is the dance area for the guelaguetza.  Not too cosmic a vibe, man!  They had a canopy over it for the dancers, but it would be great to see them dancing against this backdrop.  I am sure it was that way in the past.

Not a soul in sight except for this happy creature.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Joint is Hoppin'

I am talkin' about the market in Etla.  Well, maybe it just seemed that way after being a hermit for a week and getting lost in recording and gardening.  I know, I know, it's a tough life, but....

I still have to fight traffic just like you.

The weather has been a mix of sun and clouds.
All of which has made for a great harvest.

The ladies had tons of fresh produce.

This lady had it all, cilantro, squash flowers, a comal, nopales and a great smile.

Best shot of the day.... Zombie ice cream eater,  "I scream, you scream...."  He actually has a dollop of ice cream on his nose,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flower Power

I have been recording music the last few days which is always an intense experience.  It is easy to get lost in the music, lost in time.  I would come up for air every now and then and go outside and work in the garden..... Hmmm.... that's sounds like a might fine time, doesn't it?  Plus, the weather has been off and on with the rain and sun, all-in-all, you know, perfect.

As far as I can tell, there is no easy way to post audio here, so I will put it up on Jango in a couple of days.

In the meantime, some flower action. These nice big belladonna flowers. 

I started the plant last year from a tiny cutting and it must be almost two meters tall now.

New blossoms on a freshly pruned hibiscus (jamaica)


Zinnias are a favorite. 

They attract butterflies like crazy.

What no butterfly?  Next time.

Friday, August 19, 2011


On my recent walks through the city, I practiced shooting from the hip.  Lots of times, I would just as soon not have people know that I am shooting.   And there are situations when one definitely does not want to appear to be taking photos.  So I have to practice this technique and I approach it just like I did as a kid learning Bach on the piano.  You just gotta do it over and over again until you develop "muscle memory", when you can do it without even thinking about it. 
I guess they are as candid as one can get.
And every now and then a good shot appears.

Hair and bears.

I would like to do a whole series on bus drivers and the guys that ride in the doorways. 

Remember these are all shot blind.

Need more practice.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Walk Talk

Oaxaca is a very walkable city.  I think you could walk from one end to the other in an hour or two.  I had the pleasure of getting to and from the VW dealer from the zocalo and the Abastos market on consecutive days. I got to walk on streets that, normally, either I drive on, or I am never on to begin with, uncharted territory so to speak.  Walking allows one the time to notice and fixate on lots of unfamiliar things.  Things that go by slowly enough, so as to be able to actually think about them.... you know, to totally space out.  I walked through residential neighborhoods, business enclaves, parks, different parts of the city, some funkier than others, but all pretty interesting.  There were lots of little stores tucked in odd places, selling everything under the sun.  If I ever need the Mexican equivalent of a widget, I will know where to find it.

No denying that this cantina had a nice aura.
A beautiful old building

with detail

upon detail.

Walking. Better than talking.

Without even thinking

It is funny the things one gets used to. 

My car spent the last couple of days in the VW dealer getting its annual checkup.   The cost and quality of the work was very good, I mean exceptional.  It was one incredibly efficient operation in a one incredibly spotless work area.  And the car came back like new.  They opened the hood and the engine look like one in the showroom.

I jumped in the car and hit the road, only to be immediately stopped by another political march/blockade.  These are so common, that one does not even think about them.  I just turned the car around and headed into the back streets along with everyone else.  The crazy thing is that there is no perceivable increase in driver angst.  Everyone just treats it as normal, an opportunity to enjoy a little extra music, to check out the sights. 

I had to laugh thinking how the Boston commuters, with whom I shared the road for so many years, would have dealt.  I remember a time when the passenger in a car, which was cutting me off, lightly tapped on the hood of my car with a baseball bat.  "It's all yours...."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day of the Taxis - El Dia del Taxistas

Every year around this time, the taxi drivers have a day of celebration.  Colectivas or shared taxis are one of the principal ways to get around.  I can get into the city from San Sebastian Etla, about eight miles, for less than a dollar.  Three in the two front bucket seats, including the driver, and three in the back

Each cab is decorated and driven to the church to receive a blessing.

Given the nature of driving in this city, every little bit helps.

I happened to come out of the art show on Saturday in San Bartolo Coyotepec just as the priest was blessing,

not only the cars, the motors and the drivers, but their families and of course, the car keys.

We used to joke that it turns into the Day of No Taxis, because, well, they tend to have some serious celebrations in the early afternoon after the visit to the church and the blessings.

Party on, Garth.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Winners All in San Bartolo Coyotepec

Weaving by 23 year old, Justino Martinez Mendoza of Teotitlan del Valle

Yesterday, in San Bartolo Coyotepec, at the Museum of Oaxacan Folk Art, the Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art and Amigos de Arte Popular Oaxaca, opened an exhibition to present the art of participants and the winners in their annual Young Artists' Contest.  The event was very well attended and all the art was impressive.  The contest not only showcases the talents of young artist, but encourages them to continue and build upon the artistic traditions of the region.

The work came from the city and its surrounding areas and demonstrated techniques using a wide variety of materials.

A beautiful piece of silver and river pearls by 14-year old Ivonne Berenice Cortes Garcia of Oaxaca.

First Place Winner Victor Javier Bustamante Herrerra of Miahuatlan 

and his piece carved from copal wood.

From San Bartolo Coyotepec, a necklace of barro negro, by 16 year old, Cesia Tonnantzin Pedro Cardozo.

The happy family.  That's her brother, Armando, with his certificate on the right.

A remarkable mirror by 26 year old, Osbel Ramos Ramirez from the city.

From San Martin Ticajete, 19 year old Laura Sosa Martinez,

and her work.

First place in textiles came from Teotitlan del Valle, 25 year old Jose Mendoza Martinez
If you can, go and support the artists.  The museum is very easy to find, right off the main road, abutting the zocalo.  Only a few minutes from the city.... maybe ten minutes past the airport.