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, September 30, 2011


Still in shock after the historic collapse of the Medias Rojas, those pesky Red Sox.  If you are a Sox fan or even just a sports fan, you know what I am talkin' about.  If not, no big deal.   Carry on.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Over the years, I have posted a fair number of shots of protests, marches and blockades here in Oaxaca.  I have much admiration for how involved and active people are here and have often commented on the fact that these sorts of things do not happen that often in El Norte, more of late, but still not enough.

However....... one of my favorite websites is BagNewsNotes, where they analyze the photos and images the media feeds us.  They also have their own photographers covering the world and one of the best is Alan Chin.
Please check out his work from the Occupy Wall Street protests in NYC.  As the media continues to basically ignore the story, it still has legs.  There is still hope that protests will grow and the coverage will follow.

As someone once said, "Keep hope alive."

Oh wait..... shiny object, Michael Jackson's doctor, Chasz Bono, Nancy Grace's .....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tourism? - meh

It's International Tourism Day.  Who knew?

Here's an interesting story from Noticiasmex about the state of tourism in the state.  It certainly seems to indicate that there is an inter-connectivity between most all people, things and activities.  The economic slowdown in Europe effects Oaxaca.  The constant media drumbeat about violence in Mexico effects Oaxaca.  The current political attitudes in El Norte effect Oaxaca.  The cartels effect Oaxaca.  The internal economic problems, poverty, the failure to resolve indigenous conflicts, the disaster that the previous administration inflicted on the state, the lack of a convention center, the lack of an aggressive tourism campaign, the lack of flights, the lack of roads..... it is a long litany and all effect Oaxaca.  And probably effect you, too.

The story is filled with interesting statistics, like the number of hotel rooms, restaurants, and discos.  Or the number of people involved in tourism. Or that only 4% of the 100,000 people that attended the recent guelaguetza were not mexicanos, only 4000 international visitors!

Oaxaca needs touri$m to recover and it needs to recover in order to draw tourists. 
Poco a poco, ojala.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Quizas, quizas, quizas

Maybe, just maybe, a little of that fine active Oaxacan political protest attitude is heading north.  The protests on Wall Street have not drawn much attention from the media, at leas not until the police peppered sprayed into a crowd and the video went viral. 

Here is Chris Hedges, the writer, telling it like it is.  He actually expresses my thoughts and feelings precisely and succinctly.

It's time, people... or it is sure getting closer.

It's all here just waiting for you

More of this, please....
Sounds like me but it's not.
from The Daily News (Galveston County)
"There, everything was new to me, and I wanted to absorb it all. I was living in the moment. I was deeply enchanted by my surroundings. I admired everything, even the stray dogs.

Before my departure, I had studied various books, maps and travel guides, and I had taken college courses on Oaxacan history.

Nonetheless, I was amazed by this foreign life and was culturally shocked. Despite my preparation, the sentiment of being in a different culture was unfathomable until I actually stood in the middle of it and felt it against my skin.

Oaxaca functioned at a different pace than me. Our habits differed: I would move with haste while they moved with serenity. Much of the shock had to do with language."
Read the whole story.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Another year, more water under the bridge. 

Much to look forward to and many opportunities to be compassionate.
I just hope I am looking the right way.

Friday, September 23, 2011

like a brick house..

Just down the street from the smiley face shot from before, perfectly pointed and painted, these bricks do the word proud.

They just keep going..

Makes for an interesting shot, a study in lines, shapes, angles and textures.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jack Kerouac rumbled...

Here is an interesting story from the Periscope Post.  I have driven though this area.  It is rugged and desolate and magical.
Long gone are the days in which Beat writer Jack Kerouac rumbled through Mexico in his search of God and self-consciousness. A lot of things have changed on both sides of the border since Kerouac’s journeys over five decades ago. A new has century arrived bringing along a different but not necessarily better world, overwhelmed with immediacy, technology, democracy and plenty of wars.
The good news is that despite all of the changes to Mexican society, there is still a place that makes us feel right back in those golden years of pleasant debauchery. It is an enchanted place named Oaxaca that lies hidden somewhere south of the border, amidst misty mountains and ancient valleys. A place that, as Kerouac would put it is definitely worth the “trip."...

There is something about Oaxaca that conquers the senses and captures the spirit of each visitor....

“Our relationship with mushrooms is as old as our people” explains María E., a traditional shaman from San José, who like most people in the town has a very close relationship with the hallucinogenic fungus. “For centuries we have been aware of the mushrooms’ medicinal powers; that is why we are very respectful of them and turn to their healing ability only after a thorough spiritual preparation. Our souls have to be clean and purified before beginning any trip,” revealed the 40 year-old woman. According to strict local customs, it is only those who can really see into the human soul that should have the privilege of consuming mushrooms in order to heal society’s ills. But that doesn’t stop locals making sure curious visitors don’t sample the mushroom experience. “Oh, yes, we care for them too,” admitted a somewhat reticent shaman after being asked about the steady stream of backpackers and hippies who make the trip to the town. “All of us can use some natural medicine every now and then, you know” concluded María.
 Read the whole story.

Don't be so quick to write this off.  We have talked about this many times and feel like it/they would be a good thing to do, given the depth of understanding and spirituality that many of the indigenous possess.   If there is one thing I have learned down here, it is that different cultures possess differ knowledge and 10,000 years of history has taught these people much.  My mind has been so changed by life down here.  I see things much differently now having experienced some of the rituals and traditions. It is all pretty humbling.... and eye opening, mind expanding.  So all of this makes much sense, but only if one enters with a sincere and grateful respect.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Signatures with street cred

The term of art may be "tag," but these somehow seem more elegant with the sweeps and swirls.

I wish my handwriting has some of this style and flair.

Yes, I know that tagging is an epidemic, but I still find it fascinating.

Monday, September 19, 2011

¡Qué diferencia!

Ingenuity walking right before you.

I spotted this caballero making his way through the zocalo using a pair of fine homemade crutches.  I was struck by how sturdy and strong they looked as he actually glided through the space.  Somehow, I think they were specifically made for him and even though they looked heavy, they worked perfectly for him. 

Less than a minute later, this comparison presented itself.

Wassup? - Fuuaa

For some reason, this video has picked up over 5000 hits in the last two days!  Go figure. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Don't Worry - Be Happy

Ah, nothing like a nice smiley face tagged on a bright wall.  Bobby says it best, but here's a nice cover.

Of course it ain't all sweetness and light.

Death to the damn state.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

More on El Grito

This story from the LAHT succinctly fills in a few facts.  As Ed McMahon used to say, "I did not know that..."
Calderon, who is nearly five years into his six-year term, cried out “Viva Mexico!” from the main balcony of the palace before a crowd that, despite the rain, had gathered in the Zocalo, the principal plaza in the country.
Mexico’s 31 governors also shout “El Grito” in the main plazas of their individual states.
 Here's Gabino Cue reenacting his rendition of the shout. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Independence Day!

No, it is not Cinco de Mayo, it is September 16th.  Celebrations everywhere as mexicanos show their pride and love of country.  One place to see it on display is on the municipal bulding by the Plaza de la Danza and the cathedral El Soledad.

It all started with El Grito, a cry for independence, independence from Spain and the wealthy landowners.

As with all revolutions, there were many factors and many players.  And great stories, many with both good and bad outcomes for the individuals involved, but ultimately El Grito led to the Mexico we know and love today.

Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez.

Leona Vicario.

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.

José María Morelos y Pavón.

Here is Hidago making the plea for freedom.

Of course, la lucha continues....

¡Viva Mexico!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

People get ready

Tomorrow is the big day, Independence Day, El Grito, and people are out in droves selling all sorts of excellent patriotic paraphernalia.

Just look what you could get.

Here is Oaxaca's Most Photographed Street Musician™and more good stuff.

You too could have this hat... oops, it's not a hat.
"You look skeptical, Jose.  Trust me, we are going to be so rich."
However, there are way too many sellers and not many takers.  People who have been in the biz for years are getting squeezed by newbies selling inferior goods from China.  "They fade in the sun."

Here's a story that ran in this morning's paper.

As of yesterday, to get into the zocalo one must now go through metal detectors and a phalanx of soldiers searching for anything that could disrupt the planned celebrations.  Check this story out.  I guess the GWOT (Global War on Terror) really is catching on.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A bell for Carmen Alto

For a few weeks, this beautiful bell was sitting on some pieces of wood on the ground near the entrance to Carmen Alto.  Now it is hanging from a tree in the courtyard just a few yard from it's original spot.  Someday it will end up high in the church upper reaches, but for now it is a eye level (well, at least for me) and people can walk by and touch it. 

It feels wonderful and has a nice tonal quality.  I guess I approach it like those bells in Tibet, Thailand and the East where every touch is a caress and all the sounds are prayers.  I am sure thousands of people have rubbed this bell, made it ring, sent those vibes out into the courtyard, into the air, into the world.  Years of playing Tibetan singing bowls helps me to explore the various sounds and harmonics this baby produces.  Sublime.

Monday, September 12, 2011


The zinnias are working their magic and the yard is full of butterflies.
Somehow, I always take this as a good sign, that the garden is happy and healthy.
These shots are really sharp if you embiggen,  Nice eyes.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Street Art cont....

No matter how you slice it, it is just another day.
I know why the caged bird sings..... I love how there is an intercom on the right door frame.

So much visual information.  Message comes through loud and clear.  Uh... Bruce Lee(?) is fighting the alien revolution?  I know it's not Bruce, but that's what it looked like from a distance.

Talk about visual information overload.  What would you call this photo?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Human Rights Caravan Sets Off for Southern Mexico

Full story from LAHT

MEXICO CITY – More than 600 people, led by prominent poet and activist Javier Sicilia, left this capital Friday bound for southern Mexico and neighboring Guatemala to raise awareness of the plight of undocumented migrants and other victims of violence and government neglect in that region.
Southern Mexico is home to communities that have been excluded by “the modern economic model” and have been “wronged throughout the country’s history,” said Sicilia, who especially noted the marginalization of areas with a mostly indigenous population.

“The south is different,” a part of the country with a great tradition of “grassroots and civic movements that doesn’t exist in the north.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I know you're in there

Hey Chris, I know you're in there.  Why no postings on the blog?

Well, I've been busy.  Tomorrow is the big day.  I have the Oaxacan Garden Club coming to the house for a talk and demo on composting and mulching.  They are expecting a good turnout and I am ready, but with all the rain... I hope they bring waders, because there is still standing water in places.  Normally, the gardens would be looking amazing, but it has been too wet.  Many of the flowers are large and hold water in their petals, but the weight of the water has done a number on them.  But that is the nature of gardening.

I did, however, prep for this talk last week and set aside dry compost for folks to see.  I know that compost may not be the most riveting subject to many, but it is one of the keys to healthy soil and plants. I have been working on this since I came here, bought a wood chipper, a lawn mower just to get the clippings and I have to say, this compost is the best I have ever seen.  The trick was to dry out the finished compost and to run it through the chipper. 

Worth its weight in gold. Guaranteed to blow their minds.

Actually, after living and gardening in so many different places, I am always amazed at what people do and don't do.  In Newton, MA, the city collects all yard waste and has a huge municipal compost pile that city residents can go and use.  In the Virgin Islands, they save every drop of rain.  Here, they do neither, but obviously, they do many things right as is evidenced by all the gorgeous produce.  Put them all together and you've really got something.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Now this is a poster.

"Thank you, Coatlicue, for protecting our food from transgenetics."
It's all about the corn.  Don't mess with it, Monsanto.

from Absolute Astronomy:
Coatlicue also known as Teteoinan (also transcribed Teteo Inan), "The Mother of Gods" , is the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. She is also known as Toci (, "our grandmother") and Cihuacoatl (, "the lady of the serpent"), the patron of women who die in childbirth.

The word "Coatlicue" is Nahuatl for "the one with the skirt of serpents". She is referred to variously by the epithets "Mother Goddess of the Earth who gives birth to all celestial things", "Goddess of Fire and Fertility", "Goddess of Life, Death and Rebirth", and "Mother of the Southern Stars".

She is represented as a woman wearing a skirt of writhing snakes and a necklace made of human hearts, hands, and skulls. Her feet and hands are adorned with claws and her breasts are depicted as hanging flaccid from nursing. Her face is formed by two facing serpents (after her head was cut off and the blood spurt forth from her neck in the form of two gigantic serpents), referring to the myth that she was sacrificed during the beginning of the present creation.

Most Aztec artistic representations of this goddess emphasize her deadly side, because Earth, as well as loving mother, is the insatiable monster that consumes everything that liveth. She represents the devouring mother, in whom both the womb and the grave exist.

According to Aztec legend, she was once magically impregnated by a ball of feathers that fell on her while she was sweeping a temple, and subsequently gave birth to the gods Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl. Her daughter Coyolxauhqui then rallied Coatlicue's four hundred other children together and goaded them into attacking and decapitating their mother. The instant she was killed, the god Huitzilopochtli suddenly emerged from her womb fully grown and armed for battle. He killed many of his brothers and sisters, including Coyolxauhqui, whose head he cut off and threw into the sky to become the moon. In one variation on this legend, Huitzilopochtli himself is the child conceived in the ball-of-feathers incident and is born just in time to save his mother from harm.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Which means, "Look out!"  In this case it means look out for the water that is encroaching on my house.

I was going to write about all the rain and flooding stories in the news here, but then it started to come down like I have never seen it here and voila, a flash flood in the yard.  The other house on the property is in the middle of a river.

My place is above water for now, but I am not sure it will stay that way.  The roar of the water going by the house is scary.
Those are rapids taken from the roof!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

All creatures great and small...

Yesterday was the blessing of the animals, a long standing tradition on the last day of August.  Many animals and their human companions gathered to hear the priest's words of benediction and to be liberally showered with holy water. 

The event, which occurred late in the afternoon at the Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Merced was really something with lots of photographers and media.

In this shot you can see the droplets of holy water.  We all got really blessed if the amount is any factor, not quite soaked, but pretty wet.

My fellow blogger spixl showed up early and watched and waited as it all unfolded. 

People arrived with their pets,

many of whom were dressed for the occasion.

This gentleman with his birds was a big hit.

Even turtles and a few fish were there.

Do I look like I need a blessing?

Always fun to see pets and their owners.

In all shapes and sizes,

A whole lotta cute out there
A lot,

I was hoping for burros and oxen, but maybe they were somewhere else.  Still, there were some chickens,

happy to be blessed.

We talked about the weird dichotomy in Mexico between humans and pets.  I understand that they could not have Christian names, because they have no souls, but here they were getting blessed.