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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shots of the day...

Living out in the country, el campo, has its advantages.  Today, as I drove over to Etla for breakfast, the roadsides were filled with people selling marigolds and celosia or cockscomb.  Here, known as cempasúchitl and Iwillhavetofindout.  These are the most important flowers for people's altars or ofrendas.  It looks like it was a very good year for both plants.  I saw lots of brilliant healthy flowers.

I passed these two women and turned left off the highway.  Then I realized what I had just seen and stopped the car, jumped out, ran back across the highway, which is four lane and poco loco, stood in the middle of the road and snapped this shot.  I said, "You are going to be famous tonight." and you can see from their faces what a fine moment it was.
It doesn't get any better.  And they even gave me a beautiful, tall cockscomb.... for free.  Totally made my day.

These are busy times with lots of places to visit.  Let's see how it goes

La Catrina.... always with us

Oaxaca knows how to celebrate Day of the Dead.  The energy, excitement and happiness are contagious.  For those who have never experienced El Dia de los Muertos, all I can say is that it is one tradition that actually changed my life. My perspective on the whole life/death thing was altered so powerfully and positively...... and after over forty years of Buddhism that is sayin' sumpin'.

La Catrina is a constant companion.  She hangs out in my hallway.
 Such remarkable work!
 Some of the finest papel picado appears at this time of year.
I'm going back to shoot more of these.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Where are you???

You should be here.  In Oaxaca and buying books at Amate.  It is not too late. 

The place is really poppin' as folks arrive for El Dia de los Muertos and as families buy all the wonderful things needed for their altars.  This weekend will be spent in preparation, but today, the kids from various neighborhoods were out dressed in their costumes. 

Each group paraded down the streets led by band.

Walking home with an excellent school project.

Kids just being kids.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


On a more serious note, it has been five years since Indy journalist Brad Will was killed and the newspapers are making some reference to it.  It was a galvanizing moment.  Oaxaca has not been the same since.  That was a different time, a different governor.  I do find it sad/ironic that it took a North American journalist being killed to change the dynamic, even though there were horrible things happening to oaxaqueõs for years leading up to that fateful day.
However, it did change everything.  Movements need martyrs.  That why I am struck by this photo of the Iraqi-war veteran who was shot in the head when the Oakland Police cleared out the OWS protesters.  I am outside the country.  I do not know if this is getting any play or notice, but I cannot help but think of images from Kent State or Vietnam, that became iconic and catalysts for change.

And so this photo from Reuters
Cops shot a vet in the head.  I mean, seriously, WTF?  Check out the BagNews link for analysis.

The shot has elements of the Pieta, especially with the cross/lightpost in the background.  I thought my shot from a couple of days ago had a crucifixion element to it.
So how is this playing at home?  To the rest of the world.... well, you can imagine how it looks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oh, grate

Sometimes the metal work here, no doubt installed for protection, looks like art. 
 Just a beautiful window. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A day late

I missed the annual fiesta of Señor del Rayo last Sunday, but managed to see the cathedral the next day while mass was being celebrated.  The flowers were absolutely spectacular. 
They were everywhere.
This is the eastern most wall, behind the altar.  Normally tough to photograph, but the light seemed just right this time. 
For more info on this unique Oaxacan tradition check out spixl's posting about it.

Comin' at ya

A sure sign that El Dia is almost upon us.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Let there be light - Hágase la luz - again

Well, here's the story, a perfect example of how things work or don't work.  This morning, in front of Amate Books, I was watching these workers carefully remove streetlights.  It was happening up and down Alcala.

The thing is that these lights were just put in last year, as Ulises was spending money like crazy before his term ran out.  What's more, it was the second time they had been replaced in the last six years.

Obviously, they are good looking and in fine working order, energy efficient as well.

but it was on to the trucks to be whisked away to who knows where.

I guess a new administration means new lights.  It is how the bread gets buttered or the tortilla gets toasted or...... you know what I mean.  New ones will go up in the next few days, I am sure, but really, is this the best use of scarce funds?  I think not, but it is how the system works here and many other places.  I will leave it at that.... and with this image.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fud for thought

"Repo man is always intense"
It is funny how the mind works.  When I saw this truck I immediately thought phonetically, "foood."  One of the best things about Spanish is the sound of the vowels, they are always consistent and that really helps in figuring out how to say words.
 So here is "Fud" which sounds like "foood" and I realize Fud is a huge company, famous for their prepared meats, but all I could think of was Emilio Estavez in "Repo Man," one of my favorites.  All the products in the film are labeled generically.
The scene that came to mind was the one in which Otto (Estavez) is eating what looks like dog food out of a can marked "Food" and his mom says,"Put it on a plate, son. You'll enjoy it more." He replies, "Couldn't enjoy it any more, Mom. Mm, mm, mmm."
As I say, food for thought.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Nothing but blues skies....."

This is a wide-angle shot of this morning's sky.  It is in the 40's here at night, 80's during the day. 
Next rain?  If we are lucky, maybe in May, but who knows, we could get lucky.
For now, "nothing but blue skies from now on."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Let there be light - Hágase la luz

There have been lots of workers out digging up squares in the sidewalks primarily on the pedestrian walk of Alacala,
but on other streets as well. 
I could not figure out what they were doing, but suddenly a light bulb went off in my head.  They are installing lights! 
It should look cool. 
Maybe they are trying to finish before all the throngs descend for El Dia de los Muertos at the end of the month.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Come one, come all....

Neurotic? Who isn't?  Well, here they have a convention for us. 25th Anniversary of it, no less.
And it is free.  I'd go, but I'm paranoid, too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Murals are such a part of life here and throughout Mexico.  I love this one at one of the little private schools right on the main street leading into Etla.  Note the cell tower disguised as a palm.
Iconic imagery and history as public art.
Works for me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ulises in New York

You can run, but you can't hide.

Any other politicians come to mind that deserve this treatment?  I can think of a few.... oh, I forgot, we are not supposed to look back, only forward.

Meanwhile, back in reality....

from McClatchy
With too few hands to pick the apples in Washington state, Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire says the farm labor shortage has prompted a crisis.
In the Wenatchee Valley east of the Cascade Mountains, apple growers have posted their help-wanted signs across the countryside. And for the first time in years, growers in the state have launched a radio campaign, offering pay of $120 to $150 a day, but there have been few takers, much to the governor's regret
"We're not getting anybody to take a bite on these jobs, so we don't have anybody to do these jobs," she said Thursday night.
While much of the talk on Capitol Hill is tough, with opponents of illegal immigration vowing to seal the borders, Gregoire said Congress should instead focus on a way to get more foreign workers to help with harvesting in her state, the nation's top producer of apples.
From El Imparcial
In Oaxaca, there are 1.3 million oaxaqueños that suffer undernourishment and hunger, a number that could increase due to the rise in the price of the basic necessities, indicated Gerald Go'mez Tort, president of the Food Bank of Oaxaca (BEAM).  "The most serious repercussions are for the most vulnerable sectors of the population and will increase major poverty and extreme hunger. Due to the increases in the prices of the main consumables - like gas and gasoline, as well as new taxes, the condition of the families in extreme poverty will be affected seriously."

Words fail....

I am speechless... well, not really.  There are words that come to mind.

This is a person running for president of the United States????
“It’s going to be 20 feet high. It’s going to have barbed wire on the top. It’s going to be electrified. And there’s going to be a sign on the other side saying, ‘It will kill you — Warning.’” At an earlier rally, on the campus of Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tenn., he added that the sign would be written “in English and in Spanish.”
“This nation has always been a nation with wide open doors,” Mr. Cain said at the second rally. “We want to make it easy for people to come through the front door. And we’re going to shut off the back door so you don’t have to sneak into America.”
Saying that some critics have told him that his remarks about building a fence are insensitive, Mr. Cain said that the fault lies with the actions of some illegal immigrants. “It’s insensitive for them to be killing our citizens, killing our border agents,” he said. “That’s what’s insensitive. And that mess has to stop.”
In addition using a fence and unspecified “technology” to cut down on illegal immigration, Mr. Cain added: “If we have to put troops with real guns and real bullets for part of it, we can do that too.”

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October 15th

It is a day of protest around the world.  For an event near you click here.
In Oaxaca, it seems as if someone is always protesting something and with good reason.  That is one of the things I love about this place.  People are involved and politically active.  They have been since Cortes showed up.

 Locked box?
No, it is not OWS. 
It is a hunger strike directly in front of the entrance to the Governor's Palace in the zocalo.  There have been political problems and some violence in nearby Atzompa and people are sick of it and want fair elections.
Think I'm (we're) really asleep?  No matter what they think, we are watching.
Right across from this hunger strike, Section 22, one of the teacher's unions, was protesting and speechifying.

 The struggle continues.
So everyone's is doin' it.  How about you?  If not now, when?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Church work

Hand me the.... whaddya mean, you forgot the socket wrench?

Working on the upper reaches of Sangre Preciosa de Cristo church on Alacala on a non OSHA approved scaffolding.

I'm not sure what this is going to be, but some installation is going up in front of Santo Domingo.