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, January 31, 2012

Street Art cont.... never fails... part 76

One thing about this place that is so much fun to follow is the street art and graffiti.  Often I will drive by something and say to myself, "I've gotta walk back and check that out." 
After a while, everthing starts to look like art and that ain't a bad thing at all. 
I wonder does this stuff exist in other cities?  Anyone?  Bueller?
I do see it out in the villages, but the city is really where it's at.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hip Shots

As I walk the streets, I practice clandestinely shooting from the hip.  One never knows when it will come in handy, shooting something dicey where you don't want to be obviously taking pictures.   Getting the camera to point at something the eye focuses on takes practice, but I am getting better.  Of course, there is an element of luck involved as to whether or nor the shot will actually be in focus, but every now and then.....

Car Talk - cont.

What difference a day makes.
Someone was hard at work.
Incidentally, the car is for sale.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Car Talk

Everything changes, right? 

I posted a shot of this car a few weeks ago.  Every time I go by it, I take a couple of shots. 

The details are sweet.  Coming

or going.

"Carachita"... means, jalopy or maybe hot rod, probably from some song I don't know.

"Cuando me muera, segurito me voy al cielo, porque ya estuve en el infierno" 

Rough translation - "When I die, follow me to Heaven, because I've already been in Hell."
Well, lo and behold, today it looked like this.

Getting it ready for the next look, this one, according to one of the artists, based on indigenous symbols and images. 

I will keep you posted.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Talk about an unusual occurrence.  It is actually raining as I write.  Once again, I marvel at water falling from the sky.  Que milagro!  Especially in light of the horrible drought in northern Mexico, the worst in seven decades.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Triquis return home

The conflict in San Juan Copala has been going on for quite some time and has been a local, national and international story for many months.  These sorts of conflicts in indigenous villages crop up fairly often.  Often the villages are remote and are seeking some sort of autonomy or resolution of ongoing conflicts concerning who controls what.

Here are a couple of shots from last week.
 An archway in front of the palacio.
So last week, the Triquis, who have been a presence in front of the Governor's Palace for what seems like forever, began to return to San Juan Copala.

Here is a story from Upside Down World with more information and background.
For seventeen months more than 300 Triqui people from the region of Copala, as it is known, have been displaced due to intense paramilitary violence in their community. Unable to return under fear of harm, the displaced camped out in Oaxaca City, demanding a government response to their situation.

In 2007, the Copala Triqui community declared itself an autonomous municipality, in line with constitutional revisions from 1995 that recognized indigenous practices of coexistence instead of the electorally-based system of political party leadership. This “new” autonomy derived from usos y costumbres, a form of governance based on indigenous practices of leadership rotation and voluntary community service.  The transition to usos y costumbres governance has taken place without much disruption in other indigenous communities, but the specific circumstances of Copala led to significant drama.
The conflict in Copala is not easy to understand, but one version goes something like this. Triqui territory is located in a mineral rich region. When it was discovered that the minerals could be useful for making batteries and other technical components of electronics, government pressure fell on the Triqui people to allow mining rights to foreign companies. Prior to the declaration of autonomy in 2007, government influences had managed to protect business interests in the region, but the transition to usos y costumbres threatened to change the situation. After 2007, the PRI-aligned portion of the community (organized into MULT and Ubisort) were armed and used force to control the section of the village that preferred autonomy.
 The same archway today.
If you look closely you can see a little sticker on the column midway up on the left.
The words of Ricardo Flores Magón:
Rough translation- "The right of rebellion is sacred because its exercise is indispensable to break down the obstacles that are opposed to the right to live. Rebellion is life. Submission is death. Are there rebels in town? Then life is assured."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In a nutshell

Here is a story from Tim Johnson at McClatchy.  Obviously, there are many sides to the story, one being that Mexico's economy is doing pretty well and is involved in many large scale projects, some being repairing and improving infrastructure.  Locally, the many road repaving projects, from Etla all the way to Tlacolula, speak to that fact.

So here comes Nissan investing a couple of billion for a new plant, the second in Aguascalientes.  Maybe the Japanese know something and don't believe that Mexico is a lost cause.  I would say their track record is pretty good in the auto industry and they sure sell a lot of cars here. 

And then there are the comments following the full story.
In a sign that global manufacturers are looking beyond Mexico's security woes, Nissan said Wednesday that it will invest $2 billion in a new auto plant in Aguascalientes, a central city that has seen problems with crime groups.

President Felipe Calderon, standing beside Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn at a World Economic Forum meeting in Switzerland, said the plant would solidify Mexico's position as the world's ninth-largest automaker and sixth-largest auto exporter.
"This is one of the biggest investments we've ever received from an automaker," Calderon said, "and of course it confirms Nissan's lead in Mexico.

The Yokohama, Japan-based automaker already has two plants in Mexico — one in Cuernavaca in Morelos state near the capital, and a second in Aguascalientes — and holds a quarter of the market as the nation's best-selling auto brand.
Calderon said Mexican auto plants produced 2.5 million units in 2011, exporting around 2.1 million of them, the second consecutive year of record production and exports.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Monday, January 23, 2012

2501 Imigrantes come to the city... cont

Alejandro Santiago's installation of "2501 Emigrantes"  continues to fill the streets.  I love that the sculptures have now become an everyday part of the street scene.  Normal life surrounds them.
One sees all sorts of interactions and tableaus,  From ships that pass in the night

to couples

Even the famous, that is Francisco Toledo, Oaxaca most famous patron and artist.

Looks like he is leading some away.

Always trying to get the interesting angle or shot.
"Hey, Chris, whatcha doin' whatcha doing???"

Such a nice pup.  A real waggler.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


After I rode up on my chopper, I couldn't believe she turned her back on me.  Oh my broken heart.
 Normally, I am the one who is hitting people in the head with my elbows, but today.... ay, ay, ay! I think I've died and gone to heaven.... well, Tres Reyes anyway.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop it!

UPDATE: Here's a link to Tunecore,  my online music distributor.  It's a well-reasoned argument against SOPA and PIPA and one with which I agree.

Things are looking up

 One of the most noticeable things happening in Oaxaca is a general uplifting of spirit.  It is palpable.  Things are most assuredly getting better.  In many respects, no matter what the news says, Mexico and its economy are growing, doing better. 

from the LAHT
Mexican archaeological sites, museums and historical monuments attracted more than 18.2 million visitors in 2011, the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, said.

INAH said in a communique Monday that the number topped the 18 million in 2010, making 2011 the second best year since 2006 in the number of visitors – only 2008 with 18 million people had more during that period.

It said that of last year’s visitors, 10.6 million visited archeological sites and 7.6 million went to museums and historical monuments managed by INAH. A total of 14.7 million were Mexicans and 3.5 million were foreign tourists.

The three sites that topped 1 million visits were the Teotihuacan Archaeological Zone, the National Museum of Anthropology, and the National History Museum at Chapultepec Castle.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2501 Emigrantes..... continues

Alejandro Santiago's installation continues to fill the streets.  It is such a powerful piece, so thought provoking.  I have so many interesting conversations with people, both tourists and oaxaqueños. 
Some do not have any idea of the genesis of the work. 
This is what art is supposed to do.... make people think.  This chiapeneca is an example of the migratory dilemma.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Still working...

I think these were full cases of beer.  Crazy, no?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hey! I'm workin' here

There is just something about the work ethic here that is off the charts.  I saw it in the young man across the road, who just set up a business washing cars in front of his house.  He has been doing it a few weeks and I have seen lots of cars there every time I drive by.  I stopped and talked him a couple of weeks ago and asked how much. "35 pesos."  My car was so dusty that some unknown person, perhaps Henry Wangeman of Amate Books, had written "porcino" when in fact they had meant to write "porcinito" a term of endearment, I suppose.  At any rate, my car was incredibly dirty,  Hey, it is Oaxaca in the dry season and there is so much road construction going on, it is impossible to keep it clean.  That being said, Eduardo cleaned and polished the car until it looked almost new.... and detailed the inside!  All in about 30 minutes.  Wow, just wow,

I felt the same about the three guys who repaired a tire for me yesterday just outside of Etla.  This tire has had a very slow leak for months now and yesterday I told myself I would stop at the first place I saw.  The aforementioned road construction closed the road and I could not get to any of the ones that I saw.  Eventually, I saw some tires stacked next to a pretty funky, but typical, shack just off the road.  I pulled in and someone immediately took the tire off and then, it was like a ballet.  They were working on three cars at the same time and they shared tools, the compressor and various tire machines.  I just stood and watched.  It was beautiful.  In less than twenty minutes I was out of there for 40 pesos.

In both cases, these guys were working at the highest level, just giving amazing service.  They were working their asses off and yet it seemed effortless.  As I say, it was beautiful.

So I was paying special attention to people working today in the city.  As I said, I think the work ethic here is remarkable.  The hard work is often accompanied by a sense of fun or joy.  It is hard to describe.  Whistle while you work?  Doin' good work makes you feel good?  I dunno.

I saw this on my way in...

and the finished sign.

Great light in this one.

This one is balletic as well....

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2501 Emigrantes come to the city... and keep coming

 Slowly, but surely, each day, the life-size sculptures continue to arrive and line the street.  2501 human figures is one heck of a lot of art.  I wonder if they are going to continue down Alcala all the way to the zocalo.
Stay tuned.... and scroll down for an earlier post about Alejandro Santiago's "2501 Emigrantes."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mexico Makes the Record Books

 Check out these stories on Tim Johnson's Mexico Unmasked on McClatchy. 
Hmmm.... another record in the making?  The Guardian's story on Mexico City's trash problem.  How the city deals with these problems will be a harbinger for many other cities.  David Lida in his book, "First Stop in the New World"  maintains that as Mexico City goes, so go we all.  It is a fascinating read.

Images are examples of the never-ending stream of street art and graffiti.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

El Dia de Tres Reyes.... follow up

I made my annual pilgrimage to the nearby village of Tres Reyes just to see what was happening and to pay my respects.  It is always so different from what is happening in the city where in front of the cathedral The Three Kings and their helpers have laid out hundreds of toys in rows. 

I have seen this prep each year but never the actual event. 

I have these images in my mind of hundreds of kids stampeding like Wal-Mart shoppers on Black Friday, but somehow I think it is exactly the opposite, very well organized and orderly.... and fun.
How much fun?  This much.

When I arrived in Tres Reyes, the band was playing in front of the church, but not much was happening. 
I must have just missed something and I was two hours early for the next event.  It was tranquil, so beautiful and bright. 

This always feels like a church filled with happiness.

Always so colorful.  

So it was quiet.... with band accompaniment.  Perfect for eating a lime ice.