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, April 28, 2013

Return to Yanhuitlan

Yanhuitlan remains one of my favorite places to visit because, not only is it such a stunning setting, the church and monastery so massive, but the site is an encapsulation of so many aspects of Mexican history.  It is in the Mixteca region, about an hour's drive north of Oaxaca.

Long story short:  100,000 Mixtecs lived there when the Spanish showed up in in the early 1500's.  The Dominicans decided to build a church and to convert everyone to Catholicism.  They designed the village surrounding the church and built an aqueduct.  A good plan.  Unfortunately, they also brought diseases that effectively wiped out the population with fifty years with a 95 percent kill rate.  No need for a large church after that, but construction continued through the centuries and it survived various battles during the revolutions. The restoration has been ongoing for several years now as the government pushes the Ruta Domincana.

I remember the first time we went there when work on the interior of the church had barely begun.  There were birds living in the huge dust filled space.  It was dark and dirty and magical.  Now, it is bright and white and I think it has lost a little of its magic, because so much of the patina is gone and the floors and walls are too perfect.  However, the before, during and after shots are pretty dramatic.
 That little white rectangle is spixl, just to give you an idea of how big the place is.
 That's me in the flying buttress.
 The finished front facade.
 What a ceiling!  At least twenty five meters up there.
 Some of the lost patina.  One of the original doors.
First they cut the stone, in this case a channel for rain,  and then, somehow, got it all the way up to the roof..... without any machines.
 Beautiful moorish ceiling at the entrance.
 With scaffolding
 And without
I need to go back to get some shots I missed.... like I need a excuse to return to one of my favorite places.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Flor de Mayo - Plumeria - Frangiapani

With the rains, the work picks up outside.  As I work, I catch wisps of fragrance from the plumeria that I have going in several parts of the property.  It is especially sweet because all were started from cuttings and then pruned to begin to shape them.  I remember buying a handful of cuttings from some young women at the market in Tlacolula.  It was obvious they had just hacked them off some plant that morning. They were very fresh... the cuttings, not the girls, silly.
That was a year or so ago and maybe two thirds of them made it through the rooting process and then the long dry season.  Now.... I had no idea they smelled so good. Their fragrance fills the garden and wafts into the house through open windows.  In another five years, they will be very impressive.
Incidentally, I just picked and ate my first papaya, which I grew from seed.  They are tough to transplant and I don't think this is the right climate for them, but the two year wait was worth it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Heavy weather

Is the dry season over?  Three days in a row, but neither the people nor the countryside are anywhere close to being convinced.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A moment in time - Richie Havens

We all have crystalline moments in our lives, moments that are sublimely perfect.  Ideally, our lives are full of them.  Mine is and lots have to do with music.....  my first time playing in the midst of the school band, the first time hearing a symphony orchestra, every time I hear Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings and hundreds with my students and fellow musicians.... in thinking about them, lord, there are so many of them, all wonderful.

Easily, one of the best moments of my life was in August just before beginning my sophomore year in college.  It was in a field not far from my hometown at the time, Clinton, NY and I was with my high school sweetheart.  It was 1969 and the world was full of rock bands all playing as loudly as possible through terrible equipment.  More than half the time you could not hear the vocals at all, the PA's were so bad.  I had a Fender Rhodes piano that very few amps could handle, but who cared, we were having a blast.

So there we were in this field, not unlike the cornfields and pastures that were the backdrops to our lives at that point.  And then..... there was this guitar.... so loud, clean and clear.... I had never heard anything like it.  For me, it was a miracle.  It was Richie Havens, the first act at Woodstock.  And the beauty of it is, that that moment forever has been inside me, indescribable, like a diamond, nurturing, inspirational, indelible.  He lives.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I don't think there is an equivalent of the NRA here in Mexico.  Of course, we get our guns directly from the source.
I have no idea if this program is successful, but it is endorsed by the state and federal governments.  As I have written many times before, armed guards, police and military are common sights here and rarely does one feel intimidated or really even notice.  Of course, there are times when one says, "Holy Full Riot Gear, Batman," and one definitely takes notice.  I hasten to add, Oaxaca is fairly isolated from the violence in other parts of Mexico.  I wonder if restrictive gun laws passed in El Norte would have a major effect on life here.  I guess we don't need to worry about that ever happening, but it is an interesting question.  Plus, the guns are already here, there and everywhere.
I do like the image.

Friday, April 19, 2013


The flamboyant in front of San Domingo are at their flowering height.
Unfortunately, this tree is on its last legs and will not survive past this season.  The two to the south of it have already died and been replaced with small skinny ones.  There must to be some pest, parasite or fungus in the soil.  So sad to see these gorgeous trees go, but nature can be ruthless sometimes.
A cross made from palms.  This one on the door between the church and the market in Tlacolula.

The continuing drama....

What Elphaba said, again.  "What a world.."

Just watching the news from Boston and all the action is taking place in a neighborhood I used to live.  It is the Armenian/Lebanese enclave and right now, I am looking at the market where still I buy my lebne and yogurt, some of the best around.  Really, just in shock as there are so many threads that connect us no matter where we are.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

We Love Field Trips!

It must have been class outing day, because the zocalo was filled with happy kids.  There is a book fair happening, but they did not seem altogether interested in it.  However, hula hoops were quite popular.  This boy had some serious technique.
And this is the look of a boy trapped inside a hoop with three girls.
Escaping the heat, this class sat on the steps of the cathedral eating lunch.
 Even though I was a long way away, I managed to get these two eying me, while the boy did what boys do.

Positively positive

As Elphaba says, "What a world.  What a world."
It is a pretty amazing place.  We are all interconnected, often instantaneously.  I have friends all over the world... OK, they are Facebook friends, but still, I get news from Korea, Thailand, Senegal, etc. on a daily basis.

So here's today feed: Boston, Waco, Scalia, guns, torture, Thatcher, ricin, Monsanto, North Korea, CNN, the Kardashians.......   an embarrassment of riches, would you say?  (snickety snark)
And yet, we remain resilient, resolute and hopeful.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


In my never ending joyful appreciation of Oaxacan street art, I noticed this one on Cinco de Mayo and smiled, recognition from just a flashed thigh.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013


Siesta Story

While walking through Llano Park, I spied this man sleeping peacefully to the sounds of the fountain behind him.  When looking at the shots later, my mind came up with a much different scenario, maybe with the theme from Jaws as a soundtrack.  I let you figure it out.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Street Scenes

Holding up the world.
Where's Waldo?  How many people are there?
Didn't even bat an eyelash.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Shirt shots

Another from the series of T-shirt shots.  This lady from Cuernavaca graciously allowed me to take this classic shot.  Life imitating art... hmmmm..... maybe it is actually her on the shirt.

People watching

Ah yes, but who watches the watchers?  The shadow knows....

Friday, April 12, 2013

Carnival in Teotitland del Valle - People watching

I triple heart Mom and Dad
Watching the people watching...
 Making an entrance.
 A classic look.
 Even the dogs were dancing the fandango.
 Best seat in the house.
 The future.