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, May 31, 2013

Smoke 'em if ya got 'em

With friends in high places (pun intended)
Washington state businessmen who say they’re trying to create the first national brand of marijuana received some heartfelt support Thursday from the former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox.

Fox appeared at a news conference in Seattle, where he recounted how the war on drugs has ravaged his country and praised the states of Washington and Colorado for voting to legalize the recreational use of marijuana last fall.
At the news conference, former Microsoft manager Jamen Shively discussed his plans to launch a new marijuana brand named for his great-great grandfather, Diego Pellicer. He says his company is joining forces with a Washington state chain of medical marijuana dispensaries run by John Davis, the Northwest Patient Resource Center, as well as dispensaries in Colorado and California.
“This historic step today is to be observed and evaluated closely by all of us, because it is a game changer,” Fox said. “I applaud this group that has the courage to move ahead. They have the vision, they are clear where they’re going, and I’m sure they’re going to get there.”
Fox, a former Coca-Cola executive who was Mexico’s president from 2000-06, specified that he’s not involved in the venture. He appeared at Shively’s invitation. The two first met 13 years ago, when a company Shively used to run was opening a computer center in Sinaloa and Fox appeared at the inauguration, Shively said.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Looking for Rainbows

After days of looking like it's gonna, still waiting and hoping that it will rain sometime soon. At least we have indoor rainbows of a sort.   Now, how about the real thing.  C'mon lluvia!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Taste treat in Tlacolula - Gorditas

I was on an errand last Sunday that took me to Tlacolula, so I took advantage of the fact that it was market day and took a leisurely stroll to check it all out.  Ah, the sounds, smells and sights, Tlacolula is simply one of the best market experiences one can have in Oaxaca.  I saw these folks and was instantly hungry.
After parking, I walked back to the street that gets taken over on Sundays and is filled with everything imaginable and right at the entrance to all the stalls was this impromptu eatery that was packed with people. 
And right in front of me.... temptation.  This woman was taking a handful of masa, and with something to fill it, making a ball. 
She then dropped it into a bubbling pot of oil and fried it up until it was golden brown.  Who could resist? 
There were all sorts of fillings one could get, beef, pork, chicharron and many more.  I asked for carnitas and watched her do her thing.  I asked her what she called it and she replied, "Gorditas."
There were lots of salsas and condiments to add to this piping hot treat.
Gorditas can exist in lots of different forms, but this one was soooo good, I am back for another as soon as possible.
Eat wisely, mis amig@s.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Well, not exactly.  I mean cereus, as in night-blooming cereus, you know, selenicereus grandiflora. 
I have grown these before and you have to watch them closely because the blossoms only last one night.  They do fill the air with the most wonderful fragrance.  The buds come to maturity quickly and when ready, start opening at sunset, are fully open in a couple hours and by the next day are closing up and looking spent.
 Two hours later
 The flowers are large.
Side mug shot.
There a couple more buds that should open tonight or tomorrow.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Boda, boda, boda

Saturdays in May?  It is wedding time.  As I walked through the city I saw brides everywhere and I can never pass one without trying to get a shot.
Sometimes they are accompanied by bands, dancers and large crowds, especially if it is held in Santo Domingo.  They are often spectacular, an encapsulation of many things Oaxacan.
 This one had it all.
Other times, brides can be seen just walking alone on the street.
Here she is with her father.  They were happy to pose for the shot.
The first rule of shooting weddings is "The bride must always look good."  Oops...
Well, at least the groom in this one looked great.
Ready to go on the honeymoon after leaving Carmen Alta.

Friday, May 24, 2013

It's that time of year - Graduation!

I can never pass up these shots of happy grads.  I guess it is because I went to so many in my life and always tap into the many thoughts and emotions that accompany these moments. 
 Two classic graduation smiles
 Gotta love it!
I watched the photographers get ready and try to get everything right.
One of the advantages of little cameras is that you can get some very interesting angles and perspectives.  I practice these all the time and sometimes they work better than others.  I think the graduates would like this one.  Yes, a bit tweaked in Photoshop, but....

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Amaranth - Prehispanic Grain

This beautiful field of amaranth is right down the road.  It is actually on the Pan-American highway although you would never know it.
Amaranth is an ancient cultivated plant that produces oil in addition to grain.  For some reason, the conquistadors banned its cultivation, probably because it was used in Aztec rituals, but like many things the Spanish tried to do away with, it survived, mainly because it is one tough plant, weed-like.
 These plants look to be almost two meters tall.
 Amber fields of grain.
Tough, nutritious and good looking, too.  A great plant.  This field looks like it will have a very good yield.  Then what?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Soul food - Tortillas de Alma

I pass this place every time I go to Etla.  It started out in a little shack right next door about six months ago, but has recently expanded to this space.  I noticed that they had jobs open for women to make tortillas, so I guess business is quite good.  There are always people buying at the counter, so I figured I would stop and try them.  I got a wonderfully hot kilo of tortillas neatly wrapped in paper.  The aroma in the car was to die for.  I also got some from my normal tortilla lady just so I could compare them. 
 You can also buy freshly ground masa.
If I understood correctly, they make 130 kilos of tortillas each day. 
 I'm hungry! There really is nothing like fresh hot tortillas.

Monday, May 20, 2013


A few shots of the bovine in my life.  This one eyeing one of the ubiquitous windshield washers, who incidentally, always do a fantastic job.
These from Santa Maria Tiahuitoltepec as they prepared for the rodeo at the recent fiesta.
Politics, politics, politics.
They unloaded them by having them simply back off the truck.  This one lurched off, saw me, and said, "OMG, a gringo. I must get closer."  Everyone else was running the other way.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dear Mr. Man

I just finished David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas," a book I thoroughly enjoyed.  One of its themes is the power of corporations and much of it seems prescient.  We are not too far from David Foster Wallace's concept of corporate sponsorship of the years, hence, The Year of the Depends Adult Undergarment.  So a couple of stories caught my eye this morning.
First, this from the LAHT (emphasis added)
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto inaugurated a 1.6-billion-peso ($130-million) expansion of a Nestle instant coffee factory in the central city of Toluca.

The project has boosted the plant’s productive capacity by 30 percent, making it the world’s biggest facility of its kind, Nestle Mexico CEO Marcelo Melchior said during Friday’s ceremony.
The factory, which covers a 14-hectare (34-acre) area, will supply the Mexican, U.S., Central American, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Japanese markets, the Swiss food giant said in a statement.

As part of the remodeling, a biomass boiler was installed to process spent coffee grounds from the production process for use as fuel, thereby covering 60 percent of the plant’s electricity needs. (snip)

Mexico is one of the world’s leading coffee-producing countries and the largest producer of organic coffee, according to figures from the sector, which is facing a crisis stemming from the spread of a fungus from Central America.
And this one also from LAHT:
Mexichem, one of the leading companies of the Latin American chemical and petrochemical industry, announced that the cost of purchasing 100 percent of the PVC Specialty Resins business of the U.S. firm PolyOne will amount to $250 million.
Mexichem revealed the price of the operation upon filing with stock market regulators, recalling that on May 15 it received authorization for the purchase from regulatory authorities in the United States and Germany.

The Mexican company said it will begin to integrate operations once the acquisition has been completed and the agreed closing conditions have been complied with, something the parties expect in the next few weeks.

For Mexichem, this acquisition “will strengthen its competitive position in North America obtaining the benefits of both the shale gas and the strategic geographical position to become the sole producer of specialty PVC resins with operations in North and South America.”
Everything is interconnected and it would seem as if the game is rigged.  "Cloud Atlas" does not paint a very cheery outcome from corpocracy.  It is a good read, six stories woven into one and you know how much I like weaving.

As the Artist Formerly Known As so aptly puts it.... If the video is blocked try this or this.  It's worth it 'cause, Prince?  He's the Man.

What's wrong with the world 2day?
Things just got 2 get better
Show me what the leaders say
Maybe we should write a letter

Said Dear Mr. Man, we don't understand
Why poor people keep struggling but U don't lend a helping hand
Matthew 5:5 say “The meek shall inherit the earth”
We wanna b down that way
but U been trippin since the day of your birth

Who said that 2 kill is a sin
Then started every single war that Ur people been in?
Who said that water is a precious commodity
Then dropped a big old black oil slick in the deep blue sea?

Who told me, Mr. Man, that working round the clock
would buy me a big housed in the hood
Cigarette ads on every block
Who told me, Mr. Man, that I got a right 2 moan?
How about this big old hole in the ozone?

What's wrong with the world 2day
Things just got 2 get better
Dear Mr. Man, we don't understand
Maybe we should write a letter

Listen, Ain't no sense in voting – same song with a different name
Might not b in the back of the bus but it sure feel just the same
Ain't nothing fair about welfare
Ain't no assistance in AIDS
We ain't that affirmative about your actions until the people get paid

Ur thousand years r up
Now U got 2 share the land
Section 1 – the 14th amendment says “No state shall deprive any person of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law”
Mr. Man, we want 2 end this letter with 3 words
We tired a-y'all

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Street art cont....

An ethereal image, no?
Shades of Sidewalk Sam.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Monsanto, just like many other corporations, may own the US Congress, the Supreme Court, and may get what it wants from them.... I mean, why should we know what's in the food we eat?..... but in Mexico, where corn is at the very center of its culture, Monsanto is one of the great Satans.  Mention it in Oaxaca and you will almost always get a negative reaction, deservedly so.  It is a battle.
from the LAHT
Four Greenpeace activists scaled a monument in this capital on Thursday to unfurl a banner denouncing the use of genetically modified organisms in the cultivation of maize, Mexico’s emblematic staple.

The foursome climbed halfway up the Stela of Light, which stands 104 meters (341 feet) tall, hung the banner with the slogan NO OGM and remained for several hours before descending and driving away in a pickup truck.

OGM are the initials of the Spanish translation of genetically modified organisms.

Municipal police erected barriers around the monument after the protest began, but made no effort to stop the activists from hanging the banner or from leaving the scene.

Greenpeace and other Mexican organizations say they fear the possible effects of GMO maize on human health and the environment.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Shopping spree in Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec

In the center of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec there is a market in which they sell the embroidered clothing for which the area is so famous.  Seeing as thought I was on a mission to pick something up, the place was a dream come true.  And here is what I purchased.  It now hangs on the wall as a piece of art, which is definitely is.
And here is Doña Honorina Gomez Martinez who made these wonderful pieces.
There are a couple of blouses, a skirt, a rebozo and the sash.  The detail work is fantastic.
 Five days to make each blouse.
 With the other blouse.
I can see into the future...... another trip to this wonderful village, Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Band uniforms - Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec

For many years, I conducted orchestras and led bands filled with kids.  It was an even better life than you can imagine.  So I have a particular soft spot for kids making music, but at the same time, I have an ear that is fairly keen and critical.  And I have to say that the band that played for many of the dancers in  Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec this weekend was exceptional.  They had stamina and great musicality.  They had to play for over thirty minutes without a break as they accompanied the dancers.  There were no missed notes and no missed steps.  Really impressive.  I saw this girl earlier in the day and asked if I could take a shot.  I loved her outfit.  She said she played the flute.
And so she did.
Obviously, the director had it all together.  ¡Bravo, maestro!
Nice uniform, eh?
 Gotta love it.