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, August 31, 2014

It ain't all sunshine and light

I've avoided writing about the continuing political and social problems here mainly because, it is getting so old. It is debilitating. And the wheels continue to come off at an alarming rate. 

The Seccion XXII planton continues in the zocalo into its fifth or sixth week.  Remember all this action started before the guelaguetza.  As I say, it is getting real old.  They have been more aggressive, trashing building and causing havoc.  And the police and the governor... their hands must be tied, because they look ineffectual.  Cue is taking a beating in the papers and op/ed pages.

And this yesterday, from Noticias (click for pics)
Teachers of section 22 of the National Union of education workers (SNTE), belonging to the regions of Central Valley and isthmus of Tehuantepec, stormed the home of the Secretary for Legal Affairs of section 59 of the SNTE, Pedro Caballero Bolaños, in the San Martín Mexicapan municipal agency, yesterday morning and stole hundreds of boxes of free text books as well as useful and school uniforms there stored packages.
And toilet paper, too.
Yes, one teachers union is stealing books and supplies from another teachers union, stealing books from kids to give to other kids. Unbelievable!

Every day, it is something different.  The new mall, the Megaplaza, just opened and was greeted with teachers and taxi drivers protests that went on for a few days.  There is more, but I won't burden you.

It gets tiring and puts a crimp on life.  I find myself avoiding all the turmoil and sticking to the Etlas to get things done.  Given that I can find everything I need outside the city, it's fine, but I know I represent a demographic and I am sure businesses are missing me in the city.  The economy must be taking a hit each week this continues, but what do I know.  Maybe the money is flowing just fine.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Tlacolula taco

One of my absolute favorite places for street food is the Sunday market in Tlacolula.  The stalls extend up the main drag for about four or five blocks up from the market proper and right at the entrance one can get the real deal.  I remember driving there five weeks in a row just to get one of their gorditas. This a one day a week thing, only Sundays. The jefe, the boss, is a young guy who is a mechanic the rest of the week.  They do a very brisk business and everything is so tasty.  He gave us a sample of their chicharron and it was outta this world, like crunchy bacon, but better.

They butcher one pig each week and it cooks for twelve hours in oil.  People request different parts and we are talkin' every part.  I know some people like the fattier parts, but I stick to masisa, pure meat, and wow, it is so good. 
The finished product in all its glory.
Chopped up on the spot.
And a perfect unadorned taco. 
The adornments include onions, lime, guacamole, salsas verde and roja. And their gorditas are filled with all sorts of goodness. And that is sour cream, which just adds to pleasure.... but no calories or anything like that.
Back for more in a couple of days.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Stick figure

How about this guy I found on my screen door this morning?
I would venture a guess and say it might just be a..... wait for it.... stick insect.
He stayed for a few hours, but I guess he couldn't stick around.  Amazing looking, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tlacolula Sunday

Yes, more Tlacolula, mainly because it is such a great place, full of so many different things.  For me, it is better than a museum or a movie or even Disneyland, not that I would ever go.  One is surrounded my sights and smells.  As you walk, the aromas hit the nose, chocolate, mezcal, roasted chicken, barbacoa, barbeque, flowers, fruit, copal.  My mouth is always watering .  But really, it is the visuals playing before your eyes that make it so wonderful.  Look at the size of those tlayudas, the baked tortillas.  They are so big, I'm not even sure that they are tlayudas.  Confirmation will be made this week.
These are all hip shots, you know, shot from the hip, so the quality varies.  Look at the large cabbage leaf she is using to wrap things up.
Beautiful marigolds, cempasuchil, an important flower for many reasons, dying wool just being one of them.
"Chapulines?"  "No, gracias.  I have plenty eating the zinnias in my garden."
Buy your meat and veggies and cook them right up on these braziers.
 The aromas... ahhh.
And look at this amazing produce.  We are sooo spoiled here.
Lastly, people are so friendly, so easy to talk to and share experiences.  The great thing is, as entertained as I am by the whole thing, they feel the same about me.
The feeling is mutual.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Rare and precious, too

There is only one place to be on Sundays... Tlacolula, simply the best market. In the same spot where I saw the girl playing the tuba last week, I saw these kids from the Tlacolula Cultural Center playing a concert yesterday. 
I know I said that bass players were not the norm here, tubas are, but this young man was rock solid as he provided the foundation for this guitar ensemble. 
Nice T-shirt, too.  Very Cool.
A little Beatles, a little Irish music, but my personal favorite was a nice version of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" featuring this guapo on lead.  That's the director on the right.
It is so much fun to see kids playing music.... aahhh.  I love it.
The drummer was on the money to.  His mother was recording him right next to me and there is nothing like the smile of a proud mother.
There were some young ones.
And nice to see so many girls in the ensemble, but I want to see them on bass, lead and drums

Keep us safe... from guys like this

After the governor of Texas took off his smart glasses and patrolled the border armed with Sean Hannity, I mean, a really big gun, to protect El Norte from the invasion of children from Central America, he speculated that perhaps Mexico was infiltrated with ISIL jihadists.

from LAHT
There is no evidence to support the comments by Texas Gov. Rick Perry that jihadists could enter the United States via the southern border, Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Jose Antonio Meade said.

It is very unfortunate that some people make foreign policy on the basis of beliefs, suppositions and completely unfounded and absurd analyses,” Meade said in a press conference on Saturday.

Perry said in an address last week that there was a “very real possibility” that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, terrorists may have entered the United States by crossing the southern border.

“Mexico makes its public policy on the basis of intelligence, founded on analysis, and it reproves those who make public policy on the basis of beliefs and unfounded speculation
,” Meade told reporters.

Texas and Mexico have “a relationship of communities, a relationship of societies, of very important business communities,” the foreign relations secretary said, adding that trade between his country and the U.S. state totaled $196 billion annually.

“To make foreign policy, you always have to have facts, it is always good to have information, it is always best to make it on the basis of the importance of the relationship,” Meade said. 
 But, but, but.... oops.  Not that it will change anything.  Facts just get in the way, doncha know.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It's an art....

I love how this shot shows so many aspects of the art of life and it all in the details.

First, of course, the clothing and the basket, but then there is the metal work, the window being very typical. And there is an nice iron atril or stand holding up the yellow dress. Then the color scheme, green and yellow, really quite conservative for Oaxaca.  Then the cement work and window treatment, all done by hand.  Then the tile work on the floor.  And finally the wonderful escoba, the broom, made of otate, a grass from the mountains, that may have been used to make the basket, but don't quote me on that.  I do know they use it to make baskets, however. Hmmm... have I missed anything. 

This is one of the things photography teaches me: how to see better and more deeply.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Rare and precious

I have a thing for the tuba or basso players here in Oaxaca. They are the best I have ever heard and remember, I'm a conservatory trained (Go NEC!) pro musician/conductor/producer and have hung with some heavy hitters over the years.  Why tuba? Well, there are no bass players in most of the bands and the tuba takes its place. These players have a personalities unlike any others.  They are like lead guitarists, some serious egos at work.  They totally rule and display such amazing virtuosity at times, that I've had to rethink how the instrument can and should be played.  This ain't no oom-pah music.
And almost all the players are male with some serious body heft and the traditional moustache that most brass player seem to have.  So you can imagine my delight when I spotted this young lady from Santa Maria Comalito playing in a concert in the Tlacolula's zocalo last Sunday. 
It was a sweet little performance as the band, mostly made up of kids, played some Oaxacan traditional numbers, like Offenbach's "Can Can" and "New York, New York."  They actually were quite good and the crowd loved them.  Me, too.
I wish I could have talked to her, but she was too busy kickin' butt and taking names. 
And here are some of players in whose footsteps she is following. A video of some of Oxaca's finest.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Rack 'em up with tlacolulokas

A sweet table at the Regis restaurant in Tlacolula.
And the food is quite good as well.
Incidentally, this is a pretty important work by tlacolulokos, a group of young artists, Darío Canul, Cosijoesa Cernas and Eleazar Machucho, all from Tlacolula.  Here's a bit about them.
Their work is based on marginal contexts, in which stands out the representation of violence, crime, santeria, the social decomposition and tourist debauchery that happens in the State of Oaxaca, and shows the other side of the so-called "paradise cities"
Look a little closer at these ladies from Tlacolula.
These are the same artists who did this mural right near the entrance to the Sunday market.
 Wonderful detail work.
The women of Tlacolula carry these large heavy canastas in all calendas and processions, so this is a very accurate and traditional image.
 Again, looking a bit closer at the details.
Oaxaca street art, some of the strongest and best  anywhere.
Rosie the Riveter tlacolulokos style
You and me, hermano..... on a bike.
We outta here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What the world needs now...

These shots are all from the second desfile of the 2014 guelguetza.  Ahhh, the memories.
There are many variations as to how to wear the classic rebozo.
"here's lookin' at ya." I love her direct look into the lens.
And how about this embroidery?
And of course, more pavo, turkey....
And much more incredulous happiness....
If the world had a bit more of all of this...... we'd be much better off.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fitting right in

The artist seamlessly inserting himself in his art.  It almost looks like he is part of the painting.
A little lip gloss.
SWAK (Sealed with a kiss) SCUB??? (Sellada con un beso)