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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Red Grasses at Sunset

Always so hard to capture the magic, as these red plumed grasses, which can be found everywhere in Oaxaca, as they catch the light.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Preparing the turkey - Teotitlan del Valle style

I was a participant, with most of the males at a wedding, in the killing, cleaning and preparing of eighty turkeys for a wedding feast.  It gave me a whole new perspective.  It was actually quite a fun experience, because for these men, it was a happy social occasion. 
Old school techniques.  I had no idea cleaning a bird was such hard work.  Those feathers and the feet were tough.  The guys laughed as they watched and then taught me how to do it.  I think I cleaned one bird in the time they could do four or five.
Many hands make light (and messy) work.  Nothing goes to waste.
 All done and ready to roll.
 Time for the ladies to take over.
Soon to be smothered with mole negro.
Zapotec turkey preparation in all its glory.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Something to ponder

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Shadow knows...

It's all about the light.  Every place seems to have its own light qualities and New England's cool, crisp autumn air compliments them.
This is 3:30 in the afternoon light along the Charles.
Nice long legs...
"This was your grandmother before you were born....."
I resemble that blockhead...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Keep on Dancin ' Crzy

Dance is such an important part of Oaxacan culture.  Through it,  my love and appreciation of all of its many forms has been enhanced.  Dance, its vocabulary is ever evolving, just like music .... and everything else.  I love listening to what's hot in pop music.  When's the last time you checked out Billboard's Hot 100?  I have discovered so much good music filled with talented artist, both musical and visual, and great messages.... and you can dance to it.  Sure, you may not like some of it, but you will find some things you do.  And they are from the present.

I listen to Kealani's "CRZY" in the car.  It's a good driving tune.  And through it, I found these amazing dancers, of a very different sort from los danzantes de Teotitlan del Valle, but still... amazing and over the top.  This clip shows the choreography of several troupes.  Open your eyes and ears... and your mind and see what is actually happening in the world right now.  Stay current, grasshopper.

Antoine Troupe, official choreographer for Kehlani’s hit “CRZY”, takes you inside his class as his unstoppable students learn from the master and share their unique moves!
Think the language of dance is changing much?  I mean, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is a classical influence for these dancers.

Keep on dancin' - Teotitlan del Valle

The amazing dancers from Teotitlan del Valle

Friday, November 18, 2016

Colors and classics

There is a similarity to the end of the rainy season in Oaxaca and autumn, here in New England.  In Oaxaca, the leaves change color and fall, leaving the trees denuded until next year.  The land slowly goes dormant.  In New England it is a little more dramatic with colors like these.
Walking on a red carpet...
One of my meditations, a very long standing one, is to think of each leaf as a human being, each one singular and unique.   It's a fun, yet important exercise, especially when you get down to contemplating each pine needle or the billions of leaves that end up falling and turning into mulch carpets covering the forest's floors.
 And where they end up still depends on which way the wind blows.
And it's not only the leaves that are colorful and unique.  Classic New England Victorian architecture.
So different from the colors and architecture of Oaxaca.  Viva la difference!

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Just imagine how well this would go over in Oaxaca.....
A Republican Washington state senator who supported Donald Trump is proposing a bill that would slap an “economic terrorism” label on protest activities already prohibited by law and dramatically intensify their penalties.  Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) on Wednesday sent out a press release announcing legislation to make “economic terrorism” a felony in the Evergreen State. The proposed bill would allow police to charge protesters who “block transportation and commerce, cause property damage, threaten jobs and put public safety at risk” with a class C felony.
 Better to laugh than cry.... I guess.


Got those nice electric eyeballs going as I stumble around in Trumplandistan.... I'm buggin' out.
Got my camera ready, but unlike in Oaxaca, no one laughs when I say "Diez pesos, por favor."

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Miscellania and gifts

And that.
Little gifts from Tlacolula

Monday, November 14, 2016

Belly of the beast

It is kinda weird being here in El Norte after this election... weird, like it totally sucks.  I mean, just look at what is happening.  Anyhow, I used to use films as a point of departure for discussions when I taught and here's a little clip to stimulate some thought.  I remember seeing the film when it came out and really loved it.  Peter Sellars, Ringo, John Cleese... "Show me the money!"  Oops, wrong film.
If you want it, come and get it....

Friday, November 11, 2016


Someone asked me how Muertos was this year and I had to stop and think.... It was a different, a little more laid back, but we spent more time with family.  Not my family, but my family, if you know what I mean.  Not only eating and drinking, but sharing thoughts and stories with Zacarias and Emilia Ruiz, but with their son, Sergio and his wife, Virginia (La Reina) and one of their other sons, good friend Antonio and his wife, Claudia, and their three kids, Beatriz, Antonito and Diego.  It felt good and I realized that I have know them all for quite a few years, enough to think, to know, that they are family.
And here are mother and son Sergio back in the day.
And Sergio and Elisabeth on their wedding day.
And Antonio in his brand new display room.
You know, family.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Vale la pena

I hate to do it, but I gotta play a little hardball..... this is what we are talkin' about..
You know..... the future.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Serenity - San Antonino

Even though I am in here, autumn in New England, I, like many, am thinking about this country, the US, really, such a young country, and my thoughts return to where I was just a few days ago, even though that seems hard to believe, back to the panteon in San Antonino. 
Just thinking of it and its sea of flowers and the families decorating the graves of their relatives with a combination of joy and sorrow, settles my mind, brings some semblance of serenity. 
They have such healthy perspectives.  I have learned so much about life and death living in Mexico. 
 Life has its ups and downs and death may have as well, for all we know.  Oaxaca's ten thousand years of history is always all around me and I find I carry it with me like a talisman.  "There were times when we were rich and times when we were poor,  an advanced civilization and then conquered. We've been up and down a few times.... up and down.  And... We are still here."


Or, as they say in English, Rest in Peace.....

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Keeping a promise

Well, the deed is done.  I voted.

And in doing so, I keep on keepin' on a promise I made to my mother many, many years ago. "You'll always vote, Chris... promise me."

My mother died young and I never really knew what was going on in her head, even though I spent the last year of her life taking care of her, talking and listening.  She still had a fire in her.  She had snapped at some point when I was about eleven, and went back to college, got a degree, went to law school, passed the bar, and sadly, died shortly thereafter.... although really, the whole thing is a blur for me.  I mean, it was the 60's.  Anyhow, she was quite political, League of Women Voters and all that and yes, on her death bed, she made me promise to always vote.  And today I kept that promise and I had such a good time doing so.

It's a beautiful fall day, sun shining, leaves still colorful. I'm literally boppin' down the street to my polling station, listening to music I just was listening to walking the streets of Oaxaca.  Kick ass stuff to be sure... Gaga (Perfect Illusion), John Newman (Ole) Clean Bandit (Come Over)  Dua Lipa (Be the One).... how can you not be dancing in the streets?

I flew 3000 miles to have this adventure and I planned it months ago.  It turned out even better than I expected.  I am so happy, channeling my mother, to have had the chance to vote in elections for the first African American and the first woman for president. 

So there, Mom, promise kept .... oh, and I voted to legalize weed, too.  I know, I know, you're shocked.

Monday, November 7, 2016

I'm so ready!

Yes, I flew north to vote..... and to rake leaves. I have my shirt to wear to the polls maƱana!

Friday, November 4, 2016

If a palm falls...

Sadly, the palms in the city are dying from some disease or plague,  This was the scene right to the south of Santo Domingo.
Pulleys to make sure it fell correctly.
And fall, it did.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

More muertos... food... empanadas!

Yes, I have beautiful shots of altars, cemeteries and people, but let's face it, there is nothing like good food and after visiting the always beautiful sea of flowers in the panteon in San Antonino Castillo Velasco, it was empanada time and this woman makes some of the very best.  She is amazing... and note she is wearing classic San Antonino embroidery.

I always get one when I'm there and bring a couple back for later.  Every empanada is different, depending on where it is made and who is making. And hers are simply sublime, crunchy and so tasty.  The thing about these is the consistency of the batter that solidifies as it cooks.  Others can be a bit runny, but these are nice and solid.  The secret here in San Antonino is the masa in the mixture.
She's a maestra!  She has a comedor just of the main drag, so you can get one anytime you want.... You want one?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Emilia's mole negro

This may be the best mole negro in the universe... or the world..... anyway, it is sooooo good.  This is Emilia Gonzalez from Teotitlan del Valle and she is seriously, an amazing cook.  Yesterday, it was tamales amarillo and today, this absolutely sublime mole negro, the traditional meal for the second day of Muertos.
Along with rice and tortillas right off the comal... it does not get any better.  I feel so honored and blessed every time I eat one of her creations.  And much of it is made right here in this outdoor cocina.
It's not like I'm the only one who loves this woman.  Here's Emilia in one of Lila Down's videos.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Muertos in Atzompa

The village of Atzompa is famous for its archeological site and its distinctive ceramics.  It is also a favorite for visitors for Muertos and has gotten more and more popular over the last few years with too many tour buses.  The main attraction is their use of long velas, candles, which light up the cemetery after dark.
The only problem is... uh... it's dark and getting good shots is hard.  With daylight savings time kicking in last weekend, sunset is early and so was our visit.... just at sunset.
Lots of improvements this years as the cemetery has more than doubled in size and a new ceramics market now abuts it.
So not many candle shots, but still a wonderful experience... always.