Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mexico City- Mixed Visuals

happy skull
happy knife
adorable ceremonial weapons? yes, please.
escandon- rooftop view
view of escandon from the roof of our rental house.
soldiers vs. giant flag
soldiers in the Zocalo wrestle the flag down.
furling the flag for the night.
mexican pomp
the national flag paraded to off to bed.
interactive art
artwork being stoned. how could you not want to throw rocks at famous people’s artwork?
looing up
what you can see when you look up.
cafe colors
yeah, I got this mug.

A set of three images (not mine) of the mural work in San Ildefonso.

not my image
the ‘mother arm’ – you are doing it wrong.
not my image
elitists do look disgusting like this- but on the inside.
not my image
and there is this bit of truth.

Mexico City- Mixed Visuals

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mexico City - The Grit I Know, the Ghosts I don't

I have been so delayed in posting about my first experiences in Mexico City that I have now bumbled into my second experience. It was an expected trip, but the dates were uncertain. April became July and was turned back into April again. The last minute changes were a headache.

What was Mexico city like? Can I even put that in a few words? Outside of the Zona Maco climate control, it was… amazing. This city is where Mexicans go to get things going, get things done. The flow of the place pushes you in clear directions, unlike this norther realm where entropy is the word of the day.

For the first trip, we stayed in a very mod house in Escandon- a fantastic little neighborhood, by the way. The house had curious features: like a servant’s quarters where the laundry room is, and a telephone in each room- to call the servant. You think class is a non-issue that you only get to see on Downton Abbey? Think again. Traces of it are everywhere. And when you frequent the well-off sections of Mexico City it hits you in the face constantly. It is even still in the language. For the second visit we were provided with an efficiency hotel room right on La Alameda. What a great location! And there was only one night of obscenely loud neighbors sharing too much of their… lust? The free breakfasts made up for any (dirty pun warning!) shortcomings. Ugh. Sorry. That was too good to not let happen.

We did visit a few museums while we had free time outside of the art fair. Many of them were closed when we got to them on the first trip, but that left more to explore later!

San Ildefonso still stands out in my mind. Not only because the FEMSA exhibition (Hugo’s art) went on display there, but also because of the permanent mural works (omg, omg) and, at the time, Saints Alive was on exhibition. That whole thing pleased me more than dropping Jordan almonds down the stairwell in the New Museum at some ridiculous hour of the morning (it was well after midnight). I don’t often feel a sense of play when viewing art in galleries. Here you were invited to stone the artwork or push buttons to see what would happen. It just tickled me on so many levels…

There were a couple of really great etching / print museums. The work.. ugh.. so gooood.. I want to try printmaking! I actually did make a simple, little etching and print of my own in a workshop at the Museo del Estanquillo. It’s no master piece but it’s much better than what I did in, uh, 7th grade- the last time I made an etching!

At the National Museum of Anthropology, I stood in the presence of Cuatlicue. It wasn’t until I got into the Templo Mayor Museum that I saw the dismembered Coyolxauhqui. They don’t keep all their artifacts in one place. Alas. Or maybe for the best. These stones are super charged.

Speaking of – I am glad I didn’t go into El Templo Mayor site on my first trip; so very glad. It turned out to be more of a psychic workout than I imagined. I was struck by the feeling of the dead when I first stepped out of the metro at the Zocalo and almost everywhere in the Historic Center. I got a chance to kind of (only kind of!) ‘get used to it’ in the first visit. The feeling turned out to be vague in comparison to El Templo- It’s, by far, it’s the heaviest place I have ever been to in my life! I do not even think of my self as a person sensitive to this stuff, but I recognized the sensation. It’s something I have felt when in the UK and in Manhattan (The Armory building and the WTC site to be exacting). I was just there being gringa tourista looking at arranged stones and carvings and flaking, faded paint. You think a pile of rocks is just a pile of rocks – that’s what it was like at, say, the Edinburgh Castle. That felt like a pretend fort where boys play at war. It was nothing really unique for me. El Templo, these ruins that should have been built over by a cathedral, on the other hand, felt like the worst goddamn place on earth. My gut was wrenching so hard I was sniffing back tears while walking through the layered wreckage. If 80,000 people were murdered on this spot then yeah, this was the worst goddamn place on earth. To be honest, I was not at all perturbed that the pyramid was destroyed. And, if you know me, that is most unusual.

Even to compare it to visiting the ruins outside of the city- the feeling was totally, totally different at Teotihucan- but that is a more complicated place.

Readers, please let me know if you have heard of anyone else who has experienced/es this kind of thing in the the same or similar places. I want to compare notes and be assured that I my imagination is not getting the better of me.

Beyond the ghost ridden historic district, there’s the familiar graffiti and grime, construction and deconstruction, the metro and taxis that brought Brooklyn to mind. Though nothing is quite New York-ish here. The smells alone can send your soul flitting to heaven next to a taco stand or screaming in the other direction where ever sewer odors get through- which can be anywhere. Another interesting thing I noted while in a hurry to catch a train was that the metro has an optional segregation of the sexes during rush hour. Due to the still prevalent machismo and encouraged behavior of jealousy, women traveling alone may choose to ride in cars ‘for women only.’

This ‘courtesy’ aside, I found the metro to be much the same experience as New York with a massive increase in people selling you things you didn’t know you needed. Every sort of thing. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see someone pushing wasp honey (It’s a real thing! Look it up!) down there- we did see it on he streets! So, I found that if you follow general urban public transportation etiquette, the metro is no problem. Of course, I was not traveling the city at 4 am or alone. Things could be more exotic then.

Exotic enough were the four statue shrines – two of Jesus and two of The Bone Lady-  paired together and set up at different ends of a neighborhood; the mezcal flavored with chicken and the peanut or celery flavored pulque; the buildings designed to be the most glorious wastes of space ever erected; the amount of rubbish that accumulated by day’s end in the Tepito tianguis; the musical calls of the street vendors; the original Sanborns… Oh, I could go on. There is so much to recommend! If you have city experience and enjoy urban contrasts, it is worth a visit or revisit!

(More images forthcoming!)

Mexico City - The Grit I Know, the Ghosts I don't

Monday, May 18, 2015

Everything to work on.

My brain is all over the map, yet somehow I’m concentrating on my trip to Brooklyn. I don’t have much in the way of logistical support so I am sweating the small stuff. That is all there is in my life, it seems. A series of small things. Nothing to boast. Everything to work on.

Expect to see another blog post at some point soon about Mexico City (and another about LA- if I make the time), some more advertising for SOAK, and the usual enigmatic tomfoolery that you have come to expect from me.

Everything to work on.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


IMG_0192A simple bus ride north of the capital city can be a dangerous thing in Mexico. Not because of bandits, but bad drivers. On the way to our destination, we witnessed a flipped car and a person pinned beneath it- perhaps dead. How did the car flip? We could barely guess. Probable death notwithstanding, we arrived at Teotihuacan without problem. It is still a working archeological dig site. Real Indiana Joneses in sombreros sift dirt under tarp shades as the tourists mill around trying to avoid the aggressive trinket sellers. The whole site echos with the sounds of the flute doodlings and jaguar calls to entice people to buy. Bright red summer tanagers eyed us like little guards on duty, and seemed to give us their leave to come and go. Ants, not aliens may have build everything. A puppy certainly rules the city now. No sprained foot, no burning sunshine was going to keep me from BEING there. The light is relentless even on a hazy day and I did not complain about it once not even to myself. I am often inwardly grumbling about the stupid daylight. That  voice was silenced. There was too much awe to to be grouchy, but not so much that we could not be silly. Walking the Avenue of the Dead to the Pyramid of the Moon, My Human and I joked that this was very place where our beloved and highly respected Moon Sherpas did all their intensive training. We cut off on a side road to check out the museum and have lunch in a shady spot. We dubbed that path Benito Juarez- because- it’s probably called Benito Juarez. Why? Well, there is one in every town in Mexico- like Elm Street.

When I got to climb up the Pyramid of the Moon and look out from the highest point tourists are allowed to go (not nearly the top) I found it aesthetically enjoyable. The Dead Road stretches out in a line before you and the other structures buried and unburied have their place along it. I still haven’t thought of just how the view struck me as enjoyable. Maybe it just agreed with my innate sense of mythic underworldly things.
Even when I hobbled my way up the Pyramid of the Sun, I made no vampyric hissing noises; nor did I feel faint at the extra altitude (233.5ft on top of 7,500ft anyone?).  Black and yellow butterflies danced in the wind around us when we arrived at the top. Hugo and I were the only ones to acknowledge them. We just might have been the only ones seeing them. They are a symbol of the happy dead- free souls. I felt like I earned my right to stand there at the top with a foot still lame and healing.

For as long as I can remember, I have a thing for ancient places and it was deeply fulfilling to be in a place so ancient in the Americas. I was in a place I’ve seen only in picture books and tv. The place felt very interesting…-I hesitate to use the word ‘magical’ because of a brief encounter with Euro-pseudo-hippie-hipster trash. I came upon them all sitting atop the Sun and giggled and chattered (in endless English) self consciously as they attempted to gain the magical powers that are supposed to be inherent to the place. They failed. Miserably. Not only did they hog the summit, one the way down, one dude tried to sneak up on a couple of his friends while they were sitting on ledge of one of the tiers just below the top and scare them by shouting behind them. I happened to be sitting right there next to this prank. I was extremely alarmed by their thoughtless actions and wanted to leap up and throw them all off the ledge for their prickishness. Someone could have actually been startled enough to fall off! The only energy they received that day was my almost not so quiet enough wrath as I cursed their every step down the pyramid until they were out of my site. When they were gone, my thoughts were troubled with them no more.

Satisfied that we had seen enough of the ancient ruins, we waited for the return bus with kind tourist police who were willing to share their benches and chairs in the shade. And I, exhausted, snoozed as the bus drove passed yet another possibly fatal accident.

I guess blood sacrifices are still needed when travelling to and from the place where gods are born.



Friday, April 3, 2015

Blogger site, you are killing me.

I have been extremely reluctant to post these days. It's not that I don't have anything to write about, it's just that my publishing tool is... less than satisfactory. 
The Blogger site itself is an utter drag to use. It takes minutes for things to load- which is an eternity in Internet time. I have not been able to find out if anyone else is experiencing this issue. This hangup places me in a position to consider reworking my website to incorporate this blog on another platform altogether. Migrating the posts is not the issue. It's the prospect of reworking the site that makes me feel reluctant to do it.
Ugh. Yes, total first world problem, I know... But this is my publishing outlet here.
I could just struggle through as is. Just breath and tell myself that Mexican Internet is just too slow to deal with the complex thing that is Blogger, yet {GRRrr} the fault is still really with Blogger - GOOGLE! ahem- for not streamlining the site (that they bought out to 'save' or 'help' or 'improve' or whatever) to deal with unusual wi-fi signals. 
I mean , why even take over a site designed for writers if now all you are going to do is go off making cars and maps an not answering my messages? I might as well be sending messages to the Mexican Monopoly, Cablemaaaaass. Or the moon. I would get better response from a monastery in Mongolia..
Thanks for not telling (warning) anyone you secretly always wanted to be a grease monkey/ surveyor/ cartographer.

Please allow me to express my deepest felt sarcasm. 


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Be thankful this isn't where you live

I now present photographic evidence of the incredible forces needed to render my neighborhood without electricity.


A doomed team of men came around to change the advertising tarpaulin in the lot next door. In the old days it would have been mildly talented sign painters. This lot was not very talented and off to a bad start; there was quite a bit of arguing. Hotter heads prevailed and one of them was fired/quit on the spot. 

When they tried to continue on (repacking at this point, I suppose) a piece of the tattered old sign fell onto the power lines. Because it's a bright morning, the first thing I noticed was that the internet was down. Then I noted the lights not working. Then I went out to see...
The group of men claimed they had called the fire department, but did they? They took off quickly so we were in suspense until a truck arrived; followed soon after by folks who could actually fix the problem. The whole situation did not last very long, but there you see- any little thing and it's tacos by candle light.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mexico City - The Zona Maco expereince

{warming up before the race - tm}
My first trip to De Jefe - Mexico City happened this month. It was a business trip for my Human's gallery Luis de Jesus and I was there as an eager and helpful gallery intern/volunteer. There were a couple of free days to explore but for the majority of the time we were are the Banamex Center for the Zona Maco art fair. That event was an experience unto itself! apart from the actual staying in Mexico City.

Nubes as we all were, we discovered (after arriving there) that the center was, in part, a horse race track. Aaaaaand guess where I was on a Sunday afternoon! Fed up, at one point, with the endless flow of people gawking, giggling, and snubbing going on up stairs I went down and got a view of a short race- some quarter track action. With my camera it was impossible to take good shots.  Everything was happening on the far ends from where I was. As usual.

Much of the Mexico City crème de la ching showed up. This art (and design) fair is a thing in these parts, you know? So perhaps more than this being an art fair, it was a design fair, it was a fashion show. I got the feeling these people could not tell the difference between a BMW, a Nike shoe, a wooden cutting board, and larger than life hand drawn images on canvas. So this days long event was barely about fine art.
{unfurl the banners! -tm}
And lordy, had I forgotten what it was like to live in a peacock town! The fashion parade hit me rather hard. Just google Zona Maco and you will see the fashion pop up almost before the art. I was greatly amused to see the spectrum of creative attire and was able to over scratch my people watching itch.

During my time at the Luis de Jesus booth and out wandering the makeshift isles, I probably saw many famous people, but, I, the rube, the blessedly ignorant one, could not identify anyone save those I came to recognize in my art fair crash course. All I could tell, was that by the cut of people's cloth, just about the everyone who walked through that space was much better off than I, financially speaking. And they all acted like it. To keep my mind active, (because you start to go so brain dead that you actually start to enjoy the even the awful art around you) I had to invent new terms to call these already categorised chilangos.
In Mexico, the children of wealthy parents are called fresas (strawberries) and to me, all of these childish, summer weather morsels also are fresas no matter what age, but these people were on a whole other level. So I began to invent names with my bilingual brain. My favorite term was chingberry. And from there came the more elaborate chingberry toast crunch. (Forgive me if I don't elaborate on the ching element. It might be too much of a language lesson for you, my gentle readers.)

{one day booth set-up! -tm}
Food there was at this fair; overpriced as if you were at an airport. Our frugal group chose to bring snacks and sandwiches for there were not even discounts for the exhibitors. Only on the first day was there any free foods- for the most important and wealthiest people to sup. Over in the VIP section you could lounge in the sun with such classist snobs next to a taco truck whose fumes and smoke of grilling taco meats filled the whole fair space- every day. I wondered if the gallerists understood how their art work was taking on a layer of Mexican flavor that perhaps they may not want on their pieces.

The pieces. Art. Yes. There was actual art to see. My absolute favorite works (that weren't my Human's) were these dark paintings by Nebojsa Despotovic being shown by the Paula Alonso Gallery. I so very yes would have bought these. They aren't everyone's taste, I am aware, but I was in love with them. Every time I went passed that booth, I was sighing or approving with every side glance. I was happy to see they made a sale or two of this artist's work by the end of the fair. 
{Nebojsa Despotovic. Untitled 2012. Oil on cloth. 168x140 cm}

I had so many mixed emotions that I did not dare drink very much- though mixed tequila drinks were readily available. Alcohol can loosen the tongue and I did not know which emotion would present itself. Even sober I felt as though I could, given the moment, unload my contempt for all the insurmountable folly around me, and loudly. Id est- I would make a scene. Still, alcohol could have simply eased the sting of injustice... However, being in the position I felt I was in (lowly intern/volunteer), I didn't want to take the risk of embarrassing other people to the loss of business.

{a neat packing job in 2 hours -tm }
{Zélika García, Zona Maco founder- Arturo Duque}
So I did my best to play the game of looking through them as though they were not there. Because the persons of real note were as such: the nanny of some famous creature's baby trailing behind it's entourage wearing a horrible, cliche, white nurse uniform pushing the baby carriage; the humble cleaning people who, for being employed by such wealthy people, did not even have nice looking, well-fitting uniforms. (ahemstingyrichfucksahem); the poor models forced to stand around all day in little dresses, spiked heels and smiles; the drunk walking around with a beer bottle stuck down the front of his pants who took off his shoe and had his buddy photograph it with a fire extinguisher- oh and his beer bottle too... his own contemporary art masterpiece... yes, this man was the king of Zona Maco; he won all of 'art fair' that day for me. I would have dismissed him as an odious troll, but no, he was a troll making a real point and that won some of my respect; booth attendants of emerging galleries who were all new to the fair, trapped in their booths, attempting to network, attempting to makes sales...
These people! The lower echelons. The normal echelons- -
The ones who could not afford to have professional art handlers pack up so they could run off to after parties.
Even with four of us, we were hard pressed to finish emptying our booth by the 10pm cut off. We were in a bit of an uproar for the main lights to be turned back on so we could finish dismantling everything that evening under enough light.
- -after all this time, after all these religions have been introduced into the world, they still do not get enough respect for the work that they do. For making that 1% look so good.

In one of my many strange moods during the long hours under artificial lighting, I thought as the 'grand dame' herself, Zelika, walked passed,
Oh, lady, it is by the 'fairness' of your looks (and not your hoarse voice) and mostly by the splendid curve of your ass that we are at Zona Maco today.

Then my thought turned even more wry,
But then it is not by these things that any of us are here at all?