Friday, December 17, 2004

At Long the Latest News

Hola me amigos, acquaintances, y people I don't know who stumbled here looking for pictures of absolutely unfettered depravity. I know it's been awhile since my last post, but I haven't been on the internet for awhile. It's actually been kinda nice not to check my e-mail every day and waste all kinds of time reading useless articles, but I have been a bit neglectful of my blog. Luckily, I write offline, so I have some things to catch you up on.-

I cut myself shaving again today. In all the years I've been shaving and I think I've been shaving a few years more than many of my contemporaries, I've never mastered the art. Today was a real doozie. I actually sliced my nostril a-la Chinatown, but not quite as drastic. And we all know about noses and how they bleed. Well, it bled and bled and bled some more, while I cursed. I think it's my nature to rush things like shaving and that fact coupled with my skins slow process of drying out and wrinkling up and becoming more sensitive as I age, that's causing all the cuts. Anyway, lesson learned, you gotta start paying attention to those little things that come in and make life harder because it only goes one way. What I need is that guide I saw making it's way into single men's Christmas presents a few years back in the (practical guide to..) 90's. Wasn't it called "The Man's Practical Guide to Life" or some crap? It had all kinds of tidbits about how to shave, take stains out of suit pants with salt, cheat on girlfriends etc... It's another thing you might see this year perched next to the usual selection of Cole Porter Greats, Verve Jazz Box sets, Cranium game, and thermal insulated travel mugs all clustered there, fighting for retail supremacy in the sensitive 5-second-decision-zone of the Starbucks countertop. Starbucks has recently invaded Mexico and it's popular. For all you Starbucks lovers out there rest assured that they are just the same here. If you want to get that Vancouver coffee vibe all you need to do is go to the nearest "bucks" and you'll be right back at home, guaranteed. I remember reading some "Onion" article that quipped about Barnes and Noble being opened in Cambodia as an ironic joke. Any journey to the third world will in my opinion reveal that these ironic jokes are more real than one might imagine. It's not too uncommon to see a Mc Donalds or Popeye's Chicken nested in the middle of shining examples of 3rd World Urban squalor. No need for Photoshop here, the blending and smoothing have already been done. Yikes.

We're going to a soccer game tonight. It's the DF Pumas Vs the Monterrey somethingoranothers. I will of course have to root for the Pumas to avoid decapitation. It's the final game for the playoffs in the league and it's going to be a real zoo I'm told. The Pumas are the University team and since I'm enrolling in Spanish classes at the City University, I guess they're my alma matter now. We watched the playoff game last night on TV and it was pretty crazy. In Latin America they bring a crew of Riot Police with plastic shields onto the field immediately after the game ends to protect the referees. It's weird to see two referees high fiveing each other surrounded by a square of riot cops. The mexican national team, I'm told, doesn't compare to the Brazilian or Argentinean teams, but I was told by some locals, that they do play good style of soccer here. I'm just looking forward to being in a packed stadium with all the singing and screaming etc... The games are relatively reasonable at 17 bucks a ticket.

OK, I'm back from the game now, woah, it was quite the experience. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera and consequently have no pics! I was told that they might not let me in and the prospect of having to Queue up again after finding some way to ditch it. Anyway, it's not that big a deal as we all know what a Latin American soccer game looks like from TV probably. The stadiums are huge and packed for the popular games. The fans are absolutely gonzo for thier teams and jump around and sing and cry and fight. At one point a minor fight broke out close to us and riot cops came over with officials to defuse the rukkus. People were hurling beer, food and long strings of obscene insults, but in the end common sense prevailed if not helped by the fact that Mexico City's team won. This game was one of two final games in the league between Pumas from Mexico City and another from Monterrey which is in the north part of the country near the US border. There exists a rivalry in more aspects than just soccer with the northern states in Mexico. People in the south and central part of Mexico seem to view northeners, or "nortenyas" as being more gringo-like and less identified with their Mexicaness. Apparently, the northern states tend to be more wealthy and infiltrated with ideas and icons of American culture. I can see how that happens being from a country in which almost everyone lives a few miles from the American border many of whom wish they were down there making "buckets of cash" and "becoming rich and famous" and winning "American Idol", not the ingeniously named, "Canadian Idol".

I actually hear that now in the states, you are paid in cash, in a bucket. It's a new policy... At the end of the work week your boss gives you a bucket- with cash in it. Who knows how much? but since it's in a bucket, you can imagine it's a lot. If you're lucky, there'll be some chicken in there too. Maybe slaw and biscuits... It's part of the new, "Buckets of cash for all" policy.

Here's some more shots of Mexican food. This is something you can get at a lot of Mexican restaurants- Little sweet onions fried in a mixture of Worcester, and soy sauce very good indeed. These we bought at a mall. Mall food seems to be similar all the world round, but in Mexico there are some nice places to get fast food. Tacos pastor I think I mentioned in a previous entry, but I seem to be eating so many of them.

Street meat is where you get the good stuff in Mexico. Goodbye Mr Tube Steak. We were downtown in the Zocalo at Christmas which is pretty nice. The buildings get the full "deck the halls" treatment. The square is full of people hawking little twirling flashing led toys and sparklers. There are free concerts on a large stage here and several ongoing protests. All the protests come to the Zocalo which is both the nerve centre for the country and it's biggest constituency, Mexico City.

Last weekend was the yearly Pilgrimage to the Virgin Guadeloupe who is the country's patron saint. Supposedly, long ago, the holy virgin appeared, as a dark-skinned woman to the Indigenous people here and they can't stop talking about her since. It's a big deal though and everyone came to Mexico City to make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadeloupe and pray and party like it's 1499. Actually, it was pretty interesting. Many small neighborhoods in Mexico City get into it and hold these weekend-long block parties. Practically every block in the city has one of these little shrines dedicated to Guadeloupe and some are intricate and laboriously constructed out of plaster. Christmas lights and other decorations gussy her up for important occasions. We walked through one of these parties which was in full swing in a bus loop. The picture doesn't do it justice. Imagine pulling into Kootenay Loop with a crowd of drunk folks salsa dancing around some hastily rigged up DJ equipment, projection screens, and disco lights and the ever-present collection of street hawkers and steaming food booths. This goes on til the wee hours when everyone is hammered and throwing eggs filled with flour at eachother. Then, the next morning, bleary-eyed, everyone heads to the Basilica to pay their respects. It's Christianity all right, but not as I know it.

It's cold here now and Christmas fever is in full swing. The streets are plugged with cars and people hawking and buying and then hawking them again and then going to buy something from a hawker. In short, the city is crazy. A few days ago it really got cold here mainly because most buildings here don't have heat or insulation so you can't come from outside bundled in jackets and expect to sprawl out on the sofa in a sun-run t-shirt with a brandy after cranking up the registers to the $80 dollar a month setting. I remember how I used to wear a t-shirt indoors during the winter and then pop open a window to get some "fresh air" and let the heat just roil away into the crisp winter air. Ahhh, those were the days. The Zocalo, which I mentioned before is looking pretty nice these days. It's amazing. It's probably the biggest open square I've seen and there's always something going on in and around this part of town. There is an informal market made up of hundreds, maybe thousands, of people with tarps and blankets on the ground full of stuff, who, with the appearance of the local police, en masse jump up and gather everything in the tarp and heave it out of sight only to appear again moments later when the police have finished "making their point". I didn't get a picture of some great street food I ate called, "tacos de canasta" or "basket tacos" which are sold warm from a huge wicker basket. They are simple made of potato, beans or meat tacos slathered in oil or grease of somekind and on a cold winter day so delicious, addictive, and affordable, I was almost angry as I ate them.

The other day we visited Ale's friend Ana to put up her Christmas Tree. I Don't think we're going to do the tree thing as they are really expensive and a lot of people use the imitation ones here. There isn't really anything of importance to say here accept that Christmas is coming and I hope everyone is feeling the vibes and is in good spirits. Don't forget to visit friends and family if you can and pour a little out for the Homies and try to avert your attention from the glitz and the "don't pay till May" crap unless of course you want to pay in May. I'll try and post soon, but I've been on and off with the internet, but I'll try and keep things up to date. Holiday Wishes Homies!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

City, City everywhere... and not a drop to drink

Infrastructure is kind of boring, but in Mexico City it's pretty crazy. Mexico City's infrastructure is quite different and water is one key thing I've noticed. I think in most of Latin America rather than have water towers elevated up above the city, water tends to still be pumped to the roof of all buildings where pressure is established by gravity feed. There are these large black tanks on almost every small building. I'm not sure how it works in other North American cities, but it seems most towns have central water towers or the water just comes from an elevated reservoir somewhere. I could be wrong though.

Here's a picture of some rooftops outside of Ale's apt. The arrow points to the water tanks. Most people try to avoid drinking it as there can be disastrous results.

Mexico City used to be a collection of small towns that slowly grew into one another. The result is a vast network of freeways that wind around the city which are usually clogged with traffic and always seem to have some kind of construction being done on them. It's a total headache and the No 2 complaint of Mexico City residents after crime and corruption. People are often late for things here just because of the inevitable and unpredictable battle with traffic. What's cool about this evolution is that the city has many small neighborhoods that actually used to be small towns so they often have a self-contained character. Many little neighborhoods will have town parties and celebrations in their town squares and the streets are small and crowded.

Mexico has a lot of nice parks. Often there's a market going on around the perimeter too. This is one about five minutes from Ale's place and it's a nice place to relax or get a snack. There's b-ball nets and a "rapido" court. Rapido is like soccer, but played with less people on a small, enclosed court. Like indoor soccer I guess.

Mexico City has a lot of public art. Most of them are either colonial statues and fountains or "modern" and made of primary color painted steel. At any rate it makes for a nice diversion for the eyes when much of the landscape can be winding overpasses and standstill, honking traffic. This one is a few blocks from the apartment.

I think I mentioned the Metro before, but I didn't have a picture. Mexico has a pretty good transit system all things considered. It's a few pesos to go almost anywhere and you can using either the Metro or the somewhat ad-hoc minibuses. The minibuses are private and stop anywhere and drive crazily. There are no set routes and you have to know where you want to go and kind of figure out what buses you'll have to take to get there. Cardboard signs in the window have the route displayed, but sometimes a conversation with the driver will be necessary. There's usually some kind of crazy salsa or mexican pop blasting out of the stereo and they are often crowded.

Reforma is one of the biggest arteries of Mexico City and right in the centre is this roundabout that contains this gold angel statue that is one of the architectural icons of the city. Mexico City has a lot of impressive things like this and I like them too. It gives the city a kind of European vibe. ...and when I say "vibe" I mean, "vibe", dudes.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Missin' me slatsky droogs.

Hey remember clockwork orange and how "daring" and "sickening" it was supposed to be? Now it practically reads like a saturday afternoon special what with all the other gut-wrenching mind trips out there like the Paul Bernardo movie for example. There seems to be a petition circulating and, frankly, I don't blame them. I am missin' me slatsky droogs though but not for the ol' in n' out.

Today suddenly things got a bit colder. Literally not figuratively. I'm surprised considering the sun that we've had since I arrived. Anyway, I hope it comes back. Now the air is thick with pollution and fog. It is nice to have a little moisture in the air though. My skin was beginning to feel like a mandarin orange after it's been left out for too long and the inner fruit is all dry and separated from the peel. Luckily, I found this Mexican hat that will not only help me blend in with the locals, but will keep my head warm in this in-climate weather.

It's funny, when you've been away for awhile (it may surprise some that I find a month to be a long time, but I'm not used to being away for these kinds of lengths of time.) You realize that you were attached to some strange things. The things that stick in my memory seem like the most trivial stuff and the things that I don't miss are sometimes the things that I always imagined I would. Like for instance, the mountains. I don't really miss them or Stanley Park either. I mean, on any given year in Vancouver, I'd be lucky to go to either place maybe two times total and it was usually raining. I don't miss Kits. I don't even miss commercial drive. I do miss the brickhouse pub though; those crappy couches and lava lamp bubblers. If a place here has couches, it'll be some art deco affair. Uh, I miss 99 cent pizza if you can believe it although it's not so much a "missing" feeling but maybe it sparks some kind of nostalgia. I can remember clear as day huddling in those steamy eat spaces crowded in with other drunks and late night desperadoes. I distinctly remember the funny moment when you were about to bite into slice #1 of your two slice ticket standing there with nowhere to sit, wet and dripping drunk and just as you bite into that cardboard crust your eyes meet with another patron about to do the same and there was this slight feeling of camaraderie; a sort of sad sack inner knowing, a sort of "it comes down to this doesn't it?" kind of thing. Two people, inches away, not talking, strangers no less, stuffing their gullets like bovines, listening to the urgent, slurping mastication and smacking of lips. ... Hmmm.. Needless to say, I'm sure a similar experience can easily be found here in Mexico City. If San Francisco was built on Rock and Roll as "Starship" told us, Mexico City certainly was built on the 99 cent "quick fix". There's no end to the steaming stalls and lunch counters surrounded by late night half drunk patrons and wal mart christmas oscillations. Sometimes they've got a TV wired up. It all has this Blade Runner kind of vibe, it's awesome.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Soy come comida Mexicana

There are a lot of protests in downtown Mexico for understandable reasons. Like in Vancouver most are sanctioned and "controlled" by a sizable police escort. Still it's cool that they do take place. Some of the most vocal organizations are the farmers organizations and here some of them can be seen making a protest in their underwear. I'm not sure what it's all about, but they got my attention.

We went downtown to have a late breakfast. This is the Palacio de Bellas Artes where we went to the awards ceremony. Looming overhead is some large bank building which at some time I think was a sort of Latin American empire state thing.

We ate at this popular little restaurant called, "Restaurant Popular". It's good, downtown, and cheap. The upper level is so low ceilinged that I had to duck in order to fit inside. One thing I've noticed is that I feel a lot taller in Mexico City which is amazing for me because in Vancouver I consider myself rather short. After all the thick shinned Anglicans and grain-fed Scots lumbering down Granville mall like cairns wrapped in bacon, Mexico is like playmobil-land. Ahh, just the rants of someone with small man's syndrome if you happen to be Scottish or Anglican or both, I mean no offense... or do I? In either case you shouldn't take any, just be thankful you aren't one of those stalky, short little pissed-off guys.

In the interests of using this nice photo I'll describe this great meal Ale made. Really good fish with green salsa and cilantro rice. You can eat with cream and avocado and make little tacos with tortillas if you so desire. The tortillas down here are amazing and always fresh and substitute bread at the dinner table. The difference is so drastic from the corn tortillas you buy in Vancouver that I was almost angry as I ate them.

We went to an 80's party thrown by one of Ale's friends a coupla weeks ago which was a lot of fun. My costume was pretty cheap. I think I came off a bit more like Keith Richards than an 80's guy. Now all I need to do is get Ale to dress up like a 13 year old girl and we've got a good Halloween ensemble... or was it the other guy?

Maybe I'll talk more about food. Here we are eating some Tamales Oaxacanio that I bought on the street coming back from the video store. You hear the guy (or child actually as many street vendors seem to be children or teens) every night biking down the street with a steaming barrel of these on the front. He has a tape recorded voice that drones, "Tamales... Oaxacanio... Rico Tamales Oaxacanio...". They are steamed and wrapped in banana leaves with corn, dark mole and chicken inside and one of my favorite snacks here.

These are some stuffed green chile peppers that Ale and I made. We put cheese, corn and hot chorizo inside. They are delicious little ventricle busters in a taco with avocado and salsa. Anyway, there's your update. Food and fun in the big smoke. Mexico City actually is a big smoke today as the smog and fog are completely obscuring everything from view. It's pretty unbelievable, but there it is right in front of me-

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

No bleedin' pics

Hi dudes. I'm writing this from the internet cafe across the street so I'm sorry if I couldn't get it together for any cool pictures today. I went to Puebla last weekend and took some great shots of the Volcanoe complete with plumes of vapor overhead. You know the one that's still active and occasionally spouting magma as they are known to sometimes do? Popopcatepetl or something like that. Anyway, my camera had a card error and I lost all the photos. Lame. Near Puebla is beautiful Cholula, a university town with a pyramid ruin apparently bigger than Cheops in Egypt, but less intact as there's a Catholic Church built atop it. Apparently there was an excavation that wormed it's way through the layers of the ruin's base, but neither Ale or I knew about it so we didn't go inside. Anyway, we went to a party the night before in Cholula where some friends go to school so we decided to head for the Zocalo and get a juice. Fresh juices are everywhere in Mexico and the quality is excellent. You can get juices from many different kinds of veggies and fruits for very reasonable prices. Dare I say cheap? I Dare I say I will- cheap juices folks come and get em in Mexico. They also make these watered down juices that they water down in case you prefer something a bit less sweet and strong and always they add some crushed ice so your juice isn't warm which is one of the problems I've had with fresh juice in Van Can. I rode the bus back to Mexico City from Puebla and was astounded at the quality of the bus network here. Stations were huge, clean, busy and organized like an airport. The buses were modern and fast. Some even have movies. We ended up riding the local minibus system more than a few times trying to get around though and overall clocked more than five different bus rides. Minibuses are fine, but ride pretty rough and jerky. The price can't be beat though at a few pesos a ride. In Puebla we went for dinner where I ate something called Huazontle. It's basically a deep fried weed in a red sauce, and it's delicious. It's a bit difficult to eat as it has a weed-like stalk that you have to strain the meatier parts off of. The seeds of the weed are what you mostly want. Puebla is a big town which kind of reminded me of cities in Spain. It has a lot of Colonial buildings and the downtown core is quite concentrated; buttresses and balconies ironwork and all that. The Cathedral downtown is crazy huge and of European proportions and grandiosness. All in all it was a great excursion out of the sprawl for a couple days. Anyway, I'm getting tired of sitting in this cafe, but I'll post some more pics soon. Hope all is well out there in Netland.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Que tiene?

We went shopping in this endless neighborhood called La Lagunilla. It's a poor part of town and houses one of the biggest markets I've ever seen. It goes on forever in seemingly every direction and it's labyrinthian passages are completely packed with athletic clothing, cross trainers, party clothes, and trinkets mostly from Asia. The goods seem to be of the it-fell-off-the-truck or the last-months-fashion variety, but the prices are cheap. There are many food stalls as well. Deep fat friers mingle in cramped spaces with racks of Diesel jeans and cheap wedding dresses while salsa blasts out of tinny plastic radios. It was an adventure for the first hour or so and then as fatigue set in, I felt like it was a prison. Everywhere I turned, there was more stuff and beyond that more and more. I was lost in this maze of stuff. It was that kind of shopping where there's so much stuff that you can't really make a decision unless you know exactly what you want. I prefer the smaller markets that dot Mexico City where you can at least escape for a breath of fresh air. It's pretty amazing though. It's weird to see an old man propped up on a dusty street behind a chip-board wall of plastic J-lo sunglasses and New Balance sneakers in contrast to the glitz of someplace like Footlocker with it's TV walls and hip-hop soundtrack. I realized what Naomi Klein has been (supposedly) telling me for years, that so much of what shopping is about isn't the product itself, but the process of buying it. On the way home we saw some business guy get t-boned by a bus in his toyota, which is happens so constantly here that the traffic barely paused in response, and merely flowed around his car without hesitation. Luckily, the guy seemed uninjured and the bus stopped which I'm told doesn't always happen.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Out on the town

Last we went out to a fancy awards ceremony at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. It's an ornate colonial building that houses a large theatre and art gallery space in the heart of downtown. It's pretty much the most fancy theatre in the city I think. Awards were given to media companies for developing social advocacy advertising, you know, the kind that tells you not to drink and drive or smoke and to give to give to starving children etc... I'll keep you posted on how effective those ad's are. We got free drinks and snacks in the reception area and Ale hobnobbed a bit. It's a bit weird how everyone hobnobs under the gaze of all these incredible massive murals painted by Diego Rivera and other famous Mexican artists most of which are blatant celebrations of socialism and indigenous peoples struggle. I guess it's true of most art though. Most of the enduring socialist masterpieces are housed in fancy galleries or museums. It was nice to be able to sip expensive tequila for free though. At least there wasn't any chamber music and the building is beautiful and old. Unfortunately, none of my pictures turned out well as the flash on my camera sucks, but here's a nice one of Ale and her Friend Ale. Two Ales on the balcony. And heres another of the numerous small stores that are everywhere and seem to sell everything including often, these really good sandwiches with meat, cheese, avocados, beans and peppers in them if you want.

Mexico Cityites eat a lot of these delicious tacos made with some kind of marinated pork, a bit of pineapple, and fresh cilantro and I'm eating a lot of them too. You add some lime juice and any kind of salsa you want and you can find them all over the place. Here's a guy who carves the meat for the Tacos Pastor as they're called. It's a great late night - after the party food. Also, here are some of the Salsas that you might find. The first is a green salsa made with green chilies and tomatillas, the next is a red salsa made with a red tomatoes and some kind of red chili, maybe chipotle? The white one has Habanero Chilies and pineapple and the last is a hot peanut sauce. All are pretty good and quite hot but I'm now at the point where it's hard for me to eat things without that hot taste. I've been slowly adjusting to the schedule for eating here. People tend to eat throughout the day, but usually eat some kind of breakfast, snack at noon, and then eat the big meal of the day at around 2 or 3 o-clock. Many people get a long lunch for this reason. They may eat a small snack at night to tide them over, but there isn't really a big night dinner. One thing that's nice about it is that you don't go to bed with a big belly full of food to digest. I'm used to that big belly full of food though. It's a strange feeling not going to bed with a big, distended belly full of food.

This is a delicious almond flavored tequila that you can buy in Tepostlan and that area of Mexico. It's sweet like an aperitif with all the punch of tequila in one and you can drink it on any occasion just like these two Mexican gentlemen seem to be doing and as I did. Here's a picture of yours truly trying to fit it. Salut!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Burros come los churros

Hi again. Here are some pictures of our small kitchen. Surprisingly it's possible to cook some great meals in limited space. It just takes a bit of getting used to. I want to learn to cook some more Mexican food! The green things I am chopping up are cactus pads called Nopales and Mexican's eat them often and in a variety of ways but usually fried and in Tacos and Quesadillas. They remind me a bit of Okra and are tasty with salsa and creme. They grow like weeds throughout Mexico and you can find them in any market or store.

I was reading Adad's blog and I realized that he's been following a certain trend in Korea wherein people seem to be unconcerned with thievery. That is not a trend here. Practically anything of value that could be nabbed is securely wrapped up and safely behind bars, electric fences, police, and rent-a-cops. Despite this, things are often stolen but it's the nature of the beast as this city is famous for having both some of the richest and poorest people in the world living only a short distance from one another. You can imagine people start to get ideas when they're lying on glass in the road for a peso and some asshole in a Yellow bulletproof Hummer just rolls up the tinted window in your face. The metro actually costs 3 pesos which is amazing when you consider the 2.00 fare we folks in Vantown put up with. I never knew it was worth so much to go to 22nd Ave. Shit, now I'm getting nostalgic. Tears well up in my eyes when I think of Royal Oak station... Why? Anyway, I don't really want to go on and on with the whole, "mexico's like this, Canada's like this" thing. You could go on forever. Many of the same probs are mirrored in Our-Shit-Don't-Stink Canada I'm sure. I seem to recall seeing quite a few assholes in Yellow Hummers the last time I was up a that-a way. As I predicted, I'm having a hard time remembering the Spanish that everyone's been teaching me. People say there's a point when you start to really "get" it. I dunno- I find myself still scrambling to remember the simplest things like, Banyo and Casa. "burro" I've got down pat though and I even know how to pronounce it correctly. I did manage to teach Ale and Adri my favorite lines from the Motion Picture "Colors" which are, "What's da Matta Pac Man?.... Chyoo Don' like ma Body? Thees ees who I am Pac Mac... Thees ees who I am!" and I will attempt to post their authentic interpretations. The actress who said those lines, Maria Conchita Alonzo is actually quite a well known star here in Mexico both as a one hit wonder singer and an actress. I'm not sure if they find those words as compelling as I do, but not many people seem to at first.

I was proofreading this blog and I realized that the whole blogging thing is weird. I mean. Anyone I know could read this. I could say some really revealing thing about someone and hurt their feelings and there it would be published for the whole world to see. It's a good thing most people don't ever bother to read these things. I like the idea of referring to other people's blogs in your blog though. Maybe that's more like a chat though. Who cares. Till next time...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Happy Weekend

Here is a picture of the place "Tepostlan" or something like that that we went to last weekend. As you can see, it's beautiful and the picture doesn't do it justice because there are lots more of those rock formations all around the valley. It's full of colorful, small birds too.
Well. It's Friday night and I'm here blowing time on the internet once again. I guess I just miss all my homies in the couv' more than I thought I would. I went on a day of driving with Ale yesterday to check out some areas of the city while she did some errands for her work. It's a stressful thing getting around here. There is a constant traffic jam basically from 7 in the morning till 9 at night. Gridlock is constant in some areas or moving at a crawl. While you're in the car choking on the fumes of the minibus in front of you there is a traffic cop, out there in the middle of it all attempting to wave people in all manner of directions, some of his brothers on the side razzing thier sirens and yelling through the cop-horn for people to "move-on" or "nothing to see here", children dodging between the cars selling you food and other services. There are no lanes. People weave more than the Weavers themselves did. This is something I've learned about Mexico City. Because it takes forever to get somewhere, people are often a bit late for things. It could take you an hour or more just to go to another part of town depending on what the traffic is like and it's very unpredictable. Often you'll be cruising along on a large freeway and then suddenly the whole thing is closed for roadworks and you have to crawl along at walking speed or slower for 30 minutes. I guess the same traffic problems as anywhere, but very common and unpredictable. It can be exciting at first because of all the noise and activity, but I can see how commuting in this horror every day could wear on one's nerves.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I guess it's now very behind the times to be talking about the US elections. I imagine that the coffeehouse banter has slowed in Vancouver and elsewhere with coffee houses and banter to suit. There's a coffeehouse down the way, but it's a bit expensive and pretentious- think of Soma on Main St, but with fancier furniture. I do miss Vancouver already, but that's to be expected when you come from such a nice place. A friend of Ale's bought these bags. I call them gumbags because they're made of folded candy wrappers. I think a few of my regular readers may recognize and appreciate the handiwork. One things for sure- this took a long time and the hands that made them were small and skilled. Fill in Los blanks amigos. Still what do I know? They could have a machine somewhere churning out these things. Somehow, I don't think so though. Mexico seems to be full of these ingenious crafts folded and woven and carved from all sorts of materials and as I write this piece of meaningless drivel I can imagine someone furiously folding together purses and baskets. Viva la NAFTA homies!

Me Vengo! DF es Loco Cabrones!

Ok. I arrived safe and sound here in Mexico City and things are OK so far. This place is quite crazy. I haven't done much so far to adjust myself to the new climes. I guess I could always go out exploring, but I still have some in-trepidation. I'm not sure why. I guess since I'm planning to be here for awhile, I may as well not get too over-zealous about seeing everything in the city right away anyway right?. I'll just cower here in the apartment and listen to the tamale whistles and all the other insane noise. It beats cowering in my apartment in Vancouver, right? OK, so - Mexico City is polluted and dangerous. I can't quite believe it. The smog here is really something else. People here seem to suffer from lots of health probs. The other night I had trouble sleeping because my nostrils were burning and my eyes were watering for no apparent reason. I feel sometimes like one of those farmed salmon in a cage with ten million others eating and drinking and breathing contaminated water and air with sea lice hanging off of my gills. Sometimes anyway... Reading the Lonely Planet guide to Mexico City isn't really doing me much good either in the feel good about Mexico City arena. They've got all these stats about how bad the air and water pollution is here and about all the drastic environmental problems, fecal dust clouds etc... No one told me about the fecal dust clouds! I imagine David Suzuki ominously narrating my morning view past the World Trade Centre. "Clay's feces travels outside of the city to a settling pond, only to be swept up and fall back on his head days later in the form of a fecal dust cloud. It's nature's way of saying, that it's not that easy to get rid of feces." I imagine like a lot of huge 3rd. world cities Mexico City's got this "at any moment this whole place is going to go tits-up" kind of feel to it. Some people talk about it too- "The water's going to run out." "The oil's going to run out." "The debt will destroy the economy and the city will become a war-zone". "tomorrow we will die, so today, we live." That kind of thing... It's a bit to get used to when you come from Vancouver where people are more busy worrying about weather to allow biking and roller-blading in the same lane on the sea-wall than weather or not the new patch of hives on the back of your neck is related to the fecal dust cloud roiling up in the distance.

All this considered, I'm having a great time. Although it's polluted, this city is super vibrant. there's always something going on and many Mexicans are friendly and relatively easy-going by my standards. You can eat cheaply in many places and the food is really tasty. I went to this place north of town this weekend called, "Tepostlan" and stayed with Ale and her friends at her friend's house. It's this beautiful valley surrounded by low mountains with amazing rock formations. It looks like a place from the cover of a sci-fi/fantasy novel. We danced and drank and wandered around the marketplace. It's one of many Mexican places that's so nice it attracts people from all over the world esp: new agers, and neo-hippy types. Despite the new influxes and popularity, the traditional inhabitants of Tepostlan seem like pretty interesting people. Apparently there was a popular movement among the locals there that turned into a pretty major protest when the Government tried to approve a huge resort/golf course monstrosity almost on top of their beloved and sacred mountains. The outrage was so intense that the local government offices were closed down and the entire city went on a general strike of some-kind. The good part is that the government gave in and the resort was never built.

Friday, November 05, 2004

I'm on my way.

We ate 7-layer burritos outside of Everett. My last Pac Northwest mexican meal. Sitting at Sea Tac airport at 10:33pm on the eve of the 2004 US election. People out here in the US seem to be taking it very seriously. At least the people on the TV in the Southwest gate at the B terminal seem to be taking it very seriously. The other people in this airport seem to be more worried with how the 7-layer burrito they ate at lunch is sitting in their stomach than anything else. Across from me is a sign advertising the ease with which you can join the National Gaurd. This airport seems to have a pro-military vibe to it despite the geriatrics that are running the place at this time of night. Night time in North America seems to be increasingly run by the elderly. I'm talking about security guards, fast food industry workers and night cleaners, etc... I'm not sure what the "how and why" of the whole thing is, but in my opinion it's a tragic growing trend with emphasis on the tragic part. Well, Sea Tac airport is kinda boring and there isn't much else to tell so off I go to Mexico. I'll post when I get there- so expect a long one.


Friday, October 29, 2004

Last Minute Jitters

See you later green north. As it stands I only have a little bit of time left before my big departure. I'm starting to get excited. Those pangs of worry mixed with pangs of excitement mixed with pangs of not knowing what will become of me. This will be the longest time that I have ever been away from my friends and city so I'm ready for the pangs of missing all my friends mixed with possibly the pangs of dysentery to boot. When I leave somewhere you always feel like I've got all this stuff I have to do before I come back home. I also hope that I don't turn into one of those "travel" people. Not that traveling around's not fun and a great way to spend your life, I just never thought of myself as someone who travels from place to place all the time getting new friends and leaving others, dispensing with them like cheap underwear bought in desperation. I'm more of a rooted person. At least I like to think I am. I welcome anyone's unsolicited advice about travel and you can post in the comments section of the blog as I will be reading these comments from time to time. Actually, it turns out that my "comments" are not working for some reason. I'm not sure why and I'll try to fix the problem, but I'm not promising anything. My faculties with the world of web are limited. I'm not too excited about traveling on US election day, but I guess those are the risks you take. You can always e-mail me if you want to tell me what you think of my blog or anything else for that matter. Bye for now.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Blog Probs

It's getting grey and drippy here. Soppy alleyways and steamed up busses. I guess it's the nature of the beast. Well. I'm pretty sure no one of note checks this spot, but in case you do I'm sure you've noticed by now that the blogs are not coming fast and furious. I blame Lack of material among other things. I could fill you in on all the minute details of my life, but there just isn't that much to tell these days. Most of the people who'd ever read this are leading more eventful lives right now, but that'll hopefully change when I finally get out of Terminal City. Uh, I dunno-... Well, it's getting cold now. Cold means layering up and turning on the heat. I still haven't had to turn on the heat in my apartment yet, but it's coming. Luckily, I'm planning to leave for Mexico City soon so I'll gain a few degrees once I get there although the other day it was only 16 degrees there. That's not hot by any means. I'm told that it gets pretty cold there in the winter. I'm planning on having a going away party sometime at the end of Oct, so the invites'll be comin' your way soon... You know who you are. Commercial Drive is as much the same as always. Same samosas in the samosa heater at Sweet C's same scowls from the baristas at Joe's. The big bust up at Da Kine was news. They were selling bud bags over the counter and I don't blame them especially when I heard about the 20 grand the proprietor had on her when she was arrested. The wierd thing are all the loyal pot-heads who loiter around there now waiting to buy. Occasionally I'll see this dude out front with a pail asking for donations for their legal fund. Really, does someone who has 20 grand in pocket change need dough for an attourney? None of my friends here in Van Can really seem to be going out these days including myself. What is it? Bad weather? Old age? Could it actually be old age? Somehow, the thought of that bums me out. Say it isn't so. More later.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Ahhh... finally a web presence

Whew! I'm finally online and I have my own web blog. Establishing a decent web-presence these days is as important as any other career move I'm told. I'm sure the offers will start rolling in any day now. It doesn't look like I'm going to be a bush goblin or a bridge troll in the Ghost Train this year, so you can all forget about seeing me there. I know many of you were probably planning to try and catch my act, but there you have it. It's strange writing this way. I'm not sure if I should write as if I'm lecturing to a large audience in hopes that there are many people out there checking or maybe just keep it internal and tell you my thoughts as one might to a close friend. Chances are that no one is going to bother checking up here very often so I wont bother bothering about it too much. Uh, I do feel a bit different now that I'm on the web. I guess maybe it's a little bit like having fame at last. I mean, you've got this venue to broadcast your thoughts and anything you say will be available for anyone in the world to read. It's like having your own magazine- your own incredibly boring magazine. Maybe it's actually more like a brochure. To me it's amazing though. I've never had a brochure. That's the web for you: a huge never-ending stack of brochures. Anyway, this is just a place where I can update people with the numerous goings ons of my somewhat petty little life. If you care, give it a gander now and then, if not, just go on living yours and maybe I'll check out your blog someday. Assuming you have what it takes. Maybe I'll even submit a "comment". Thats how much I love you all.

No time for this blog- I gotta make moves, playas.

OK 5:15 and now I really must be going. So I don't have time for this, but I'll indulge- I've got things to do, people to see... Uh yeah. I'm a man on the move. I'm in the habit of doing things last minute as you can see. I have to work under pressure even when I'm blogging or whatever- Seriously though. I'm going to be in a play. I haven't even rehearsed my part yet and it's tonight. That's how last minute I am. No biggie, I don't even have any lines. Being in plays seems to provide relief from the monotony of daily life for me. It's a thing to do. Actually, I'm a wannabe famous actor, but when you don't really manage to act in but a few things a year, it starts to become more of an "avocation" as my grandmother used to say before she started to go crazy and lost all judgment of her morning breakfast never mind my choice in careers. I don't really feel too bad about it though. I like art and music and performing and all that stuff right? That's the stuff that I'm into and that I'm into talking about and making, so who gives a shit if i'm not making a living or famous, right?. She had a point though. Even today I kind of think it was my reluctance to admit the truth about my career that made me defensive of her comment rather than the fact that she was old fashioned or something and didn't understand the "arts".

Speaking of which, why do artists that don't make any money at it constantly have to moan about it? There's the constant feeling that you have to make other people think you take yourself really seriously. I mean, you could work at Mc Donalds and paint in your spare time, but when someone asks you about it you're supposed to be all enthusiastic and self-important about your art and stuff but all down on the Mc Donalds job. You're almost supposed to act like you're in denial about the fact that you haven't made it. I mean, no one wants to talk about working at Mc Donalds, but isn't that more interesting sometimes than listening to someone ramble on about all the "projects" they're working on and famous people who came to see their show blah blah... ? I mean, moaning about not having any money makes sense, but what's with all the attitude about how you should be supported? It's like I should feel bad because I'm not famous yet or something. Conversely, some people feel good because they aren't famous too, as if it's a statement or something. I feel like saying, "who said you had a choice?" As if they'd turn down some kind of huge endowment or grant so they could work two day jobs and cry at night. There's always those uncomfortable silences that follow people asking me what's the new thing that I'm doing. And then I start scouring the wastelands for something interesting to say. They can tell I'm scouring. We usually are standing at some gallery opening or some party, drinks in hand and the silence finally gets uncomfortable and I finally admit - nothing. No thing. I dunno- I guess most people who aspire to things like that are constantly fluctuating between wanting to forget all the pressures and work on stuff without all the judgement etc. and really wanting some recognitioin and compensation. In the end I'm not too pissed off about any of it. People have to find the right balance I guess. Truth is, I'm usually really organized about the plays that I'm in and I usually study up any lines I have etc... Mostly, I don't really have a huge attachment to this project, so I'm giving it the minimal treatment. It's only one night for christsake! Right? I'm not being too defensive am I? I'm a serious actor man! gotta go-

enjoy the evening-