Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stranger with You: Return of the Space Cowboy

I am sitting at my kitchen table and someone in the courtyard is drunkenly singing "Like a Stone." In Mexico City, you hear a lot of pop music that isn't played publicly in New York City anymore. Audioslave is a good example. I've had several unexpected chances to reacquaint myself with their early-2000s hits. Jamiroquai is another. I've heard more Jamiroquai during the last two months than I had during the previous five years in New York. In Mexico City it is perfectly acceptable to play "Cosmic Girl" at a party, bar, cafe, or from your car stereo as you cruise Avenida Insurgentes with the windows  rolled down. That kind of thing doesn't happen often in New York. To give another example: when was the last time you and your buddies were hanging around drinking beer and someone played three songs in a row by Massive Attack? Here it's common.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mexico City: Scenes

Mexico City is justly famous for its many murals...

...which capture the spirit and history of the Mexican people... all their nuances.

Funny Things About Serious People: Three for Papa

"Among the last of the species was big, curly-haired, broken-nosed Lionel Moise, a brilliant reporter who was also a poet, a cop-slugger, a heartbreaker, a singer of barroom ballads, and a great teller of barroom stories. He liked to start a story by saying, 'Did I ever tell you about the time I was in jail in Pocatello [or Fresno or Savannah]? I was but a lad...'....Besides telling stories, he liked to stand with his foot on a brass rail and discuss the art of writing fiction.

"I knew him first and best in 1919, when he was working briefly for the New York American....Much as I liked and admired him, I thought he was one of the many brilliant reporters of the time who had half-baked themselves by reading Nietzche....He could be cruel to women, and one year in Chicago there were two attempted suicides because of him....He had talent enough to have become a famous writer too, if he had ever acquired the discipline of the trade. As it was, he exerted a real influence on American writing, through the cub reporters who learned their jobs under him....I learned that Moise had worked for the Kansas City Star in 1917, when Hemingway was a cub there and listened to his lectures. 'Pure objective writing,' Moise would say time and again, 'is the only true form of story-telling.'"
-from The Literary Situation, by Malcolm Cowley, 1958

"Back in August, when the 4th Division was sweeping eastward from Normandy, Hemingway ranged ahead of it in his jeep and began making contact with the French irregulars. He was an imposing figure...The French were convinced that he must be a general, but Hemingway told them he was only a captain.

"A guerrilla asked him, 'How is it that a man so old and wise as you and bearing the scars of honorable service is still a captain?'

"'Young man,' Hemingway answered...'the reason is clear and it is a painful one. I never learned to read and write.'"
-from "A Portrait of Mister Papa" in Life, by Malcolm Cowley, 1949

"Then it rained hard on the dead wet leaves. And you knew that if you said it all truly there would be enough there for a long time. Enough of the olives and Baked Alaska when the air conditioner blew at you hard in the fine little room behind the zinc of the bar at Sardi's. Nick stood up and hit the waiter hard just below the temple. The man went down. The cool red borscht flew from his hands and spilled into rivulets. Three waiters came at us and you put the empty champagne bottle to your cheek and popped them down as they moved fast coming at you with a sudden rush. Hi ho, said Mary, as you counted the saucers and left a tip although you were poor. If it were true enough it would all be there. It would all be there if you said it truly."
-from The Adventures of Mao on the Long March, by Frederic Tuten, 1971

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

On the Beach

It recently occurred to me that I've now been to the Pacific coast twice in Latin America, but never in the United States.

Below are some pictures from a trip last month to a small beach in Guerrero called Boca del Rio (not the famous one).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Antiquariana: Victorian Views of the Bible

The delegation partook of luncheon at the conclusion of which the dusky potentate, in the course of a happy speech, freely translated by the British chaplain, the reverend Ananias Praisegod Barebones, tendered his best thanks to Masssa Walkup and emphasized the cordial relationship between Abeakute and the British Empire, stating that he treasured as one of his dearest possessions an illuminated bible, the volume of the word of God and the secret of England's greatness, graciously presented to him by the white chief woman, the great squaw Victoria, with a personal dedication from the hand of the Royal Donor.
—James Joyce, Ulysses, 1922 (but about 1904)

Consider the great historical fact that, for three centuries, this book has been woven into the life of all that is best and noblest in English history; that it has become the national epic of Britain.
—Thomas Huxley, "The School Boards: What They Can Do and What They May Do," 1870

Spanish Lesson: Shampoo

I just realized that my shampoo, which I bought because it seemed like the cheap Mexican version of Head&Shoulders, is called 'Organogal.' As in, organo-gal.