Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spanish Lesson: Drugs or Booze?

In Spanish, "GNC" and "Hennessy" sound the same.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Everyone's a Critic: Spanish or in Spanish?

Yesterday in a small bookstore I came across the latest copy of Granta. It was a collection of stories by "The Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists"—the next Llosas and Bolaños, as the back cover put it. Of the twenty or so writers included, eight were from Argentina, six were from Spain, and only one was from Mexico.

It occurred to me that this was the first time I had seen a copy of the literary magazine in Mexico.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Adventures in Rhythm / Something like Something: Dramatic Walls

Glenn Gould playing "Lord Salisbury's Pavan and Galliard," by Orlando Gibbons, filmed 1974.

El Camarón de la Isla singing a Seguiriyas, filmed ca. 1980 (?).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mexico City: Scenes—Shady Slim

Today, Forbes magazine announced that the U.S. has the most millionaires of any country in the world, but that the richest man in the world lives in Mexico.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stranger with You: A Year in Mexico

Today I've been in Mexico for a year. I don't know what happened. Having lived my entire life in temperate climates, I have serious trouble noticing time pass here, because there are basically no seasons.

I had been thinking that this blog should have more entries on "life in Mexico," or something like that. But I prefer the imaginary description of my life in the D.F. that I received in an email from a friend in New York:

...Avi, who is hiding in a bunker while Mexican drug lords shoot there [sic] six shooter revolvers, one in each hand pointed sky high, wearing sombraros [sic] and ponchos.

So I guess this could also be filed in an "Antiquariana" post about ye olde Mexico, which I suppose many people imagine to have looked like this:

Mexico City: Scenes—Digital Pirates

Pirated CDs and DVDs can be bought everywhere in Mexico City: in street markets, on the Metro, in Metro stations, in front of Metro stations, in front of movie theaters. Today, after nearly a year in Mexico, I bought my first pirated DVD—a copy of an Oscar-nominated American film which was released in Mexico as "Spirit of Steel." It cost fifteen pesos, or about $1.25.

Will report back on the quality.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spanish Lesson: The Royal Lemon

 In a country where basically anything can grow, there are some curious culinary absences. One is yeast. You can't simply find it in the grocery store like you can in the U.S. They only have baking powder and when you try to ask where the yeast is they just bring you back to the baking powder because the word for both items is levadura.

Mexicans love beans but unless you are willing to go to a huge market and find a place with dried beans you only have two options: black beans or brown beans. It took me eight months to finally find a small store near my house that sells garbanzo beans on a regular basis. It was a revelation. People here live in complete ignorance of the spectacular depth and variety of the world of beans. Once, early in my stay here, I was at the grocery with a Mexican friend and was getting frustrated by the endless rows of black and brown beans, whole and re-fried.

"Why do they never have any red beans?" I asked.

"What are red beans?" she said.

That's when I gave up asking people about beans.

But most mysterious of all is the complete lack of lemons. Here it is all limes, all the time. I have not once seen a lemon at a grocery store or a market, and I would wager that I have not even tasted real lemon a single time while in Mexico. Mexicans are unfazed about this. There even seems to be some confusion in Mexico about what a lemon is. This may arise from the fact that in Spain, the word for lemon is limón and the word for lime is lima. But in Mexico the word for lime is limón (so that when you ask people about "lemons" they think you are talking about limes) and the word for lemon is up for debate. Some contend that the correct word is limonero, while others insist on citron, and an American friend who lives here offers yet another option in limón real: "real" or "royal" lime.

One Mexican guy I met at a party had a different perspective: "Of course we have lemons here. There are some lemon trees growing in my grandmother's garden. We just don't use them. Why would you? Limes are better."

"Better in what way?" I said. "They're different."

"Better in every way!" he said.

Also they have about ten kinds of beers here that all taste like Corona and they don't have any other beers.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On the Street: The Crowd's Speech

I have been listening to American radio broadcasts covering the uprisings in Egypt, Bahrain and Libya nearly every day. After teaching English in Mexico for nearly ten months, I am repeatedly amazed by these Arabic protesters, shouting into reporters' microphones in sophisticated and eloquent English while they are out on the street protesting.