Monthly Archives: July 2009

Ice Age Tres

Along with your mace, decoy debit card and hand sanitizer, you never want to leave your camera at home when you’re walking around Chilangoladia. You might see a basket of puppies                                        or a Quinceañera girl –  DSCN1397DSCN1400

like I saw on Saturday afternoon.  In fact, I had originally left my Ashton Kutcher-approved Nikon Coolpix at home when my roommate, E-Town, and I came upon a curious scene at Plaza Rio de Jainero. Some element of nature had left ice in the huge fountain. The regular sprays of reclaimed water had turned off and a giant statue of “The David” looked all the more naked.

E-town, who hails from Alaska said, “I know my snow business and that didn’t just congeal overnight.”

I said, “Well it’s not like Mr. Freeze came and stuck his finger in.”

Whatever, we went home to get our cameras and this slideshow was the result. Later we found out that the ice wasn’t a remnant of  the crazy storm that knocked out the power the night before, but a gimmick by the force of nature known as Coke Zero. Next time I promise more blingy.

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Guillermo Jean

Remember the Cumbia de la Influenza? The H1N1 virus had scarcely become a Twitter trending topic and some tipos had already written and recorded a song about Indiana Jones rescuing Chilangolandia. Couple that anecdote with the fact that on any given night in Mexico there’s a DJ somewhere playing “Rock With You,” or “Beat It” for a rabid crowd of Michael Jackson fans and you shouldn’t be surprised that a Sonoran Norteño group, Los Picadientes de Caborca, have already come up with a purely Mexican version of MJ’s classic, “Billy Jean.”

Since I couldn’t be in Los Angeles to pay my respects, this is how I will thank the man who inspired my first awkward gabacha dance moves:

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Riding Lessons at the Polls

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I’ve been working on a profile of a candidate who ran for a municipal election, so on Sunday it was off to the polls. (That man in the picture is not the candidate. He’s part of the 30 percent of the population that turned up to vote.)

I was told by the campaign manager to arrive for a press conference at 11 am on election day. Silly chilangabacha that I am, I believed him. I showed up right on time and was told to come back at 1 pm. I decided to wander around aimlessly and happened upon a dusty little book store. You know how in cartoons an old lady will put a pie in a window and a “finger of aroma” will reach out and grab Bugs Bunny by the nose? That’s kinda what happened to me, but with Alan Riding’s excellent novel, Distant Neighbors. Instead of pie aroma, it was the fragrance of musty pages that drew me in.

The timing of picking up the book, an essential guide to Mexican culture and history, couldn’t have been better. The 11 am press conference got pushed back to 1 pm, then 4 pm and finally 8 pm. During my nine-hour wait, Riding taught me that, “Arriving an hour or more late for a dinner party does not merit an apology; to the contrary, it is arriving on time that is considered rude.” Oops.

Distant Neighbors also outlines Mexico’s turbulent and colorful political history in such a way that after two years of living here I think I finally get the gist of the political timeline of the past century. So the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) are the dudes who ran the country from 1929  until Vicente Foxy Fox won the presidential election in 2000 under a dual ticket of Mexico’s Green party (PVEM) and the right-wing PAN  (Partido Acción Nacional). Foxy’s successor was Felipe Calderon, also known as Fe-Cal (you know, like caca) by some of his detractors. Why the stinky nickname? Well it depends on whom you ask. Some members of the PRD (Partido Revolución Democrática) claim that Calderon stole the 2006 presidential election from their man, Manuel Lopez Obredor, a la George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000 – only Lopez Obredor is still out there contesting the vote, while Al Gore is making movies about sweaty penguins.

Are you still with me? Basically, there are as many political parties as there are saints’ days in April in this country, and everybody wants a swing at the piñata.

This wasn’t a presidental election, but  the race for Congressional seats, governorships and state and local seats was nonetheless interesting.The old school PRI gained footing in places such as the DF suburbs like Ecatepec, Neza and Chalco, thanks to the fancy footwork of its new star, Enrique Peña Nieto, a guapetón widower with a telenovela girlfriend. PAN fell flat in several of its favored districts and the PRD had predictable less-than-hair-raising results. The real stars of the show were the 10 percent of voters who chose to nullify their votes by putting a giant “X” through the entire ballot.

If all of these acronyms have your head spinning, you can either go track down a copy of Distant Neighbors, or watch the following video of the press conference that finally happened nine hours after I showed up.

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