Tag Archives: Mexico City

Todos Somos Zombies

Remember when swine flu happened and we all thought DF was going to be taken over by zombies? I got a glimpse into the Apocalypse that never was this Saturday when I went to check out “Yo si Bailo Thriller” at the Monumento de la Revolución on Saturday. El Universal reports that more than 50,000 people showed up for the event and of those, 11,628 were registered dancers who helped to break the Guiness World Record for most people dancing to Thriller in one place.

When I first read all the hype around the “Yo si Bailo Thriller” event, I thought it was kind of random that the organizers would choose that song to bring together the masses. I’ve always been more of a fan of Billy Jean or Smooth Criminal. But looking out at the rain-soaked women in bloodied wedding dresses, grown men with their heads wrapped in surgical tape and little kids dressed as the dead pop star, it suddenly all made sense. It was so… Mexico. In a place where car accidents, decapitations, and point blank shootings are fodder for the front page of metro tabloids, anything with a tinge of the macabre is a guaranteed hit for the masses. Celebrating the life of a long-cold pop star by recreating a video where said pop star turns into a date-ruining zombie in a graveyard? Sure, why not? Bring the kids too.

The swelling crowd began to grow anxious around 4 pm so the organizers attempted to fend off a zombie attack by playing “Heal the World.” The be-wigged revelers were really into it, but most of them only knew a few choice words and attempted to improv the rest. Then it was time to weirdly wish Ghost Michael a happy 51st birthday.

It was eerie enough hearing the pulsing crowd sing “Las Mañanitas,” the traditional Mexican birthday anthem, but some of the lines were downright creepy, like this one: “Despierta, Michael, Despierta” or, “Wake up, Michael, wake up.”

Then, it was finally time to practice for the main event. An organizer/ voice of God gave the dancers some last minute tips. “Ok, todos somos Zombies,” he said, “Todos somos ZOMBIES!” We’re all zombies here. The practice run went along well, as many of the dancers had been practicing around the city for weeks. But the sense of anticipation was palpable.

What or who was everyone waiting for?

The answer came around 5:30 pm in a glittering white jacket and a taped-up nose – Hector Jackson. The famed Mexican MJ impersonator choreographed the event and showed up just in time to lead the masses in breaking the record.

I had a great vantage point and even fought off a Televisa reporter to get some great footage of HJ’s performance. Unfortunately, something entirely apropos happened to the video. Instead of uploading with the rest of the 87 files I captured, my perfect Thriller video is lurking somewhere in the limbo of my camera’s internal memory. It’s like it’s too awesome to live, but refuses to die.

Instead of Hector Jackson, I leave you with a video that almost sums up the event. Skeletor really wants to heal the world.



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Mexico in 24 Seconds

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Just picture it: A little five-year-old Chilangabacha (probably wearing an outfit very similar to the ones I wear today – t-shirt,  jeans, tennies- except instead of a ponytail, really long trenzas) chillin’ in the living room in the Inland Empire with Chilangamama. Before you could even say Rancho Cucamonga, the room starts swaying enough for me to get my nose out of a coloring book. Me and moms take refuge in a doorway, but we can still watch our local news broadcasters, Christopher Nance and Chuck Shocknek, keeping it real on KCBS.

I couldn’t find specific video of the dynamic duo squealing like little girls and ducking under the news desk, but I did find something even better – old school David Letterman making fun of Nance and  “Aftershocknek.” My favorite part of the whole thing is Christopher Nance’s face. Yeah, it made me laugh, but I’m sure it’s pretty close to the grimmace I made this afternoon when we were rocked by a 5.7 earthquake. Gaaah! (Note to earthquake gods: can you please hold off until like 2010 for your next little surprise?)

I was on the other side of the country when Northridge happened, but all of my classmates talked about having slumber parties interrupted and copies of Nancy Drew flying off the shelves.

So, these last couple of temblors in DF have been somewhat new to my adult self. The little kid in me still wants to laugh and think of  good old Aftershockneck.

Thanks, David Letterman.

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Armchair Epidemiologist


Last Thursday I went out reporting with a videographer who had read that many of the flu cases had come from the Gustavo Madero neighborhood in the northern part of Mexico City.  In addition to being home to the Basilica de Guadelupe, the most important Catholic site in the Western Hemisphere, the neighborhood is also home to several ciudades perdidas or squatter settlements where entire extended families set up houses made of scrap material.

We talked to some of the residents of the ciudades perdidas, many of whom rely on the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the nearby shrine for their livelihood. Without pilgrims to buy trinkets or candy, many residents are left with barely enough money to buy food, let alone extra liters of purified water. With a water supply that only runs from 6 am to 3 pm, this makes the simple-yet-effective act of hand washing a challenge.

As we returned to our car, a woman named Chayo approached us and asked if we could please bring her some vaccines for her 11 grandchildren. We told her that since this is a new strain of virus, the new vaccines wouldn’t be ready for some time and that her energy would be better spent procuring supplies like face masks and soap.

The public health issues of water conservation and overpopulation are not unique to Mexico City. Virtually all of the world’s mega cities face similar challenges. The outbreak of the H1N1 virus should serve as a reminder that, as world citizens, these are issues we must continue to address.

Chayo and her extended family aren’t the only ones affected by H1N1. With the Basilica closed to worshipers, the local priests adapted by holding hourly outdoor masses. Here is a video of a priest explaining the new procedure for the rite of communion.

“We will not be giving communion in the mouth. You’ll have to extend your left hand to recieve it, put it in your right hand and then into your mouth.”

The outdoor mass is only one of the ways Chilangos have so far adapted to their new circumstances. As I write this, cleaning crews are scouring the nooks and crannies of DF’s underground. It will be interesting to see what other new measures will be taken in the coming weeks and months.

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Gettin Provisions

So Marcelo Ebrard said that if the swine flu numbers don’t go down by Tuesday then even more of the city is going to go into hibernation mode.This will likely include the metro – not that I had any plans on entering that zombie-mobile/germ factory any time soon.

Just in case things start to get gnarly, I’m going to brave the swine wind and sneeze rain to go out and get more beans, rice, water, and antibacterial everything. I went out on Friday and things were pretty chill, as evidenced by the video bellow. We’ll see how things are today. My friend just got kicked out of Starbucks, so things could get wild!

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I MOCK YOU!This man laughs at me every time I walk to the Juanacatlan Metro. Make of it what you will.

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The Living and the Dead

After my first viewing of Texas singer/songwriter Jill Holland’s music video for her new single “Mexico City,” I was about to go off on a rant about how it’s filled with lame stereotypes (cacti, skeletons, abuelitas) and more likely filmed somewhere outside of Tucson than in some random Mexican desert. I was going to say something about how  these kind of images contribute to the fact that some of my friends and family members continue believe that I travel by buro every morning to fetch water from the well.

But, then I decided to act like a journalist and do some research. It turns out Holland wrote the song as an homage to Jack Kerouac, who not only spent time writing in this fine metropolis, but his poetry collection, Mexico City Blues, is considered to be one of his greatest works. The famous vagabond also detailed a night out on the town in  Book of Dreams:

Walking through the slum suburbs of Mexico City I’m stopped by smiling threesome of cats who’ve disengaged themselves from the general fairly crowded evening street of brown lights, coke stands, tortillas-Unmistakably going to steal my bag-I struggled a little, gave up-Begin communicating with them my distress and in fact do so well they end up just stealing parts of my stuff¦. We walk off leaving the bag with someone-arm in arm like a gang to the downtown lights of Letran, across a field-

Sounds a lot like most of my Saturday nights, Jack.

With all this in mind, I hope all you cats will enjoy Holland’s video. I have to admit,  I kinda dig it now.

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