27 December 2011

Champagne, Chocolate, and Strawberries

Bone, whom I introduced in the previous entry, does not try to frame her shots the way that I try to. I have no problem with that. She is, after all, a Romanticist. I am a Classicist. Looking at her photos is for that reason all the more interesting for me.

Sister Lucia

26 December 2011

Chrismas Day, Colonia Adolfo López Mateos

This is my pal, Yvón, and I on Christmas Day. Yvón has her left hand extended to keep the riff-raff out of the photograph, the riff-raff in this case being her five-year-old sister, Lucia. It is pronounced ee-BONE, or just Bone for short. Bone is ten years old and one of Fortino's grandchildren. I have written about Fortino many times here and am not going to recap all that. I spent Christmas Day at Fortino's place. During the day it was only the extended family that lives in his little house. As night fell his sisters arrived with their families, and the evening therefore involved the extended, extended family.

23 December 2011

I am Content this Christmas

I am content with the fact that I have no alarm clock.

I am content with lingering in the sleeping bag and watching the sunrise through my windows, which have no curtains and need none.

I am content with my little Spanish espresso machine, especially in the morning. I am more than content with caffeine.

20 December 2011

Gifts: A Little Piece of Fiction

[The video that accompanies this can be seen by clicking here.]

He could hear her chirping on her way to the bathroom inside. He settled himself in the upright chair on the second floor terrace awash in moonlight and stretched his legs out, a tinnitus of insect sounds in his ears. The night was still and hot.

She walked back onto the terrace with the baggie and papers that he had purchased for her and stashed in the drawer under the water jug, her heels clicking on the tiles.

I gon make some smoke . . . We had fun tonight you and me. Yes?

We had big fun, baby.

19 December 2011

Pátzcuaro Doorway

12 July 2011

A Cross-Checked Field; A Thing of Beauty

Is it possible to describe in words the surface planting of a checked field of corn in those days so that one who has never seen it done can acquire the idea of it? And if I describe Tommy Schofield doing it, a master at planting a checked field, can I bring him back to life, some life anyway, for a couple of minutes? It would be an indisputably good thing to do if it could be done. Tommy and his wife had no children. I know of only three other people who might still be alive to remember him.

09 December 2011

Quit Bitching and Drive

In swearing off the expatriate cocktail party circuit and taking up with the economically disadvantaged of Mexico, I did more than trade fresh shrimp and grouper nuggets for two-day-old carp out of the river. I also traded a vague, theoretical, distant, comfortable, soft-around-the-edges sympathy for the plight of these people for the hard practicalities of life among 'em.

 Luis Eduardo awaiting departure.

06 December 2011

Let's Stay Together . . . or not.

I . . . I'm so in love with you.

I'm pretty sure that is what I am
 supposed to say in these circumstances.

05 December 2011

Preface to the Corrida [From the Archive]

 Lascaux Cave Painting, Approximately 12,000 B.C.

Reluctantly, I have had to admit to myself that it is necessary to explain further several seemingly unrelated things. I am calling this a preface. I have no idea what to call the last entry. A foreward?

03 December 2011

The Corrida [From the Archives]

Anything capable of arousing passion in its favor will surely raise as much passion against it. --Ernest Hemingway.

I have been writing a piece without any intention of posting it here in my blog. I simply wanted to record an extraordinary Sunday afternoon at the bull ring while it was still fresh in my memory. It was the competitive end to a series of corridas in the days leading up the biggest fiesta here, La Alborada. Perhaps I will leave it with the many other private things that I I have written that will not be published in a blog or anywhere else, for that matter.

20 November 2011

Foodie Sunday

However, this bottle was not marked “poison,” so Alice ventured to taste it, and, finding it very nice (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffy, and hot buttered toast), she very soon finished it off.
--Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

18 November 2011

I Used to be a King

There has not been a musical interlude here since the Erykah Badu video way back in May. It is time.

It is not a good thing to do stuff half-assed. That goes double for the crazy stuff. 

15 November 2011

Hot Fun in the Summertime

A little musical interlude:

Or you may wish to check out the latest blog entry at The Other Blog.

13 November 2011

Out of a Little Chaos, Order

Whenever I feel the need to re-attune myself with the cosmic forces at work around me, I clean out my toolbox and arrange it in order again. I spent the mid-afternoon on the patio in the sun doing just that. At one time in another life, I owned far more tools than this, most of which were the flotsam of some particular purpose, purchased ad hoc. What remains constitutes in total a basic toolbox with a few oddities such as a chip puller for work on a computer that looks somewhat like a screwdriver.

25 October 2011

Departure of the Wing Man

No word yet, but I am going to be optimistic and assume that Wings touched down safely in Cedar Rapids two or three hours ago. It was a beautiful day for the drive to little Guanajuato International Airport in Leon late this morning. As we drove toward the old train station to pick up the highway beyond to Leon, we drove by the circus that had also completed its run in San Miguel. The Big Top was coming down.

24 October 2011

Wings at Mineral de Pozos

Last Thursday, 20 October, Wings and I rode along with Michel to Mineral de Pozos, my favorite place in the world. Mineral de Pozos sitting at 7,500 feet is the old mining town that I have written about innumerable times including here and here and here and here. In addition, the entry that I just posted previous to this one relates to a trip out there that Fred and I took in March of 2010.

The Mines at Pozos

[The following entry is a repost of an entry relating to a trip to Mineral de Pozos that Fred and I made in March 2010.]

Today was a day for another hike. Fred and I drove back to Mineral de Pozos, the colonial mining town about an hour's drive from here. We explored the abandoned mining complex there. The admission was 10 pesos each ($0.79 American; €0.58; and $0.81 Canadian.). A lot of bang for the buck as it turned out, although you already know how much I love ruins.

18 October 2011


Until late September just before my return to Mexico, I had never given mules much thought in my life. In fact I had never given them any thought at all other than to recognize when a man was riding a mule instead of a horse, such as in the old Gunsmoke television series, or to recognize that a wagon was being pulled by mules instead of horses in western movies. Other than that mules had never, ever entered my mind at all. I ride horses.

The Goat Banquet

Last Sunday Wings and I financed a goat banquet at Fortino's house in one of the poorest neighborhoods in town, colonia aldolfo lópez mateos. I shot snippets of video throughout the affair. We had a ball.

I must add that Wings, Fortino, Luis, and Hadin did not drink all 36 of those 1.2 liter bottles of beer (43.2 liters total) by themselves. After Wings and the family and I ate, friends and neighbors dropped by over the course of the remainder of the afternoon to assist in that endeavor. I certainly was not well enough acquainted with them to shoot video of them.

Should you wish to see still photos of the Alan's birthday party that Fred and I financed last June along with more background on all of this, you can find that here.

17 October 2011

Interim Report

In a desperate effort to demonstrate that Wings and I are not total jackoffs as we meander through the city, I offer this little video of our church visits. I am stalling while I edit the video of the goat banquet that we attended at Fortino's house yesterday.

The following is a video of a brisk walk through the market uptown, mercado ignacio ramírez, culminating with Wings' corn on the cob.

And for what its worth, this is the Chamber of Commerce's video put together to promote San Miguel de Allende. It is a full fifteen minutes long and soon becomes a snoozer. However, the footage of San Miguel taken from a balloon in the first five minutes is spectacular, I think.

15 October 2011

The Gigolo

Wings and I had to take it easy this afternoon--Saturday afternoon-- and rest in preparation for the killing of the goat first thing in the morning at Fortino's "house." Video to follow. The goat will then be cooked over an open fire, as I understand it.

The following video is a leisurely one, eight minutes and change long. It is not of general interest. However, those who know Wings and me might nevertheless be interested in following us around the streets of San Miguel on a Saturday afternoon.

14 October 2011

Wings Amid Nature

Wings is a hedonist. Many of us already know that. Of course he has loved the food and drink and other product of the countryside here. This was no surprise. However, we have also indulged ourselves in other activities. He has enjoyed visiting Fortino's family with me in the poorest neighborhood in town, colonia adolfo lopéz mateos. We drove into the countryside today for a leisurely visit to a little remote pueblo, La Huerta, at the bottom of a rather picturesque canyon, the subject of today's video. Most worthy of note, Wings did the tour of the botanical garden, El Charco del Ingenio, with me. I was delighted to find that he thoroughly enjoyed it.

12 October 2011

Wings Over México: Week One

It has been exactly one week since Wings and I touched down at the little international airport in Leon and then took the shuttle here to San Miguel de Allende. I had emailed Hans, one of my landlords, in advance to pull the camper trailer out of storage and place it in its old spot here at the tennis complex. Scott has been living since then in that camper trailer across the way from my apartment and in between Courts Two and Three. It has worked out well for him.

Click on any of the photos below for a larger version.

06 October 2011

Wings Over México

In two and a half years of living in Mexico, I have never had a visitor from Iowa until yesterday. I would never have dreamed that my first visitor from home would be Scott Wingert. However, Scott took the plunge. Yesterday, he flew back with me after my visit to Iowa for my mother's ninetieth birthday party.

We took off from the Eastern Iowa Airport yesterday at 6:00 a.m. We landed in Leon, Mexico, at noon after changing planes in Dallas. An hour's shuttle ride, and we were here in San Miguel de Allende. The Wing Man was exhausted. I am not sure, but that might be attributable to the fact that he pulled an all-nighter before we departed. Just sayin'. In any event a siesta on my patio was required before we went out for our first foray together into the town.

22 September 2011

A Brilliant Idea

I had a brilliant idea this afternoon! It had to do with our geopolitical situation. It occurred to me, as these things most often do, in circumstances that I probably ought to replicate more often as a public service given the lightening flashes of brilliance so often generated by those very circumstances.

10 August 2011

Back Where I Belong Again

At this point I have completely given myself over to my own fascination with the old mining town of Mineral de Pozos, which is a little over an hour's drive from my home here. It is something akin to Oscar Wilde's adage that the best way to deal with temptation is to yield to it. By my count this is the sixth time that I have put up photos of either the town or the abandoned mining complexes in the vicinity.

14 July 2011

The Island

I find myself returning often now, returning to books that I have already read, returning to places that I have already been. There is an appeal for me about a return. There is always something new to be found upon returning to anything except people and the United States of America. So it was that last Sunday I returned to the island of Janitzio in Lake Pátzcuaro.

05 July 2011

Wherefore are thou?

Whereas some of us labor in confusion and insofar as anyone cares whereof she spoke, whensoever Juliet asked “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?” and whencesoever she asked it, be it on that balcony wherefrom we overheard her in the night whereinto she spoke and whereon and whereupon he soon appeared in front of that door wherethrough he later proceeded to her bed or wheresoever else, Romeo's whereabouts was not the mystery whereon she brooded. The mystery wherewith she was perplexed was why Romeo did exist, a question whereunto she herself had not the wherewithal to respond, “wherefore” being a synonym of “why,” which means “for what purpose.”

20 June 2011

On Second Thought . . .

. . . perhaps there are a handful of photos of the parade here that are interesting. And after all, I can be forgiven for a second installment of photos this year in view of the fact that last year I posted four installments on Dia de los Locos

The lesson there, I suppose, is this. Some people are never the victims of any irrational enthusiasms at all. Others have difficulty getting their irrational enthusiasms under control. I am getting this one under control now.

Another Weekend, Another Fiesta

. . . but this fiesta, Dia de los Locos, Day of the Crazies, holds a special place in my heart. In truth it is only another excuse to fire off a truckload of aerial bombs, but I love it. A huge costume party it is. This fiesta also happens to coincide with St. Anthony's own special weekend. He is the patron saint of my neighborhood, colonia san antonio.

18 June 2011

Finally! My Own Pyramid

After crossing the border in early June two years ago, feeling as if I had dropped off the edge of the world in that hell hole called Reynosa, I drove nonstop to this city, napping in the truck along the side of the road when necessary. The plan was firm at that point. I was heading toward the deep south, Oaxaca and then San Cristóbal de Las Casas in the state of Chiapas. My only reason for visiting this city was that I had promised some friends, a couple who had visited this city and loved it, that I would.

08 June 2011

A Baseball Homecoming

It has been said by so many American men that it is nearly a cliché. Had it not been for baseball my father and I would not have had anything at all to talk about. In my case because of baseball we had a lot to talk about. At least until Alzheimer's Disease took away all his interest in the game. Then the complexity of what was happening in a game in front of him was beyond his grasp. This, I know, was frustrating for him. He refused to watch at all during his last years. Even worse from my point of view, he no longer had any interest in reminiscing about the games he had seen in his life.

01 June 2011

At Peace with The Painter of Light™

I almost dropped the April issue of ARTFORUM when I scanned the table of contents. Almost lost my grip on it. ARTFORUM is a big, glossy magazine that will hurt you if it lands just right on the top of your bare foot. I quickly tire of holding it and move to the kitchen table to read it. Let the kitchen table hold it.

06 April 2011

Soccer on the Rancho

One of the greatest negotiators whom I have ever encountered is named Fortino. I came to Mexico two years ago thinking that I knew something about negotiating. This man has taught me a think or two. I could get my truck washed much more cheaply at one of the many car wash stands in town. I would rather pay more to Fortino to do it out of a bucket at curbside just for the experience of negotiating the price with him. He is relentless. In fairness, he waxes the truck, too, which would be additional cost at one of the stands. Nevertheless, every time I walk away to get some coffee while he goes to work on the truck, I walk away certain that I have been skinned.

08 March 2011

Keith Richards's Libraries

Keith Richards is quoted as follows in The Sunday Times of London and other sources as follows:
When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you. The public library is a great equaliser.

01 March 2011

Tequila Sunset

I am reporting in from the city of Tequila in the state Jalisco some miles short of Guadalajara and about half the way home. Yes, this is the city that sits amid those fields of blue agave, headquarters for the distilleries authorized to label their product "tequila." La Mexicana and I are laying over for the night in the Hotel Maria Isabel.

28 February 2011

Mazatlán Graffiti

. . .was my title. La Mexicana preferred something like "A Grand Mural of Mazatlán." Just another of those nitpicky disagreements about genre.

27 February 2011


Interesting faces, I thought, at this international gathering yesterday. . . .

24 February 2011

The Merely Unusual

On a certain level there is something the same about all beach resort communities. I gave some thought to this. Is it the slightly shabby little hotels of two or three floors all in a row. Is it the abundant souvenir shops and theme restaurants and other concessions designed for only one purpose—to relieve those tourists of as much of their money as possible during their short stay? Or is it the sameness of the tourists themselves, the elderly white men in their awful shirts, mandatory short pants, and over-priced, name brand sandals morosely accompanying their plump white women—“moderately obese” in physicians' parlance--who never shut the fuck up?

In the end I concluded that this sameness resides in the fact that all beach resort communities abut some large body of water and abandoned the whole train of thought as circular.

The point is that I am not going to put up a bunch of photos of the same stuff that you would see in any beach resort community anywhere. Yes, it is beautiful. You can see that from the one photo that I have put up. But a little time at the beach goes a long way for me. I have the craving for landscape, the craving of the flat-lander who has lived his life amid visual monotony. The seashore does it for some of us. Cliffs. Breakers crashing on the rocks. All of that.

It is the mountains that do it for me, but I find myself here on the beach for a good reason that I will explain later.

Still, Mazatlán has its charms. The shrimp boats are a-comin' all the time. After an obligatory pass through the predictably historic, disgracefully clean downtown, La Mexicana and I hit the side streets. We found an old guy selling shellfish on the sidewalk. We had the place to ourselves and enjoyed fresh oysters on the half shell and split a big shrimp cocktail glass full of assorted dead sea life. With hot sauce. It was a delight the likes of which I had not enjoyed since the old New Orleans.

La Mexicana was wielding the little camera today. I know my baseball cap is on crooked. That was intentional. I meant to do that.

The one good thing about tourists is that they are seldom truly adventurous. They confine themselves to the designated tourist areas where they can speak their language to each other; swap stories with each other about the quaint local practices that they have mastered; and then return home confident that they have been to Mexico. This makes escaping them easy.

La Mexicana and I wandered the streets deeper into the city away from the beach and got lost there. That was intentional, too. I meant to do that. There was an abandoned building there that fascinated me. 

A tree was growing out of the top of the building that was difficult to photograph because La Mexicana could not back off enough by reason of the narrow street. She did a wonderful job of photographing the rest of it though, I think. 

The tree's roots had grown down through the building. All through the building. By my feet you can see some roots emerging from a drain pipe that was built into the wall.

 This is a closeup of that very same root.

This is a tree root emerging from underneath a door and running along the foundation. It looked to me like The Blob from the early Steve McQueen film. (Am I remembering that correctly?)

The old shutters were ajar so that one could look into the interior through the bars. Those assemblages hanging down in the middle of the room are tree roots. To tell you the truth the whole thing gave me a creepy feeling.

You have to admit. This is subject matter the likes of which you have not encountered in other blogs here today. Right? Entertainment in the form of the downright bizarre and the merely unusual. That is my game here at The Solipsist.

15 February 2011

The Dicky Neely Blues Band

A Debut Documentary

When Adriana told me last September that she wished to borrow the video camera in order to make a documentary, I was taken aback. She had never touched a video camera before in her life let alone pressed a record button. She mastered the art of the brutal closeup right away though.

12 February 2011

An Opening

Last evening I attended an opening at Galeria Casa Diana over on Recreo. Paintings by Keith Miller were the feature. Keith Miller is billed as a botanical and landscape painter wherever you read about him. That seems a slightly insulting pigeonhole after one sees his work, and I have several times before. I suppose one has to convey something of genre when one is trying to interest the public in a painter's work.

11 February 2011

Guanajuato: Ten Photos

I had put off visiting the center of Guanajuato, the state capitol, until this past 31 January because I had heard of the series tunnels that one must negotiate in order to get in there. They are intimidating to the first time visitor, not quite like any other tunnels I have driven in. There are underground intersections in that pitch black for one thing. For the remainder of the day in Guanajuato the question remained in the back of my mind, "Will I be able to get back out?"

Even after one is in the city and walking around, there is a bit of a claustrophobic feel to it, not entirely unpleasant after a time.

The people there have a different taste in colors for their homes than I am accustomed to. More pastels.

05 February 2011

Camera in Your Face

The previous entry brings me to a subject that I have come to know a bit about. It is a subject, though, that I have not completely thought through yet for myself, although others have had things to say about it. It is this business of taking pictures of people. To put it bluntly, shoving a camera in another person's face. There are many people in this world who would feel more violated only if you shoved a gun in their face.

04 February 2011

Funeral in Guanajuato

God, I love this shot, if you don't mind my saying so. A completely lucky hit, it is to me worth hundreds of other photos that I've taken here for reasons impossible to explain. It is tweaked a little but not much. You can faintly see the widow's face through the windshield. The flowers stacked on top. The boy running in front. The mass of humanity behind; the empty street in the foreground.

Of course I felt that I was intruding. This was not the only shot. The new camera was set on machine gun. However, I took may hat off and stood respectively later as the cortège proceeded on by. It seemed to me that all was forgiven then after that gesture.

31 January 2011

His World: A Study

Sunday Afternoon in the City of Guanajuato, 
Capitol of the State of Guanajuato

28 January 2011

The World As It Is

Even I get fatigued sometimes sitting around trying to arrange the details of a better human world in my mind. It is one thing to speak eloquently of the better world, the "City on the Hill." Politicians must become adept at this. In my lifetime Robert F. Kennedy was the best at it for my money. It is quite another to get the detail right.

Obviously, perfect social justice is impossible. Therefore, in a better world there is only less social injustice and that which remains is of a more benign sort. But what does that mean in practice?

Perhaps, for another example, we can greatly reduce infant mortality. But then at what age is it acceptable for more children to die, as some must? Eight? Twelve?

I always hit the wall rather quickly on this sort of thing. When that happens, I must get out and enjoy the world as it is. Often this involves a walk in the park, Parque Benito Juárez to be specific.

27 January 2011

Some Perspective on Mexico

The boys have a little trouble pronouncing "Juarez," but otherwise quite well done, I thought.

25 January 2011

A Morning at the Tuesday Market

Once again I put up photos of various random scenes from the Tuesday Market out on the edge of town. On those rare occasions when someone up north expresses any curiosity at all about Mexico or what I do here, I never make the mistake anymore of actually trying to describe or explain anything. I simply say something to the effect that it has an appeal for me, but it is definitely not for everybody. I would never try to describe Tuesday Market or explain why I enjoy it so.

This very unprepossessing looking scene is one of the entrances to the makeshift complex that spreads over the area of several city blocks.

22 January 2011

An English Teacher in Spite of Himself

When I am lounging around on a warm winter afternoon on a park bench under a manicured tree in the Jardin, the main plaza up town, I am often approached by young Mexican students who are on assignment from their English classes. These are always students of Middle School age, adolescents. They are usually dressed in their school uniforms, which at this time of year are warm-up suits in appropriate school colors with insignia. On some occasions, such as today, they do this assignment in mufti for reasons I know not. Maybe it was another holiday.

21 January 2011

Light Show on the Parroquia

On Sunday evenings beginning in November there is a light show on the facade of La Parroquia, the parish church on the main square, in connection with the bicentennial of the war for independence. The method is similar to that used for the famous light show on the facade of the Reichstag in Berlin not too long ago.

18 January 2011

The appeal of cobblestone for me is difficult to describe. I attempt to do so at the risk of appearing off kilter, not a daunting risk though as risks go.

When one who has not grown up with it encounters cobblestone, it is obvious, without the necessity of any study on the matter, that streets have been constructed in that manner for centuries. There arises a sense of union with those of much different eras who also walked cobblestone streets. I suspect that this phenomenon does not occur with people who have known little but cobblestone. But for me walking cobblestone is a kind of time travel.