August 28th, 2015



Image from Bored Panda

A few readers have asked me, in private messages, why I haven’t posted in this blog lately. The answer is a complicated mixture of the personal, the professional and the technical — I am still trying to figure out the mechanics of downloading photos from my smartphone — but let’s just say that lately I have been more engaged with real life than with my computer screen. I hope to be posting more regularly in the near future.

If you are in Mexico City next Tuesday night — or shall we say early Wednesday morning — at 12:45 a.m., I will be appearing on a show called Los Corresponsales on TV Azteca, channel 13. It’s a 15-minute program hosted by Ricardo Raphael, political analyst and author of Mirreynato, a book that has caused a lot of polemic here, about the class of young Mexicans born with silver spoons up every conceivable orifice.

He invited me to talk about the ascendence of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential race. I think we had a lively conversation, but sadly, I didn’t use the opportunity to repeat what one of my best friends, a psychiatrist in New York, told me about Trump. This friend, of course, has not actually treated Trump, but feels that he has elements of narcissism, grandiosity and a touch of sociopathy. He also invented a word, trichodysmorphia, to describe Trump’s hair problem. 

At the end of the day, I am skeptical about Trump’s candidacy. I think it will ultimately sputter out and die like it has on previous occasions. That his despicable racist views are a reflection of the beliefs of a large chunk of the U.S. public  — mostly disgruntled white, working-class males — is dismaying, but is it a surprise to anyone?





Labels: Mexico City



Sex positive

May 8th, 2015

Did you ever notice how in some countries, pharmacies tuck away the condoms and other sex-related products in some corner so discreet as to be entirely invisible? So you have to suck it up and ask the clerk where they are, probably in earshot of several old ladies, mothers with children, and so forth? In Mexico City, they’re pretty much in the front window, like here in Farmacia San Pablo. (The provinces are another story. One chain in Guadalajara, known as Farmacias Guadalajara, refuses to sell them at all.)

Labels: Mexico City



What I do when I am not writing

April 17th, 2015


An article about my work as a mitigation specialist by Vianey Fernández was recently published in the Sunday supplement of the newspaper Milenio. For the Spanish-impaired, lo siento.

Labels: Mexico City

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Mexico in a fishbowl

April 8th, 2015

I’ve always wanted to take a picture inside this tunnel, which divides Colonia Condesa, the Zona Rosa, Colonia Roma and Colonia Juárez on Avenida Chapultepec. But there are no walkways along its sides, and given how chilangos like to drive, I would no doubt never make it out of there alive if I tried. But I love the imagination of painting the walls of a tunnel as if they were an aquarium or the ocean. Or a huge fishbowl.

Labels: Mexico City



The name is Albóndiga. Jaime Albóndiga.

March 16th, 2015


Few would argue that, these days, Mexico has an image problem. The bad news has been building up since 2006, when Felipe Calderón, president at the time, declared war on drugs, a war that has claimed about 100,000 lives and has been sustained by his successor, Enrique Peña Nieto.

Peña Nieto’s problems have not abated since last autumn, when 43 students were kidnapped, tortured and probably murdered in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero — most likely at the behest of the local government. The President’s response to this and other atrocities has been woefully inadequate; it would appear that there is absolutely no one in his cabinet who is capable of showing him how to put a foot right.

Still, the government has its ways of trying to change Mexico’s reputation. The people who hacked into the internal files of Sony recently published reports that officials of the government offered tax incentives of up to $20 million to Sony to make changes in the script and casting of Spectre, the upcoming James Bond film, partially shot here in the Mexican capital.

Mexico wanted the script shaken rather than stirred. Among the alterations solicited were that, instead of the murder of the mayor of Mexico City, an “international leader” would be killed; the principal villain of the film would not be Mexican; and the Mexican police force would be replaced by an “international police force.”

The officials who dealt with Sony also demanded that a Mexican actress get to play a Bond girl, for the first time in the 24-film franchise. Stephanie Sigman, who shined in Miss Bala in 2011, got the gig.

There were also requests by the government that they shoot some flattering travelogue scenes in Mexico City. (Apparently, they stopped short of asking that James Bond’s name be changed to Jaime Albóndiga.) According to reports — published here in Proceso, and also in the Washington Post, the Guardian and other international media — Sony executives Jonathan Glickman and Amy Pascal, happy to save some money, bent over backwards to accommodate Mexico. “We should insist they add whatever travelogue footage we need in Mexico to get the extra money,” wrote Pascal in a hacked email.

Spectre is also being shot in Italy, Austria, England and Morocco. I wonder if those countries’ demands went as far as Mexico’s. Meanwhile, the violence continues here — to name just one incident, earlier this month, a mayoral candidate in a Guerrero town was kidnapped and decapitated. The government may have $20 million to offer to Sony, but half the Mexican people still live in poverty. Perhaps a snuff movie, rather than a James Bond film, would reflect the country more accurately.


Labels: Mexico City