If you happen to be in the Bay Area

October 20th, 2014


I will be speaking to students of the Creative Writing Program at California College of the Arts this coming Friday, October 24, at 4:30 pm, as well as reading them a chapter from the novel on which I am putting the finishing touches. The event, free and open to the public, will be at the Writers’ Studio of the San Francisco Campus, 195 De Haro at 15th Street. After, I will take questions from the audience, and try to reassure them they are not wasting their parents’ money on their tuition.


Labels: Mexico City



A word to Tezcatlipoca

October 6th, 2014

C iglesia

I have been spending a lot of time in a town called Malinalco, finally finishing a book that I have been working on for what seems like a century. The closest other place of note is a town called Chalma, which has a sanctuary that is the second-most visited religious institution in Mexico, after the Shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The other day, after dropping off someone in the Chalma bus station, I stuck around, because as many times as I’d passed through to get to Malinalco, I had never visited the church. I thought it might be a good opportunity to put in a word to Tezcatlipoca (often known as the “black Christ” of Chalma), and ask for a safe passage for the book into the world at large. But it was a Sunday. The lines to get inside were dizzyingly long in the blazing sun and I didn’t have a hat. I thought it prudent to plan a return in the middle of the week.

Labels: Mexico City



A very little bit of sex

September 22nd, 2014

A pene

Perhaps the most difficult chapter to write in my book First Stop in the New World was the one about sex in Mexico City. How do you define the sexuality of 20 million people? No doubt it was folly on my part to even try. Let’s just say that some of the research was unforgettable.

A frogwoman

When I heard there was an exhibition called Taco de ojo: El erotismo popular at El Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares in Coyoacán, I was eager to take a look. In Mexican slang, a taco de ojo is eye candy– the designation of someone really hot. El erotismo popular is popular erotica.

A exvoto 2

By my standards, there is nothing in this show that would seriously scandalize anyone even mildly cosmopolitan. On a scale of one to ten, I’d give it a sexy quotient of perhaps three. Still, there are several amusing pieces, like the small section of deliciously sleazy ex-votos.

A gringa

I have known many a gringa that has had a crude morning after realizing a form of this fantasy. Customarily it takes them much, much longer to extricate themselves than to get it started. But maybe that’s true for gringos, too, with their Malinches.

A Maya

My favorite pieces in the show were some photographs by Maya Goded, who, among other specialties, has taken many pictures of sex workers. Sadly, there are only a few of her works in the show.

At a reasonable pace, you can get through all three galleries of the Taco de ojo show in about a half hour. It may not be earth-shattering or even particularly surprising, but I enjoyed the visit. I wouldn’t say it’s worth a separate trip, but if  you have anything else to do in Coyoacán, well then, hey Joe, give it a go. The museum is at Avenida Hidalgo 289, Colonia del Carmen, around the corner from the mercado de antojitos on Calle Higuera.


Labels: Mexico City

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Another burger joint

September 3rd, 2014

B stand 5

Lately, I’ve had burgers on the brain. Aside from my post of August 4, I recently I wrote about Mexican street hamburgers for a web site called Culinary Backstreets. Some readers already found it and written to me, but for those of you who have not, here is the link: http://www.culinarybackstreets.com/mexico-city/2014/hamburguesas-la-parrilla/. As I wrote, I didn’t come to Mexico City to eat hamburgers. But when a savvy chilanga introduced me to these charcoal-grilled babies, I realized that burgers could be Mexican, too. They are a guilty pleasure for me.

B stand 1



Labels: Mexico City



Argentine blues in Mexico City

August 13th, 2014

Photo by Sarah Taylor Cook

Ten years ago, when I was writing for D.F. magazine, a blues club called Ruta 61 opened in Colonia Condesa, and I went to report on it. I confess I was skeptical: I moved to New Orleans at the age of 17 and spent the better part of a couple of years there listening to blues, jazz and r&b in dives around the city. Among the groups being hyped at Ruta 61 in those days was Vieja Estación from Buenos Aires. Before hearing them, I asked myself, What the hell do the Argentines know about blues? Quite a bit, it turned out: maybe a military junta throwing your relatives out of airplanes into the ocean, a steady diet of peso devaluations and too many steak dinners are as good as poverty, discrimination and racism to inspire certain forms of art. In any case, Vieja Estación went back to Argentina a long time ago, but they are back in town and will be playing on Friday and Saturday nights this week, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Ruta 61. Even if you can’t make it over the weekend, very talented people play there most of the time, on any night from Wednesday (open mike night) to Saturday. This is the closest thing you can get to the juke joint experience in Mexico City. Ruta 61 is on Baja California Sur #281, a stone’s throw from Avenida Nuevo León. You can make a reservation at 5211 7602; it might be crowded this weekend.

Labels: Mexico City

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