The first time I saw her I thought I was dreaming. I’d had more than my share of alcohol when I arrived at a night spot called Bar Blu, and onstage saw a drop-dead gorgeous woman with cinnamon skin, encased in a little black dress with deep cleavage. She was playing “All of Me” on the trombone, and playing it well. In the entire history of jazz, how many women trombonists can you name? How many that look like this?
Given how much raw material there is on the streets of Mexico City, and how many novelists make it their home, it is surprising how few of them use the place as content, backdrop or subtext to their narratives. One possible reason is that most of the city’s authors are from privileged backgrounds and of too delicate a temperament to have prowled the city with much dedication.
A notable exception is J.M. Servín, who takes a gritty view-from-the-sidewalk approach in his fiction. His novel Cuartos para gente sola (Rooms for Singles) culminates in a street brawl between a desperate man and a dog that has been trained to battle other canines. (The book was published in 1999, two years before the release of the film Amores perros, parts of which were also set in a dog-fighting milieu.) In 2007, Servín published Al final del vacío (At the End of the Void), a post-apocalyptic novel set in a near-future Mexico City. In his not exactly overheated imagination, the streets are full of demolished buildings, citizens can only go to the bathroom in public conveyances, and the streets are controlled by adolescent delinquents known as Dingos.
My favorite of his books is Por amor al dólar (For Love of the Dollar), his memoir of the years he spent as an illegal immigrant working in gas stations, restaurant kitchens and as a diabolical baby-sitter in the New York tri-state area. The tone of the book is bitingly funny, with a nihilistic sensibility along the lines of Celine. A word to editors and literary scouts: Given how hot a topic illegal immigration is, I cannot believe this one hasn’t been picked up for translation.
Are these boots made for walking, or what?
When I saw the sweater with the legend “morally bankrupt,” for some reason I thought of an ex-girlfriend. Unfortunately, they weren’t selling the garment in her size. Although these photos were taken in a small town in the northern state of Durango, the sweater with the English-language legend marks a popular trend in Mexico City. Years ago it was a form of status to wear a T shirt emblazoned with the logo of John Deere, the Dallas Cowboys or UCLA. Lately, however, those garments became old hat, and today it is common to see people wearing shirts with more rococo sayings, like “My therapist says it’s all your fault,” “Born free but now I’m really expensive” or “From zero to nasty in 7.5 seconds.” I’ve often wondered if the people who wear them know what they mean.
For those who don’t speak Spanish, the sign says, “fresh chicken, recently sacrificed.” You think they go for Satanic rituals before Sunday dinner in Durango?
Labels: Mexico City
The first table-dance bars opened in Mexico City in the early 1990s, a year or two before the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. In the intervening fifteen years, they have become a commonplace in the city. The most expensive feature curvy blondes from Eastern Europe (a common wet dream for the Mexican male) or heart-stopping beauties from South America. The cheapest variety employ women with bodies shaped like dinner rolls, who strip to the skin while pole-dancing, but never remove their long-suffering expressions.
I hadn’t been to a table-dance bar in a long time, until the other night when I went to the Plaza Garibaldi with a woman friend who, after our third drink, all but insisted we go to the Déjà Vu, located across the street on the Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas. The experience was one of those moments – which occur frequently in Mexico City – where I am caught by surprise after feeling as if I have seen everything.
As part of her act, one of the dancers in the club ingested and then discharged an ice cube, utilizing an orifice most commonly employed for other purposes. Shortly after, another dancer appeared on the runway. She was clearly, visibly pregnant, four or five months into her term.
At the end of last month, to coincide with FEMACO, the annual Mexico City contemporary art fair, the owners of the Hotel Hábita in the fashionable Polanco district hired 20 graffiti writers to cover the façade of the building with their work. As they were painting, police tried to intervene and stop them. This is a picture of the finished product.
The Hábita was the first 21st-century hotel in Mexico City, and not only due to the fact that it opened in the year 2000. At the time it was the only hostelry with a minimalist, nearly monochromatic, white Philippe Starck-ish design to ts 36 rooms. Several imitators have opened since. Here, Rafael Micha, one of the Hábita’s owners, demonstrates that he has sold his soul to the devil. This is my guess, at any rate, given (a) his diet, and (b) that he remains slim in spite of it.
This is Mari Carmen, one of the Hábita’s public-relations specialists. She is the closest approximation we have to Julie Christie in Darling in Mexico City.