Two or three years ago, a friend named Daniel Pastor told me that he wanted to translate David Mamet’s Oleanna and produce it onstage in Mexico City. Politely, I tried to discourage him, pointing out that the play had already been translated and produced here in the mid 1990s. I wondered out loud whether a twenty-year-old play that deals with sexual harassment would be understood in a country where sexual harassment is common, if not the norm.
Luckily, Daniel didn’t give up. I went to the opening last Saturday and, to judge from the audience reaction, Oleanna is as relevant as ever — perhaps more meaningful in Mexico today than it was fifteen years ago, as more people wake up to the concept of harassment.
It is a two-character play about a seemingly mousy and hapless university student who comes to a professor’s office to implore him not to give her a failing grade. As John, the harried teacher, Juan Manuel Bernal’s long-winded, pedantic speechifying is spot-on, but as Carol, his surprising pupil, Irene Azuela kicks ass. When the power shifts in the second and third scenes of the play, she is frightening in her intransigence and vengefulness.
Oleanna is on a Thursday through Sunday schedule at Teatro El Granero, behind the Auditorio Nacional in Chapultepec Park. Sadly, most of my friends in Mexico City never go to the theatre. Don’t even think about missing this.
Labels: Mexico City
One of the curiosities of my neighborhood, the Colonia Nápoles, is that there are no cantinas. There are fine restaurants with white tablecloths, a couple of decent fondas and some great street food. But nothing even resembling a cantina.
Not long after I moved there, Sergio González Rodríguez, a writer friend who knows the city’s watering holes like the back of his hand, took me to a place called the Salon Martell. It is in the neighboring colonia, la Del Valle, on the corner of Mier y Pesado and Romero de Terreros. The bartender, todo un caballero, is named Tomás.
You got to love a cantina with a photograph of Marilyn Monroe above the bar. Particularly that photo.
I am not sure why but the Salon Martell has few customers. (Then again, that is one of the reasons that I like it.) It also has one of those electronic jukeboxes with about a thousand songs. Sometimes on Fridays, the gentleman pictured above, known as “Eddie,” plays U.S. oldies on an electric organ, and sings them with Spanish lyrics. The botanas — free food served with the price of your drinks — are also quite tasty at the Martell.
Don’t get spooked by the monster, who shares space behind the bar with Marilyn. And Santa.
This building always reminded me a slice of Wonder Bread (or its Mexican equivalent, pan Bimbo). On Calle Venustiano Carranza in the centro histórico, for ages it was home to a seafood restaurant called El Malecón, but has been shut for the past couple of years. Sadly, I never went; it is hard to imagine how the waiters would have moved between tables in a space so narrow. Not long ago, I knocked on the door to see what, if anything, was going on. A porter told me that the property had been sold but had no idea to whom or to what purpose.
The New Orleans Saints go to the Super Bowl next Sunday. This is a first in the team’s history, and for all we know, may be the last. But Mardi Gras comes every year, as attested by the Krewe de Vieux parade (one of the first of the season) a few nights ago. This particular parade is noted for political satire, this year directed at Mayor Ray Nagin, whose absence of leadership during and after Hurricane Katrina has been bitterly noted by nearly all citizens of the city. He will not be mayor much longer. Primary voting for the next election is scheduled for February 6, with a runoff, if necessary, set for early March. No one seems unhappy to see Nagin leave; indeed, he is cheerfully being referred to these days as “Na-gone.”
The float in this photo depicts Nagin with the legend “Such a Blight.” This is a play on words of a song title of one of New Orleans’ own Dr. John’s greatest hits, “Such a Night.” Note the bottle in the tuba player’s pocket.
This float shows Nagin in “City Hell” rather than City Hall. To judge by the beers in the revelers’ hands, drinking is as much of a theme for the Krewe de Vieux as arch political commentary.
Some of the marchers had less subtle scorn to heap on Nagin (as well as Mitch Landrieu, his likely successor).
A couple of cool kitties.
Labels: Mexico City