During the UNAM brigade to Chiapas, whenever possible, there was drumming. By the end of the trip the children of Independencia were just as devoted to the drums as the brigadistas.
During the UNAM brigade to Chiapas, whenever possible, there was drumming. By the end of the trip the children of Independencia were just as devoted to the drums as the brigadistas.
Mexico has a new boxing sensation, Antonio Margarito, also known as the "Tijuana Tornado." Margarito put away reigning WBA welterweight champ Miguel Cotto on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. I caught the last four rounds of the match at a nameless cantina in a Garibaldi alley, where the dude next to me kept saying this was the "fight of the year," given the national rivalry at play. Cotto, from Puerto Rico, walked into the fight unbeaten with 32 wins, most of them by knockouts. Margarito, born in Torrance and raised in Tijuana, was the consensus underdog to claim the WBA title. He had vacated the IBF title just so he could take on Cotto.
What happened? In the 11th round, after a relentless and smart assault from the 30-year-old "Tijuana Tornado," 27-year-old Cotto dropped to his knee twice, bloodied and beaten, forcing his corner to throw in the towel. Thrilling. Definitely read the BBC's stylish report on the bout, and Steve Bruce in The Independent. AP sports writer Greg Beacham declared that Margarito has "finally established himself as the meanest hombre in a division packed with tough talent." There's an opening in Mexico, Beacham noted, for a fresh boxing idol in that "boxing-mad nation." Maybe the ghost of Antonio's brother helped?
* Above, Cotto and Margarito, doing press for the match. Previously, "Boxing, borders, brotherhood: Meet the Molina twins."
“We don’t have journalist positions at the CIA,” Craig P tells me with
a wide smile, “but we do hire people that have journalism backgrounds
as analysts…. And what do analysts do at the CIA? Well, they read. A
lot. They read everything we give them, and make sense of it.” He asks
me where I’m from, and we exchange small talk about perceptions about
the West Coast and East Coast. While we’re on the topic of perceptions,
I mutter something about waterboarding, but Craig P either ignores me
or the comment flies right over his head. He is still smiling.
“We don’t have journalist positions at the CIA,” Craig P tells me with a wide smile, “but we do hire people that have journalism backgrounds as analysts…. And what do analysts do at the CIA? Well, they read. A lot. They read everything we give them, and make sense of it.” He asks me where I’m from, and we exchange small talk about perceptions about the West Coast and East Coast. While we’re on the topic of perceptions, I mutter something about waterboarding, but Craig P either ignores me or the comment flies right over his head. He is still smiling.
As UNITY wraps up today with a speech from Barack Obama, a burning question is, "Where is all this talent of color going to go?" You know, as newspapers and many mainstream news outlets -- once professed to be 100% committed to "newsroom diversity" -- die a slow and agonizing death. To the CIA, really? Bogado adds: "I would have to admit that for some people, the situation is bordering on desperate. That said, I am shocked that an agency which has played an important role in suppressing freedom of the press in the United States and abroad is here to recruit us."
* Bogado is a dope progressive reporter and blogger based in Los Angeles, who recently had some, uh, words for street art game-player Shepard Fairey. In interview after interview, Fairey has dismissed Bogado as "a girl who was Mexican" who once got in his face over his use of the image of Che Guevara. (Bogado's origins are in Argentina, like El Che.)
My friend and frequent border-crosser Pedro in San Diego sent me this image from his iPhone the other night of two women who had been caught being smuggled north in the dashboard of a van at the U.S.-Mexico crossing at San Ysidro. Yes, the dashboard. This is what Pedro reported, in the raw:
Was sent to second revision cause I didnt have a passport or birth certificate... Was
parked waiting for INS to check my orange ticket when this INS chick
comes to the van in front of me with some tools...she starts to break
down the inside of the van... took out the chairs, steering wheel, then
as she was taking out the dashboard there was these two chicks hidden
behind the board... they helped these ladies out of the van.. and asked
them to sit down next to the van...thats when I took the pic... the INS
guy saw that I took the pic.. and took away my phone... but he gave it
back when i left....
Was sent to second revision cause I didnt have a passport or birth certificate...
Was parked waiting for INS to check my orange ticket when this INS chick comes to the van in front of me with some tools...she starts to break down the inside of the van... took out the chairs, steering wheel, then as she was taking out the dashboard there was these two chicks hidden behind the board... they helped these ladies out of the van.. and asked them to sit down next to the van...thats when I took the pic... the INS guy saw that I took the pic.. and took away my phone... but he gave it back when i left....
Daniel.. what I was very happy and surprised about was that when INS found these "criminals" not once did I see them disrespect these women, they asked in what city they were born, helped them find their shoes that were lost in the dashboard, very friendly to them, and never talked down to them.... explained what was going to happen to them... then they handcuffed them and took them away....
Then after the INS guy was done interrogating me... I told him what I had observed from them.... he said, "They are already embarrassed enough that we caught them, we dont want them to feel any worse, this is what we do every day."
* See previous posts in the Intersections category, Borderlands. It's a term that I've noticed gradually entering the mainstream U.S. lexicon but let's never forget its conceptual roots: "Borderlands/La Frontera," the seminal queer Chicana feminist text by the late Gloria Anzaldua. We can only imagine what she would have to say of the image above ...
The London-based designer Hussein Chalayan was in Mexico City in May for the world premiere of his "Level Tunnel," another iteration of the increasingly common merging of commercial branding, fashion, and a strong marquee name. Here's what Chalayan had to say about D.F. on his first visit here, in my interview with the designer:
I feel like I’m facing a cocktail of humanity. I feel it’s a city of 10 different cities, and I’m quite overwhelmed. I find it’s completely a proper international, cosmopolitan city. I think there’s a strange Americanization as well. I guess it’s almost like Spanish imperialism has been replaced by American commercialization. But I think the city is really vibrant, there’s an incredible energy. I’m really impressed. And it feels really clean, weirdly. Like really, really clean.
Read the rest of our conversation in the current issue of Celeste magazine, where Chalayan touches on the good and bad uses of technology, today's generation of young designers, and his favorite article of clothing ("It's from my men's wear. It's called a Box Jacket. I wore it today."). The tunnel's official website reports: "2,800 people visited the tunnel in Mexico City -- everything from design school students to local celebrities -- and they seemed to agree. There was a strong sense of pride that Mexico had been chosen as the site for the world premiere."
Now, the consensus among people who saw it, as far as I heard, is that Chalayan's tunnel "experience" is impressive but ultimately does not achieve the kind of breathtaking effects we've come to expect from fashion's foremost trailblazer. Nonetheless, for me, it was a real treat to meet Chalayan, especially as he's transitioning into a new venture as creative director of Puma. Definitely expect some trippy results from that pairing.
The current issue of Celeste features also interviews with Diane Pernet, Jeremy Scott (both interviewed by Angela Esteban Librero), Vik Muniz (interviewed by Mauricio Limon), and photo stories by Napoleon Habeica, Alexandra Carr, Pablo Franco, and Valerie Phillips. (Shout-outs to editor Paola Viloria and translator James Young.)
Here are members of the independent UNAM brigade to Chiapas and residents of the ejido Independencia, on our first full day in town in June. Residents took members of the "Pavement Commission" on a tour of the town's streets, which were in serious need of upgrading. (That grass you see there functions as one.) The Pavement Commission, comprised mostly of UNAM engineering students, clustered in this image on the left, dedicated themselves to doing a complete survey of the streets during our stay in Independencia in order to eventually present the findings to the local government, in the hopes that they may be adequately modernized.
A little Mexico detour, because I'm wondering: Do news media outlets refer to the NAACP as “The Colored People” or the AJC as “The Jewish Committee”? No, they don’t. Yet while covering this month's NCLR conference in San Diego many outlets including the L.A. Times, Washington Post, and other generally reputable sources like RealClearPolitics felt it okay to refer to NCLR as "La Raza." This means that the mainstream press has adopted the semantics tricks of the right-wing propaganda machine to conflate together two very different things: NCLR -- the largest and most middle-of-the-road, big-money-backed, non-partisan Hispanic (their word) advocacy organization in the United States, and the codeword for reconquista hallucinations advocated only by an extremely small, extremely fringe, and extremely irrelevant batch of Chicano nationalists.
Doing this plays directly into the ignorant fears of paranoid immigrant-bashers. The double-standard is unacceptable. Because there are real dangers of coding and bigotry at play here: look at what just happened in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Another hate-fueled illegal immigrant lynching. Listen to the story at Free Speech Radio News. A week later, still no arrests.
We have opportunists like Lou Dobbs and the soft racism of politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger to thank for laying the rhetorical groundwork for such a climate. It needs to stop. "La Raza," once for all, is an historical term. Its use in the NCLR name merely reflects the period of the organization's founding: the 1960s. (Does anyone in the NAACP even utter the words "colored people" anymore?) It's a question ultimately of accuracy, as Carla Marrinuci blogs at SFGate.
On its end, NCLR generously takes the pains to answer its uninformed critics, but one needs only to look at the Mexican American Princes to understand just how "dangerous" are the ambitions of modern Latinos like the kind who gathered in San Diego last week to hear speeches by Barack Obama and John McCain.
* Above, Obama at the 2007 NCLR conference in Miami Beach.
Mexico City-based freelance journalist Ioan Grillo produced this piece for Current TV summarizing the "emo riots" of spring 2008. I am interviewed for the segment. (As a general rule I tend to draw the line at radio, but I guess the times are a-changin'.)
While the confrontations have died down, interest in the Mexican emo phenomenon remains high, bringing the majority of new visitors to Intersections through searches and incoming links. In May, I wrote a lengthy in-depth piece on the topic in Spanish for Gatopardo, a vital venue for serious magazine journalism that is distributed across Latin America. I have a couple related pieces in print publications in the U.S. still coming up.
This is a close-up of a large wooden green cross that Cortes "himself planted with his hands" when he arrived at the Senate of the confederacy of Tlaxcala on his march toward Mexico-Tenochtitlan. This is where he forged an alliance with the tlaxcaltecas (except for Xicohtencatl II, who was not feeling it at all), a nation that had always resisted conquest by the Aztecs.
The cross sits in a small museum at the monastery of San Francisco in the city of Tlaxcala. When I saw it -- in the open air, with a meager paper "Please Don't Touch" sign, and a little chair beside it -- I really, really tripped out.
Fresh dispatches at my "Letter from Mexico City" over at LA Weekly. First, a gloomy "Ode to Tlaloc." Next, photos from the 30th gay pride parade in D.F. And tonight a report from the mediated underground, Vice magazine's fittingly indecent Mexico City party.
* Photo above, moshing to The Black Lips.
** NOTE: I've added a page in the right-hand column under "MORE THINGS." It's a look back at some of my work as a staff writer at the Weekly. More pages are in the works. Currently I am away from D.F., writing.
You forget sometimes how big, 'urban,' and sort of permanently tucked away Colonia Roma is, despite its known evolution. In particular, I mean the farther reaches of Roma Sur heading toward Viaducto. It's like its own mini-city. Here I am with my friend Nuria, a resident of Roma Sur, checking out the current show at Border -- deceptively monochromatic paintings by Gustavo Abascal -- and then having a coffee at Border's new cafe-gallery-library space at 43 Zacatecas. They specialize in graffiti and street art.
Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard took the extraordinary step on Monday of offering "public apologies" to the families of the victims of the tragic stampede at the News Divine disco in Nueva Aztacoalco that left 12 people dead. This comes a week after a really spectacular high-level government shake-up: Ebrard's police chief and attorney general both resigned on the same day upon the release of a damning report on the incident from the city's Human Rights Commission. During the raid on June 20, for one, police were pushing the youth out and at the same time blocking the exit.
Today the commission said, "nice, but an apology is not enough" to satisfy its recommendations. It's common knowledge that Ebrard, a fairly partisan populist who often bike-rides to work from his home in Condesa, is running for president in 2012.
* Previously, "What happened in Nueva Aztacoalco."
In the Americas we're still contemplating indie rock and swooning over Daft Punk that is technically three years old. In the hoods of France they're do this. It's called whatever you call the thing that comes after Daft Punk, after hip-hop, after freestyle, after "Vogue," after techno, after raving, after break-dancing, after surgery?
* See 1000pour100 for more. Previously, "On insurgent electro France and the rise of the 'chav'."
In a future world of rising oceans and depleted fossil fuels, imagine a plant that can thrive in desert conditions and be irrigated with saltwater. Imagine that this plant makes a healthy dish for humans -- fresh, steamed, or grounded up. And imagine if that plant could be converted into bio-fuels.
That plant is salicornia, also known as "sea pasparagus" or "samphire." The succulent is the subject of an L.A. Times piece by Mexico City correspondent Marla Dickerson, who follows a scientist named Carl Hodges to the remote Sonoran desert where Hodges is farming 1,000 acres of salicornia with diverted seawater. He already did it in Eritrea, and in Mexico, he's eyeing 12,000 acres more:
[Hodges] wants to channel the ocean into man-made "rivers" to nourish commercial aquaculture operations, mangrove forests and crops that produce food and fuel. This greening of desert coastlines, he said, could add millions of acres of productive farmland and sequester vast quantities of carbon dioxide, the primary culprit in global warming. Hodges contends that it could also neutralize sea-level rise, in part by using exhausted freshwater aquifers as gigantic natural storage tanks for ocean water.
Read the entire story here. * Previously, "Oceans rising: So long, South Florida!" and "Anything to stay cool: Picturing a planet without us."
* L.A. Times photo by Brian Vander Brug.
Here is a member of the UNAM brigade to Chiapas using superhuman strength to help lift a truck that had fallen in a ditch at a road maintenance site on the way up into the mountains behind Tapachula. The situation created an hour-long delay for our arrival to Independencia -- after a full day of bus travel. At this point in the journey, most clothing was optional.
After years of struggling against serious illness, Alfred Arteaga, a poet and professor at UC Berkeley, passed away on July 4, Sound Taste reports. Arteaga is author of "Chicano Poetics," a seminal work in Chicano literary theory. The East L.A. native was also an energetic and inspiring teacher. Journalist Carolina Gonzalez writes:
I first met Alfred when I took Bahktin seminar he taught my first year of grad school. The fact that he was a theory head, a practicing poet, a small-c Chicano who despised ethnic orthodoxies and a Shakespeare scholar quickly made him one of my models for how to reconcile my academic, cultural and political interests. Long after the seminar ended, we developed a relationship that based on poetry, on rock'n'roll and deeply connected to the importance of language, justice and beauty.
At Berkeley, I was among the many students whom Artreaga introduced to the poetry of Lorna Dee Cervantes, who shared a close bond with the profe. Arteaga would lead these really thrilling close readings of poems from Cervantes's book "Emplumada," which to this day remains my most prized volume of California verse. His final book, "Frozen Accident," was published in 2006. Alfred Arteaga will be missed.
These are Tokyo kids hanging out in a club in Roppongi, photographed by Ritzy Periwinkle, who writes: "Please notice La Virgen de Guadalupe on his shirt." Yup, of all the styles of dress that Tokyo youth fervently adopt, it shouldn't be surprising that among them exist those who choose to wear modern Southeast L.A., head-to-toe. Or is it the "Vatos that time forgot"?
* More photos at LA Eastside.
Here are members of the multidisciplinary brigade that left the UNAM campus for Independencia, a tiny ejido in southern Chiapas, on Monday, June 23. They're in the middle of hollering the traditional UNAM cheer, or porra, that goes, "Goya! Goya! Cachun cachun ra ra! Cachun cachun ra ra! Goya! Universidad!" We needed the high spirits for the 20-hour overnight bus ride.
The group, organized and funded entirely by students and independent of the university or any political party or foundation, was on a mission of action, bringing aid and energy to one of countless communities in Mexico that are hungry for both. In the coming weeks I'll be posting images from the 12-day brigada interspersed with other topics.
* Previously, "In the coffee forests above Tapachula, Chiapas."
This is a detail of a painting by my brother Sergio, a graffiti and tattoo artist in San Diego. When I asked him to send me this image, I had been thinking of our curious relationship with Tijuana. The representational painting, in keeping with Sergio's toonish style, is a nostalgic scene of the barrio we knew in La Mesa. We called that lot -- a yard and a row of single-room bungalows -- "los cuartitos." Each little branch of my maternal Andrade clan had its own little cuartito. Here's what Sergio had to say about the painting:
The piece is called Saturday Morning in Tijuana 82. I've also called it Tijuana 1983. Either or. Like all the other pieces that are still in my house it is a work in progress. None of my paintings are finished until someone else owns them. I tried to portray what it felt like going to Tijuana to visit the fam on the weekends when we were little. I remember ninjas were awesome and Bruce Lee was the shit. I also remember random dangerous holes and cracks in the ground. Paleteros. The stories of [our brother] Gaston being like the local dog whisperer. I also included Gramma Esperanza in her lime green pants. Cars that were not functional... cousins that we called tios. Outhouses...stuff like that. I'm glad youre diggin it. I like it cause I think that that Tijuana, for better or worse, is quickly disappearing.
The piece kind of reminds me of a latter Carmen Lomas Garza. Lomas Garza is the Tejana painter whose warm scenes of Mexican American domestic life in South Texas are included in Cheech Marin's "Painters of the Verge" collection.
* Sergio is not naturally a self-promoter. But let me tell you that he has exhibited his canvas or graffiti work in galleries and shows in Baltimore, Oklahoma City, Mexico City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Tijuana, and Melbourne, Australia. He also practices mixed martial arts, MCs with the Boxfeeders, and has modeled for Tribal Gear.
* Previously, "Officially cool, Tijuana art arrives."
As I noted earlier I am away from regular Internet and cell phone service but I wanted to quickly drop an update. I am in a coffee-producing ejido in the tropical sierra above Tapachula, southern Chiapas, near the border with Guetamala, with a "multidisciplinary brigade" independently funded and organized by students of the UNAM. The brigade is working on paving the streets, offering cultural workshops, establishing a library, and fixing the town elementary school's electrical infrastructure. Tacana looms above us. Details when I return to D.F. * Sorry, unable to upload images right now.