Watch the video above, I implore you. Support, ponder, and bear witness. A democracy in Mexico cannot survive without the women and men you see here.
Watch the video above, I implore you. Support, ponder, and bear witness. A democracy in Mexico cannot survive without the women and men you see here.
** Originally published at World Now:
They were images that could not have been scripted with any more dramatic irony. Come to think it, it looked quite a bit like a network-produced telenovela. Just gone painfully wrong.
During the latest wave of demonstrations against the results of the July 1 elections in Mexico, protesters in Mexico City on Saturday converged on a colonial church downtown and began chanting and shouting from the outside while an actor's wedding took place inside.
The wedding of comedian Eugenio Derbez and actress and singer Alessandra Rosaldo was being aired live on the Canal de las Estrellas, the entertainment channel belonging the dominant media conglomerate Televisa. Televised weddings are a customary practice for a channel that tends to employ Televisa personalities' real lives as fodder for programming.
Protesters who had gathered by the tens of thousands in central Mexico City apparently got word of the televised event and dozens marched to the church from the Zocalo main square, reports said.
"Fraud! Fraud! Fraud!" the protesters shouted.
The chanting was audible over the Televisa live feed, making for excruciating footage as the bride and groom attempted to stick to their vows while the ruckus was heard loudly and clearly. See unofficial video here and a longer clip here.
There were no reports of arrests or injuries. But the incident stood out as an uncontrollable and spontaneous hijacking of air time in a tense period for Mexico's political and media establishment. Demonstrations have continued in several cities in rejection of apparent president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
Activists have rejected the election results due in part to widespread reports of vote-buying by the PRI. They are also targeting Televisa, which controls nearly all of Mexico's television channels in a duopoly formed with second network TV Azteca, and which they accuse of giving favorable coverage to Peña Nieto and the PRI for years.
Derbez, known for his role on the slapstick program "La Familia Peluche," is presumably enjoying his honeymoon and has not made public comments since the wedding. But on his Twitter account, the actor retweeted a message from a supporter claiming Derbez did not support Peña Nieto in the election and the demonstrators were "sheep."
Televisa's breezy newscast report on the Derbez-Rosaldo wedding does make a mention of the protesters, perhaps in acknowledgment that their shouting could not be ignored or edited out.
Separately, in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, a man identified as a member of the PRI was arrested and jailed after he pointed a pistol at election protesters from a restaurant balcony in the capital city of Xalapa during Saturday demonstrations.
Juan Pablo Franzoni Martinez, a PRI activist and restaurant investor, was detained and dragged away by police as his pants were coming down, creating embarrassing images that were then promptly ridiculed on Twitter. Authorities in Veracruz said Franzoni was booked on charges of threatening the protesters and for illegally carrying a firearm.
There's plenty of video circulating of that incident, too.
** Originally published at Vice.com:
We’re now less than two weeks away from Mexico’s presidential election, and at this point, few people would have expected that the otherwise unsurprising democratic process of voting would be accompanied by scenes of rabble-rousing students chanting and singing along with mariachi bands outside the studios of Mexico’s leading television network.
These scenes, part of a nascent student movement known as #YoSoy132, are now becoming regular features on the nightly news in Mexico. Imagine that, young people protesting media bias and media manipulation by the thousands in a country with little precedent for such collective grievances against corporate big media.
A lot of people here are pretty excited with this development.
It all started on May 11, when candidate Enrique Peña Nieto visited the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City for what was supposed to be a friendly meet-and-greet with the student and academic community. Instead, over the course of his visit, Peña Nieto suffered a humiliating and disastrous few hours of abuse from what looked like a spontaneous student protest. It got messy.
Peña Nieto came for a normal campaign stop, to deliver a speech and answer questions before an auditorium. The thing was going nominally well until students who had managed to slip in protest signs past a security check could no longer contain themselves. According to video, photos, and accounts of the event, the shouting started after one lone guy with a poofy haircut and a lot of attitude stood up silently holding a hand-drawn sign that read simply, TE ODIO. “I hate you.”
The shouting and chanting grew. Peña Nieto sought an escape. More protesters were waiting for him outside.
The candidate with the movie-star looks and soap-opera star wife was chased through the halls and courtyards of “the Ibero” by choruses of “Murderer!” and “Coward!” as students protested his handling of a 2006 dispute with campesinos in the town of San Salvador Atenco during his term as a state governor. The shouting and chasing grew overwhelming. Peña Nieto hid briefly in a restroom with his team, trying to find a good way out. Video of the moment shows Peña’s eyes wide and hollow, his forehead tense, lips curled up with fear.
By the time it was all over, Peña Nieto was literally run off the Ibero campus. As he ducked into a dark SUV, one reporter managed to ask him what he thought of the protests against him. “It’s not genuine,” he responded with a meager smile, and took off. And with that, the 2012 Mexican presidential race—the race that Peña Nieto was supposed to win without breaking a sweat—took a major shift.
The Ibero incident put the Peña Nieto campaign in damage-control mode. The next day, suggestions that the demonstration was staged by outsiders was repeated by his campaign chief, a few sympathetic Ibero faculty, and just about every provincial and vaguely corrupt newspaper that implicitly supports Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
This turned out to be an enormously foolish move. The students responded by uploading a video of 131 of them staring into their MacBook video cameras and repeating their names and their student ID numbers while flashing their Ibero ID cards. The PRI has spent many millions of dollars on its campaign to win Mexico’s presidency, but what followed was a media coup that no amount of cash or army of consultants could have stopped. Among Mexico’s active Twitter-verse, the hashtag soon appeared: #YoSoy132. “I am 132.”
It’s worth noting that this kind of brouhaha was very unexpected for Ibero. It is one of the swankiest schools in the country, the kind of place where a slick, media-savvy politician like Peña Nieto should normally be made to be feel right at home. Hell, the Ibero produces Peña Nietos. I know, because a lot of my friends are recent graduates. Even they were surprised by what happened on May 11, but not entirely. Any decent school always has room for progressive thought and action, and while the Ibero probably costs more per year than what millions of Mexicans make in an adult life, there was an undercurrent of “enough is enough” in the anti-Peña protest that seemed blind to class or social boundaries. By the following weekend, a classic grassroots social-media movement had taken off.
#YoSoy132 demonstrations broke first in Mexico City. Tens of thousands streamed through the central corridor and gathered at the Angel of Independence monument to make it known that they, too, were opposed to the PRI regaining power.
The party ruled the country for much of the 20th Century until 2000 with a potent mix of strategies that ultimately boils down to power-by-any-means necessary. It has a widely documented history of vote-buying, fraud, collusion with drug traffickers, censorship, intimidation, election-stealing, and often fatal repression against dissidents—from the assassination of top party figures such as Luis Donaldo Colosio in 1994 to the outright massacres of student protesters in 1968 and 1971. Peña Nieto says the PRI under his candidacy is a new party, and that his campaign should not be faulted for the party’s “errors” of the past.
In 2012, as the July 1 election day nears and the PRI remains ahead in the polls, the students aren’t having it.
#YoSoy132 demonstrations were also held in Monterrey, Guadalajara, Tijuana, Durango, Zacatecas, Tlaxcala, Aguascalientes, Veracruz, and many other cities in Mexico. Smaller protests in show of support of #YoSoy132 have also been reported among the wide Mexican diaspora in places like Chicago, Barcelona, Madrid, San Francisco, and before the White House in Washington, DC. Students at more than 35 universities and colleges across Mexico have joined the movement. What’s significant is that they’re forming a private- and public-university horizontal coalition that hasn’t been seen in Mexico with such force since the late 1960s. As thousands join their demonstrations, there’s a sense of collective dissent against the return of the so-called “dinosaurs” of the PRI, and collective disgust at the arguably biased role that the major media companies are playing in the process.
Now, this is not the Mexican Spring. It’s not a movement meant to topple the government. It’s actually stated a sort of incongruent political position: Against a presidential candidate but not in support of any other. For all we know, Peña Nieto has already won the 2012 election in Mexico. He’s about 15 points up; heart-on-his-sleeve leftie Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and incumbent party conservative Josefina Vazquez Mota, who’s all about keeping military on the streets against drug cartels, are so far splitting the anti-PRI vote.
Even if Lopez Obrador or Vazquez Mota pull off a wild upset in the end, #YoSoy132 will seek to keep the movement up, asking for media reform against the duopoly of Televisa and TV Azteca, which evidently represent an extension of the greater status quo in Mexico—all neatly symbolized by Peña and the PRI. Therefore, the natural questions are: Can it? Will it? Could it?
** Originally published at World Now:
MEXICO CITY -- The campaign for the front-runner in Mexico's presidential election is producing reality TV-style documentary videos that show him kissing and flirting with his wife, eating ice cream and returning home after a day on the campaign trail to hug his daughters.
The videos constitute a new level in the blurring of lines between politics and pop media in Mexico, and appear to be energizing support among voters.
Enrique Peña Nieto, galloping toward the July 1 vote with a double-digit lead over his two main rivals, would be the first president from the former ruling party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in the 21st century. The PRI, often labeled through its history as quasi-authoritarian, was booted from power in 2000.
The videos primarily star Peña Nieto's wife, telenovela actress Angelica Rivera, and are narrated from her perspective under the title, "What My Eyes See, and What My Heart Feel" (links in Spanish). In them, she follows her husband to campaign events and chats with him between stops in clips that feel like journals or diary entries.
One ends with Peña, 45, and Rivera, 41, arriving home and letting the viewer in on plans for an evening of dinner, bathing and bedtime. In another, he samples local ice cream. Here's a new clip from a stop in Villahermosa, in the state of Tabasco:
The videos are meant to show an informal, intimate side of the couple, who married in 2010 after the sudden death in 2007 of Peña Nieto's first wife, Monica Pretelini, while he governed the central state of Mexico. The clips have garnered thousands of views on YouTube and "likes" on Facebook. There, Rivera's public page frequently posts casual snapshots of her and her family.
Political advertising in Mexico's two most recent presidential campaigns, won by Vicente Fox in 2000 and fellow conservative Felipe Calderon in 2006, has moved steadily toward a more U.S.-style media approach. The PRI's effort this year takes the current social-media orientation of Mexican politics to a new level.
Peña Nieto personifies the trend, making some political commentators bemoan the nature of the 2012 race. In a Jan. 27 column in the daily Reforma, author Juan Villoro called Peña Nieto a "political hologram" and a "tele-candidate."
"There is no election today that is not decided in the media," Villoro wrote. "Trusting in this precept, the PRI has chosen a telegenic candidate. The problem is that he appears to have little more than luminous wrapping."
U.S. officials in Mexico have been watching Peña Nieto's rise for years, noting his telegenic qualities since the start, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables. One of those cables from 2009 relays a description of Peña Nieto as "a pretty face with nationwide appeal, but lacking in substance and political savvy."
His strongest detractors early on were apparently concentrated within his own party, the leaked cables show. In another from 2009, contacts inside the PRI told U.S. officials that they believed Peña was "paying media outlets under the table for favorable news coverage, as well as potentially financing pollsters to sway survey results."
His campaign has carefully guarded his public appearances, and the videos in "What My Eyes See, and What My Heart Feels," although edited with an unscripted, chop-and-cut flair, are no different.
During his first campaign stop in the city of Oaxaca, for example, Rivera's video diary showed an upbeat Peña Nieto greeting supporters at the city's central plaza but no images of the crowds of demonstrators who had gathered to protest the PRI machine.
The party isn't alone in pumping funds into sleek documentary-style video spots.
The campaign for Josefina Vazquez Mota, candidate for the conservative National Action Party, released a video Wednesday documenting her visit that day to the prestigious Tecnologico de Monterrey university.
In it, she speaks to students in an auditorium, then responds to a protestor who yells at her from the audience. The nature of the protestor's complaint, however, is not specified, and neither is the candidate's response, for that matter. Instead, the video ends with a crescendo of music and the candidate calling over applause, "Do not tire of truth! Do not tire of liberty!"
Photo: Institutional Revolutionary Party presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, center, and his wife, actress Angelica Rivera, left, during a campaign stop in Papantla, Veracruz, on April 13. Credit: Peña Nieto campaign
In this report in the Christian Science Monitor, the workers followed by reporter Sarah Miller Llana all appear to be wearing recent U.S. military surplus, clothes concievably manufactured for the United States's war campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Here are more:
So, Mexican workers pushed north to the United States by the economic realities in both countries, returning home to Guanajuato after the U.S. downturn, and starting up new farms wearing soldier gear? No idea.
El Festival NRMAL fue *laaaaa onda.* Pero la otra realidad pica.
From Wikileaks: "While there is public concern about the influence of the cartels, civil society is in general unaware of the degree to which the cartels have infiltrated key state and municipal institutions. All of the region's police forces are controlled by organized crime. In the case of San Pedro, the ABL cartel called the shots although a 15-person advance squad from la Familia was present in the city and trying to gain a foothold among the police force. (Separately, the former San Pedro Secretary of Public Security reports that La Familia has been engaged in such efforts intermittently since 2006.) As for the other police forces in the area, the Gulf Cartel was the true master. In general, and as was the case in San Pedro, the cartels did not attempt to bribe the municipal secretaries of public security, but bought off the number two and number three level officials on the force. Note: The mid-September detention by state law enforcement authorities of the Municipal Secretary for Public Security of Santiago (a Monterrey suburb) would represent an exception to this rule. End Note."
About half-way up the fourth-highest peak in Mexico on Sunday, we spotted these intrepid hikers. This is the Nevado de Toluca, a dormant volcano that reaches more than 15,300 feet. The sight was a humbling reminder that Mexican grandmothers don't play. They'll go anywhere in the name of family and fun. Anywhere.
Now, if this senior-citizen couple could do it, and did, damned if we couldn't. Huffing and puffing, but let's go.
This was our first view of the Nevado on Sunday, coming up after a drive through downtown Toluca, capital of Mexico's most populous state (the one with the most flummoxing name for a state in this country -- Mexico).
It's about a two-hour drive from central Mexico City to get here.
When we saw that old couple, we were just under the point far in the photo above where the green belt of trees ends and the frigid high-altitude snowy part begins. We didn't make it to the crater lakes atop, with traffic backed up heading up the road, but next time, seguro.
The Nevado de Toluca craters, as might be expected, were ritual sites for pre-Hispanic peoples. Sculpted pieces of copal were recovered by divers that have been dated at 1,500 years, and still maintaining copal's distinctive smell after that long underwater, INAH reports.
Deep, deep breaths.
(Click on any photo for a larger view.)
* What is that moonscape alien flower? Anyone?
The costumes are weirdo enough, but the interplay with the ancient archeological site and performers who appear to be native mexicanos is even weirder. Can she come back and do more? Or should we film a re-make?
Feliz año nuevo!
** Originally published at World Now:
A day laborer outside a Home Depot hardware store in northeast Los Angeles is riding in a bright orange shopping cart in the store's parking lot, peering through imaginary binoculars, as if he were on patrol in a dangerous jungle.
Others are crawling under parked vehicles as if squeezing below barbed wire, or diving and body-rolling as if evading gunfire. Before a sale display for storage sheds, two men lie still on the asphalt, their legs spread, as if dead.
The laborers are undocumented immigrants from Guatemala, and in an unsettling video installation by Mexican artist Yoshua Okon on view at a university gallery in Mexico City, they are war survivors playing themselves.
Before Okon's cameras, the migrants are reenacting their days fighting in Guatemala's long and catastrophic civil war.
The four-channel video piece, called "Octopus," is Okon's latest and possibly most provocative video in a career in which he frequently pushes against viewers' comfort zones with the use of improvising non-actors.
A native of Mexico City, Okon has also lived part-time in Los Angeles. He bought a house in L.A. and came to participate in a rite of passage for many new U.S. homeowners in the last decade -- hiring day workers.
The men he found at the Home Depot store in the Cypress Park district, it turned out, were indigenous Maya from Guatemala. They spoke a Mayan dialect and very little Spanish or English. They had escaped Guatemala's war in search of work in the United States.
Some fought for the U.S.-backed military government and others for the leftist guerrillas. Some, he said, showed him scars of bullet wounds. Now, as laborers at the bottom of the U.S. social ladder, they fight for scraps of work in the slumping construction market.
"They're more afraid of immigration than about talking about the war," Okon said during a visit this week to the exhibition space in Mexico City's Roma district. "To me, that's what the piece is about. It's the United States. The war is not over. The war is over there."
Okon, 41, has made films with wanna-be Nazis in Mexico City, an isolated family in California's high desert getting drunk on "White Russians," and Mexican police officers who agree to make bawdy sexual gestures they probably shouldn't in uniform.
While these works usually elicit in viewers a mix of chuckles and creeps, "Octopus" is different.
The new video is guided by a polemical stance, not self-parody. Home Depot customers amble past the bizarre scenes playing out with hardly a blink, showing that workers who build homes in the United States have "always been invisible," Okon said.
The artist also had to work guerrilla-style in some form himself. He filmed on the store's parking lot without proper permission. "I had to constantly negotiate with the security guards, until they finally kicked me out," he said.
Over two days of filming in March, Okon said the men from Guatemala gradually stopped giggling through takes and began to seriously inhabit -- or re-inhabit -- their roles. "It felt like a job," one of the workers later told the LA Weekly. And indeed it was; Okon said he paid the men a double day-rate for their time.
"Octopus," commissioned by the Hammer Museum at UCLA, will show at the Casa Jose Galvan exhibition space in Mexico City through January. Next year, Okon plans to take the piece toProyectos Ultravioleta, an arts space in Guatemala City.
A single-screen version of the 18-minute piece is viewable here. In one shot, as seen above, a motorist drives past Okon's cameras with a bumper sticker that reads, "Voter for a new foreign policy."
The shot was not staged.
* Image: A still from 'Pulpo.'
And here is some of the cool shit we got around to publishing in six lil issues of 8-pages each!
This was the best part of the entire Estrella Cercana operation, I think. We turned into a platform for fresh and interesting work, intersecting on the printed page across text and image, and often in interaction with pieces in the "Distant Star" show at the gallery.
We had no editorial guidelines from our publisher, the Kuris. The sky was the limit.
And as things came in, we went with the most Newsy stuff possible. Inevitably, this led to some criticisms about whether there was too much death, exploitation, violence, abuse, loathing, shock-value, guns, fascism, skin, dirty sex, and politics in our pages.
Our response, inevitably, was, 'Duh.' This is a NEWSpaper. (But with pseudonyms at work, yes.) We published, and please stay with me, the following ...
Remember Mexico City in the 1940s? Here's another good one.
Via LAObserved, this is an L.A. Public Library photograph showing the intersection of 1st Street and Broadway in downtown L.A., with a view of the corner where the gloomy Times Mirror corporate building now stands.
That's on the block that is sometimes gallantly known as Times Mirror Square, the headquarters of the once-storied L.A. Times company, where I went to work between 2002 and 2006 (and work now again, from farther away). In 1954, it looked like this. Look closely. There's a sign for a "Mexico City Cafe" in the mid-right, near the woman's head.
Come again? A place called Mexico City Cafe in downtown Los Angeles in the 1950s? Boggles the mind. A quick search turned up zero, and I'm left wondering and imagining ... Who founded it? How long was it there? What did this place look like inside? What was on the menu?
How did regular downtown Angelenos in the period respond to and interact with this cipher from its future "sister city"? Did LAT staffers or City Hall workers take lunch there? Did they like it? And, what are the cafe's ghosts?
This calls for a Serious Investigation. Mike Davis?
** EXTRA: Zocalo Public Square, another of my writing homes, asked this week, "What Movie (Besides Chinatown) Best Captures L.A.?" I thought of this one.
At least ten people were reportedly killed during fiesta patrias celebrations across Mexico last night.
That's an extremely low figure relative to Mexico's population and relative to an expectation that rises quietly every recent mid-September when Mexico celebrates its Independence Day. Inevitably, some people worry that a narco-terror attack will strike somewhere around the Grito like in 2008 in Michoacan. (See here.)
This week at La Plaza, I used the occasion to consider the implications for Mexico's current drug war and its future as a nation bound on democratic principles (supposedly) through the new Canana release "Miss Bala."
Read my thoughts on the flick here. And definitely go see it.
True role models, as far as I'm concerned. I know that headache. Are we need of an a la chingada with it all, pan-Latino-style work revolt? Play it!
* Previously, "No voy a trabajar."
That was fast. Within hours of a shootout near the Torreón football stadium that caused pandemonium among thousands of fans, a group calling itself Los Gallos Alterados uploaded on Youtube a corrido documenting the incident.
Really, the song gives about as much if not better detail on what happened than your average news story. He sings that the cause of the shooting was a checkpoint set up by the "gobierno militar," then calls for safety at sporting venues for the sake of the children.
Mexico, no matter what, I love you.
This is Eyaculacion Post Mortem, from Barcelona, on Friday night at Club Atlantico in downtown Mexico DF. Like death-punk? They're synthy and hardcore. Live, one of the best shows of any kind I've been to in a long while.
People were dressed in their darky punk best. I was busy in the slam. Everyone's sweat. Bodies. "Gente guapa aqui en México," said a voice from behind the masks.
Above, the documentary short "Barrios, Beats, and Blood," on the hip-hop scene in Ciudad Juarez, now on YouTube in its entirety. (I covered the premiere of the film last year at the Morelia Film Festival for La Plaza; see here.)
Directed and produced by journalists Ioan Grillo and John Dickie, "Barrios, Beats, and Blood" offers a direct window into the worldview of youth in a U.S.-Mexico border city that is drowning in death. The voices here direct their protest MCing at the cartels and the government alike: "Queremos que se jode y ya que se quede un puto cartel."
I bet Gil Scott-Heron would be nodding his head right now.
My brodderh Total Freedom, the king of casual, is wearing a one-of-a-kind altered overall by Uriel Urbán, aka U+U. Ash is wearing the piece as a jacket. We're on a street in Los Feliz, central Los Angeles, early May 2011.
The piece is from Uriel's first collection, shot by César Arellano a year ago. Check the look-book they shot at the Teatro Opera here. Ashland mixed the runway soundtrack for U.'s second collection, which was presented in late March as part of International Designers Mexico. Watch highlights here.
If you wanna, get the original runway mix below, a gift from Intersections.
Below, our homie Ellory, out of New Orleans, wearing the overall through the legs. We're in the studio in Centro in late April, during Ellory's first stop over in D.F., via La Habana, on his way to Monterrey ...
The photo above is by Tatiana Lipkes, an editor and author at the indie publishing house Mangos de Hacha, during the presentation and party for "Down & Delirious" on Thursday night in Club Atlántico in Centro. I'm waiting while Gabriela Jauregui is presenting the book.
Went so well! I read from the book in Spanish for the first time, from a draft of a Spanish translation by Elizabeth Flores. Gaby and the Pulpo ladies had us sweat-dancing all night. Took some questions. Rad performance by punk riders Agudos, Crónicos, y Vegetales. Thanks to everyone who collaborated, participated, and attended! Special thanks to the friends at Bósforo for the mezcales.
Now some notes:
† "Down & Delirious in Mexico City" is now on sale in D.F.! You can get it at Pendulo Condesa; that's at Nuevo León 115, in Col. Condesa. Sorry for the delay on that, for readers who've been asking where they can get the book.
El taller abarcará temas como medios, plataformas, métodos, y éxitos del periodismo que se practica en línea. Las sesiones son martes y jueves entre las 4 y 6 de la tarde. Informes con .357! Apúntense!
††† Finally, here's a video by Carlos Alvarez Montero where I introduce myself and the workshop. Check it out, and see you soon.
No exaggeration, a good 18 different people have personally sent me this link since it went live (though I saw right after it dropped, via Mudd Up!). So I'm just gonna post it already. Pointy Boots. Extremely pointy pointy boots. Botas picudas.
I'm as much at a loss about this 'craze' as you must be.
The video, part of an art package by Vice, is an introduction to a fashion phenomenon that is directly tied to the tribal guarachero boom that has taken hold in the north of Mexico and in some parts of the U.S, particularly in Texas. Filmmaker Bernardo Loyola and crew visit a town in San Luis Potosí named Matehuala (near the border with Nuevo Leon state), where local vatos claim the pointy boots were invented.
3BALL MTY mix-master Erick Rincon ("un dios para hacer el tribal") makes an appearance. He makes the connection between SLP and its migrant diaspora in the Dallas-Forth Worth metroplex. Watch and learn.
Let's just quickly hit the most obvious wonders. The pointy boots point to a fusion between a music movement and a regional tribalism in Mexico that appears to have nothing to do with any kind of illicit trade, neither as a belated reaction to a trend from north of the border. The boots, intervened, are the basis for a competitive dance-crew culture as well. Reminds me somewhat of the ass-bouncing cowboy crews in California.
I took these a few weeks ago on a visit to Ciudad Satélite, one of the most mythical and mythically dismissed suburbs in Mexico City. I'm on the rooftop of the new studio and workshop center .357, as a rainstorm approached. Megamall Mundo E is to my back.
.357 is a place you'll hear more about from me as I collaborate with Carlos Alvarez Montero, the photographer and founder, by offering a workshop there on digital journalism. More about that later.
A que ser vecinos.
Bill Cunningham might be "the hardest working reporter in New York," says the NYT Lens blog. I came to the same conclusion while watching the documentary on the street-fashion photographer last week in Manhattan. Cunninghman's life is devoted to his work, capturing what people are wearing on the streets of New York, and in the process, documenting a society's vivacious sense-of-self through its clothes.
He knows perfectly well what he's doing, and how important it is.
In the film, Cunninghman is depicted as living a monastic life that revolves entirely around his weekly features in The New York Times, "Evening Hours" and the addictive "On the Street" (my favorite piece of journalism in the entire paper). He lives in a cramped space in the Carnegie Hall studios, with no kitchen and a bathroom down the hall, and eats cheap. He is an 80-something with attends church every Sunday and admits in the film, in a tough moment, that he's never had a "romantic relationship" in his life. In some ways, he's a lot of like Enrique Metinides.
Cunningham started out as a hat designer in the 1950s after the war, then spent years shooting (and comparing) runway shows and street looks for Women's Wear Daily and the original Details. His ethic and moral compass are unwavering: when WWD used his photos to mock the women appearing in them, against his wishes, Bill quit the magazine and never looked back. Through the decades, he's followed his sidewalk muses -- such as a former U.N. official for Nepal who dresses in flamboyant suits -- and has charted not only chic women's fashion but also the rise of men's hip-hop wear. He made an "On the Street" on baggy jeans (in 1997) and one asking "How low will they go?"
The documentary "Bill Cunningham New York" is directed by Richard Press. Press is an unobtrustive presence, capturing Cunningham in total silence in solitary and seemingly unimportant moments, such as shots of the photographer quietly locking or unlocking his studio door. Press uses thrilling archival footage and photographs to present the history of the pulsating tradition of New York streetwear, through the eyes of its most faithful watchman.
"The point is," the photographer says, "fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life."
* Previously, "Bill Cunningham hat-tips the summertime fedora."
This is what D.F. feels and looks like right now, "Mordor." The smog and altitude and dryness of the spring is the source of the Mexico City mutation.
Last night on a roof-top we couldn't decide what color the sky was: a red-purple-orange nighttime gray? I look across the way on a street and I can't see the tops of the mountains. It's just ... blank. An idea: think it's time local fashion designers maybe start considering making ready-to-wear street masks? A future-is-now kinda thing?
But we still love living here, right? Without question. Addicted to the impossible city, infected by it. Oh yessss.
* Source uncertain for photo. Please alert me if it's yours.
Above, kids in the midst of some hard-core skanking at an underground ska toquin in San Bernardino, Calif., up near the mountains in the Inland Empire, Friday, February 11, 2011. I shot these photos with a disposible camera. It's all I had on me. It was so smokey and hot in there.
What is skank? Wikipedia says: "Originally, skanking consisted of a 'running man' motion of the legs to the beat while alternating bent-elbow fist-punches, left and right. Over time, however, variations have emerged across the musical world. The punk version features a sharp striking out look with the arms, and is sometimes used in moshing to knock around others doing the same."
Here's a blog-post on Skanking 101.
The show got going in a warehouse behind a storefront in downtown San Bernardino, with a long line-up of IE ska bands, a 5-dollar cover, and a BOYB ground-rule that usually promotes good vibes and good skanking. The dudes in Los Rudos told me about it during an interview the night before in Riverside (more on that later!), so I went. Among the bands on the bill, some of the hardest working Latin ska bands in the IE: Cerebro Negro, Skakahuate, La Liberacion, and more.
It hit me standing front-and-center before a Joy Division/Bauhaus cover band at a tucked-away little "centro cultural" (read: bar) on Bolivar in Centro, with two friends, Susana and Andreina, and Andreina's tattoo artist homies from down on Regina: Really, I could die happy right now.
Above, Joy Haus, playing all the dark-core post-punk hits, late Saturday, March 5, 2011. They played so good -- "She's Lost Control," "Bela Lugosi is Dead," "Love Will Tear Us Apart," "The Sanity Assassin" -- I coulda been in Manchester, circa 1979. In Mexico City, kids know their rock covers.
I can't find much of an Internet presence for Joy Haus, and I was hesitant to hit them up right away after their set because the singer was so, um, intense while performing. Called it a night. Felt so good the next day.
"Nos desquitamos de todos los pedos esa noche, pero cabron."
More photos and a short video clip after the jump.