Archive for June, 2013
Junction in Coyoacán, Mexico City
It was about $500 cheaper to fly British Airways from Cancún to London than from Mexico City to London, even when you factor in the extra domestic flights between Mexico City and Cancún. Even though I should’ve guessed, I wasn’t really expecting the flight to be so full of Brits. I’ve never before been to a foreign place where British people go on their holidays. Never been to Spain or the Greek islands or whatever, places where one would expect to be surrounded by my countrymen. And in Mexico, I rarely come across British people who aren’t at least a little bit like me: vaguely arty, intellectually curious, backpack-y types. During my four hour layover at Cancún International airport, I saw some of those, but mostly sun worshipping folk. This can’t help but sound snobby, but there were lots of people – and when I say people, I mean men – who looked like they would happily kick my head in. Lobster-coloured skin, ill-advised tattoos, football jerseys of shitty teams, pasty flabby skin around the skull with sad, angry eyes.
I wore a suit for my flight because, well, I wanted to feel like an adult. This seemed like a good decision when I was in my room in Mexico City. It seemed like a terrible decision when I was stood outside the airport terminal in Cancún smoking. And sweating. I am clearly British. Nobody in a Mexican airport is going to mistake me for a local, so to the handful of British tourists I glanced eye contact with, I was one of them, but untanned and not wearing a t-shirt and shorts and flip flops.
Things watched: Identity Theft which was, like Due Date, just a crappy version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I saw about half of The Mosquito Coast (fell asleep around the time the religious dude came to visit Harrison Ford’s village). Started watching that Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand film, but it seemed terrible after ten minutes so I abandoned it in favour of Jack Reacher, which I enjoyed more than I assumed I would (and really, it’s the sort of film that’s perfect for watching on a plane: a movie I would never ever ever consider seeing in the cinema or renting or even, for that matter, downloading illegally). And as we came close to the British Isles, I noticed Crossfire Hurricane, the Rolling Stones documentary was there. The sky was getting light outside and we were getting close to Gatwick, so by the time the captain told us to not use headphones and stuff, I’d got as far as the Exile on Main St. era. Must make an effort to watch the rest of the film…
Coming back to the United Kingdom is a weird thing in my head. It is home, clearly. I am British. A friend of mine in D.F. recently commented, negatively, that I was “so European sometimes.” But I have found, over the last five years, that I half dread coming back. There’s a part of me that very much looks forward to it, but another part that is incredibly nervous. It is home, thus it has expectations in my head. Expectations it may fail to live up to. Or, possibly worse, expectations that will be exceeded. Last time I was back, at Christmas 2011, I had a wonderful time and was very sad to leave.
What seem like too romantic views of my home country kicked in very quickly. As the plane flew across the south coast, and the watery-milky clouds became fewer, there was the sight of all those green fields. Such a green and pleasant land. A greenness that is only really noticeable when you live in a orange and dusty part of the world. Cars driving on the, what I have come to believe since living the last third of my life outside of the UK, wrong side of the road.
The miserable fucker at the passport control immigration desk told me to stand in front of her desk, not at the side. I wonder if her job description is “be a humourless cunt to citizens of the same country”? Would it kill them to be, y’know, at least a tiny bit nice; to say “welcome home”? Within five minutes of being on home soil, I had already muttered to myself, “this is fucking bullshit.” Immediately after passing though passport control, there are display boards telling passengers which carousel their baggage will be at. A paperjam of people all looking at the name of their flight’s origin with WAIT next to it. It took 30 minutes for CANCUN WAIT to turn to CANCUN 2.
A friend picked me up from Gatwick and we came into the centre of town. Through Croydon, Thornton Heath, Streatham, Brixton… my old “manor,” really. I lived in south London for four years. It’s changed but it hasn’t changed. There are more money-lending places, more betting shops, more coffee places, but the faces are still the same.
I’m typing these words sat in a pub, the Green Man, in central London on Wednesday afternoon. I’ve been awake for over 24 hours now. The obvious things: it looks like a pub, not a bar. There aren’t meseros hovering around my every need. A pint of beer is nearly five fucking pounds. But the music is low in volume and there’s no television showing whatever football game is happening somewhere in the world. The same friend who thinks I’m “so European sometimes,” also thinks I’m an alcoholic. I don’t think that is the case: I just like drinking. And even though this pub is a vaguely fancy pub, it’s incredibly nice to have a pint glass in front of me and to hear English accents chatting away at the tables around me.
But this post will have to wait until later to be posted. This pub has free wifi, but you have to give them your mobile phone number to get some sort of code to give you access. They tell you it’s for security reasons. Not at all cos they want your data, oh no.
Overheard at the next table, no context: it was just a burger. No bun, no lettuce, no tahmaaah’er, no nuffink, just MEAT.
This is how the above animation came to be:
I was listening to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s song “Orange” and I thought it might be nice to have all the words of the rainbow chopped together with a very simple animation of coloured circles.
I searched my music for songs with colours in the title, and didn’t really do much more.
Later in the day, I was drawing the circles and listening to the Pogues album Rum, Sodomy and the Lash. As always happens after track four, the fifth track was “A Pair of Brown Eyes.” It seemed a shame to not have brown in the rainbow animation. And it was amusing to me to think that brown would be pissed off with the rainbow colours.
I opened Wikipedia and had a look at some pages about colour and came across a page about a book called “Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution” by Brent Berlin and Paul Kay, which lead me to a page about basic colour terms, and that some of the most basic colour terms aren’t named in the rainbow colours. That sealed the deal, really.
The original idea would, it turned out, only be a title sequence for something about the colours not in the rainbow.
Eight other paintings from earlier in the month here.
More finger painting here.
This is in Ojo de Agua, a small town north-ish of Mexico City.
More finger painting here.
This is on the southeast-ish outskirts of Mexico City. (Street View link)
More finger painting here.
Digital drawing of a detail of Caravaggio’s Saint Jerome Writing. I’m not as good at drawing/painting as he was. Odd, that.
More finger painting here.
More finger painting here.
New drawing called “Let’s go home, fellas, the people who live here don’t seem particularly friendly”.
The Fall have had a lot of members. I’ve attempted to do a chart about them.
I’ve been doing some painting recently. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years now, mostly because of the enjoyment I have found doing digital painting with the Brushes app on the iPod and iPad. Still finding my way, but I figured a good place to begin is trying to do with acrylic paint what I’ve been doing with the app. And, y’know, it’s fun. A couple of weeks ago, I did a big one on canvas, but that felt like the wrong way to be experimenting. A big (and expensive) canvas is too… well, big and expensive to properly let myself go, try things out. All the paintings are acrylic on paper, A5 size (14.8 x 21 cm), and are all of places in Mexico.
There was a thing on a big avenue that runs through the centre of the city called Reforma. It was the Feria de las Culturas Amigas, which, is something like the fair of cultures and friendship. A friend and I went yesterday. Along each side of the avenue were stands from a whole bunch of countries. Mostly it was a bit of food to eat, liquids to drink, some trinkets and clothes to buy, and some music playing from that particular country.
We had a Russian drink that was a mix of cola and non-alcoholic beer. (I presume that the lack of alcohol was mainly because of the laws about not drinking on the streets here.) We had a small potato-y thing (a bit like bubble and squeak) from Portugal. We were gonna have a German sausage, but they looked kinda skinny and useless, and a bit further up the road was a Polish place which had great sausages. At this point we kinda decided to try and eat a little food from each continent. Not before we had a fantastic brie sandwich from the French stall.
On a side street near the European section is a big hotel. Can’t remember the name. But it’s the hotel where One Direction were staying. They were playing in the city. Loads of screaming. Especially when people, one assumes band members, popped their heads out of the windows on the fourth floor.
One of the good things about going on Sunday was that Reforma was closed to regular traffic, as it is most Sundays, because they allow people to cycle there without being injured or killed by this city’s terrible motorists. Sadly, though, at around 2pm, the roads were opened and the whole fair got super busy when pedestrians were forced back onto the pavements.
The stalls were all vaguely grouped by continent. Apart from, it seems, countries that have issues with each other. Pakistan and India were pretty far apart in the Asia strip. Israel was grouped together with the Europeans, way away from Palestine. And the Koreas were kept apart, too.
I was looking forward to seeing the Reino Unido stall. Mostly, and lets not be coy, to giggle at what crap Britain would come up with. And they didn’t disappoint. It was awful. You know those gift shops you see at the London airports? All beefeater teddy bears, Tube logo t-shirts. There was that, a thing promoting Strongbow, another thing promoting Walkers shortbread, and the area where you could buy food was seemingly just about Knorr. You could get chicken bits and chips. FISH AND CHIPS, you fucking morons, not chicken and chips! That’s the Britishest thing.
In Africa we had some fantastic lamb balls, couscous and salad in a flat bread from Tunisia. Balls of lamb flesh, btw, not lamb testicles. And a very refreshing lime-y mint-y drink from Algeria. (Interestingly (?), Algeria in Spanish is just an anagram: Argelia.)
Heading into Central and South America, I bought a baseball cap from the Domincan Republic stand for just 60 pesos. Had I have wanted to, I could’ve bought a Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, or Albert Pujols t-shirt, too. At the Brazil stall, we eat pão de quiejo and drank guaraná. I cheered a little when I saw the Belize stall. I cheered a lot when I saw that they were selling Marie Sharp’s hot sauce which, dear reader(s), is the best hot sauce on the planet.
Outside the US embassy, there was a huge gap in the fair, mostly, one assumes, because they want to remind everyone how important and how party-pooper-y they are. A bit further along, was their stand, which seemed to be designed to remind you about all the crassest parts of American culture: Jack Daniel’s, Harley-Davidson, hot dogs, chilli dogs, apple pie, a cut-out of Obama, and lots of plastic flags. Plus the chance to have your photo taken with people in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes. United States of America, you made it very easy to mock you.
Seemingly all the Arabic countries offered your name in Arabic as a henna tattoo. The UAE stand was decorated way better than most. Comfy sofas and carpets. And framed pictures of sheiks. There was a dude at the Saudi Arabian stand who stood near the back, aviator shades, legs crossed, inhaling deeply from a cigarette, for all the world looking like he could not only sell me some fabric, but some uranium, too.
Just one more continent of food remaining, and we had a shitty spring roll-type thing from the Phillipines (the only really bad thing we ate, actually.) And then on to what I was looking forward to the most: La República Popular Democrática de Corea. North Korea. There was an amazing-in-its-badness painting of two dogs and a football. Lined notebooks for sale. Bought one of those. And we tried the food. What we had was a flat fried vegetable thing with some soy sauce. It was okay. Kinda better than I imagine most North Korean food being.
It was a nice afternoon. And a great reminder that there’s way too many countries out there that I will never get around to visiting.
Apologies for the crappy quality of the photos, I only had my iPod with me, which is a piece of shit. Here’s a picture of some Russian chocolate and my North Korean notebook.
I began this drawing last September. Worked on it intermittently since then. Finally got it done. It’s a drawing of the centre of the lovely city of Oaxaca de Juárez.
Here’s a Google Maps screengrab with the streets I drew above highlighted in pink.
New infographic about the songs on the Pixies’ demo tape: http://flipflopflyin.com/thepurpletape/index.html