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Champions

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After the awesome Under-17s World Cup semi final between Mexico and Germany, in which Julio Gomez became something of a national hero, when he scored the first goal, suffered a head injury after clashing heads with a defender trying to head in the second goal (it went past both players and into the net anyway), being stretchered-off, to be bandaged up, covered in blood, and with the game at 2-2, scored a spectacular winning goal to give Mexico a much deserved place in the final; after that, whatever followed could never be as exciting. And the final against Uruguay wasn’t as good, but it was still a very enjoyable game to watch. Mexico won 2-0. As soon as the game was over, my friends Sam, Lina and I went to the Ángel de la Independencia in the centre of the city to join the celebrations. It was spitting with rain when we left the flat, and the sky turned dark, thunder, lightning, and it pissed it down. But that wasn’t stopping anyone from celebrating. We live quite close, so we got there quicker than most, and there were already a couple of thousand people there. It was fantastic fun. Once all of our clothing was wet, there was little to worry about. It was quite the fun experience. I wonder if English people would’ve rushed to Trafalgar Square in the pouring rain if we’d’ve won the Under 17s World Cup..? Sadly, I doubt it. More photos on Flickr.

Written by Craig

July 10th, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Photos,Sports

Snigger

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Written by Craig

July 9th, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Photos,Silly

Puebla

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Like the up-to-the-minute fella I am, I’ve recently been enjoying the Arctic Monkeys’ debut album. Quite good. And I’m especially enjoying hearing an accent similar to my own. Well, it’s not the accent, it’s the words, and some of the pronunciation. Phrases like “got a face on” totally remind me of being back home. And the song title “Mardy Bum” makes me smile no end. And hearing the word “doesn’t” pronounced like “dunt” and, in the same vein, “couldn’t” becomes a word that most people find rather rude.

Long weekend here, like most Easter-celebrating countries (although, interestingly, the weekend here was Thursday-Sunday, not Friday-Monday) so I got out of the city for a couple of days. Went to a town called Puebla which is a couple of hours away, east-southeast of here. I went with my pal Sam and his parents. We went because we wanted to see some baseball. One of the things I’m hoping to do while I’m here is see as many ballparks as possible. With the well-documented issues in the north of Mexico, there are some ballparks that I won’t be visiting; it’s just not safe enough. But nine teams of the fourteen teams are in the south. Sam and his dad are Tigres de Quintana Roo fans, and they were the visiting team, in town to play the Pericos (Parrots) de Puebla.

Up at 6.30 am on Friday to meet Sam, get the Metro to a bus station, then bounced along the road in the fairly filthy bus seats (felt dirty and damp like when you’ve worn the same pair of jeans for way too long) to his folks’ place north of here in a tiny village called Oro del Agua. Uchepos (in the same family as tamales) for breakfast, and we were off on the fairly new road that skirts the city. And considering it was a holiday, the road was pretty darn empty. A nice trip through the yellow-ochre countryside, past Popocatapetl and Iztaccihuatl, a pair of big volcanoes, and into the Puebla metropolitan area.

Puebla is the fourth largest city in Mexico, but as a weekend visitor, one didn’t really get that feeling. All I saw was the cute downtown area and the view from a taxi window as we went back and forth to the ballpark. We dumped our stuff at the hotel, and went straight out to walk around and get some food. The downtown area is old and pretty. Apparently, Puebla is famous for it’s crafts and tiled buildings. Lots of very beautiful pottery and stuff. And the tiled buildings were lovely. In fact, lots of pretty buildings.

We went to eat at a place called Mesones Sacristía. And I ate my favourite Mexican dish, mole poblano, which originated in Puebla. Fa fa fa fucking delicious it was, too. That big lump under the brown sauce is a chicken breast. That some big ol’ chicken titty right there.

I was stuffed after that. But, one must solider on, and soldier on I did. To the ballpark for some baseball watchin’. The Pericos ballpark, Estadio de Béisbol Harmanos Serdán, stands in the shadows of the way larger soccer stadium, and it’s a nice wee park. Baseball here quite clearly isn’t awash with the money that the major leagues have, and you can see it in the ballparks. The two I’ve been to so far are old, rough around the edges, functional. But this one is way nicer than the capital city’s park. It’s smaller, so seven or eight thousand people seems like a lot, and the atmosphere is better. Part of that, I assume, is down to the friendliness one experiences when one leaves a huge city.

For the first game, we sat around the third base line. It was baking hot, and we found four seats that were just about in the shade. But that had us sat right behind the dudes with the drums, sirens, and big flags. Not as bad as one would imagine. They made a lot of noise and kept the crowd pumped up. And rather that that incessant blaring of music of the PA, (although that did happen, too). It’s one of the things I find strange about baseball in the majors, especially coming from a European background of watching soccer: as the crowd gets going with organic chanting, singing, cheering, the dude in control of the PA will completely destroy it by pressing the We Will Rock You button.

Anyway, the Pericos got off to a great start, Mauricio Lara throw four no-hit innings. In the fifth, he loaded the bases, but got out of it without coughing up any runs. By that time, they were 3-0 up, and tacked on a couple more in the bottom of the seventh as the sky darkened, and the rain came lashing down. Absolutely pissing it down. The tarp came out and, oh, it kinda only reached over half of the infield. They didn’t even bother covering the mound. I assumed there was no way the game would be finished, yet no announcement came, which seemed odd as the third base and home plate areas became big puddles.

All the while, the crowd, though, kept themselves entertained. Most of the people in our section were chatting away to each other, and a gregarious fella kept inviting ladies to dance in the aisles. An old timer was dancing on his own, too. Over an hour after the players left the field, the grounds crew came out, removed the tarp, put more dirt down, repainted the lines, and the game resumed. One final out in the bottom of the seventh, six straight outs in the eighth, and a fly ball, single, and double play ended the game. After a ninety minute delay, the game was over in fifteen minutes.

Feeling not that great after a belly full of mole and cervezas, bought some Tums, and we had another wee walk around. Lots of tourists. A fair amount of Americans and Europeans in town, too. Still, it was Easter, and it was around 9 pm and a lot of restaurants were closed, so we sat down on plastic seats next to a woman making chalupas on the street. I have a bit of a thing about having dirty or sticky hands. And watching this woman make chalupa after chalupa with greasy hands made me cringe, just thinking about what it would be like. Pretty tasty stuff, mind.

An early night, which was a good thing, seeing as though around eight in the morning, a loud van kept driving down the street. It was selling gas and blaring music and shouting that gas was for sale. Huevos mexicano for breakfast, and then we went on a tour bus around the city. Look! A church! And an old building! And another! All pretty, and it’s a nice quick way to see the city, but my mind tends to turn off and focus on other things. Tthat handmade sign, the table in the room, that guy’s jeans, and—who am I kidding?—the view of that woman’s cleavage from the top of this open-top bus.

Time for more baseball. My Tigres-supporting pals were hoping for a better showing than the four hits they got on Friday. Back on the third base side of things. Another thing that is different in Puebla is how the beer is served. In Mexico City, it’s in paper Corona-branded cups. Here, there’s no mucking about: they give you the can.

As with fans in Mexico City, there are plenty of MLB teams represented in merchandise. Some of the merchandise, though, isn’t spelled as well as one would hope.


The guy above wearing the Cleeveland Indians t-shirt, I asked him if I could take his photograph. I spluttered in crappy Spanish that a good friend of mine is an Indians fan (true), and that I hadn’t seen many Indians fans in Mexico (exaggeration) and it’d be great if I could show him there were fans here (lie, I just wanted to take a pic of his badly-spelled shirt). He said no, so I spent a not-insignificant amount of my camera’s memory card taking high-speed burst photos surrupticiously, eventually getting a pic as he left to get some food.

That same Indians-supporting friend and I share an interest: baseball caps which feature a character wearing a different cap. The Pericos have such a cap, so I went to the store to buy one on Friday. At the time I was wearing a Montreal Expos cap. A shop assistant excitedly pointed out that they had an Expos jersey. I got the distinct feeling that it had been hung up in the racks for a while. They didn’t take credit cards, so on Saturday, I went back, bought the Expos jersey, and a rather excellent book, “Enciclopedia del Béisbol Mexicano.” Full of statistics of about every LMB season up to 1992. Bedtime reading for quite some time to come, and hopefully, I’ll get a graphic about Mexican baseball out of it, too.

I’m quite sure I’m not alone in this, but whenever I go to a new ballpark, I like to walk around, watch the game from various parts of the park, so my pal Sam and I went for a wander to the outfield bleachers. The batter’s eye has a walkway connecting the left- and right-field bleachers, which was, rather understandably, fairly intriguing. (Just in case: the batter’s eye is a dark area behind the outfield fence so that when the pitcher throws the ball, the batter has a better view of it; kinda like the white screen they use in cricket.) When I got dead center, I crouched down, rested my camera on the wall and started snapping away.

And then came an announcement: “A las personas que están en la zona negra, las invitamos a pasar a sus lugares.” A couple of the players turned around, and my mate said, “They’re talking to us, we have to move.” Obviously, we shouldn’t really have been there in the middle of the batter’s eye while the game was in progress, but, y’know, you put a walkway there, you’re essentially inviting gringos to take pictures. I did feel a little guilty, though.

The game itself was kinda similar to Friday’s. Except the Puebla pitching was even better this time, Andres Meza throwing a complete game shutout, allowing 3 hits, a walk, and striking out nine. Taxi back to the hotel, Sam and I bid farewell to his folks who were staying another night, and we hoped in a taxi to the bus station to come back to the big city. On the bus they showed the film Are We Done Yet? starring Ice Cube and John C. McGinley. Even dubbed into Spanish, it was fairly easy to see it was a shit film.

(One thing that is interesting for me about this blog post is that I wrote it after doing the purely baseball post, parts of which are incorporated here, that I posted on Flip Flop Fly Ball. I find this blah-de-blah non-baseball writing so much easier to do.)

Written by Craig

April 26th, 2011 at 12:33 am

Local stuff

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I’ve been living in a new neighbourhood for two weeks now. And it’s pretty darn nice. The only real gripes I had about my old place—the rather-too-often lack of water, and the consistent organ grinder outside the window—are obviously gone, and in their place… well, I live on a fairly quiet street now. And the water works. Not only does it work, but it’s en suite. Yep, I have an en suite bathroom. And because it’s a pretty new building, my room very much feels like a hotel room. Small balcony where I can smoke. Wardrobe with sliding doors and some shelves for my caps and books. It is an utter joy having an en suite bathroom, though. To be able to stumble out of bed and know that nobody is going to be taking a dump when I want to shower is awesome.

Aside from the stuff indoors, there’s goodness outside, too. My new local Starbucks is only a couple of minutes walk away. This is something that makes me happy. Although the people who work at this one get things wrong a lot. At least twice they’ve announced a drink that I didn’t ask for, and when I told them that I ordered something different, they’ll quizzically look at the cup, and say that, yep, this is your drink. And they get my name wrong pretty darn often:

The neighbourhood has a lot of streets named after writers. It does kinda make stuff easy for me to remember, I must say. And I also get to feel a little bit of Lincolnshire pride when I walk around. Two streets are named after fellow Yellow Bellies: Tennyson and Isaac Newton.

It’s a weird thing, pride. I don’t often feel pride for places. When people I meet talk glowingly about the UK, I point out its flaws. When people ask about Lincoln, I usually use the words “small” and “boring” somewhere in the sentence. I try my hardest to not care about the England national football team. National pride seems like a ridiculous concept to me. I am proud that I come from a country that produced the Beatles, David Hockney, and “Fawlty Towers”; but why should that be more important than being proud of a continent that produced Kraftwerk, Yves Klein and “À bout de souffle”? And if I’m proud of being European, why stop there? Why not just be proud of being part of a pretty darn creative human race? Having said all of that, I do feel a bit of pride knowing that two streets in my neighbourhood are named after people from my county.

And while I’m on the subject of street names. My new street is a side street off a bigger street, Campos Eliseos. Those of you who are more cultured than I will immediately recognise that name as being the Spanish language version of Champs Élysées. Me, though, I am just stupidly happy to live near a street called Elysian Fields because that was the name of the place where organised baseball was first played in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 19, 1846.

And while we are talking about based balls, I’ve done a few things lately on Flip Flop Fly Ball: a chart about the 2010 Seattle Mariners pitching rotation; another about Manny Ramirez’s brief career with the Tampa Bay Rays; and tying all things up neatly (baseball and Lincolnshire), I noticed a similarity between a photo of Boston Red Sox player Kevin Youkilis and an old promotional poster for the glorious seaside resort of Skegness: Side by side and animated. And, from a couple of weeks ago, but I forgot to mention it here; and tying different things together again (baseball and the name of my nearby street), an iPad drawing called 1846: A Hoboken Odyssey. Fairly simple, really; a drawing based on the Elyisan Fields mixed up with the monolith from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Because, y’know, it’s the dawn of baseball, innit?

Written by Craig

April 11th, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Feels like we done got ourselves a storm brewin’

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The sky, about 20 minutes ago.

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March 28th, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Posted in Photos

São Paulo trees

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March 8th, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Posted in Photos

After a thunderstorm

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March 6th, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Posted in Photos

Goalposts galore

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A friend of mine called Steve started up a web site a while ago. It’s a very simple, nice idea. It’s called No Movement for Goalposts. He takes photographs of football (soccer) goalposts. And he invites others to do the same and submit them. It’s lovely stuff. I submitted a few photos taken on my recent vacation in Belize, including the couple above. If you like football, you’ll probably like his site. And if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up taking photos of goalposts and submitting them, too. Either that or seeing some posts and wishing your camera wasn’t sat on your desk back home.

Written by Craig

March 2nd, 2011 at 10:22 am

Posted in Links,Photos

Sky shadows

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Bigger version of the photo on my Flickr.

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February 28th, 2011 at 10:46 am

Posted in Photos

A skinny door

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On a nearby street, Calle Liverpool, there’s a hotel. Separating two parts of the hotel is the thinnest of alleys. That alley has a door. It’s about a foot wide. But it seems to be a fully-functioning door. You can see it on Street View here.

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February 10th, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

More Belize photos

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More photos from Belize on Flickr.

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February 7th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Photos,Travel

Belize photos

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Here’s a handful of photos from my Belize trip. On the Flickr.

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February 4th, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Photos,Travel

Museo de Arte Popular

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Last week I popped into the Museo de Arte Popular. It’s a wonderful place. Here’s some photographs.

Written by Craig

January 18th, 2011 at 10:16 am

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

Big Cola

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One doesn’t really expect a club like Barcelona to be regional partners with a brand that looks so… so… crappy. But they are here.

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January 14th, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Photos,Sports

In a glass

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Nothing makes you regret your order more than seeing your cappuccino come in a glass like this.

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January 14th, 2011 at 8:36 am

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

Spitting

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It is currently raining for the first time since November 3rd. (It might’ve rained when I’ve been asleep between then and now, though.) So that makes a grand total of four rain showers since I arrived in September. Life is tough in Mexico…

Written by Craig

January 13th, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

Baubles

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Woke up feeling glum after a dream that I’d been turned away from entering the country in an American airport and put back on a plane to Lincoln. I reached out of the bed to look at the time on my iPod, turned off the alarm that was due to go off ten minutes later, and opened my email, trying to hold the iPod in such a way so I could still read it lying down, without it flicking between landscape and portrait view. First email I see is from my mate John telling me Roy Hodgson is out and Kenny Dalglish is in as caretaker manager. The glumness disappeared. It’s rarely a good idea to get back together with an ex-girlfriend, but I was a little bit giddy reading that. Kenny Dalglish is pretty much the only hero I’ve ever had. Later in life, I came to love the work of Brian Wilson, but it’s tough to have new heroes when you’re out of your teens, I think. It may well be a disaster having him back, but in this horror of a season, what could be better than having 24 hours to dream of thrashing Mufc tomorrow. And who knows, it may well happen. Anyway, I’ve been in a good mood ever since John’s email, which might explain why I took this photo of me and the cat reflected in the baubles hanging from the lampshade in the lounge.

Written by Craig

January 8th, 2011 at 11:14 am

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

A long weekend

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After a few days out of the city at the weekend home of the family of friends, after those few days of sunshine and doing nothing much, getting back to Distrito Federal, it’s noticeable how loud the city is. Every regular big city has noise, but what makes Mexico City different to London, Berlin, Toronto is how much of that noise is specifically designed to disturb you. One could be charitable and say it’s noise that is there to alert your attention to certain things, but on the whole, the noises are there to be loud enough to make sure people in apartment buildings can here those noises through closed windows. And if, like me, you don’t really want to traipse down four flights of stairs to buy bananas or get your knives sharpened, they’re just added noise to an already noisy city. Still, I could leave with the trash men ringing their bells, the knife-sharpener’s whistle, the tamales guy’s looped announcement coming from the speakers on his bicycle, the steam whistle of the guys selling sweet potatoes, the shouts of “agua!” or “gas!”… I could live with all of those if the cilindreros, the organ grinder who plays on the street outside my bedroom/workspace would be swallowed up by the earth for crimes to the ears of human beings.

So, yes, as you can tell, I came back from a weekend away fully relaxed. I went to this place called San Gil. It’s a strange (to me, at least) little private estate, spread out around a big artificial lake and 18 hole golf course. It’s near a town called San Juan del Río, in the state of Querétero, about an hour-and-a-half northwest of Mexico City; a pleasant ride on a motorway through yellow-ish countryside with dusty hills on the horizon. And, since leaving Bellingham in the middle of 2009, I’ve hardly spent five minutes outside of one city or another. I spent the majority of the journey staring out of the window at the lack of buildings. Every now and again, there’d be cattle or sheepses in the fields, farmhouses, or by the roadside, cafes, restaurants, Pemex gas stations, auto shops, and places that sold concrete crap for the garden.

Nearing San Juan del Río, we found out that the people who’s house we were heading to were behind us on the road from the city, so we stopped for food at a barbacoa restaurant. Barbacoa is lamb cooked slowly in a hole dug in the earth, and covered with leaves. And it’s fucking delicious. It’s so very, very tender. I had some soup with the lamb, and, duh, some tacos de barbacoa. Also of interest at the restaurant were the pictograms used to indicate the toilets. Because all men smoke pipes, and women use fans.

At the house, it was one of those weekends where, afterwards, you wrack your brain to try and remember the order of events, but it’s impossible. The relaxation all blends into one mush of doing lots of nice stuff. Playing basketball and chess with teenagers, drinking tequila, eating all kinds of awesome food, sitting in the sunshine, riding a bicycle around the resort, playing with the dogs, and watching the freshly bathed and brushed male dogs suddenly get all fruity and spend an afternoon humping each other.

Noticing how quiet life is, noting the lack of policemen, enjoying the guilt-free drinking of beer before lunch, drunkenly not caring about making a tit of yourself playing the Xbox Dance Central game, trying to take poker seriously but just enjoying bluffing with a ridiculously stupid hand, developing intricate handshakes with a 12 year old, standing around chatting in the ever-busy kitchen, watching some gorgeous sunsets. It was a lovely long weekend.

Written by Craig

January 6th, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Photos,Travel

Out and about

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I went for a wander downtown yesterday. Truth be told, I don’t often leave my neighbourhood because, well, it’s quite nice, and everything I need on a daily basis is here. But, I was looking at Google Maps, and noticed a museum on there that I’d not heard of before: Museo Mural Diego Rivera. It costs 17 pesos to get in, with an extra five pesos if you want to take photographs. I wanted to take photographs, so I stumped up that extra 26 British pence.

Two tangents. Number one: on the topic of money, cigarette prices were raised this week from 30 pesos to 38 pesos a pack. That’s, what, just over a 25 percent rise. That’s a heck of a price rise in one go. It still means that cigarettes are crazy cheap for the visiting Western wallet: £1.98 / €2.32 / US$3.07

Tangent number two: I want to see one of those TV-advert-washing-detergent style tests when it comes to flash photography in museums. I don’t doubt that flashes and touching a) damages art over time, and b) constitutes like sexual assault. But I’d like to see an artist paint two exact copies of a painting, and then do an experiment where one is left in normal conditions, and the other has flash bulbs going off in front of it every few seconds for a year or so, to replicate long term damage.

The main thing in the museum, and well worth the paltry admission price, is the big ass mural “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park.” Absolutely crammed full of detail, lots of Mexican people on there, elements that I recognised, and others that I didn’t cos, frankly, my knowledge of Mexican history isn’t that deep. But even I could see that it goes from the Conquest on one side, through to the Revolution on the other.

According to this site, the mural was originally in a hotel foyer, but when that hotel was destroyed in the 1985 earthquake, the mural was saved, and now it has its own wee museo. The rest of the museum’s collection doesn’t amount to much, really, and were most of it in a bigger museum, I wouldn’t really pay a huge amount of attention to it, cos aside from the odd thing here and there, it wasn’t really overly impressive. And it was one of those museums where the guards stand a bit too close and follow you around. I understand the need for guards. If they’re not present enough, you get cunts like Banksy walking around and hanging their own tedious shite on the walls like they think they’re clever or something. (Oh, you really don’t know how angry I get just thinking about him. Breathe, Craig, breathe…) But when they hover, I find it impossible to actually pay any attention to the art. My mind just stops, and I start pretending to look at the art; it’s like I’m acting and my role is “person looking at art.” Except, this isn’t Hollywood or a West End theatre and I’m not Al Pacino or Laura Linney; I’m acting in a Manor Leas Junior School play and I’m a seven-year-old who is very bad at pretending to be enjoying looking at a painting. On top of that, the guards at this place never smiled. I was one of very few people in the place, and in every room I smiled at the guard, but not once was my smile reciprocated.

One thing that I particularly enjoyed about seeing this mural, a mural that I have never knowingly seen a picture of in my life, was how something I am working on, and have been working on intermittently since I arrived in September, is vaguely reminiscent of Rivera’s mural. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because the idea for my drawing came after I saw his “Man, Controller of the Universe in the Time Machine” mural in the Palacio de Bellas Artes. I wanted to do something as detailed as a Rivera mural, but in pixels, and as a “first impressions of Mexico” type of drawing. Seeing “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park,” though, has spurred me on to finish it. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

What you can see in my drawing so far is… front row, left to right: EZLN “leader” Subcomandante Marcos; the luchador Blue Demon; revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata; Frida Kahlo; two Day of the Dead-style skeletons in green and red either side of an eagle stood on a cactus eating a snake, just like the Mexican flag; former L.A. Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela; Jesús Malverde, the “narco saint”; El Santo, another luchador; composer and band leader Juan García Esquivel; and Miguel Hidalgo, leader of the War of Independence. Behind those people, there’s a torta stand, a street sweeper, a shoe shine guy (not a guy giving another guy a blowjob as a couple of friends have suggested), and a woman selling corn snacks from a cart. On the other side of the road, there’s a cilindrero (an organ grinder, or as I tend to call them, cunts), and behind the trees, an actor/comedian called Cantinflas. Eventually—eventually—it’ll be full of people and things. Eventually.

Across the street from the Museo Mural Diego Rivera is this building. Obviously, a huge building like this in the centre of Mexico City dedicated to whatever idiotic space alien some two-bit sci-fi writer made up in his silly head was probably entirely funded with the generous and willing donations of members of this particular “church.”

I plan on eventually opening a church in Mexico City. It will be the Church of Depeche Mode. It seems to exist already on an informal basis, but I plan to write a book about the great god Gahan and his god pal Gore, and there will be adventures of how Gahan, Gore and the lesser god, Fletcher go around the world spreading joy. Not just spreading joy, but also tearing down walls in Germany so that people with mullets and snow-washed jeans can unite with their mullet and snow-washed jeans-wearing brethren. And how the former god Clarke left our holy warriors to sing with a girl. And how the former god Wilder blasphemously abandoned our divine group due to “increasing dissatisfaction with the internal relations and working practices of the group.” And there’s even a part of the book where Gahan dies and is born again two minutes later. And these tales will be illustrated with moody photographs taken by a Dutch man whose name I can never pronounce correctly. And we will worship their Depecheness and their Modean ways by the singing of their hymns from the hymn book, which shall be called Music for the Masses. Please turn to page 76, and let us sing “Never Let Me Down Again (Split Mix)” for it is fucking awesome. We will try and cram song titles into our sales pitch on the streets and university campuses of Mexico. We will promote a New Life! We will teach The Meaning of Love, and that People are People, and that if people ignore the Blasphemous Rumours they will Enjoy the Silence that comes from having Love In Itself. And I, some two-bit blog writer, will be rich forever. Rich, I say! And many chicks will want to blow me. And they’ll probably want me to do them in the pooper, too. And I will build my big office compound right next to the Scientology one, and we will laugh at the poor saps who give us money. (The more I think about this, the more it sounds like a good idea, frankly.)

On the way to the museum, I must’ve taken the wrong exit out the subway station, or turned the wrong way at street level, and ended up walking a block or two in the opposite direction. When I saw a landmark I recognised at the end of a street off to my right, and I’d regained my bearings, I decided it was time for a coffee and a bite to eat. There were two or three well-dressed elderly men outside a place called Cafe La Habana, which was quite nice to see; I’m a sucker for older gentlemen who don’t wear trainers and sweatshirts, mostly because I imagine my generation and the generation younger than me will be the most hideous generation of old folks, clothing-wise. (This comes from a 40-year-old man in jeans, a hoodie, and a baseball cap). It didn’t look empty or overly busy, which is pretty much my favourite thing when it comes to cafes.

Inside lots of square tables, a nice big wooden bar with circular stools, some with busted upholstery. On the walls, up to the high ceiling, lots of framed black and white and sepia photographs of Havana and, I assume, Cuban people. They even had copper fire extinguishers, which seemed to have brass plates with words engraved on the front. Above the bar was a huge photograph of the cafe itself. Being in there was like when you’re looking at a tree at dusk. Your brain knows the leaves are green, so you see green, but if you were to actually look at the colour of the leaves in that light, they may well be purple. In that cafe, my brain knew I was in a Cuban cafe in Mexico City, but if I actually looked and turned off my brain, it kinda could’ve been a northern social club in 1970s England. Here’s a couple of photos, but like a fool, I had the setting on macro, so while furtively snapping the pictures I didn’t notice that they were focussing on the foreground, but you’ll get the idea.

I kind of like that in this photo, the man in the middle is dining with an enormous human/lightbulb hybrid on one side, and a man with a transparent balloon for a head on the other.

As I’ve seen in a fair few other Mexican restaurants and cafes, there were a couple of TVs. One a flatscreen, the other a fatback TV. Seems like that should be the retrofit word for old tellies. The reception was fuzzy on the fatback, but it was kind of in my eyeline, so I ended up watching it. There were people doing some sort of dancing in a bright pink studio. And when that stopped, the camera cut to a sofa where a young man with gelled hair was being interviewed. I have no idea who he was, but he kinda looked like a soccer player. All the time during this interview was a man dressed in a furry gingerbread man suit behind the sofa, waving and being silly. A few moments later, the gingerbread man ran over to the middle of the studio, joined another man in a snowman suit, and did a kind of pile-on, like you’d do in the school yard. And a load of people—adults!—in pink or blue jumpsuits joined in. It wasn’t odd in the slightest.

The waiter brought me a menu. I ordered a coffee. He heard my flawless Spanish accent and brought me an English menu. He asked how I wanted my coffee: strong or light? Strong, please. With some milk, please. And sweet baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem, that was an awesome cup of coffee. Absolutely the best cup of coffee I’ve had this year. Maybe last year, too. Frankly, I can’t remember having a strong cup of coffee—or even a cup of strong coffee—that was as good as that. I’d ordered a chorizo omelette, too, and soon enough, I was taking this photograph of it.

And a lovely omelette it was, too. The frijoles refritos were better than most I’ve tried, (I’ve just noticed, when checking the spelling on the Internet, that “refried beans” is a mistranslation, and that frijoles refritos means well-fried beans, not twice-fried beans), and the omelette itself was a good half-inch thick. Best of all, was having the chipotle on the side. A proper marinated chipotle, not just the sauce stuff. Chipotle is a whole heap of spicy goodness.

I got the bill: 81 pesos (£4.22 / €4.95 / US$ 6.54). Generally, the place was fantastic. It’s about 15 minutes away on the subway from my place, but I foresee I’ll be visiting here many, many times. The waiter was super friendly, and, well, let’s not pretend this doesn’t make a difference: a couple of the waitresses working there were cute. While I’m in a Rough Guide to Chipotle and Cute Waitresses kinda mood, here’s the address, should you be here and fancy checking it for yourself: it’s on the corner of Bucareli and Morelos, just a block or two from Juárez Metro station.

On the way home from the museum, I went into a Radio Shack to get the cable that I didn’t buy yesterday. Something that I’ve noticed happens here a lot is that cash registers in stores seem to run out of change. This is no Argentina where cambio is prized like water in a desert, but nonetheless I’ve found that lots of people who work in stores end up rummaging around in their own pockets, or asking colleagues for enough change for the 200 peso note I’ve handed over.

Back on the subway, and as always, there are people selling stuff in the carriages. I’ve never taken a subway ride where the carriage hasn’t had someone selling sweets, gum, sparklers, toys. Today there was a kid selling little bubble thingies. I don’t know what they are called, but you dip the plastic stick with an O shape at its end into a small bottle of washing-up liquid type stuff and blow. I don’t know if it’s a general evolution in this product’s make-up, but here the bubbles seem to be made of something less poppable that washing-up liquid. When they land, they kinda stay there until they wither, and they’re a wee bit sticky, too. This little kid was selling them, and blowing bubbles into empty space, but they inevitably landed on people. Passengers were wafting them away, and the kid was ignoring the nuisance he was causing. I was stood in the doorway, and sat next to the doorway was an old fella in nice shoes, a lovely tweed jacket, with a handsome moustache and the balding yellowish grey hair of a smoker. He was ignoring the kid and his bubbles. One landed right on the top of his bald head. If you had placed it carefully with tweezers you couldn’t’ve done a better job at getting slap bang in the middle. He had one clinging onto the arm of his glasses, too. I wanted to alert him, but I didn’t. I caught the eye of a woman sat opposite him and she smiled conspiratorially, so I felt that alerting him would’ve been being a bad sport. Ho hum.

And another thing. I wonder what it must be like to be of an older generation and see an everyday word you use have its meaning changed. Gay, for example. This isn’t, by the way, the part of the blog post where I go on to lament that you can’t say darkie any more, gosh no. There would’ve been a time, before I was born, I imagine, that people used gay in the old sense of the word regularly, but now that version of the word is all but dead, because were one to use it in the sense of something being lighthearted or carefree, you would have to follow it with an explanation that you meant lighthearted or carefree, not homosexual. I guess that definition of gay is heading towards the history books where words like thither, mischance, and felicity live. (Yes, that was a “You’ve Got Mail” reference.) And there’s something very delicious when one thinks about the homophobes of the world having to use such a lovely word to describe something they hate. But I guess that’s where words like faggot come in, sadly; another word that’s original meaning has been dispensed with. I got to thinking about this when, on the subway, I heard an English-speaking tourist use the word nightmare. I wonder how far away the English-speaking portion of the human race is from using that word primarily in a sentence like, “I had to wait three minutes for a bus, it was a nightmare,” rather than “I had a nightmare last night about having sex with my dead uncle Tony in a battleship on Mars.” It can’t be too far off. Although I guess we don’t really have as many linguistic options to cover a hole in the language that nightmare would leave, compared to the rather small hole left by the original meaning of gay disappearing. Anyway, should you want to read a blog post about not being able to use the word darkie any more, you can find something like that if you go to Flip Flop Teapartyin’, my Sarah Palin fan site.

Anyway, thanks for visiting the blog this year. It’s not always been good or interesting, but it has at least plodded along, and there was a time there in the middle of the year when I seriously thought it would end for good. 2010 hasn’t been my best year. I wrote a book, which is something I am pretty darn proud of; but apart from that, I’ve spent way too much of my time feeling unhappy. Boo fucking hoo. But, onwards and upwards. 2011 beckons, and if I don’t write anymore before the Gregorian calendar does its thing, may I wish you a Happy New Year y Feliz Año Nuevo und Guten Rutsch!

Written by Craig

December 30th, 2010 at 1:12 am

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

Yes! Clouds!

without comments

There I am saying there are no clouds in Mexico City, and look at this grainily-photographed beauty that I saw when I went out of the house a few moments ago.

Written by Craig

December 29th, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Photos