3 weeks ago
Friday, 24 September 2010
(Migrant Workers Wait for Work in Cancun)
Following the Dead theme of this month's post, I was originally thinking of calling this post "Casey Jones (Riding That Train)," but then changed last minute. Entonces, como prefieras.
Lots of talk surrounding migrants in Mexico, after the most significant one-day attack, left 72 Central Americans dead. For those of you who haven't read the lamest book in the world, called 'Enrique's Journey' or seen 'Sin Nombre' (which is actually a lot better than I thought), homey Grants has a piece on World Vision Report (a great program) about following a young Guatamelteco trying to reach his parents in the States. Tis plenty cool, and a snapshot into life on the trains and the motivation that bring countless thousands up to the US every year. Listen here, while you work, rest or play (trademark: Mars)
On a different train, my homey Ras in Halifax sent me this pretty dope video about DF. For a city that has a rep for being run by wild dogs and gangsters, its a really fascinating take on what is a really a much more diverse, clean, funky and tranquilo city than you have been perhaps made to believe. Literally just watched it, but wanna know more about the peeps behind it.
Back in Liberia, a cool radio feature about land claims on RFI, by Rosie Collyer. Been really fascinated by radio lately, and following a lot of land claim stuffs. But, also Rosie, unlike the litany of people who seriously owe me emails, asked me for some contacts and such a while back, and I said 'please send me the reports, as I'd love to see them.' And, months later, out of the blue, she did just that. That kind of stuff gets me stoked, and inspired me to do a bit of my own house cleaning in that regard.
So, to close with a GI Joe Public Service Announcement: Write people back when they write you, even if to say "no", o lo que sea. (You know who you are)
Posted by Esteyonage at 00:48
Sunday, 19 September 2010
(example A of why I don't have FOMO)
Theme of blog posts this month is songs by the Grateful Dead
Basically, it comes down to this. I think I grew out of FOMO long ago; though a nagging feeling of missing out seems to always creep around when working on a Saturday night. No matter the fact that I want to be working on what I am working on, or the fact that I have no desire to be 'oout and aboout' (as Americans insist I say it), it feels weird everytime.
As an independent contractor with low overall income and decently high overhead there's always a fine line between working enough to 'Get By' and working too much. Throw in loving your job, and that line gets blurrier: my laundry list of "to read", "to write," "to learn more about", "my god, I need to know tons about that RIGHT NOW" and "fuck, that's due tomorrow?" may fluctuate, but it never subsides.
This is not a complaint. Just an observation that, when living in one of the biggest - though not necessarily the liveliest - cities in the world, there's some overarching feeling that, if young, thou shalt be partying lest ye be judged. Without getting into post-modern discussions on meta-narratives, some force definitely exists on evenings such as this. Sometimes I like it, sometimes i doont.
Anyways, for anyone else who was typing stuff et al tonight, this next Modelo Especial's for you.
Footnote: You will note that it is currently Thursday. For some reason a) this post did not do what its 'sposed to (post), and b) I did not do what I 'sposed to (notice). Despite its lack of timeliness, enjoy. Also, last night's late arrival to casa might damage some aspects of this post, or reinforce an underlying premise: Wednesday's the new black.
Posted by Esteyonage at 04:33
Friday, 17 September 2010
The first of the reports our recent trip to Chiapas came out yesterday on the BBC/PRI show The World. ('We' being myself and my oft-talked about partner in crime, Mr. Grant Fuller.)
Although we split all responsibilities and expenses on the trip straight up, the exception is that photos are mine, and audio recordings are that of Grants. Reporting, writing etc son joint efuerzas.
You can hear the radio report and see the audio slide show on 'The World's' website, or you can go directly to our story via this link.
The Common Language Project, who helped us out a ton with getting down there, logistics and encouragement, also has a link to the slideshow on their website.
Grant's sweet voice laces the radio piece, that is a brief overview of the Zapatistas in 2010. I narrate the audio slide show, which looks at the new generation of Zapatistas, growing up in the region's autonomous schools.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
This month's theme of blog post titles is "Grateful Dead Songs" (including frequent covers; this one originally by Martha and the Vandellas, allegedly written after seeing a group of mixed-race kids playing in a fire-hydrant's spray during the Detroit race riots)
Lots of talk about the big 200 b-day coming up. If you know nothing about Mex, this might help, or simply look below.
The raddest part of Mexico's anniversary is that of "El Grito", or the scream. Not to be confused with Munch's (check spelling) artisticness (ibid), it represents the start of the fight for independence from Spain on Sept 15, 1810. Warming up my lungs.
While the amount of dancing may be negotiable, largely due to crowdedness, all bets are on that shit's gonna get wild. From chatting to taxi drivers and taco vendors/eaters this afternoon to many of the 8 billion people I have interviewed in the past few weeks, a common complaint seems to be the opulence of the planned governmental spectacle(s) in relation to needs of people in the country... You may have noticed the litany of examples to support the idea that this is not a new phenomena.
Flipping through the airline magazine (Aeromexico, obvi, as Mexicana still seems to exhibit signs of being muerta), it caught my eye that, among the floats, performances and thousands (millions?) planned for the celebration, 8 tons of gunpowder will be required. This will be - presumably, and hopefully - for the 16 000 planned 'detonations' of fireworks, of which will be presided over by 13 shamans of unknown origin.
Unclear where that falls on the wants/needs continuum.
Friday, 10 September 2010
(The theme of titles this month is Grateful Dead songs)
As you may have heard, Mexico's bicentennial is coming up rapidly - September 16. With a lot of people knowing virtually nothing about Mexico, there is 'bound' to be a frenzy of knowledge-seekers around the world early next week trying to avoid the stigma that they know nothing about what happened in either this 200 year period, or the millions that preceded that.
So, as a limited time offer, I offer you a chance for you to beat the rush, and look hip to NAFTA's southern-most member, with a few suggested 'point-counterpoints' for Mexi-centric conversations. Use Google if you are more interested, cuz I ain't linking shit today, (and there is some really interesting stuff out there)
Like most places, not a lot happening.
Point: "Perhaps the first crustaceans and coral-thingys from the Precambrian era where a part of the oil spill that devastated the gulf."
Counterpoint: "Remember when it was called the Cryptozoic era?"
Maya y Aztecs
We're talking around the hundreds, and then then teen-hundreds as the respective peaks of Mexico's best-known empires.
Point: "I mean, the Maya never explicitly SAID that the world will end in 2012, its just that there calendar resets."
Counterpoint: "Three sisters: corn, squash, beans. What's so freekin' hard about that?"
Mex v US
In the 1840's, lots of aggression turned into a war in which the US wanted more resources, in this case, territory (sound familiar?).
Point: "If the US had not won, Mexico would have Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Vegas and Aspen Ski Resort, amongst other things."
Counterpoint: "It disappoints me that Cormac McCarthy's gritty dystopia about cowboys in the Mexican-American war (Blood Meridian) is being turned into yet another movie. I feel like it damages the credibility of his arresting pose.
Marriachi, Salsa, Cumbia... Nortena, Reggaeton. Today, its all there; every style of music new and old can be heard on a stroll of any city, and its all awesome.
Point: "One of the most dominant theories is that the word Marriachi came from the platform people used to stand on when they played in colonial villages."
Counterpoint: "Mexicans can dance-o!"
The official revolution anniversary is November 20th, but undoubtedly, lots of nostalgia for Zapata and Villa will abound. (In all seriousness, the Mexican revolution is super interesting and well worth reading up on. At least read the Wikipedia feed about it.)
Point: "Does the Townes van Zandt song "Pancho and Lefty" sometimes seem like a modern metaphor for what happened to Zapata?"
Counterpoint: "What if he hadn't been..."
The EPR has had its share of flare ups, but the Zapatistas in Chiapas are the most notable modern revolution. However, casulaties in the 'War on Drugs' dwarf all those in the various organized movements put together, and for this, it has hogged all the attention in the news. (note: please continue to check back as reports on the Zapatista movement in 2010 are produced by me and Grants over the next while.)
Point: "I heard Subcommandante Marcos said last year that 'the Mexican people wake up every 100 years', but I doubt he meant that there will be an armed uprising for the third '10 in a row (1810, independence, 1910, revolution.) I mean, can you even have a 'surprise revolution' in the modern world?"
Counterpoint: "Everyone always says that the drug war is the bloodiest conflict since The Revolution, but they seem to forget that the Cristero Wars in the 20's killed roughly 90 000 people, more than three times the current tally in the 'War on Drugs." (note: I only became aware of this truth through a recent blog post by Gancho, who runs a great blog about Mexican issues.)
Posted by Esteyonage at 12:42
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
A door with the EZLN insignia painted on it. Our bed for 5 days.
Life on the move, a familiar feeling. In some ways, its always nice to have more of an option than wet shoes and a stinky clump of clothes in a waterproof back pack. In some ways, not.
The highs and lows of constant movement, and trying to secure interviews/access while navigating places you know very little about have rapidly yielded to the relative predictability of a home office, internet, kitchen, and other such accoutrements. Its certainly easier than waking up on a floor, door or bus with the constant rain pounding. I'm not sold that its better, but its certainly easier.
Three weeks on the move with my homey Grants. All over southeastern Mexico, moving in and out of completely different spheres of existence to the point where permutations of culture shock become the norm. Zapatista leaders, international sunbathers, paramilitaries, migrant workers, NGO spokespeople, club goers, street vendors; all in a day's list of interviewees. Parts of which will be coming up in various reports over the next few weeks and months.
Having reigned in the madness of constant motion for now, time to adapt to productivity on the compu-nator, the interwebs and their own respective forms of madness.
Thanks a lot to Common Language Project and their supporters for helping us with the travel funds needed to get to the region, where - suprisingly - there are other really important and fascinating things happening in Mexico that are not the drug war.
Secretly, part of me wishes to still be on the move there, despite the bottled up exhaustion and the need to produce all the findings. That is the point, after all.
Posted by Esteyonage at 16:22
One thing I like, but occasionally tire of, is naming things. Crafty subject lines, blog posts, article names, my endless haikus. So, I have decided to start a new, um, thing (?) on The Esteyonage: theming post titles by month. This will not change content, but may ask a little bit of thunking to sort out the connections.
Gettin' By will be the exception.
Due to a re-invigoration of my dormant love for their eclectic mix of country twang, melodic rock, incredible skill/innovation, (commitment to) musicology and storytelling lyrics that inspire much of my guitar-playing habits, the rest of September's blog posts will be Grateful Dead songs (including songs they covered frequently). I know 100% for sure of two Dead heads who have this blog on their Google Reader. We'll see how this gels with the rest of you.
Note: For those who a) know nothing about the Dead or b) think they are a nothing more that a bunch of useless, drug-addled skids, Time had a pretty decent slide show on the 15-year anniversary of his death in aug, or the internets is full of psychotically-obsessed fan sites that will tell you ten times more about them, their music and "its meaning" than you ever wanted to know.
Love 'em or hate 'em, they're galdarn unique, and that's something in my books.
Posted by Esteyonage at 15:50
Friday, 3 September 2010
Naturally, an article about how Mexico Is Safer than Canada caught my eye (props Pat). While there's a pretty critical flaw in the 'argument' - largely that the author points to the state of Yucatan of having a lower crime rate than Canada's average of 2.1/100 000 to 'support' this argument - he makes a decent overall point.
"the extreme violence around its border with the United States colours people’s view of the rest of the country, though much of it is pretty quiet. A third of Mexico’s states hover around 5 murders per 100,000, about the same rate as the United States. Another third are around 8 per 100,000, similar to Thailand, for instance."
Its easy to see how quickly Mexico's overall average of 14/100 000 get skewed by the fact that places such as Ciudad Juarez saw 336 murders in the month of August (in fairness, Juarez is the worst). Its pretty narrow minded to derive from overall stats of a gigantic, populous country the idea that the whole place is at war. No matter how much media tends to focus on body counts et al, giving the impression that its all 'et al'.
That's all I'm saying.
ps I heard that Barrack "acknowledged" today that drug cartels remain a central threat to stability in Mexico. Can't seem to find a source for that though.
Posted by Esteyonage at 01:21