From LA to Glasgow

I rode my bike home on Friday night, a late night train ride and finally I was on my own in the mist and the darkness. The moon hung orange yellow in a wedge just over half full. I love it when the night is like that, the moon is like that. I had been to Grand Ave performances and danced and danced to Very Be Careful, they were as phenomenal as everyone had said they would be, cumbias the way I love them. My legs hurt the next morning but I love to dance outside under the stars…and I love L.A., the diversity of it, the abuelitos and the folks my age and the cholo kids and the two white goth kids and people of every age and race and nationality and idiom there mixing it up, dancing all around the plaza. And dancing cumbias! Chingado! I love it.

Saturday I hung out in echo park in the morning, and then Sunset Junction! Antibalas Afrobeat something or other! Phenomenal! They were amazing live, and though the horrible $15 fee to get in (for suckers) means that hipsters are incredibly over-represented at this great event, still, there’s a mixed up crowd, and lots more dancing…hanging out with Charles who got us in through his apartment and meeting a whole new crew of folks and talking about sci fi and anarchist zines from back in the day and the politics of Vegas and zombies and I don’t even know what else. Such a great afternoon that included bottles of champagne, rum with lime juice, elotes, pupusas, a lot of walking and staying out until I had missed the last train home. Damn. That was sad. Or maybe it’s just sad to live in Norwalk. But Sunday got back to Norwalk late and had to pack desperately and try and finish up everything and…

Here I am! Sleepy, very sleepy. But Scotland. My aunt and uncle’s house smells always the same, and that is impossibly comforting for some reason, like home away from home. I got in really early, will certainly try to never fly Continental again but sometimes for the cheap fares you just have to. Still, the people were nice enough, you can just tell they work for a crap company that is cutting every single corner. But I am here, it feels a bit like home, the rain is falling softly and the world is a colour of green that I had forgotten and Margaret Burt came over for tea and she is one of my absolute favourite people even if I started falling asleep. You’d think it would be Margaret given she is over 70 I believe and brilliant, but no, it was me. I worked for the entirety of two flights editing a manuscript you see, and the damn thing is still not done but close, and I am feeling GOOD about that.  And I get to talk to my little brother tonight and see him tomorrow, and then it’s off to meet new and amazing people and when I took my two hour nap this morning I couldn’t sleep at all for the excitement of thinking about it. New friends and old friends, new ideas and catching up and more new ideas, a jaunt to London and a trip to Aberdeen where I have not yet been, life is very good, though at present I am really looking forward to the hour hitting 8:30 or 9 when I will feel somewhat justified in getting more sleep!

Sheepherders and the CA Minimum Wage

So I’m doing a wee bit of research for a fellowship I’m applying for…money is money, and money paid to do something akin to what I want to do is good money so I’m applying. So I’m trying to explain the abysmal situation that most working folks in LA find themselves in, and from there heading down the ladder to all those who are sometimes with work, out of work, unable to work. And what my writing might be able to do about it…I’m writing a good line to be sure, but it’ll take a hell of a lot more than writing for damn sure.

At any rate, I was looking some stuff up about the California minimum wage and discovered this juicy tidbit from off of the official California Department of Industrial Relations (a misnomer if the below quote is anything to judge by…you can read all about it yourself at

Q. What is the minimum wage?

A. Effective January 1, 2008, the minimum wage in California is $8.00 per hour.

For sheepherders, however, effective July 1, 2002, the minimum wage was set at $1,200.00 per month. Effective January 1, 2007 this wage was increased to a minimum monthly salary of $1,333.20. Effective January 1, 2008, the minimum monthly salary for sheepherders will be $1,422.52. Wages paid to sheepherders may not be offset by meals or lodging provided by the employer. Instead, there are provisions in IWC Order 14-2007, Sections 10(F), (G) and (H) that apply to sheepherders with respect to monthly meal and lodging benefits required to be provided by the employer.

Yeah, I thought that was pretty sweet. Sheepherders. I’m glad they’re taken care of, or are they? I suppose a minimum monthly means they can’t be paid less then that for their work…how many hours do sheepherders work anyway? The ones in the bible seemed to be on pretty much 24/7 but it’s been many years since I spent time reading about them…

Actually this minimum wage takes care of no one really. A full time worker will earn $16,640 a year. That means a mom with her two kids is living below the federal poverty limit even though she is working full time. Though I guess she’ll be better off working at Burger King than herding sheep. Perhaps.

It’s really too bad that the Department of Industrial Relations’ Frequently Asked Questions section doesn’t include just how people are expected to live off of under $1,400 a month when the average 2 bedroom apartment in LA is now renting at $2,100. Forget about healthcare, car insurance, clothes, utilities, food…

For general info on just how badly you are fucked on minimum wage look at California Progress Report 2008, of course, the folks earning minimum wage already know all that.

Is perjury the same when it is the police who are guilty of it?

Luckily for Saul Eady, the police’s own recordings of a stakeout contradicted the testimony of detective David Friedrich. Accused of attempted murder, the other man arrested with him had already been convicted and received a life sentence…the only real evidence was the detective’s sworn testimony that he had seen Eady at the scene, driving the van involved in the incident. The tapes proved that at the time Friedrich never identified Eady, and that key things that Friedrich testified to under oath hadn’t in fact happened quite the way he said they did. In fact, nothing at all like the way he said they did.

So Eady is a free man, and what will happen to Friedrich? The District Attorney thinks he was just mistaken…such things happen after all. So what is the dfference between simply making a few mistakes, and outright lying? This sounds like lying to me. Which is perjury, and should be prosecuted. Even were it a simple mistake, it would have ended with an innocent man spending his life in prison as far too many other cases do. Eady had a good lawyer willing to put the extra time into getting additional evidence, and then to sift through 3 hours of confused police recordings and present them back to a judge. Very few defendants in our system have such a thing as a motivated lawyer, most in Eady’s position would have gone to jail for life. So what are the consequences for Friedrich and a broken justice system?

tango and transgression

Saturday night, it’s late, I’m playing soccer tomorrow morning, so just wanted to capture a few thoughts..

Went out to the Ford Amphitheater tonight to a show called Siempre Tango, the place is beautiful, it was my first time there and I hadn’t realized how beautiful it would be, nor how small…and we ate bread and cheese and fruit and dark chocolate, and had wine sitting on the stairs. Few things in life can beat that really!

I didn’t get a program…but the first half was a pianist, a modern composer. What is left to compose? I wondered. I am a lover of Beethoven and Mozart and Schubert, generally speaking modern piano leaves me rather cold, especially when jazzed up with a synthesizer added, the tap of cymbals, a bass…it sounds to me always like elevator music. I most enjoyed when he played alone, he was quite a superlative musician and I tried to follow the structure of the music, the sudden changes in key and tempo. Last night at Larry’s we were talking about how in this day and age it is no longer really possible to transgress, it is no longer possible to shock those involved in the arts (of course those not involved in the arts and living in the midwest are still susceptible) and I suppose it must be true of music as well. Nothing sounded really different to me, parts of it I loved and most of it I did not…I wonder how you can measure what is good and what is not…the age old question I suppose. But it is always nice to stretch my own musical knowledge and challenge my own likes and dislikes, find value in the new.

But those thoughts only occupied me for a short time, during the last number I sat and thought about Impromptu, where George Sand lies under the grand piano when Chopin is playing…in college I knew a pianist, and it is indeed quite extraordinary to lie under the piano when they are playing. And I wish I could lie under the piano in the Ford Amphitheater. It must be incredible.

The second half was…can you guess? Tango. Solid and traditional and I liked it much more, which worries me. I love tradition but I also like the new, I don’t always want to fall back on what has been done over and over, or always prefer the old to the modern. The dancing was beautiful, absolutely lovely…I must confess, however, tango has never been my favourite. It has that element of show to it that to me detracts from the beauty of the dance, it always feels choreographed though I suppose in small smokey clubs of Buenos Aires there are moments where it is not. Perhaps I would like it then. But as I have seen it, it always feels overly dramatic, as though the dancers in even their personal interactions must overblow everything, speak in self important and highly self-conscious periods, allow long tense pauses to stretch between lines, stare at people in a way that could either be sexy or more likely frightening. All that makes me want to laugh in a way, as it tickles my sense of the absurd as does anyone who takes themselves entirely too seriously, and the likelihood of me ever dancing with anyone wearing that much pomade or a black velvet jacket is pretty much nil. Unless he looks like Alejandro Fernandez perhaps. Who dances rancheras which I think after all I prefer.

So what I loved most about last night was the magician, he had a yo-yo sort of thing that he played with, he pulled flowers out of nowhere, he made tables and glasses of wine float. He made me happy. And even with all of my personal preferences above, the dancers were brilliant too, as spectacle they had everything to recommend them. Especially when one of the dancers fell out of her dress, well her top half fell out of her dress, and shocked the audience. Though we all knew it was ready to go at any time. That perhaps could count as transgressive though it was totally unplanned, so I suppose it must remain merely shocking. And I definitely enjoyed hanging out with Celine and the guys working with channel 36 over intermission, we saw a drunk couple tottering off downhill and knew that we would be friends with everyone when they suggested wheeling the two down on the moving dolly. Sadly the two of them had already gone round the bend before we thought of that.

A good night on top of many previous good nights and life is feeling above all good.


I love the night, there is something about it…and there is something about being out in the darkness, out in the city at night, perhaps because this is LA and there are so few people on the streets, perhaps because I am a woman. But  I wandered Glasgow as well, I love traveling lonely through the darkness. There is something transgressive about it that only adds to the joy of just wandering streets without really being seen, passing houses where life is being lived inside and you remain the outsider, alone, free. It is different on my bike of course, more speed, more focus on getting from here to there, more wind against my skin and less time to think…I like both, but certainly I feel safer on a bike, I feel that I can go more places and stay out later then I might try on my own two feet. I can’t run so fast in chanclas, and I am realistic about my ability to defend myself though i admit to occasional dreams of invincibility. But in the night you feel part of the long tradition of writers who wander sleepless through their cities, who collect images to put onto paper, who make foreign streets live and breathe so that you feel that you have also walked them…I feel utterly alone in the darkness, and yet at the same time part of something, united with others across time and space, it is an extraordinary feeling that I treasure and that keeps me up long past my bedtime.

I have had three nights of brilliance, and I am happily exhausted. Wednesday out with Larry and I drank far too much of course, paid for that the next day but I learned that Thomas Wolfe was 6 foot seven and wrote standing up leaning on his refrigerator and using it as a table, he scribbled a handful of words on each page and let them fall into a crate…and he delivered his manuscript to Scribner like that, in crates upon crates. We talked about what it means to be a writer, what it means to be an editor…as someone that goes over sentences time and time again, who seeks perfection, I can’t really imagine how such a writing process is possible, it fascinates me, and is the finished product, refined and cut down by a third to a half…is it his or the editors? Raymond Carver’s stories as well are lean and spare and terse due in great part to his editor as well…I knew the editor’s names on Wednesday, I will look them up believing them of great importance but not tonight.  Tonight I was filming Gary interview Larry and Denise…talking about writing and politics and then we drank a few bottles of wine and talked about Chandler and where he wrote and how, and we talked about the FBI and the CIA and Guatamalan immigrants and Bukowski and Roman Polanski and the Maltese Falcon and how there were two previous versions of it, and how To Have and Have Not was one of Hemingway’s worst stories and yet such a brilliant film…last night I was out with Chris and Charles and talking about politics and Dark Night, Watchmen, old movies and anarchist politics. In short I am fulfilled, meaningful work done for love alone, work that will change the world, that gives me hope and happiness, that is real and true and good. And good conversation about words, writing, theories, art, movies, conversation that challenges what I think and adds so much eccentric brilliance to what I know…I am so glad it is possible to have both. To me this is what I’m fighting for really.

And I have the night, it is mine to pass through, to exult in.

Life is beautiful

Happiness…a purity of happiness that is so rare, I filled the train with it, and arriving in Norwalk it was far too big to fit on a bus so I walked the 2 miles home through the darkness singing aloud to ska-p on my headphones and feeling as though life…well. Life is truly beautiful.

Shall I share the secret? It is that I have changed the world. A tiny little piece of it to be sure, but in a way that may impact the lives of many others. It’s a bit similar to the high you get from a good action, like the day we used press and the city housing department and a critical mass of protesters to force the police to protect human rights rather than property rights and force the armed security guards of the Morrison hotel to let us in. Tenants cheered us as we roamed the corridors. That was a good day but today, today was even better. Today gave meaning to so many years of work and belief. Today represented the difference between tenants cheering organizers and organizers cheering tenants. It showed me how many years it can take for someone to step into their own and the immense beauty of such a thing in action. It validated the need for long term vision over short term gains, how right we were to always struggle against the demands of quick fixes, emergency responses and funder driven results. It is a deeply profound thing, a permanent victory not a momentary one, and one that builds speed as it goes, irreversible and always stronger. I believe that what will come from here will be truly extraordinary…bigger then I could ever imagine because it is not just me who is fighting, but us. This whole world is like Estero beach in Mexico–wealth, education, privilege, pristine English and usually a white skin on one side of the fence, and everyone else on the other. I am still on the right side of the fence, and together with the friends here with me I believe we shall tear it down…at least this small section of it. Prove that it can be done. Make a difference for our community and help it step into its own. It takes so long because the fence is hardwired inside most of us wherever we stand, the feeling that we are where we are supposed to be is so hard to overcome. Most people don’t even know it’s there, or how much they give way to a perception that whiter, higher class, more professional is better. It takes us working together to overcome it, and now I don’t just believe it is possible, I know it is. And this is the only thing that can move us to the conversation about what must happen to make real change, this is what it takes to move thousands to action, not hundreds. It is what the mass movements in latin america have proven…who will risk all for incremental change and a sensible plan of minor policy adjustments led by those who risk nothing? Professionals should put themselves in service of the vision of those who do risk all, and never seek to limit it believing that their position means they know best. For this to happen there is a desperate need for those who can stand up to privilege and direct it, who can articulate where the greatest need lies, articulate the vision not of what is possible but of what is necessary, who can grow into leadership and bring others with them. It takes rejecting once and for all the idea that poverty and marginalization makes people less than those economically above them and that solutions come from the top. It takes the poor stepping into responsibility, taking ownership of struggle, speaking their minds, educating themselves in what they don’t know, and holding themselves and others accountable to the greater vision. It is popular education and years of work and friendship. It is helping people discover within themselves their own capacity to do all of these things, and the courage they always had to risk standing up…standing up always bears a risk. And I watched them say they were taking it all on with a smile, and it was so beautiful I almost cried. Life is beautiful when it has this sort of meaning…and it is in risk that we find the meaning.

I rode the train home, saw the potential in everyone around me, and loved them all. Mi gente.

Addendum to heroes

I don’t have time to be writing this at all, I really don’t. But I found out yesterday that Don IS Don White’s first name…Donald to be exact. So here am I thinking he is affectionately and respectfully known as don White, though off course everyone else I know as don is don Mauricio, or don Tonito for example, I just figured it was the spanglishness of it that led to don plus the last name…and this is a very pocho mistake for me to make and quite funny.

But good to know I did know Don’s first name. The church was packed, so many people, it was beautiful…though ran really horrifically long in true white lefty fashion as everyone and their mother probably demanded to speak, and spoke at length, I did feel for the committee who put it together…four hours though, that’s a bit much, I would have so much preferred a nice wake, a nice sit down with folks passing a few bottles of something hard and telling stories, to be followed by dancing and deep discussion. Ah well…I shall ensure people do that for me 🙂 We left in the middle for drinks and came back to find the church much emptier then it had been and the program still going strong…so I didn’t get to bump into everyone I haven’t seen in years or make new friends and I’m sure that made Don sad, still, it was a beautiful thing to celebrate him with so many people.


Season 1, I’ve been watching it, I’m entranced, dvd box sets are such dangerous dangerous things. I like how it makes heroism a complex and a simple thing all at the same time.

Tomorrow I’m going to a memorial for my friend Don White, my own hero. I saw him at the CARECEN reunion only a few days before he died…the first time I had seen him in a year or two at least. The last time. He looked the same as always, with his funny black hair, too black, his bushy eyebrows and big blue eyes wide open to the world, so blue, his vague happy smile. He made people happy just to see him, as always. He wandered through the crowd his eyes opening wider as he greeted each new person, his delighted helllooooo, his ‘hola companeros.’

He looked mild and harmless, somewhat exaggerated, even a silly old man perhaps. Thing is that you can never see what people are capable of from their appearance. Never. Old gueriller@s spoke of him fondly, they told stories of him standing on steps in San Salvador protesting and waving a huge flag during wartime, of camping out and eating an iguana roasted over the open fire, stories of him marching, shouting, handcuffing himself to fences, getting arrested, working tirelessly to stop the US involvement in Central America. Everyone I know has a different story, I believe if you added them up you would have enough to fill several lifetimes. And he never stopped. I saw him whenever I marched, in a wide variety of brightly coloured T-shirts. There was nothing he did not care passionately about.

We went to El Salvador together for the presidential elections, official observers with cispes in ’99 I think, almost ten years ago. Only three of us went from LA so we spent quite a lot of time together before we ever left, but my favourite story? I remember it was the day after the elections, we had all returned to San Salvador from wherever we had been sent…I was working with some guys on a report for NPR doing the translations for them and working on the text. It was late, 3 in the morning or so because it had to be done, and we were exhausted and all of a sudden I looked up and there was Don White coming into the little courtyard, his sheet wrapped around him like a toga. Silence fell, I think our mouths dropped open, it was a most unexpected and bewildering sight, we couldn’t tell whether he was wearing anything else. Or whether perhaps we were dreaming…he mumbled something about his roommate snoring, and went to curl up on one of the little wicker sofas in the front lobby where I believe they found him the next morning to great surprise.

There was just such an intense joy of life in Don White, a joy in struggle that you had to respond to, an element of the absurd, an absence of self-consciousness together with a courage that inspired respect, and a single-minded determination to make the world better. And he believed we would win. And it was contagious. And I loved him though I don’t even know his first name. And I’m just one among many who knew of him through struggle, not well but enough to have been impacted by him…since his passing so many different people have brought up the memorial tomorrow, people I never knew even knew him. And I think it shall be a joyful and sad gathering, a bringing together of all sorts of different people working for a more just world, and I can imagine no better celebration of the life of a revolutionary. Hasta la victoria siempre companero.

SIlvio Rodriguez wrote Quiero Cantarte Un Beso and to me it is something of what Don White has meant to me in all my own despair over the pain of the world, el amor que todavia velaba cuando crei que nadie estaba, que nadie respondia. A love that did more than mourn and remember the dead. The answer to the constant question of whether or not humanity still exists, proof that it does. I did not live through the civil war in El Salvador and US intervention that Don White fought so hard to end, only through three years of recording daily the declarations and testimony of those who had. One cannot compare with the other, yet how heavy it is simply to know and to carry the shadows of memories. It is why most look away. To me, he is someone who managed to hate what should be hated, to fight what must be fought without selfishness, to find joy in living all the same and to love and to be strong enough to never forget. It is something to be aspired to.

Quiero cantarte un beso,
mas todo se confunde
entre un millón de huesos
y derrumbes.
Así que el beso huye
con ojos de reproche,
mientras la sangre fluye
por las noches.

La muerte se ha regado
por toda la pradera.
A aquel que la ha sembrado
¿qué le espera?
Dicen que el responsable
nunca ha gastado cuernos,
sino un traje impecable
en los infiernos.

Y vuelve la necesidad
de repasarme dónde estoy,
si existe o no la humanidad
y si se ha visto hoy.

Creí que nadie estaba,
que nada respondía,
pero el amor velaba
Y el viejo centinela,
en medio del desierto,
prendió infinitas velas
por los muertos.

Ghost Dog, El Verde, and Karaoke

I love this movie…urban asian fusion of RZA’s music beating in the background, the meditation of it.

And everyday without fail one should consider himself as dead. This is the substance of the way of the Samurai.

There’s a bit of the opening scene, during the credits, ghost dog walks down the street, hooded and menacing and invisible, a man comes out of a restaurant to dump the trash and ghost dog passes by him unseen in the seconds that he dumps the trash before turning around to go back inside, un-noted and it seems an impossibility and yet so easily done. I am so fascinated by invisibility. It is the skill of the assassin and the thief. It is a power and a weapon, an advantage in times of war. It is the fate of the poor and one of the things that allows the wealthy to live with themselves. It is carries such contradictions in its meaning.

I love how every detail of this movie is perfect. I love the tawdry velvet paintings and plaster figurines on mob walls, I love the beauty of the pigeons in perfect formation swooping across the sky, I love the narrow-mindedness of some and the great-mindedness of others. I love the deserted city at night, the sweat-suits, the collision of systems of honour and dishonour, the amazing character of each and every one of the people in this movie.

I love the round-table of the old mob guys, they’re all crazy, brilliantly crazy and to watch them cope with a hit-man named ghost dog who communicates with pigeons and is paid once a year on the first day of autumn… no, you really can’t get better than that.

The mix of mob and 17th century Japan and…damn, have to turn it off now.

We went to see El Verde, Luke’s play down at casa0101 in Boyle Heights, and it was phenomenal…it is one of a series, and this series I am sorry to say is sold out for the rest of its run but you can catch future episodes in…the future. You should, you will, you must. El Verde is a spectacular hero who fell into a vat of corn and cleaning chemicals and emerged without any superpowers whatsoever…unless you count belief in your superpowers a power, in which case he has loads. As do I. He battles la evil quinceaneara, with her two chambelanes…and god damn, you know they are going to show up because Chayanne singing tiempo de vals comes up and there they are, the are so funny they made me cry. Chambelanes uno y dos, dressed all in black, their waltz moves down to a perfect T, attending la quinceaneara as any good chambelan should, moving in perfect time. The other bad guys were Frida Kahlo with her unibrow and ray gun that turns people into monkees, and la…cabron, se me ha olvidado, but she roams East LA trying to give people makeovers. And La Cucaracha, the Cocka-roach king with his sidekick the Gnat, and Luke as the Gnat was fantastic. He was also fantastic as the evil pinata created to crush the world…the world was only saved because his colours clashed…

So I laughed as I have not laughed for a long long time, my stomach hurt. And then we headed to the gold room and I listened to some German girl tell her mother about how she had a $1,000,000 overdraft on her bank account…what the fuck? How could such a conversation happen in an Echo Park dive bar? But it did, I bear witness. We left el gold room, and headed for karaoke at the Smog Cutter…the waitresses are vietnamese, ours saw me and Celine, and pulled out two shot glasses, she spat out at us, “what, what are you drinking?” We didn’t go for shots, we won the battle and got a couple more beers. And the songs were rocking…Bon Jovi who I love to sing along to, a very large man singing Pat Benetar’s Love is a Battlefield absolutely brilliantly…how many times did I sing her songs into my hairbrush while standing seductively on my old bed and staring into the mirror? And the someone sang Aqui Estoy and that really made my night, no words on the screen of course, you sing in Spanish and you don’t get words, but I love that song.

We piled into the old volvo when George Michael came on…and had Jimi Hendrix, the wind cried Mary by my request and I was happy…another brilliant LA night, a bit short perhaps as Jose is up early to work this morning, but brilliant all the same…

Baja adventures come to a close

Ah, to write is such glorious madness, and to live even more so, the night is warm and full of stars and soft winds and the crickets singing…

Saturday night was full of the sound of…firecrackers? I am still not sure, I know gunshots, I know firecrackers, there was no pop, no hiss as the firecracker takes flight, no crackle as sparks fly up and burn brightly before fading into their fall back down to earth as ashes. Whatever they were, they riddled the darkness with holes and woke me every time I was about to drift into dreaming. And cars peeled out, raced down the road, cruised slowly with a ghetto bumping that ranged from rap to banda’s trumpets and I did not sleep.

So Sunday dawned and we got up and went down to breakfast. I checked us out and lied about why we were leaving a day early and the woman peered at me suspiciously though I wasn’t angry and wasn’t going to battle for my money back. I ate the extra night’s charges happily and thought about Ensenada. A final view of ex-ejido Chapultepec, fondly referred to as Calcutta by Jose, the view from our balcony and the dream denied of access to a white beach to lie on and the lulling of waves…still, I am glad that we were there and enjoyed it greatly. It is a different sort of enjoyment then that to be found lying on a white beach, but enjoyment none the less. I love windows to other worlds.

We were up and out of there quite early, and two bus rides later arrived into Ensenada where we dropped our bags at the hotel, and then went for a wander along the port’s shore. It was picturesque, but often I prefer the interesting, we passed this:

Caution no bathrooms…I am glad they were clear and warned me about it, because I was thinking that might have been just the place…

I love boats, so we paid $2 to an old fisherman to go out in one, and he took us around the bay which hadn’t promised to be too exciting (to all those who don’t love boats that is). I would have been happy regardless as the adventure is the thing (and being in a boat), but we came suddenly upon the grand wreckage of an old pleasure cruiser half sunk into the bay, and it was an extraordinary thing to see

gutted and filled with salt and water, rotting away to the music of waves and the sea lion’s discordant barking, they lay sprawled across every surface. They are amazing creatures really, looking so ridiculous on land, long smooth rolls of fat awkward and ungainly, yet in the water they have such beauty. The old fisherman who took us around ignored us completely and set us back down onto the little pier, where the safety inspector was waiting clipboard in hand to ensure we were still wearing the life vests that had been thrust upon us when he suddenly appeared just before our departure.

A little further down we came upon the fish market, like the sea lions you can smell it for some time before you actually get there…and you can buy delicacies there beyond imagining

We wandered a bit more, I lunched on a cream puff and some coffee. When it was finally time to check in we rested for a bit, the cool comfort of a nice room can never be over-appreciated I have to say. And then we wandered the city some more. We had lobster for dinner, and just after we sat down a very self-important and probably minor figure in Ensenada’s narco-traficante world came in. He had a round red face beneath a panama hat, squat body and bandy legs, he was dressed in money and no taste rather like a Texan tourist. And his money had bought him a very young girlfriend with a beautiful face running slightly to fat and a tendency to look rather peevish. He kissed her regularly and with much enjoyment, and luckily for us monopolized one of the wandering groups of mariachis. He clearly did not care for music, only for his ability to buy it, so was rather annoyed whenever they asked him what they should play next as he was also involved in the tedious work of keeping several waiters rather busy. His girlfriend was annoyed at being loudly solicited for ideas, and so by default we heard of the exploits of other more famous narcos in one corrido after another, but since I myself do love music, especially the live mariachi variety, I wasn’t at all sorry. I was just sad he didn’t ask me.

At any rate, we left the seafood spot, and stopped into a couple of bars, watched with enjoyment the Ensenada cruising scene unfolding before our eyes, wrote a corrido ourselves on a napkin in honor of the one-eyed cholo from Friday (ay juedita tomame un photo, que yo no soy joto, pero si soy un cholo, de Doheeeeeee-ee-ny…forgot to say that our one-eyed cholo friend claimed the neighborhood of Wilshire and Doheny, ie Beverly Hills…it wasn’t until later when we had all calmed down from what seemed a probable scene of violence that any of us remembered such a ridiculous statement)

And so we ended up in the very nice and old wood-framed bar at the hotel…I was buying a round and talking to the bartender and I was all “hey, I was here for new years a year and a half ago…” and he was all “I remember you! You were sitting under that window at the table over there!” and I was all “yep (though with no little surprise!),” and then he was all “You were with your two friends playing dominos,” and I was all “yep,” And then he was all “I got you to dance!” and I was all ”er…yep?” I don’t remember that bit but it’s not hard to get me to dance at all, so it is probably true. This was all in Spanish of course, very loosely translated. But it gave me a certain sense of homecoming. So we introduced ourselves and Arturo and I are now friends. And then Bev and I smoked the Cohibas procured at Mario’s restaurant under the “beach hotel” only that morning, and I was happy.

And thus ended the third day.

Monday was involved almost entirely in travel, after a breakfast spent listening to the radio playing old pop songs by Enrique Iglesias and Alejandra Guzman and Shakira…it reminded me of living in Guadalajara and I was suddenly filled with a great love for Mexico. And all things. It was a brilliant weekend.


Just communities, just cities, Just connections between country and city. Also, the weird and wonderful.