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Mexico City Journal: Metallica

Mexico City Journal

Last week a friend asked me if I liked stadium concerts. No, I said, I avoid stadium bullshit. The bands are too big, their crowds too massive, and the whole thing sucks.
What if it's a band you love, he asked, like Metallica?
Fuck Metallica, I said, They're old; they're past their prime; and they pissed me off with the whole Napster bullshit.
Hmm... Well, he said, Dave got us tickets to see them on Sunday.
No shit?
No shit. So you still uninterested in going?
Well fuck yeah I'm interested in going.
You pinche puta.

So we went and it was awesome. The Mexican crowd knew all the words (I, on the other hand, forgot everything except for the chorus) and the crowd was totally into it. Oddly, there weren't many pits, but that was a nice change of pace. The few pits that did spring up were unpopulated. We rushed into one, but there were only about 5 people in the pit. As F and I rushed in, we saw two guys facing off, ready to start fighting - for real. Both had their hands up in fighting position. F and I didn't talk to each other, didn't look at each other, but each of us ran to one guy. F ran into his guy football-style, and I ran into my guy and hugged him and bounced around with him. Soon, were all dancing around, fight averted. Soon after, F tells me to get out of the pit. There's a big guy taking wild swings, but I grab him and pat him on the shoulder. A few seconds later I get sucker punched in the jaw. But other than that, the tiny, calm, and temporary pits were great, the show was great, and I wanted to go back and slug my naysayer-self in the jaw.
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Mexico City Journal: Jujitsu

Mexico City Journal

I love jujitsu. And I love Thai kick boxing. I've been doing both since I arrived in Mexico City. My friend F is a purple belt and used to go almost every day. Now F is busy with work, busy with pre-production for his first feature film, and busy with a new girlfriend, so he goes once a week. But I've befriended the instructor and he told me I can come at any time. So I am. I'm trying to go four times a week, two hours each time - one hour of jujitsu and one hour of Thai kick boxing.

I love the dance of the forms; I love the intellectual choices made during a 'fight'; I love the intense skill and discipline. And I'm getting in mad shape.

Speaking of shape, the guys in the class are all in pristine shape, but none of them are close to 5% body fat. A narcissistic and incredibly well-read and intelligent friend of mine pointed out that model-looking guys can get to 5% body fat without too much effort and still be muscular. (Think of any young actor and the way his waist is almost non-existent.) However, once you get close to 30 there's a trade-off: you either build muscle mass and hover around 10 or 15% body fat (picture the actor who played James Bond in the last two films) or you stay really skinny and remain without muscles (think about David Bowie). What that means is that after 30 it's damn hard to get a tiny waist. If you're physically active then the body wants calories. You can have a V shape and a six pack, but you won't get 22 year old male model waist.

Now I know almost no women care about this type of male narcissism (and neither do most men) but I find it interesting how bodies develop. The guys in the class are at their physical peak, yet most of them have about 10 to 15% body fat (again, they look a lot like the older male action stars); unless they're in their twenties, and then they look like male models (or Bruce Lee). They also range from teens to forties, and another thing I love is that age doesn't matter; only skill. If you are of the same skill, then you are equals. As someone who cherishes meritocracies, I love that. I also love that there's an obvious progression. You gain a belt when you're able to defeat people who wear that belt. Simple. Direct. That's never true with most other skills.

But back to male bodies. I've watched a few fights on TV with the guys from the class and there's an amazing amount of guys who are professional fighters who are in their thirties, which is unheard of in boxing. Yes, the instructor said, because you reach your peak physical speed at around 25, but you don't reach your peak physical strength until you're forty. And of course, your technique constantly improves, so a guy in his thirties, generally, can kick the ass of a guy in his twenties.

Me, I'm getting put in pretzels by guys who are their twenties, and since I'll probably never devote enough time to get great (or even really good) that will probably always continue to happen. But I'm not there to fight. I'm doing it to get in shape, get some new skills, and enjoy myself. And damn, when I get back to New York, I'll look good on the beach. (Even if I'll never again be at 5% body fat).
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Mexico City Journal: from the first few days

Mexico City Journal

Here are my pictures from the first few days.

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Santa Muerte. This is the infamous Saint Death that drug dealers, kidnappers, and those looking for luck or protection pray and make offerings to. She's also known as La Santísima Muerte (Most Holy Death) and Doña Sebastiana (Lady Sebastienne).

What you can't see is that she had a lit cigarette in her hand and on the table is a full glass of water? and a full mug of beer.


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I put this up for everyone who is worried about me getting swine flu. I uh, wear it, uh... all the time. Uh... yeah. Everywhere I go. In spirit, at least.

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Mexico City Journal: fashion shows

Mexico City Journal

Yesterday was a full day.

Wake up, read the news online, get to work, find out about major tax problems (more on that later), put in a solid day of storyboard work, put in an hour each of intense Thai kickboxing and jujitsu classes, and shoot off to a fashion show.

I've ignored fashion shows, but their structure is interesting. They always create a uniformity to the models, mainly through make-up and hair. That, coupled with the strange way the models walk down the catwalk, forces visual attention toward the clothes. As someone who isn't interested in clothes, but who is interested in art forms and the way each form focuses attention, I'm fascinated with the way the whole thing works. I'd much prefer to look at the girls, but it takes attention to try to distinguish Girl X or Girl Y, so my mind gets lazy and starts looking at the clothes. Looking at the girls, surprisingly, is like trying to look at the walls in an art gallery, or trying to listen to a conversation at a punk club. And it comes as a surprise, but I as I watch the show, not only do I stop looking at the girls and start looking at the clothes, but I have opinions on the clothes. As I watch these things, I can see the differences between conservative and challenging cuts and fabrics and textures and "line." I never knew.
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Photos from an opening

Mexico City Journal

As I said, my camera is dead, but I did manage to get a lot of photos, which I have posted to Facebook, but not to here. So without further ado...

We went to a fashion show/club opening, but weren't in a hurry, so we missed the fashion show, which is ok to me, since I hate most clothes, and Mexico City, fashion-wise, seems to be pretty conservative. Anyway, my friend F__'s girlfriend was modeling.

Oh, and I don't know if you can see it, but I have a black eye.

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Eating mamey and thinking about the art world

Mexico City Journal

I'm eating a mamey in my friend's living room, which is where I sleep. I wish I could show you pictures, but I forgot to bring my camera's charger, so I can no longer take any pictures until my friend sends me my charger from NYC. Oddly, I couldn't find a charger to buy in Mexico City, even though it's a popular charger for a popular phone. Funny what's easy to buy in one country but hard to buy in another. My friend's pace is very nice. I can hear a helicopter outside, it's rotors spinning outside the Red Cross building. The mamey is sweet, with flesh that has the texture of an avocado and a flavor somewhere between a mango and a pumpkin.

I'm reading the new (New York Times, The Economist, BBC, and various blogs, and NOW I'm watching the helicopter take off, but from above since the apt. I'm in is the penthouse.

But this caught my eye from today's New York Times:
    This exhibition [is] in fact promoting academicism and conformity.

    A scan of the catalog’s biographies confirms that, almost without exception, the artists in the show are products of art schools, as often as not intensely professionalized, canon-driven environments. This may help explain why so much of the work on view comes with art historical references and borrowings, tweaks on tweaks on tweaks so intricate and numerous as to defy listing.

    The same biographies reveal that nearly all of these 33-and-under artists already have substantial careers in progress, with solo shows in commercial galleries, appearances in international surveys and so on. So this isn’t a promising-newcomer event. It’s a market-vetted product and one that, my guess is, entailed relatively little adventuring on the part of its organizers.
It's from a review of the show at The New Museum called "Younger Than Jesus." I haven't seen the show, so I can't say anything about it, but that critique sums up everything I hate about the art world. I hate the professionalizing of the art world; the fact that in order to have a career as an artist you need to have an MFA. An MFA for a creative field. It's something that everyone in the art world knows is stupid and broken, but the system is so entranced that no one can do anything about it, least of all the artists whose career is intrinsically bound in the system that made them.

Anyway... next posts will be about Mexico, but obviously I haven't left my home yet.
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(no subject)

Mexico City Journal

Met a beautiful friend of F__'s who is closer to my age. We went and ate, and even though I don't speak Spanish and she only spoke the most rudimentary English, we hit it off. Soon hands were comfortably held and hair was comfortably stroked. We were at some restaurant that looked like a club, and turns out, it was a club, just an empty club that serves food until it gets busy. (The food in Mexico City, btw, has been amazing.) Soon we're dancing and everyone is watching us but we don't care. We turned a bunch of straws into a headband and she's now a hippie and we're both hippie-dancing, and now we're 80s-dancing to 80s music.

We pick up F__'s girlfriend and her sister. Then we all drive to a tiny pseudo-punk pseudo-dive bar (but whose bathrooms are both seriously punk and seriously dive-y.) Two of F__'s brother's friends are in an all-girl band that is playing their last show. They've been together for five years. Afterwards, there is a party at one of the band member's apts. I've met both of the girls, since both have been recording in F__'s studio. (F__ is a director and his office space has a large fully-equipped recording studio.)

A metal band is playing when we get there. The disgust is obvious in F__'s girlfriend and sister's face - esp. the sister's. The band isn't very good but they end with a classic Iron Maiden song which is heavier, more powerful, and more awesome than any of their own material, which was all very pop-y and conservative (much like the fashion show I saw here last week). Anyway, the next band was pop-punk. F__ and his posse was losing interest. Sister mocked Metallica, so I grabbed her shoulders and shook her back and forth screaming, Mah-tale-eh-ka, Mah-tale-eh-ka. She was laughing but I was half serious, and after I let her go she reprimanded me like a dog and said, You're very bad.

Finally, the girl-band started and they were damn good. After the second song, F__ said it was time to leave. Fuck that, I thought, so I said I'd stay. So the cute girl left along with F__'s crew. I blew her kisses, mimed a tear, and then shrugged my shoulders. She nodded and that was that.

The band was good but I was tired. When they finished I went to the dingy bathroom, and when I came back the band was gone. I went to the waitress and asked where the backstage was. She didn't understand, so I drew a picture on her notepad. It had a picture of backstage, the name of two of the band-members, and an arrow that pointed to a car that was to drive a picture of me to a cartoon home. She took it to someone who spoke English (which was disappointing since I thought my note could be understood in any language) and they took me backstage.

I hugged and swung Band-Member Number 1 in a big circle and told her I loved their show. She asked if I was going to the after party. Yes, I said, but I need to make sure I have a ride home. Oh, she said, Well I'm sure Band-Member Number 2 would love to give you a ride home. Cool, I said, because I'm yours tonight, since I just lost my sure ride. Good, she said, then you will be mine tonight. But ask Band-Member Number 2 first, ok? Yes, I said.

So I ran into F__'s brother who was the producer for the band. I'm leaving now, he said, do you need a ride? Yes, I said, but you're not going to the after party? No, I have to work tomorrow. Ok, I said, But I'm going to see if Band-Member Number 2 can give me a ride. He replied, Sure, but I'm leaving soon.

And I couldn't find Band-Member Number 2, so just to be safe I catch a ride with F__'s brother, the Producer. And nearly immediately, he drives the wrong way down a one way onramp. Yikes. And a little bit later he drives the wrong way on a roundabout. We are all laughing and I am wondering if he's drunk. Then I scream, That's rock and roll! and we all laugh.
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Mexico City Journal

Mexico City Journal

I have a black eye from my first Thai boxing class.
I broke my toe in Acapulco by walking into a plastic chair.
I have a scar on the bridge of my nose from swimming underwater.
I have junky-looking arms from playing with five crazy puppies with sharp puppy teeth.
I have blisters on my thumbs from playing Xbox.
Dumbest wounds ever.

I'm finally falling into a routine here in Mexico City. Life is starting to form a familiar pattern that is still punctuated with newness and the spirit of a leisurely vacation. We get to the office at around noon. Work until seven or so and then either go to jujitsu or out to eat. We eat out all the time. Later, we'll play dominoes or cards or Xbox or just play with the dogs. We don't go out much, so I haven't met many single women, which is disappointing, especially because I don't speak Spanish, so picking someone up at a non-pick up spot is difficult for me.

I'm going to start posting again. Little things.

What's up with everyone? I haven't been online much.
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Mexico City, swine flu, kidnappings, drug violence

Tempting Fate

Stupid or not, I'm on my way to Mexico City in a week. Flights are cheap; a friend has work for me; it's time to go. I'm also going to do some research for my book in Central America, esp. in Honduras and Guatemala. And hell, when epidemics sweep the world, it's usually the second and third iterations of the virus/bacteria that turns really deadly, so if I get it now, and live, I'll be ok. And hell, I'm looking forward to seeing an apocalyptic Mexico City.