Alameda Park, Casa de Azulejos

Posted by admin on Wednesday Jun 27, 2018 Under Uncategorized

Alameda Park Fountain MexicoThe street at the time the Casa de Azulejos was built was called Calle Plateada because of all the silversmiths and silver merchants on the street. Later during the late 19th century the building was the location of the most exclusive men’s club in the capital—the Jockey Club. If Mexican television ever made its own version of Dawnton Abbey, scenes would have to be shot here. We’ll also look at a famous Orozco mural in the patio dining area.

We’ll leave the Casa de Azulejos, now owed by the fourth richest man in the world — Carlos Slim of TelMex. How he became so wealthy could be the subject of yet another novel, this time by Carlos Fuentes or even Roberto Bolano. We’ll wander through Alameda Park to the Franz Meyer Museum to look at the household furnishings and get a sense of the lifestyle of the rich and famous in 17th 18th century Mexico.

A bit about Franz Meyer and his collection. Franz . . .

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Palacio Nacional in Mexico City

Posted by admin on Wednesday Jun 27, 2018 Under Uncategorized

Sor Juana Inez DeLaCruzSo who was Sor Juana? Only one of the most important poets in the western hemisphere. She lived in the mid-16 century, achieved great heights of learning at a time when even well born women could barely read. She was the very beautiful illegitimate daughter of a wealthy creole woman. At age 13 or so she was sent to live in the court of the Viceroy in Mexico where she became the Vicereine’s favorite companion.

At 16 she entered a convent, where, because of her close relationship with the Vicereine, she was granted incredible privileges. Her study walls were lined with hundreds of books and she spent her time studying and writing poetry — many of them it is believed — were love poems to the vicereine herself veiled in formal verse and with religious allusions. The brooch at Sor Juana’s neck carried an image of the Vicereine and when the viceroy was commanded back to Spain, Sor Juana lost her protection was forced to confess her sins and to give away her books and live in a simple cell until she . . .

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Manila Acapulco Galleon Trade Route

Posted by admin on Wednesday Jun 27, 2018 Under Uncategorized

Manila Acapulco RouteThe accounts of travels on the Chinese Galleon, the Manila Galleon, the Nao de China — the ships were called many things — were harrowing. It was a six month journey to cross over from the Phillipines to the coast of southern California always with the threat of running out of water or being caught in a typhoon. From California, the vessels sailed down the coast of Mexico to Acapulco where they stayed for many months until the winds were right for the three month voyage back. Once anchored in Acapulco bay, the . . .

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Centro Historico

Posted by admin on Wednesday Jun 27, 2018 Under Uncategorized

Palacio Nacional MexicoThe best place to observe the Zocolo, the Palacio Nacional, and the Metropolitian Cathedral is from the roof terrace of the old Majestic Hotel. It’s a bit down on its heels these days, which makes it all the more bohemian. When the Mexican writer and former ambassador to the US Carlos Fuentes was asked to write about the Palacio Nacional for the Mexico’s bi-centenial, he choose this terrace as the place to take notes for his article.

Here, high above the noise and hustle and bustle, you can begin to image life in the zocolo during the Viceregal Period in Mexico -- that 300 year period from the conquest to the War of Independence.

Within 100 years after the conquest, Mexico would go from being a Spanish outpost in the new world to one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the world. The conquistadores’ search for precious metals finally hit the motherlode, so to speak, in the silver mines of Mexico during the mid-1600s. By then the power and prestige of the conquistadores had waned -- in fact . . .

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Tenochitlan and Coyoacan

Posted by admin on Wednesday Jun 27, 2018 Under Uncategorized

La Conchita Church MexicoToday the sprawl of Mexico City has reached Coyoacan, but still it is a wonderful place to spend the day, full of parks, charming side streets and lovely little plazas, like the one surrounding the first church built in the new world -- Capilla de la Santa Maria de la Concepcion Imaculata, or La Conchita as it is called.

In this church, we see the blending of the old and new worlds, the mudejar arch of the moors, the early Baroque and so on, the indigenous religion -- the sun and the moon and the floral pattern in the reliefs on the church facade. We see the artistic manifestation of the social experiment, if you will, of mestizaje, a mixing of the races that took hold in Mexico as in no other country in the western hemisphere and shaped its art, architecture, government, economy and even its national psyche.

This simple church, the first one built in Mesoamerica, would be followed by another small church for the Indians called Santa Caterina and finally, once Tenochitlan was habitable again, by a small church in the Zocolo, or Plaza Mayor, of what was now the new Mexico City. It would take two hundred years to become the magnificent, baroque Metropolitan Cathedral that it is . . .

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Affordable Care Act: It’s the Law

Posted by admin on Tuesday Oct 1, 2013 Under Uncategorized

Obamacare SignI was all set to start blogging on my author site Mexico as part of my marketing campaign, just something light and breezy, and then –- damn! -- if those tea party Republicans didn’t get on my last nerve when they shut the government and the economy down.

While my neighbors who work in the National Parks will be getting their salaries docked, our Representative Tom McClintock is raking in several hundred dollars a day plus government healthcare, healthcare he wants you to be free enough not to have. Since he makes roughly $174,000 a year, he really doesn't need his gold-plated federal employee insurance for himself . . .

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Speaking Truth to Power

Posted by admin on Thursday Sep 26, 2013 Under Uncategorized

Jimmy Carter SpeaksSelf-publishing my novel Palace of the Blue Butterfly was one little way of speaking truth to power. The novel tells the story of an older woman who longs for some kind of transformation. There is romance but not on the man’s terms. It explores the terrible period of McCarthyism in this country. It does not glorify the very rich, and it refutes the lie that Americans are comfortable perpetuating -- that Mexico is a backward country full of desperately poor campesinos and drug lords.

When the powerful in my little world said that the Mexican setting wouldn’t sell, that the love interest couldn’t be Mexican, that my protagonist was too old, I could have remained silent. I did not. While there was no gun . . .

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Lookaway, Lookaway: North Carolina and the Not-So-New . . .

Posted by admin on Friday Sep 20, 2013 Under Uncategorized

Lookaway-Lookawy-SM. . . South. As everyone around here knows, I’ve been sick, really sick. After several days of terrible pain, Dave drove me down the mountain to the emergency room—otherwise known as The Village of the Damned—where I waited for five hours before being seen by the ER doc. The other lost souls in the waiting room included a stroke victim slumped in a wheelchair, a half starved, young woman clearly in the throes of a psychotic break, plus the usual folks with no health insurance, their faces covered with paper masks, who use the ER as a primary care facility. Fortunately, I had a really good book to get lost in, Lookaway, Lookaway, by Wilton Barnhardt of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Years ago an agent told me I should exploit my Southern background in my writing. She meant Southern as in mansions covered in honeysuckle, spirited young belles and old black maids dispensing the wisdom of the ages. I tried to explain how the south wasn’t really like that anymore, probably never was, but it took this author to really nail it. Barnhardt is Dickens with a drawl . . .

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Antoinette Tuff: The Power of Stories and the Power of . . .

Posted by admin on Thursday Aug 29, 2013 Under Uncategorized

Gary Soto Book. . . a story by Fresno writer Gary Soto called, "Being Mean," which the kids all loved. In the story, the children of a couple who are employed in a broom factory are left to their own devices during the summer. They do all the scandalous things you would expect kids to do under those circumstances, and needless to say, it does not turn out well. The first line of the story was this: "We were terrible kids I think."

By the end of the student's writing and reflecting on the story, I always revealed something of Gary Soto's biography, that he was the son of farm workers in the Central Valley and now was a full professor of English at UC Berkeley and a renowned poet. Is there anything in this story, I would ask, that would predict this transformation from a terrible kid to an English professor? Just as I hoped, someone would inevitably point to the first line, to the phrase "I think". The writing assignment that night always involved . . .

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Fish Stew: Like One of
Ina Garten’s Recipes Only . . .

Posted by admin on Thursday Aug 22, 2013 Under Uncategorized

Table Setting with WineUnless you’ve been hiding under a rock and not reading my blog or downloading my book( link), you probably know my great affection for Mexico and all things Mexican. So, it’s not surprising that one of my favorite little California towns is Paso Robles or La Ciudad del Paso de los Robles, with its leafy town plaza and wineries. Okay, so now the town is sort of like Old Mexico meets Italy and Spain infused with San Francisco foodie culture. It was a great place to celebrate our anniversary this year before heading to the coast.

We wined and dined at the enchanting Villa Creek restaurant, the area’s old Mexico roots showing in the restaurant’s decor — oxblood colored walls, tapestries from Oaxaca, wooden box beams, austere Mission-style architecture, and of, course, a charming patio . . .

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Ina Garten’s Recipes Only . . .
Mexico Trilogy Graphic Link