Monday, August 30, 2010

Stupidity, Film and Music

My intention had been to post more frequently but my computer crashed and getting it up and going again took time. Probably didn’t handle this in the most efficient way but will know what to do next time, and definitely will never again be lackadaisical about backing up my hard drive. The night I finally decided that I couldn’t go to bed without backing up to the exterior hard drive, I’d purchased three months before, the computer froze. And when I booted up again I had a blank screen. At that moment, I did not appreciate God and Her sick sense of humor. Spent a week or so kicking myself, generally in a bad mood, impatient, for the first time in a couple of years, with all the inconveniences of living in Mexico. But lots was going on, so I didn’t stay blue long.

Just before the computer crashed, I was enjoying the film festival, the annual Expresion en Corto that brings filmmakers, most of them young, from all over the world to San Miguel and Ciudad de Guanajuato. Checking out the film festivals was one of the things I enjoyed about living in New York and not something I expected to find in San Miguel. The weather kept me in the first day. We were in the middle of a very different rainy season when the festival started. This year it poured, often, in the middle of the day and it was cooler than normal. So I stayed in the first day I'd planned to go and missed Argentine director Lucrecia Martel. But I got out to the Inaugural Ceremony and opening party, saw lots of good films, and got to hear Daniel Ellsberg speak after the screening of the documentary about his release of the Pentagon Papers, The Most Dangerous Man in America, the night before the Afghan equivalents were released to the media.

And this year I followed the festival to Guanajuato for a day and got experience it in a university town. This is another town that offers a nice counterpoint to San Miguel. Living here you miss the energy that young people bring to a town. Found a great restaurant, explored the city a little but mostly watched the films. My favorites were Havanyork, a documentary connecting hip-hop in New York with Havana, and La Mitad del Mundo, a coming of age film where a slightly retarded young man discovers his sexual prowess. Mexico has several film festivals and maybe next year I’ll get to some of the others.

I’d planned to go to Mexico City to hear sax master Richie Cole. Trumpeter Luis Gasca organized his Mexican gigs and he was coming to Club Zinco, playing with some of the local musicians—Gabriel, Tyler and Bobby. I’d been looking forward to this weekend—had been wanting to check out jazz in DF and could couple the music with a visit to their big Sunday market, that sells everything from antiques to underwear. But after the unexpected computer expenses, I was sensible and cancelled the trip—I was supposed go to Tlaquepaque at the end of the month and couldn't afford to do both. Found out the Monday after their Club Zinco gig that they were coming to San Miguel. So I still got to hear them. They rocked—this was the best jazz I’ve heard in Mexico. And more great music came a couple weeks later—last week Sibyl English brought down the house at her first gig in town with a full band. That girl can sing, her vocal range and placement are extraordinary, and she’s not afraid to mix it up, incorporate a gospel riff into one of her Latin American songs. Sibyl had a different kick-ass band backing her. A film festival, my kind of music—San Miguel’s been feeling like a city the last few weeks.

Mid-month, I went with Lynn and Lita to Tlaquepaque. Love being in that city. Some of it is nostalgia. Tlaquepaque was our first stop on my initial exploration of central Mexico in ‘04. It’s tourist area is small, easy to navigate and filled with shops that feature contemporary Mexican design. It’s always a good change of pace from colonial San Miguel. Especially when coupled with the two trade shows, Enart, a crafts expo in Tlaquepaque, that runs concurrently with a furniture expo in Guadalajara, only 20 minutes away.

We stayed at Casa Campo with Pepe and Mony, friends I met through Lita—when Pepe was in Bali for 18 months she kept Eva, his dog. They’re closing at the end of month, causalties of the downturn in the economy. I was glad I got to spend time with them at the end of this era. I don’t know them well but always enjoy our time together. I love Pepe’s spirit, he’s free and fearless. And Mony is entering a new chapter in her personal life now that her daughter is off to law school. Saturday night we went out to a restaurant/club in an upscale mall in Guadalajara, filled with US stores and restaurants. It wasn't the US stuff but the sophistication that attracted me. I didn't see anything like this on my first visit to Guadalajara six years before. Both Lynn and I had the same idea, we might want to come back and hang out, investigate the city for a couple of weeks.

Cross your fingers that I can get the files off my old hard drive, that getting them doesn’t cost a fortune, and that I’m able to replace the money I’m spending on the computer so that I can still go to Buenos Aires at the end of the year.