Thursday, April 30, 2015

Angels and Archangels workshop, with diploma!

In case you were wondering where you could get a diploma proving you've been initiated by Archangel Michael, just head to Mexico's subway system for info...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

cabaret, citadels, flowers... just another weekend in Mexico City

Last weekend was just another normal weekend in Mexico City. You know, like going to a cabaret near the historic centre (La Perla) that has been around for some 40 years, that has appeared in a few movies and videos, and that had a special children's day-inspired show with a number of acts that only those of us around 40 or older could have related to...

Or walking to a nearby historical landmark (the Monument to the Revolution, no less) at sunset for a show of gorgeous colours, a band mini-concert, and then craft beer at a garage-cum-hipster-bar...

Or walking around the Ciudadela, another one of Mexico City's historic sites, and seeing contemporary art, and an open-air play with a small hilly park as stage, or beautiful bright flowers and bright blue skies... 

Or having vegan brunch at the usual haunt (Volver; nobody can beat their vegan enchiladas with nut cheese and tempeh!), while discovering a new bagel place on the way there...

Yeah, just another ordinary, unremarkable weekend in Mexico City...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Calder, architecture and martinis

With so many museums in the city, it's just a question of simply picking one out and going there, right? Last weekend it was the turn of the Museo Jumex. By the way, Jumex is a brand of what I find as one of the most disgusting juice you could ever have, which is probably the reason I had never suggested visiting this museum - I couldn't bear the name! But, fortunately, the habibi* (LONG note at end of post) had spotted one exhibition that would make even the biggest hater of those juices to rush there - an exhibition of Alexander Calder's pieces! 

The museum, I'll admit, is quite fine. It only houses exhibitions. There are no collections. And the design is pretty airy, has a number of terraces from which to view the area around, the light is amazing... And then... Calder's exhibition! Wow. Who could not be wowed by his kinetic sculptures? I so wish we had been allowed to take photos! Of course, his abstract "still" sculptures were beautiful to look at from a variety of angles. But the kinetic ones? I stopped long at a number of them, watching them shift ever so slightly, taking different shapes, projecting living shadows... Hats off to the man, and to the massive exhibition!

Now, the other interesting thing? The museum across - the Museo Soumaya. I had mentioned this museum in a previous post from 2011. With an almost obscenely complete collection of art that spans some 30 centuries (which may or may not be your cup of tea), its very distinctive shape does add something to the landscape of this part of the city. Also, mind you, back then, the whole area was pretty much a wasteland - lots of dirt, construction going on, noise... it was really inhospitable. Enter spring 2015 - the Museo Jumex, the Plaza Carso (a mall fancy enough to have a Saks Fifth Avenue), shiny corporation buildings, trees and flowers, and a crowd that most definitely didn't resemble the crowds I usually see in downtown Mexico (ie, verging on too posh). What a difference! 

The affluence of the area is sort of reflected - in my humble opinion, at least - in quite a few other details, like a koi pond (a koi pond???) by the Museo Soumaya, and Dali sculptures liberally placed around the area and inside the Plaza Carso. 

As well, as if to underscore the fancy-shmancy feel of this area... Well, you see, after Calder's super amazing and incredible exhibition, we figured we could watch a film from Mexico City's international film festival that was showing right there at Plaza Carso's movie theatre. I bought tickets for the VIP cinema, assuming - erroneously I discovered later - that the film was showing just there and not in the "commoners' cinema". Well. I've been to a VIP cinema once, in Toronto. The difference was absurd! You could adjust the seat's back- and foot-rest with buttons, you had a side-table with a lamp and a button to call for the waiter to order the food on the menu placed on said table, and basically this had all the feeling of a first class seat in an airplane! The funniest thing? The martini I had there was the best martini I've had in the city! The glass was perfectly chilled, the olives were good, the gin delicious... You did not expect that, eh? What, does that mean now I'll have to go to this theatre for my drinks? 

So, if you're around and have the chance, get to the Museo Jumex ASAP for a good and very well served dose of Calder. And maybe a martini later at the movies? 

* habibi - Formerly the huz. Why? If you read this post here you'll know we didn't sign a marriage contract out of a deep respect for an institution that privileges one type of family over others. And after a long and complicated talk, we came to the conclusion that using the words huz, husband and the like may have heteronormativized (long but accurate word) and subconsciously negatively altered our own perceptions about our relationship. So I'm switching back to habib, habibi, mahboubi and derived words, which I used for a long time, and leaving words like spouse and husband for more official public spheres as needed.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

goodies from the land of milk and honey

because happiness can be turkish coffee...

shredded halva...

organic zaatar leaves...

and curry-like spices for cooking...

all from the land of milk and honey

courtesy of the motek. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Easter... Passover... whatever, days off!

Easter does not mean family time in Mexico, like it does in Canada, for example. It means religious services and events, for some, and treasured vacation time, for many. And you know what happens when everybody is travelling? This fantastic city becomes empty, and quiet, and calm! And since my Jewish experience with religious traditions is next to nil and I was not going to attempt a Passover seder by myself, we were left with four days (including the weekend) to do nothing but explore and enjoy Mexico City. Yay!

We used plenty of public transport. Which allowed us to enjoy some interesting signs, like this one below saying "toca una bes el timbre te escucho", which would mean "ring once I am listening". But only if "once" were spelled "wunce" or something like that. We also saw, taking a different bus, another funny one: it had a light that would turn on when you requested a stop. This must have been a bathroom light, because right above it it said "ocupado" (occupied). Priceless!  

We went to museums too! So nice to not have to jostle with crowds! Especially since there was this one exhibition about British landscape art with two pieces to totally die for by David Hockney (Bigger Trees Near Warter or/ou Peinture sur le Motif pour le Nouvel Age Post-Photographique) and William Turner (Riva degli Schiavone, Venice: Water Fête). And all this at the beautiful neoclassical Palacio de Minería (Palace of Mining).

Ah, yes, we also saw a painting exhibition at the former Palacio de Iturbide, now a museum owned by a bank (BANAMEX) where, of most interest to me, were some paintings about the caste system that operated while Mexico was part of the Spanish Empire. It's ridiculous the intricacy of that system, but I guess they had a vested interest in specifying who had Spanish blood, and to what extent. Fascinating. And unbelievable.

We tried partying too. But there the holiday gods conspired against us and, bar the very first night where I happily unwound with friends at our local drinking hole with some nice IPAs and mezcal, the other nights were quite a flop, with either music I really didn't like, or people with a bit of an attitude. But at least I made an effort to go out and try new places, so it wasn't an absolute loss!

We also enjoyed quite a bit of the Roma Norte district. It's this area of town, not too far from where we live, with leafy streets, quite a few squares and parks, and plenty of interesting places for eating, drinking and shopping. It's hipsterizing up, but still pretty welcoming and pleasant. Plus, that's where our favourite brunch place is (Volver, with amazing vegan waffles and deliciously refreshing mimosas), where many trees are blossoming (spring! yay!) right by old houses, and where we enjoyed an IPA basking in the soft and warm rays of a beautiful sunset. 

Being this a Christian country, it's no surprise we ended up entering two churches. Not that we were looking for them, but you know, they were on our way to other places! And seeing Art Déco influences at one (the Sagrada Familia, in the Juárez district) and hearing the end of a beautiful concert (with, what else, Alleluia) at another one was not half bad at all.

And that's just a small part. We did plenty more!  We went to the movies to watch a Franco-Greek film called Xenia which managed to avoid a fair number of clichés (while using one as its basis: two brothers on an adventure in search for their father) and show us a pretty unpalatable side of Greece. We saw people dancing danzón in one of the squares in the historic centre (this always makes me feel so good! it's such a joy seeing all these older couples dressed in their best clothes and having fun!). We saw a photographic installation about the multi-ethnic inhabitants of the Juárez district. And I got to take the odd photo here and there (like that one of toys spread on the street, just because). 

And everything else I forgot to mention. Quite a rich, happy four days. Pretty cool.

Monday, April 06, 2015

a colourful concrete carpet...

Driving back to Mexico last weekend from the neighbouring state of Hidalgo, we passed this urban sprawl that, at least, offered a colourful - if not very ecologic - view. Blue, pink, orange, yellow houses carpeting everything around... Oh well...