Monday, February 29, 2016
Sunday, February 28, 2016
The habib introduced me to Witkin a number of years ago. The guy is a genius, crafting beauty and depth from death, mutilation and the less common.
So when we heard that last week a Witkin exhibition was opening at the Foto Museo Cuatro Caminos, we made sure we were there! And do you know who else was there? Joel-Peter Witkin in person! Whoa! Many of his photographs were taken in Mexico, with Mexican subjects. So if there was one special place to see his work, and to meet him, it was right here.
It was a double exhibition, with paintings by his twin brother, Jerome. An interesting artist, no doubt. But the work of his brother Joel-Peter was, unquestionably, the centre of attention.
It had been a while since I had been to an exhibition like this, every single photograph capturing your gaze, your mind lost in the light, the shapes, the details, the references... A truly wonderful collection. You shouldn't miss it if you're in the city.
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Last weekend we went to the 10th anniversary celebration of an alternative art space not far from where we are - La Nana. Honouring it's non-conventional nature, it began with an indigenous ceremony.
I'm still unsure of how to interpret these indigenous rituals. On one hand, my knowledge (which could very well be flawed) tells me that many original elements were lost during the brutal repression and elimination of the ruling classes and of most cultural manifestations related to what the Spaniards viewed as "devil inspired". But then again, how to know how much knowledge was indeed passed on secretly? And even if this was more of a creative revival instead of a faithful reconstruction, does it matter if the intent is pride in one's roots? All interesting questions...
And afterwards, an artist we enjoy seeing perform beautiful and diverse vocalizations, Juan Pablo Villa, along with a poet - Mardonio Carballo - who performs in both Nahuatl and Spanish. Nice.
Curious about what other things we'll see at La Nana now that it has entered our mental map!
Friday, February 26, 2016
Did I mention South Koreans take coffee drinking very seriously? I'm dead serious, some of the best coffee I've had has been in Seoul! So, I finally decided to go for a cuppa at Coffine Gurunaru, a Korean chain in Zona Rosa.
First of all, and something I appreciate greatly, their espresso has no acidity! Yay! Why does this matter? 1. I extremely dislike acidity in my coffee. 2. It would seem people in Mexico City love acidity in their coffee. Oy.
And then? The place remains true to its origins, with an interesting look and... unusual English, the like of which we used to encounter back in Asia all the time! "Make your body and your mind upgrade"? "A resting place for you"? Yes!
I'll probably be back. I think I even like that their pastry tastes to me like the Korean ones I had back in China!
Thursday, February 25, 2016
I've already mentioned a place by the Monumento a la Revolución - Crisanta, a garage-cum-bar with craft beer, nice seats, and views of the monument.
It seems it's become my go to place for reading and drinking! Or, in these specific two cases, reading a Canadian Jewish secular progressive magazine with an article called "How I stopped being a Jew", accompanied by a Baltic porter...
...or a US feminist response to Pop-culture, with an article about "precariat chick TV" and race, accompanied by a local red ale.
Views, good reading, nice beers. Yes!
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Saturday, February 20, 2016
So, once in a while nostalgia for Lebanon strikes, right? So a couple of weeks ago this was our recipe to re-Lebanize ourselves a bit:
1. Visit Al Andalús, one of the city's best Lebanese (and, as far as I know, Jewish-Lebanese) restaurants, in the historic core of the city. A single plate of mezze (appetizers) will, not surprisingly, sate your thirst for al balad (the country; that is, Lebanon).
Finish that off with a few cups of the thickest, strongest Turkish coffee. And sweets.
2. Enjoy the rainbow from the restaurant's courtyard.
3. Head to the Maronite cathedral not far from there and relish all the Lebanese names. Saint Charbel, Saint Rifka...
4. Don't fail to notice the tacos al pastor in the neighbourhood, a legacy of Lebanese immigration (though fully assimilated - pork!). Any similarity with shawarma is most definitely NO coincidence.
Friday, February 19, 2016
It had been so long since our last brunch at Volver at Colonia Roma Norte! The service is still somewhat lacking - that hasn't changed - but the food is as amazing as it's always been, too, with special dishes (including vegan ones) being prepared every week and written on their street chalkboard sign.
So, here's yet another version of a vegan brunch there: a quinoa, cocoa and banana non-dairy shake, which was perfect, light, and oh so fantastically not too sweet. And vegan waffles with Belgian chocolate, blackberries, strawberries, and maple syrup. You may officially hate me now.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Who knows how many weeks of preparing one huge event. One cantina with ficheras (sort of like sex-workers). Some Germans who misjudge their resistance to tequila. And a strange alternate working of the the laws of physics and time inside the cantina. Result? You enter before midnight, and leave past sunrise. And we're talking winter sunrise times.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
This was long overdue. But then again, spare time has become quite the luxury since I moved to Mexico City, so I do what I can. Anyhow, thanks to Toronto, now I'm always on the lookout for film festivals. Including Jewish ones. So of course we didn't miss this year's edition of the Festival Internacional de Cine Judío de México. And - surprise! NOT - we greatly enjoyed it.
There was French drama with L'Antiquaire. There was riveting British documenting of the making of a holocaust documentary with Night will fall. There was Moroccan-Israeli comedy with Orange People. There was enlightening Israeli-Palestinian narrative about intersex people. So many genres! So international! Amazing, eh?
Of course, when mentioning I was going to this festival, someone asked what makes a Jewish film festival, well, Jewish. And that's a brilliant question. On one hand, Jewish identity until very recently was linked to Judaism. In Arab lands, Jews were mostly culturally Arab, with the difference that they practiced Judaism and not Islam. It was in Europe that Yiddish allowed for a certain secular Jewish culture. But that's Europe. If we take secular Jews from Mexico, Morocco, Israel, Russia, France and the US, we'd soon find ourselves in the tough situation of having to admit that there's very little to define what a secular Jew is, beyond their self-identifying as Jews. Maybe the odd religious trapping (Yom Kippur?). Perhaps some Hebrew lessons. Or some link to some Jewish community. But all in all, take religion away (along with experiences derived from religious trappings), and you get the strange phenomenon of a very diverse mosaic of peoples with rather little in common except their common experience of self-identification as Jews.
Why all that rambling? Because that's what makes a Jewish film festival so great. There may be religious themes. But you'll also find themes about identity. About food. You'll see horror. And comedy. The films will be set in Delhi. In Shanghai. In Ramallah. With mostly just one common theme, and probably the most Jewish theme of all: pondering and embracing the question of who one is, what one's history means, how it all fits or doesn't fit together, until one has better answers.
Saturday, February 13, 2016
It's not very often you get to see Mexico City's iconic volcanoes - the Iztaccíhuatl, or the white woman, and the Popocatépetl, the smoking mountain. So, when they show, and especially on a crisp winter day when you can see them all day, covered in snow, from morning till sundown, it's a wonderful spectacle.
Friday, February 12, 2016
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Mid-January we happened upon a strange march. I had heard about it being organized, but I didn't know when it was going to take place, or where. And suddenly, while having a relaxed walk on Paseo de la Reforma, we spotted it: a march to claim respect for LGBTQ citizens. Now, why "strange"? Well, there's a much, much bigger one that has traditionally taken place, for over 3 decades, in the summer. So what set this one apart, besides the much reduced attendance?
As per the founder of this movement, when LGBTQ people "exhibit themselves" (an example a bit further on will sort of exemplify what he means) they bring violence upon themselves. So, he wants to create a movement of "citizens, just like you" to show LGBTQ people dress and behave "normal", "respect society", and therefore deserve respect too. The enlightening example? mentioned by the founder of this movement? Women who wear mini-skirts while also fighting against violence against women - if they use mini-skirts, they don't respect themselves and they bring violence upon themselves. That is, women who don't dress "modestly" are simply "asking for it" (violence).
Here's a photo of those marching for what basically translates as respect and tolerance just for those who conform to mainstream gender expectations.
Fortunately, there was a mini-demonstration against this ridiculous justification of violence against non-conforming LGBTQ people. You can imagine the whole concept, plus the example of how women end up at the receiving end of violence because they ask for it by not dressing properly, does little to ingratiate to anybody with some awareness.
And then, this: it was impossible to tell whether this was also a demonstrator against the march for internalized LGBTQphobia, or whether ze was actually part of the march and blissfully unaware of what the march was really about.
It beats me why the approach of this group is to seek acceptance not out of respect of diversity and humanness, but out of obeisance to mainstream straight society's demands on what is and is not permissible to LGBTQ people attitude- and dress-wise. I'm glad that, at least, this was a pretty small demonstration - hopefully a sign of an overall lack of support.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Tuesday, February 09, 2016
In my opinion, one of Mexico City's most beautiful, most interesting, most fascinating museums – the Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Museum of Anthropology).
With a fantastic fountain by the entrance, which we caught just at the right time with the sun's rays...
With gardens containing ruins and local flora...
An unfathomable wealth of artifacts from any number of cultures, like the Toltec and the Teotihuacan ones, so ancient and so advanced that, long after they were gone, they were the inspiration of many others, including the Aztec.
And you can't see the reconstructed temple within the museum, to the right of the towers in the distance, but the colours, the shape, the details on top... A curious coincidence, or the influence on the 20th century of what must have seemed the wildest, most bizarre world the Spaniards encountered when they arrived?
And with the night setting in, the museum lighting up...
Or a surprise exhibit, with both a mural with women from various races, another "mural" with superimposed photos of faces and skulls of various races too, and, not too far, a delightfully detailed reproduction of Lucy, our beloved ancestor (no pic, sorry).
And upstairs? A hall dedicated to the peoples of the Great Nayar, in the north of Mexico, for example. And a taste of how incredibly divergent cultures from various parts of Mexico can be.
And finally, a nocturnal view of the fountain, again.
If you need a reminder of the crazy diversity, richness and diverse aesthetics of this nation's past, in a beautiful setting, you can't miss this museum. Which we were lucky to enjoy with marvellous company from Lebanon and Spain.