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The smoker.

THE MASS OF people who crowd our usually tranquil main plaza downtown on the evening of September 15 and all day on September 16 for Mexican independence festivities provide excellent photo opportunities.

On one side of the plaza, the scene is the same every year. A band plays loud music while men — and the occasional woman — sit atop dancing horses. The guys are usually plowed, but the horses don’t appear to care.

The fellow above caught my attention. He appeared sober, did not have a beer can in his hand, but he was smoking. Took me about 10 shots before I got this one.

He and his horse were all over the place. Dancing fools.

screamer
The Screamer.

Meet The Screamer. That’s what I call him. He recently reappeared here in town after an absence of a couple of years. I don’t know where he went, but he’s back.

I don’t know his name. I just call him The Screamer because that’s what he does. He’s a vendor who walks the sidewalks with the basket of candies he’s holding. And, between spells of silence, he screams his bloody head off.

You can hear him blocks away.

I don’t mean that he’s hawking his candy loudly. He’s just plain screaming. Clearly, there is something seriously wrong with him. His eyes are crossed, and his fingers are twisted.

He sounds dangerous, but I do not think he is. My child bride, her sister and I were sitting at a sidewalk table a couple of days ago when he approached and offered his wares. He does not speak well. My wife inquired about prices, and he managed to say something we did not clearly understand.

My wife gave him 10 pesos (about 55 cents), and he handed over four or five of the candies. She was only doing it to help him, so she tried to give all but one back to him, but he wouldn’t have it. He insisted on leaving the small pile.

I interpret that to mean he has his pride.

He didn’t bellow during the sale. I was grateful for that.

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(Note: To view almost all of Felipe’s Fabulous Fotos, just click right here. You will not be disappointed.)

No sweat

downtown

LIFE INCLUDES worries large and small. With luck, just the small. And with astounding good fortune, even if it lasts only a brief spell, no worries whatsoever. I am in that sweet spot.

So here I sit on a beautiful, large plaza in the middle of Mexico, high in the mountains in cool mid-May, nary a care in the world. An espresso rests on the table while I watch the beautiful women pass, at times glancing at my Kindle, where I am reading, now and then, a good book.

I had small worries earlier this year, constructing the pastry workshop, renovations to the downtown Casita, piddling other things, the stuff of life. But at the moment … nothing.

Peace.

Across the cobblestone street, where the plaza rests, are towering trees and three grand fountains where youngsters sit on ledges to flirt and snap photos of themselves, the ubiquitous selfies.

Small speakers sit low and mostly unseen all around the plaza, releasing music. If you’ve ever wondered how life would seem with a musical backdrop — like in the movies — come sit here on a stone bench or walk the broad sidewalk, and you’ll understand.

A parade passes, or what passes for a parade hereabouts. Usually, it’s a small, out-of-tune band, lots of women and girls in indigenous dress carrying clay pots to indicate their support role in life, and they sashay this way and that down the street. There are men on horseback. Today’s parade includes an old, wooden, two-wheeled cart pulled by a pair of oxen. The cart holds a statue of the Virgin.

They curve right at the next corner and continue toward the smaller plaza, their sounds diminishing. All parades here are pretty much alike — frequent, colorful and out of tune.

I look down at my Kindle and miss a beautiful woman walking by.

Clive Bundy, explained

HERE’S THE DEAL with Clive Bundy, the alleged racist.

First off, he calls the darker citizens negroes. Negro is Spanish for black, of course, and was the polite term for blacks when Clive was a youngster. He still uses it because he does not keep up with cultural trends emanating almost exclusively from elitist neighborhoods on the two coasts and in Madison, Wisconsin. And because you likely can count the blacks who live in rural Nevada on half of one hand.

BundyIn short, Clive knows no blacks and never has.

Clive also says blacks were likely better off in slave days than they are now. Here is what Clive knows about slave days: pretty much nothing. What he thinks he knows is that blacks were brought over from Africa and put to work in fields, barns and plantation houses. They learned farming, domestic work and how to make wagon wheels and rope and plenty of other useful stuff.

They also were fed and clothed. What they could not do — and here comes the slavery part in Clive’s mind — is resign their post and go elsewhere. Clive, due to never really being interested because there were cows to care for, knows nothing of the nastier elements of slavery.

Flash forward: Clive drove past a housing project in Las Vegas, where he likely had gone to buy a saddle and horseshoes, and he noticed lots of black folks — adults and kids — sitting on porches, drinking beer, twiddling their fingers, doing not much of anything, which is common in urban ghettos. This sits badly with Clive, a man with — one supposes — a formidable work ethic.

Clive knows squat of the black middle class because those people are less visibly concentrated, and they almost never visit the open ranges of Nevada, which is Clive’s world. Clive only drives by the ghetto now and then on his way downtown to buy cowboy stuff.

And he sees what he sees, and it doesn’t look right to him. That is reasonable. You shouldn’t fault an old cowpoke for thinking differently than a clinch-jawed Bryn Mawr professor of gender-identity studies who was born in 1985 in Berkeley.

Plus, Clive was baited by an effete East Coast reporter (with a clear agenda) to jump into these roiling waters in the first place. The Nevadan is no more a racist than you or I, at least in the bad way.

* * * *

Racism, explained:

We are all racists. It’s just that a minority are more extreme than most of us. Those are the bad boys and girls who join the Nation of Islam or the Klan. We moderates, you and I, simply prefer the company of people like us, similar to us in skin tone, educational level, political opinion, economic status, culture, nationality, whatever. It is human nature to prefer the company of folks who are similar.

And that’s a fact, Jack.