Monthly Archives: June 2010

Corrido de Cananea

Earlier today there was a 6.4 earthquake in southern Mexico. While it was happening I, oblivious, was singing the Corrido de Cananea with the famous Hermanos Zaizar.

The mine at Cananea has a long history. And it seems that Calderón, Clinton, the Grupo México, and Obama are all one. Honestly, I might like the narcos better.


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Filed under Songs

Cary Nelson

The modern university is sustained by academic freedom; it guarantees higher education’s independence, its quality, and its success in educating students. The need to uphold those values would seem obvious. Yet the university is presently under siege from all corners; workers are being exploited with paltry salaries for full-time work, politics and profit rather than intellectual freedom govern decision-making, and professors are being monitored for the topics they teach.


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Filed under Bibliography, What Is A Scholar?

Marco Longhini

Longhini is a good conductor and here we see the Moscow Conservatory. One of the search terms that most often leads people here is the title of the Monteverdi madrigal Ecco mormorar l’onde. In searching for more Monteverdi recordings I came across an ancient advertisement saying, “Nadia Boulanger uses Baldwin pianos exclusively.” It included a cartoon of her smiling in an improbably unreserved way as she played a Baldwin.



Filed under Songs

Armed Men, or, ¡Ay, Sinaloa! and ¡Ay, Tamaulipas!

Looney Tunes: Sylvester the CAT

On Sunday Mexico is having elections and they will be narco-elections. I am sure interesting courses are given nationwide on the drug economy and the narco culture. I would like to develop one as well (or, actually, take one.) I wish I were an economist. I wish I fully understood the ways in which the narcos and the government are interwoven. It is not simply that the narcos are as sly as Piolín.

Today a singer of narcocorridos was gunned down in Sinaloa and I decided I should post a song by him. He turned out to be such a poor singer that I started to search for alternate narcocorridos. I became fascinated with the videos that accompany them, which are very didactic. I almost came around to the narco point of view. I concluded that the narcos must be uploading a lot of these videos in hopes of having such an effect. They block police scanners with narcocorridos, as we already know.

Then I came upon a warning video, ostensibly for a song written from the point of view of a hit man. I believe its real point was to let people know how their post-execution cadavers will look. Next I went back to reading the news, and discovered that now a candidate for public office and his staff had been finished off by commandos.

The narco-position is that the demand for drugs in the US is very high, the stream of guns from the US is very steady, and the “green poison” is what you can grow profitably now that the US is dumping industrialized agri-products on the Mexican market. So, would you prefer to starve, or to cross into the United States as an undocumented alien, or to remain at home and cultivate a crop profitable enough that you can buy a tractor, drive a new truck and wear a wool hat?

Motor vehicles are a predominant topic in narcocorrido discourse. An important reason to be a narco is to buy new 4×4 Chevrolet pickup trucks. But the cars sung about the most are those used for work: Lincoln Continentals, Hummers, and Suburbans, all very cleverly stuffed with drugs.



Filed under Da Whiteman, Songs

Qué lejos estoy del suelo donde he nacido…

For today’s Mexico-Argentina match I had thought of posting links to live web cams of the Zócalo and some streets like Reforma and Insurgentes, so we can watch the surging fans. The only web cam I am getting to work, though, is this traffic one, and in my search I clicked on some links that gave me viruses.

This web cam has an unexpected virtue, though: it reassures me to see the traffic and the skyscrapers, with movement in real time, since this proves Mexico City is still real although it is absent, or I am absent. Clearly, immense nostalgia invades my thought-stream.

I am quoting, of course, from the Mixtec Song; here is an excellent video on Mixtec farm workers in California.



Filed under Resources, Songs

That American Manner

It is hurricane season again, Z-titlan members, so it is time to watch the National Hurricane Center website.

I have been to some parties since arriving in the United States and there was more drinking and lecturing, and less interaction, than Mexicans seem to undertake. It is as though we had been trained to compete for space rather than share it, even when we would prefer the latter, or as though we wanted recognition more than we did conversation.

In Mexico I read an article by Morris Berman on rudeness in the United States; now I see he has an English version of it on his blog. It quotes extensively from a book by Dick Meyer on American society. I am not sure I agree fully with either analysis, but both writers make interesting observations.


Just simple, rude noncommunication…. [R]udeness in everyday interactions in the US is simply coin of the realm.

‘Americans are basically robots; they just go through the motions, they really don’t know what they are doing or why.’ [N. Ed.: This was the conformity Reeducation wanted, I believe. –Z]

Interactions with the staff of stores now boils down to nothing more than a cash transaction, for both parties; [there is no longer] a human dimension to these interactions….

Thus the environment is little more than a “receptacle” for…activity; it isn’t something people have a real relationship to, any more.


Much of what we hate in everyday life are the things that make us feel alone, invisible, disregarded, or dismissed. That’s how we feel when someone is using a Blackberry in the middle of a conversation….

U.S. citizens are isolated because it is unhealthy to risk contact with one’s fellow citizens. When bullies are free to act out their aggression and disdain for others…then others will act to limit their exposure to people…. It is healthier to be lonely than to risk contact with a society without decency….

Boorishness and vulgarity are sanctified by public culture and thus omnipresent.

[One cannot be] an admired leader of a corrupt institution, a noble player in a decadent system, or a clean pool in a toxic stream.

Meyer appears to find the cause of the malaise in the “egotism” of “the sixties.”  It has to be older than this and it has to stem from something else, I strongly suspect. What do you think?

Berman has another piece on societal violence, with an interesting comments thread. And one hotel I stayed at in Oaxaca expected American guests. It had a lot of signs in English requesting, essentially, that people be polite, in ways it assumed or knew they would not know how to be.



Filed under Banes, Theories

Ahuízotl y El Llano

In México-Tenochtitlan they are pressing on to find the tlatoani Ahuízotl. I have seen so many images of Aztec warriors that I dream about them.


In Oaxaca de Juárez I recommend El Llano over the Zócalo because, although it does have a church like all squares, it is not a religious, government, ceremonial, or tourist square, but a working square. It is so large I wonder whether it was one one of those enormous pre-Hispanic markets. I should find out.

The air in El Llano has wi-fi, and the present post was written on that after I visited the international news stand. I had just eaten a quesadilla of Oaxaca cheese and squash flower, with the tortilla made right before my eyes, from a food stall on the square. I had drunk orange water and was now sipping cactus ice.

El Llano has a lovely fountain, shoe shine men, stores with useful items in them, a bank with an ATM machine, a cultural center, several decent and inexpensive restaurants, two youth hostels, a nice hotel, and importantly, a theatre that has concerts on Fridays, as well as other events and a café; concert tickets are 50 pesos or about $4.50. At night, people jog around the square.


Down on Alcalá the one place not to miss is the Grañén-Porrúa bookstore, which has a wonderful selection of records as well. There is a café in the patio, and high quality arts and crafts are sold next door. The book selection is not as large as that of some of the best Mexico City stores, but it is easily as good and as I say, the CDs are fantastic — although this store does not also stock vinyl as the Péndulo (in the DF) does.



Filed under Resources