July 31, 2009


I have been doing many stuff, and was unable to write on the blog. I will be for the next two weeks, since I am leaving for the Amazonas next Sunday. I wasn't really aware what does the word "Amazonas" mean. One third of all species live there, and it is as big as Europe. The mouth of the Amazonas river is as wide as long is the Thames.

I am visiting some Kichwa communities in the Amazonía (the Ecuadorian Amazonas). That is exactly why I have been reading Jorge Icaza's novel masterpiece, "Huasipungo". It is very well written, he has a great phrasing, and it's worth to read it. It is (one of the) first novels to denounce the brutal explotation of the Indians. The Russians were at that time really into class-fights, so they were the first to translate this book.

Unfortunately, we, Mexicans, are big ignorants of the South American reality. This is a generalization, which many might deny --with good reasons--, but at least when I was in school there was no interest in the story of South America. I hope that this trip will fill a big hole of ignorance.

Check this blog if you are further interested...

Foto: San Rafael Falls

July 25, 2009

Where to find the paradise

Scholastic theologians were thinking hard were could be the paradise, the Heaven. It must be a geographic place, since Jesus resurrected and Mary was taken there with her body.

Columbus knew this issue. The next quote is taken from Columbus' log of his first trip to America:


"He [Columbus] says he was astonished at such bad weather as there was in those islands and regions, because in the Indies he navigated all that winter without anchoring and it was good weather all the time, and that, for one hour alone he did not see the sea so that he could not navigate well, and in these islands he had experienced such a serious tempest and the same happened to him on his departure as far as the Canary Islands: but having passed them, he always found the winds and the sea very temperate.

In conclusion the Admiral says that the sacred theologians and learned philosophers well said that the earthly Paradise is at the end of the Orient, because it is a most temperate place. So that, those lands which he had now discovered, are {he says} the end of the Orient".

July 21, 2009

What yesterday was hard is impossible today

20 years ago it was really hard to go from East Berlin to West Berlin. In all these years, many things have changed. The Lehrter Bahnhof is today the biggest train station in the world, and in the Friedrichstrasse station there is a Burger King.

But ironically, today is impossible to make that trip, since the S-Bahn in Berlin is working just on a third of its capacity due to technical revisions on most of the trains, and the closed the traffic between East and West.

Apollo XI - 40 years ago

July 20, 2009

Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster

Two towers which should be the tallest of their countries: on the left, Torre Bicentenario, designed by Rem Koolhaas, to be constructed in Mexico City; on the right, the U2 Tower, designed by Norman Foster, to be constructed in Dublin.

Koolhaas' project is allegedly inspired in the Maya pyramids, has an entrance for light and air (yellow hole), bla bla bla... Foster's project undertakes the old studio of U2, has luxury flats but also social and affordable departments, has a solar panel, allows the traffic to go through it, bla bla bla...

Due to legal (and financial) problems, none of the projects is under construction. Strange, though, since both projects --by two well-known Pritzker-architects-- are related to and supported by rich people: Fernando Romero (who is married to Carlos Slim's daughter) and the crew of U2.

Strange, also, that the two buildings look so similar...

July 19, 2009

Mark Twain on life (seen from bed)

"Just in this one matter lies the main charm of life in Europe - comfort. In America we hurry - which is well; but when the day's work is done, we go on thinking of losses and gains, we plan for the morrow, we even carry our business care to bed with us, and toss and worry over them when we ought to be restoring our racked bodies and brains with sleep. We burn up our energies with these excitements, and either die early or drop into a lean and mean old age at a time of life which they call a man's prime in Europe. When an acre of ground has produced long and well, we let it lie fallow and rest for a season; we take no man clear across the continent in the same coach he started in - the coach is stabled somewhere on the plains and its heated machinery allowed to cool for a few days; when a razor has seen long service and refuses to hold an edge, the barber lays it away for a few weeks, and the edge comes back of its own accord. We bestow thoughtful care upon inanimate objects, but none upon ourselves. What a robust people, what a nation of thinkers we might be, if we would only lay ourselves on the shelf occasionally and renew our edges!

I do envy these Europeans the comfort they take. When the work of the day is done, they forget it. Some of them go, with wife and children, to beer hall and sit quietly and genteelly drinking a mug or two of ale and listening to music; others walk the streets, others drive in the avenues; others assemble in the great ornamental squares in the early evening to enjoy the sight and the fragrance of flowers and to hear the military bands play - no European city being without its fine military music at eventide; and yet others of the populace sit in the open air in front of the refreshment houses and eat ices and drink mild beverages that could not harm a child. They go to bed moderately early and sleep well. They are always quiet, always orderly, always cheerful, comfortable, and appreciative of life and its manifold blessings. One never sees a drunken man among them. The change that has come over our little party is surprising. Day by day we lose some of our restlessness and absorb some of the spirit of quietude and ease that is in the tranquil atmosphere about us and in the demeanor of the people. We grow wise wise apace. We begin to comprehend what life is for".

July 18, 2009

U2 - 360º :: It's a beautiful day!

Edge's girl made this afternoon a nice picture of him before the concert in Berlin in his private library.

Tonight is the big concert in Berlin. U2 - 360º :: It's a beautiful day!

Today I have been watching U2's concert in Mexico City in 1999. I remembered that night. I had no tickets, but managed to go there with LAS and OC. The sound outside was perfect due to the Palacio de los Deportes architecture. In order to catch a glimpse we climbed a wall, but after 5 minutes we decided to move somewhere else. Perfect timing! The police came to kick them down.

I had a ticket for the concert in Munich in 2005. Keane opened the concert. But that very day I missed it, since I was in Cancún (couldn't arrange the flight). Damn! And when the Vertigo Tour reached Mexico, I was already in Germany. Damn it again!

But tonight we will be rocking there!

Here one of the best songs, that memorable night in front of the Palacio de los Deportes.

July 12, 2009

PrenzelBerg calling

B called the other day to ask if I would like to take her flat, since she is going to Princeton. The flat is great, and is in Prenzlauer Berg, the hipster-bobo-Bezirk of Berlin. I have been looking forward to live in PrenzelBerg, so I hope we can arrange everything.

Zehlendorf is nice, and green and calm, and full of lakes, but it has been already a while here, and a change might be positive in many senses.

PrenzelBerg is well-known as being the area with the biggest concentration of children in the whole country. It is lively, full of people, cafés, bookstores, parks, foreigners, and, it is believed, of ideas and creativity. Let's test it!

The "problem" of it has been perfectly put by Dave Turov:

"Man braucht in Berlin viel weniger Geld, um durchzukommen, als ind anderen Städten. Deshalb ziehen viele Maler, Designer und andere Kreative her. Aber das ist auch ein Problem. Viele Leute denken, Berlin sei dieses kreative Utopia, so ist es aber nicht. Man muss sehr diszipliniert sein, wenn man es hier zu was bringen will. Es ist sehr schwierig, hier produktiv zu sein. Viele Leute machen schlicht gar nichts. Die hängen einfach rum und leben, wie es kaum eine Generation vor uns konnte. Es ist ein großes Privileg, so abhängen zu können, dür nichts kämpfen zu müssen. Ich weiß genau, wovon ich rede, ich habe selbst eine Menge Zeit verschwendet, weil ich an diese Ich-bin-so-kreativ-und-gerade-nach-Berlin-gezogen-Gechichte geglaubt habe. In New York ist es anders. Da schwimmst du oder gehst du unter. Da kann es ganz schnell gehen: Erst kommst du zu spät zur Arbeit, dann verlierst du deinen Job, dann kannst du diene Miete nicht zahlen, dann verlierst du deine Wohnung, und dann bist du am Ende. Hier ist das einfacher. Wenn du gerade kein Geld hast, zahlst du diene Miete eben später, oder du ziehst zu einem Kumpel, weil die Wohnungen eh so riesig sind, dass genug Platz für alle ist. Aber diese Freiheit kann sehr trügerisch sein. Wenn man nicht diszipliniert ist, kann man sich in Berlin leicht verlieren".

(Tobias Rapp, Lost and Sound, pp.97-98.)

That's completely true, specially in PrenzelBerg. That might be a reason why the new PrenzelBerg-star Sandra Naujoks is. She is rich, millonaire, has impressive eyes, drinks coffee in the cafés, walks around, and plays poker.

Mark Twain about the Louvre

In 1867 Mark Twain visited Paris for the first time and wrote many memorable pages about the Eternal City. From all those pages, just a little paragraph was dedicated to the Louvre, which he didn't like at all. I guess he had had prefer to see Duchamp's L.H.O.O.Q.

"We visited the Louvre, at a time when we had no silk purchases in view [ironic remark on something that happened to the group the previous days], and look at its miles of paintings by the old masters. Some of them were beautiful, but at the same time they carried such evidences about them of the cringing spirit of those great men that we found small pleasure in examining them. Their nauseous adulation of princely patrons was more prominent to me and chained my attention more surely than the charms of color and expression which are claimed to be in the pictures. Gratitude for kindnesses is well, but it seems to me that those artists carried it so far that it ceased to be gratitude and became worship. If there is a plausible excuse for the worship of men, then by all means let us forgive Rubens and his brethren".
(The Innocents Abroad, ch. 14)

July 6, 2009

No cars

I saw the concept Umweltzone yesterday for the first time exactly when we were entering a bottleneck due to a construction. "Umweltzone: Wir bauen Zukunft!" - something like "Ambiental Zone: We construct future!".

The programm Umweltzone will start next year in several cities of Germany. It is a more sophisticated version of the Mexican program Hoy no circula (just make 2 clicks to compare both pages: it is really hilarious!).

The Mexican programm is really difficult to know in detail as it is full of exceptions, and has been proved to be more a political game than anything else. The German one seems to be also annoying to the consumers, since is focused on the CO2 emissions: if your car expels more than x, we don't want you here: either buy a better car, ride your bike, or use public transport.

Mexican public transport is not as good as the German one, and in Mexico City there are far less subway lines than, say, in Munich, which is like 15 times smaller.

The only detail I really prefer from the Mexican system is the expression "huella de carbono", which sounds much better than the stupid and impractical CO2-Emissionen (CO2 emissions in English): here for instance is impossible to write the 2 in a proper way. At least we have that!

This is the automobile landscape 101 years after Flivver. Thank you so much, Mr. Ford!

July 4, 2009

Pinxe che

Hará unas tres semanas que vi esto en la página de la Academia Mexicana de la Lengua:

Me llamó la atención que faltaran la
ch (che) y la ll (doble ele). Así que, bastante enfadado, envié de inmediato una queja a la Academia solicitando una explicación. A falta de respuesta, el asunto ya se me había olvidado hasta hoy, que casualmente encontré una copia de la carta que envié. Me puse a investigar al respecto.

Sucede que en 1994 se celebró, después de muchas dificultades, el X Congreso de la Lengua:
Ante la imposibilidad de la Academia Filipina de organizar el décimo Congreso de la Asociación, el turno pasó a la Panameña, que aceptó la invitación que le hiciera la Comisión Permanente: sería en la capital panameña en 1993. Sin embargo, circunstancias poco favorables impidieron que este proyecto se llevara a cabo. Salió al camino la Academia Puertorriqueña, ofreciéndose para organizar el encuentro, en caso de que ninguna otra Corporación estuviera en condiciones de hacerlo. Pero las buenas intenciones no fueron suficientes. Por fin, la Real Academia Española, en una solución de urgencia para que no se paralizara la tradición de estos encuentros internacionales, decidió ser la anfitriona.
En tan apurado congreso se decidió seguir considerando y dejar de considerar (¡¿ !?) a la
ch y la ll como letras. Es decir: para efectos de "abecedario", los dígrafos siguen siendo letras per se. Pero para efectos de ordenamiento alfabético, se deben subsumir bajo la c y la l, respectivamente.

Dizque para facilitar el entendimiento con otros idiomas. ¡Vaya babosada! Si a ésas vamos, eliminiaríamos tantas cosas de nuestra lengua. ¡Definitivamente no contábamos con su astucia!

Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas explica:

abecedario. 1. Para designar la serie ordenada de las letras con que se representan los sonidos de una lengua, pueden usarse indistintamente los términos abecedario y alfabeto. Como las demás lenguas románicas, el español se sirvió básicamente de la serie alfabética latina, que fue adaptada y completada a lo largo de los siglos. El abecedario español está hoy formado por las veintinueve letras siguientes: a, b, c, ch, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, ll, m, n, ñ, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z

y define:

ch. 1. Dígrafo que, por representar un solo sonido, es considerado desde 1803 cuarta letra del abecedario español

antes de ir a los detalles:

2. Esta variante española del alfabeto latino universal ha sido utilizada por la Academia desde 1803 (cuarta edición del Diccionario académico) en la confección de todas sus listas alfabéticas. Desde esa fecha, los dígrafos ch y ll (signos gráficos compuestos de dos letras) pasaron a considerarse convencionalmente letras del abecedario, por representar cada uno de ellos un solo sonido. No obstante, en el X Congreso de la Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española, celebrado en 1994, se acordó adoptar el orden alfabético latino universal, en el que la ch y la ll no se consideran letras independientes. En consecuencia, las palabras que comienzan por estas dos letras, o que las contienen, pasan a alfabetizarse en los lugares que les corresponden dentro de la c y de la l, respectivamente. Esta reforma afecta únicamente al proceso de ordenación alfabética de las palabras, no a la composición del abecedario, del que los dígrafos ch y ll siguen formando parte.

Se vea por donde se vea, estamos de la xingada... ¿Y ahora, quién podrá salvarnos?

July 2, 2009

Today's (surrealist) breakfast

This morning, I woke up, and the first word I read in that internal black screen we all have was "WEG", written in white fonts, the German word for "OUT". I opened my eyes and checked the time: 6am. I could hear the birds singing and saw the light outside. The day had already begun, but I could notice that it wasn't that clear. Stood up and went WEG.

AK told me once that there is a pound close to my place, so I decided to go to the forest and check it. No horses, no sheeps on my way. Just a very sleepy Asian woman delivering already some flyers house by house. Strange! Anyways... I found the pond in the middle of the forest and enjoy the troll.

Nobody, no noises, just birds, wind, that what we use to call Nature. Since I came back from the Azores I have been thinking much more about our (dis)connection to Nature. I remember when I was a kid, taking the small road into the wild, just 400 meter from our home, with N, our Huasteca nanny, and a machete to cut nopales to make quesadillas for dinner. Or going to the garden and eat peaches in sommer or figs before autumn without end. Or asking M to climb the palm and cut some coconuts for us.

Well, this morning I discovered a cherry-plum tree next to that pond (I just read that it comes from the Balkans!). It was very clean and fresh, and all the leaves were covered by little drops of water. The fruits were so good, that I ate in situ more than a kilo, and I brought home one additional kilo. On my way back, a big and yellow ball of fire was waking up. There was some kind of mistake. I came home, after one hour of walking in the forest, and it was only 5am.

So poor is my connection to Nature: I cannot be sure of the hour without a watch, despite all the signs. Unfortunately!

The sun of this morning and my thoughts about Nature reminded me of this portrait of poet James Edward, by Magritte. Here a short poem by him, who also lived in San Luis Potosí, falled in love with a Huasteca woman, and build a surrealist garden in Xilitla:

“I have seen such beauty as one man has seldom seen;
therefore will I be grateful to die in this little room,
surrounded by the forests, the great green gloom
of trees my only gloom - and the sound, the sound of green.
Here amid the warmth of the rain, what might have been
is resolved into the tenderness of a tall doom
who says: 'You did your best, rest - and after you the bloom
of what you loved and planted still will whisper what you mean.
And the ghosts of the birds I loved, will attend me each a friend;
like them shall I have flown beyond the realm of words.
You, through the trees, shall hear them, long after the end
calling me beyond the river. For the cries of birds
continue, as - defended by the coretege of their wings -
my soul among strange silences yet sings.”