July 31, 2010


Life is strange and surprises you. Due to a complete unexpected story, I booked last evening a flight to Paris and flew there this morning to meet a family and write their story, which will be published later this year.

I saw the most amazing things I had never seen in a house. But above all, I have been amazed by the kindness of the family. In order to get a better impression of them and because today was their first summer day, I ended up traveling in a train to Deauville.

This is a famous town on the North: Beautiful beach, the jetset, Ford Madox Ford died here, Coco Chanel opened her second store right here, I got a room in the Hôtel Normandy, which also has its history: There is a tunnel from this hotel to the Casino, which is full of celebrities... and I did not bring either swimsuit nor my cocktail dress. Monsieur Citroën came to the casino, gambled, lost his fortune in two nights, survived the Big Depression but did not survive after he shot his own head.

I love my (dream) job.

Foto: © Dennis Stock (1985) | Magnum Photos

July 29, 2010

MoMA's genial playlist

I am currently working for a great art magazine, the oldest one in Germany. I won't link the webpage, since it is really bad (I am in charge of it, but cannot change it), but the magazine itself is really good and rather unknown. Still a lot of work to do there.

It is great to work in the art field, really enjoyable. There is a lot of stuff to learn.

So, I have been thinking about this a lot, when I read via Guuzbourg about the new exhibition about Matisse in the MoMA. They have done something really cool: a playlist of the exhibition. Guuzbourg writes:

"Five great French bands and singers were invited to play in the Big Apple. Barbes Records releases a digital-only compilation (out Aug. 3 on iTunes, Amazon, etc) with songs by FillesSourires-faves like Holden, Marianne Dissard and Fredda to promote the expo and the artists. The only song about a Matisse painting is an inédit by Fredda (Fréderique Dastrevigne) called Fenêtre à Collioure. Which, as you all know, is also a painting by Matisse (pictured). The brushes in the intro sound like a brush on canvas – intentional? Fredda sings about the boats in the window and the colours – lovely song".

Ah, long live the arts!

July 25, 2010

"When you were killing Indian Apaches there, we had built Mayan cities..."

The intelligence of Vicente Fox, Mexico's ex-President, is very well known.

So I was amazed this morning while I was reading the
interview by Deborah Solomon on New York Times "Sunday Magazine", since everything sounded ok.

Was actually he speaking at all or somebody else?

Till we came to Solomon's (skeptical, xenophobic) decisive question on illegal migration:

"What do you think Mexicans have contributed to American culture?"

V. Fox answered brilliantly, introducing his wisdom with an "Oh" of surprise and obviousness:

"Oh, starting with Mexican food! The jalapeños and the tacos and the rest. I think they have contributed family values. And then we have our culture. When you were killing Indian Apaches there, we had built Mayan cities, the pyramids, Mexico City".


Foto: Sitting Bull

July 23, 2010

JonFen dixit

Five years ago I read one of the best novels I have ever read, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close". Now I am ready to read it again. Here some quotes by JonFen (whose last book I think is VERY boring, exactly the opposite to his novels).

"I love you also means I love you more than anyone loves you, or has loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that no one loves you, or has loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that I love no one else, and never have loved anyone else, and never will love anyone else."

* * *

"You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness."

* * *

"I regret that it takes a life to learn how to live."

* * *

"When I looked at you, my life made sense. Even the bad things made sense. They were necessary to make you possible."

* * *

"It's the tragedy of loving, you can't love anything more than something you miss."

* * *

"... I'm so afraid of losing something I love that I refuse to love anything."

* * *
"Do you think I'm wonderful? she asked him one day as they leaned against the trunk of a petrified maple. No, he said. Why? Because so many girls are wonderful. I imagine hundreds of men have called their loves wonderful today, and it's only noon. You couldn't be something that hundreds of others are."

* * *

"This is love, she thought, isn't it? When you notice someone's absence and hate that absence more than anything? More, even, than you love his presence?"

Foto: JonFen & Nicole Krauss in Berlin by Betina N.

July 22, 2010

The Killers' Peace

I was walking back home with my ipod listening to this cover by "The Killers" of "Dire Straits"...

... when suddenly Peace stroke me just like Death strikes people sometimes!


BP still is one of the biggest companies in the world, top ten according to Forbes.

In this capitalistic world, being big means:

1. Being able to receive the biggest credits and, so, having the biggest debts. Which means that you are not the riches, but the poorest.
2. Being able to have the biggest impact.

BP has proved it. The impact they have these days on the Gulf of Mexico is enormous. And to make us feel better, nothing like Photoshopping their "Kill Operation" pictures. And for sure videos. And all kind of BPullshit you still have not think of.

The bigger, the worse...

July 21, 2010

You are what you see and visit

Many years ago I read an essay by Jonathan Swift. It was a precious piece on how traveling affects your points of view regarding manners and, at some extent, convictions. I cut it off from the magazine and left it in my archive... in Mexico. I have googled it every now and then, but I just cannot find it. It would be perfect to read it again, I am so excited about it. Impossible.

Pacayá volcano, Guatemala (2007)

Because of J. Swift and today's anniversary of the trip to the moon, I was recalling some trips:

1. Most exasperating road-trip: Mexico DF - Guadalajara (1999).
2. Saddest trips ever: Mexico DF (2005) & Cape Town (2010).
3. Worst trip ever: first part of trip to Colombia (2009).
4. Love at first sight: Berlin (2001) & Tel Aviv (2009).
5. Most frightening flights: San Antonio on a Cesna (1991) & over the Andes to Quito (2009).
6. Finally got to destination after three attempts in three days: Acapulco (1986).
7. One of the very best trips ever: New York (2008).
8. Most melancholic trip: München (2005).
9. Biggest excitement before traveling: Europe tour (1992).
10. First trip with a video camera: San Antonio (1993).
11. International trip by bike: Holland - Belgium (2007).
12. Crossing border by foot: Spain - France (1992) & Mexico - Guatemala (2007) & Mexico - USA (2008).
13. First international trip: Houston (1981).
14. Best ice cream: Piazza Navona, Rome (1992, 2002, 2003).
15. Best girls: Maastricht (2007).
16. Most dangerous place due to animals: swim in a lake full of caymans and piranhas in Amazonas (2009).
17. Most dangerous place due to people: old port of Buenos Aires at midnight (2002).
18. Most amazing church: Tonanzintla (1998, 2009).
19. Best bridge: Budapest (2008).
20. Favorite destination: Tekes (always!).
21. Best picture: Budapest (2008).
22. Most impressive river: the RED Sérchio, Toscany (2010).
23. First time I got lost: Rome, 13 years old (1992).
24. Postponed and postponed: Cuba (from 1998 to 2009) & Russia (from 2003 to...).
25. Poorest people: Guatemala (2007).
26. Most charming smiles: Guatemala (2007).
27. Most exciting cemetery: Zemun (2009).
28. Scariest place ever: Sedlec ossuary in Kutna Horá (2007).
29. Perhaps best summer ever: Germany (2006).
30. Biggest disappointment: Toronto (2002).
31. Most stressful trip: Cuba (2009).
32. Big trip missed: Egypt (1997) & Monterrey - California - Alaska (2009).
33. Place I would never visit: Las Vegas.
34. Funniest trip: Toronto (2002).
35. Medical trip: Paris (2006).
36. Philosophical trips: Rome (2002), Monterrey (2003), Wandlitz (2006), Paris (2008).
37. Literary trips: Leipzig (2001), Paris (2002).
38. Trip with the worst companion: Buenos Aires (2002).
39. Book-shopping trip: Buenos Aires (2002).
40. Trip to meet someone unknown: Maastricht (2007).
41. Successful trip without flight ticket: Cape Town - Phoakeng - Cape Town (2010).
42. Successful trip without train ticket: München - Berlin - München (2010).
43. Worst trip successfully avoided: Köln (2004).
44. Friends or relatives met by chance: Paris (2002) & Köln (2006) & Rovinj (2008).
45. Flight which ended up in a relationship: Madrid - Berlin (2007).
46. Most desired trip: Veracruz - México DF by motorcycle.
50. "Musts" I have never been up to: UK, Barcelona, Scandinavia, California, Florida...
51. Most exciting experience: face to face to lava of the active volcano Pacayá (2007).
52. Impressive clouds: Açores Islands (2009).
53. Beautiful sky: Florence (1992, 2002, 2009, 2010).
54. Just missed terrorist attacks: Madrid (2004) & train in Rheinland (2006).
55. Thought I would die on the road: Xochicalco (1991) & Huasteca Potosina (1995) & Taxco (1997).
56. Thought somebody else would die: flight from Frankfurt to Mexico DF (2005).
57. Trips with corpses included: San Rafael's highway (1986) & Acapulco (2005).
58. Warmest welcome ever: New York (2008).
59. No welcome at all: Berlin (2003).
60. Saddest good-bye: San Antonio airport (2008).

To be continued...

July 20, 2010

"Bolero", de Julio Cortázar

Qué vanidad imaginar
que puedo darte todo, el amor y la dicha,
itinerarios, música, juguetes.
Es cierto que es así:
todo lo mío te lo doy, es cierto,
pero todo lo mío no te basta
como a mí no me basta que me des
todo lo tuyo.

Por eso no seremos nunca
la pareja perfecta, la tarjeta postal,
si no somos capaces de aceptar
que sólo en la aritmética
el dos nace del uno más el uno.

Por ahí un papelito
que solamente dice:

Siempre fuiste mi espejo,
quiero decir que para verme tenía que mirarte.

Y este fragmento:

La lenta máquina del desamor
los engranajes del reflujo
los cuerpos que abandonan las almohadas
las sábanas los besos

y de pie ante el espejo interrogándose
cada uno a sí mismo
ya no mirándose entre ellos
ya no desnudos para el otro
ya no te amo,
mi amor.

"Para leer en forma interrogativa", de Julio Cortázar

Has visto
verdaderamente has visto
la nieve los astros los pasos afelpados de la brisa
Has tocado
de verdad has tocado
el plato el pan la cara de esa mujer que tanto amás
Has vivido
como un golpe en la frente
el instante el jadeo la caída la fuga
Has sabido
con cada poro de la piel sabido
que tus ojos tus manos tu sexo tu blando corazón
había que tirarlos
había que llorarlos
había que inventarlos otra vez.

July 18, 2010

After the World Cup

The World Cup is over, but I just learned how to embed pdf's in this blog, and am happy with that.

This is a graphic we did at "DIE ZEIT" by the end of May. I did half of the research or so (actually more, but not everything was published, despite of this Generation-Praktikum-Guy constantly asking about it.

And I was so angry when I saw it printed, since they wrote "Joma" as the sponsor of North Korea, and it took me weeks (!) to figure out that it was "Legea", since there was no information available about it at that time.

C'est la vie!

To wait

Robert Capa

Dr House

c.1200, "to watch with hostile intent, lie in wait for," from O.N.Fr. waitier "to watch" (Fr. guetter), from Frank. *wahton (cf. Du. wacht "a watching," O.H.G. wahten, Ger. wachten "to watch, to guard;" O.H.G. wahhon "to watch, be awake," O.E. wacian "to be awake").

General sense of "remain in some place" is from late 14c.; meaning "serve as an attendant at a table" is from 1560s. The noun is first attested c.1300

Kunst aufräumen

I went to a party last Friday and the best thing was discovering this funny book, "Kunst aufräumen", putting some order in the art. This Swiss guy represents the Swiss order but in a funny way. He talked at TED in 2006, check it out (15 mins.)

My favorite is Peter Bruegel's market. And also van Gogh's due to last weekend's cleaning-up-action in my new room in Munich (the previous guy living here left everything behind: a dissected turtle, a painting by his grandpa when he was a prisoner of the French Army during First World War, a few great books, vinyls from the 70's, a laser, an amazing calculating machine from the 30's, a typewriting machine from the 20's I would like to steal since I was unable to find again my grandpa's...).

Anaïs Nin dixit

"Do not seek the because - in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions"

Foto: Couple kissing goodbye while train is approaching (Tuscany, 2010)

July 17, 2010

My conception of love (about the picture on the header of this blog)

Somebody asked yesterday about the picture on the top of my blog. It is my favorite photography, so this is the story.

In late summer 2007 I bought my first camera, a small Kodak. My first trip with it was to Guatemala and Southern Mexico, the second one, in May 2008, to Prague-Vienna-Budapest. I did that shot in Budapest.

My parents decided to spent the day visiting some castles, churches and that sort of architecture, while I decided to see the former communist neighborhoods. Somehow we met by chance and had lunch together. Dad insisted and persuaded me to go and see the Széchenyi thermal baths in the middle of a big park called Városliget.

So I walked all the way from Pest's downtown to Városliget stopping every now and then to make some pics. I saw a car accident, an art gallery, an open-air photo exhibition, the buildings destroyed by the communist dictatorial regime...

I was running out of battery. When I came to the big Hősök tere ("Heroes Square"), a group of rollerbladers was there practicing. I managed to shoot some pics of them and also a sale of animal fur in an adjacent little store. But I was fighting with the camera: I had to turn it on and shoot immediately, because it was impossible to have it working more than a second or two.

Hősök tere and Városliget are connected with a bridge, which is actually the beginning of a street called Kós Károly. The bridge starts right away from the square. On the shore of the lake, on the left side, a kermesse was ending. I don't know which kind of fair or celebration it was. But it was getting late (around 6.40pm) and people were closing, putting everything back in their cars and trucks. There was a big group of Biergarten-benches, relatively organized. You could see that there had been many people, enjoying the day, having fun. It was an interesting motive for me: signs of a nice day that many people had had. My upper position was also really good. But still I was too far away and since I had no more battery on my camera, it would be impossible to turn it on, use the zoom, focus and shoot. I had to get closer. I remembered Robert Capa telling me: "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough". I had no choice, I had to get closer. So I abandoned the bridge and walked on the shore, still in an elevated position.

I saw a sweater on the last bench. It was light blue, if I remember right. Somebody had forgotten it. I thought it would be the best detail of the pic, a more concrete sign of life, some kind of three little points of suspension at the end of a phrase... somebody perhaps coming back to pick it up.

And suddenly, this couple, very well dressed both of them, specially being Sunday, approached. I had seen them shortly before convincing the vendors to sale them some food despite the time. I don't know where they had been before, but it was obvious that they had just arrived, not only because of the need to insist, but specially because of the clothes.

I got disappointed. I wanted to shoot the empty benches and the sweater, and these guys were polluting "my" scene. I waited to see what they wanted to do while I was checking the angle with my camera off. They chose one of the benches and sat down "a horcajadas" (astride), as we say in Spanish, a beautiful expression.

He was very gentle to her. I think he kissed her shortly, maybe on her forehead, but I am not sure. I got very happy, the couple was improving my motive. Suddenly, he took her legs and pulled her towards him, putting them on his knees. He then took a piece of food (a cookie? some salty piece of dehydrated meat?) and put it very softly and romantically in her mouth, showing absolute care and dedication. I turned on my camera, looked for the b&w option and turned off the flash as fast as possible.

I shot.

The camera went off immediately, I was unable to see the image, but I knew it was a very good one. I stayed there for a while, enjoying the moment, being an intruder in their love and special moment. I thought of the girl who was waiting for me back in Berlin...

The couple never noticed me -- I was the only one on the shore -- or anybody else crossing the bridge. They were focusing on each other. Talking about what? Where had they been? The opera? It was not that far away. Who knows. Only they know. My intrusion was not that bad. I just let them infect me with their romanticism, since love is also contagious.

I tried to turn on the camera again: impossible, it didn't work. I focused on myself and told me that this was a very special moment that I would never forget. I walked back two or three steps, stopped and contemplated again those benches, the sweater and the couple talking and eating. My spirit was full of joy and happiness.

Then I left.

A bit later I was able to shoot one more picture, the very last one, of the statue of "Anonymous". Then the batteries were completely exhausted. I haven't made more images of Budapest since then.

That was my last evening before driving back to Berlin by train next morning. Back home I checked the picture for the first time and realized something I hadn't seen, namely that she was fixing her hair: that is why her hand is up, a detail which I don't like that much. But there is nothing perfect. Not even love.

This picture means a lot for me, it is my favorite one and depicts my conception of love. It shows me that the world is relatively in order, specially in our democracies, and that we are not the first ones to be here. Wherever we are, there has been already a story, a life, and there is even a story going on, as the forgotten sweater suggests.

But for me, you are my whole world, nothing else is as important as you, the rest can wait, but I cannot wait for you. Although we are close to each other, I want you to be closer, as close as possible, come close to me, let me put your legs on my knees to feel you really close.

We are just humans with basic needs. We get hungry, thirsty, sick, sad and happy, we will die, but now you are with me and that is my paradise, you are my paradise despite what the world thinks or does, if they are getting back home after a hard working Sunday, if they are tourists making pictures or just having a stroll on a bridge -- nothing of that matters to me, just you.

I want to take care of you always, as I am taking care of you now. I want to share this with you, it is not much, but is everything I have. I want to show you my care and dedication, to show you that you are my world and my paradise, the rest of the world can wait: past and future doesn't matter as much as you, because you are my present.


July 16, 2010


In Austria there is the biggest Rolls-Royce museum of the world. I still haven't been there, but this colored "Emily", the little silver sculpure on the hood of every Rolls Royce, is just gorgeous - impossible not to post it.

The model was Eleanor Velasco Thornton, who was the misstress of a certain John Walter. Due to social pressure, they couldn't marry, since she was poor and he belonged to a better economic class. Their secret love lasted more than a decade, till they died on bord of SS Persia, torpedoed by Germans during the I World War.

July 13, 2010

Life in purple

Purple is a color between blue and red

Purple was a sign of nobility due to the high costs of Tyrian purple, a dye first produced by Phoenicians or even before in Crete (around 20 century B.C.). According to the legend, it was discovered by Heracles' dog, who ate some snails found in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Phoenicians established a colony on a group of islands in front of Morocco called today Îles Purpuraires, off to Mogador, where the sky looks sometimes purple as well.

But thousands of snails were required to dye a single cloth, so the "purpura" was very expensive, a luxury reserved to the nobles. The Roman Emperors used to wore a purple clad. The idiom "Born in the purple" meant "born among the nobles".

The process lasted centuries, till Constantinople fall to the Muslims. Short after that, Europe learned about cochinilla, an insect who grows on nopales used by Mayas and Aztecs to dye red. French called it vermillon.

There is even a rare and gorgeous purple marble used in Italian churches, like this columns in a Roman church.

Or this "Annunciation" by Fra Angelico in a very smooth and soft delicious purple in San Marco.

Raphael painted his master Michelangelo in gray-purple in his "School of Athens".

More recently, Jimmy Hendrix popularized among the hippies the psychedelic purple with his movie and song "Purple Rain".

When I think of purple I have to think of Rufino Tamayo and his love for this color. Here, just a single example: "Retrato de niños - Pareja de niños" (1966).

Or of the "Bugambilias" of Saturnino Herrán (1917), which are almost bluish.

Photographs of the 80s and made with a Polaroid camera used to obtain a particular violet-like tone, like this beautiful shot by Anna Beard of Bello Ucello.

But the real Purple Rain occurred rather in Cape Town, when the police decided to use purple water against the anti-apartheid demonstrators in 1989.

I got this painting of beautiful jacarandas in Mexico, my favorite tree
I. Mojica, "Jacarandas en primavera" (2008)

And there is also the red wine, which looks, depending on many conditions, neither "black" (as it is called in some languages) nor "red", but "tinto", i.e. a very elegant reddish purple. Perfect for shoes. But that is another story.

July 10, 2010

Politics & Art

Sucker Hitler liked aquarella ("Marienplatz" in Munich, 1913)

Coincidentally, Sir Winston Churchill also liked to paint
and even received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953

The gringa Condoleezza Rice plays piano and has a camera ensemble...

... when she was not fighting against Saddam Hussein, who wrote at least a novel, "Get Out, You Damned One"
(see Tom Cruise's sosias)

Thanks God, Politics has given us lately a new artist:
Dmitry Medvedev feels he is a great photographer and got a great Leica
(see his bad portfolio)

July 9, 2010


Hurricane "Alex" visited my hometown Monterrey last week and left behind the biggest disaster in the history of the city. Fortunately the human lost was relatively low, but the material damage was enormous.

Photographer Diego Huerta prepared a portfolio of the disaster. It is worth to have a look at it.

Foto: Diego Huerta

July 6, 2010

July 6

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain begins with a simple question: how many orgasms are happening right now in Paris?

I just learned that today is the International Day of the Kiss. How many kisses are desired, imagined, sent, wished during a catwalk? Gorgeous Irène Jacob walks in "Red", on the background a great composition by Zbigniew Preisner performed by the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra...

And this is the first kiss in the history of cinema, by Thomas Alva Edison:

July 5, 2010

Lies for free

I have been lucky the last weeks. I traveled twice by plane and twice by train without paying.

When I was flying in South Africa some days ago, nobody at the airport asked me for a ticket or an ID. I got it from their own hands, I followed their instructions, I didn't even have to talk or ask for the documents. Nothing. Completely granted.

I did pay the train tickets, but the controller either didn't check it out or did it wrongly -- in any case, they didn't do their jo properly. The first time, the controller checked an Italian family sitting next to me, and although my ears were plugged to my iPod and I wasn't moving my hands or talking to "my family", he must have thought that I was traveling with them since he smiled to me and moved forward. Did the family have a four-person-ticket? No idea...

Then, yesterday, I extended my open ticket and asked the controller-woman to lend me a pen to fill in the missing information on the ticket. She gave me nothing, and stamped the ticket. I was on the cell, and later, when I checked, she had stamped it on an old and used ticket.

Philosopher Peter Singer published some days ago a very interesting piece about football and cheating. I agree with him when he condemns all those lies on the grass: very well-tonned bodies, worked-out and well trained young man who fall down and cry because somebody just touched them. Football has become a girlish sport, not to be compared with rugby or even American football. A pity!

But am I behaving like all those maricas crying out on the field, cheating on the airport and the train as they try to cheat on the referee to get what they want?

July 3, 2010

Esas ganas de negar lo evidente

Oficialmente, el nombre de este deporte no es fútbol ni fútbol soccer sino "fútbol asociación".

En Letras Libres, un texto sobre la urgente necesidad de introducir tecnología auxiliar para los árbitros.

July 2, 2010

Teotihuacan in Berlin

Yesterday it was the first day of the exhibition "Teotihuacan" in Berlin's Martin-Gropius-Bau. I had seen the exhibition in Monterrey, and it is really awesome, the largest exhibition on Teotihuacan ever. Since I missed the vernissage, I went yesterday.

It was a bit frustrating to see THREE very long queues for the Frida Kahlo exhibition. The masses and the interest for Frida, right! On the other hand, the Teotihuacan exhibition was almost empty.

At the ticket booth, the woman couldn't understand what I said. "Teotihuacan". Seems that she had never heard the word before. "Nobody can pronounce it, everybody is saying just 'Teo' or 'Mexico', how did you pronounce it?"

Inside, I met an old lady who was taking notes in front of a warrior sculpture and I started talking to her. She had been there the whole day, arrived at 10am, and it was already 5.30pm. Crazy! Then, in a very polite way, she said to me: "You speak a little bit 'foreign', where are you from?" ("Sie sprechen ein bisschen Ausländisch, wo kommen Sie her?"). "I come from Teotihuacan", I replied immediately. I explained her that I am Mexican and she was completely excited because of that. "And do you have Indian blood?" "Well, I don't look like an Indian but we all in Mexico have at some extent Indian blood, yes..."

One hour later, the woman came again and told me: "It was very nice to meet you, you were the highlight of the exhibition". Right...