August 31, 2010

Raquel Zimmermann, Lady Gaga

Last week I visited the atelier of some haute couture designers in the Maximilian Strasse, which is the poshest street in the most expensive city in Germany. Among many other issues, we talked about Lady Gaga, not because of representing haute couture, but because what she does to fashion.

There was a clever observation: Lady Gaga's success is based on the fatigue of people of being massively considered. The capitalism creates a sort of tiredness when you see over and over again the same brands, and the globalization makes it worse when you see the same trends all over the world. It might be that Lady Gaga offers an alternative, a sense of uniqueness.

The theory might or not be a satisfactory explanation, but the capitalistic paradox is omnipresent: Lady Gaga is one of the most successful musicians in the world and was listed by Forbes as one of the most influential people this year. A phenomenon by its own means.

But she is not completely original. For instance, we had seen such a haircut before. British photographer David Sims portrayed Raquel Zimmermann in a Parisian Hôtel for Vogue in 2007. Beyond the furniture and dresses, the haircut seems to me to be the third most important character of these portraits.

August 30, 2010

Kuwait City, Abu Dhabi airport, Berlin

There is this awesome video by Matt, which I like to watch every now and then. Today, I noticed the Water Towers of Kuwait City, which reminded me of Abu Dhabi's airport, which reminds me of Jean Nouvel's glass building of Galeries La Fayette.

Update July 2012:

August 28, 2010

Web voyeurism

I recall using Google for the first time ten years ago, while writing little reviews of Don Alfonso Reyes’ books for a Finnish project. At that time, Google was still rather unknown, at least in Mexico, so I thought it was a Finnish search engine. A couple of years later, in a very boring afternoon, I had the “very original idea” of googleing myself. Nothing. I googled myself a few more times, and there was nothing. I don’t know when I found my name online for the first time.

This searching reminded me of my child days when I used to play with the yellow pages looking for my relatives and neighbors: to me, having the name printed on the phone book meant to be somebody, to have a house with a land line.

Googleing yourself has become for many people a daily, weekly or monthly activity, such as checking your haircut on the mirror. Still, some "tabooists" regard it rather as a vanity affair.

I have googled many people all these years. I just googled, for instance, the name of an author whose essay I have to translate. And despite this familiarity with Google, I felt strange when I found out by accident that somebody had googled me. The person knows me and can meet me in real reality any time, but should had been curious about me and wanted to know better who the heck I am. But instead of asking me anything or showing interest into who I am or what do I think about this or that, I was googled.

It seems that the best way of checking what others do or think is not anymore by sharing a bottle of wine, but rather asking Google.

It felt as if somebody was spying on me, whereas “stalking” is a more precise word. It is in any case a strange feeling: it was my decision to go online, I myself google other people, I knew that other people had googled me because they had told me, but in this case I felt that there was a wrong motivation for this person to google me.

It felt as being secretly observed by a voyeur, like somebody searching for some sort of (nonexistent) evidence into my personal stuff instead of asking openly. It is not about Google itself, but about the motivation behind typing my name into the search engine, as it is not about being naked but about who is the voyeur and why is he checking you out secretly. I could imagine their brain thinking "Who the fuck is this guy?" while typing my name into Google, whereas a plain websearcher-brain rather thinks "Who is this guy?", and a emotional websearcher-brain thinks "Who the fuck is this guy?".

I have this blog, which is open to everybody, where I show what I write and think, and my little discoveries. Since it seems that this person googled me wrongly -- finally, it all depends on how you look at, and on listening --, it is possible that this post won't be read by this person. But who knows, maybe I was found in the meantime and this person is reading this post. In that case, go and check out the name "Néstor Buendía" as well...

August 24, 2010

Ewige Flammen in Ecuador

Last year I went to the Amazonas. Now, a blog of RainForest Alliance called "The Frog" published a piece of mine (auf Deutsch) on that experience being in the middle of "nowhere" -- actually, in the middle of everything" -- and doing birdwatching.

August 23, 2010

Children, victims

This morning, there was a freaky guy knocking on a glass in our building at 4am. The knocking was not very loud, but because of the echo in the internal patio, it became a curiosity. I was thinking, "what a strange hobby this guy has...", when one of the neighbors shouted out of the window:

- "Silence or I will call the police!"

It worked, the knocking stopped.

I realized that if we were in Mexico, the same guy would had shouted "¡Cabrón, cállate o te parto la madre!" (something like: "Fucker, stop it or I will kick your ass!").

This is one of the things I will never understand of Germans: the recurrent help from policemen instead of solving out their problems alone.

Citizens from developed countries are used to the paternalism from the State, just like little children are used to call their Mom when the older sibling is killing them.

But in our corrupted countries, you first suspect from people in power, such as policemen or politicians.

So, there you go: citizens act either as eternal children or as eternal victims.

Fotos: Polizistin Jessica Seiffert (dpa); el poli dormido de Iztapalapa (Miguel, Crapitolio)

August 21, 2010


There is nothing new under the sun. If you think that you did a great discovery, think twice, or rather, do some investigation. Your discovery has been at large for a long time, for sure.

Last year, I visited the Église St. Eustache in Paris. It has been witness of the most significant christenings, marriages and funerals. For me, the most interesting part of visiting it -- after being in Paris already some times -- was to see the church were Cosette married Marius.

My singerie in the Église St. Eustache, Paris

After my visit, I was very proud of having discovered a writing monkey on the pulpit. I was surprised, since the piece was much older than the Darwinian theories on evolution. A real puzzle that kept me surprised all this time.

But, of course, I did not invented the old concept of "singerie", French for "monkey trick". Ancient Egypt and Middle Ages artists were depicting monkeys doing human activities. Even Boulle, the most famous French furniture designer, the fave of Louis XIV has his singeries. A classical in the art world...

Thinking about it, the popular chimp zoo and TV shows are nothing but the modern version of what I thought to had discovered in St. Eustache.

(The specialist in the art related to Darwin is one of the editors of the FAZ and Max Planck Institute researcher, Julia Voss.)

August 20, 2010

Sharks, Crocodile

The last days I have been finding sharks all around. And while I was considering a post on sharks, I bumped into a great book which I will definitely buy this weekend: The $12 Million Stuffed Shark.

John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark, (1778)

Bob Carlos Clarke, Adult Females Attack without Provocation (2004)

Damien Hirst, The Kingdom (2008)

Robert Longo, Untitled (Shark 6) - Triptych (2008)

And they reminded me of these ones:

Helmut Newton, Crocodile Eating Ballerina, from the Pina Bausch Ballet 'Keuschheitslegende' (1983)

Mario Chenel

Drawings: Robert Longo, Rómulo Celdrán

I had never thought about the order of the expressions "black & white" and "blanco & negro", till I bumped for the first time with the German phrase "Schwarzweiß". It seems that most of the languages put first the "black" and then the "white" except for Spanish and other related languages such as Català or Galego.

Why? My theory is that "blanco" is phonetically closer to "black". Whoever established the phrase wanted to remain close to the sound despite the order of the concepts. Black sounds like blanco.

I was thinking about this yesterday while checking out the drawings of Robert Longo, the famous artist who began in the late 1970's to draw twisting businessmen "trapped in ice" for "Men in the cities". The aesthetics became widely popular in the 2000's thanks to a scene of "American Psycho" and the iPod adds. He is directing the new campaign of Bottega Veneta.

Last week, I also saw the work of Spanish artist Rómulo Celdrán. While Longo draws on white surfaces with charcoal, Celdrán draws on black surfaces with chalk. Both works are amazing. And while Longo's interest relays on nature, such as waves and women, Celdrán rather focuses on useless things which we use daily.

August 19, 2010

Pajarito, Quesero

Plaza de Toros México (2006)

Plaza de Toros de Tafalla (2010)

August 18, 2010

Martin Parr, Enrique G de la G

West Bay, UK (1999)

La Habana, Cuba (2009)

August 17, 2010

On (prohibited) language

Every language has its forbidden words, expressions you should avoid. In German, I never learned it the right way. Till today, maybe, when I did a bad mistake.

I learned at the Goethe Institut that the word "Jawohl!" is a typical expression from Prussia. And since I was living in Berlin, Prussia's capital, and I decided to become a Berliner, I was very proud of using the word. Then I noticed that HS, a German, was using it very often.

People were always reacting and laughing. Till T draw my attention to the Nazis: they were using this word all the time when they were receiving orders from their military superiors. It means something like "Yes, sir!". For many Europeans who grew up with Nazi movies, the word "Jawohl!" has a very intense meaning.

For me it never had it. And although I heard the explanation many times, I am very used to the expression. But some weeks ago I moved to Munich. Nazism was originated here many years ago. "Brotherhoods" are still en vogue (HS belongs to one of them), and they celebrate their Christian faith and patriotical past. Bavarians are extremely proud of their traditions and customs. Sometimes it looks very funny, sometimes really ridiculous, sometimes it is nice to see people aware and proud of their origin. Anyways, when I use the word "Jawohl!" in Munich, people react. I though that it was because of the competition between Munich and Berlin, but it might well also be due to the delicate atmosphere of local patriotism down here.

Today I was in the office talking on the phone to a very important Jewish person, whose family barely scaped from the Nazis, although their best friends perished in Auschwitz, as well as almost the whole family of her wife. We were talking in English and at the end he switched to German: "Auf Wiedersehen!", he told me. My automatic response was not the correct one, and I was becoming aware of it at the same speed at which I was pronouncing the infamous word "j - a - w - o - h- l".

He acted as if he had not heard anything. Maybe he did not even noticed, since people do not really pay attention to these formalities. But who knows, maybe he did. I noticed and I felt stupid and sorry. But it was too late, I was saying the word and putting down the auricular of the phone and regretting it. Everything at the same time. Scheiße...

Foto: Military jacket by Balmain for the Spring/Summer collection 2010 at the Paris Fashion Week

August 16, 2010

Oranges, mountains

Due to some strange reason, I have been eating oranges all this year, as never before. Yes, Monterrey is an important citrus area, top three in the world.

Artist Scarlett Hooft Grafland shot in Bolivia an amazing landscape of two mountains in which she threw some oranges. The second picture is mine, taken in South Africa: a truck full of oranges North from Cape Town.

August 15, 2010

"Still Life", by Sam Taylor Wood

Seen in an exhibition this weekend.

August 14, 2010


In 1924, Alexander Rodchenko created this image of Osip Brick for the cover of the magazine Lef, but remained unpublished long time.

Nine years later, Cartier-Bresson managed to catch a pair of glasses converted into monocles due to the reflection of the ligt twice during the same corrida de toros in Valencia in 1933.


Statue of the "Tired Man" (Megfáradt ember in hungarian), referring to the poem of Attila József.
The statue is the work of József Somogy

In Mexico you can say "Tengo hueva" and that's it, people understand: "I feel lazy". But in Germany, the expression "hueva" does not exist. I translated it once (Faulheit), and the friend who had invited felt terribly hurt, since I did not meet her due to my hueva. What I really could not understand at all.

Tiredness is definitely not the same as hueva. But Germans never ever use the word f-word. Instead, they say that they are tired (even if they feel lazy).

Today I realized that the word I have used the most for the last year is "tired". I am always tired, even if I just woke up. "How are you?": "Tired" is the most often answer. It is not just a delicious huevita but a real tiredness.

So, I was considering if there is any novel about it, but I know none. At least I discovered this poem by Hungarian Attila József:

A Tired Man

Some solemn peasants in the fields
face home and silently depart.
We’ve laid us down, the stream and I.
Soft grasses slumber near my heart.

The hushed stream rolls us to our rest.
Within, dews rinse me free of care.
Not youth, Magyar, brother nor child,
he’s just a tired man, lolling there.

The falling night distributes peace
and I’m a warm slice of its bread.
The sky winds down. The stars sit out
on Maros and on my bare head.

August 11, 2010

Strive for your dreams

During the World Cup 1998, Jorge Valdano wrote a piece commenting a goal of some player I forgot. On his opinion, that goal was the best one of his career. The main thesis was that it was not an opportunity the player had, but an achievement, a dream he had finally fulfilled.

He used the example of Hugo Sánchez, who stayed daily at least one more hour on the field to train on his own and to dream of his goals. If Valdano was right, Hugo was elaborating in advance his goals in his own mind, just as poets work out slowly and carefully their poems.

One day, the circumstances would align and the player would score "the goal of his life".

Somehow, the same happened to me last week, when a friend of mine posted on her FB a picture I have been dreaming of for some years now. It is a photography by Russian artist Alexander Rodchenko called Steps (1930). It was a strange feeling to see that 80 years ago, my dream had become already true and that I was not aware of it.

But there is a slight difference. In my mind, the woman is going downstairs. One sunny-shadowy day, I will shoot that picture.

August 7, 2010

Guten Tag! (& The red futon)

Germany is a lovely country with a high life quality. I love it. Love the people, the language, the culture, the German Akribie... But like any other place, it is not perfect.

The biggest problem for a guy like me - no doubt about it - is the weather. This should be summer, but yesterday we were all freezing in the office, one of the girls was even wearing a scarf, the other one a big jacket.

It is cold. And gray. And has been raining for one week or two. And is cold. And dark gray.
This is depressing. Is hard.

Yesterday, I woke up very early, around 6am, since I wanted to do so many things. But I didn't manage to get out of bed before 9am... So heavy is blanket of the gray sky.

So I slam the door, cursed the Rain God and saw an umbrella coming very slowly towards me exactly on my path. It was an old woman, the first person I met today. Thick, white socks half way up to the knees, big sandals, everything completely wet, a granny yellow dress full of flowers. The poor granny was not inspecting the sidewalk, but was victim of a terrible hump.

When she saw red sneakers towards her, she reacted very quickly and moved to her right, aware that she was walking "on my side".
I didn't care about her reaction. Was focusing on my gray, rainy mood and trying to organize my day, French music playing on my iPod to feel some relieve.

And then, the miracle!

For the first time in all these years, I dare to think, a stranger talked to me out of the blue to be nice. And she changed my day.

"Guten Tag!"

She said it very kindly, putting some effort to look up to the sky to discover my face. But at that very moment I was passing by. Miraculously, her greeting manage to penetrate through the French song. I yelled her back: "Guten Tag!", but she didn't change her pace.

If that old woman, who has nothing in this world except a big hump, a crappy umbrella, and her white socks half way up to the knee in a gray, rainy, autumn-August morning is in such a good mood, why shouldn't I?

I smiled to the Rain God and had a great day.

* * *

Which was again improved by this other girl. We had met on the internet because she is leaving Munich and subletting her flat, and I am sick of this disgusting place (another reason to be in a bad mood), so I went to see hers.

She was nice and polite, the flat was even smaller than my smallest flat in Berlin. And then she showed me her room and a red futon:

- And this is the futon, which you can convert in a bed if you pull down this part here.
- Aha.
- It is very big.
- Yeah.
- It suits even a third person.
- Hahaha! Have you share it with two other people?
- No, but just to let you know, just in case...
- Right! Haha...

I managed to convince a hotel manager to partially pay my room with a T-shirt. But I never tried to convince somebody to rent my flat because my futon (not even a king size bed!) is great for having a little orgy. Crazy people!

August 6, 2010

Keep walking, Christoph Walker

Some months ago I interviewed Chris Rehage, heroe of The Longest Way project, for the Goethe Institut in which I am participating. But then the editor changed her mind and the interview got dust. I refurbished it, translated it to Spanish and "Letras Libres" just published it today. Don't miss Chris' video in case you haven't seen it yet.

August 5, 2010

"Only you", by Rumi

Rumi lived in Persia during the XIII century. This poem was translated by Nader Khalili:

only you
i choose
among the entire world

is it fair
of you
letting me be unhappy

my heart
is a pen
in your hand

it is all
up to you
to write me happy or sad

i see only
what you reveal
and live as you say

all my feelings
have the color
you desire to paint

from the beginning
to the end
no one but you

please make
my future
better than the past

when you hide
i change
to a Godless person

and when you
i find my faith

don't expect
to find any more in me
than what you give

don't search for
hidden pockets because
i've shown you that
all i have
is all you gave.

"March 10, 2001", by David Young

Three crisscrossed daffodils
faint lamps in the rubble
where without any warning
I'm shattered by your absence
wondering will I always
blunder into this emotion
so large and mute it has no name
—not grief longing pain
for those are only its suburbs
its slightly distracting cousins—
summoned just now by these
frilled blossoms
butter yellow horns
on lemon yellow stars
indifferent innocent
charging in place
advance guard of a season
when I will join you.

Foto: Matt Cuts

August 4, 2010

Le concert

Tonight I watched the French movie Le concert with gorgeous Mélanie Laurent. Is this kind of movies like Home, in which part of it is comedy, part is drama. But unlike Home, Le concert is a very well constructed story in which art, politics, social prejudices (Jews, gypsies, Russians), broken dreams and life-debts meet in a "perfect harmony".

Mélanie Laurent is just breath-taking... And beyond all critics of Russian romanticism concerning kitsch, Tschaikovsky's violin concert is definitely one of my favorites. I had never thought of a concert inspiring a movie. Just great!

August 3, 2010

"Life": pictures of Hitler re-discovered

The story of photographer Hugo Jaeger and more galleries on Life.

August 2, 2010

"Juliet, Naked"

Just finished yesterday "Juliet, Naked", the most recent novel by Nick Hornby. I liked it a lot, I am a big fan of him and enjoy his novels absolutely. "High Fidelity" is still my favorite, but "Juliet, Naked" is more sophisticated (maybe that is why I liked it less, since Nick shouldn't be that sophisticated, I think). Nick Hornby has understood and represented better than anyone else what does a relationship in our days mean.

I underlined this:

"She knew that playing the CD was an act of naked hostility, even if anyone peering through the windows wouldn't be able to see the nakedness".

"Where had this ill-feeling sprung from? It wasn't as if their relationship was any more precarious than it ever had been".

"One thing about great art: it made you love people more, forgive them their petty transgressions".

"[...] the truth about anyone is disappointing, the truth about me specially so".

"We get together with people because they're the same or because they're different, and in the end we split with them for exactly the same reasons".

"The cliché had it that kids were the future, but that wasn't it: they were the unreflective, active present. They were not themselves nostalgic, because they couldn't be, and they retarded nostalgia in their parents".

"- [...] And you're the only artist alive who's made any sense to him, just about".
- The only artist alive? Jesus Christ. I could write you a list of a hundred people better than me off the top of my head.
- It's not about better, Tucker. You speak to him. For him. He connects. You plug into a very complicated-looking socket in his back. I don't know why, but you do".

"I don't think people with talent necessarily value it, because it all comes so easy to them, and we never value things that come easy to us".

"If everyone was determined to make it work, then it would".

"For the best part of forty years she had genuinely believed that not doing things would somehow prevent regret, when of course the exact opposite was true. Her youth was over, but there might be some life left in life yet".

"She was saying something else; she was trying to say that the inability to articulate what one feels in any satisfactory way is one of our enduring tragedies".

August 1, 2010

Picasso, Hannibal Lecter

Picasso by Robert Capa (1951)