October 31, 2011

Mexico: yesterday is (still) today

Antonio Caso wrote in 1924:

"Lo que arraiga [en México] es la tragedia terrible en que vivimos, en que nos movemos y somos".

Ten years later, Manuel Álvarez Bravo took this image of a worker being shot. Few things have changed since then.

Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Obrero en huelga asesinado (1934)

Google's ratio

This is the algorithm which has changed our lives:

PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + . . . + PR(Tn)/C(Tn)

The paper was published in Stanford in 1999. Then, Google was founded.

The rest is dailylife...

October 28, 2011

San Ángel

Colombian magazine Exclama just published a piece of mine about San Ángel, a charming neigborhood in Mexico City with cute handwork made by Indians and terrible painters. My discovery was Enrique Segarra, the last disciple of Manuel Álvarez Bravo and Gabriel Figueroa.

All pictures by Colombian photographer Sebastián Arce.

The future

October 27, 2011

Lying with lions

This painting by Gérôme was recently discovered in Frankfurt after many decades. It was thought that it had been destroyed. The unfinished walls of the cave are magnificent!

As I already told, earlier this year I attended an exhibition on Gérôme. Quite impressive.

Now, coincidentally, Bvlgari is mimicking the same idea with Kirsten Dunst and Rachel Weisz.

Jean-Léon Gérôme, St. Jeronimo (1874)

 Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Tepidarium (1881)

 Henri Rousseau, La Bohémienne endormie (1897)

Rachel Weisz for Bvlgari (2011)

October 26, 2011

Surveillance: Neighbourhood, Prison

 Henri Cartier-Bresson, Madrid (1933)

Anonymous, Surveillance Street Art (link)

October 25, 2011

Michael Vetter dixit

Explaining in an interview that he is neither Austrian nor Mexican, Michael Vetter said:

"Me considero privilegiado, porque la no pertenencia es mi libertad. Y yo soy un adicto a la libertad."

Vivian Maier, Statue of Liberty


October 23, 2011

iPod 10

Today it's the tenth birthday of iPod.

A comic by Beto Oliva: Blanca Nieves y los siete nanos.

James Whistler, André Kertész

Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (1871)

Hopital de Beau: Elderly Woman in Bed (1929)

October 22, 2011

Stupidly superficial

I was on the top of a building yesterday, when my friend S said: Have a look, two helicopters. I was eating my chilaquiles, so it took me a while to turn around. I saw just one.

A few minutes later, a big chaos: policemen, ambulances, helicopters... The guy in the restaurant turned on the TV: a helicopter with some politicians had fallen.

According to The Economist, Mexico is one of the countries with the highest rate of car accidents in the world. More people are killed every year due to road accidents than due to criminal violence. It sounds very stupid, and it is. But when it comes to flying machines, then it is most probably an attack. Like yesterday.

At the evening I went to the spot. Nothing! Everything was perfectly clean as if nothing had happened, there was not a single sing of an accident and people being killed, not a single candle or whatsoever, besides a pieces of wood supporting the gray wall (which by the way looked still very robust).

This is Mexico. And I hate this: today, nobody remembers what happened, the government will never investigate, superficial life goes stupidly on. What a mess!

October 20, 2011

ETA's end

After almost 50 years, ETA's terror is over.

This is a triumph of peace over violence and rationality over brutality. Cheers!

And my condolences to the families and friends of the 800 victims.


It is not only about what you (or your family) wears, what car do you drive, where do you spent holidays, but also –now– which brand of flakes you have for breakfast.


October 15, 2011

Covers: Sex, Women

Great ideas are plain creativity, thinking, effort, observing, and a bit of inspiration. It shouldn't be matter of money or sophistication. As M used to say, "Keep it simple".

Granta's cover is just perfect, as I said recently.

magnes' is awesome. I would perhaps had designed a second cover for (non) subscribers with some curved wine bottle; otherwise it seems a little too "sexist" (to use a concept I don't really understand)... but ok, it is all about a comedy.


Someecards are the most ironic cards I know. I have been following them for some time now, and they denote a clever group of curators behind them. They are making fun of current events, of mass media, they are politically active and, above all, very creative. Non professional writers belong to the team, and their most important virtue is that they are funny, plain funny people, and a very good looking design.

October 8, 2011

Mac and video games

The first time I used a computer was at my cousin's place. It was summer 1985 and it has been the very only time I visit him and we haven't talked since.

He invited me (or rather his mother) after a summer camp, and was completely excited about some stuff he wanted to show me. A computer. A Mac. I hadn't seen something like that before (I had to wait one more year for my first Atari).

It was on a big, wooded table, and he turned it on. Green stuff came out as it slowly became clear, and then there was a monkey or orangutan trying to skip obstacles to get his banana. We played the whole afternoon, and I recall myself thinking how great it is and how stupid, at the same time. But in fact it was a completely new experience, and that is --now I know-- what mattered.

I proudly belong to the last generation who grew up without internet.

This morning I watched the ad clip about the new iPhone 4S, and I had to think about the monkey and its bananas: I found myself having exactly the same reaction, both fascinating and stupid. It is an enormous achievement what Steve Jobs and this geniuses have done, but I am still healthy skeptical about it. No doubt I would become absolutely obsessed if I had such an iPhone. I will still resist.

Instead I will listen this melancholic and touching new song by Lana del Rey about video games. The clip is a masterpiece, just second after her --uff-- lips...

October 7, 2011

Munkacsi, García Hubard

Cartier-Bresson's life changed when he saw this picture by Martin Munkacsi: Three Boys at Lake Tanganyka. He wrote:
"The only thing which completely was an amazement to me and brought me to photography was the work of Munkacsi. When I saw the photograph of Munkacsi of the black kids running in a wave I couldn't believe such a thing could be caught with the camera. I said damn it, I took my camera and went out into the street".

After being at the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris, the exhibition of Paulina García Hubard (by chance, a relative of mine) is being shown now at Chapultepec, in Mexico City. One of her pictures reminds me of Munkacsi.

October 5, 2011

Be, act & think different: by your own

Rouzat Zissou (1911)

Last night, while reading a text on Habermas by Egon Flaig, I bumped into a quote –describing the German Volksgeist– which immediately made it to my new favorite quote and sort of life motto:

"Nicht tun dürfen, was andere tun;
tun müssen, was die anderen nicht tun."

Roughly translated as:

"Not allowed to do, what others do; have to do, what the others do not do."

* * *
I take it that the quotation could have been done by today deceased genius, Steve Jobs, or by Jacques Henri Lartigue, who took the upper picture.

October 4, 2011

On mental slavery

The French man is thinking, and reminds me of a Hellenistic sculpture. Jesus is poor but well dressed, with nice pants, which are still white and clean, despite the bleeding arms and head. And she is a third sculpture, a mix between the thinker and the martyr: she is definitely considering the hardness of life, the exhaustion of her days, and the pain of her soul.

Ironically, the film being announced next to her is "Mi pecado fue nacer" (roughly: "Being born was my sin"). The original tittle is "Band of Angels", in which Yvonne de Carlo is sold as a slave...

Better to be a slave of Thinking and Enlightenment, than a slave of Religion and Superstition. "Truth shall free you".

August Rodin, Le penseur (1902)

Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Corona de espinas (1925)

 Enrique Segarra, Mi pecado fue nacer (1957)

October 1, 2011

"Letras Libres" at Coverjunkie

Some weeks ago, I wrote about that great blog about magazine covers, Coverjunkie.

I am today specially happy because the new cover of the magazine I am editing, "Letras Libres", got published there.

The cover depicts a photograph by Antonio Gálvez, taken in 1969 or 1970. It is being published now for the very first time.

This was a great discovery I am proud to announce, since I got lucky and I found it while doing some research. My colleague in Madrid helped me to arrange everything, many thanks.