Memoirs -- fact and fiction, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

The cabbie’s life: One night in Toronto

Back in the day — before Uber & Lyft, before Google street maps, before the Internet — there was a thing known as The Thomas Guide. It was a spiral-bound book of maps and street indexes for many of the major West Coast cities in the U.S.

It was a godsend for journalists and taxicab drivers alike.

Toronto had a similar book, as I discovered one night when I arrived to cover the Toronto Film Festival for my California newspaper.

“Where to, eh?

“Sutton Place,please.”

“Good, good. Is that cab in front of us going there, too?”

“No, they’re going to another hotel.”

“Good, good. OK. Sutton Place. That’s not far. Do you know where it is?”

“No. Don’t you?”

“Yeah. Well, no. Well, sort of. I usually work the West End. Don’t get up here that much.”

“Um … Bay Street. I think it is on Bay Street.”

“Bay Street? Good. Good. Bay Street. Bay Street. Right you are.”

“I think it is a main thoroughfare here. North and south.Turn here on University. You’re bound to cross it.”

“OK. Yeah. Right you are. Here, look in this book, page four. Got to be on page four or near it. Look on four.”

“There’s no map on four.”

“What do you mean? No! Index. Look at the index. You read; I’ll drive.”

“I can’t find a map. Look here, there’s Bay Street! If you turn here, we ought to find Sutton Place.”

“I can’t turn. See the sign? It says ‘No left turn.’ You really ought to learn how to read that book. You can get anywhere with in this city with that book, you can. Ah, I’ll turn anyway.”

“Why do I need to read this book? I’ll be leaving Toronto in two days. You live here. You learn it.”

“Sure, but what if you come back? You really ought to learn.”

You ought to learn. You live here, you drive the cab!”

“Right you are!”

“Look, there’s the Sutton. Just drop me off behind that car.”

“Right! The old Sutton! There you are! I got you here, didn’t I? You really ought to get one of these books. Invaluable! Fare’s $4.25. Told you I’d get you here. Well, have a good evening then.”

“Right. Keep the change.”

True story.

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Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

When peering into the infinite universe, always watch your step

The musician David Byrne was asked in the New York Times which subjects would he like to see more authors write about.

I liked his answer.

“I’ll turn it around — most writers should avoid writing about writers as their main characters. I know, I know, ‘write what you know.’”

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Up against the wall: 10 San Miguel de Allende murals with a message to mask up

A pandemic of new murals all over San Miguel de Allende, many with iconic images from pop culture and high art, carry a simple message: Put on a mask.

If Frida, Vincent van Gogh, Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” Klimt’s stylish “Lady in Gold,” and da Vinci’s mysterious “Mona Lisa” and her Botero-esque alter-ego can put on masks — and look fabulous — so can we.

That’s the hope, anyway, of the city’s Directorate for Culture and Tradition which has sponsored the creation of the 10 murals.

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

A lesson from the butterfly’s second life

Butterflies are one of the “two sweetest passions known to man.”

So says Vladimir Nabokov. The other is literature.

A day watching butterflies flutter amid the flower boughs

Never feels misspent.

Nor does a day with a good book.

Literature lasts forever. No so, the butterfly.

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

One thing leads to another: A mural grows in Colonia San Antonio

The bicycle mural of Efrain Gonzalez at the corner of Orizaba and Refugio in Colonia San Antonio. The joy is spreading from this corner to other parts of San Miguel.

++++++ ++++++ ++++++ ++++++ ++++++

This is how things work in magical San Miguel de Allende:

Susan Campbell Skinner lives on the corner of Refugio and  Orizaba in Colonia San Antonio.  Across the street is Dona Rosa’s tienda where she buys organic eggs, produce, and fresh squeezed orange juice.

Susan does not know Rosa well but she feels a kindred spirit. She feels like Rosa is always looking out for her and her casa when she is away. This is what neighbors do for each other here in San Miguel de Allende.

So, Susan wanted to do something nice for her neighbor. 

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Happy Birthday, Rose

I didn’t even know we had roses.

Well, a rose. This one you see above.

It bloomed on Saturday. One of a kind. A lone rose.

It bloomed just hours before the Running of the Roses.

And it bloomed for my Rose,

Who celebrates her birthday on Monday.

Also a one-of-a-kind Rose.

Which raises my once-a-year question:

What do you give to the woman who IS everything?

A woman for whom a rose blooms on cue?

The pandemic has changed what is really important.

Instead of a new dress with nowhere to wear it,

I want to offer her security in an uncertain world.

Instead of a 1,000-piece puzzle of an exotic destination,

I want to offer her unwavering devotion in a fickle world.

Instead of a nifty new pasta maker with seven attachments,

I want to offer her unconditional love in a divided world.

Instead of a store-bought birthday card,

I want to offer her this, a rose not quite as beautiful as her soul.

And my humble words.

Happy birthday, Rose, the woman who is everything.

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Mama Mia makes a move and it is spectacular

Rose and I happened to walk by the new Mama Mia’s restaurant today.

That’s right, the NEW one.

One of San Miguel de Allende’s most popular restaurants has moved from the heart of Centro to Dr. Hernández Macías # 91.

Really, just around the corner, but worlds away a huge improvement.

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Look through any window

Very few people — children, mostly — know that all around San Miguel de Allende there are portals that can transport you to unimaginable places.

No, sorry. That’s not right.

You have to imagine a place before you can be transported to it.

That’s why children — who still possess great imaginations — are most-aware of these magical conveyances.

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