San Miguel de Allende, Writings

A menorah with a message is lit for the first night of Chanukah in Parque Juarez

Rabbi Daniel Huebner of Chabad San Miguel de Allende lights the first candle on the community menorah on Sunday evening in Parque Juarez. A lit candle will be added on each of the following seven nights for the Chanukah celebration.

Happy Chanukah, my friends. Or Hanukkah.

Sunday night was the first night of Chanukah — the Festival of Lights — and the lighting of the first candle of the menorah. The Chanukah celebration is observed for eight nights and days, with a new candle being lit each evening.

I know all this because I was walking Moppit in Parque Juarez when I happened upon members of Chabad San Miguel de Allende lighting the community menorah in the park’s gazebo.

I missed most of the dedication, but I happened upon the gathering just as Rabbi Daniel Huebner was explaining the significance of this year’s menorah, created by artist Meila Penn.

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photography, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

An art project grows in San Miguel de Allende

I love this Bug.

It’s like something out of a Disney/Pixar movie where a once-beloved and cuddled family Bug grows old as the family grows up and is eventually abandoned in the Shed of Lost Car Souls where it withers, rusts, and decays for decades until the troubled teenage grandson discovers the car and with loving assistance from grandpa restores the Bug, restores his own self-confidence, and restores grandpa’s long-lost memories as he regales his grandson with tales of family road trips and adventures in this very same car — and in the end, grandpa and grandson trundle down the road in their magnificently restored Bug on the Mexican road trip of their lives.

Or, maybe not.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende

On Dia de Los Muertos, even the dead love a good parade

Traffic finally emptied on the Ancha at 8 p.m. Monday and down the broad street, and out from the Rosewood resort, streamed hundreds of Catrinas, Catrinos, ghouls, skeletons, and even an underworld creature or two.

And they came on fast — as if all the pent-up energy from last year’s cancelled parade was unleashed atop this year’s and resulted in a headlong rush to the finish.

The crowd where Nemiseo Diaz meets the Ancha was so thick and eager that costumed paraders had to run a tight gauntlet, elbowing their way to the merger point.

It wasn’t so much a parade as a fast jog of the living dead in glorious technicolour and fabulous costumes. They marched, they merged, they posed for pictures, they trundled up Zacaterous, turned onto Canal and cascaded into the Plaza Principal where the crush of Catrinas and onlookers must have been something else.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende

Population boom around San Miguel — especially spooky couples — means Dia de Los Muertos is nearly here

This wedding couple, or someone very much like them, shows up on the El Cardo roundabout every year at this time. Always of comfort to see.

You meet the strangest characters on the streets of San Miguel de Allende at this time of year.

Bigger than life, a bit on the emaciated side, and not that responsive to a cheery hello. Their appearance marks the run-up to Dia de los Muertos — Day of the Dead — although I’m seeing that more and more in the plural, Days of the Dead, as just one day no longer seems enough.

Bars, hotels, and boutiques seem to especially revere the dead as they decorate and plan events for days leading up to the traditional Nov. 1 celebration. Door frames get beautiful floral treatments, too.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Step out for a cup of coffee in San Miguel and you could easily walk right into the dreams of others — if you believe in the magic

Maríela López González and her first mural in San Miguel de Allende, titled “El nacimiento del Sol y la Luna”.

You set out to get a quiet cup of coffee in the morning and by noon you are sitting down with two incredibly talented artists, discussing their work, their dreams, their ambitions.

That, my friends, is the magic of San Miguel de Allende.

That cup of coffee turned out to be not so quiet as I ended up at an outdoor cafe table with some of my Golosos pals — Efrain, Robert, Ben, Scott, and Colin. They’d been booted out of their regular haunt — guilty of possession of a couple of yipping dogs.

The proprietor told them that animals were now forbidden in food establishments by the city.

Hmmm.

Well, maybe noisy dogs. 

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photography, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized

You up for some photos of San Miguel while I think of something new to blog about?

This is how we sometimes feel the first time we head out into the public square after quarantining at home for 18 months. These two are currently hanging out in Parque Juarez, through Dia de Muertos.

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She’s right, you know, my new friend from the housewarming party the other night: I haven’t written on the blog in a long time.

I owe you all an apology, if, indeed, you actually missed me.

If not, then, hi! Welcome (back) to my blog.

You know how these things happen — someone starts a blog and it goes great for a while, then a pandemic strikes, and life as we know it is suspended. So the writer begins writing interior monologues, surreal short stories, overly long recollections about that dream from last night, and, in the worst of cases, poetry.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende

Opening soon: City Market Photo Galleria – Mart for art’s sake

Plus: The 10 Commandments for successfully shooting City Market

Also, how Prince Valiant’s graphic art layout can help tell your story

Congratulations, San Miguel Facebookeers! You are creating a new photography genre — City Market Art. Your orgasmic uploading of scores of images from the newly opened high-end supermarket “experience” has been a visual feast worthy of the artfully displayed departments of bread, fish, wine, vegetables, chocolates, and meats.

This is commercial exhibitionism at its finest.

Because you are all so good — and prolific — I am proud to announce the first-ever open invitational online gallery of the year’s best City Market images. I will create a gallery page for your very best images and keep posting new ones through the end of the year.

By which time we should all feel we’ve fairly well exhausted the subject …

Don’t let your best images languish on a single Facebook post, only to disappear in the relentless and voracious feed cycle. Let me offer you a slice of immortality!

Send images to robertj.hawkins2012@gmail.com — and be sure to include your name (for credit) and a little something about each image. Sorry, this is all for the glory. There is no compensation, honorarium, prizes, or lecture chairs to be gained. The images remain yours and yours alone. I promise to put your name in bold face type.

They will be lovingly posted and curated in the order in which they arrive, on a timely basis.

Be selective. Send your favorites. Volume is not art. And I am only one guy. Send a few at a time, or only the one you really really like!

Be creative. Edit. Photoshop. Play with images. Create compositions. Express yourself through your images. Be irreverent. Be ironic. Be playful. Make a statement. Have some fun. Get serious. Make art. Make commerce.

Maybe there will be artistic or psycho-sociological revelations to be had by the end of the year. Who knows until we try, eh?

City Market Photo Galleria will open when enough images arrive. It will only take a few to launch

Meanwhile …

The 10 Commandments — urgent suggestions, mostly — for getting the best out of your City Market photo shoot.

Pro-tips for the several thousand San Miguelians photographing the new City Market with your cell phones and posting on Facebook:


1. Occasionally incorporate foreground objects for perspective.

2. Compose your picture within the frame before you shoot. Crop before you publish.

3. Create a composition that tells a story: Isolate your subject — say, the wine cellar, or the chocolatier, or the fish monger’s. Then compose three shots — a closeup (detail), a middle-ground, and a panoramic. (Think of the “Prince Valiant” Sunday comics spread. See some examples at the bottom of the page.).

4. Vary the perspective — sometimes you need to get down on one knee or raise the camera above your head, or get your nose into that school of sea bass swimming in a bed of ice. Don’t always shoot straight down into the cold shrimp.

5. Look for interesting patterns, artful combinations, playful images. City Market begs you to be ironic.

6. Volume is information but it is not art.

7. It is not all food porn, but it doesn’t hurt to “think sexy” when you shoot. City Market is commercial exhibitionism at its best. Roll with it.

8. Your cell phone has amazing photo editing capabilities. Yes, yours. Sit down and order a coffee and play with your pictures before posting.

9. Put people into your images. So far, most images have looked like the store is a lovely sexy empty mausoleum.

10. Keep those photos coming!

And here’s some old Prince Valiant Sunday comics that I promise. Harold Foster was famous for using the three visual elements — closeup/detail, middle ground, and panoramic — to tell a whole story in one page. Newspaper photographers have used that same technique for decades.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende, Uncategorized, Writings

A little Sunday morning walk to the Presa clears your head, raises your spirits, and revives your senses

Fields of mustard seed brighten the walk to the Presa along Camino a San Miguel Viejo.

Sometimes you just have to get out there and walk. Anywhere will do. Just walk.

Most mornings, that’s me walking Moppit, struggling for control over the master/pet dynamic with a willful and intelligent opponent.

I want to go left, she wants to go right. We both freeze in our tracks and engage in a game of blink, staring into each other’s eyes with fiercely competitive stares. It is Moppit who decides when she’s had enough of this walking nonsense and communicates her desire by sitting firmly on her tush. It is Moppit who sets the pace, decides what needs to be sniffed or peed upon. For my every step forward, she executes a complex zigzag pattern worthy of her genetic heritage.

She is a sniffer, a searcher, a chaser, a marker of vast territory.

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

Poor souls, lost their marbles on the cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende

When I walk the cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende, usually early mornings with Moppit the philosopher dog, I find things.

It is not that I am scouring between the cracks and crannies. It is just that cobblestones can be treacherous and if you are not attentive to your footsteps, well, you can fall.

There is a joke about the number of ex-pats who walk around this hilly town with canes — but I forget how it goes.

Cobblestone streets are the tide pools of very old cities. They tend to trap small and delicate things in the spaces between rocks, much the same way that tide pools trap small fish, snails, squid and pirates’s treasure. Especially after it rains.

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photography, San Miguel de Allende

Crazy, man! The Dia de los Locos returns to San Miguel de Allende — smaller but just as lively — and crazy as ever. See the photos!

It pays to walk the dog on a Sunday morning, even if you don’t feel like it.

Today, Moppit and I arrived at the Ancha around 8:30 a.m. to see a police car blocking the normally busy thoroughfare.

In the distance I could hear a familiar sound — the frentic beat of trance-dance music so beloved by killer clowns, life-size Disney characters and scarry looking mass-murderers (in costume only).

Yes! The popular Dias de los Locos Parade is back!

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