Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

The Log for May 18: Magic mushrooms, John Malkovich, a Pulitzer Prize podcast, a crossword blitz, and fresh-baked cookies

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Pulitzer Podcast:  Last week, the radio program/podcast “This American Life” won a Pulitzer Prize. It is the first-ever awarded to a radio program. The honored program, called “The Out Crowd” is steeped on original reporting, boots on the ground, at the U.S. Mexican border. It first aired in November 2019 and is rebroadcast now with critical updates.

Most dispiriting update of all — the atrocities first reported here are largely going on unchanged and unchecked. Continue reading

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Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Grateful on this cool, preternaturally calm Sunday morning, I ask myself, isn’t this just enough, for now?

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All photographs taken on walks around San Miguel de Allende, the Magic City.

Lurking in the dark corner of the far left tabs

on my computer, for two weeks now,

Concerto for flute, no. 1 in G-Major, K. 313 (1778)

By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and performed

By the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

I imagine that Mozart and the ISO have

Survived so much. An Iceland orchestra must Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

The Log: April 24 — Stories help us understand, Alicia Keys helps us heal

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FREE ANNOTATION AND HOT LINKS:

#1. GREAT ESCAPE: The plan was for me to get up early and walk Moppit so Rose could take an online yoga class before the sun turned up the heat.

The internet was down.

Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende

Road-trip: Feel the Bernal

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Peña de Bernal sticks out like a sore thumb. That’s part of the pleasure in photographing the monolith. From almost any vantage point you can take an awfully good photo. On the day we were there, the sky was mostly hazy overcast, great for photos and hiking.

Walking up the well-worn switchback trail of Peña de Bernal I had the oddest feeling that I’d been here before.

I hadn’t, of course. Which is why we were hiking this trail on Friday.

And yet … Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende

Dancing for the lives of all women

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Just before 4 p.m. on a brilliant and blazing Sunday afternoon in San Miguel de Allende the sound of a boombox rose above the usual bustle and cacophony of the Jardin Principal.

As if on cue, the several venders with their bright balloons and bouncing pencils were swept away like neon flotsam and jetsam on the shore.

A lone, tall, leggy blonde in jeans and a black top stepped to center stage and began to dance. She got the attention of the milling crowd. A second woman, all in black, bounded into the open space and the two danced as one. (Full disclosure: Woman No. 2 was my wife, Rose Alcantara.) Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende

Road trip: Taking a deep dive into the thermal waters of Gruta Tolantongo

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The Tolantongo River, close to its headwaters at the top of the canyon which shares its name.

From deep within the Hidalgo Mountains, voluminous thermal rivers rise up to the surface above the Tolantongo box canyon. The warm waters cascade down the canyon sides and pour through vents into the grottos and caves.

The canyon walls are dotted with about 40 manmade semicircular pools called chapoteaderos into which are collected the warm waters rushing down the hillside. Water overflows from the upper pools and cascades into the lower pools. All the pools are connected by stairways.

No matter how many pools are built to trap the water, it is never enough. Water finds its way around the pools, over them, under them, into spontaneous rivulets and streams. The sensation is of being surrounded by the roar and rumble of rushing water.

In every sense, this is a totally immersive experience. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Shadowboxing and other enchanting things that catch the eye in San Miguel de Allende

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It is no revelation that San Miguel de Allende is awash in beauty. A photographer’s playground, a selfie’s sandbox, a dilettante’s garden of earthly delights.

Like shooting into a herd of buffalo. Aim your camera in any direction and you will hit the mark, as often as not.

How many people arrive in San Miguel and launch into the uber project — snapping photos of every attractive doorway, every brass knocker, with the objective of creating the perfect coffeetable book?

I did. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende

Up against the wall, Mojigangas!

IMG_0318What’s a mojiganga, you might ask.

They are giant paper mache and fabric figures mounted on the shoulders of a person who twirls, whirls, bows, and bobs and weaves and dances the puppet to life. They can tower as high as 18 feet and still dazzle you with the lightness of their feet.

A really good mojiganga puppeteer will bring their character to life with a spry step, whirling arms, and surprising dance moves. Yes, the person inside the suit becomes the character. Continue reading

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Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Sending a photo through artsy filters unearths emotions missed in the original — but is it art?

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This is what you get when you step out your front door around 7 a.m. in San Miguel de Allende. Not every day but when it happens you whisper a little prayer of thanks to the photography gods. (Then curse the limitations of your sad and old iPhone.) But taking the photo is just the beginning of what you can do.

I am not a photographer. I am a guy with a used iPhone who takes pictures.

I emphasize “used” because the newest phones seem to be veering awfully close to mimicking the abilities of a decent camera.

Mine is not in that class.

Even if I had a new phone with the latest camera technology, or even if I owned a halfway decent camera, I would never call myself a photographer. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Sam Donaldson agrees: The ‘warm-up band’ (Alison Wright) stole the show

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Photographer Alison Wright and ABC newsman Sam Donaldson share a moment after delivering their talks in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, on Feb.29.

While globe-trotting photographer Alison Wright billed herself as “the warm-up band for Sam Donaldson” and begged the audience not to boo her off stage with shouts of “Sam! Sam! Sam!,” the retired ABC newsman had a whole other take on the evening.

Wright and Donaldson were co-headliners before a packed Literary Society house in the HRM Ballroom in San Miguel de Allende on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

When Donaldson stood up to speak, he was clearly awed by the sometimes harrowing tales and stunning photographs presented by Wright, a featured National Geographic photographer.

“I’ve always believed that you don’t follow dogs or children onstage,” intoned Donaldson, “to which I’ll add, ‘Don’t follow Alison Wright!’ “ Continue reading

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