San Miguel de Allende

At first brush: San Miguel’s open-air Urban Art Gallery is many strokes of creative genius

The south wall of the Urban Art Gallery at the El Puente underpass in San Miguel de Allende on Tuesday morning as the artists were just arriving to resume painting their murals.

If you are going to open up an art gallery these days, you may as well do it outside, right?

That is exactly what San Miguel de Allende’s Direction de Cultura Tradiciones is doing right now. 

The city has invited 10 well-known street artists to put up their best work on the expansive concrete walls of the Libramente underpass called El Puente, located just south of Hospital H+.

The artists began yesterday, Nov. 24, and will paint through Thursday. Each artist has been provided with a 2-meter-by-4-meter space within which to work.

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

That time when ‘everything looked better in black and white’

Remember when your friends were nominating you to do stuff on Facebook that you wouldn’t dream of ever doing on your own?

Things like, “post the album covers of the seven LPs that changed your life.” And, “post the covers of 10 books that made you who you are today.” And, oh, whatever.

I can’t recall because I just don’t do that sort of thing.

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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.

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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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