San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Where you been, bro? It has been a year, yeah?

Sure sign that tourism is back — hot-air balloons dot the early morning sky in Colonia San Antonio, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

So here we are now at 6,200 feet enjoying incredibly mild weather yearlong, a severe drought and growing water shortage, unrestrained development, and a once-exuberant city that has almost withered away under the relentless grind of Covid restrictions. 

Signs of life are returning to San Miguel de Allende.

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Uncategorized

These are a few of my favorite things, Part II: Finishing off 2020 with dignity and grace

Electric Jesus.

Confinement. Isolation. Sequestration. Lock down. Quarantine.

Of all the words to describe this peculiar existence we are in today, I have the most trouble with “quarantine.” I simply can not recall this word when describing how we are living these days.

It is blocked from my memory. Unlike the actual quarantine which we live minute by minute in our homes.

Ah well, I’m not here to summarize 2020 — nor analyze. I can offer no grand insights, survival tip, recipes, bromides, earned wisdom, nor life lessons. It happened. It ran over us and didn’t even honk the horn or stomp on the brakes. There were no skid marks. We just took the full brunt of its force.

And here we are. Hello, 2021. Show us what you’ve got.

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

These are a few of my favorite things, Part I: Salvaging love and beauty from 2020

Well, thank god that’s over. The year, I mean. 2020.

I’ve had just about enough of it and I suspect you have too. Not that 2021 will start off so terribly different. Well, there is the regime change, an inauguration, and the eradication of four years of shitty people running the country.

It will take time, lots of vaccinations, still more wine than we should be consuming, and a Democratic majority in Congress — up to you, Georgia.

Was 2020 really all that bad? Yes. Yes, it was.

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Starry and bright: All is quiet on Christmas Eve in San Miguel de Allende

Merry Christmas from beautiful San Miguel de Allende, a city that is no more beautiful than on Christmas Eve.

The city has been decorated for weeks but we waited until this evening to walk through historic Centro. A perfect night for it — the temperature dropped suddenly, the wind picked up slightly, and there were ever so few people out and about.

This is just a brisk tour through the center of this magical city. I took some photos while Rose handed out tangerines and caps that she’d knitted to a few people. Moppit just sniffed the curbs and wondered why we kept stopping to take in the beauty of it all.

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Rants and raves, Writings

Tongs for the memories

It is clear to me that the single greatest invention of our civilization has been the wooden toast tongs.

Since the time of Medieval toasters, this device has safely extracted piping hot slabs of bread. Perhaps even earlier, if certain Egyptian hieroglyphics are to be interpreted correctly.

Suspected fact: Leonardo da Vinci may have invented the wooden toast tongs before there were electric toasters, once again anticipating the needs and aspirations of future generations.

Toast tongs made it possible for countless writers and poets through time to sit at their humble desks and create, undistracted by the burning sensation on their fingertips that a tong-less household brings.

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

Fiction: Hell hath no fury like a seminarian scorned — this is war

Recently I was asked to read a selection of my writing at the Prose Cafe in San Miguel de Allende.

In better times, Prose Cafe is a gathering of writers and others (mostly other writers, I think) in the beautiful Belles Artes. Three or four writers would each read something and take questions. I always found the cafe sessions inspirational. I imagined myself — some day, not right away — being just like them, having something of worth to share with other writers.

These days, Prose Cafe and its sister gathering, Poetry Cafe, are ZOOM affairs. They are both the offspring of the San Miguel Literary Sala whose wonderful Writers Conference is currently underway — on ZOOM, of course.

I shared the ZOOM space on Thursday, Dec. 3 with two accomplished authors, Molly Giles and Fredrika Sprengle. Both have published works — award-winning books, short stories. I have nearly four decades of newspaper clippings. A good mix, as it turned out. We all leaven our prose (and pain?) with humor.

What follows is the story that I read. As I told the ZOOM audience, this is a work of fiction, except for the parts that are true. (You figure it out).

It is one of a number of short stories in the file marked “Seminary Life” that may yet grow into a full-sized novel.

Declaring war on … well, everybody

It was the beginning of the end — the end of my days as a Catholic seminarian. It came the moment I picked up that heavy metal bucket full of dirty water and heaved it out the third floor window. Sending a loud and long string of curses cascading after it.

Two things occurred to me in the moment.

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

Soon to be on Netflix, ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ brings back some violent memories

Chadwick Boseman is Levee in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” It was his last performance as an actor before passing away in August.

Netflix begins streaming  “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” on December 18. The August Wilson play has enjoyed an excellent life on Broadway and beyond. And for good reason. It is a powerful creation. 

I think that in the Denzel Washington-produced movie we will see what a treasure and tragic loss was the death of Chadwick Boseman in August. This was his last performance.

This most recent news from Netflix sends me back nearly to the creation of the play, in 1982.

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

San Miguel Prose Café Presents: Fredrika Sprengle, Robert Hawkins, and Molly Giles

You read that right.

That’s me, bookended by two actual accomplished and brilliant authors at San Miguel de Allende’s monthly Prose Café. It is happening this Thursday, Dec. 3, 5-6 p.m. Central.

On Zoom. Not only is this free but no pants are necessary. You only need register right here in advance.

Fredrika, Molly and I will each read something from our own creations and then entertain, oh my, whatever it is that Zoom events generate. Questions? Observations? Static? (That last one’s my personal nightmare. Not theirs.)

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San Miguel de Allende

Four days: A gallery is created, an obscure corner of San Miguel is transformed

May I start by saying that photographing San Miguel de Allende’s new Urban Art Gallery in a highway underpass is best not done during Friday morning rush-hour traffic.

I mean, really, at how many art galleries can you say you take your life into your hands stepping out in front of a picture, trying to take a decent photograph?

Nevertheless, that is when I got there and that is when these photos were taken.

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San Miguel de Allende

Urban Art Gallery takes shape in a San Miguel highway underpass

The artist Eduardo (right) gained the help of Kansineede Graef, an artist from the Netherlands who heard about the Urban Art Gallery and volunteered.
Merle Herrera has made stunning progress in a day as her image comes to life. ————————————————————————–

It is Day Three of San Miguel de Allende’s first-ever Urban Art Gallery and the creations of our 10 street artists show an incredible variety of tastes, styles, techniques, and mediums.

What was mere sketchy outlines on Monday, became splashes and dashes of color here and there on Tuesday and by 5 p.m. today, their full-blown visions were apparent in all their glory.

And this once graffiti-splattered underpass of the Libramente will never be the same.

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