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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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

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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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

Little escapes: Seventeen San Miguel experiences you can enjoy while sitting on your couch

Since the beginning of the Covid sequestration, I’ve been taking the occasional walkabout here in San Miguel de Allende. I’ve even taken some that were inspired by my beloved city but strictly products of the mind.

Honestly, we’re all kind of feeling like we are at the “break out” point.

I hope this will help.

Below is a selection of the walks — real and fantasy — that I’ve enjoyed over the past few months.

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Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, The Log, Writings

The Log for June 2: Binging on depressing podcasts, ‘Space Force,’ and my own House Hunters Int. drinking game. And your day?

IMG_1832LOOK UP IN THE AIR! IT’S CLUELESS MAN!: Took Moppit for her morning walk and I must say, there are far, far, more people with masks on than without. Are morning people more considerate of their own health and that of others?

I wouldn’t know since I usually take the evening walk but yesterday a woman was mugged two blocks over and I immediately went into Superman mode.

“I’ll walk Moppit in the morning,” I said. “It isn’t safe out there. You can go running if you like. You can outrun most anybody that would mug you. Can’t do it with a little dog on a leash.” Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende, The Log, Writings

The Log for June 1: How did that happen? June already. Can we get a do-over on May?

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So, today was officially “Meatless Monday.”  You should be so lucky.

Rose made a delicious Moroccan carrot soup and a spinach salad with nuts, cranberries, egg and so much more goodness in it. I forgot what meat is. But the highlight was her homemade dinner rolls. I think I had three and a half, so I need not waste time explaining how good they were.

They were. See for yourself:

The rest of the day was taken up with a continuous series of non-starts. Nothing to write home about. Or in a blog.

WANTED – PIED PIPER: Two rats playing in the patio drain this morning. This I know because the screams from downstairs told me so. Imagine doing yoga when the soothing tones of your online guru are over-ridden by an incessant “Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!”

They were big — horror movie big — and shy. They ran down into the covered drain when I tried to photograph them. The grill on the drain kept them from getting into the yard.

I think.

I hope.

I dunno.

SUPERWOMAN: The late-blooming highlight of the day was listening to several videos of anti-racism activists and educator Jane Elliott. She is fierce. She is clear. She is plain-spoken. She speaks in absolutes, no ambiguity about her.

You will love it.

Do a search for “Jane Elliott” on YouTube and listen. You will be glad that you did.

Then spread the gospel of Jane Elliott. She just might save us all.

(The first of a three-part interview is above.)

SPACE BALLS: If you want a break from how badly everything sucks at the moment, I recommend “Space Force” on Netflix with Steve Carrell and John Malkovich.

It is more than a laugh-out-loud poke at one of Trump’s stupidest and most expensive ideas ever. It is just a funny, funny, series with well-envisioned characters and relationships that grow and blossom right in front of your eyes. Smart writing. Ten episodes that get stronger, the deeper into it you dive.

KNOCK KNOCK: And because you both have been so good to read this far, I give you some San Miguel doors. One thing we have here is lots and lots of very interesting doors, many deliberately so. Some not so deliberately.

Ever wonder what is behind them?

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

J.K. Rowling wrote here, and here, and here, and over there … but apparently not here

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Yes, this may look like something you thought you saw in a Harry Potter movie but author J.K. Rowling says, “No way.” It is the interior of the Lello & Irmão bookstore in Porto, Portugal, which has its own Harry Potter Room in which Rowling neither wrote nor slept while creating the popular series.

By my unofficial and completely speculative count, J.K. Rowling launched the “Harry Potter” series in upwards from 234 bistros, flats, castles, coffee shops, libraries, phone booths, buses, trains, caves, back alleys, and pawn shops spread over 27 countries and a few former colonies.

I swear, for example, that she got the original idea while living in a flat just above mine in a funky old apartment building in Point Loma, a once-funky waterfront corner of San Diego, California. Continue reading

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