Like the Gang Starr song, get it… I’ll see myself out.
Made it home.
A long ass delay and an Air Canada announcement that informed a sold-out plane of passengers cursing around the carousel that they’d purposely left our bags at Juarez later- and I’m back for blood.
Time to get to work.
It’s nice to be back home and see the kiddies, but I think that I prefer it out there if I am being totally honest. For the reasons that I had mentioned in my last post: the busyness, the chaos, the sounds and smells and the people. I love my people out here, but the average person, I dunno man… I just think that I could get on better out there, you know, if I learned better Spanish and had more to offer in the way of ‘transferable skills’.
That said I am totally in the knowledge of having just been on holiday. That crucial factoid I didn’t have anywhere to be at any specific time. The little work that I’d accomplished was of my own volition, on my passion, which draws me no ducats necessary for daily consumption or economic prosperity (Obviously, I wasn’t working any day/night/side/folding-money-earning jobs, just some writing).
Things are different if you move to your holiday-place, I know this for a fact. All the things that were unique and had previously swelled a sense of charm and genuine affection in you, fade away. The clandestine qualities of journeying blocks by the dozens and finding unprecedented and unknowable gems, are lassoed and have their ankles bound. That character that you cut on the road: affable, outgoing, charming and exploratory eventually fades to the real you. Maybe that is just you. I don’t think that travel-me is the real-me, not with responsibilities shackled like mule trailers for survival and long-stemmed ambitions that need slaking.
That’s not to slag on my city. I love the rain. I love its comfort and security. I love my friends and family. I love midnight strolls to the grocery store with headphones on playing classical music. I love aspects of the culture and that the gym isn’t a ratchet-ass rat maze of broken equipment and misplaced weights. I love that all my stuff is where I left it, in my place, that I still haven’t decorated but am comfortably seated in, at this moment, at a millionth-hand desk with a coffee and a dart writing to you, and you, and you, and you, and you…
What I don’t love, well, that could be a blog all it’s own. And, I don’t want to harp on a place that so many people get jazzed about when I say that I live there; who would kill to trade places and adopt the style of lives we lead. Me no like bitching about shit that ain’t broked. I’m grateful to live the life that I do, care and be cared about the people that are around me, be employed where I am, have access to clean water and cheap healthy food, not have to hire a car after dark, et fucking cetera.
That said, Mexico City! Just some things I I had noticed. It was my second time there, and in my life, I have spent about a month in various corners of the city.
In continuation from my last joint, I mentioned that CDMX can be a little… unpredictable. You might also say unpredictably violent. You might also say predictably violent and geographically forbidding.
A favourite past time of the locals is to tell you how scary and terrifying and unsafe it is, especially at night, especially at night. This also extends to the country at large. As a courtesy, they make sure to say what has happened to themselves or their loved ones in the city.
It made me wonder if I only ever talk to victims. If everyone is or has been at one time or another. It seemed that way. Should I suss me out a person who commits crime and try to get their take, see if it’s more complicated than attacker-attackee? Then I dispelled that thought as stupid and realize that I haven’t nodded to acknowledge the frozen rope of dialogue from the person telling me how wretched the nights are a block from where I’m standing. Tepito, by the way.
I get it. We lead a soft, doughy life in comparison up here in Canada. Even though they often say “but you’re a big guy, you can fight you’re way out;” I feel like my mitts would be ineffective against the barrel of a gun.
I feel as though, that secure existence we have is based on many things, but one of which is our lack of extremes, even by Vancouver’s lofty level of socioeconomic dichotomy. I went to an area called Polanco for the first time. Jesus. It’s the ritz, Champs Elysees-like. I’ve met someone from that part of the city who won’t leave that part of the city; I’ve been to the centre more times in the past ten years. That’s crazy. It just made me think that you can’t have that extreme wealth, with Aston Marton dealers and glass-faced Gucci shops, without that dirty poor that’ll shiv you for a half-nickel. This isn’t a Mexican thing, we’ve got it, and there are far more cities in the world with this dynamic than without. Maybe every single one, to various extents. Put it this way, we have rich douche bags in Canada but they got nothing on the douchery of the rich cats down there.
The people take enjoyment while describing their city as a melting pot. Which is true: it is, a veritable hodgepodge. However, the ‘look’ of the citizenry does change as one travels through boroughs (and big time throughout country). Speaking strictly on the city, in spite of the reality that most Chilangos are proud of this blend of cultures and races, there is a clear demarcation and difference between the people in the Polanco, Condessa and Roma Norte areas than there are less affluent areas. Check out work by Telles & Lim, Bailey and Guimaraes about Brazil’s colour ideology and racial hierarchy if you want to know what I am talking about. I did a lot of projects and papers about Brazil’s racial ideology or racial whitening, but it applies here, as well. I won’t go into it, but if you’re interested, check out the papers from these people. It’s ain’t no small thing.
I tend to meet people who are in the same economic category as me back home, though probably better because of the lower wages and high rents in the city. It’s interesting how little this middle-class think of our mutual neighbour. While many of the poorer folk want to go and work to send money home, give their children a safer (arguable in some cases) place to be raised, avoid some of the bullshit they deal with on the daily; the middle-class has a real ‘fuck that’ attitude. Years of being looked down on, demonized, not-to-mention all that ‘wall-talk’ really dissuades a motherfucker from wanting to emigrate, in many cases laterally or downwards. Life can be good and great, comfortable and highly prosperous in Mexico. There persists often an old-school club-mentality, where hard work may still not enough. But don’t look me in the goddamn eyes and tell me it don’t here (holla). According to one friend, a not-so-quiet revolution (louder on the gender side) has risen and is taking place. Old guards, you know, they have prickly digits.
That said, another friend mentioned that the people can’t shake this kind of subservient attitude. A collective self-image. It’s in the language (It’s hard to explain but many turns of phrase are servility-based, residuals from the Spanish occupation, I was told), it’s in the affectation of high-powered machismo, it’s within the folds of an inferiority complex that restricts how a lot of locals perceive the place. I see this beautiful mixed architecture with new and old juxtaposed sublimely, the blending of many cultural influences and some very innovative and beautiful pieces of art that I envy for my city. Many of them see something that’s not as good as what we have in the north, just because it can’t be, and point the faults behind it.
And that’s a big one: mad people allow themselves and their country to be evaluated based on criteria that is not of their own creation but someone else’s. On my first trip a cat had told me that CDMX, and Mexico in general, was the median -the intersection- between North and South America. That’s a lot of influence to juggle. How can they be judged by an apple when they themselves are oranges? Not that the oranges don’t want apple-like existences (safety, largely), they should, but the trees are different. It will take time to replant; but, good news is, Ol’ Johnny and Janey Appleseeds are out there sewing kernels. It just takes time.
The intersection, that is the truest description of the city I can think of. Since there are so(oooooooo) many people, there is an eclectic approach to personal style that rivals any city that I’ve been to. It reminds on of the DTES in Vancouver before the money came and cats fled. It’s like MTL on a way bigger scale. It’s cool and there are a lot of differing subcultures with tantamount experimentation.
Rapid fire round…
You have to ask for no sugar. Azucar is not an additive but the star of most things that you buy on the street ( fruit, coffee, everything). Salt too, close second.
The market out there would be the black market out here. The black market out there is holy fuck. You can get knock-offs in the market. You can get guns and babies and people whacked in the black market.
Sushi has cheese. Philadelphia cream cheese is in damn near every roll. It ain’t uncommon to have it served with manchego melted on top, too. Also, regular ol’ boring ol’ soy sauce ain’t enough: sweet, lime and chili soy sauce comes with it.
People kept calling me Canelo, like the boxer. We look nothing alike but both have red hair. I actually don’t know if we look alike, I’ve had a beard too long and don’t know what I look like underneath.
I overheard a couple of Yanks talking about the air quality and how they were cheesed that there seemed to be few people arguing for recycling and restrictions on automobiles. (I don’t know the size of the anti-pollution community, but I’m sure it exists) Much like the early part of the 20th century, the focus is suffrage-like. Not the right to vote, but the right to not fuck your boss to get a promotion, to not be scared to get an taxi, to not be one of the 6 out of 10 women who have been sexually assaulted, and not be kidnapped, raped and set alight with no police investigation beyond a customary pocket-tapping close to where it happened. Pollution is a killer, but the objective of the people is to change the day-to-day, black cloud following your every movement, daily killers. The heinous and noticeable ones; the violent misogyny and the oftentimes sub-second class treatment of the women.
On that topic, it’s a very Maslowian style of social narrative. The world will die, but many women die sooner and feel unsafe about life everyday. There were protests and affichage everywhere. It didn’t have the #metoo feel, it had an us against the world feel.
Protests were everywhere, farmers, southerners, factory workers, homeless… The energy was palpable and the police presence was immense.
I wish I had a quinceanera, they seem like fun.
Much like I felt in Tokyo, expats and live-in crackers pretend like they don’t see you, like you shouldn’t be there, like they are the only white motherfuckers in this sacred hamlet.
I never wore shorts once.
The tattoo tradition is vastly different. Ain’t nothing wrong with it out here, but as George Costanza said, you can’t disturb the delicate geniuses. It’s so laid back there. If you got loot, they got you. The customer service is mega warm and most cats ain’t got no ego or sense of entitlement. I like it better: safe, clean, professional and swift as all-hell.
Not going to miss going into any transport or fast-break spot first thing in the morning and the cats are listening to techno at full-screech. ‘Easy-listening’. To be fair, most wouldn’t want to hear me blast Freddie Gibbs or Griselda or Ghostface at that hour either.
Thanks for your time. That is my take and I’ll be going back. Rivers and feet and never twice the same or something. Good to be back and Becoming Buddha will be coming out when I say so (looking for a publicist, so once that’s done, gimme 3-4 months for a proper launch, the shit is tizight).
Sorry for cussin,