I call our recent trip there a “psychogeographical tour,” a type of wandering focused on capturing the historical psychic atmospheres found in unaccustomed places and especially foreign cities.
In this post I’m sharing the flavor of the impressions I came away with– by posting select images from an exhibition my wife and I are having at a Java Joes, a popular café here in Santa Fe. It’s up all of November.
The pieces start off as photos—- but through the editing process and mutli-media approach to treating them– they become a medium for channeling the residue history and culture have left behind.
Basically it’s all about the “vibes” one finds in leaving the usual tourist haunts whether the
Labyrinth streets of Cairo…
A ferry to the Asian side of Istanbul….
Or wandering nighttime streets of CDMX…
It’s all the same. You wander like a psychic sponge soaking up that certain something a place emits.
It’s subjective for sure. But never imagined by those who inhabit the place. As a visitor I’m free to free-associate and let the magic guide my impressions.
ON THE WAY TO TEPITO
The infamous Tepito neighborhood grows from the outer edges of the Centro Historico area anchored by the Zocalo—the huge plaza at the center.
Tepito’s known for all things counterfeit, contraband and illicit. And…”I coulda been a contenda,” even some prizefighters.
It’s something of a no-go zone for Gringos and most Mexicans alike.
One night we wander the blocks and blocks of streets housing manufacturing and warehouses.
It’s just us. And our tail—a dark figure that follows us from street to street.
Finally after the shot above we turn around and stare him down.
He slinks into the shadows of a side street as we head back towards the Zocalo where the Aztec dancers drum, clang bells and chant in some plea for a forever -return of golden gods and a Feathered Serpent.
PLAZA GARABALDI AND A FOLKSY PIMP
(Rain on the plaza)
Another night I find myself once again on the outskirts of Tepito—this time on the other side flanking the Alameda area where Plaza Garibaldi lies.
It’s famous for the music. Every night mariachi bands compete for the favor of the patrons in the pulgue and mescal joints lining the square.
Normally it’s pretty tranquil if a little rough on the edges. But about 2 months ago five people were dispatched here in a turf war between gangs when assassins on scooters carried out the deadly deed.
I grab a seat on a banco under some trees. And as soon as I lit my Spirit and began taking in the sights….
A 40ish looking man with a shaved head and hipster sunglasses like you’d see at a rave– came ambling my way. He was trailed by a man about the same age with a long face, crazy googly eyes and a laugh like a braying donkey.
I just sit. Nothing to be alarmed about. I’ll talk to just about anyone anyway.
The Folksy Pimp adopts the universal pose—a slightly hunched tilt to his body and open arms like he’s trapping game on the Savannah and a big friendly smile—that says, “I want something from you.”
“Polanco?” he says.
Meaning: the Beverly Hills area of Mexico City. Funny I would never have associated the travel-worn cotton sport coat I wore –with that area.
“No,” I say. And he immediately switches to English as most street hustlers worthy of the name can do.
We shot the shit about things. He was good at pacing the conversation. He didn’t come across as hungry or desperate. Finally in a low, guttural, conspiratorial voice he says,
“You want something freaky?”
He put special emphasis on the “eeeee” at the end. He sure knew how to make taboo-breaking sound tempting while dangerous at the same time.
“No not tonight. Gracias,” I answer. Then add;
“Hey take care.”
The Folky Pimp shifts his weight to one side and cocks his head to the sky…like he’s listening to some message from the heavens—and says:
“Take care. I like that.” Before disappearing into the sea of the plaza.
ROMA—MEXICO CITY’S EAST VILLAGE
(detail from a Roma building)
Since we stay in Colonia Condessa next door, we find ourselves crisscrossing Colonia Roma all the time. It resembles the East Village 20 years ago.
Its Mercado and the old time shops and manufacturing this working class neighborhood once depended on—contend with the kinds of things you see folks creating in Brooklyn and Portland.
It’s ripe for graffiti and tagging—we weren’t disappointed. Besides my attraction to street art I document because it can disappear under a rival’s work or a city’s paint crew.
It was here we searched for the building where Beat William Burroughs had a performance go wrong and ended up shooting and killing his wife. The building itself disappears into the background.
But a half block away was Luz Divina, a beautifully realized portrait of the kind of thing that’s always made Mexico City a popular place for Surrealists.
When someone mentions “the pyramids “ in Mexico City they mean Teotihuacan, la Ciudad de los Dioses…the old pre-Aztec digs about an hour out of the city.
(Psilocybin Pyramid–Pyramid of the Sun)
We climbed the Pyramid of the Sun there– the subject of the image above and below. It’s the 3rd largest pyramid in the world after Giza and one in Southern Mexico. And it’s a sight.
And what can say about a pyramid. Viewing these large structures brings out something primal, something that exists at DNA level as far as I’m concerned.
(Pyramid of the Sun–photo/mixed media)
So I let my imagination carry the day. Somehow that feels like the Mexican thing to do.
The images you see here are all available. Printed on good paper they retail between $35 and $50 each –post paid. Contact me for details at:
Given our news cycle this is “ancient” history but I was waiting to see if anyone would delve into the ideas Ye (Kanye) presented in the Oval Office a couple of weeks ago.
Unlike most in the media, when I live-streamed the meeting on Periscope, I saw a man in the midst of a creative fire ( a Kundalini experience?) who used Persuasion strategies—including the unforgettable “theater” …something great Persuasion often demands…to outline a series of proposals with a visionary flavor to them.
Of course our puny pundits– so good at stirring the pot but so bad at knowing what’s in it—displayed their usual lack of understanding.
Mesmerized by the “theater” and the on-going attempts of a man to free himself of the prison of the mind—all they could do was dismiss everything Ye said.
His statement about Time not existing? Well Einstein said the same thing with “Time is a persistent illusion.” And don’t self-realized Masters include the idea as a tenet in their teachings?
And who doesn’t want “fly” planes and cars or Stop & Frisk re-considered?
But the thing that hit me was Ye talking about the Yeezy Ideation Center.
When I heard that….I had a vision of…SNEAKERS and…
A girl in Kazakhstan with SO Side Kicks from Chicago….
A Tunisian boy in the Belleville area of Paris with Blues—sneakers with an indigo cast –from St Louis…
And our son’s friend…researcher during the day…online curator of collectible sneaker designs at night–selling a pair of Hops—with their red-rust soles—out of Milwaukee –to a collector in Japan.
The brands are hypothetical but the potential to make them isn’t.
I can see Ye’s Ideation center established in cities throughout the Midwest with teachers and students working in an immersive environment –bringing sneaker designs to the table—developed in their own communities. It seems like a natural product growing from the communities hosting the creative hubs.
My feeling is they wouldn’t have a hard time selling them– as anything associated with “urban” culture here in the US is enjoying some great momentum here and among youth cultures throughout the world. The movies Get Out and Black Panther are great examples.
The timing for getting a sneaker production ecosystem going in the Midwest couldn’t be better.
This week The Economist in an article entitled The Producers says this about manufacturing in the Midwest:
“ Industrial output is on a tear, and the last few months have seen the best run for growth in manufacturing jobs since the late 1990s.”
They also say, “Jobs are moving geographically. Since the recovery started, the East North Central region, which includes places like Michigan and Illinois has captured a share of employment gains that exceeds its share of job losses during the recession.”
The magazine contrasts this with the East Coast, which has seen none of the gains in this sense.
Chicago Lake Michigan
With this kind of wind at Ye’s back and his Yeezy brand opening up an office in Chicago –it seems like a perfect time and perfect product to look at producing in an Ideation hub.
The sneaker project’s economies of scale could be positively impacted if Ye would use his persuasive powers on Adidas.
Right now Adidas has a Speed Factory in the Atlanta area. Its AI-driven processes, 3D printing and skilled robotics operators means …design to product…and shipping takes weeks instead of months and only several hundreds workers versus the thousands needed in an Asian factory.
Ye understand the process since his own designs go through it. What if he spoke to Adidas about doing a second Speed Factory in the Midwest?
It could handle both over-runs and special projects for Adidas. It can also manufacture the sneakers developed in Ye’s Ideation hubs. As Jobs said, “Real artists ship.”
All the elements seem to be there. And when you add Ye’s association with the products coming out of the hubs…you’ve got all you need to see the sneakers blow up around the world. If they’re branded in conjunction with Ye I don’t see how they can miss.
Speaking about Brand …and it’s importance in marketing, it’s worth discussing what Ye brings to the table in this area because of the potential he has for doing any number of things….
Including running for President in 2024.
I know what you’re thinking…I’ve lost my mind. But as the last Presidential election proved…we’re in a new era of politics.
Spending the most money doesn’t guarantee you win.
The game has changed. And Ye has two of the most critical things politicians of the future will have to have in order to make a serious run at the highest offices:
Ye has a huge Brand. And he has a huge Social Media presence.
These are currencies with the most clout in today’s political landscape. If he continues to hone his skills in the Art of Persuasion he could be the person to beat if he chooses to run. If the general economic climate holds I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ye throw his hat in the ring. America should be ready to up its visionary prospects for the future by that time.
If Enthusiasts can stop circling the wagons and if researchers can punch a hole in the Ivory Tower we could enter a Golden Age of Exploration when it comes to our ancient relationship with cannabis.
That’s the feeling I got after attending a recent presentation here at Santa Fe’s Temple Beth Shalom by Israeli expert Dr. Nirit Bernstein – one of Israel’s top researchers into cannabis as medicine— the Israeli focus on the plant.
Under the state’s auspices she’s out to prove cannabis can be used as what we typically label “medicine”….a substance that gives predictable results.
Cleverly entitled 50 Shades of Green, Dr. Bernstein was knowledgeable but also warm and engaging. As a speaker she paced her audience and stuck to the spine of her story: Israel’s concentration on cannabis as medicine.
The underlying theme unfolded as she spoke. Basically we have a plant that’s been a part of human life for 10,000 years— as number of ancient burial sites attest – yet science is only beginning to understand how it’s various properties act.
THC for instance was only discovered (by an Israeli researcher) in 1961. And although the plant has hundreds of elements, only relative handfuls have been studied from the standpoint of scientific research— because it’s been Scheduled for so long.
And as Dr. Bernstein said since we’re talking about medicine –a whole different dynamic is at play in the study of cannabis. The number one consideration from this vantage point is: Standardization.
This means protocols have to be followed that others investigating cannabis are not bound by.
It was a stark take-away from the talk when compared to our Wild West approach here in North America—where the distinction between “medicinal products” and what we typically call “medicine” tends to get blurred with the influence of the recreational component.
She called the Folk Medicine derived tinctures of yesterday and today, tablets and balms etc. “Medicinal Products.” She didn’t put down all the testimonials we hear from people who have successfully treated medical conditions. She just drew a line between her strategies and our approach.
Because of our particular history Enthusiasts here–Amateurs in the original sense of the word—spearhead most of the research with strains, cultivation methods and propagation because unlike Israel –which began five years ago –official support for cannabis research has lagged behind.
Is one approach better than the other? Who can say? When you travel the world you come to accept that different cultures and countries have their own way of doing things.
In Cairo for instance, though it’s officially illegal…it’s all around you.
Israel is also concerned with the sane kinds of things regarding cultivation and usage but with a different set of parameters.
I think each side can learn from the other. For instance Dr. Bernstein comes to cannabis with an expertise we normally don’t see or hear about: Soil and Water.
She shared some of her insights. As in the case of growing inside…versus outside.
She seems to favor inside growing because it offers more of the kind of standardization you have to have with medicines–that’s its essence. The thrust of Israel’s work is finding benchmarks—stable indicators of the kind of actions to expect from cannabis as a medicine.
Inside plants tend to be manicured —the whole plant gets light— the buds from top to bottom have a consistent composition of cannabis elements. A definite plus if you’re growing it to use as medicine.
By contrast outdoor plants have an uneven distribution of light. The buds at the top have full potency whereas the lower ones—who receive less light— show a much greater difference in their composition.
And when it come to adding things to the soil for growth and pest control she pointed out that some substances can actually cause a REDUCTION in CBD and other elements we might want to see.
That’s why I liked her emphasis on using Botanicals in this regard. This is Israel’s preferred method of treating soil for their cannabis. It’s less likely to interfere with the plant’s production of beneficial products.
I don’t know much about Botanicals but it sure sounds more “pure” and “organic.” Definitely something cultivators could be looking at.
All in all with so many now getting access to cannabis and the means and methods to discover it’s properties in a deeper manner—whether gonzo bio-hacking and experimentation or research in the lab– it’s looking like cannabis is at the forefront of what the late/great Terrence McKenna called The Archaic Revival.
(Indigenous Warrior- Mexico. Museo Nacional De Anthropologia)
If the accusations, resignations and incidents of the last couple of years have taught us anything it’s that
The biological imperative we arise from— guarantees we Homo sapiens view everything with a male or female gaze.
Hell. We label everything from rock formations and cloud patterns to cars and cannabis as male or female. It’s an integral part of our relationship with the world. We can’t escape it. It’s built into our genes.
That’s why I found a recent article entitled It’s About Time To Talk About RobotStereotypes by Matt Simon on Wired magazine’s website so surprising.
As a long time subscriber I’ve watched it sacrifice its outlaw steampunk attitude and climb on board the corporate Silicon Valley train. Now it’s all social engineering and virtue signaling.
I recommend looking at his posts in my feed and on his Facebook page to get a feeling of where we’re heading in these areas. It’s clear from what I can see that even the care-giving robots are being designed with a serious nod to gender.
Studies indicate that using features we see as male, female, and animal on the robots –awakens more interaction and attachment on the part of the humans interacting with them.
You can’t “sell” the robot to Homo sapiens without gender. It’s the best entry point for getting humans on board with our Robot future selves.
Take a robot security guard for instance. Who’s going to be more effective at their job–the tall robot with broad shoulders, a deep voice and a mean glare or a doe-eyed, soft-voice robot with a demure manner and stature?
The need and drive for gender in robots is most clearly seen in the evolving sex bot industry built on the legacy history of the sex doll which they can’t ignore if they want to be successful. Can you imagine intimate relations with a sex bot without gender? The robot designers can’t.
And neither can David Levy the author of Love + Sex With Robots — one of the seminal books on the subject.
Reading it, I’m convinced as the author suggests, that by mid-century intimate relations between fem/male sex bots and humans will be commonplace in our society because the robot makers are following Best Practices in this regard.
And those are based on…. The Orgasm. The drive for sexual pleasure will make the sex bots irresistible to many humans as the various gender-related signs of attraction and affection become more realistic…more…human.
It’s as primal as that. The urge to imprint gender on our robots is inescapable. How do you overturn a legacy with a million years behind it—over night?
The biological meme that divides us into sexes acts something like a shape-shifter—carrying its design strategies even into the non-human robot.
Gender is our entry point into life and wherever life takes us. And the more pronounced the gender differences and more fine-tuned they become –the more successful will robot designers be in getting humans on board with them.
Ironically I can see our current society’s attempts to blur the differences between the sexes triggering an equally pronounced drive to create hyper representations of idealized male and female attributes in …our robots. Fantasies become embodied in the robot.
Will the robots replace the sexual relations we now (hopefully) enjoy with other humans? Maybe for some.
But for the majority intimate relations with sex bots will be more a way of adding a different sexual experience to our lives than replacing human contact.
Who knows…some of the traits and attributes we find desirable in our robots may even begin to surface again in our human-to-human relationships.
We can only imagine what Freud or Reich might have to say about the matter.