Friday, July 11, 2008

A New Time for Mexico

A street vendor competes with an international ice cream chain for business...

Although many United States citizens bemoan having to "press one for English," and trumpet the risks that our country is becoming Mexican-ized, I believe the opposite is true: Latinos in general and Mexicans in particular are influenced by gringo culture at a far greater pace. Mexicans are more likely to listen to U.S. rock and roll music than gringos are to listen to rancheras. Mexicans are more likely to wear T-shirts with English logos and insipid catch phrases than gringos are to don campesino clothing, mariachi pants or hats the size of hot tubs. Although that would be cool.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Taxco, pronounced "Tasco" and previously spelled the way it is actually pronounced, is a quaint, steep, traffic-choked and exhaust-fumed previous colonial silver mining city. It is literally butted against the sides of mountains a few hours southwest of Mexico City wherein the guardrails along the highway into town are mostly crosses and shrines indicated by skid marks over the high side.

History has it, depending on who you ask, that toward the end of the revolution (my guess it was the first-of-a-series of popular Mexican revoultions), the Spanish blew up the mines to keep them (the mines) from falling into the hands of the revolutionaries wherein the cash and American Express receipts would be squandered on, you know, "the people" rather than on yet more elaborate Catholic cathedrals. The silver market of exquisite jewelry and sculpture is now geared toward the Mexican and Gringo tourist trade. Mexicans who live in Mexico City will look for any reason to bolt for a few days.

Anyway, the silver trade is still one of the most important elements of the Taxco economy. That and hustling cardboard "handmade-by-my-family" placemats and brightly-colored Chinese finger handcuffs (only God know why) around the Zocalo, or central plaza.

Following are some photographs snapped around the little sidewalk-challenged -- meaning there are none -- city of 55,000 souls, where all the streets are as vertical as a steeply-pitched roof. Many are hip shots of locals, taken along the streets, sidewalks and around the zocalo while my wife researched the many joyerias (jewelry stores, I'm told), & the William Spratling ranch in Taxco Anjego ("old Taxco"). Spratling's designs, gringo industry and gringo capitalism in the early 20th century helped establish the current Mexican silver market. Like most artstes, Spratling's efforts command more capital today, following his death in a 1960's traffic accident (which suprisingly, there aren't more of).

If you've gotten this far and are not yet bored to tears, re-start the slide show to begin at the beginning of a bunch of snaps. Seriously, it shouldn't take long to wade through them.