To those assuming our current whereabouts are San Miguel de Allende, that noble concept lasted a mere twenty hours. After leaving San Francisco 11pm on our five hour AeroMexico flight to Mexico City, we boarded a Primera Plus bus 6:45am that next morning onto San Miguel de Allende — adding an aggravating two hour transfer in Queretaro; total travel time, including the suggested three hour arrival before any international flight at SFO — fifteen exhausting hours.
Our San Miguel de Allende AIRBNB rental looked exactly the way it appeared online, what one would never in a million years know was its location, rather lack of; no paved roads within acres over wild-hilly terrain.
Paco, our taxi driver picked us up at San Miguel’s Central Bus Station, tailing Helio, the AIRBNB owner on his motorbike. Paco braved the ditches and rocks driving his sedan with worn-out shocks, agreeing this rental wasn’t for gringos. Minutes later we drove around town searching for another space. Regrettably, San Miguel de Allende has that distinct pretentious vibe of Pacific Heights, the Upper East Side, and Bel Air; all three thrown in a blender containing 17th century Baroque/Neoclassical Mexican colonial architecture — hasta luego citified congestion, alongside plunging forty degree temperatures.
Jeanette, LouLou and I could hardly wait until the next 8:00am bus back to Mexico City that following morning for a 4:30pm flight onto greener pastures. I’d be outright lying telling anyone it’s easy getting anywhere within this country; Mexico City Airport is the exclusive hub to fly, domestic or international. Traveling by bus is often the only alternative to get from one destination elsewhere; buses can be quicker than lengthy layovers waiting for flights. Paco led us to a relatively modern hotel offering double rooms for seven hundred pesos, $35 USD, watched 60 Minutes and passed out.
Three weeks ago in the Yucatán, I caught a Mexican news clip reporting police cars, along with emergency vehicles, flashing rotating red and blue strobes on Manhattan’s 23rd Street near 6th Avenue. 23rd Street and me go back thirty-eight years. This breaking news occurred oddly a block from the Chelsea Hotel, nine blocks west of my lair away from home at Waterside Plaza. Strange because New York City’s historic Chelsea Hotel was for decades a sanctuary for imagination, where artists lived, destroying themselves if they so chose, yet managed to alter the way society thought and interacted by what those geniuses wrote, sang, played, painted, sculpted or portrayed on film. Allen Ginsberg, Dennis Hopper, Jimi Hendrix, Jackson Pollack, all former Chelsea Hotel guests would rustle in their graves or crematory urns understanding x amount of years later, countless shitheads are so hateful they find blowing others apart (occasionally themselves) is somehow productive to terrorism’s cockamamie cause — this incident took place on 23rd Street’s hallowed turf.
Landing in Puerto Escondido Monday felt relaxed; we usually arrive by Aeromar’s prop from Mexico City, this hop wasn’t as turbulent, taking less time on a VivaAerobus jet. Puerto Escondido’s runway is basic; no Delta, Charlie 4, 7 business here. The tarmac could actually use a new layer of cement, although jagged tar patches seem to suffice perfectly fine. Frequently I’ll make mental comparisons when traveling; turned about face, stared at Puerto Escondido’s terminal on our way to fetch a taxi, noted the equivalent, size-wise, of two, maybe three suburban banks with combined parking lots — light years from MEX, JFK, LAX and SFO’s chaos.
Walking around New York City the week before last, I gagged smelling stink spewing from halal carts that have suddenly sprouted up on way too many corners. First off, Mexico’s food carts aren’t equipped with red and green LED light displays; at most, theirs are fluorescent placards, handwritten in Spanish describing that vendor’s specialty: tacos, tlayudas, embarradas, quesadillas, huaraches, tamales, empanadas, tortas, sopes — moles, local herbs and spices simmer beside salsa wafting, for my money welcoming aromas.
Most who’ve hung out in San Francisco know about La Taqueria on Mission Street between 24th and 25th; pity they don’t make’em the same anymore. I suppose it was impossible to hold quality serving such volume these days, bombarded by famished Jack Dorsey wannabes.
Ubering south on Valencia Street any Friday evening expect sidewalk bistro build-outs to butt against the bike lane, customers crammed like a 70’s cartoon poster illustrating urban insanity. Little do these MIT, Stanford graduates care to remember another culture existed before them. Kids who made history on those very streets, not only in music and fashion, but also obliterated any residual hippie mentality, while too, paved a path free of the bourgeoisie. We conquered — playing dress-up, clubbing from one punk rock gig to another. A spirited mosh pit swayed, pogoing with Flipper, Germs, The Offs, Ramones, Dead Boys, Avengers, slowly matured hearing The Cramps, Alan Vega and The Sisters of Mercy. Perhaps Lady Gaga’s present Dive Bar Tour will soon park its bus outside The Chapel on Valencia Street, reminding youth a mosh pit is an intimate form of social media.
I’ve eavesdropped on debates whether techies are too insensitive, caught up designing vapid apps that will for instance locate an available parking meter; all the while, Bay Area Millennials flourish amongst tented homeless encampments, whose squatters desecrate blocks strewn with trash, hypodermic needles, decayed food atop human feces, under urine stained concrete.
Driverless cars, wafer thin notepads or upcoming highly defective exploding smartphones hold no interest whatsoever for this art enthusiast; whereas rough poetry, a Stratocaster set upon fire and impeccably splattered canvases unequivocally reach the core of my being — perhaps in that manner Frank Sinatra affected girls playing hooky, drooling seeing Ol’ Blue Eyes perform at the Paramount Theatre on Broadway, 1942.
If hackers and coders are today’s avant-garde, I favor being traditional. I would’ve lunged for one night inside Warhol’s warm ‘n’ fuzzy silvery factory; The Velvet Underground live as background noise, clinking glasses with Mick lounging on Bette and Liza’s laps, over three bloody dull lunches seated alongside Google’s Sergey, possibly Larry — or across Apple’s Tim Cook, even eye to eye with King Zuckerberg at Facebook.
Los Angeles will forever remain a different tune. LA must stay in keeping up with airs, their Skid Row is compact, like a Hollywood set, although that despair is quite real. Movies, television — superfly, extra-large; Entertainment Tonight, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, TMZ, alongside next month’s blockbuster, all within the confines of 13 million traffic jam citizens.
Whoever buys into this cold press juice theory in Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco, should open that naughty purveyor’s cupboard below the stainless steel counter with glistening dispenser and investigate their five gallon collapsible plastic container, shipped in from God knows what processing facility. This morning at Puerto Escondido’s Mercado Benito Juarez, Jeanette and I ordered two fresh squeezed 32 ounce beet, carrot and ginger juices, while LouLou preferred her orange juice straight, our grand total — 95 pesos, $5 USD. Apparently the fruit and vegetable margin is still wide enough to benefit from drinking fresh squeezed juice in Mexico; no telling how long it’ll last; profit does motivate, shouldn’t be any exception here.
Whether Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco foreign money continues their Monopoly game upon The United States of America, some’s prey. I’d wager gold, rubies, diamonds, emeralds and sapphires, between 2016-2025, key resort areas throughout Mexico will get snatched up, be developed, then appear rebranded by foreign investors; similar to the Honolulu-Miami state of affairs — taking candy from a baby. More than ever, Chinese, Saudi Arabian and Russian investors hide 10, 30, some cases $50 million on ultra-posh properties across our undermined nation; these units often sit vacant, without a stick of furniture. As one of my New York patrons pointed out last week, “and contribute nothing to our local economy; the people who have everything to gain are the real estate developers.”
Three of famiglia di Schiavo’s top non-work related Americana moments experienced last month stateside: relishing an afternoon jazz quartet in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park as amber leaves danced, eventually resting aground — Mitchell’s pumpkin ice cream (a San Francisco original one-off) wasn’t necessarily to die for, but did taste heavenly — Los Angeles, I can happily relay has our favorite suite; this recently remodeled hotel has one stupendous swimmer’s pool. If I could only…. fly those four jazz musicians out to LA, along with their upright bass, sax, trumpet and drum kit from Washington Square Park — special order a pint of Mitchell’s seasonal pumpkin ice cream — swim laps for forty-five minutes — afterward request some Getz, Bird, plus Miles poolside, gorging on autumn’s frozen delight.
I have a very deceased friend I consider my brother; Sandy exited tragically, not heeding his beloved Buddhist Be Here Now teachings. Some brass rings seem nearly impossible to attain and maintain, which is precisely why early this evening I’ll be content with a bowl of Oaxacan hot chocolate on the Rinconada.
Writing can be ironic; upon completing this epistle I had a cerebral double-take recalling Sandy’s San Francisco cafe, aptly named — Simple Pleasures.