Wild Bill Drucker, Rosendale, New York
This weekend, between discovering that the taxi that was supposed to pick us up and take us to our house in the hills got the wrong date, and discovering when we finally got there that the water wasn’t working and there was a decaying cat on our doorstep, we got to wait a while in the bus station car park. This is not the most fascinating place to get stranded, but on this occasion we were wonderfully entertained for half an hour by local entertainer Wild Bill Drucker who just happened to be there picking away on his five-string banjo. In a deserted car park this was eerily perfect. If you ever want to make a feature film of the Rosendale bus stop car park, this is definitely the guy for the soundtrack.
Union Square Market, New York
Union Square Market has been an enormous success ever since it began in a small way back in 1976, although in those days the market was tiny and the square was yet another needle park. We moved our office down there in 1983, and the area slowly went from “Designers could afford it” to become “Silicon Alley” as it was known in the Nineties. By 2008, with the influx of venture capitalist supported hi-tech businesses we could no longer afford the rents and reluctantly, after 25 years, moved uptown. Nevertheless, I usually sail down there when I can, today for some fresh Long-Island clams, although, not being Welsh, I passed on the leeks.
Zabar’s cold cuts counter, New York
Back in the Big Apple and straight to Zabar’s for all that junk that Nooyawkas like us dream about when they are in Mexico. I have previously posted about how crowded our Polleria is on Insurgentes in San Miguel. This is about as bad but fifty times larger and with attitude. Particularly like now, at Passover, when everyone fights to get in line to stock up on stuff to dive into when ritual fasting is over. Zabar’s is one of New York’s great institutions and happily is only a ten-minute walk from our Upper West Side apartment. The guy in the middle here has ruled over the Pastrami ever since I can remember and has probably served knishes to more movie stars than you have had cold-cut lunches.
Saint with chicken, San MIguel, Easter
Easter in Mexico involves a lot of moving life-size religious figures from one place to another as if there weren’t already enough everywhere in the first place. Here, a pickup truck involved in such logistics broke down in the center of town leaving a dejected-looking saint seemingly in the process of blessing the local traffic cones – accompanied by a deranged-looking chicken apparrently in the process of trying to get the hell out of there as fast as it can.
Judas figures awaiting explosion, San Miguel de Allende
Most Mexicans never seem to miss an opportunity for celebratory explosions. Each Easter Sunday in San Miguel, while New Yorkers are listening to sentimental Easter Parade music and strolling down Fifth Avenue wearing funny hats, San Miguelenses are busy exploding papier maché puppets. These figures, some surprisingly reminiscent of Norte Americano Presidents, are spun with rockets around their belts before having their heads blown off. In a desperate attempt to rationalize this behavior, the locals have somehow linked the event to the Judas story of the Crucifixion.
Viernes de Dolores shrine on Mesones, San Miguel de Allende
Here in Mexico, Holy Week, Semana Santa, begins on the last Friday of Lent with Viernes de Dolores, the Friday of Sorrows, referring to the seven sorrows of Mary. In the evening, many roads are closed and wonderful shrines appear, some in the middle of the street, featuring an image of the Virgin among a mass of flowers, fruit, candles, and particularly chamomile which is strewn over the ground. Most interesting are those that are created in the entradas or courtyards of the most grand to the most humble of houses. In each case, the owner offers drinks or food to all who visit. Here on Mesones, a children’s choir also sang in a side gallery to this patio.
Viernes de Dolores shrine, Relox, San Miguel de Allende
In addition to the grander examples of Viernes de Dolores shrines, many homeowners create simpler offerings in the entrances to their houses or in their street windows as here, outside the door of our friend Marina on Relox. The large yellow ice chest is full of popsicles on offer to all visitors.
Emiliano Zapata in gold paint, San MIguel
The great thing about living in the center of a town like San Miguel, is you don’t have to go far for entertainment. This evening, as I often do, I opened our front door to spend a while talking to whoever was passing or just seeing what was going on. This young couple, Apolline and Venmar, drove up and parked opposite our house and in the next half-hour, behind their car, Venmar proceeded to transform himself with some gold makeup into a very shiny version of Emiliano Zapata. He performs here in the Jardin, just five minutes away, which makes our street a convenient dressing room.
The Banda Nueva Ilusion outside the Oratorio, San MIguel
These gentlemen, the Banda Nueva Ilusion, are real enough, and are making up in enthusiasm for what they lack in musical expertise. They have been blasting away in the forecourt to the Templo del Oratorio all day to the delight or otherwise of the churchgoers. It is next to impossible to keep up with all the various Saint’s days here, but no doubt they are performing in honor of one religous festival or another. I am left with the impression that heaven is going to be a noisy place.
In front of the Parroquia, San Miguel
The current toy of choice for the kids who play in front of the Parroquia are these bouncy pencil thingies. When held vertically and bounced hard on the ground they shoot up thirty or forty feet and then float all over the place as they come back to land. In the background, apart from San Miguel’s landmark church, evidence of the increasing obesity in Mexico.