Monday, September 24, 2018

A Bret Cavanaugh Lesson?

Be careful not to take too much advantage of privileges not earned; race, gender, sexual orientation, class, intelligence, beauty or nationality. Acts of arrogance and lack of empathy towards lesser privileged may return like unpaid bills, with compounded interest. Claiming or persisting ignorance will not make the debt collector whole. They want a valuable piece of you.

This is one lesson from the Bret Cavanaugh battle for a seat on the United States Supreme Court.

Beware of changing times and reshuffling powers.

Your immunity can dissolve.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Arriving in New York City after a month driving

Now that I've arrived in New York City after a slow car trip from the Phoenix desert in late summer across the country the most reliably fulfilling aspect of eastward travel is exposure to hot, humid forests and plants peculiar to the regions. Other than Arizona and New Mexico, the vegetation has appeared similar, stitched together into a big whole, since a common beginning in eastern Oklahoma. The United States is divided in 2 regions with a line drawn from west Texas to North Dakota separating east and west. The East is much more similar than the West, more consistent throughout. The West has radically varied terrains and climates, all more or less distinct from the similar one all over the east.

This is not turning out to be an indoor trip. Perhaps i got that satisfied during 20 years living in New York City. First, its the plants, and second the older buildings in a chronological succession of mainly English-American confected styles, that are the biggest attraction for me. And of course the different flavors and cultural accents of people peculiar to different areas.

The old buildings and eastern urban or village infrastructures are what I would add to the West to improve it. Subtracting 60 million people would correspondingly improve the East. Overcrowding begins around Oklahoma City and intensifies to near bursting in the Northeast.

California and the West more awesome and dramatic but the East more beautiful in intricate feathers, subtle designs and heartening details.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Santa Fe is California version of Oaxaca

A mountain road not far from Taos, New Mexico in the New Mexico Rocky Mts. Part of an adventure in Santa Fe.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Alien in Burbank

Alien visitor to Burbank
Planet Burbank
Intergalactic flight
Salt Lake City
Mountain provinces
Coming from another planet
Visiting western colony
Los Angeles
Naked angels
with lipstick
Make happy
Press the city
Peel off for a good offer.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Guadalajara: Mayate Sunset

In gay Guadalajara vocabulary, a "mayate" is defined as a straight acting, masculine man who has relations with other men, but in exchange of money or another favor. His true sexual orientation is blurred, because his professional allure is his "straight" mystique. He is a "top," who penetrates, but is not penetrated.

Homosexuals hang out in gay plaza territory behind the iconic performing arts theatre in the crowded center of town. That's where I met Pedro (name change) on a bench. He was more interested in talking than listening and what he had to say was interesting. So I asked questions.

Illegal Immigrant

Over the last 22 years he commuted back and forth between his home in Guadalajara and a southern state in the USA four times, which I leave unnamed. His last residence in the USA was 8 years. He always worked in Mexican restaurants, for the same chain of over 30 statewide establishments. His employers contracted, and paid for, smuggling across the border, and safe transit to the destination each time. The last time he passed at Agua Prieta, Sonora to Douglas, Arizona. Other times he crossed from Nogales, Sonora to Nogales, Arizona. He was part of a group of 40 under the care of professional "coyotes." Coyotes specialize in smuggling illegals from Mexico to USA. My new friend said the cost for his employer was around $3,500 dollars.

Before reaching the immigration line, everyone in the group cleaned up and was provided with a forged document. Each group member would pass customs with a specific official who was part of the "team". The solicitant provides a verbal code to the agent to cue him. The bribed agent receives 100 dollars per person. 4000 total in this case. If the official is discovered, prosecuted, and sent to prison, there is another willing to cooperate.

Once across the border the group is taken to Phoenix, but has to pass through another immigration checkpoint along the highway. There too, an official is working as "double agent", for US Immigration and for smugglers. Vans of undocumented persons arrive at "safe houses" in Phoenix where they are kept indoors with curtains closed while awaiting the next, safer leg of the journey, to the South.

In the South my friend needs a car to get to work. Since he has no documents to present at the DMV to register his vehicle and buy license plates, he is guided to an agent his employer bribes directly or through a middleman, to issue them.

He works 11 hour shifts, 6 days a week for about 700 dollars a week as a cook. A little better than 10 dollars an hour. Comparable to minimum wage in the state he lives in. He is issued a fake Social Security number which he uses throughout the 22 years. I don't question the accounting practices of his employers, but obviously, they save enough money hiring undocumented workers, and paying smuggling costs, to make it financially attractive.

He lives with other undocumented immigrants in apartments he hooks up through work. In 22 years he never receives a moving violation that would expose his illegal status. Yet, he claims the local courts go soft on illegals who do, because the value of illegal labor to the business community makes it worthwhile to overlook a worker's status. The local police have an accommodating attitude.

He appears to be in his early 50's. Now that he's back, he's decided to remain home for good. His 5 children are adults and he's accumulated two houses during 22 years earning in the USA. His wife runs a business out of the house they share. One of his adult children lives in and caretakes the other. He's a grandfather.

He claims he's waiting for a injury in his leg to heal before he seeks lower paid restaurant work in Guadalajara. Meanwhile he's hard up financially, and asks me for 20 pesos, which I give him, before he leaves to catch his bus.

Ageing Mayate

The following night we meet again at the same bench. He's hanging out here a lot, apparently not spending much time with his wife at home, who he mentions he doesn't have "relations" with. I assume sexual. Tonight the conversation turns to Mayate business. He asks me if I'm gay and I say yes. As he guessed. He's open minded, but implies he's not gay. He spends a lot of time with the gays in the plaza.

He indirectly begins to market his sexual services to me by listing achievements, which sound possible but also improbable at his age. He's mostly european ancestry, maybe 30 percent native, and has a strong, masculine, euro shape body. It's not possible to judge whether his muscles are firm and stomach flat seeing him dressed.

He's proud to say he got 500 (25 dollars) or 1000 pesos one or two times, and must feel attractive and encouraged if it's true. 500 would be 2 or 3 times the going rate for a man under 35 hustling from a risky, low end street location like the plaza according to my source familiar with matter. As opposed to service over the internet with higher standards and ostensibly more assurance the client won't be harmed and robbed.

If I had to bet I'd say he's a latent homosexual, availing himself of the Mayate closet. Which moralizes, makes right, the act of homosexuality by the fact of getting paid for it. It's a job, and the moral imperative is to make your client satisfied. Collecting money or some other benefit hides or minimizes the shame of doing it because you want to and like to.

So if he is gay, he may have been suited to being away from the family. He sent money back for 22 years and must feel vindicated he did the popular thing by society's measure. He enjoys the social benefits. At the same time he's probably regretful he wasted the chance to fully endorse who he is. Not just with his dick, but with his intelligence. He calculated there was too much to lose. He said he's got some years of experience in the Mayate scene. So he's in the gay life in a hedged way. Able to pull out without having labeled himself gay when he needs to. Hopefully, he's enjoying the sunset of his desirability to other men, further out of the closet, who accept the foibles of role playing that are part of Mayate society.

He's got the family, his biggest investment, but acting in a false identity. By hiding from them who he really is. Which can't make it easy to be close. Which may be why he stayed away in the South and now spends his days at the Plaza.

It might become the case he will be financially dependent on his wife and children as he ages, so the pressure of the closet may only close in more. No Social Security payments in Mexico. And he paid into a false SS account in USA.

I have little zeal for the Mayate culture, so woven into Guadalajara culture. It belongs to a time gone by, of homosexual persecution, that is straining to survive with support from christian sects, catholicism and evangelical protestantism, but in all liklehood, dead. Let people drop the masks, and do their sexual business honestly. Whether or not money is involved.

Homosexual prejudice, in all it's manifestations, bids up the value of being straight and "straight acting" like white racism creates a market for skin whitening creams for Africans and other dark skinned people to make themselves look more desirable to themselves and others.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Social life in Puerto Vallarta

Staying on in Vallarta due to feeling codependent with a cheap, almost ideal hotel room, as well as the need to reinforce superficial social ties here for the future. I've been doubting my ability to get this room back at the same price in the future if I let it go. That worry is anxiety.

Went to sit under shady umbrellas with old gringo gay men, my peers, at the beach last 2 weekend afternoons. It's interesting the vetting one necessarily is subject to in order to become "part of the club". A club which no members seem to have long historical ties. Maybe two or three years. Sort of like hazing for a restrictive society, in this case by normal people for a gay country club if there was such a thing. So be it, as there is no other way. Feeling favored, or unfavored, in the conversation, are signs to be paid attention to if the goal is acceptance. And adjust my behavior accordingly.

I know some back stories about people in the club after a month of this, but more to be revealed.

There is a conflicting feeling on my part to go up to Phoenix for a change, or elsewhere.

Last Friday, I went out to coffee for the first time with a Mexican acquaintance over the last few years. I was struggling to relax, in the risk to know each other better we were taking, but glad for the opportunity. I know his back story, which he doesn't know I know. That's useful intelligence and strange when he shares about an "anonymous partner" ( who is not to me) he's separated from. The partner, an even less well known acquaintance of mine, also has no idea what I know about him. I was given hints by his disillusioned lover I could replace or at least supplement him!

i do miss enough contact with more developed and trusted members of my support system. Being the new  old gringo gay man, or the familiar outsider from years of occasional visits, has limits of consolation.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Scent of smoked ham south past Juarez way.

Sometimes living in the third world is like not cleaning your ass for a while, the funky odor nice as smoked ham until it starts to itch.

Definitely wouldnt pay 350k or 1 million dollars for an apartment in Puerto Vallarta. Unless I had 10 million plus. It seems a questionable idea after I leave my carefully scrubbed and bleached hideout (except for the occasional sewer gas) and get on a former US school bus, now operating as a municipal bus, I could have ridden as a boy in Oklahoma over 50 years ago. We passengers bang around like rocks in an old garbage can to the grocery store, due to stiff suspension and rustic paving stones, arriving sweaty and a little dazed, after just 3 miles. 

This is what first world xenophobes are worried about. That the USA and Europe are to evolve into unsafe and uncomfortable Johannesburgs on the Mississippi, Missouri and Rhine Rivers.

I am an optimist, so choose not to imagine bad outcomes; better to imagine how to avoid them and get busy helping the less well off out of poverty.

At this point, the USA might annex Mexico, if they agree. We get poorer in the north and they get richer down here. Our infrastructure deteriorates for a while as theirs improves as the two find balance. And then maybe the new border creates something better for all 500 million of us.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

2 Questions Answered for Shutterstock Blog about My Desert Photography

"Old Gas Pump in Desert" Available at

1. What's the story behind this photo and the desert where it was taken?

This desert is quiet and hot, extremely hot in the summer. Since there are so few people, and little vegetation, it’s a good place to sweat out the noise of the city and concentrate. Vast spaces extend in every direction and peaceful solitude guided this artist into a creative trance. I was overtaken by my own inspiration into a self-confident process. Here, no one is watching, approving or disapproving. Nature is your only mute companion. However, I did take care to watch out for and avoid rattlesnakes. This flat, salty landscape is along the Sea of Cortez in Northern Mexico. While roaming in my car I accidentally discovered it. It was an unplanned surprise that became a working retreat for a few hours. Nature and I bonded in a romance. I consider desert a modernist, introspective environment. It’s so simple; an incredibly flat plane with the bare minimum of natural decoration. 
Back home in the city, reviewing the results of this shoot and another in a favorite café, my emotions settled on nostalgia. I decided to add to the foreground an antique, weathered gas pump from the other adventure in a different part of the Sonora Desert, in Arizona. On that adventure I was driving up a rural dirt road far beyond the last suburb of Phoenix and suddenly saw an old abandoned gas station. Apparently, that forgotten road had once been the main one between two destinations.
2.   What tips would you give to other photographers who want to photograph in the desert? These tips can be anything you can think of, like how to find cool, out-of-the-way places or what to pack in your bag. What do you wish someone had told you before you started traveling to and photographing the desert?
Photography in the desert might be the easiest place for landscape photography. There are so many possibilities and so few people to interfere in your project. Basic practices apply, shoot away from sun, unless you’re going for a sunburst effect. Colors are juicier in the afternoon. I’ve found the best way to get emotional content I hope for in an image is to art direct it, that is, combine elements in the studio. Nature doesn’t always arrange the scene with objects in the best place relative to each other. An artist can do that. Find a background you like and simplify it in the studio if it needs it, the same goes for the foreground. Simple shape concepts have impact. As for equipment, the less the better for me, so I can focus on what inspires me. Accept your limits, financially and emotionally, and get started. There will always be a place for you if you can do that. The sooner you do, the closer you’ll be to finding and revealing the message inside you. And it will evolve.