Some of the (other) virtues of a book-crazed town
SOL invades the
Rius—modestly leaving out his acknowledged influence on Subcomandante Marcos—at this year's FIL expressed some dismay that his near half-century of cartooning and hundred-and-some books haven't worked any apparent political changes in Mexico. He conceded, though, that he's triggered an explosion of natural food stores, whole wheat bakeries, and vegetarian restaurants throughout the nation. Certainly Flaco and his hungrily eating-for-two media naranja Hajime did their part to promote this sector of the economy by haunting the three vegetarian diners clustered between downtown and the University, where the both of them could eat their fill for a total of three dollars. In the same neighborhood, conveniently enough, are lots of used bookstores and thirty-cents-for-fifteen-minutes Internet access shops.
It was a pleasure to hook up in Guadalajara with some wonderful people who for
years had been names on envelopes and in the email inbox,
see them suddenly expand into three delightful dimensions. While I knew
they were real, physical beings, in truth they were no more tangible to me than
their good ideas and kind deeds that I
Martín and Lorena with Cuba's national
Library Director Eliades Acosta
At the Hospicio Cabañas, where José Clemente Orozco painted the wall and ceiling frescoes that make it the Sistene Chapel of the Western Hemisphere (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, kids) your lazy buddy Flaco demonstrates, at right, the only appropriate posture for getting an eyeful of the master's work there. Orozco's presence in the capital city of his native Jalisco is gigantic and thunderous, with truly monumental paintings in important public buildings of the historic downtown. Orozco's thoughts on the mural are powerful, principled ideas we can all learn from, and we can find inspiration in the example of this prolific worker who stayed true to his ideals and labored like mad despite cruel physical limitations, leaving a body of work that by its nature was intended to be shared. Salma Hayek will never play him in a movie, but Orozco left us plenty to look at and think about.
The traditional founding date of Guadalajara is—when else?—Valentine's Day, 1542. Is there another city like la perla tapatía? If so, I''d love for you to show it to me. Its downtown core crossed with spacious plazas and long pedestrian streets, the old city is a sea of strollers: lovers wrapped in each other's arms, bunches of schoolkids, families with mothers and fathers carrying babies, desolate Marías with a hand out hoping for some coins for to buy food, vendors toting impossible quantities of cotton candy, clothing, cold drinks, and five-inch-thick wedges of flan. It's a city that seems designed to bring people together. Even without a FIL going on, Guadalajara has plenty to teach us. But the book fair makes it even better. Your humilde and huesudo host—using some of the fruits of that historic, Disneyesque SOL copyright infringement settlement—offers a toast to your good health and the long life of the FIL, and he hopes to see you there someday soon.