FIL Photo Extravaganza ·  Page 6

Some of the (other) virtues of a book-crazed town


SOL invades the
Feria Internacional del Libro XVI    ▬    The 2002 Guadalajara Book Fair
Nov 30 - Dec 8, 2002

Flaco, in an out-of-court settlement
that netted him nearly a dozen ice-
cold cheves, drops a bitter copyright infringement lawsuit 
Flaco and his peso-pinching missus stayed in a downtown hotel where ten days set them back what a night or two in a hotel near the Expo center would have cost.  The inn had no bellhop, but there was a freakishly enormous green grasshopper in the bathroom who stayed with the happy couple free of charge.  And the joint's genius of a desk guy, Mauricio Romero, brilliant scholarship student at a local university, was never at a loss for thoughtful suggestions about what to do, where to go, how to get there, whom to read, and all of that.  

Riusmodestly leaving out his acknowledged influence on Subcomandante Marcosat 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, and to 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
 had read about.  Cases in point, two among many: Martín Vera and his wife Lorena Torres, activist librarians from Mexico City, graduates of UNAM's library school, who caught a westbound bus out for the final weekend of the FIL.  She works in a philanthropy library helping NGOs find and obtain funding.  He's the librarian of the Reproductive Choice Information Group (GIRE), working with groundbreaking feminist and anthropologist Marta Lamas; the group's low-priced publications make it a true, and indeed very daring, alternative health information resource for women in Mexico and throughout the Spanish-speaking world.  Both Lorena and Martín are founding members of the  Mexican Circle of Studies on Political and Social Librarianship and they are earnestly working together with such stalwarts as Felipe Meneses Tello to change the course of library history, in a country that has a lot of library history..

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 iswhen 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 hostusing some of the fruits of that historic, Disneyesque SOL copyright infringement settlementoffers a toast to your good health and the long life of the FIL, and he hopes to see you there someday soon.

◄ Previous