Can English-language Fishwrap Make a Comeback in Mexico?

The Mexico City News, back until the late 80s, was a good newspaper with original coverage. There was a Sunday section, Vistas, which I think Sally Sue Hulse edited, featuring regular columns, some good, some drek, from various parts of Mexico. Morelia’s section, the responsibility of the late Montgomery Budd was as much a social page as it was informative, and in those days when I lived back in Iowa, it was pretty exciting to have my picture run along with the local gossip. Even the travails of Ted Wick in Taxco and Bert Krause in Cuernavaca were more sophisticated than some of the stuff which passes for news in the Guadalajara Colony Reporter and Atencion San Miguel. Pete Hammil was editor-in-chief for a short period of time. By the time The News died, it was yesterday’s news.

The mid-1980s delivered a fantastic small magazine called something like Mexico Today, which, if memory serves me correctly, Michael Zamba edited. That magazine didn’t make it to the two-year mark.

In the 1950’s, Anita Brenner published Mexico/This Month, which fit well within the context of the times.

The News bit the dust four or five years ago, and the Miami Herald joint ventured with El Universal to publish a English-language daily which didn’t live up to the reputation of the glory days of The News. And it gave up the ghost a few months ago.

Reputable sources have The News making a comeback. Read more at The low-rent correspondent, who cites former Herald writer Kelly Arthur Garrett’s blog, Mexcalplan.

Today, the Internet makes access to other news sources easy, even if paid access is required. 75% original content should be the minimum. Let’s hope the new venture uses the Buenos Aires Herald as an example. Until then, I’m relying upon Ron Mader’s list of Mexican news sources at Planeta.com.

French Seams

All I wanted was a kick pleat inserted into a dress, a Geoffrey Beane dating back to the days when the label meant something, days long before Grey Flannel. But I needed a dressmaker who knew the difference between a French seam and a silk seam.

Down the street, well actually a few streets, and off into the adjoining neighborhood of Vista Bella an old house, an expansive property on Rey Tariacuri just beyond Farmacia Guadalajara, was transforming itself into a new business. The first clue was that it might harbor an interior design firm, the likes of which might be found in cities more sophisticated than Morelia. As the window dressing went in, we pondered that it might be a high-end clothing store, the likes of which still can’t be found in Morelia. Bare and ancient mannequins stood over Chanel, Ferragamo, Prada, Carolina Herrera, and other labels, a swatch of fabric here and there, an appealing approach for a clothing store. My breath quickened as I entered, wondering about the merchandise and hoping the store would have an alterations department.

Only dreams were for sale there. The new place is Innardi, the first institution, or so it billed itself, granting a licenciatura (equivalent to a U.S.-level bachelor’s degree, only a tad better) in fashion design, promoting the Mexican textile industry. Feeling like a rube who’d walked into New York’s famed Fashion Institute of Technology, I asked the receptionist for a referral to a dressmaker who knew French seams, peeling back the sleeve of my Eileen Fisher perfect white shirt. She understood. And as she checked her Rolodex, I browsed the school’s curriculum, which also appears on its website. This school is serious business, and a semester’s tuition is $35,000 M.N. (just a shade under $3,500 U.S.D.) a semester.

Saturated with Sushi

Have you ever been confronted with a platter of sushi and the only familiar ingredient was the rice? And the menu’s Japanese translation to English read like a lab science manual? It’s  easy to feel like a novice at a sushi bar, where there always is another diner holding court over the finer distinctions between fish roes, salmon skin, and eel innards. As much as I like sushi, I don’t want to risk anyone slipping shrimp or fish liver onto my plate, but at the same time I hate to appear ever so ignorant. And there’s the matter of pretending that you already had kanimiso for lunch or you know the difference between futomaki and onigiri.

sushi Sushi has taken over Mexico like a storm. It first hit Morelia about fifteen years ago, when Mikono opened its doors. The hometown sushi café, which even delivers on motos, has eight branches in its own town, and ones in San Angel, D.F., and Moroleon, Guanajuato. For $42,400 USD ($480,300 M.N.), you can open your own franchise.

Walmart and its gourmet spawn Superama always have it, ready to go. So too do Costco and Sam’s Club.

In Morelia, all social gatherings of any consequence will have some kind of sushi. But there’s one hitch: Mexican sushi seems to always claim queso Filadelfia as an essential ingredient.

And not only Mexico has been consumed by sushi fever. Trevor Carlson’s new book “The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, From Samurai to Supermaket” and Sasha Issenberg’s “The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy” were both reviewed in The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

A growing shortage of bluefin tuna in Japan has sushi chefs recalling the times when they had no choice but to substitute venison or horsemeat and experiments with smoked duck with mayonnaise. I hope they never find out about queso Filadelfia.

 

 

The Danger of Inbreeding

Australian television’s Big Brother show claimed its Friday Night Live episode was “designed as a tribute to Mexico and its vibrant cultural heritage.” But its treatment of Mexican culture was enough to have Mexico’s Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (Secretary of Foreign Relations) firing off a protest letter to the program and the Australian government. The Australian clowns who threw garbage-filled balloons at the Mexican flag not only were confused about the order in which the colors of the flag were supposed to appear, but also seemed to think that this country’s cuisine is chili con carne, served up in a cactus-dotted landscape.

See the film at The low-rent correspondent.

What do you expect from a country which claims toe jam as its national food? If the Aussies intended this as a tribute, just how far do they go when they’re out to offend?

Dancing in Arocutin

Light years from New York City but only an hour’s drive from the bright lights of Morelia is Arocutin, a sleepy little burg along the shores of Lake Patzcuaro, where the leading business is the German-run Campestre Aleman, a trout restaurant and farm. The locals who haven’t left town still maintain old traditions during the town fiesta. Credit for this movie belongs to Brian Fey, the renaissance guy from nearby Erongaricuaro.

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Starbucked in Morelia

1475: The first coffee shop opens in Constantinople.

1654: The first coffee shop opens in Italy.

1822: The prototype of the first espresso machine is created in France.

1937: Salvador López Martínez started toasting and grinding coffee in Morelia.

1938: Nescafé instant coffee is invented.

2007. The first Starbucks opens in Morelia. It’s also the first in Michoacán.

More than 80 Starbucks dot the landscape of Mexico City. Almost 20 do business in Guadalajara, and seven in Puebla. And all within the last five years. 

Starbucks image It’s not as if Morelianos had been doing without fine coffee up until now. For the past seventy years, Café Europa has been doing a land office business in the bean, and it’s still the leader in this town’s café society. In addition to the Cafe europa mother house on Bartolomé de las Casas No. 97, fourteen branches do a brisk business. In 1994, Lilian’s Coffees (“Where coffee roasting is an art”) set up shop in Morelia and now has franchises in every state in Mexico. Puebla-based The Italian Coffee Company added Morelia a few years back to its stable of more than three hundred Mexican franchises.

Will yet another coffee shop make it in Morelia? I think the answer is a resounding yes. I know I’ll go to the new Starbucks to see and to be seen, to pick up some coffee accouterments, and for a good iced tea.

Mohammed Comes to Mexico

Two blogs and a mailing list brought news this morning of Islam’s inroads to Mexico. But the story is already stale, having been written more than two years ago in Spiegel Online. As you would expect, there’s already an established Islamic community in the D.F.

Mohammed may be likely to be the most popular name for boys born in Britain this year, but Mexico’s got a long way to go before it gives way to the standard bearers of Juan, Jesus and Josè.

True Confessions of a Trash-Tale Junkie

I am a true crime addict, unrepentantly so, and it’s all Truman Capote’s fault for writing that “nonfiction novel” In Cold Blood back in 1965, about a Kansas farm family’s murder by two ex-cons. Before long, Anatomy of a Murder, a criminal defense lawyer’s true story of a bartender’s 1951 murder in Big Bay, Michigan, came into my hands, and I was on my way to ruin, descent and Helter Skelter.

“Filthy trash,” snorted my high school English teacher. My explanation that true crime was the perfect education for a would-be lawyer fell upon deaf ears. Little did she realize, I’m sure, that In Cold Blood would be hailed as a literary triumph in years to come or that Robert Traver was the pen name of a future Michigan State Supreme Court Justice. Never once in two decades of trial practice have I ever put Milton’s lessons to work, but I have put some of the tricks learned in true crime stories to good use.

True crime stories date all the way back to Cain and Abel, predating Court TV and the national fascination with O.J. Simpson, the Menendez brothers, and JonBenet Ramsey. What Capote made literary, Dominick Dunne made classy in his monthly Vanity Fair reportage of crimes of the rich and famous.

The usual triumph of good over evil in these modern morality tales bodes even more for practicing lawyers. Packaged neatly within the covers of a good true crime story is a bird’s-eye view of the dramatis personae–the victim, the perp, the police, and the lawyers and everyone around them–as real people leading ordinary lives. Where else can a reader learn about how law enforcement operates, what the average beat cop thinks of lawyers, how other lawyers deal with lovable clients as well as those from hell, all wrapped in shards and snippets of local color? And, if you’re lucky, the story will be laced with real-life trial techniques that can be fodder for real cases. Far more effective and interesting it is to hear Vincent Bugliosi describe a conversational style of cross-examination as he defends an uncooperative, disbelieving client charged with murder on Palmyra in And the Sea Will Tell, than to pore over the rules in the sterile case analysis.

Some true crime stories are little more than a quick pastiche of news articles, tabloids for those with an attention span, tossed together to meet a publisher’s race to the bookrack. As a general rule, those written by lawyers involved in the case make for poor reading, often written in gloating vindication. The genre’s got its all-star authors, who surprisingly give each saga its unique twist. Jerry Bledsoe, Ann Rule, Ken Englade, Darcy O’Brien, Aphrodite Jones and the Steven Naifeh and Gregory Smith lawyer duo all come from disparate backgrounds, but each brings that certain fly-on-the-wall approach that’s guaranteed to leave the reader with at least one new practice tip.

Believe me, crediting true crime stories with making better lawyers is definitely not the counterpart to claims of reading Playboy only for the interviews. Sure, there’s an element of voyeurism, just as many of us truthfully can’t take our eyes off a gruesome car accident or the cover of the National Enquirer. The rest of the story lies far beyond the uniformly boring volumes of a trial transcript. Where else can you get an evening’s continuing legal education for the paltry sum of $5.95, provided you’re willing to endure those funny looks and sneers?

[Previously published by the American Bar Association General Practice, Solo and Small Division in SOLO at http://www.abanet.org/genpractice/solo/1999/fall/rose.html]

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Mainstream Medical Care in Mexico

The Mexican dental empire comes into view the moment Americans step off the footbridge that leads from downtown El Paso to Ciudad Juarez. The first building they see is a squat dental office with tinted windows. Once they hit downtown’s Juarez Avenue, they find taxi drivers hustling fares for trips to the dentist — “Don’t worry. Clean. You’ll like them.” — along with the usual pitches for prostitutes, cocaine and discount cowboy boots.

brand The Washington Post accompanied its article “Discount Dentistry, South of the Border” with a shot of an American dental tourist flirting with Dr. Simi, the chubby dancing mascot of Farmacias Similares, a discount chain of pharmacies selling “close but not exactly generic” drugs to Mexico’s poor. The wildly successful brainchild of Victor González, this business serves a niche market, and it does it well, offering up $25 M.N. ($2.50 USD) consultations with a physician, bargain-basement laboratory tests and cheap pharmaceuticals. In fact, so well that some foreigners mistake it for the real thing. One would-be expat, who didn’t last long in Mexico, insisted that any physician charging more — as much as the $500 M.N. a well-qualified dermatologist asked — was committing highway robbery.

Don’t these folks realize that there are well-qualified dentists all over Mexico who don’t need to pick up patients in a van from a hotel advertising special rates for dental patients, who don’t need to advertise, and who aren’t even in neighborhoods selling cocaine, the service of sex workers and discount cowboy boots? And located in border towns as well as the rest of the republic?

And why didn’t the Washington Post photograph that tourist front of a branch of Farmacia Benavides, the largest drug store chain in the country?

Apatzingan in a Different Light

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Los Angeles Times staff writer Sam Enriquez’ plans to interview Apatzingan‘s chief of police were dashed when the lawman threw in the towel and left town with his family, but that only gave Enriquez an opportunity to see a different side of a town which hasn’t been given much respect lately by the Estadounidense press.  At the birthday party he attended, the townfolk stressed the city’s positive aspects:

Leading locals were happy to brag about their town to a visiting reporter: new roads; the restoration of the building where Mexicans drafted their first constitution in 1814; and perfect weather for growing grapefruit, bananas, papaya and mango.

“Everybody comes here to write about drugs,” said Javier Lozano, the city’s director of communications. “Maybe you’ll write about the good things.”

Apatzingan enjoyed a boom during the 1970s when thousands of acres of cotton provided work. Rain is plentiful, and the port is only 90 minutes away.

But farmers never recovered after falling cotton prices, cheaper labor elsewhere and the rise of synthetic fabrics killed the local market. Low wages, along with ideal weather and transport routes, have again made the region valuable — this time for a different kind of crop.

Read on.

The Second New Amsterdam?

Legislation has been introduced in Mexico City to make prostitution legal. To protect sex workers, claims its proponent. The city’s already given the green light to gay unions and legal abortion, boasts urban beaches, and has planned the wireless cloud. What’s next – marijuana bars? Is the D.F. destined to become the Amsterdam of North America?

wood_amgothic Last week a local restaurateur told me that he’d sold his establishment in the D.F. after patronage fell, because people there were afraid to go out at night there. Relocating to Morelia, he remarked that this place is safe enough, but people just don’t go out at night here.

We spend our time in Morelia watching what’s happening in the D.F., shaking our heads like Midwestern provincials, saying “Not in our city.” But we’re really not Mexican Gothic. You won’t find 18,000 people disrobing for Spencer Tunick at the Plaza de Armas. Most of us regard the D.F. with the same awe that folks in Kansas City save for New York City. We’ll go out of town for sin and foolish pleasures.

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Is Naked the New Black?

The Full Monty took naked mainstream, even though some of us still recall The Naked Guy of Berkeley, streaking and Hair. And now, everywhere you look, we’re surrounded by people taking it all off – for art, for protest, and even to sell calendars for charity. Little old ladies in Pittsburgh have gotten into the act.

To most lawyers, “going bare” simply means not having professional liability insurance. I must’ve missed it, but Naked Lawyers was even a movie. But there is even a substantive law blog, Naked Law, which happens to be all about U.K. technology laid bare by Cambridge lawyers.

And then there’s the Naked Lawyer Ploy:

From Bill Liebbe of Dallas — who has “always been of the firm belief that naked people and especially naked lawyers have no power to intimidate people” — this excerpt from the deposition of Dr. Theodore Caliendo, who was certainly following Bill’s advice.
Q. Did you and Mr. Liebbe have an opportunity to discuss the case?
A. Very briefly.
Q. Tell us — tell the jury about your conversations, please.
A. We just discussed what questions could possibly be asked of me.
Q. I’d like to have complete detail, what he said …
A. Just did I have all the information that I was going to need; did I have the copies of the depositions; did I have the records. And I expressed some concern about my last deposition; I thought the attorney was quite rude, and focused on everything else but the case. And he reassured me that sometimes this happens and he gave me some great advice. He said when anybody does that, just make believe you’re looking at them naked. That’s a great idea. That was the gist of our conversation. I don’t recall anything else that we talked about.
Q. I’ve got to know, is everyone still fully clothed?
A. Yes, thank you. I just had a bad experience this morning.
MR. LIEBBE: You were naked in a couple of earlier depositions in this case. Just thought I’d let you know.

Cannot we leave well enough alone — or at least to the imagination? If G-d meant for people to go naked, he wouldn’t have invented clothing and prescribed rules for wearing them.

A Healthcare Maquiladora

Not every foreigner seeking medical care in Mexico is retired, accident-prone or in need of plastic surgery.  Dental tourism and a search for those prescription drugs which can legally be brought across international borders bring a few to Mexico.

Ronda Kaysen, who blogs at The Huffington Post and lives in the U.S., shares her plans to give birth in Mexico City in A Joyride Through Mexico’s Healthcare System.

And, having had two major surgeries here, I agree with here. Cost aside, it’s still a thousand percent better than what’s available north of the Rio Bravo. Instead of flying off to India or parts just about as distant, why don’t more Estadounidenses seek medical care right here in Mexico?

Appearances Count

In a short article “No Breaking, Just Entering” in the New York Times, appears this:

The police described the criminals as members of an ethnic group originating in Europe. They keep to themselves, speak their own language and use assumed names, making it difficult to track them, the police said.

Roving bands of Hassidim? The marauding French? Germans? Giant, hulking Basques?

The article went on:

“Their looks can vary,” Sergeant Reilly said. “Sometimes they are mistaken for Indian or Pakistani, sometimes South Asian, sometimes Hispanic.”

Oh, I get it now. Gypsies. Has “Gypsy” become a protected class whose name cannot be uttered in polite society in the U.S. now?

In Mexico, excelente presentación routinely appears in job ads for positions dealing with the public. Even the driver’s license bureau demands details for characteristics such as one of eight shades of skin color, type of nose, bold type, size of lips, expanse of forehead, and existence of mustache even for women. “Bald” and “tinted” are legitimate descriptions of hair color. So, what’s the big deal?

Naked Bikers Take to the Streets

Yesterday more than eighty bicyclists, only ten of them women, tore off between Polanco and the Zocalo, most of them clad only in sunblock, to demand some respect after triathlete Javier Mendoza López’ fatal encounter with an automobile while cycling.  Some of them wore hats and shorts, just to keep the event from becoming another Spencer Tunick spectacle.

The organizers, members of the urban bicycle group Bicitekas, wanted only to show drivers how vulnerable human bodies could be and encourage some respect, crying out along the way “Automobiles no, bicycles yes.”

There are a lot more than 108 million stories in the Naked City; this is one of them.

Merchandising Frida

fridabags Look what they’ve done to your good name, dear Frida. All of the recognition you sought during your short life is coming to you now that you’re almost a hundred years old. Madonna embraced you, Salma Hayek portrayed you, the feminists loved you, and now even middle-class Republican women rush to buy plastic mesh bags with your silk-screened image which women of their station wouldn’t have been caught dead carrying for any purpose other than toting vegetables home from the mercado in this country, and, in the ultimate irony, soon Converse will market a running shoe with your face on it. You’ve been commoditized, and soon you’ll outpace the Virgin of Guadalupe as the national symbol. La China Poblana knows that she’s out of the running.

Self-portrait on the Borderline Back in 1983, when Hayden Herrera’s Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo first came out, we dutifully studied the footnotes, racing to read every edition of Bertram Wolfe’s biography of Diego Rivera, just to catch the nuances. We made the pilgrimage to your house on Londres in Coyoacán, breathing in the spirit of Frida within those cobalt walls, and we made the trek multiple times. We paid homage at the ofrendas in your honor at the Museo Tamayo. And when a stray dog with a broken leg showed up at the house, we named her Frida Frida Kahlo, because she always had to be called twice. When the veterinarian gave her a silly haircut, she became a card-carrying member of a rare and little­-known breed: the Patzcuaro Fish Dog. (She was finally given away, because, like her namesake, she just didn’t fit in.)

The cranky but colorful sculptor Enrique Alfèrez, my erstwhile neighbor, dismissed you as the Madonna of the times, all about style and nothing about talent, but then he also said that Diego Rivera would paint the menu of a pulqueria for the right price. Those were just his opinions, generously offered.

You’re about to become a household word, thanks to the Kahlo Corp., who’s licensing everything about you. Let’s pray that you don’t become the Burberry plaid.

The New Phone Book’s Out

Dane Schiller at Beyond the Border inspired this post when he reviewed the new two-volume issue of the Mexico City phone book.

The new phone books are out in Morelia. too. Well, unlike Steve Martin, I’m not somebody, because my name’s not listed. And it hasn’t been for years, but it may make it to next year’s edition, because Telmex just started charging $10.40 M.N. a month for unlisted numbers. And since I have two, dating back to the days when a telephone line was hard to come by, that adds up. Maybe I’ll be sandwiched in between Rosas and Rosel.

Even though Morelia’s phone book is about three inches thick and filled with 1080 yellow pages, the white pages for the city only total 239 pages. That’s because the phone book includes Patzcuaro, Zacapu, Zinepecuaro, and twelve-telephone burgs like San Pablo Pejo, San Bernabe, Ojo de Agua de Chupio, Herbierto Jara, Huajumbaro, Fontezuelas, Manceta, Paramuen, Zurumbeneo, and places in between. If you’re looking up someone who lives in Santa Clara de Cobre, don’t even look under Santa Clara; look under Villa Escalante.

Unchanged from last year, the first and last names to appear in Morelia’s white pages remain Henrik Tor Aasheim and Rita Esther Zuzua Vega.

There are no Lefflers in this phone book, but there are two Levins and three entries for Levy. Eleven Johnsons, one Jones (Ma. Guadalupe Jones de Acevedo), and two Smiths. This is a small enough town to know that they’re not foreigners.

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When You Can’t Beat ‘Em

If you live in the kind of neighborhood that I do, sooner or later Saturday night comes around, and that means music time. And even more so if the neighbor kid is getting together with a hundred of his best friends. Realizing that givin’ ‘em back a dose of the Grateful Dead or Led Zeppelin or even Jerry Jeff Walker on your tiny speakers is sort of like a flea doing an elephant, you still have alternatives: moving away, committing suicide or learning to like it. And mouthing a prayer “Well, at least it’s not banda.”

Michoacan

And that’s where Michoacán comes in. No, not the state. Fernando Miranda Rios, born and raised in California, has produced eight records (yes, indeed and in the 12” vinyl variety) which marry progressive rock with disco and electro to create something that’s kind to the ears of someone who’s almost at the half-century mark. And it would work well on the iPod for hitting the road on a power walk or burning some fat on the NordicTrack.

Here are a few easy-on-the-ears samples:

Rubberbands

Sabor

Hold on Baby, We’ll Make It

Vacation Nation

Michael Yessis at World Hum asks:

Is Summer Now the ‘Vacation Deprivation’ Season?

imageFor U.S. citizens, it seems, but not Europeans. While most of our overseas counterparts get at least 20 guaranteed vacation days each year, and while Italian lawmakers are proposing to add seven new holidays to the country’s slate, Americans seem to be moving in the opposite direction. Last month the Center for Economic and Policy Research released its No-Vacation Nation report, which reveals that the U.S. is “the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation.” Those that do have vacation time aren’t taking it all, or are taking working vacations.

Mexico isn’t included in the No-Vacation Nation Report.

Under the Mexican Federal Labor Code, Ley Federal del Trabajo, employees are entitled to:

  • After a full year of employment, six days.
  • For each subsequent year of employment, vacation increases by two days up to a total to twelve.
  • After the fourth year of employment, the vacation increases by two days for every five years of service.  

But there’s more. The employee is entitled not only to paid vacation, but also bonus pay of not less than 25% over the regular salary during those vacation days.

And all of this is enhanced by the federal holidays:

  • January 1, New Year’s Day
  • The first Monday in February, Constitution Day
  • The third Monday in March, Benito Juarez’ birthday
  • The first of May, Labor Day
  • September 16, Independence Day
  • The third Monday in November, Revolution Day
  • December 25, Christmas Day
  • And, every six years, December 1, for the Presidential Inauguration

Of course, like all legislation, the Labor Code is replete with exemptions, granting some workers less and others more, defining which workers are and aren’t eligible. Not everyone who works receives benefits, and not everyone who hires is obligated to pay benefits. And union contracts and other terms of hire can spell even more than the legally-mandated minimums. And, of course, there are many who don’t get any as well as employers who flout the law.

Flying Under a Dime

Viva Aerobus, the new Mexican no-frills airline, is now offering flights for $1 M.N. That’s less than $.10 USD. No, the decimal point isn’t misplaced. Of course, taxes and handling come extra, bringing the total to about $24 USD, but it’s still a bargain.

Here’s the deal. Buy your ticket between the 4th and 8th of June, and fly between June 13 and September.

It’s a point-to-point airline, which means that passengers are responsible for their own luggage. Like Southwest Airlines, it doesn’t have an interline agreement. And only one 25 kilo bag is permitted under the baggage allowance. No pets, except guide dogs, no dead bodies, and no stretchers are permitted.

Food is sold on board at reasonable prices (American Airlines, are you listening?), ranging for $10 M.N. for a bran bar, cookies, or chips, to $15 M.N. for a Coke, and all the way up to $20 M.N. for a beer or a sandwich.

destinos

Based in Monterrey, the airline flies to Ixtapa, Acapulco, Cd. Juarez, Villahermosa, Tampico, Lèon, Tijuana, Culiacán, Cancún, and Chihuahua. And yes, Morelia. But from Morelia, there’s but a single flight to Monterrey.

 

Are Mexicans Really That Rude?

Ernie is an American patent lawyer living in Japan, and this morning he wrote:

I just read stories of Mexicans’ general hatred for America and the booing of our Miss USA contestant. It does not bode well for good U.S.-Mexico  relations.

I saw what happened when South Korea had a major burst of  anti- Americanism when they elected a very anti-American Roh. The result was a worsening of relations, as many politicians in America spoke of  pulling out troops and letting South Korea protect itself (what some  Koreans had wanted). American investment pulled out. The result of  all this is that South Korea’s economy is a shambles, and Roh’s  approval ratings makes Bush look like Mr. Popularity by comparison.  It got so bad that his party is splitting up so that the politicians won’t be associated with him.

Are the Mexicans really that rude, or is it U.S. media hype? What is the view from your part of the world?

I don’t think the booing of the Miss USA contestant really meant anything. There’s a certain crowd mentality, and a certain kind of people who’re attracted to beauty pageants in the first place.

It’s media hype. For every comment insisting that Mexicans are rude is another claiming how polite we are. The truth is that we’re both.  We will race you to the intersection, sometimes driving like  bats out of hell, acting like a red light doesn’t apply to the first two cars who zoom through,  but we’re actually very resigned to a lot of things that would force Estadounidenses into road rage. We’re all kinds of people, and most of us have some kind of U.S. connection, whether it’s having kinfolk in the U.S., shopping in the US, watching U.S.-made movies, and shopping at Walmart.

Carlos Mencia jokes about "Two Kinds of Mexicans" in Take a Joke America, comparing them to White People Who Live in Trailers and the other White People. The enmity between those two groups is far larger than the enmity between Mexicans and plain ol’ Americans.

The idea of courtly manners still pervades Mexican society. We’ll kiss and embrace, ask about your family, say "yes" when we really mean "no" to avoid hurting your feelings, dance around indirectly before getting down to business. We’ll add the honorific Don or Doña to anyone even slightly above us in stature, and we’ll call the head bricklayer maestro. It’s just a little something we picked up from the Spanish….and the Aztecs.

Are we really that rude? No. Do we really hate the U.S.? No, not really. We just wish that the U.S. would treat Mexico a tad more kindly.

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