Saks in the City


Retailing company Saks Incorporated (NYSE: SKS) announced on Wednesday (28 November) that the company has opened its first Saks Fifth Avenue store in Mexico. The new tri-level, 150,000 square foot store is located in the Santa Fe Shopping Centre in Mexico City. 

Read  on.

Will Saks Off Fifth be next? Followed by Neiman Marcus? And when will anything good open at the Paseo Morelia?


You Can Keep Your Kindle

My name is jennifer, and I’m addicted to Amazon. Everyone who knows me knows this, catering to me by letting Amazon drop-ship books and books to their U.S. addresses. Each time I come back home from the U.S., my luggage is filled with the latest Amazon order.

Amazon tried to ruin my life by introducing the Kindle. Even though I’m not particularly fond of e-books, there was the appeal of simply possessing the latest toy on the block. Its portability and style weren’t selling points, nor was the idea of even buying books more cheaply. David Pogue of the New York Times always gives trusted advice, and his impression of the Kindle just wasn’t that glowing.

How long would Amazon’s free wireless conductivity last? Surely, not forever.

I read on.

With Whispernet, you can be anywhere, think of a book, and get it in one minute.

Kindle Unless you happen to be in one of the areas not shown in green on the map. That’s most of the U.S.




That wasn’t the end of my worries. Amazon insists that it can’t sell the Kindle to customers living outside of the U.S. I guess it’s worried that foreigners will do something dangerous with the Kindle, like read a book. There’ll be no Kindle under the Christmas tree for people who live in Mexico. That’s OK. I really didn’t want this piece of junk in the first place.

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Morelia-style Gazpacho

President Bush’s 2007 Thanksgiving menu features nothing out of the ordinary for typical Estadounidense Thanksgiving fare, except for one dish – Morelia-style gazpacho.

Here in Morelia, gazpacho amounts to a finely diced medley of whatever’s in season – cucumber, pineapple, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, jicama – drenched in orange juice, sprinkled with grated cheese and ground chile. And served up in a plastic cup, along with a plastic spoon. It’s a street food concoction bearing little resemblance to Spanish gazpacho, and it’s as likely as a corn dog to be found on a restaurant menu.

Did someone in the President’s family visit Morelia and take a liking to our version of gazpacho? Or is a cook from Michoacán hiding out in the White House kitchen? I’m going to be real suspicious if corundas or uchepos show up on the White House menu.

Foreign Relations and Native Tongues

An overwhelming percentage of the immigrant population in Mexico was born in the U.S., but that wasn’t always so.  Up until a hundred or so years ago, the Spaniards and Guatemalans outnumbered the gringos. (Gringo, by the way, comes from griego, which means “speaking Greek.” The term has nothing to do with the tune “Green Go the Lilacs” or greenbacks.) And, as everyone knows, Cortes and his merry band got here first. In time, Spanish was no longer a foreign language spoken in Mexico; it became the language de facto of the country, sparing millions from having to learn Nahuatl, Maya and a bunch of other indigenous languages.

Today, the foreign language most frequently uttered in Mexico is English.

But there was a time when Chinese was the most widely spoken foreign language in this country?  And another blip in history when German-speakers were second only to English-speakers?

Writing in Extranjeros in Mexico, John P. Schmal summarizes immigration and language patterns since 1895.



Death to the Three-Tequila Lunch?

A Reuters story reports that the death knell is sounding for the “long Mexican business lunch, a tequila-fueled food orgy that could last past sundown” in Mexico City, but that extended lunches are still the practice out in the hinterlands. Maybe I don’t hang out with the right people or at the right places, but my sense is that the habit died a long time ago. Or at least around the time it did in New York City.

The entire tenor of the article is offensive, evoking crude stereotypes of Mexicans and the way they do business.

Let’s read on:

A surge in women executives is also killing off the calorie-loaded “comidas” which could launch businessmen on a bar crawl that led to a strip club or into the arms of a mistress in a pay-by-the-hour hotel.

Maybe it was a slow news day at Reuters.


Give Something to Tabasco’s Animals

The church ladies have been hitting up folks earlier than usual with their requests for monetary donations for the posada. They started making the rounds a full week ago, which struck me as just a tad strange, given that they usually ask for money sometime around Dia de Guadalupe, accompanying the request with an invitation to some dinner over at the rectory.

I’m not going to donate this year. Not just because the request came just too damn early, and not because I’m still seething over the church secretary’s refusal to call an ambulance when the old limosnero lie half-dead and bleeding in the churchyard until I gave her his name and mine.

The Tabasco flood has left over one million people homeless. The entire area has been devasted. Some say that the disaster makes Katrina look like a day at the beach. Mexico gave what it could to help back in 2005. But Walmart’s donations make the U.S. government’s contributions to Tabasco look like pocket change. Maybe Walmart should simply run the U.S. government; it would probably do so more effectively. Imagine what a difference it would make if only a single day’s investment in the wall protecting the U.S. southern border was re-directed to Tabasco.

Last week, I gave to the Tabasco efforts while shopping at Superama, which is owned by Walmart.

Mexico’s Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (Foreign Affairs Department of the Secretary of State) has set up two bank accounts for donations in the U.S.:

Bank: Wells Fargo Bank NA
Account Name: “Ayuda Tabasco”
Account Number: 599253401
For Transfers: 121000248
Electronic Code: 111900659

Bank: BBV Bancomer USA
Account Name: “Ayuda Tabasco 2007”
Account Number: 2280300127 (For donations done in California)
ABA: 1-2222-05-06 (For donations done outside California)

Read 0n.

All right, maybe helping people isn’t your thing. But at least give a damn about the animals. C.M. Mayo, in a comment to an earlier post on this blog, tells about the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s efforts.

Boys Fighting Bulls

Nearly all of the 155 commentators to the New York Times’ article about teenage bullfighters in Mexico have their knickers in a twist. Barbaric, dangerous, most of them whine. Has the U.S. become a nation of ninnies and panty-waists? What about the Estadounidense kids who participate in organized sports? Or eat produce plucked from Mexican fields by underage workers?

There’s good reason that the Dangerous Book for Boys has become a best-seller. Even my co-blogger David Leffler recognizes the challenge of risk.

See the New York Times video of the 13-year old bullfighter and decide for yourself.


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Dwarf Dodging in the Americas

Dwarf tossing got a bad rap several years ago, but that hasn’t stopped the Original Bullfighting Dwarfs of Mexico from plying their talent, reports Chris Hawley of the Arizona Republic. So what if they only fight calves? It’s just a matter of time before the People Eating Tasty Animals start to complain.

Whoops, I got the URL wrong. The correct URL for People Eating Tasty Animals was decided by a federal court at 263 F.3d 359 (4th Cir. 2001).

Hanging with Bill, Hill and Huckabee

Staring at Strangers is overdue with its mandatory law-related post.

The late Robert R. Wright III invited a small group of his closest friends to Little Rock that fall. The year was 1995, and the friends were all lawyers. Bob showed us the best of Little Rock – the Central High School, a private club where Gennifer Flowers used to sing, the apartment building where state troopers chauffeured a former governor, Doe’s Eats Place, the Capital Club, The Rose Law Firm, the house which the Clintons rented when they didn’t live in public housing, a room at the Excelsior Hotel, The University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, and the home of the federal judge who would mercifully put Jones v. Clinton, 990 F.Supp 657 (E.D. Ark. 1998) to rest. T.J. McDonough, my law school contracts professor, showed up unannounced at her home.

But amidst all of these stops, we went to the Governor’s Mansion. There would soon be no drinking in that place, Bob warned us, because a Southern Baptist minister would take office shortly after the current governor’s indictment. A lean fellow sat down on a chintz sofa next to me, and we talked about what a consummate campaigner Bill Clinton had been. It took me a few minutes to realize that I was talking to none other than the sitting governor, Jim Guy Tucker. The minister would turn out to be Mike Huckabee, and that’s where my connection with him ends.


Fly Me to Morelia

It wasn’t that long ago that Morelia didn’t have an international airport. Anyone who wanted to get here from there had to either drive here or take the bus or train. Back in those days, we had the luxury of overnight passenger train service from Mexico City. When Aeromar initiated a shuttle to Mexico City, we were more than just a little excited.

MLM keeps on expanding and expanding, and now it’s even got two gates. Flights in and out of this airport are always booked. Today we have daily flights to and from Houston, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, and just about anyplace within the Republic. It’s a friendly, convenient airport, where you’re always guaranteed to run into someone you know. Well, Michoacán is just that kind of place.

There’s even better news on the horizon. Before the end of the year, Aeromar plans to open a route from Ixtapa to Morelia. And back again. And if that’s not enough, before long there’ll be a flight from Morelia to San Antonio with a stop in San Luis Potosi. Hello, North Star Mall!

Mexico Insight writes about the new affordability of flying in Mexico. Staring at Strangers already knew about Viva Aerobus’ remarkably affordable fares last summer. Aermoar plies the skies twice a day between Uruapan and Mexico City for just over $100 USD each way. A flight from Làzaro Cardenas to Uruapan runs about the same price.  And Aeromar now makes the Morelia – Mexico City run ten times a day.

Gone to the Dogs

Foreign Native blogs about the popularity of Schnauzers and Pugs in the Distrito Federal, which is Mexico’s version of New York City, where many of its denizens live in apartments.

Morelia’s animal guardians, for the most part, live in single-family houses, which means that we get to have larger versions of pack partners. Like everything else, every dog breed has its day, but certain breeds seem more prevalent than others. Sure, there are the Labrador people and the Golden Retriever people, but before the dogs who wear bandanas were the rage, other breeds reigned, and their progeny are still around. A few Chows, Neopolitan Mastiffs, Weimaraners and Akitas, but for the most part, the breed of choice seems to be the Pastor Aleman. Rottweilers had their day, and, before that Dobermans were the the hot dog. Today, there aren’t many Dobermans around town. Or they just stay at home.

Gimme the Chisme

You may have first heard of him when he was Apple’s Chief Evangelist. Or maybe from Fog City Software. Law school dropout Guy Kawasaki, CEO of Garage Technology Ventures, changes jobs more frequently than many people change their underwear. And now he’s got a yet another new venture running: Truemors, a vehicle to spread rumors, gossip, news, trivia and everything else under the sun. Truemors has a social networking version to “tell your friends” and a web version to “tell the world.”

truemors A search for “Mexico” turned up stories revealing that Duane “Dog Chapman isn’t going to be extradited to Mexico for kidnapping, flooding in Tabasco has displaced over a half million people, and 119 mummies repose in a Guanajuato museum. None of those stories exactly fall into the rumor category, but they did make for good reading.

Look up “sex” and “Hillary Clinton” for more salacious news.


The Days and Nights of the Not-So Dead

Many foreigners with blogs in Mexico get all wound up over the quaint customs of life in this country, blinded to the ordinary attractions scattered about their own cities. Well, these attractions are generally found in the entertainment zones or the outskirts. John in San Miguel de Allende takes on the lives of working girls and their patrons in this unique guide to his corner of the Bajio.

Age Before Beauty

Lots of things do get better with age. Fine wine, cheese, vintage clothing and printers, just for starters. In Databazaar Blog, Taeho Lim writes about my oldest printer. Last year, I even toted to the local computer shop in Morelia to have it cleaned and lubed for the very first time, which is sort of like taking the Oldest Living Confederate Widow in for having her teeth cleaned. But the shop did agree that they could keep it running forever. Can you say the same about today’s disposable discount printers?

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