Culture Making is now archived. Enjoy five years of reflections on culture worth celebrating.
For more about the book and Andy Crouch, please visit andy-crouch.com.

Posts tagged mexico

excerpt Paving the home
Nate:
From "Paving Paradise", by Charles Kenny, Foreign Policy, Jan/Feb 2012 :: via Koranteng

Starting in 2000, a program in Mexico’s Coahuila state called “Piso Firme” (Firm Floor) offered up to $150 per home in mixed concrete, delivered directly to families who used it to cover their dirt floors. Scholar Paul Gertler evaluated the impact: Kids in houses that moved from all-dirt to all-concrete floors saw parasitic infestation rates drop 78 percent; the number of children who had diarrhea in any given month dropped by half; anemia fell more than four-fifths; and scores on cognitive tests went up by more than a third. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, mothers in newly cemented houses reported less depression and greater life satisfaction.) By 2005, Piso Firme had spread to other states, and 300,000 households—about 10 percent of dirt-floor houses in Mexico—had taken part in the program.

It helps if the street outside the house gets paved, too—not so much for health reasons as for economic ones. Economists Marco Gonzalez-Navarro and Climent Quintana-Domeque found in a 2010 study that paving the street in the town of Acayucan, Mexico, added more than 50 percent to land values and caused a 31 percent rise in rental values. It also considerably increased households’ access to credit. As a result, households on paved streets were 40 percent more likely to have cars.

 

Nate:

La Familia is a notorious drug cartel founded in 2006 in Michoacan, Mexico, and is known for its brutal slayings of detractors.

Mexican authorities have issued a report on the group, which includes the finding that Eldredge’s 2001 book, ”Wild at Heart,” is required reading for gang members. Spanish translations of the book have been discoverd in La Familia residences by police authorities conducting raids, McClatchy Newspapers reports.

Eldredge leads Ransomed Heart, a Springs ministry dedicated to helping men regain their masculinity and become adventurers in life. In “Wild at Heart,” he writes approvingly of men’s innate love of weapons, combat and hunting.

excerpt The daily grind
Nate:

Of course, there are trade-offs. Bimbo is not as good as a bolillo. A machine-made tortilla is not anything like a homemade tortilla – it’s not even in the same universe.

Mexican women that I have talked to are very explicit about this trade-off. They know it doesn’t taste as good; they don’t care. Because if they want to have time, if they want to work, if they want to send their kids to school, then taste is less important than having that bit of extra money, and moving into the middle class. They have very self-consciously made this decision. In the last ten years, the number of women working in Mexico has gone up from about thirty-three percent to nearly fifty percent. One reason for that—it’s not the only reason, but it is a very important reason—is that we’ve had a revolution in the processing of maize for tortillas.

by Nate Barksdale for Culture Making

There’s a cheap/free good music convergence happening at Amazon.com’s mp3 store this week: Emmylou Harris’s splendid, splendid album “Wrecking Ball”, a brilliant sonic reinvention of songs by Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Neil Young, Jimi Hindrix, and Daniel Lanois, is on sale for just $2.99 for the full download.

And as if that weren’t enough, they’ve got a dozen or so world music sampler albums available for free download, including this eight-song compliation from the always-inspiring Soweto Gospel Choir. Did I mention it’s free?

Nate:
from "A delicious sound above the din of Mexico City," by Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times, 23 November 2008

 

You hear it from a block away: an amplified, singsong call with an uncanny power to slice through the urban din. The tone is cheap and tinny—as kitschy as a sound can be. And it’s my favorite in Mexico City.

Listen now, as it nears, the nasal-toned male voice stretching out syllables and pauses, again and again, into a verse so familiar it could be the unofficial anthem of this vast city, a kind of culinary call to prayer. ”Ri-costa-ma-les oaxa-que-ños!” blares a loudspeaker on the vendor’s tamale cart. ”Tamales oaxaqueños!” ”Tamales calien-ti-tos!

Go to any neighborhood in Mexico City, from gritty to grand, and at some point during the evening you might hear it. The recorded call, always in the same hypnotic voice, is pumped from countless speakers aboard countless tamalero pedal carts. Step up and order your delicious Oaxacan tamales.

image
"Mayan playing cards," posted by Andy B, Design Boom, 20 November 2008
Nate:
Nate:
from "Central American immigrants adopt Mexican ways in U.S.," by Esmeralda Bermudez, Los Angeles Times, 3 November 2008

Juan Carlos Rivera knew that if he wanted to get a dishwashing job at the MacArthur Park hamburger stand, he would have to pretend to be Mexican. But the thought of lying made the Salvadoran anxious. He paced outside the restaurant, worried that his melodic Spanish accent, his use of the Central American vos, instead of the Mexican tú, would give him away. Resolving to say as little as possible, Rivera remembers steeling himself and stepping inside—into the world of Mexicanization.

In his best Mexican Spanish, the Salvadoran asked: ¿Tienen trabajo? (Do you have work?) When asked where he was born, he swallowed his pride and answered: Puebla, Mexico. The job was his. For three days, Rivera scrubbed plates in conspicuous silence. He knew the Mexican cooks were onto him. Especially the one from Puebla. “I would stay up late wondering, ‘What if they discover me? What if they take my job away? What if they beat me up?’“ Rivera said.

Twenty years later, those fears have vanished but the 35-year-old continues to pretend. Life in Southern California is just less complicated as a Mexican, he says. Fitting in is easier. He introduces himself as Mexican. He says his closest friends are from Mexico and he eats nothing but Mexican food. Rivera and thousands of other Central and South American immigrants have left their native countries only to arrive in an American city dominated by Mexicans, who comprise L.A.’s largest Latino group and have access to most of the jobs sought by immigrants. The metropolis drives many to Mexicanize, to degrees big and small, often before they start to Americanize.

photo
photo by Flickr user Wonderlane, 21 July, 2005 :: via Intelligent Travel
Nate:
Nate:
from "The Global Pandemic of the Telenovela," by Pablo Helguera, translated by Megan McDowell, Vice Magazine, Vol. 15 No. 8 (July 2008) :: via Utne Reader

Since the first days of the [Telenovela] institute’s research, I began to notice common patterns in the way each country related to telenovelas, and, at the same time, the way in which a country’s relationship to telenovelas revealed something unique about it. A Canadian researcher, Denise Bombardier, described it perfectly with her phrase “Give me a telenovela and I’ll give you a nation.” In general terms, however, telenovelas implement what the critic Tomás Lopez-Pumarejo (my principal theorist at the Institute) described as “the drama of the subconscious”: They are stories that revolve around ontological questions: “Where is my son?” or “Where is my love?”

There is a clear relationship in the way in which the telenovela soap operas explore the social tensions of a country and convert them into collective therapy. This process worked very well in countries that had recently emerged from communism, where people were casting about in a psychological search to deal with the class taboos that had dominated for so long. As a result, a drama centered on the impossibility of love because of social or economic obstacles was extremely powerful. Several studies of the time during which Los Ricos También Lloran was broadcast in Russia indicate that programs simultaneously broadcast from the US (such as Dallas and Dynasty) were popular but never generated the same level of interest, because Russians could not identify with the family problems of an oil millionaire in Texas. The higher production quality of those programs didn’t seem to matter either, and so companies like Televisa did not overly concern themselves with investments in production. It was the drama, the emotions worn on the sleeve, and in part the exotic settings that gave the telenovelas a special attraction.