Blog Life

If you’re given lemons

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

It’s going to be a bit quiet round here for the next week or so – I’m working hard building a new site for myself.

The site is to support my new venture – web consultant. Tired of applying for jobs and not hearing anything (or, more accurately, hearing that there’s been no decision yet), I decided to formalise what’s been happening informally already.

I’m doing some web content writing for my old friends at iQ Content, and some other web projects for people. So now I’m admitting that that’s what’s happening, and I’m going after some other business.

When I’ve built my own site.

Posted by David in • Life


Balloon fiesta

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The balloon fiesta in Albuquerque is an annual week-long treat for the locals, and the balloonists.

We went down on Saturday morning early, to see more balloons than I could image heading up into the blue blue sky.

Even for amateurish photographers like me, it was like shooting fish in a barrel – colourful shapes, sharp light from a low angle, clear skies. A great day out (except for the people in the balloon that ended up caught on the top of a 500’ radio mast).











Posted by David in
Blog Life

St Patrick’s Battalion

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Talking to Roque today, while getting one of his great carnitas in the plaza, and he is amazed I haven’t heard of Los San Patricios – the Irish who fought for Mexico in the Mexican-American War of 1846-48.

Seems a bunch of Irish soldiers deserted from the US army amid widespread atrocities by the Americans and intolerance of Catholics among the officers. Many fell in with the Mexicans, and recognized an attack by a larger more powerful neighbour when they saw one.

The Irish formed St Patrick’s Battalion, and fought bravely against the Americans in several encounters. When the US army eventually won, many of them were hanged as deserters and traitors, with ‘D’ for deserter branded on their faces. Lovely.

Others survived and stayed in Mexico – Roque tells me the current president Vicente Fox is descended from one of the San Patricios, although my quick internet search didn’t confirm that.

The battalion is still honoured in Mexico – a stamp commemorating their efforts was recently produced.

The Latin feel of New Mexico puts me in mind of Ireland a lot, so I can see how there would have been an affinity between the Irish soldiers and the Mexicans, and it’s nice to find some more connections between there and this part of the world.

More information on the battalion:

Hispanic Magazine

Crisis Magazine – a more detailed historical account.

Posted by David in • Life

Blog Life

Soft day, thank God

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

It started raining here last night around midnight. And stopped around 5pm.

And when I say rain, I mean hard thundery, tornado-warnings-in-force kind of rain. Some bouncy hail too.

New Mexico houses don’t have guttering, they have little ramps that launch the water off the almost-flat roof and send it crashing to the ground, to soak into the sand, or to form little rivulets that run downhill the best way they can.

Large buckets to collect this water (for redistribution to the dryer parts of the yard) were overflowing when we woke up, and full again after I’d emptied them at lunchtime.

Between the loud rain, the overcast day felt suitably Irish, but when the sun came out around 6:30pm and we went for a quick stroll, we saw there was snow on top of the mountains. You’d be waiting a long time for that in Dublin. And it’s only the first week in October.

Posted by David in • Life

Blog Life

Sparx y Lorenzo Antonio

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Last Sunday I went to see the biggest selling New Mexican musical acts perform. One of the acts, Sparx, has sold over a million albums, and the other, Lorenzo Antonio (their chief songwriter and mentor, as well as a performer in his own right) isn’t far behind.


4000 people came out on Sunday night to the amphitheatre at Sandia casino on the edge of Albuquerque. And yet half the people in the state have never heard of them.

Welcome to the world of New Mexico music. For anglos like me, it’s something of a closed community, but Buendia has been here long enough and is interested enough to go exploring. We were possibly the only completely anglo couple there (’anglo’ here is a catch all phrase meaning non-Spanish or Indian. There’s a joke about a kid up in Las Vegas, New Mexico coming home after his first day at school. ‘How was it?’ asks his mum. ‘Fine,’ he says. ‘I knew almost everyone in class. There’s only one anglo in the class, and he’s black.’)

First up was Lorenzo Antonio – a baby-faced cross between Ricky Martin and Daniel O’Donnell. The grannies love him (as do the gay guys ahead of us in the queue), and he’s got a great voice and gives 110% on everything. Some of the songs are Latin-tinged pop with good hooks, while others are covers of classic ballads. He sings mostly in Spanish, backed by a tight band.

He’s smiley and at ease, as befits someone who was a child performer. After a while, he takes a break, and his sisters hit the stage.

They’re the New Mexican Spice Girls, and are huge in Mexico, too. Dressed in skimpy 80s-inspired glittery clothes, their dance routines are slick and there’s enough difference between the sisters for everyone to have their favourite, from the pre-teen girls, through the red-blooded men to the grannies.

There’s the cute little one, the one with the best voice, the friendly outgoing one, and the sexy one (with the shortest skirt and crop top). Actually, they’re a lot better than the Spice Girls because they can all sing and they’re all pretty. The songs are pretty simple ditties, but they range from salsa syncopation, through rock and roll classics (in English) to power ballads. But it’s hard not to like them, and when ten mariachi musicians come on stage, the crowd goes wild.

We detour into classic Mexican and New Mexican songs – like B’Witched going trad in the middle of a show – and then Lorenzo Antonio rejoins them, this time in a smart black suit, to wring every drop of emotion from some full-on tearjerkers.

By the time the finale comes round, we’ve had the mariachis, eight little girls in huge Spanish dresses, a flamenco couple, a cowboy doing lasso tricks, juggling stilt walkers and jitterbugging duos all on stage.

It was a great night, and it’s good to see the Spanish side of local culture is still strong enough that it can fill a huge auditorium. There was nothing dry or curatorial about this – the old standards and the new songs were mixed side by side, and everyone (except me) was singing along in Spanish.

I’m beginning to see that the Spanish language part of life here is much more vibrant than the Irish language side of life in Ireland (as befits a place where Spanish has been spoken since 1610, and which only became a US state in the 1920s). From the fiestas to Sparx, it’s something that everyone born here (and those coming here withe some Spanish, like Buendia) can draw on.

More information on Lorenzo Antonio, and Sparx.

Posted by David in • Life

Blog Life

Everyone is Here

Thursday, September 30, 2004

More Finn Brothers praise. The new album – ‘Everyone is Here’, is beautiful and positive and tender.

And that’s not just my opinion. Salon today has a three-page hymn of praise to the songwriting talents of Neil Finn – ‘Let your mood downshift in the dusk one evening and the next thing you know a line you’ve heard a hundred times floors you.’ Damn right.

Writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and you’d be better listening to some of his songs than reading about them, but it’s a good article (you’ll probably need a free day pass or something to read it).

Posted by David in • Life