Book Review: Dirty Inspirations

Review of Dirty Inspirations by Terri Schneider At face-value, Terri Schneider’s Dirty Inspirations (Heatherleigh, 2016) is a memoir of her ground-breaking exploits as a world-class endurance athlete. Readers follow Terri around the globe as she muscles through a lengthy resume of outlandish events. Each of which, for most people, would represent a one-and-done, bucket list sort of adventure. The kind of thing you’d talk about forever after, and mostly because you remain eternally shocked that you survived the gory ordeal in the first place. But Terri is cut from a different cloth. And a closer read of Dirty Inspirations’ thrilling stories…

A Visual Book Review: Part 2

“Memory is the one true agony carried in the body.” Doug Rice’s An Erotics of Seeing is witness to the purest of all enigmas, memory. I take slower steps, wander the streets of Mexico City, look closely at small things. Forgotten things. Remembering beauty. “Ghosts haunt the streets, the alleys. Words replace people. Names.” “Most times, a word never becomes more than a shape to fill a lack.” I see you. I practice seeing you. I will see you again. We are left with an image locked in our mind. Every day it changes, but it’s always just right. Perfect. “A…

A Visual Book Review: Part 1

Doug Rice’s An Erotics of Seeing is a gift of observation. A peek through a crack. A breeze. Makes it hard to keep your your eyes open. Makes tears fall. My response: a practice of seeing. A Saturday morning walk through the streets of México City. “The longer you live, the more you die.” What you see becomes you. Find questions in the image. Is the after more real than the before? Can an image offer proof? “We are playing with desires that disappear.” Memory. We rediscover agony, rediscover joy. “Imagine light without shadows,” he said. “Imagine such a light. You can’t, can you? What’s that tell you?” “Time does…

Nothing is Nothing: A Review of Doug Rice’s Here Lies Memory

Fifteen years ago I was a student in Professor Doug Rice’s film class. I remember being floored when he questioned the idea of memory. Its validity, its purpose. Never before had I considered that what I know, what I have experienced, might somehow be compromised by illusory perceptions for which, thereafter, I hold my personal narrative accountable. Safe to say that since Rice’s class I’ve been considering the idea of memory. Wondering if, in fact, it’s more like a swift breeze through consciousness than something with actual staying power. Memory as a comfort-inducing novelty, a ruse that helps me make…

A Huge, Insurmountable, Feeling Thing

Natasha Trethewey at UNC Chapel Hill All writing begins with a wound. In 1965, a black woman and white man fled their Mississippi home to get married in Ohio. Upon their return, their legal status was ruled illegitimate, as was their brown-skinned daughter. A baby whose name, Natasha, was inspired by her father’s reading of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Natasha-a Russian name that means “Christmas child.” Trethewey’s first poem of the night, “Miscegenation,” told this story. My favorite poem to write helps me find the correct form to contain my grief. Trethewey then read “Myth,” a palindrome poem honoring her mother….

Chiquitito Café (Cuauhtémoc)

I didn’t expect to make it to this café. Didn’t really have time to battle a busy midday Metro. Today was my last day in DF and I had to get to the airport by 4:00pm. And that was preceded by a full schedule including a visit to the National Museum of Anthropology, a stop at Palacio Postal to mail some cards, and a once-over cleaning of my rental flat. I knew I’d be pushing it, but something in my gut knew that Chiquitito would be the perfect final visit. Still, there was huge buzzkill potential. Small as the café…

Espressarte (Roma Norte)

I had barely walked into Espressarte and I could tell it was different. No music, no fancy lighting or artwork, no distracting decor. Just a barista behind the bar weighing scoops of coffee to the nearest bean while three mesmerized customers studied her every move. They watched as one might watch a street artist etch a name onto a piece of rice, or a sculptor turn a block of marble into a bouquet of roses. She was in charge. The mood-setter. Mastery ensured by expert and calculated moves. Her conversational skills kept her customers relaxed, laughing. This strengthened her rapport….

Gradios Deli-Café (Roma Norte)

I must have arrived between morning rushes because two employees were scrambling to sweep, mop and bus tables covered in ceramic cups and shiny sppons. But that didn’t stop them from greeting me as I entered. Brooms in hand, both looked up and said hola. Okay, now we’re talking. I was impressed with their use of space. Sort of reminded me of a tiny house. You know, one of those hundred square feed jobbers with beds and closets hidden within coffee tables and ironing boards. Not an inch of wasted space, every nook used for storage, preparation, or display. I…

Café Passmar (Del Valle)

Yesterday I made an attempt to try Café Passmar’s highly recommended coffee, but contrary to information on their Facebook page, they were closed. Cerrado. I got a sense of the layout though—a compact bar and cozy seating area tucked into Mercado Lázaro Cárdenas in Del Valle. There was even a mysterious upstairs nook that could be accessed by a steep wooden staircase. Maybe they eventually opened up later, but I didn’t stick around to find out. Went back again today and the entire mercado was hopping. A quick look at Passmar’s menu and it was obvious the place is run…

Café Etrusca (Roma Norte)

Knowing that Arturo Hernandez, my Mexican coffee guru, owns Café Etrusca made me assume it would be the ultimate experience in the DF. There I go setting high expectations again. Seriously, I need to stop doing this because it places the merchant on a pedestal—a place no merchant wants to be when it’s for no solid reason. Café Etrusca was easy to find, which was a breath of fresh air since my last few destinations were logistically tricky. Upon arrival, I was happy to find shaded outdoor seating on a relatively quiet street. I was definitely taking one of those…