May Day

If ever there was a country poised on the brink of revolution, this is it. Look around; two-thirds of the Mexican population – about 50 million people – are living at the starvation level. You’ve seen the campesinos struggling to grow crops in volcanic ash or rock, and bringing to market half a dozen onions or some such pathetic little crop. You’ve seen them scratching a living here in the city in slums as bad as anywhere in the world. Four out of ten Mexicans never drink milk, two out of ten never eat meat, eggs, or bread. But the Mexican government subsidizes Coca-Cola sales. The official explanation is that Coca-Cola is nutritious.

Len Deighton, Mexico Set (1985)

IMG_1243For the past five months I’ve been reading the Len Deighton spy novel, Mexico Set. I’ve blazed my way to page 109, so I’m averaging about two paragraphs a day, about the same pace I used when reading Ulysses by James Joyce, which I never finished.

At the beginning of the year the price of a roasted chicken went up five pesos and the price went up again at the beginning of this week. That’s an increase of more than 15% since 1 January and I wonder if it is a reaction to the various taxes that were imposed at that time. The taxes were theoretically on products containing sugar, but if one looks at increased costs, then one passes on the cost regardless of its source. As sugar is included in so many food products, the tax could have had significant play in overall price increases.

Yesterday was Labor Day here, as it was in so many countries, so the schoolyard was quiet, the streets had less traffic, and everything seemed slower as the holiday fell after the two-week break and in the middle of the week before the DFers arrive. Wednesday morning, however, the schoolday got off to a highly energetic beginning; it must have been exercise day because shortly after 8 a.m. Jailhouse Rock (in Spanish, of course) played to great enthusiasm. It’s hard to believe a song that dates back 60 years could entertain six- to twelve-year-olds, but it did. There was a lot of applause and cheering at the end of the song – if it’s purpose was to get the day going, it certainly did.

M said she’s headed to New York in June, a trip she’s wanted to make for some time.  She says she wants to see a musical, despite the exorbitant prices, so as a warmup, the next few posts will include clips from Bernadette Peters’ New York and London shows from the ’90s.

Raining In My Heart (Jim Wise/George Haimsohn & Robin Miller)

The song is from Dames At Sea and in his 1968 review Clive Barnes wrote that the show was “a real winner, a little gem of a musical. The show is wonderfully helped by its cast. The star I suppose is Bernadette Peters as the wholly sweetly silly small-town chorine who taps her way from the bus station to stardom in 24 hours.”  Walter Kerr wrote in his review that Miss Peters is a real find… She is extremely funny, and endearing on top of that.”

The show is scheduled for a Broadway run this year.


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