Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Need a Vacation...

...to recover from my vacation.

We spent last week in Mexico City. Learned a lot. Saw a lot. Walked a lot. Slept NOT a lot.

Was too tired to blog while there...and still too tired to do it now. I want to do it justice. I don't live there, so I really only get one crack at it, y'know?

I'll try to get something out by the end of the week. For now, I'll simply leave you with this photo of a dog that I saw taking a nap in front of the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral.

Because, like, I'm dead dog tired. Get it? Hah.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mexico City, Day 1: Música + Alma + Sexo

Well, I might as well come to terms with the fact that Ricky Martin and I have not eloped, though this is probably evident, as I surely would not have the time nor inclination to blog about the concert if things had turned out as planned.

Despite this epic disappointment, our first day in Mexico City was amazing. Our flight departed and arrived on time. The shuttle from the Toluca airport to the one in Mexico City (strategically planned for best flight times and prices) left and arrived on time and ended up being a free service. We were able to pre-pay for taxi service to our hotel, ensuring that the driver wouldn't "take the long way..." and THEN he drove off very quickly, saving me the tip money. Our hotel let us check in early, enabling us to be well-rested before the bon-bon shaking commenced, and they even arranged for a taxi to pick us up an hour beforehand. This went from a complicated process to an easy ride, though none of this would have been possible without our ever-helpful friend, Vicente, who works for a local airline and has accompanied us on this adventure.

I have adored Ricky Martin since his English debut in 1999. I even have one preciously awkward memory that occurred during the summer session following my freshman year at Texas A&M, in which my friend Jarrett and I stood before his roommate's CD collection, perused the Ricky Martin CDs, and definitively stated "He's gay." We were talking about the roommate, not the singer, but that ended up being true anyway. Neither of us know what happened to this particular roommate, but my friend and I would ultimately come out to each other the following spring. Yeah, because the fact that we both listened to this same CD that aroused a deflecting bout of judgement towards another person shouldn't have tipped us off...

Ricky Martin wouldn't admit his own sexual orientation for another ten years. It delighted boys and traumatized girls the world over. Along with Lance Bass and Neil Patrick Harris, Martin has played an important role in providing strong role models for gay youth in the last few years. Well, maybe not Lance Bass. In the midst of an outbreak of teenage suicides prompted by the torments of public school bullies in late 2010, Bass admitted that he used to be a bit of a turd.

Tonight's concert took place in Palacio de los Deportes, which, as it turns out, is a remnant of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, when it hosted the basketball portion of the world famous sporting event. In its new life as a concert venue, it has hosted the likes of KISS, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Pearl Jam. And, of course, Ricky Martin. On May 12th, Kylie Minogue brought her Aphrodite Tour to the venue.

Música + Alma + Sexo is a tour de force of more than 20 of Martin's greatest hits...

Set List
"Será Será"
"Dime Me Que Me Quieres"
"It's Alright"
"Que Día Es Hoy"
"Livin' la Vida Loca"
"She Bangs"
"Shake Your Bon-Bon"
"Basta Ya"


"Tu Recuerdo"

"El Amor de Mi Vida"/"Fuego Contra Fuego"/"Te Extraño, Te Olvido, Te Amo"


"I Am"/"I Don't Care"


"Lola, Lola"

"La Bomba"


"The Cup of Life"


"Lo Mejor de Mi Vida Eres Tú"

...and despite the fact that the majority of the show was in Spanish, my enjoyment was undeterred. I've been listening to these songs nonstop for weeks. The melodies and music are captivating, regardless of language comprehension.

And I'm sure all of the half-naked men didn't hurt the situation.

Sure, coming all the way to Mexico City to see Ricky Martin was a little bit crazy. But from what I've seen of the city so far, this is going to be a great vacation, whatever the impetus. And it's not like there isn't a precedent: We planned a 2006 summer vacation to New York City around a Madonna concert at Madison Square Garden.

And...while we're speaking of Madonna and New York...I've just learned that Ricky Martin is set to star in an "Evita" revival on Broadway sometime in 2012...


Okay...so there was one last thing standing between me and Ricky Martin...

Tonight we made a joyous return to Auditorio Telmex to catch Kylie Minogue as she nears the conclusion of the North American leg of her Aphrodite tour. Only five dates left! Will you catch one?

Kyle makes her Guadalajara debut

Kylie Minogue should be Madonna. She really, really should be. Both are blonde (sometimes). Both are very popular within the gay community. Both are popular internationally. Both sewed the seeds of stardom in the 80s (Kylie with "Loco-Motion," Madonna with "Everybody"...and let's face it, who remembers "Everybody"?). Both are well into the latter half of their lives/careers (though Kylie is ten years Madonna's junior). Both put on one hell of a show. And yet, somehow, Kylie never quite wove her way into the tapestry of the American mainstream. Though her new album certainly comes close.

In a recent blog post, I discussed how a couple of events this month have mirrored events from my past and have therefore caused me to think about other aspects of my life. Kylie's Aphrodite tour is no exception. Though I have never seen her in concert before, hearing the vocal talents of Ms. Minogue always causes me to flash back to two key moments in my life.

1: During my time in the Walt Disney World College Program, as I was just coming to terms with who I am and who I wanted to be, my friend Jason introduced me to a lot of new music. Amidst the piles of CDs I would listen to during that six month period was Kylie's Fever. It became a favorite, and still is. That album reminds me of a time in my life when everything was new, nothing was certain, and the ignorance of youth was malleable.

2: When we travel to Paris to visit our friends Yann and Charles (TJ, coincidentally, met Yann prior to our relationship while said Parisian was in the midst of his own Walt Disney World College Program experience), we inevitably end up watching a Kylie Minogue concert video. The French LOVE Kylie. On our first visit, we literally could not escape the constant playing of "I Should Be So Lucky," no matter where in the city we went, and despite the fact that by this point the song was, well, really old. It's ok. I love that song. It reminds me of how lucky I am to have someone like TJ who can put up with all of my caca. It reminds me of how lucky we are to have such great friends abroad that we are able to visit, and who are able to visit us in return (Um, guys? When are you coming to Mexico?!?!?).

Unfortunately, that particular song wasn't lucky enough to make it onto the set list tonight. Here's what DID make the cut:

Set List
"The One"
"I Believe in You"
"Cupid Boy"
"Spinning Around"
"Get Outta My Way"
"What Do I Have to Do?"
'Everything is Beautiful"
"Confide In Me"
"Can't Get You Outta My Head"
"In My Arms"
"Looking For An Angel"
"There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)"
"Love At First Sight"
"Can't Beat the Feeling"/"If You Don't Love Me"
"Better the Devil You Know"
"In Your Eyes"
"Better Than Today"
"Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)"

"On a Night Like This"
"All The Lovers"

Can We Just Take a Moment to Discuss Copyright Infringement?

Thanks to tonight's show, I have a third Kylie memory. Wherever the Foreign Service takes us, Kylie's music will always remind me of our friend Genaro. As I have said before, Genaro's a great guy that has gone out of his way to show us the sights, whether it be a restaurant, museum, or musical production. And tonight was no exception. He snagged these tickets for us months ago.

He's dying to take us to the Ballet Folklórico. That will likely be the subject of a future blog.

But first, how would you like to hear about our adventures in Mexico City with Ricky Martin?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Things We Do For (Artificial Celebrity) Love

There is a rather funny plot point in "It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie" in which Kermit and the gang face the possibility of losing their theatre space, and all Pepe the King Prawn can think about are his desires to go shake his bon-bon with Ricky Martin in Miami. It all works out in the end of course, but Pepe's selfish persistence, despite the repercussions, is hilarious.

And now, it's personally relevant.

One of the drawbacks of life in the Foreign Service is that your life isn't always yours to do with as you please. Due to safety concerns, the US government will occasionally place travel restrictions on its employees abroad. This is done for their continued well being, of course, yet sometimes it can be somewhat bothersome.

A recent example of this is when we learned of Ricky Martin's May 18th concert at Arena VFG. TJ always told me that he would leave me for Ricky Martin. I was always okay with that, because I figure I'd at least try to give him a run for his money. And then Ricky Martin came out of the closet, sweetening the "possibility" of such an event. And now, for the first time, we found ourselves in a position in which we could fight it out for the man of our dreams. Only...we can't go to Arena VFG. The arena lies just outside of Guadalajara on a roadway that we are prohibited from traveling on at night due to recent violence instigated by the drug trade.

After a couple of months of bickering back and forth about our options, which included sneaking away in the dead of night and hoping for the best, or renting an armored car (both my ridiculous ideas), or simply, rationally, forgetting about it altogether (TJ's idea), we finally reached an agreement.

Having not taken a vacation since our Oct/Nov 2009 trip to Paris to see our friends Yann and Charles, it was decided that perhaps we were due for a break. And since Ricky Martin was scheduled to be in Mexico City on May 15th at Palacio de los Deportes, and since we had been wanting to go to Mexico City anyway, and since our friend Vicente works at Volaris and would be able to get us discounted tickets...we thought now would be a great opportunity to take some time off from work.

And so we set about requesting the time off, buying conert tickets, and making hotel/flight reservations.

And then, of course, once all of this was done, the travel ban got lifted a few days ago.


Let's console ourselves with a pretty picture of Ricky Martin. And because I have to keep up appearances, I'll make it a wholesome one.

Given the chance, Ricky and I will leave the kids with the
baby-sitter (TJ) and enjoy a night on the town in Mexico City.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


This past Sunday, our friend Antonio invited us to visit his hometown of Tepatitlán, located approximately 70km (43.5mi) east of Guadalajara. The municipality, founded in 1883, rests in Los Altos de Jalisco (Highands of Jalisco).

Tepatitlán, or Tepa, is the largest producer of eggs in Mexico, the largest pork producer in Jalisco, and home to the country's primary milk basin. The city also prides itself on being a large producer of Tequila. According to Wikipedia, the lead-singer of Mexican rock band Mana once told Latina Magazine that he had sampled the best tequila of his life in Tepatitlán...though this is thought by some to merely be a deliberate snub against the town of Tequila.

See? I told you they produced
a lot of tequila here!

But enough about statistics. They aren't mine, anyway. Instead, let's talk about 1st-hand accounts.

Tapatios (those that call Guadalajara home) were quick to tell me that there was nothing to do or see in Tepatitlán. I would assume this is quite similar to how those in Washington DC will tell you that there is nothing to do in Virginia. In other words, opinion based on little to no fact.

Sure, immediately upon driving into the city limits, you are struck by how...little there is. Lots of houses, maybe one or two abarrotes (general stores)...but not much else. To that, I will simply say "keep driving." Because if you dare to keep driving, you will stumble upon a fairly large town full of the normal hustle an bustle. In fact, Tepatitlán on Sunday was far busier than I have ever found Guadalajara to be on the same day. The photos above were taken in the town square, and from them I would hazard that you can see the tell-tale signs of an active community (i.e. lots of people hanging out in public and beautifully maintained landscaping).

As pretty as I found the square to be, it's nothing compared to the cathedral, Templo Parroquial de San Francisco de Asis.

So massive that I struggled to find just the right angle (and worry that I still failed), this has got to be one of the most cared for, well-preserved churches I have ever seen. Construction began in 1742 and would not conclude until 1775. A clock located on the south tower has been keeping time non-stop for over 140 years.

Although Sunday happened to be Mother's Day back home in the states, here in Mexico El Día de la Madre, always celebrated on May 10th, was still two day's away. So I wasn't expecting to see vendors selling flowers outside the church...and I REALLY wasn't expecting to find a stage and grandstand erected along the church's broadside, from which volunteers were handing out presents in honor of the town's mothers.

Sure, most of the gifts were microwaves, toasters, and various other domestic products, but so what? Is it not the thought that counts? In the United States, our mothers are often infuriated to receive such gifts. They prefer perfumes and the like. But here in Mexico, where the mothers are hard working women, maybe they appreciate such items? No, wait. American mothers are also hard working. This means that blenders probably piss of Mexican mothers, too. It's harder to tell, though. People here are sometimes too polite for their (or your) own good.

Close to the church, in typical small-town fashion, was Presidencia Municpal. A gorgeous blue building that was, like any respectable City Hall, closed on Sunday. So it was to our utmost surprise that, upon walking by, the security guard and cleaning staff recognized us for just what we were: two gringos with a big honkin' camera and matching dazed expressions. They could have exchanged pleasantries and continued with their day or, perhaps more rationally, ignored us all together (ah, the American way). But, no. Instead, they invited us inside so that I could take photos of the four stunningly beautiful murals in the entryway and adjacent stairwell.

The one pictured to the right encircles the staircase and tells the history of Tepatitlán.

Our short visit did not allow for much more sightseeing, but we did manage to do a little window shopping (this town is filled to the brim with knock-off Hollister, Abercrombie, and American Eagle...it's a shame they typically charge name brand prices) and snack on some gorditas before heading back home.

The town makes for a wonderfully relaxing day trip. And, from the small glimpse I got of casinos, bars, and nightclubs, will make for an exciting overnight trip one of these days.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blast from the Past

On Friday, April 29th we took in a Spanish-language presentation of Disney's La Bella y La Bestia: El Musical at Teatro Diana. Despite being performed by students at the Guadalajara campus of Tecnologico de Monterrey, the acting and singing were near-Broadway calibre.

It reminded me of November 2002. I had gone to visit my college friend, Lauri, who was in the final months of an internship in Boston. We saw the sights. Went to Cheers. Had a delicious Thanksgiving lunch at the Prudential Center. Walked the Freedom Trail. Then we hoped on a bus to New York City, where we saw Beauty and the Beast on Broadway. Although I didn't know it at the time, this trip was our last hurrah as friends. When she returned to Texas that spring, Lauri had decided not to be friends with me anymore. Was it because of her unrequited crush? Was it because I won the battle of whether we should see Rent or Mamma Mia? I'll never know. She didn't do me the courtesy of providing a reason. I still think about her, sometimes. I hope she's happy and healthy.

On Wednesday, May 3, we headed to Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara to catch Lady Gaga in The Monster Ball at Estadio Tres de Marzo. The show was in English, minus one awkward song performed in Spanish and one even more awkward recitation of a hand-written note about U.S. immigration law. Apparently, GaGa is not a fan...Right before Gaga took the stage, lightning ripped the sky asunder and the heavens let loose a torrential downpour that signaled the early arrival of the rainy season. Gaga told us that she loves us so much, she made it rain. And maybe she did; it hasn't rained since.

This reminded me of the time, which feels so very long ago but was in reality "only" eight months ago, when TJ and I saw this very same production in Washington DC. You might remember it, too. I doubt Gaga remembers it. Poor woman has been spending the money from this tour since it started in November 2009 (it finally ended in Mexico City on Friday evening). Although we flew solo for the DC show, the general admission policy at Autónoma allowed us to join forces with several of our Guadalajaran friends and co-workers who had purchased tickets long before our arrival at post. Perhaps this is symbolic of how constrained we felt in Washington, and how liberated we (generally) feel in Guadalajara?

Somewhere between Belle's curtain call and GaGa's opening act (Semi-Precious Weapons...an acquired taste, to be sure), I went digging through the boxes that never get unpacked, and always multiply. You know the ones. These are the boxes that contain momentos from days gone by: Playbills, postcards that were never mailed, concert tickets, patches that were never sewed to anything, museum guides, coasters from favorite bars, theme park maps, etc, etc.

I had always hoped to create a scrap book and, as is often the case with such things, never did. But I never stopped collecting. Never stopped saving. And never will.

It was in these boxes that I hoped to find ticket stubs from my previous viewings of Beauty and the Beast and The Monster Ball. As of this writing, I have not found them. But I know they are in there...somewhere. Still plenty of crap--I mean, memories...to sort through.

Instead, I have found things far more precious.
  • An autographed promotional photo of Parthenon, a contestant from Season 2 of Scy-fy's Who Wants to be a Superhero? In his civilian identity, Parthenon is a good friend of mine back home in Orlando. We were introduced by mutual friends shortly before the show started in the summer of 2007. His name is Dan. He throws killer Halloween parties, makes his own costumes (regular clothes, too), and has 1,000 different creative ideas per day. People have asked me where my blog's logo came from. It was Dan. He loved that I was starting a blog and offered to help spruce it up. He encourages me to write. Maybe one day I will. Well, really write, I mean.
  • The flyer and small sample bottle of Jean-Paul Gaultier's Fleur du Male that we picked up during a March 2007 trip to Madrid to visit our friend Bruno. It smelled so flower-y that we dubbed it "Eau du Douche" and subsequently tortured each other with attack-sprays of it for the duration of our trip. I had thought the bottle empty, and yet...yes! Just enough left for one more spray! Happy to confirm that it was still douchey. Having lost all photographical evidence of this trip during a horrific battle with our old iMac just prior to the move to Mexico, finding this memento (along with museum guides and club flyers) was worth more than gold.
  • A ticket to the March 23, 2003 production of Cirque du Soleil Presents: Alegria in Houston. This was a birthday gift from my friend, Evan. We are still friends today, though prior to his visit to DC last year, we had not seen each other in seven years. I'll be seeing him again in July when I head to San Diego for Comic Con (what, don't you know by now that I'm a nerd?).
  • Letters my previously mentioned then-friend Lauri wrote to me during my study abroad trip to Europe in the summer of 2001. Only two letters reached me during that month-long, five country tour. Both were penned by Lauri and were accompanied by humorous drawings and random European coinage (this was pre-Euro) that didn't exactly belong to the country I was visiting during the letters' time of arrival. She was and oddball, but it suited her.
I don't want to bore you with a full inventory of my excavation. Suffice it to say, I found a box of history. That box contains many memories, several of which had been thought lost.

The reason that I blog is so that I don't forget. The reason that I have held onto these mementos is that I don't want to forget my pre-blogging days. What I've learned is that items stored in boxes do get forgotten if they aren't pulled out and appreciated from time to time.

It's time to finally get that scrapbook going.