READ USA TODAY UPDATE ON THE CRISIS IN VENEZUELA: http://usat.ly/1W3FTzV
and I10, El Paso, October 2015,
photograph by Bruce Berman
“I want you to come on, come on, come on, come on and take it,
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby!
Oh, oh, break it!
Break another little bit of my heart now, darling, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Oh, oh, have a!
Have another little piece of my heart now, baby,
You know you got it if it makes you feel good,
Oh, yes indeed.
You’re out on the streets looking good,
And baby deep down in your heart I guess you know that it ain’t right…”
Rancho Boots (from the book Juárez), Juárez, 2009
Photographs and text by Bruce Berman
Every once in awhile you have to just throw yourself on the ground and go for it. Sometimes it’s worth it. This was worth it. My eyes needed it.
Juárez is changing. It’s good. People are dancing in the streets. The Cartel is receding into memory. Juárez has always had its own style, its own punch, it’s little kick in the gut that reminds you you’re not in Kansas anymore.
Juárez is the center of the world of nowheresville.
I bow to it.
Commentary and photograph by Bruce Berman
What was is going.
What was the recent past is now becoming the debris of now, eroding into the dust or waiting for the two hour demolition wrecker to come and sweep it away, laying waste to the last of the industrial age, smoothing a pad or a field to a bald table upon which will be laid The Grid.
Relic #39, New Mexico, April 2016
Commentary by Bruce Berman
The Relics of Light and Shadow series is an ongoing project since 2010.
From the very beginning of my life in photography I’ve always spent a lot of time “out there,” in the backlands of America. One of my first published pieces (October 1969) was for the Christian Science Monitor (I was their Midwest photographer, based out of Chicago, from 1969 thru 1973). It was a piece I did on the coming of the fallow harvest times of the Midwest, showing images of the solitude that comes with the coming of winter, locking down hearth and home, the time when “it,” the harsh wintertime, is coming and all you can do is get yourself ready for “it.”
Love them. Always have. Strength. Endurance. Verve. Strongest people on this planet.
photography by Russell Lee, 1949
This photograph was taken during the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), exact date unkown.The photograph was taken by commercial photographer Robert Runyon (1881-1968), a longtime resident of South Texas. His photographs document the history and development of South Texas and the border, including the Mexican Revolution, the U.S. military presence at Fort Brown and along the border prior to and during World War I, and the growth and development of the Rio Grande Valley.
This image was shot on a glass-plate negative ; 5×7 in. Camera unknown.
All photographs in the video are ©AlexWebb/MagnumPhoto2015
Magnum photographer Alex Webb talks about his work.
All photographs are ©FrankOscarLarsen2015
ASARCO #212, May 2012. Photograph
Photograph and text by Bruce Berman
I miss you ASARCO.
You were texture. You were identity. You were muy macho. You had cajones. Your candy stripe shaft spewed your acids and we ran for cover. At least we were moving. You were not vanilla. You were not something else. You were, well, ASARCO, un madre. You were definitely not bourgeois, pro seguro. On dark nights, down on Paisano, huge trucks dumped your excrement and giant flames roared into the sky, lighting up I10 like a festive firecracker.
Now you are a bald pallet awaiting “The Grid.” They fiddle before they drop the hammer, just enough time for one to build trust in the untrustworthy. What should go on the ground that has your blood? Should it be a Western Town? Giddy up! Should it be an amusement park? Ice cream! Maybe it could be a “multi use” nothing (Ha! What else do you think they will do!)? We need more apartments and strip centers! Maybe we can just let UTEP spread its, its…well…it could just spread whatever it is that UTEP has.
I will politely clap. I am not lamenting the inevitable any more than I do on The Day Of the Dead.
Yes you were a cancer dispenser, a reminder of danger, vulnerability and of the sweat and blood of working men. Oh yeah, you were one bad hombre. Oh, and how the gerentes avoided your gaze. You were so not sheik. How could we sell this bipolar berg as the cultural and artistic epicenter of the great southwest with your giant schlong sticking into the sky, having intercourse with the eyes of every passerby? No no no, you had to go. You were so, well, nasty!
Mad Men, the 50s and the Waiting
Text and photograph by Bruce Berman
Mad as in nutty mad…mad because they were delirious with the defiance of convention while simultaneously becoming the masters of the Establishment (and remain so, truly understanding what motivates consumers -and that became all of us- and then getting them to consume), mad because they were about to be jetting and tail-finning and mini-skirting and drinking and potting and pushing every moral convention ever taught and/or learned out the back door into what became the waste dump of the 60s. They were insane with the possibilities and not burdened by the weight of the previous two generations (The Great One of the Depression and the War). They were mad and intoxicated and wild, like their cars, huge, with unlimited horsepower, design that was plastic and chrome and sweeping, made with materials never heard of before. Theory knew no limits. Everyone felt a little “illegal,” yet, invited to the table. Being ecclectic was safe. Just keep consuming, it’ll all be all right. Yes, they were nutty mad and flew high, never thinking there could be a landing, mad with the waiting for the coming fall, the doubt, the emptiness, the great Genericide, ergo, The End Of The Innocence (Don Henley). They became us. Post Mad. The masters of data, overthink, and, compliance.
Text and Photo by Bruce Berman
No telling what and who will come over the Cordoba bridge that links El Paso, Texas with its sister city Juárez, Chihuahua.
In this case, crossing from south to north, was Spencer.
Pipe, a hat that said “F___ Off,” aged Doc Marten’s, punk rock labels every where, he is as ecclectic as the border. In a strange way he, is the border: neither this or that, neither Mexican or American, neither barrier nor passageway.
A friend once called the border a metaphor for a person who has “an undefined personality.”
Looking at Spencer -and some others (in my mirror!)- I’m thinking it’s a place for very defined personalities.
The problem is that it’s really difficult to say exactly what they are.
Which brings us back to “undefined.”
Text and photograph by Bruce Berman
This man is a shoe decorator. He paints designs on shoes and then the shoes are sold in nearby stores, The faster he can paint the more money he can earn. The fumes from the permanent paint are toxic and the shoe man swigs from his Coca Cola constantly.
The economy of Juárez is purely entrepreneurial capitalism and there are many one-man “businessmen” in the Plaza Reforma which has become the new heart of El Centro. The recent Cartel War saw the exodus of much of Juárez’ middle class and along with them the businesses they owned and maintained. Much of Juárez that butts against the border south of the Cordova/Paso del Norte bridge has now been razed in anticipation of a massive redevelopment.
As the new Juárez rises so has the need to create one’s own business.
The New Juarez.
Everyone is talking about it. A new day, full of new promise. Many acquaintances tell me about all the new bars and cantinas. That Juarez will rise again.
This morning, Easter morning, two bodies were found hanging from a bridge in central Juarez. The victims were young, scruffy, boys with no names.
Hanging, like crucifixion, is a public and humiliating death. A death after death, the person shamed, rendered helpless, publicly. This is death with a message.
There was a day when you could think of Juarez and think in color. I get whiffs of it lately, but one is so cognizant that under that shiny surface is a black and white heart that has been ripped open for all to see and it will take a long time fill with the energy and joy that was -and will be again- the hallmark of Ciudad Juarez. It will happen. It is happening now. A generation has now come that learned to live abajo, and carefully. There has been damage. No one can live under that cloud forever.
It’s nice to look back, now and again. But here, on the border, it has been years since people have allowed themselves to look forward.
There are “whiffs.”
The streets of Juárez abound with life again.
The “Cartel War” is over.
The war for justice and integrity in government, the war to develop a country that doesn’t need a drug transporting business as it’s second most important economy (after petroleum), is not over and won’t be for the foreseeable future.
On the streets of Juárez, there is a strange mix: Old people who couldn’t get out, the poor that couldn’t get out, the young that didn’t know there was anywhere to go to and babies!
There are a lot of babies in their teenage parents’ arms these days. In the streets in from of the Mercado Reforma there is this strange blend of young parents weighing babies in their arms, interspersed with the very old, interspersed with prostitutes, interspersed with an economy that is not longer threatened by the incursion of “the franchises.” Franchises bailed out of Juárez years ago, when the war began, in 2011.
This isn’t the Juárez of the glamour 1950s or the boom boom 1960s and their international factories, or of the up and down 1970s and 1980s with the rise of the licenciado middle class, nor of the “we are almost first world” Juárez of the 1990s and beyond.
This man shocks people in bars! He takes his battery operated tool around and for five bucks looks for masochists who, drunk (or insane?), pay him to turn up the juice, hit the button and let ‘er rip..
It takes all kinds, no?
And it takes someone to recognize certain kinds of Humanity and let ‘er rip…for…five bucks!
Commentary by the Editor
Juarez, Chih., Mex. — So how did this Cartel War begin and how does it end?
The Border Blog will not answer that today. We look for the things that make the heart tick and leave the fancy thinking to those that make these messes in the first place.
Roughly, for me, it began a long time ago, when the people who have most of the marbles understood that they didn’t have to do a thing about bringing along another class of people who had hardly any marbles at all. Impunity. No apologies. In Juarez the maquila industry began when someone figured out that Labor was a cheap product that Mexico had a lot of and that it could be exchanged for some major profit. Of course nothing so crass as that was said. Rather, this was the bright new day that would lead to a burgeoning “middle class,” and bring everyone up from the bottom. So they said. So the “development” of Juarez began. The powers that be brought willing companies looking for labor and they delivered “labor.” This labor, also known as the citizens of Mexico came from the far flung corners of Mexico. They had nothing else to do and would work at any price, went the theory. Everyone would be happy. You move here, we’ll give you subsistence (and societal dislocation), and we’ll go to the bank. Everyone will be happy.
When I first started photographing in the maquila factories of Juarez in the early 1980’s the salary in a maquila was $5 per day. Today it’s a little over $7. A full two dollar increase in 20 years. Imagine!
It wasn’t sustainable then and it isn’t now.
The promise of some kind of job, of rising above downright depraved poverty, was strong and people flocked to the border factories. First from Veracruz, then from Durango, then from Torreon and on and on.
If you were a Mexicano and wanted to improve your life without the terrible alternative of actually crossing the border and trying to make it work in El Norte, you headed to the maquilas of Juarez or Tijuana or Nuevo Laredo. If you made that journey you left your culture and customs behind. This was the brave new world.
The View South #421, July 2014
Flags are down in Parque Chamizal. Wind must be up and hopefully a little rain. Just a whisper of a season change. Not yet. But not all that far off either. ‘ta bien. The View South. Days come and go. Then years. Then decades. Then…? I turned my back on the past a long time ago. People tell me that’s good. Bible says it too. Do they really mean it?
by Co-Editor Bruce Berman
I drive my old routes. Camera on the passenger seat or my lap. As always, these days it usually stays there, untouched. There are things along the way that spark memories. Object that aren’t there anymore. Gorgeous commercial signs constructed by craftsmen in the 1950s and 60s (not the least of which from the Jimenez Sign Company) were carted off to other cities that were twenty years ahead of El Paso in their bourgeoisie ambitions.You can drink under some of El Paso’s “Motel, Vacancies,” signs in various bars from Austin to Houston to Baton Rouge. There’s a withering away now, aging and weathered, but mostly not endearing anymore, not worth stopping for (to make images). There came a year, a month, a day when the treasures of El Paso were either gone, carted off or just left to rot.
There are whole swaths of this incredible and authentic city that are gone, at least for the long gaze of a photograph: Alameda. El Centro (downtown). Segundo is shrinking fast, bordered by El Paso Street on the west (with nasty tentacles of them all over it) and Cotton on the far east, with old residents living out their days, youth getting out fast and them with their bulging eyes all over it. Off of Delta there are condominiums and some revamped industrial buildings, residents living an almost urban lifestyle (sans humanity). Even the Gay Bars have fled, a sure sign of urban renewal/removal.
It’s not my job to do anything about any of this. My job, as I saw it, at the beginning, in 1980, was to give face to a face that was not known and I have tried. As The Grid lays out its future in the city with two hearts, it’s clear to me that my mission isn’t to pick sides in land rights, power exchanges, or to watch -or judge- the inevitable blandification. But blandification has come. Oh happy day. Some loudly exhale and go, finally! The city is becoming presentable to visitors again. It’s cleaner. It’s newer. There’s baseball. Soccer is coming (watch out Chamizal! The final blow that started in the mid 1960s is finally here). There are restaurants with the preface Le with Foo Fo thing-a-ma-jig dishes with little portions of things that look like they squiggle -vegetables- on top of things it’d be hard to identify below. Fancy. Plates of Foo Foo. There are young people downtown again, well, the kind of young people that look like they’d also be comfortable up in Kern Place on Cincinnati and the upper Westside.
Finally, there’s a Starbucks downtown near the Plaza and the Westin. The kids from the ‘hood can serve the hipsters that come in from outer Zaragosa Road and beyond.
Boring? Not to everyone and I wish them the best. I am not part of this. I left this scene in three other places I lived before this very long stretch here. It’s the same message: you’re in the gentry or you’re equitied out of the gentry.
Check this video out.
When Americans talk about the violence in Mexico they often view the situation through “western” eyes, thinking of Good Guys v. Bad Guys.
As this Al Jazeera report shows, the conflict is often between Bad Guys and Badder Guys and the public -the oppressed people of Mexico- have to stand on the sidelines, knowing but unable to alter the situation.
This video asks, Where do you turn when there is no one to turn to?
Commentary by Bruce Berman / Video by ©Al Jazeera 2014
There’s something happening in journalism.
When Aljazeera -who shouldn’t give a hoot about what’s happening in Mexico- publishes a well done piece on police kidnapping in Mexico, when Mexican journalists go ahead and publish their own work, under duress, knowing that to publish is to perish, and increasingly the xenophobic U.S. press dithers on entertainment and cheesy presidential inanities, we are talking about a new arrangement of the deck chairs on the the good ship journalism.
The truth is that most American newspapers and magazines aren’t undergoing the huge transformation they are experiencing in a vacuum. It’s not that hey are not irrelevant. They are merely irrelevant as the source for hard news (at a minimum) that relies on being the “go to” media.
For the most part, they are not that any longer.
If there is one source “out there,” it will be Tweeted or Posted on some social media site, within minutes, and then the fun begins. From there, people will Retweet it (RT), add links or complimentary sources and then the multiplier of social media begins. The question isn’t, Are you getting the news, but, rather, How much can you take?
Of course the eternal existential question remains, What happens when there is no longer a source of information (such as the New York Times. Sky News, CNN or Fox, i.e the “media giants?
This is not likely.
El Toro bi-plane on La Avenida, Juárez, 2008
Streets of Juárez are changing.
The murderous last few years are being replaced with growth. Planned growth.
The entire border is under development and there have been plans for decades that are now starting to happen.
It’s as if the violencia was a cleansing. Or was it a scrubbing?
In the “new” Juárez there won’t be any Bi planes. The era is gone. Anything from the 20th Century will become increasingly a rarity.
So be it. C’est la vie. Es la vida. What can one say?
Or was it a
Conscience is the root of all true courage; if a man would be brave let him obey his conscience.
– James Freeman Clarke 12/31/2013
Comodante Marcos, Juárez, 2006 ©Bruce Berman
Segundo barrio Yo Yo boy, Halloween 2011
Text by Bruce Berman (in full snide mode)
Halloween is The Great Day in El Segundo barrio. The ‘hood comes alive. People are pouring over the bridges heading from Juarez on the candy quest. People in the neighborhood put on the costumes and come out of invisibility. The first block of America (6th and El Paso) is a riot of laughing and color and wild abandon.
Nothing is sure on this border in this neighborhood anymore. “They” are back! The Developers. “The 180s” aren’t around on this day. The Developers, their Pol puppies, the Gov. employee “Good Germans,” even the The Do Gooders (even if they are really the Do Badders). That’s what I have come to call them all. They say something and if you want to find out what they just said just think 180 degrees opposite from what it was. Most of them are up in Kern Place handing out candy, their yearly contact with the rabble. They’re all afraid of the people when they have fun.
LOU LOU LOU
The News floored me.
It’s like New York vanished.
Guilliani couldn’t scrub it.
It’s your city Lou.
You were the grit and the soul man.
So now it’s time to fly away.
“How do you Speak to an Angel” you wrote and asked:
You just say – Hello, hello, hello Baby
Check it out. See you there. Say hi to Andy.
Miss you. The thought of you.
You were always a kick in my pants.
Walk on the wild side.
The great beyond.
See you there.
Mailbox Kids, Segundo Barrio, El Paso, 2012
The Shrinking Segundo Barrio
by Bruce Berman
El Barrio, The Segundo, is shrinking.
It’s getting the squeeze. The squeeze has been coming for a century or more but it’s a full assault now, and a generation that had roots in the ‘hood, that was born of a time and place that demanded they fight, is no longer there in numbers and possibly not there in energy and historic resentment.
The neighborhood is being squeezed from the north with the Dreamland Downtown Plan back on Premium and from within. A proposed Science museum in the old Armijo School would be the death blow.
If the deathblow can be delivered to an already dead corpse.
Developing a portrait, Granada, Nicaragua, February 1986
This photographer in the Plaza of Granada in Nicaragua is developing a portrait that he just made. Inside the box are the normal developing chemicals of Developer, Fixer. Once he has the photograph captured -on portrait size paper- he goes inside the camera through the light tight sleeve and goes from one mini tray to the next until he has the image “fixed.” He then pulls the photograph out and washes it on a tray of water that he has set up in a little bucket attached to the tripod under the camera.
His process was not as fast as the 60 second time for a Polaroid, but, close!
Eric Chesak, inventor with his garage
built star tracker, El Paso, Texas, 2010
To see some of Eric’s work, go to:
Giant Pistachio, Alamogordo, New Mexico, Jan. 2013
Just got a very welcome announcement from a Border Blog viewer. He pointed out that the above image is a representation of a pistachio not a pecan.
We don’t have much of a defense, but really, when this was posted on April 24, your Border Blog photographer, Bruce Berman, wasn’t much Bruce Berman either. That’s what happens when one “does what one has got to do as opposed to doing what you do.”
We at Border Blog are pleased to announce that the real Bruce Berman is back, on the border, three blocks from the bridge, in his decaying ruin, tape -metaphorically- over his mouth, no longer talking about photography but living his life, and making images that, hopefully, will do, as we wrote almost a decade ago, stating our intention to (see the “About” tab above), “…cover the news, opinions and culture of the 2000 mile border of Mexico and the United States, concentrating on the epicenter of El Paso and Juarez. The Border Blog is not meant to be a news source as much as it is meant to be a news ‘feel’.”
Thank you MB and thank you Bruce (but tsk tsk on your caption!).
Please view this video about Rigoberto Gonzales. His paintings are horrible and important.
Doroteo in front of the ruins of Centro Chicano
2011 ©Bruce Berman
Centro Chicano gone. Rosas’ place gone (goodbye early 19th century, hello Denver to El Paso bus station). Flea market gone (it was so, “messy”). Museo Urbano, barely here and now gone. Koreans on S Street seem to be throwing in the towel, going. Can’t sell to Juarenses that aren’t there. The bi-national plan rising like a phoenix, unchanged and in better shape than it was (thank you Cartel War).
I know where “El Paso,” is right now. Bright New World. Shiny. All’s they need is a theme park and it’s on its way.
But Chicano El Paso, the turf south of Paisano, south side, El Segundo?
Music and flowers, Juarez, 2012 –
Commentary by Bruce Berman
There are many reasons for music and flowers in Juarez. Marriage, love, marking passages of accomplishment and age and transition. And death. Recently there has been little music and lots of flowers have been offered for goodbyes to loved ones, lost in the war. There are a lot of crossed fingers these days, lots of hope for better times, for the good. It’s been a long “winter” and it won’t go away right away. But there is still a Juarez in Juarez and the one we love is not gone. It had color and style and verve. It will again. There was the sweet smell of gardenias in the night air and thoughts of new possibilities and the violins played music of happiness in the skillful hands of roving mariachi. The Pop sounds of a new generation had begun to fill stadiums, singers emerged from as far away as DF and from within. Juarez was about style and boldness and defiance, a unique culture built over the past century, forged from a revolution and tempered by the shadow of a bossy and boasting neighbor. J town, Chihuahua. Strong, bold and pretty.
It’ll take a lot. A lot has happened.
It will be back. It is coming back (Estará de vuelta. Que se está recuperando).
It is, isn’t it? We hope.
Wedding day, Segundo barrio, Feb. 2012
All images from The Border Project: 1980-2012 ©Bruce Berman
Wedding day, Segundo barrio, May 1980
Man In Flames, ASARCO/El Paso – 1987
All photos ©Bruce Berman
A Dear John Letter to ASARCO
by Bruce Berman
Au revoir ASARCO. You were the spine of the border, a big giant dong sticking up out of the river, pouring flames and sulfur, lead and smoke. The town grew up around you, fed off of you, then outlived you. You looked down on battles and traffic, always with the bifocals of looking at two countries at once. Looking east to El Paso, you looked down on the dusty foothills of the Franklins that became Kern Place and Mesa Hills, the sheik and elite (in its own mind). On the other, looking west, down into the dust and turbulence of Juarez, you looked down onto Colonia Felipe Angeles, which, too was foothills, that became a shanty town which became a barrio which became (shhhh..not quite yet) a path to a port of entry into New Mexico. What a vantage point you have had. When I first saw you I stood up straight, saluted and said, Wow, yes sir!
I dug you from the gitgo, had the pleasure of working inside you, being constantly re-awakened by you, of working inside you near those flames with the weather outside 105 degrees, feeling the comradie of your workers, the satisfaction of being inside something that wild and crazy and productive, a caldron of energy and raw power.
Low Rider’s Crucufix, east El Paso-May 2012
One sees the world through one’s own window. This is the Low Rider’s punta de vista. What’s your’s?
Rato Vato….I’m back!
Man#26, The Other Truth series, Juarez, May 2011
Christmas Eve/El Paso
A Personal Narrative
Lost and abandoned. Christmas Eve reminds me of that, right now, as I look out my south-facing window to Juarez (three blocks away) across the valley of Juarez, to the foothills of the Sierra Madre, where Creamac sits, CREAMAC, the “mental Institution” there, where the people huddle, people with trouble, trying to be warm, trying to make sense of the world, trying to live. CREAMAC, the House of the Abandoned and Troubled and Hurt.
I should be there. Today. Often. More often. I struggle with that. It’s snowing outside. Excuses to stay home, safe, just wrestling my own demons. I should cross the bridge (would my car get back over the ice on the bridge later tonight?), I should do SOMETHING!
Undocumented Women CrossingThe R2, Juraez-El Paso, 1984
Text and photograph by Bruce Berman
The river with two names: Rio Grande/Rio Bravo del Norte. Depends where you begin and where you end and where you return to. These women are heading north. It was a long time ago. Everything has changed and nothing has changed and I suspect it will continue to change and not change forever.
The river with two names, the R2, is also the place of the personality with two halves.
It is the place of bifurcation. But even that has two sides: twice as much insight.
Where are these women now? Which side happened to them? What happened to me? What happened to Juárez and the U.S.?
What happened to me?
I know this: people will cross going north no matter what and no matter the year. People will cross less, going south, depending on the year.
The river will flow south from Colorado (a Spanish name) to the Gulf of Mexico (an English language name).
And none of it matters to anyone living here except that one government makes it hard for another people to do what they have done for thousands of years and another government makes it necessary.
Who’s confused and who’s doing the confusing?
Man in the Segundo, El Paso – Sept. 2011
Photo and Text by Bruce Berman
Man from Anthony, New Mexico, describing his younger days in the Segundo barrio.
The Segundo barrio is El Paso’s most historic neighborhood, hugging the border with Juarez, Mexico and architecturally intact from the 1880’s “railroad boom,” that brought fired brick architecture and “Chicago Brick (which is atypical red).” Some adobe structures go back to the early 19th century. This part of the city has had human habitation for thousands of years. Spanish travelers began European settlement at this place in the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo in the mid 1600’s.
The real significance of the Segundo barrio, however, is the Latino community and it is significant. The barrio, historically, was the first “stop” on the journey north to “El Norte,” whether it was a matter of days for rest or for a generation of orientation. Many people in El Paso trace their roots to family who lived in El Segundo barrio in their first years in the United States.
FOR CAFÉ TACUBA VIDEO (and the rest of this article):
V.I.P. at Robo-Geek Fest, El Paso, Texas
all photographs by Bruce Berman
Robots at Robo-Geek Fest, El Paso, Texas
Robot attacks little girl at Robo-Geek Fest, El Paso, Texas
Story by Bruce Berman
El Paso —-
Four-wheeled robots wielding paintball guns took over the Western Technical College Northeast campus on October 15, when students from nine area high schools competed in the college’s first T-Robo Competition. The students design, program and build the robot vehicles.
The competition was part of a daylong event, which included a Geek Fest with demonstrations by area engineering and technology businesses, as well as Fort Bliss and White Sands.
There was a military flare to the event showcasing various careers in the STEM fields. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Possible applications for the robotic vehicles would be non human operated military vehicles or “drones.”
Maria Full Of Grace, from The Other Truth (T.O.T.) series,
Juárez, May 2011
Photo and Text by Bruce Berman
Maria. Full of grace. And other emotions.
A permanent resident of CREAMAC, in the hills of Juárez, way up there, near the Guadalupe, the last place on one of the last streets, near the top. Some people call it an “insane asylum.” It started as a place the mayor of Juárez sent “street people.”
He took an old police station and created a shelter and ordered the tourist police to “get those people off the streets.” That was 34 years ago. There are still people there…from then!
I go there, driving through the anxiety streets of the troubled city, eyes are out, sharp, both ways. These days, if you keep up with the ever terrible news coming from the Cartel War, there’s a game you play, while driving in Juárez. You match up news with the locations where it happened, that you’ve heard about: “Oh, there, that’s where the drug rehab place is: 16 murdered in three minutes. Oh…there is where the mother and son got shot. Up that street, that’s where the family got wiped out but one kid hid under the bed and survived, yeah, and over there, that’s where they put the bomb inside the guy and dressed him as a cop and called in the Cruz Roja and Policia Federal and then blew him up, right there, over by the old market.”
And so it goes.
It could go on forever on a long ride, but we race through the streets, purposely. There is no leisure in Juárez, only meaningless purposefulness.
On this day, we’re heading to the “Insane Asylum,” which seems like a more positive mission than chasing down murder scenes.
Luis Jimenez’ Largartos (Alligators) in San Jacinto Plaza,
El Paso, Texas, July 2011 by Bruce Berman
El Paso —
by Bruce Berman
This is what kids do on their Quincineras in El Paso. They go to the heart of El Paso. They go to the downtown plaza, the “San Jacinto Plaza.”
This is what they want to record for a background, Los Lagartos, the alligators. They don’t go to the Mall. The Plaza theater around the corner really isn’t open to them (hey why not show movies? Why is it closed? It’s for “the people, isn’t it? Show movies in the daytime and they will come). Kids -and visitors- go to where their heart tells them there is a soul to the city: they visit Los Lagartos.
Do they even know why? Do they know that the artist who conceived and constructed the Lagartos was one of them, a local kid who once had a rented tux(I’ve seen the picture), celebrating like El Paso kids do, joyous and robust, almost free for a day (well that Limo driver is just out of camera range and is -unofficially- going to pass on a little mini spy report to the parents and they know it!).
Prom Girl, El Paso, Texas -May 2011
Murder schmurder! It’s Prom Night in El Paso.
Those buildings in the background are downtown El Paso. The space behind, the mountain, that’s Juarez. That girl there, in the foreground, the one with the whimsy and the joy and the hopes and the fragility, she’s a million miles away from this borderland desert, that stupid and brutal war (Juarez), that trying parking lot monotony (El Paso), at least for this night.
What is the news anyway? Is it what “they (in my case, us)” say it is? Or is it the dreams of a young girl (or boy) on one of the most remembered nights of one’s life?
I’m thinking the news, the significant events of our world are days and evenings, like this. Viewpoint. Remember that (!) as we become addicted to trouble and stress and our live’s of “quiet desperation (you wouldn’t know it if you looked at TV commercials would you?).”
One can hope it’s that way.
Gator skin and diamonds, El Paso – May 2011
El Paso –Six blocks to the border. There are diamonds. Well, they ought to be diamonds. He says they cost $250. I believe him. Sunday drive. Family in the Dodge. Stylin’ on Paisano Street by Bowie (Boooie). If you know El Paso you know the references. If you don’t it wouldn’t matter. Chuco street.
One of the riddles of photography for me is that every once in awhile there is an image that must be in color. Most everything I see and shoot is in B/W, but every once in awhile…
This dude is in color.
Love in the Desert 2011
by Bruce Berman
The Great Border Storm of 2011, El Paso-Juarez
by Bruce Berman ©2011
EL PASO –It was an amazing storm. Hard to believe it happened. Zero temperatures (in El Paso!!!!). Ice. Snow. Irregular electricity. No internet. Intermittent Gas (for some people). Highways closed. Jobs (including mine. I haven’t been to NMSU since last Tuesday! Bummer! I like it) canceled. Everything closed. Voluntary curfew (requested). Went on for three to five days (depending on which part of this freaky happening we’re talking about, and, when it was all over, yesterday, it wasn’t over because there were major outages of water (I’m going to get that shower eventually…like today!).
Now I think it’ll be El Paso again and we’ll be in shorts T Shirts and swamp coolers, squishy asphalt, hoods up and steaming radiators and complaining about the heat in no time at all.
Like I said, it was like a dream and hard to believe it ever happened.
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Protest For Peace at the Anapra, New Mexico/Anapra, Chiahuaha border, Jan. 29.
by Bruce Berman ©2011
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©2010 Bruce Berman
EL PASO — Grave is a Renaissance man. He prowls the city spraying paint, rapping with passerby (me included), dreaming of new projects, checking out vacant walls that he or his kids can awaken, always lining up the next stuff, sharing philosophy, Being.
An important piece on the journalists of Juarez by Brent and Craig Renaud/New York Times
“Reporters in Juárez not only cover drug cartel violence but are often targets themselves.”
People, Horse, Van in Juarez by Bruce Berman ©2010
JUAREZ, Mexico – Juarez still stands. It is still Juarez. It is a city of my heart. I am not alone. It is insane what has happened in Juarez. There is no reference or metaphor: it just stinks. I walk the streets and there are “tastes,” of the old city. The “new city,” the one of Malls and chrome and green eco-glass, the nightclubs and shiny new cars has disappeared more than the old city has.
This might say something about what the condition of the city was before “The Troubles.”
Angelica, Segundo barrio, El Paso – Oct. 18, 2010
EL PASO –Angelica Alvarez. A true believer. A believer in her faith. A believer in a better day. A believer in joy.
I noticed her as she worked her way down the street, engaging every person that she encountered, leaving each person she talked with a smile on their face, enthusiastically waving goodbye to her, they no longer strangers.
I followed her.
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Is there any Light at the end of Juárez’s tunnel?
There are a lot of things in Juárez these days: widows, widowers, killers, thugs, riddled bodies, drug addicts, every day normal people, kids going to school, people being married, bombs and death across the street (almost) from the old “City Market.” Everything.
There is very little Light.
The city seems to have turned from sunny and bright and colorful to Black and White, like an old photograph, one that wasn’t “fixed,” very well and is losing it’s contrast and fading away. The brightness is gone. Light is at a premium, right now, for sure, in Juárez.
Martin, man of dignity and courage, Lomas del Poleo, Summer 2009
I said I would be back to Lomas and I haven’t been back in a year now. It’s crazy. I drive to work in Las Cruces three times a week and I look to the west and I can see you, I can see Lomas, right there, the flat top mesa poking out from behind Cristo Rey.
No, I haven’t been back. I am sorry. Life caught up with me and I had to do my labors, take care of biz, run around like a chicken without a head. And, in the meantime, I have fallen in love with a photo project, far away from here, up in Nuevo Mexico, and I have given it a lot of my attention.
All weak excuses.
I said I’d be back and continue the work we began and I haven’t.
You -and sus vecinos, sus compañeros in Lomas del Poleo- are never out of my thoughts.
Is Photojournalism Dead Yet?
by Steve Ettlinger
Born in the 1930’s, come of age in the 1950’s and 60’s, and pronounced near dead in the 1970’s and virtually buried by the closing of magazines/rise of the internet–you have to wonder how it is that some aspects of this wonderful world are still around.
Street kids on Avenida Technologico, Juarez – 2010
More pictures of dead bodies in the streets of Juárez?
Hard to want to do. I’m not visiting. I live here. It’s better when you have to get the images for your boss/editor and then high-tail it to the airport.
But, I’m not working for a daily paper anymore.
la acusación (perp walk) en Juárez, May 15, 2010
Iasi Emanuel Rodriquez Gamez , aka “El Enano (the dwarf),” 22, is led down a hallway, by a member of the Federal Police at the Ministry of Justice (Procuraduria de Justicia del Estado) in Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.
He is accused of being the leader of a kidnapping gang that kidnapped at least 19 people. Authorities alleged Rodriguez, 22, took orders from suspected kidnappers Ernesto “El Neto” Piñon de la Cruz and Jesus Eduardo “El
Lalo” Soto Rodriguez. This group is accused of committing 39 kidnappings since December 2008. The “El Lalo y de Neto,” gang has operated in Juarez over the past three years.
Town plaza, Zaragoza, Chihuahua-05/08/2010
Sunny normal day.
I couldn’t work it in -excuses!- but beyond the Tarahamara woman and her brood, in the deep darkness of the trees, protected by yellow police tape and the Policia Federal -who shooed me away- lies a dead woman in her twenties.
Cause of death? Bullet wound.
Reason for death? Unknown.
Plaza Zaragoza. Gateway to the east valley of Juarez, the new turf of the Cartel who have all but emptied the towns there, clearing them like you’d clear a loading dock, which is what the Cartel has done.
Anything in the way is burned or buried.
Maybe this woman was in the way.
Zaragoza (Juarez), Chihuahua, street kids at scene of a murdered woman, 05/08
©Bruce Berman 2010
Two border towns.
El Paso and Juarez.
One city is half dead and the other is in a coma. Guess which is which?
As always, a trip to Juarez puts everything in perspective and raises big questions. For openers: We don’t have to do all the things we think we need to do, there are worse things than physical death and injury, watch out for what you hear, and, we should never believe anything except what our eyes feel.
My eyes tell me Ciudad Juárez is alive.
I salute you, injured Madame Juárez.
FOR SLIDESHOW, GO TO NEXT PAGE:
Dead Police and Murderer in Juarez by heroic
by anonymous El Diario de Juarez photographer
Today in Juarez. More of the same. If this were anywhere else we’d be sending aide and 120,000 troops. Instead we send DEA Agents (under the terms of the “Merida Initiative”) and clandestine military “trainers,” to train soldiers and police…to do what, exactly?
The last time I heard the term “trainers,” it was the early and mid sixties and the trainers were being sent to Viet Nam.
How’d that work out for us?
More importantly, how’d that work out for Viet Nam?
Watch out Mexico, there are many many dollars seeking calamities. Buy cheap, wait, sell strong.
Anyway, six Federales and one murderer (sicario), today, so far.
1939 Chevrolet, Lincoln School Park, El Paso – March 2010
Sunday in Lincoln School Park. Everyone’s there: the vatos, the old low riders, the young low riders, Las Chicas, los ninos, las familias and me.
Got to get that building open again!
Fuzz cruised through, took a look, cruised out again (ándale).
As it oughta to be.
The parque was alive, tranquillo and sharp. El barrio vive otra vez…best it’s been in years.
As it oughta be…
For a slideshow:
Joy#2, Segundo Barrio, Sagrado Corazon gym – El Paso
Sagrado Corazon gym. Sunday dance.
Kick it hombre!
Golpelo, vato viejo (no muy)!
Joy always seems to be somewhere near this gym. The ‘hood is really tattered now. Anything near the border is tattered or about to be.
But ya gotta dance, yeah?
all photographs ©Ken Van Sickle
Every once in awhile, when you’re not looking, and something new comes to you and you go, “There’s More!”
This morning, in my meanderings, I came across this quote:
“A person often meets their destiny on the road he took to avoid it.*”
The quote led me -in that totally weird way that “surfing,” around the web sometimes does- to a photographer I have never even heard of, before, let alone, known.
And his pictures are Fabulous!
Remnants del ‘hood, El Paso – March 14, 2010
There ain’t much left.
Mostly the pickins’.
This was the Grand Highway, the Spanish Trail, the beginning of the end of the long journey from East to West or vice-versa, the tip of the arrow into the dart board that was Downtown El Paso.
Interstate came and went around, population moved to new turf, businesses followed, but the old Highway 80 lingered, going from Consumer to Warehouse and beyond. A modern day Babitt, Ohio.
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February 13, 2010, the day before the Day of San Valentin – El Paso, Texas
Photographs by Bruce Berman
Pipo’s Hair Salon and School held a beauty competition and the best of the best turned out to coif, spray, paint and shape the “models,” in a competition that determined who was the most beautiful and who was the best beauty maker.
The night’s Dj, a veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq was overheard telling the photographer (me), “I’ve seen a lot of things but I have never ever seen anything like this.
Not even in Iraq.
The border always has a twist. But this event, at least to your correspondent, seemed to make sense.
In journalism, they always teach you to ask, “Why?”
I guess the question here is, Why Not?
Town for sale, El Paso – Feb. 2010
From the movie The Border:
Marcy (Valerie Perrine) : (Showing her Border Patrol husband brochures about El Paso, trying to talk him into moving there, at their breakfast table, in Los Angeles) Honey sometimes you gotta dream.
Charlie Smith (Jack Nicholson) : (Pausing, furrowing his now signature brow) I never dreamed no El Paso.
La “MC,” Lidia, San Valentin Beauty Show
El Paso – Feb. 13, 2010
El Dia de San Valentin/El Paso, Texas
Candy? Flowers? Lingerie?
Big day on the border. Everywhere now. Billions in tooth decay. Billions in flowers grown in eco-destroying third world corporate gardens.
Bah humbug (or whatever malapropism you say on Valentin’s Day)!
Copia Street, Jan. 4, 2010
Four blocks to the bridge, to the border.
Lots of foot traffic. It comes and it goes, north then south.
The neighborhood is changing as the Medical Center becomes a reality, but it’s going to be hard to erase what the neighborhood is.
This mural, sneaked in on the side of a little building on a main street, in an alley, screams, We are alive!
Turtle/New Year’s Eve 2009, New Mexico
Las Cruces New Mexico on New Year’s Eve 2009.
Turtle, 17, born and raised in this southern New Mexico town.
Defiant and alive.
It was as good as Times Square.
Just keep looking.
The Artist, 1st Day on el lado norte – 01/01/2010
EL PASO –
New Years Day. A time for “beginnings.”
I hope. Should be.
She is an extraordinary artist. A force of nature. A giver. A maker of strong things and deep inspiration. Unmovable. A force.
The sicarios came to her studio in Juarez right before Christmas. The new scourge. “Start paying up or we’ll kill you and burn your studio down when we’re finished,” they said
This is the studio she willed into existence. Up against the mountain in Juarez she created a wall of tile and mirrors, mosaic sculpture, a thing for Juarez like nothing else. A monument. A love gesture to the city of her heart and to the heart of many of us in la frontera.
Their threat wasn’t idle. Not in these hard times in Juarez. Shortly before, the storekeeper down the street, refused to pay. She was murdered.
The Artist called her family in El Paso. They came with a pickup. All in a day. She took as much of her art as she could. She fled Juarez. Her Father, in 1910, a hundred years before, after Villa issued a death warrant, also ran from Juarez. “Fleeing runs in my blood,” she says, as we talk, in her new refuge, in El Paso.
5:10pm – December 30, 2009
Last block of America. Or is it the first?
Fifth Street and El Paso Street, El Paso, Texas.
This used to be happy street. It’s still a busy street. It’s the street where the downtown bridge from Juarez exits or, conversely, it is the street where you leave the United States and enter the bridge to Juarez.
There’s a strange urgency on this block now, on this border now, if you’re looking and listening these days. People try to get back to Juarez before dark. Dark is when the heavy killing begins. At least that’s the way it’s been for the last year. Lately, things are getting even crazier in Juarez. Burrito ladies shot in the middle of the street in broad daylight, children executed in plain sight, house invasions and retaliations. Hard to know when a “safe” time to be in Juarez anymore.
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Ghost View south, Dec. 19, 2009
Three of the last four posts have involved this window. The view to the south. One block to Alameda Street, two more down Stevens and, voila, you’re at the bridge, then you’re in Juarez, then if you keep going you’re on the carretera to Ciudad Chihuahua, then Torreon, then Puebla and Mexico and then… well who knows where this ends?
This is the last one of this window for awhile. I’ve been clinging to it. Home. I’ve been shooting from this window and the roof right out my back door for decades. The view hasn’t changed that much.
Guadalupe #41, El Paso – Dec. 18, 2009
This third floor window looks out onto the Cordova Bridge to Juarez, three blocks to the south. It’s the Season. Guadalupe, I will light you every night -and a string of Christmas lights too- for the rest of the holiday. If anyone in Juarez sees this, please wave at me, say hello, know I am with you and I am waving at you, too, and I will be visiting with you, soon.
Andale compañeros. Vida sobre todo.
Note: Yes Victoria, I tilted the frame!
Las Cruces, NM/Dec. 14, 2009
They’re a “warm fuzzy,” no matter how you cut it.
I just wanna dance. It’s the holidays.
Time to dance. And stare at the wall (and the Web) and have luxurious long lunches (and personally enriching) with good friends, now, in the rush of my life, long overlooked.
I’m in New Mexico and there’s a lot of land here, still. Lots of space to dance, and write and spin and dream…in New Mexico, lots of space to scream at the sky and to yell, “No mas el mundo, basta!”
A piece written to my photography students at the end of a fine semester at New Mexico State University. Forgive the “first person.” Originally posted on their class website at www.nmsu.documentaryshooters.com:
Brucini w/New Blanket from a Good Friend, El Paso –Dec. 9, 2009
So it comes to this, the semester ends, we go our own way, we know more for having known each other.
We have had our ambitions and we have had our disappointments but, what we mostly have had, I think, is a journey of discovery.
At least, it’s has been that way for me.
I was given something wonderful today: a very warm blanket from a very good and thoughtful friend (she had heard that my Loft is frigid in the winters, a concrete old factory building of a palace, not designed to be lived in).
I stopped on the way home for some Christmas lights. First time in my life I have bought any. How can one not succumb to this Season when such kind gestures are extended?
Alameda in Mist, December 2, 2009
The view south, across Alameda street, across the Chamizal, three blocks beyond, across the bridge, into Juarez, into Chihuahua, into Mexico, beyond.
Usually the view is razor sharp. The last few days have fuzzed things up: snow, rain, and, now, this morning, fog.
Been looking south across this razor sharp landscape for a long time and, finally, a little fuzz feels right. There will be no clarity. Better people than I have written and viewed this border, came up with “clarifications,” and “explanations,” and “revelations,” and yet it goes on, untamed, inexplicable, roque.
El Puente Cordova, El Paso/Juarez, November 30, 2009
A rarity in this no-mans-land.
Hardship. No one is ready for it. Not man nor beast nor domicile. The aftermath will be unnavigable mud on some of the streets in Juarez: there’s always a fire from people using heaters they’re not used to using; tons of $14.95 coats will be sold on El Paso Street and Stanton Street and the various Fallas Paredes tiendas all over town; car crashes aplenty; you can bet on it. The homeless freeze. Rich people buy juniper logs for five bucks apiece to have their moment of apres ski. Everyone will adapt eventually, but by then we’ll be back in T-shirts and shorts; my loft turns to a freezer; life is anew. This is a place of the sun, not really set up for anything else.
Alameda Street #91, El Paso- November 2009
This street is changing. New Medical School and renewed Medical Center just down the block. Oh yeah they have the Grand Plan.
But the south side has its own Plan and the hot paint keeps coming!
Yeah man, this street is the Grand Plan dealing with the No Plan, the natural plan, the reality plan of the people who hang here, hanging onto the funk, south side people.
Been on this street for a long time.
Pretty spot/bad times-Juarez 2009
Juarez / October 2009
Day of the Dead is coming. Like every day hasn’t been that.
The streets have an eerie decay to them. Litter. Boarded up windows. Still a lot of hustle but the nights are empty and in the shadows are things no one wants to see.
Johnland, El Paso – June 2009
Been thinking about this guy and borders and the idea of the Big Picture versus the small picture ever since I made it (the photo) this summer, on an almost rainy night, in the northeast section of town, out by the military base.
Angry. Joyous. Funny. Dangerous. Sweet. Full of love, hate and ambivalence. Boozed up, half mad, half brilliant.
“I am free,” he shouts at the night. “I am free and I am in hell.”
I ask him if he ever goes across the border?
“I am borderless,”he replies, “aren’t you?” He shakes his hand and does a twirl, almost stepping into busy Saturday night traffic.
He does a little dance and steps so close to the edge of the curb that I go to grab him but he spins back onto the sidewalk and does a very theatrical bow. He is a tight rope walker and it looks like he has done this toe dance forever.
Dignified man #7, Juarez ©2009 Bruce Berman
Juarez/13 June 2009
So what else is there in Juarez besides murder and catastrophe?
Right now, it doesn’t seem like anything.
But, then, there are those moments.
I walk the streets. I walk the beaten down downtown. I bus through the factory landscape with For Lease signs more plentiful every time. I walk through the night clubs on Avenida Lincoln, defying myself, defying my fear.
But it’s there. The noise comes out of the clubs, loud, but not the joyous sound, more like the power-driven sound of defiance and booze.
People wait for the situation to end. It will. Someday.
Daily, the murder rate climbs, like an upward missile, slicing through the inherent good nature of this state and city, through this sunny northern Mexico metropolis that was turned into, first, a factory for first world consumption and, then, a monument to the future of world global wage reality. It was that, just a few years ago.
Seems like an entire epoch ago.
D’town El Paso, 104 degrees, July 28, 2009
It’s cookin’ in El Paso.
Hard to breath.
But people do.
You keep moving.
Dignified Man #2, Segundo Barrio/El Paso – July 11, 2009
There are a lot of viejos in the Sagundo barrio. They get around.
There are a lot of kids too.
Like it always was but just fewer. It’s the heart of this isolated town.
Sagundo barrio, El Paso – July 14, 2009
Needed a trip to see someone “rich,” get to my home, my ‘hood, the epicenter.
A day -part of a day- in Americaland was enough for me. Felt sick. Left wobbly. Everyone comes to that place where you’ve got to weigh the illness of your certainties against the “healthiness (or lack of it)” of your insecurities.
I head to the pueblo.
Local TV Handles Vilolence In Juarez (at least Art about violence)
- SEE FULL VIDEO ABOUT THE ART CONTROVERSY:
- >Go to page #6 of videos
- >Hit:”Controversial border art makes waves”
Your Editor Stumbles Into a Defense Of Decapitated Heads (Art) At El Paso’s Library
July 9, 2009
Editor’s Note: Here is what they left on the “cutting room floor”
Rush Hour, Juarez – July 9, 2009
You keep hearing about the murders.
They are the wind that blows in the perfect storm.
Pumpa Monumental, FBA Project/El Paso -2009
It ain’t all war and drugs and deals.
Or is it?
Right here, in the midst of it all is…this!
Who made this? Chinese hands? Sweat shop Haitian hands? Don’t tell me North Carolina hands! They did wingtips, right?
Who will end up with this radical pump? Where will they wear it (I think I can imagine)? Is there pain and despair there, or a happy night? Baile, baile. I hope. Will this end up on the other side of the border or is there a place, close by, that will be dazzled by the wearer of this shrine?
Is this the scariest thing I have ever seen or the funniest and why is it this that provokes my thoughts and not the library or some archive or gallery? Why is it this that reminds me of those who toil without options of what is toiled at? Is everything always going to bring my thoughts to the Cartel, to class disparities, to the haves and the have nots, to the black magic of the border? Is that my fate: to see the most outrageous shoe in the history of my life and I can only think of slavery, not aesthetics?
Can I just let it slide? That seems like a long time ago.
Ah, all this in la pumpa monumental.
I smile. I gather the image. I harness my moment. What else can you do? We’re all stumbling around, teetering on some spiky platform or another. Making it look good. We toil at what we toil at, we dance with the partners we’re given, we all try to slick it up. What else can you do?
Otra vez, calle El Paso…estas el mejor!
I have loved you for a long time.
Tres niños before The Grid, June 2009
Lomas del Poleo/Juarez, Chihuahua/Mexico
June 20, 2009
Lomas del Poleo. The battle goes on. More people leave. People fight to stay. A mean strip of ten lane highway has snaked its way through Lomas del Poleo (see previous posts or Google it). The Developers got what they needed and left what they didn’t, more or less. They don’t even blink as they plow ahead. This highway is going to happen, no matter what. The development will follow, is gonna happen, no matter what. Nothing stops the grinder. The Grid viene: Diamond Shamrock, The Chicken Colonel, Pemex, trucks full of electronic crap, three bedrooms, two baths, probably a Wal Mart (whoa..let’s not get too crazy!), the same vexing and stinking Grid that we hate and that people fight to have (Iran, Cuba, Libya, you, too, can have it!). There goes the texture, and, in the case of Lomas del Poleo, the isolation and faux rural vibe, the farm at the edge of the city, the special dream that has been Lomas: get out of the city, raise some chickens, leave us alone. A quiet hope on the edge of always possible chaos that is Juarez.
Quincineara, Segundo barrio, El Paso – 2009
Fifteen and delirious, defiant and non-idealogical, optimistic and uncertain, determined and hesitant, at times wildly free and untamed.
Family in Segundo barrio, El Paso – 2009
Summer of 2009.
I see it every day.
That other day, the one in November, I guess it’s in there somewhere. Eating and stopping the world and traveling and the whole schmeer. That’s thankfulness, right.
What is the word for grinch in Thanksgiving-ese?
I see thanks every day in my barrio. I see thanks for the mere act of being alive and being safe and having someone who calls you Dad or Mom or Mijo.
Yeah, I’m a simpleton.
And I dig it, too.
Entrance to Juarez, June 2009
Militarization works two ways.
The bridges between Juarez and El Paso used to be friendly -although tedious if in a car- gateways to good times or better times, depending on which way you were traveling. Or is that just nostalgia?
Well, if not “friendly,” than at least not hostile.
Now they are reinforced pathways to go do what you gotta do. No joking. Get back by dark. All business. No fun or pleasure. Nothing lives. One endures the crossing. Rigid. Steel. Chrome molly tubes. Crash proof.
The March against violence in memory of Professor Manuel Arroyo, Juarez, June 3, 2009
June 3, 2009
The Megabandera (giant flag) in the Chamizal Park in Juarez is usually the place for joy and pleasure, a meeting place for families, lovers and tourists.
That was before la catástrofe.
Before the Cartel War.
Rooster man of Chaparral, NM – 2008
He has been raising these birds since he was a teenager. Fighters are they, he and his birds.
Now, cockfighting is illegal in New Mexico. Outlawed. “Civility,” has come to the funklands. God help us. Now come the thiefs with pens. They been fighting this since Billy the kid.
The rooster man keeps raising his birds. Doesn’t know what else to do.
He speaks of the “Old Man,” and “Ralph,” “Juan Pedro,”and the others. Each has a name. There are hundreds.
When he speaks, he says their names softly, a Lover’s murmur whispering his loves’ names.
Distraction de Juarez, Juarez, Mexico – April 2009
Violence? What violence?
Wha-a-a-a…we need distractions?
Si. Si se hace (I am scolding myself right now!).
Alien Babe in El Paso – May 2009
Sometimes it’s more fun to interact with dummies than it is people.
Summer screen, El Paso – May 2009
Summer is here on the border. Hot. You know it’s summer when the umbrellas are out. Of course what’s in this image is not very “sopisticated.” Who walks in the Brave New World, anyway?
Musicos, El Paso – April 2009
Everyone’s wary, in El Paso/Juarez, these days. The border is at war, with itself, with it’s two yin/yang sides, with the Interiors of each of the two sides.
Everyone’s wondering where it’ll end, where they will fall on the have and have not scale, what’ll be left of this little rough Shangri La (not a Shangri La of paradise but a refuge for those who have fallen from paradise. Sort of a suburb of Shangri La).
TEA Protest, El Paso, Texas – April 15, 2009
This man was photographed in El Paso, Texas at a “TEA party.” At the TEA party are, mostly, the aged and, seemingly, the innocent, with much esoteric political discussion, predictions of the end of the Republic, impassioned anger and, to be fair, much sincerity. To my “”eye,” it seems a little sad. Sadness for what, I am still trying to process and determine.
Star No More, Marfa, Texas – March 2009
The West, the American Highway (and the American fascination with it), Funk, ain’t what it used to be.
Fine with me!
“Maleno,” Juarez – March 2009
Juarez, March 13, 2009/ Estado Benito Juarez, Juarez, Chihuahua/Mexico
The Juarez Indios are a professional futbol team(soccer). They are in the middle of the Cartel Drug War. Much of the city of Juarez has rallied around the Indios, finding some “normalacy,” in the middle of the troubled Juarez violencia. Julio Daniel “Maleno” Frias is a star of the team, a “striker,” a troubled city’s hero. The city loves him, he’s a hero in the middle of bad news caused by rats. When “Maleno,” was younger he joined a gang. He got shot. He decided to change his life and he did. Maybe this is why the city fell in love with him, he’s a living metaphor for a city’s hopes. Maybe they just like the way he plays: smooth, quiet and intense.
Some players have left the team and others have sent their families back to the cities they came from (some in Mexico, one in Argentina), trying to avoid the touch of violence that has afflicted Juarez, Mexico’s third largest city.
The team is struggling to stay in the top tier of Mexico’s professional soccer league.
Attendance is sold out.
Futbol is trumping the war.
Life goes on.
Cordula at the fence, March 23, 2009
Anapra, NM/Colonia Anapra, Juarez, Chihuahua
Yesterday I worked with an incredible journalist from Der Spiegel (the German equivalent of Time). She is German, from the north of Germany. Works out of the DC Bureau. Sharp and smart and witty and ironic and puro journalist. We did a story at Fort Bliss. She was bright and lively and brave and charming and funny and we’d had a successful day and did a great story together. She wanted to see “El Paso.”
So we head for the border (I’m a one trick pony. To me, the border is El Paso).
Otra Linea in Juarez, March 2009
You start to wonder if it’ll ever end but it will end.
La violencia. The violence.
Sweet Border, Anapra, NM/Colonia Anapra, Juarez Chihuahua-Feb. 2009
Life goes on.
Mexico is a great pueblo. So is El Paso and southern New Mexico.
One reads the newspapers and one thinks the world has gone insane. Particularly here, on the border.
Border fence at Anapra, NM/Looking into Juarez-02/21/09
The border fence is a stinkin’ dirty bad joke.
Do these kids look like terrorists or narcotraficantes or, even, the dreaded low wage worker that every American company has winked at, invited, used and exploited for decades?
Alameda Street Showboat, El Paso-1987
Alameda Street is about (what’s this “about,” stuff?) to get stomped. Progress. New Hospital and Medical School down the Street. Progress.
‘ta bien, really. Time to move on. One thing about Urban Renewal and Plans: we have had the best of it and now you can have the rest. The next “blight,” that I move to -older and wiser now- there will be no Forwarding Address.
The great Brazilian photographer Sabastio Salgado talks about his work. He is one of the premier “Socially Concerned,”photographers in the world:
Jesus in the ‘hood, Armijo park, El Paso-2009
Jesus is greeting me. Or showing off his gang signage. Or just jivin’. Behind him, three blocks to the south, is Juarez. Armijo Park, deep in the Segundo barrio of El Paso is Jesus’ refuge.
GOOD THEN AND GOOD TOMORROW: JAN. 20, 2009…
Guadalupe(s), Segundo barrio, El Paso-Oct. 2008
El barrio is a community. Bruised. Not what it was. Sitting on the border and prime target of speculators, er…ah…read that as “Developers,” but still standing. Go back and ask anyone in any American city, for the past 60 years if “Urban Renewal,” was about construction or destruction. If you actually need to, go ahead.
Lady in red/Segundo barrio, El Paso-2008
Father Rahm Street. The Church is the backdrop. Backdrop for everything. Still, the heart of the Segundo barrio. This is a community that is a community where everything is there. No gates. No price tag. Fifty nine years after the Fair Housing Act of 1949 was enacted -the Urban Renewal Act- this barrio goes on, ethnically Latino, still a community, long after most American city’s inner cores have been cleansed of the “unworthy.”
Cracked window in Valentine, Texas-Jan. 9, 2009
There I am, tooling through the vast landscape of West Texas, working for an English language newspaper working out of Abu Dubai, Arab Emirates. Don’t ask. I’m not sure I understand the assignment. Something about Bush returning to Texas and illustrating what two brothers, who were doing a road trip, saw (except, according to my editor, they were really bad photographers). What that has to do with West Texas, I can’t figure.
Spin Balance Landscape, Chaparral, NM-August 2008
Space. Glorious space. Wonk yer brain but we all need more space. Maybe because we wonk our brains so much. This is from the funklands of southern New Mexico. It looks right across at the slim tip of West Texas that is El Paso. Juarez, Chihuahua is the horizon.
Space. This is the Tender Mercy of No Man’s Land.
Protest for Lomas del Poleo, El Paso-Jan. 2008
It was only a year ago that the plight of the people of Lomas del Poleo was the highest priority of cross border activist politics. The people were systematically being robbed of their land, their court actions were, basically, being stonewalled, the injustice of the top to the bottom was blatant and a coalition of forces stepped up and, on this day did, a bi-national protest at the Mexican Counsulate in El Paso and the Mexican Counsulate in Jaurez.
That seems like long ago.
Santa en Juarez-Dieciembre 2008
Venga Santa….come on!
If ever there was a place (other than certain parts of Africa right now) that need some kind of Devine Intervention, this is it.
Come on Santa! Forget the regalos. Paz, baby. Bring on the Peace.
If there is a Santa, bring on the Peace.
FBA#20-El Paso/Juarez-Dec. 2008
First block of America (FBA).
El Paso Street. La Frontera. I’d call it Texas but it ain’t. Everyone knows it if they’re from here. Texans hold their arms out, full length. Americans think it’s part of Mexico…or hell. New Mexicans…furgidaboutit! It’s all they have to really feel superior to.
El Paso, the nation-state of nowhere.
LBI #7 Pano.series-Carlsbad, New Mexico/December2008
Been working on the Land Before the Interstate (LBI) series for a long time. Every chance I get to go there I grab. Time machine. No Interstate. No giant concrete suppository running right through your heart. The kinds of places Duvall would crash down in in Tender Mercies.
Shakin’ the shoe, Memorial Park, El Paso-August 2008
Sometimes you just need to stop and smell the roses. Well, in the park, there’s lots of things to smell. A dog’s life can be wonderful. Humans? Well, sometimes, not so much.
One thing for sure: grabbing milliseconds of time out of the megaseconds of life is still -with no great reason behind it- a lot of fun.
The sword of Juarez-November 2008
Angry princess/Princesa enojado, El Paso-October 31, 2008
El Paso, Oct. 31 (Halloween), 2008
Halloween on El Paso Street, the first (or last) block of America. Everyone is dressed and laying a festival veneer over the street. 5:30pm, people still rushing to the bridge to Juarez to get home (especially these days, trying to get home before dark, before the murders begin).
Cookie is one angry Chihuahua.
Calle Juarez, Ciego musico/Blind Music, Juarez – 1982
This man played in the streets of Juarez for all my first years in La Frontera. He was blind. He was small. He made music like a special desert bird, joyful to bathe in just a drop of water, joyful to sing, even to the passing and witless American tourists.
Carlos the young jefe, Armijo Park, El Paso / August 2008
Carlos is his name.
I don’t know…what…maybe 10 or 11?
No doubt, though, he is the leader of his pack.
Pemex station, Juarez, July 2008
Ciudad Acuna, Mexico
A Mexican border city has begun fining U.S. drivers who cross the border to fill extra drums, tanks or barrels with government-subsidized Mexican fuel.
Mist and mirrors d’town, El Paso – 6:38:51pm/July 28, 2008
I am supposed to be packing right now. I have a job in another city. It starts in three weeks. I won’t be leaving. This corner, this light, these people, their shadows, have inveighed my life for an adulthood…a long time.
Americo with prayer shawl, yamulke and guitar,
Segundo barrio, El Paso – July 26, 2008
Why do I ever leave my loft?
Went to the gym where a friend of over three years, a retired professor at the local university, someone who has never displayed anything but kindness and goodwill, out of the clear blue, no warning, told me “…the Jews got what they deserved after all the stuff they did as bankers in Germany, don’t you think?”
Remnant #41, Del Norte Courts, El Paso-July 22, 2008
Editor’s Note: For other images from the Remnant series, see the July 13, 2007 and the May 12, 2008 posts. Use the calendar in the right column.
© Russell Lee Photograph Collection, Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin
Swimming pool at Armijo Park, El Paso, Texas, 1949
Borders. North and south. Mexico is a yin yang of the first order.
See what’s going on on the southern border and get some insights into what’s going on on the northern one.
Article by the always interesting and powerful Charles Bowden with cut-to-the-bone humane photographs by superb Magnum shooter, Alex Webb.
Gilbert and Pooch, El Paso – July 12, 2008
I asked this man, in Espanol, if I could photograph him and his Chihuahua (part of a series I’ve been doing for a long time).
“I don’t speak Spanish,” he countered.
Why would I think he was Spanish-speaking?
El Paso/Juarez – July 10, 2008
El Paso: foreground.
Words written in blood on old documents and rattling around in people’s heads who don’t live there.
Miguel, postman and mensch, El Paso – July 2008
Another border encounter.
He’s a savior for me on this day.
James Barraza, Segundo barrio, El Paso – June 30, 2008
James Barraza prowls the Segundo barrio with his Bible and attempts to spread “the good word.”
“Slept In That Cellar Four Years,” 1890-92
“Slept in the cellar (of a Ludlow Street tenement)
where the water was ankle deep on the mud floor”
View more work -and hear an excellent NPR audio clip- by the great Danish-American documentary photojournalist. He was one of the first to use “flash,” (first introduced in Germany in 1887). Riis cast the mold for what a “Concerned Photographer,” is, and launched a century of relevant, motivating and society-changing “witnessing.”
For more images and audio clip: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91981589
Roof Cam #8, El Paso – June 2008
I’m driving around my city. I’m moving my operation a little to the north of where I am now, north of the border, north of the borderline, north of my reality. I’m already feeling separation depression. So I drive around my turf of 30 years. I don’t have to look anymore, I know the bricks, the cracks, the fault lines. I’ve shot them a million times and re-shot them. I stick the camera out the sunroof and let the car become part of the camera. The car is the camera. and I tour my myth. This is between me and it, not meant for others. All of my work is getting there now, it’s between me and it.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: June 17-????, 2008
View of el poniente, Juarez, June 2008
World has gone crazy.
Murder and hell in this landscape.
Stop taking your drugs you busted up stinkin’ American pricks!
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: May 23-30, 2008
Wary girl in downtown El Paso
Notes from my Journal, September 1986
I am an illegal alien in a strange land.
That’s a phrase they use a lot in the newspaper here: Illegal Alien.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK (#2): May 16-23, 2008
Man who jumped the river,
waving at his friends in Juarez (in triumph),
standing on US side/ El Paso-Juarez, 1990’s
PHOTO OF THE WEEK (#1): May 16-23, 2008
Moving the man, Uptown (upper Broadway Street), Chicago, 1969
I have moving on my mind. I don’t do it often. When I do it is a reincarnation for the better or worse. I am about to do it. In so doing, I came up with this image from the boyhood of my life as a photographer. One of the very first. I still like the street puns.
Remnant #37, Less gas/Alameda Street, El Paso, Texas – May 12, 2008
“Gas for less.”
This is not a glitch, it is the changing of a culture.
Usually when a culture changes -sorry Barack- it is the result of a calamity: Depression, war, pandemic, natural disaster. Were it not so, but “change,” is not engineered. Eventually, it is managed.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: May 9-May 16, 2008
Juarez harps(?), May 2008
There hasn’t been so much gunfire in Juarez since 1910. Since Jan.1, there have been over 230 drug war-related murders.
There was a time in Juarez -bourgeoise and ugly Americano, for sure, but what the hell- that it was just the old fashioned sins: getting drunk, dancing, straggling around with whatever “date,” that’d allow you to put your hands on her ( or whatever) and, if you survived, you crawled home over the bridge to El Paso and woke up late the next day.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: May 2-9, 2008
The bridge that divides, El Paso to Juarez, Jan. 2008
The Paso del Norte bridge between Juarez and El Paso. This is a bridge in hell.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: April 25-May2, 2008
The Silva family came to Juarez with the intention of crossing the border, into the U.S. and then traveling to the Midwest, where a family member had preceded them. They intended to work in agriculture in the wheat fields of Kansas. A dream. The American dream. It wasn’t to be their dream.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: April 18-25, 2008
Headphones, segundo barrio / El Paso – Jan. 31, 2008
Headphones Ninth Street and Oregon. The first street north of the border in El Paso, Texas. Jan. 31, 2008.
from The Americans
“I am always looking outside, trying to look inside.”
This is da man! King of the road. He saw what everyone saw but he saw it through a 35mm camera and with a critical eye. To look at it now -the Global Village which used to be just America- needs a new eye. The question has been out there for awhile: What have we become?
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: April 11-18, 2008
Polaroid no mas/Polaroid no more, Juarez – 2008
Polaroid Corporation announced in early February that they no longer will make Polaroid instant cameras or film.
This announcement, world wide was greeted, mostly, by a collective shrug of the shoulders and a “ho-hum.”
For Juarez street photographers the news was immediately alarming, living-threatening, and was a call to action for a new learning curve to transition to digital photography.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: March 29-April 4, 2008
White Sands National Monument, NM – March 20, 2008
Spring has sprung in the desert. If only for a moment…time to play.
The mainstream of photography, from its inception, has been Documentary Photography, the straightforward act of visual description for distribution to an interested audience. Some would argue that its utility as a means of information has passed and that other media -video for example- serve that function in more effective ways.
Still photography is the perfect abstraction of reality. It is based in reality, works best when trying to describe reality and becomes pure magic when used in the service of learning -usually beyond the control of the photographic practitioner.
Check out the new and updated Blogroll (right) and suck in the inspiration and knowledge that these documentary photographers provide. Nothing, for me, does information better than photography.
See and feel the work. That’s why it was created.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: March 14-21, 2008
Boy in La Plaza de los Lagartos, El Paso-1976
La Plaza/A Memoir
I went to the plaza today.
It was deserted.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: March 7-14, 2008
Woman in Juarez Maquila plant / Juarez, Chihuahua
Banks lend money to Americans to buy homes they can’t afford. The homeowners live in a dream bubble, the American Dream bubble. The lenders sell their paper and ride off into their millionaire dream. Everyone’s dreaming.
In Juarez they’re dreaming too.
PHOTO OF THE LEAP: Feb. 29-March 7, 2008
Leaping into the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, El Paso-Juarez
Leap into the river with two names
Leap Day in the Leap Year 2008. Let’s all take a leap. Come on…why not!
This boy and his friends use the river with two names as a playground, a swimming pool, a back yard.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Feb. 22-March 1, 2008
Two girls getting ready for school in Colonia Avicola, Juarez-2007
It’s the little moments that work for me.
It’s an exquisite privilege to disappear. It doesn’t always happen. It’s really great -for the photographer- when it does. Photography out in the open, in other people’s realities, nobody even noticing.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Feb. 15-22, 2008
Jesus at the bridge, Feb 11, 2008-El Paso
Working on my series, “Lives Separated.”
Jesus come over the bridge from Juarez with this giant trophy.
“It’s the trophy we got for playing Juarez, we played Juarez football (soccer),” he says not saying who “we,” or,”they,” are.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Feb. 6-15, 2008
Disappeared mute girl returns home, Juarez, 2001
Maria Monteros Rodriquez had been looking for her daughter Carmen for days. She had disappeared without a trace from their central Juarez home.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Feb. 1-Feb. 8, 2008
Before the fence, Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, El Paso-Juarez – 1989
Notes from my Journal
Immigration. Swim, drive, and crawl. People do what they need to do and making them do any of the aforementioned things, put lives at risk.
The river is more than a highway of migration, though.
In the summers, when it’s hot, the river is a giant pool.
The river is polluted with chemicals from upstream pesticides from the farms, loaded with garbage and debris, has really tricky currents that, every summer, takes lives.
But people live in that river. That river is life for many in Juarez.
If the Jefes could see past their own little tight plans, this would be THE development that would be right for El Paso/Juarez: Play in the river.
Too simple, though, huh?
This girl is clinging to the El Paso side bank. ILLEGAL! La Migra comes and chases her away and she joyously splashes back to the Juarez side where her friends and family jeer and gesture at the Border patrolman. Everyone is having a good time. The Migra laughs, waves, knows he’s part of this great immigration farce, climbs back into his Suburban and drives off and the girl –and her friends- come back, swim to the U.S. side, pose for pictures, live the evening.
The sun sets. I go home. I played in the river, too.
One of the border Patrol’s favorite PR releases is about how their agents saved people from drowning. There’s one or two or three every year.
They never mention people caught playing. Before the fence.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Jan. 25-Feb. 1, 2008
Roberta’s glued head (Head #14), Las Cruces, NM, Jan. 18, 2008
You can leave the border but the border does not leave you. My head snapped when I saw Roberta Flores, up in New Mexico.
“Terrific hair,” I yelled at her. “Gelled,” I asked?
“No,” she said with a sly and proud smile, “Glued,” she shouted back, with a grin that sort of said, “gotcha!”
“Did you get that done around here? ” I asked.
“They don’t know how to do that around here,” she spat, friendly but gently ridiculing.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK (day one): Jan. 18-25
Light and storm, downtown El Paso, Jan. 15, 2008
Still on mental vacation. What else do you do? Drool and look up. This is the border. Believe me the storm is coming in and not going out. As it always is. As it always was…
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Jan. 11-18, 2008
Retratos de la Corrida, Bull boy, Juarez – 2002
I’m a little weary of border politics, for now.
I return to the streets and hope the disorder of life gives me shape and form.
Politics and News seem to work on a linear arc.
Facts. Information. Plenty to tell. Endless detail and weight and nuance. Narrative is interesting but one of the things I’ve always liked about doing photography is the occasional punch in the gut you get from just being somewhere (often where you shouldn’t be).
Photography can work as a fact machine, but when it doesn’t and it’s just image, impression, reaction, light, when there is more than the sum of the parts, I like it the most.
PHOTO(s) OF THE WEEK: Dec. 28, 2007-Jan. 4, 2008
Cartonero Armando Hernandez Lamas, El Paso – 12/28/2007
Cartonero Alejandro Gonzalez, El Paso – 12/28/2007
Cartonero Hernandez in central El Paso
Cartonero Gonzalez, central El Paso
Armando Hernandez’ handmade tricicleta
In a desert, on the border, nothing much gets wasted.
Cartoneros, paper haulers, collect discarded and surplus paper and card board from border streets and from border merchants and haul it on their customized ” tricicletas.” They then sell it to scrap buyers, located about a mile from the border shopping district in the Segundo barrio.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Dec. 21-28, 2007
Cameraphone session, 5:15pm, December 20, 2007 / Centro El Paso
El Paso’s El Centro, the downtown, is packed with people at Christmastime. Unlike most cities of the southwest and of the rest of the United States, El Paso’s downtown is alive and bustling at all times of year, but especially during this season.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Dec. 14-21, 2007
Juan y David, Segundo barrio, El Paso, Texas / summer 2006
Spring and summer of 2006.
“Revolution,” in the streets. Faux Revolution? Revolt. Spurt of protest? Quien sabe?
Remember? The immigration demonstrations and walk outs?
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Dec. 7-Dec. 14, 2007
Waiting in Juarez, 2007
It’s hard to remember the last time I was waiting for something and not pressured to be thinking about the next stop, the next appointment.
Barely remember that…
Slow time? Time seems to be on steroids, going faster and faster.
So I came across this guy and time seemed stopped. He was waiting for the grieving and the return of the dead to his vehicle.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Nov. 30-Dec. 7, 2007
Tattoo, Juarez – 2007
Flying tattoo on the window. That’s what I was after. Beautiful.
What I got was the Universal Salute?
He didn’t like me? No, I don’t get that. I do struggle with why I shoot on the streets. What right do I have, who appointed me? There’s some kind of thing I got into my head about documenting and witnessing and leaving the artifact that has driven me for a long time. So I do.
I like the fact that the tattoo-ero sends something back. He’s got a right. We all do what we’ve got do.
So, I get my tattoo in Juarez.
It’s not always peace and love out there.
So be it. ‘Ta bien.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: November 11-16, 2007
Locked out at the Human Rights Forum, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico
October 20, 2007
A group of 150 people from different grass roots and human rights organizations from Juarez, El Paso, Guanajuato and Mexico City, arrived in a school bus and private cars at noon, October 20, to discuss globalization, displacement, human rights violations and femecide.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: November 3-9, 2007
All Soul’s Day Mass at the border,
Sunland Park, NM/Anapra, Chihuahua
November 2, 2007
All Soul’s Day, Border Mass, NM/Chihuahua border
Nuns on both sides of border fence
Sunland Park, New Mexico/Anapra, Mexico
Today the Bishops of El Paso, Las Cruces, NM and Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico met at the border fence at Sunland Park, NM and Anapra, Chihuahua to protest current immigration policies and to promote understanding for immigrants from Mexico, as well as world wide.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: October 27-November 2, 2007
Paricio Valazquez, musician for 49 years, El Paso, October 2007
Paricio Valasquez has played his guitar in the cantinas of downtown El Paso for more than 49 years. He is fully wired.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: October 19-26, 2007
Homeless Happy Birthday, El Paso, October 19, 2007
Regino Olivas-Mendoza, 47, hangs around a car wash in central El Paso. He wears a sign that says, “Homeless today, Is my birthday, can you help me?”
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: October 12-19, 2007
Veteranos de Juarez, December 2006
Â Ramon Covarrubias Quintana(l) and Francisco Barraza(r) are waiters at the old Martino’s Restaurant on Juarez Avenue in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The restaurant is located two blocks from the Paso del Norte Bridge that connects downtown Juarez with downtown El Paso.
Martino’s – and these waiters- harken back to the “Golden Era,” of Juarez,
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: October 5-12, 2007
Amada, Central Cafe, Juarez – 1992
Amada, Central Cafe, Juarez – 2007
Amada has worked the counter at the Central Cafe in downtown Juarez, since the early 1980’s. The cafe is next door to the cathedral and is a major crossroads for buses -and most of all, people on foot- heading to all directions in the city. The cafe is a crossroads, the city’s heart, and a center of transition and change.
Women and the Red Bus -Oct. 1975
October 5, 2007
A funny thing about photography and time: it can capture milliseconds and it can capture decades, and all in the same photograph.
28-October 5, 2007
El Panteon nuevo, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico – 1988
The cemetery came before the barrio. An ultimate act of realism.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: September 21-28, 2007
Cristo Rapper and his wife, Armijo Park, El Segundo Barrio, El Paso / 16 de Septiembre 2007
This was a 16 de Septiembre event in Armijo Park in El Paso. Armijo is in the heart of the historic Segundo Barrio. Armijo is a people’s park. This neighborhood is in, actually, the only”urban,” neighborhood in El Paso (hard to define but you know it when you see it: Life exists on the streets)
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: September 7-14, 2007
Juarez Street photographer heads home, 1982
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: August 31-September 7, 2007
Aztec warrior y cuties , Juarez / July 2007
Not much to say.
Sometimes there are just sweet moments.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: August 24-31, 2007
Two girls on a field trip, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico / June 2007
Two Juarez girls hamming it up at the NASA traveling exhibition that was shown at the Centro Municipal de las Artes in downtown Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico in May through June.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: August 17-24, 2007
Soy Un Oso, Hugo in El Segundo / Feb. 2007
Hugo(last name not given) shows his high school “colors,” on Father Rahm Street on El Paso’s south side. It is twilight and he has been working on a mural at the Sagrado Corazon church’s gym.
Black Cross on the FBA, August 2007
Summer on the FBA. Hot. 100.
This is Father Rahm Street, which is, actually, Fifth Street. Around the corner is El Paso Street which is the first block of America (or the last, depending on where you’re coming from).
Around the corner, to the south is where the Paso del Norte bridge from Juarez empties out. There are stories on this street, big life-journeys begin here. This is where dreams begin. Some people have called this the “Ellis Island of South America.” Maybe that’s the draw for me (my Father was born on that other immigration island in 1907). That was another dream. These are places where dreams can start.
The Black Cross mural for the violence against women in Juarez appeared a couple of years ago. Then they put a bus stop in front of it (dumb). Then they took the bus stop out but painted over the text (also dumb) about the violence to the women.
Whatever. Life passes and passes strongly. This is where I have spent a lot of my life.
Nothing stops the energy on the FBA. People are looking for their place, their direction, their dream. I’m looking. I’m there almost every afternoon.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: August 10-17, 2007
The First Street of America #7, El Paso, Texas / August 2007
Sixth and El Paso Street is the first street in “America,” after crossing over the Paso del Norte Bridge from Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico into El Paso, Texas. This is the crossroads.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: August 3-10, 2007
Man and three daughters, Colonia Felipe Angeles, Juarez / June 2007
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: July 27-August 3, 2007
Musico perdido en las ruinas de Juarez / July 2007
El Centro, the downtown of Juarez, is going down.
La Mariscal, the zone of shops and bars and (say this quietly) brothels north of El Centro, the commercial zone north of El Centro stretching to the border with the U.S., is being demolished and is, mostly, gone.
The “Plan,” has come. Progress is here. Now there is hope for those who need the border to be “clean.”
It shall be sanitized.
“Candid,” photography brings up some decisions, ethically and technically. How candid do you want it? I try to be a “fly on the wall,” and not have eye contact at the moment of the photo capture, but, I also try to not sneak around and make sure everyone knows that I’m there, shooting.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: July 6-13, 2007
Snatched Mexican day laborer sits in the back of a Border Patrol van, El Paso 1999
Most â€œillegal immigrants,â€ incarcerated in El Paso are laborers whoâ€™s immigration activity is, merely, a two way commute, finding them returning to Juarez, Mexico, at the end of a work day. Being incarcerated by the Border Patrol inconveniences the worker but does not deter the activity. Wages in Juarez average around $5 to 6 day. In El Paso a Day Laborer makes an average of $ 25 to 40 a day. The difference in wages makes the bureaucratic discussion of deterrence moot.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: June 29-July 6, 2007
Pit Bulls, Memorial Park, El Paso, Texas / May 2007
Carlos (last name not given) in Memorial Park with his Pit Bull Zues. They both had a lot of scars. They both are fighters, and it appeared they had more in common with each other than either could have with anyone of their own species.
Asked why he liked that particular breed of dog, Carlos replied, “They don’t give an inch. Neither do I.”
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: JUNE 22-29, 2007
Defiant, wary and proud, Carmen the maquila woman, Juarez/2002
Carmen Sotelo Rodriquez is the face of the Post Global economy. She worked at a Phillips plant in Juarez,Chihuahua, Mexico. The plant had moved from three shifts to one shift and by 2002 the company had migrated most of its assembly operations to China. She is shown standing in front of the plant on the city’s south east side. This photo was shot on assignment for Bloomberg magazine.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK: JUNE 15-22, 2007
Dignified man at the crossroads , El Paso, Texas / 2007
A man stands in the last light of the day at the corner of 6th and El Paso Street in El Paso, Texas. This is the first street of the United States after entering the U.S. from Mexico from the Paso Del Norte International Bridge. The bridge links Ciudad Juarez with El Paso and 6th and El Paso streets could be considered the crossroads of the northern part of the Western Hemisphere from south to north.
A lot of old folks (viejos) grew up in this barrio and are still there. They are the dignity of the barrio.
Imagine how people felt when a picture of an old viejo was used, by City planners, to show what was wrong with El Paso?
Los Viejos are what’s right with El Segundo.
Photograph of Dorothea Lange,
Resettlement Administration photographer,
in California, c. 1936
The car is a 1933 Ford Model B (AKA “V8”).
She is -as well as Russell Lee and the other FSA photographers- the spiritual “Godmother,” of this site.
This is a picture of Dorothea Lange, at work. She was one of my earliest influences (the other was Weegee).
Drug cartels want migrants’ routes
Fight to control corridors on Arizona border turns violent
ALTAR, Mexico Ë† This village on the edge of the Sonoran Desert has been a supermarket for smugglers and the smuggled for nearly a decade. Migrants choose from an array of packages offered by coyotes and pick up day packs and anti-dehydration potions for the trek north.
Now drug smugglers want their route.
The Border Blog highly recommends that our readers go to this You Tube link:
This has nothing whatsoever to do with the border. She’s hot, cool and happening! Groove, Take a break. Chill. La Lucha begins anew soon. In the meantime Sister Rosetta wails and is good for our heads.
Day 2 / Christmas Eve eve
Day 44 / Finished
by Nathan Zarate
photograph by Jaime Ojo
Artist Francisco Delgado, his brother Oswaldo, his friend, artist Mauricio Olaque and a large helping hand from Bowie High School students and neighborhood residents began the Sagrado Corazon Mural on the night of Christmas Eve eve, 2006.
The mural, with support from Sagrado Corazon, local businessmen, concerned residents and ex-residents of the Segundo Barrio,
TIJUANA, Mexico ) — The police department has issued about 60
slingshots to officers in the violent border city of Tijuana,
Legislators restarted talks of immigration reform Wednesday with the reintroduction of a bill for a guest-worker program, leading some border farmers to rejoice and some workers’ advocates to worry about potential abuse.
photo by Jaime Ojo
Artist Francisco Delgado with the assistance of Artist Mauricio Olague and numerous south side student volunteers have, once again, affirmed that El Segundo Barrio is the coolest neighborhood in El Paso.
Not a Drop to Drink
Produced by Matthew Sneddon, KNME-TV, Albuquerque, New Mexico
The economies of Juarez, Mexico and its sister city, El Paso, Texas are driven by a system of assembly plants known as maquiladoras. There are more than 600 maquiladoras in Juarez, two-thirds of them owned by U.S. companies. Since the first maquiladora was built in Juarez in 1976, the population of the city has increased nearly five-fold to more than 1.25 million, making it the largest Mexican city on the border. The Rio Grande fuels Juarez and El Paso’s water supply.
However, the more than 10 million people who live in these desert communities have begun to exhaust the Rio Grande’s capacity to support them.
This segment focuses on one Rancho Anapra family faced with the realities of living in a desert community with no running water. It examines the factors that contributed to growth of this particular border region: the Rio Grande, the maquiladoras and the promise of a better life.
U.S. Border Patrol in S. California developing deadly but ineffective Operation Gatekeeper/Interview with Roberto Martinez – In Motion Magazine
Roberto Martinez is the former director of the U.S./Mexico Border Program. A lifelong Chicano activist, he has spent 30 years monitoring human rights in the San Diego/Tijuana area. In 1992, he was honored as an Intermational Human Rights Monitor by Human Rights Watch, the first U.S. citizen to be honored in such a way.The following essay, published here as a call for a humane U.S. immigration policy, was written as the introduction for the American Friends Service Committee 2003 human rights report.
Shouldn’t this river unite?
Blogmeister’s Note: This is a piece written by a friend of The Border Blog. He is a Mexican National, a university student who attends the university in El Paso and a good guy. Especially, if one is looking for an insight, note the second to last paragraph and multiple it by the millions.
The BB welcomes all viewpoints, especially this one . Thank you, Javier :
Why I Voted For Felipe Calderon
I was listening to my aunt Lupe while we were driving down Periferico
Sur highway about a month ago in Mexico City. She told me about Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (editor:AMLO), the presidential candidate (at the time), and how he managed to obtain the votes of lots of people in Mexico City by offering social assistance to senior (over 65) people and single moms while he was the city’s mayor.
From Cheech Marin’s Chicano Visions: American Painters On The Verge touring exhibit.
Next Stop: de Young Museum
July 22-October 22
(From the staff, management and hangers on of the Border-Blog: Gracias Cheech for just being cool)
The Mexican Election: More Collateral Basura
I ran into a friend at the gym of the local university. He is from Mexico’s interior ( but the north). Smart guy, a brother. The university sits smack dab on the border and looks across to Juarez from El Paso. The university has many Mexican nationals mostly from Juarez but with a significant number of citizens from the interior, a majority of Mexican Americans and a smattering of Anglos. Like many things on the Border, it is physically the United States and pragmatically in Mexico (language, culture, food).
I ask him if he voted in the recent election.
Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has called for a ballot-by-ballot review of Sunday’s presidential vote. He says the stability of the country is