Blue Barrio, El Paso, Texas, 2005 by Bruce Berman
Kids shrieking with delight.
Creepy crawly reptiles. Ouuuuuuuu!
Manure. The primal smell of horses and donkeys and a few rodents here and there.
Color everywhere, sometimes spinning in the air.
What’s not to like?
Juárez, Chihuahua, México
Trapped inside of luscious glass.
“Have no false idols before me.”
Forgive me lord, I cannot resist “tchotchke.”
ON JUNE 9, 2017
BORDER-BLOG.COM IS ABOUT TO LAUNCH IT’S NEW PUBLISHING ARM
BORDER BLOG PRESS
WITH A NEW BOOK:
Photographs and Stories
by Bruce Berman
photograph by Bruce Berman ©2017
Editor’s note: Excerpt from Walking Juárez, page 8-9
The New Millennium
El Paso/Juárez has never been flat. It is a place of differences. Peeks and valleys. Yins and Yangs. The epicenter of this riddle is found at the river. Even the river has two names: El Rio Bravo/Rio Grande.
This is the early morning of the new millennium, January 1, 2000, the first morning of who knows what.
Sweaty Woman, La Placita de Juárez, 2010
©Bruce James Berman
You need a long caption? Really?
How about meta tags: Sweat, Woman, Juárez, Authentic. Strange Beauty. Te Amo Ciudad Juárez.
Does that work?
Sleeping lady at CREAMAC, Juárez, 2012
This woman sleeps the sleep of the near dead.
She lives at CREAMAC, a refuge and shelter in the mountainside of the Juárez mountains in west Juárez, México.
There are many different kinds of people in this institution, ranging from homeless, mentally ill, epilepsy and other.
There is little treatment available, unless, the resident gets unruly and then there are injections to completely subdue the client.
There is no industry there, no skills to learn, just time to spend, safe from the streets but not from the various devils that afflict the residents.
Sometimes it’s just better to sleep.
Where’s the border? Where’d it go? Where did I go? I’ve been cruising out of El Paso and ending myself in Las Cruces, New Mexico, for eleven years now, returning to the border every night. I head back to El Paso in the evenings but the El Paso I know, is slowly, perceptively, emphatically, disappearing from sight.
Juárez is still there. A wave of murder, mayhem and mania smacked it with deep contusions for a few years. Juárez survived. Its heart endured. Its people are still vibrant and robust, slightly uncivil, real, delightfully rough and raw, a Mexican city that’s six thousand miles from the USA, 20 yards away.
Appollino, 16, Sandinista Home Guard soldier,
Jinotega Province, Nicaragua, 1987
Text and photograph by Bruce Berman
Appolino was 16 in 1987. His parents had died during the revolution.
In 1987 the old National Guard of Somoza was huddled just north of Jinotega Province, in Honduras, fighting with and being trained by the United States military, both Army, National Guard and elements of the CIA and other agencies. If you arrived in Nicaragua by airplane, it emptied out in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and most of the people getting off that airplane were anglo, in their thirties and forties, with short haircuts and heavy bags that looked like they carried more than clothes.
So, there was Appollino, with his Chinese-made AK 47, standing guard, in his country, awaiting nightfall, ready to defend his home and family, i.e. his country.
Ice truck, Juarez, 1975
Ice trucks up and down Avenida Juárez.
Same routine every day.
Go to the municipal ice plant, over by the railroad, buy ice, get it on the truck, head to your customers, mostly saloons.
Get the day’s orders.
A half block will usually do.
Get it inside, let the baristas chip it down to cooler-size.
The runoff gutters around the base of the bar take the ice melt away.
Good to go.
All the ice trucks eventually die from a fatal combination of age and rust.
READ USA TODAY UPDATE ON THE CRISIS IN VENEZUELA: http://usat.ly/1W3FTzV
Last days of the last days, Globe Mills
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 JuÃ¡rez), JuÃ¡rez, 2009
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.
JuÃ¡rez is changing. It’s good. People are dancing in the streets. The Cartel is receding into memory. JuÃ¡rez 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.
JuÃ¡rez is the center of the world of nowheresville.
I bow to it.
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.
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)Â was for the Christian Science Monitor (I was their Midwest photographer, based out of Chicago, from 1969 thru 1973). It was a pieceÂ I did on the coming ofÂ 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