RANCHO BOOTS IN JUAREZ

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.

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UNDEFINED PERSONALITIES AND THE BRIDGE

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.”

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THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SHOE PAINTER

 

Juárez Shoe Man
Man in the Plaza Reforma, Juárez. 2014. Photograph ©BruceBerman2014

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.

 capitalism.

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Unhappy Crowd With Tarot Cards

Unhappy crowd getting their Tarot Cards read, Juárez. ©BruceBerman2014

 

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.

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The Shocking Man

Shock Man, El Paso, 2014
Shock Man, El Paso ©BruceBerman2004

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?

Ah Humanity!

And it takes someone to recognize certain kinds of Humanity and let ‘er rip…for…five bucks!

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El Toro bi-plane, Juárez

 

BiPlane_Juárez_LoRes

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

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The Fast Disappearing Authentic Segundo Barrio: Mailbox Kids

ChucoStreet, Mailbox Kids in Segundo Barrio, 2012

Mailbox Kids, Segundo Barrio, El Paso, 2012

©Bruce Berman

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.

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Street Photographer In Nicaragua

Photographer in Granada, Nicaragua

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!

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