Zaragoza (Juarez), Chihuahua, street kids at scene of a murdered woman, 05/08
Â©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:Â 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 eyesÂ feel.
My eyes tell me Ciudad JuÃ¡rez is alive.
I salute you, injured Madame JuÃ¡rez.
FOR SLIDESHOW, GO TO NEXT PAGE:
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 (Ã¡ndale).
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?
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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)!
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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 compaÃ±eros. Vida sobre todo.
Note: Yes Victoria, I tilted the frame!
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 BlanÂket from aÂ Good Friend, El Paso â€“Dec. 9,Â 2009
So it comes to this, the semesÂter ends, we go our own way, we know more for havÂing known eachÂ other.
We have had our ambiÂtions and we have had our disÂapÂpointÂments but, what we mostly have had, IÂ think, is aÂ jourÂney of discovery.
At least, itâ€™s has been that way forÂ me.
I was given someÂthing wonÂderÂful today: aÂ very warm blanÂket from aÂ very good and thoughtÂful friend (she had heard that my Loft is frigid in the winÂters, aÂ conÂcrete old facÂtory buildÂing of aÂ palace, not designed to be livedÂ in).
I stopped on the way home for some ChristÂmas lights. First time in my life IÂ have bought any. How can one not sucÂcumb to this SeaÂson when such kind gesÂtures 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;Â 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;Â life is anew. This is a place of the sun, not really set up for anything else.
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.
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.
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, inÂ 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 aÂ 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 niÃ±os 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.Â 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 catÃ¡strofe.
Before the Cartel War.