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Madam Mayo

By literary essayist, novelist, poet, and translator C.M. Mayo. Author of METAPHYSICAL ODYSSEY INTO THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION, FRANCISCO I. MADERO AND HIS SECRET BOOK, as well as THE LAST PRINCE OF THE MEXICAN EMPIRE, the novel based on the true story and na

Updated: 2018-02-16T14:47:25.735-05:00


New Resources for Writers


As announced in my last post of last year, in 2018 I will continue to post on Mondays, with the second Monday of the month dedicated to my writing workshop students and anyone else interested in creative writing.CLICK HERE to visit my "For Writers" pagesGet this book fromThe Seminary CoopSince the year 2000 I have maintained "For Writers," an ever-evolving series of webpages within my main website. Updates are now live on three of those subpages:+ Recommended Reading on Creative ProcessNew on the frequently updated list: Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I listened to the audio edition, read by the author, and it was such a trove of wisdom, I listened to it again.> Visit the main "Recommended Reading: Creative Process" page here.+ Resources for Writers: Tips & ToolsUpdates on ye olde article "Ten Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Writing Workshop."> Visit the main "Tips & Tools" page here.+ Resources for Writers: On PublishingSeveral updates on ye olde article, "Out of the Forest of Noise: On Publishing the Literary Short Story," including new links to a treasure of a resource, Clifford Garstang's Perpetual Folly Literary Magazine Rankings for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Thank you, Clifford!> Visit the main "On Publishing" page here.P.S. Help yourself anytime to "Giant Golden Buddha" and 364 More Free Five Minute Writing Exercises. The exercise for today:February 12 "Popol Vuh: Seven Random Bits"I just pulled the Popol Vuh off the shelf and found these seven random bits: ~sweet drink!~Jaguar~undone~you tricksters!~And they remembered what had been said about the East.~vagabonds~corn with fish What can you write in five minutes that incorporates all of these?Alternatively, pull a random book from your own shelves for your own random seven bits, and do five minutes of writing incorporating those.> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.Remembering Ann L. McLaughlinWomen Writing the West and AlláA Conversation with Michael K. Schuessler on Pita Amor, Elena Poniatowska, and Alma Reed[...]

On Organizing (and Twice Moving) a Working Library: Ten Lessons Learned of Late with the Texas Bibliothek


[ The Texas Bibliothek, Ready to Ship.Yes, it is big. Yes, I devour books like a ravenous owl.Yes, this is my process.I accumulated similar-sized working librariesin writing some of my other books, e.g.,Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California (2002);The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire (2009); andMetaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution (2014). ]File this post under Future Reminder to Take My Own Advice, and if some or all of these ideas also work for you, gentle reader, verily I say unto you: Wunderbar!Late last September, having finally rearranged and set up my working library in my new office in Mexico City-- the work in question being a book on Far West Texas-- I had to pack it all back up again and ship it across the Atlantic. (Why? Well, that's a novel I'm not going to write).Now that I've got my Texas books resettled on their second set of new shelves in less than six months, I'm ready to take on 2018! But whew, I've got biceps after this job for a Hercules. The thirty-eight boxes of books comprising what I now call the Texas Bibliothek-- I have landed in German-speaking Switzerland-- arrived in mid-January. And a couple weeks later, every tome and paperback and pamphlet and back-issue of Cenizo Journal is in place, and I can carry my bike over head! I could scoop up and toss dessicated Christmas trees, small donkeys and their Schmutzlis out windows, too, should I take a notion!ON ORGANIZING (AND TWICE MOVING) A WORKING LIBRARY:Ten Lessons Learned of Late with the Texas Bibliothek1. Organize the books by topic-- not as a librarian would recommend, but as your working writer's mind finds most apt. After all, you're the one who will be using these books, not the general public. And even in a fairly substantial working library, such as this one, there are not enough books to justify the bothernation of cataloging and labeling each and every title.[ Ideas About Texas (some, anyway)]If you have more than 50 books and if you do not organize them in some reasonably reasonable way, why don't you just open your front door and let your dogs wander out and then you can go looking for them on the freeway at four a.m., that might be more fun!2. If any category has more than 30-40 books, create a new subcategory.Because trying to keep books in alphabetic order, whether by author or by title, makes me feel dehydrated, RRRRRR.3. Label categories of books with large, easy-to-read lettering. Because if you're a working writer, like me you're probably near-sighted...Funny how book designers always have such unique ideas about colors and font sizes and typefaces.... In other words, I don't want to have to look at the visual clutter of those spines to try to figure out what this bunch is about; I let that BIG FAT LABEL tell me.If you do not want to make labels, why don't you peel the labels off all the jars and cans in your pantry, mix 'em up, and then try to find which one is the dog food and which one the canned pumpkin? That would be a mile more hilarious.4. When moving, before touching anything, take photos of the whole shebang.I do not have early onset dementia, but boy howdy, moving house sometimes makes me feel as if I do. (Did I used to have a working library? Was I working on a book? What day is it? Is Ikea still open?)5. Then, before even touching those books, take a tape measure and write down the inches of shelf space required for each and every category.[ I suspect that these things are in cahootswith pens and umbrellas. ]A tape measure!I realize this may sound very OCD.But three moves ago, it did not occur to me to do this with my working collection on Mexico's Second Empire / French Intervention, for my then recently-published book, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire. In the rush of moving I allowed the moving company crew to pack the books, willynilly-fefifo-rama-chillydilly, and then, on arrival, lacking space, never mind bookshelf space, and so having to leave that particular library in a half-unpacked, unsorted cha[...]

Top Posts of 2017 & A-Yonder into the Foggy Wilds of 2018 (Resuming February 5, 2018)


This was the year ye olde "Madam Mayo" blog went to posting on Mondays only and, if I do say so myself, the content improved by a notch or five in crunchiness. Herewith some faves:A Visit to El Paso's "The Equestrian"January 23, 2017 allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="" width="360"># # #What the Muse Sent Me About the Tenth Muse, Sor Juana Inés de la CruzMarch 20, 2017# # #A Visit to the Casa de la Primera Imprenta de América in Mexico CityApril 3, 2017# # #"Dear Mother, Am feeling hard as a rock and brown as an Indian..."November 13, 2017# # #Top 12 + Books Read in 2017December 12, 2017# # #Essays published this year, mentioned on the blog of course, include"Dispatch from the Sister Republic or, Papelito Habla"(Dancing Chiva, Kindle)Kindle# # #"Tulpa Max or, Notes on the Afterlife of a Resurrection"(Catamaran Literary Review and in Spanish, Letras Libres)a post about that:(On the 150th Anniversary of the Execution of Maximilian von Habsburg)# # #Prologue to the book by Luis Reed Torres, El Libertador sin patriaa post about that:The Liberator Without a Country# # #Review of Patrick Dearen's Bitter Waters: The Struggles of the Pecos Rivera post about that:Bitter Waters# # #Not yet published but available as a PDF, also mentioned on the blog:"The Secret Book by Francisco I. Madero, Leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution"an edited transcript of my presentation of my book,Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution:Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual,at the Center for Big Bend Studies Conference, 2016Sul Ross State Universitya post apropos of that:Waaaaay Out to the Big Bend of Far West Texas, and a Note on El Paso's Elroy BodeDecember 3, 2017and another post apropos of that:Three Fabulous Things About Ciudad JuárezNovember 20, 2017# # #Translations published this year:"The Cafe" by Rose Mary Salum in Catamaran Literary Reviewa post about that:Catamaran and Tiferet: Two Very Fine Literary JournalsFebruary 27, 2017# # #"The Apaches of Kiev" by Agustin Cadena, Tupelo Quarterlya post about that, and more:Spotlight on Mexican FictionAugust 7, 2017Mexican writers in Agustín Cadena's anthology, CallejerosFront row: León Cuevas, Sandra Luna, Agustín CadenaBack row: Eduardo islas, Cristina Manterola, ?, ?, José Antonio Bautista, Silvia Cuesy# # #FOR THE WRITING WORKSHOP"For the Vivid Dreamer": Notes from my Workshop on Nature and Travel Writing in the Glorious Guadalupe Mountains National ParkMay 29, 2017Read the haikus "In the Guadalupe Mountains"# # #One Simple Yet Powerful Practice in Reading as a WriterMarch 13, 2017# # #What Is Writing (Really?) / And a New Video with Yours Truly Talking About Four Exceedingly Rare BooksSeptember 4, 2017 allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="" width="360"># # #Further Noodling About EmailNovember 27, 2017# # #Remembering Ann L. McLaughlinDecember 18, 2017# # #CYBERFLANERIEThe Typewriter Manifesto by Richard Polt Plus Cyberflanerie on TechnologyOctober 23, 2017"Typewriter Manifesto" by Richard Polt# # #Five Video Poems to WatchJune 5, 2017# # #Q & AQ & A with Mary S. BlackAbout Her New Book, From the Frio to Del RioMay 22, 2017# # #Q & A with Ellen Cassedy and Yermiyahu Ahron Taub on Translating Blume Lempel's Oedipus in Brooklyn from the YiddishJanuary 2, 2017# # #A-YONDER INTO THE FOGGY WILDS OF 2018Monday posts will resume on Febrary 5, 2018. Topics vary, invariably crunchy.In 2018 I will be finishing the book and related podcasting project on Far West Texas. My poetry collection, Meteor, won the Gival Press Poetry Prize and will be published in the fall of 2018, so as the year progresses, you can expect more posts with poetry, and perhaps also, time permitting, new video poems.Towards further balance and consistency, I'll be p[...]

Remembering Ann L. McLaughlin


Time snaps by. It is has been two days from a year since Ann L. McLaughlin passed away. How I miss my brave, graceful, and very wise friend. Ann was a decade older than my mother but, curiously, that did not occur to me until she had passed: There was something ageless about her. She was a literary scholar and later, when I knew her, a writing teacher and an artist, a novelist of the most seriously dedicated and generous of our kind.I met Ann in, I think it was 1999, when, having just moved to the area, I read from my short story collection at the Writer's Center, in Bethesda MD, just outside Washington DC; as a founding faculty and board member, Ann did me the honor of so welcomingly introducing me to that audience. Shortly thereafter, thanks to a good word from poet and Gargoyle editor and publisher extraordinaire, Richard Peabody, I joined a writing critique group. A crackerjack writing group it was! At various points it included Kate Blackwell, Susan Coll, Kathleen Currie, Katharine Davis, Solveig Eggerz, E.J. Levy, Carolyn Parkhurst, Leslie Pietrzyk, Amy Stolls, Paula Whyman, and Mary Kay Zuravleff, among others-- and always, always Ann.Recently reprinted by Bacon Press BooksWhen I joined the writing group, Ann was known for her loosely autobiographical novels Sunset at Rosalie, The Balancing Pole, and Lightning in July. Of the latter, set in Boston polio epidemic of the 1950s, Publisher's Weekly lauds her "straightforward narration [that] transforms the events of a prolonged hospital stay into a richly textured tale."Novelist Andrew I. Dayton says it best:"So deeply tragic. So tremendously sweet. Ann McLaughlin has captured humanity at its bravest. Artistic, accomplished Hally Blessing is stricken with polio in the prime of her youth, only weeks before the first polio vaccine. Within mere hours, Hally progreses from the elation of her first major venue as a young flautist to the despair of being diagnosed with polio. Ovecoming the deep challenges of fear and disfigurement, Hally struggles to find the inner resources which eventually enable her triumph. The scenes, the characters (even the minor characters) are all vividly portrayed. This work is a victory for the human spirit." At that time, Ann was out and about promoting Maiden Voyage, a coming-of-age novel set in the 1920s on a newspaper magnate's yacht. From Mimi Godfrey's review in the Women's National Book Association newsletter:"McLaughlin is a clear-eyed and observant writer, and her evocation of 1920s Washington and the exotic ports of Julia's trip-- Madeira, Alexandria, Sicily, Greece, Zanzibar, Singapore, the South Pacific-- is fascinating. But McLaughlin is more interested in charting Julia's mind and heart, offering a kind of artist-novel of her development as a journalist and fledgling photographer. Julia wrestles with questions that were as vital today as they were in 1924: What is more important for a woman, a satisfying career or marriage and a family? Do the demands of a woman's work matter as much as a man's? Julia's answers to these questions are, even more than the itinerary, what give this engaging novel its lasting satisfaction."For our writing group, Ann brought in draft after draft of chapters from The House on Q Street, her novel set in Washington during World War II. After The House on Q Street came A Trial in Summer, set in Depression-era San Francisco.And although no longer in the writing group, for I'd returned to live in Mexico City, I had a chance to read drafts from Leaving Bayberry House and the proofs for Amy & George. I was honored to contribute a blurb for the latter, which takes the reader to 1930s Cambridge, Massachusetts:"Once again, with charm and heart, McLaughlin brings to life a tumultuous period of U.S. history as she probes and delves into a father-daughter relationship that is sometimes a seesaw, sometimes a dance. This is a wise novel."Novelist Susan Richards Shreve add[...]

Top 12+ Books Read in 2017


This has been a year of extra-intensive reading, the bulk of it for my book in-progress on Far West Texas. Specifically, I've had some catching up to do on the oil industry and New Mexico history (impossible to grok Far West Texas without those subjects). I say this every year but truly, this may have been my richest year of reading yet. I feel so lucky to have encountered these works; each and every one of these authors has my sincere admiration and immense gratitude.Indiebound1. The Professor's House by Willa CatherA deeply weird and profoundly American novel. I had been meaning to read The Professor's House for years, and I finally did-- and by uncannily felicitous happenstance, just after visiting Acoma, Chaco Canyon, and Mesa Verde. (P.S. Whoever calls this book flawed I call a puddinghead.)> Recommended: "The New York World of Willa Cather" at the Society Library, New York City.2. The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greekby Barry CunliffeA brilliant book that evokes the ghost of a lost book and the world it came out of so unfathomably long ago. This is one I look forward to savoring again.3. Tie:Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850by Andrew J. TorgetThe Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Slavery in America by Andrés ResendizI have been reading intensively about Texas, and that includes its fraught ethnic relations, for the past several years, yet with these two books about slavery-- both recent and major scholarly contributions-- by golly, the whole thang just gelled. For U.S. readers I recommend reading first Torget; then, without delay, Resendiz.> Also recommended: Podcast interview with Andrew J. Torget by Liz Covart> Also recommended: Podcast interview with Andres Resendiz by Liz Covart4. Tie:The Daring Flight of My Pen: Cultural Politics and Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá's Historia de la Nueva Mexico, 1610by Genaro M. PadillaIt astonishes me that so few Americans or Mexicans have ever heard of the epic poem Historia de la Nueva Mexico-- and that would include Yours Truly, until I found The Daring Flight of My Pen. Padilla's book about Pérez de Villagrá's book rearranged all the furniture in the way I think about the U.S., about the Southwest, and about Mexico-- and waxed the floor and put in new curtains, too.The Last Conquistador: Juan de Oñate and the Settling of the Far Southwestby Marc SimmonsI recommend reading these two books together, first Simmons; then, without fail, Padilla.5. The Eastern Establishment and the Western Experience:The West of Frederic Remington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Owen Wister by G. Edward WhiteThis is an oldie, originally published in 1968 out of a PhD dissertation from Yale University's American Studies. It may be little known, but it shouldn't be. I'll be referencing it in my own work.6. The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Lightby Paul BogardBeautifully written, fully researched, verily eye-opening.7. Shrinking the Technosphereby Dmitri OrlovThis book has an important and urgent message, but it also comes with a gamelan orchestra of super-freaky esoteric undertones. In other words, to appreciate the clanging in there, you have to be ready to appreciate it. Not for the pleasantly numbed of Smombiedom.8. Resist Much, Obey Little: Remembering Edward AbbeyEdited by James R. Hepworth and Gregory McNameeIts impossible to go far into reading about the American West without encountering Edward Abbey and his works, and in particular his iconic Desert Solitaire. Resist Much, Obey Little, an eclectic collection of essays and interviews, is at once a festschrift and an adventure in the funhouse of Abbey's mind.9. Big Batch re: The Oil PatchHaving crunched through a library's worth of reading on the oil industry, herewith a selection of some of the more worthy tomes:The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and[...]

Waaaay Out to the Big Bend of Far West Texas, and a Note on El Paso's Elroy Bode


[ Dr. Cecilia Autrique at the Center for Big Bend Studies Conference,Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas, November 2017Her paper is"American Protestants, Civil Society Organizations, andTemperance on the US-Mexico Border, 1920-1930" ]Earlier this month I traveled the loooooooong way out from Mexico City via Houston and then via El Paso to Alpine, TX-- (that latter stretch through the Far West Texas desert, spectacular though it be, not for the caffeine-deprived)-- to participate in the annual Center for Big Bend Studies (CBBS) conference at Sul Ross State University. I've been working on this book about Far West Texas, which includes the Big Bend, for an age & an eon, so last year, when I was invited to present at the 2016 CBBS conference, I was honored but flummoxed. My book hadn't-- and still hasn't-- been published and, anyway, it's not a scholarly work but, as I have begun describing it, a lyrical and personal portrait of place. No, no, what they wanted was for me to talk about my book published in 2014, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual. I was flummoxed again, for that book about the book by the leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution has zip to do with the Big Bend!Well, it turned out that anything and everything about the Mexican Revolution is game for the CBBS conference, which is multidisciplinary and covers subjects relevant not only to the Big Bend but the surrounding regions, which include the Texas Panhandle, New Mexico, and northern Mexico's states of Chihuahua and Coahuila.So last year at CBBS I presented Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, and I came away mightily impressed-- so much so that I decided to present again this year and I recruited my amiga, Mexican historian Cecilia Autrique, to present her outstanding paper, "American Protestants, Civil Society Organizations, and Temperance on the US-Mexico Border, 1920-1930." (This paper stems from her PhD thesis at the UNAM in Mexico City, which I hope will be published as a book in both Spanish and English, for it provides vital historical context for any discussion of the current US-Mexico border and narcotrafficking issues.)This year I presented my paper on "John Bigelow, Jr: Officer in the Tenth Cavalry, Military Intellectual, and Nexus Between West and East"-- much of which material will appear in my book in-progress, World Waiting for a Dream: A Turn in Far West Texas.Look for the paper on my website shortly; in the meantime, for those interested, my blog posts about Bigelow are here and here, and the post about his brother, author, world-traveler, life-long friend to Kaiser Wilhelm II, and pioneer magazine publisher Poultney Bigelow, is here. And the selected bibliography on John Bigelow, Jr. and the Bigelow family, and related subjects, which I handed out at the conference, is here.Bigelow's relevance to the Big Bend is direct: he was stationed there more than once, scouted all around the region, and indeed, he is an officer already well known to any and all who would study the Indian Wars and the Buffalo Soldiers. I trust I have been able to add new dimensions and insights to his importance for this region, and the West as a whole.HIGHLIGHTSOne of the downsides of a bustling conference (indeed, a downside to just about everything nifty in the human experience) is that it is impossible to be in two places at the same time! It can also be a challenge to fit fascinating and vital conversations, such as they pop up, into the precise times allotted for coffee breaks and lunch. Alas, there were talks I am tremendously sorry to have missed or to have had to slink into half way through.Just a few-- a very few-- of the highlights for me:Felix Almaraz channeling a Franciscan missionary (and in costume!)Lonn Taylor's talk about J.J. Kilpatrick of Candelaria, Texas (right on the Rio Gr[...]

Further Noodling About Email


Cal Newport, one of my favorite productivity gurus, recently posted a note on his blog about master woodworker Christopher Schwarz entitled, "The Woodworker Who Quit Email"-- which I daresay would have been more accurately entitled, "The Woodworker Who Quit Making Himself Available to the Public via Email." On his website, Christopher Schwarz explains that for 17 years he "answered every damn question sent to me... it was all too much."Well! Because email sits in the middle of my writerly day like some weirdly charming and farting hippopotamus-- despite my advances in coping with the beast-- Cal's post got my noodle noodling. I typed up a longish comment which, alas, seems to been swallowed up by some cyberspacian anaconda so, herewith, my best effort to replicate it:1. But where are his filters? It seems to me that it would be a simple fix to slap up answers to FAQs on the contact page, and, by way of helpful links, send advice-seekers and any other non-revenue-yielding correspondents surfing away into yonder cyberspace.* As for the emails I occasionally receive from persons unknown to me that strike me as off-kilter, rude, and/or overly presumptuous, I simply-- this is not rocket science!-- ignore them. (If I owe you an email, gentle reader, more likely I will answer soon and with sincere apologies for any delay.)2. On the other hand, if emails from the public to said master woodworker do not bring him business he wants-- and moreover, given that, as he says, he has no interest in teaching or speaking gigs-- then it makes perfect sense for him to shut down that portal. Although I myself have no plans to move away from email, I can relate: I deactivated my FB and refuse to use Whatsapp; neither do I watch TV or Netflix, much to the wonder, consternation, and/or annoyance of some people. Oh well! 3. One major advantage to communicating by email, which I had not thought about recently, is that my telephone is no longer constantly ringing. Back in the 90s when I had two books out, it seemed to ring all day, and it drove me bananarrrramawama. Now I so rarely use a telephone that I do not include it on my business card. Unlike the telephone, email lets me sort through and answer messages briefly or at length as necessary; directly; and at my convenience. Hence, given my personal and professional obligations and priorities-- which may of course be different for other people-- I have found it most efficient to funnel as much communication as possible into email.4. And before the telephone, there were "visiting days," ye gods, when people would come in and sit on your sofa.**(People! Such a joy, such a headache, and by Jove, there are more of them every year!)5. And even before the telegraph, some people had secretaries. Some people still do, so I hear.# # # # # # # #* Here's my FAQ page, plus resources for writers page. Also, my contact page amounts to a long list of filters. **The other day I was reading about a society matron of late 19th century New York City who enticed her visitors, and the unpleasant ones in particular, to keep their visits short by passing them "an angel babe" to hold, presumably one that needed its diaper changed.AND A FURTHER REFLECTIONArchive.orgThis is a person whoundoubtedly had to dealwith an unholy amount ofcorrespondence. Just sayin'.For the past decade I've seen the generational divide, young people avidly embracing new technology from email to Instagram to whatever, while oldsters, mumble-joking about needing tech help from their grandkids, tend to resist. Certainly that has been the case in the literary world. If I had a dime for every writer over the age of 50 who could have been raking in the royalties on their rights-reverted backlist but instead dismissed the Kindle with "I prefer a real book!" why, I could buy a raccoon coat off eBay, which, actually, I have a notion to do. (Sigh... channeling Edw[...]

Three Fabulous Things About Ciudad Juárez, Mexico


Today, November 20, is the anniversary of Mexico's 1910 Revolution, a national holiday in Mexico, so this post is especially apt.This past week I had the delightful privilege of presenting my work about the leader of that revolution in Ciudad Juárez's Museo de la Revolución en la Frontera (Museum of the Revolution on the Border).From El Paso, Texas, snap your fingers and you're in Ciudad Juárez. Yes, alas, Ciudad Juárez is notorious for its troubles but, with another snap of the fingers, I can mention three fabulous things about this historic Mexican border city:1. El Museo de la Revolución en la FronteraThe elegant and restored customs house is now a museum dedicated to the Mexican Revolution on the border. The Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910, convulsed all of Mexico, but it began in the north at the border. Well worth a visit!This video gives an overview of this impressive museum (in Spanish): allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="215" src="" width="360">2. La Nueva Central ¡Café con leche! ¡Huevos con machaca! I could eat breakfast here every day for the rest of my life and I am not kidding! Check out the raves about this historic café, like a journey back to 1958, on TripAdvisor.View of the cathedral from the front of La Nueva Central coffeeshopCiudad Juárez, MexicoHere's a screenshot from my video of historians Roy "Ben" Brown, John Eusebio Klingemann, having just finished breakfast, heading out to the conference... I was going to make a GIF from this video of us all laughing for some reason I cannot recall, but demonios, my GifGrabber app went wiggy.Roy "Ben" Brown and John Eusebio Klingemann3. The conference, "La Revolucion vista desde los extranjeros" (The Revolution as Seen by Foreigners) in the above-mentioned museumIt's over, y'all missed it, but there should be another conference next year, and isn't the photo fun? It shows businessmen on a rooftop in El Paso watching the Battle of Ciudad Juárez-- the two cities are that close, separated only by the Rio Grande (or the Río Bravo, as the Mexicans call it).Visit this book's webpage atwww.cmmayo.comThanks to Dr. Roy "Ben" Brown, Dr José Francisco Lara, Jorge Carrera Robles of INAH, and Liliana Fuentes, Director of this beautiful museum, and Ana Hilda Vera, who makes everything happen, I was greatly honored to be invited to present Odisea metafísica hacia la Revolución mexicana, the Spanish translation by Agustín Cadena of my book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual.Commenting on my book about Madero's book was noted historian of the Mexican Revolution and the Escobarista Rebellion, Dr. Georgette José Valenzuela, of the UNAM (Mexico's National University in Mexico City).My book has been out since 2014, so there are several talks and other information up on my website, notably:> Transcript of my presentation at the 2016 Center for Big Bend Studies: "The Secret Book by Francisco I. Madero, Leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution" (For scholars this is the go-to PDF.)> Why Translate? The Case of the President of Mexico's Secret BookMy talk for a panel on politics and translation at the American Literary Translators Association conference> My review of Whitey Strieber and Jeffrey K. Kripal's Super Natural, which is also an essay about my own encounter with a mystical text, that is, Madero's Manual espírita> Films and videos> Gigazoodles more at "Resources for researchers"> Y en español, chorros másDr John Eusebio Klingemann, who chairs the Department of History at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, presented his research into the archives of the US consuls in Chihuahua 1913-1914. This was the tumultuous period after the fall of Madero's government, the revolution against the us[...]

"Dear Mother, Am feeling fine, as hard as a rock and as brown as an Indian": More Postcards from the US-Mexico Border Circa 1916


It's a hazard in rare book nerderie: the ephemera bug bit me! I'm just back from the Center for Big Bend Studies Conference at Sul Ross State University in Alpine (Far West Texas), where I presented on "John Bigelow, Jr.," about which a longer post is forthcoming, but in the meantime, fresh from that book fair with its bodacious selection of ephemera, herewith, thanks to Galvan Creek Postcards, a few additions to my burgeoning collection of Texas postcards from the era of WWI and the Mexican Revolution:"ARMY MANEUVERS ON THE MEXICAN BORDER"Postmark:MARFA, TEXOCT 10 2PM1916TEXT: hellow Jack how are you I am fine & dandy. Well I rec your letter OK but I am still in the war Well regards to all Your friend LB [?]Jack HendrixMedicine MoundTex b"BORDER DUTY ON THE RIO GRANDE" (REVERSE BLANK)"MOUNTED SCOUTS; THE WAGON TRAIN"Postmark:EL PASO, TEXAUG 301916TEXT:Will write a latter lato[? ? ?]El Paso TexasAugust 29, 1916Dear Burt:Rec you letterand was glad to hear from you they have everythingin the stores down here thatthey have have in Mass but they have alot of Mexican things here that theydont have in Mass we had Gov inspectionthis morning but i passed alright the[?] R F D got excellent love to allAlbertMrs Elmer LovingPalmer RoadHalifaxMass"BOYS IN KAKHI GUARDING THE RIO GRANDE""W.H. HORNE CO. EL PASO, TEX. U.S. CAVALRY DRILL""FORT BLISS, TEXAS"POSTMARK:PHARR, TEXSEPT 201916Sept 19 '16Dear Mother:Am feeling fineand as hard as arock and brownas an Indian. Just3 months ago tonightwe were called outRemember? Howis every thing andevery one? L.A.B.Mrs F.G. Ball11489 N. MainJamestown,N.Y.> See also my previous post, Postcards from the US-Mexico Border of Yore.P.S. My favorite rare book dealer blog is Greg Gibson's Bookman's Log. Watch out, these rare book and emphemera guys are dangerous. If he ever scares up a Manhattan clipper ship card...> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.GIFs of Far West TexasA Visit to El Paso's "The Equestrian"Literary Travel Writing: Notes on Process and the Digital Revolution(Video) Yours Truly Talking About Madero's Secret Book and More Exceedingly Rare Books[...]

Further Notes on John Bigelow, Jr. (1854-1936): ON THE BLOODY TRAIL OF GERONIMO, the Rare 1958 Westernlore Press Edition


John Bigelow, Jr.UPDATE: Bibliography has been posted here.Last Monday's post was a batch of notes on John Bigelow, Jr. (1854-1936), an undeservedly obscure personality in late 19th century and early 20th century American history. This Friday at the Center for Big Bend Studies conference I'll be giving a talk about the diverse periods of his life and achievements. The title: John Bigelow, Jr.: Officer with the Tenth Cavalry, Military Intellectual, and Nexus Between West and East. I'm not aiming to write Bigelow's biography, although he certainly merits one,* and I hope my work may encourage and aid some other scholar in that endeavor. Apart from this talk and, fingers crossed, resulting paper for the Journal of Big Bend Studies, my project is a literary travel memoir, World Waiting for Dream: A Turn in Far West Texas, in which Bigelow appears, briefly, or at some length, in various chapters, as he was stationed in or traveled through Fort Stockton, Fort Davis, Peña Blanca (now Peña Colorado, a public park south of Marathon), the Guadalupe Mountains, and other sites in the Trans-Pecos, that is to say, Far West Texas at different times in the late 19th century. Hence, it behooves me to do this research-- and wagonloads more about the Apaches and Comanches, et al-- and if you find this subject half as fascinating as I do, gentle reader, you're in for a fiesta with more than a few firecrackers.*An excellent partial biography by Marcos Kinevan is Frontier Cavalryman: Lieutenant John Bigelow with the Buffalo Soldiers in Texas (Texas Western Press, 1998).My copy of the 1958 edition of John Bigelow Jr's ON THE BLOODY TRAIL OF GERONIMO(The cover shows an illustration byFrederic Remington)Apropos of researching John Bigelow, Jr., new in my working library is a handsome hardcover, the 1958 Westernlore Press limited edition of Bigelow's collected articles for Outing, his brother Poultney Bigelow's magazine: On the Bloody Trail of Geronimo: A Soldier's Journal-Account of the Apache Campaign of 1886, introduced and annotated by Arthur Woodward. Bigelow's articles in Outing, and as reproduced in this tome, are accompanied by illustrations by a number of artists including Poultney Bigelow's Yale University classmate, the then-unknown Frederic Remington.As Woodward writes in his foreward, "It was a fortunate combination. Bigelow the young lieutenant who was breaking into print for the first time, and Remington, who was likewise doing his first important commission as an illustrator."In fact, this was not Bigelow's first publication-- although it was his first for a general readership. Two years earlier, in 1884, Bigelow had published his study of two major battles in the Franco-Prussian War, Mars-La-Tour and Gravelotte. And, over the years, he would go on to produce an important oeuvre on military strategy.Bigelow's Outing essays comprised his diaries as an officer in the Tenth Cavalry, published as a series of 14 articles under the title "After Geronimo," beginning in March 1886 and concluding in April 1887. As in Texas, Bigelow remained with the 10th, an African American regiment first established in 1866, but in this action they had been sent further west, to Arizona, to mop up the last of Apache resistance. The Comanche had been defeated in Palo Duro Canyon in 1874, and with Geronimo's surrender in September 1886, the wars in the southwest ended. (On the northern Plains, the Ghost Dance War, Pine Ridge Campaign, and Massacre at Wounded Knee would be over by 1891.)Despite the title, Bigelow's diary says little about the Apaches and less about Geronimo, but it provides a rare and colorful felt sense of what is was like to serve in the West in the last days of the Indian Wars. It is also a window onto Bigelow as a military intellectual, one supremely well-versed o[...]

Notes on John Bigelow, Jr. and "Garrison Tangles in the Friendless Tenth: The Journal of First Lieutenant John Bigelow, Jr., Fort Davis, Texas"


A portion of the prodigious accumulationUPDATE: Bibliography has been posted here.As those of you who follow this blog well know, I live in Mexico City and have been at work on a book about the Trans-Pecos (that, is Far West Texas) for more than a spell. Books on the Trans-Pecos are sparse on the ground south of the border, so when I travel to Texas I always try to scour a bookshop or three. Thus have I accumulated a working library, including not a few rare and unusual books. For this sort of project, archival research is also important to do-- and I have done some-- but it can be woefully expensive to travel to and spend time working through archives. So whenever an historian has taken the trouble to transcribe and publish anything relevant from any archive of interest to me, I am triply grateful for such a find.One example is the work by Douglas C. McChristian, a retired research historian for the National Park Service: "Garrison Tangles in the Friendless Tenth: The Journal of First Lieutenant John Bigelow, Jr, Fort Davis, Texas," published as a chapbook of about 60 pages by J.M. Carroll & Co in 1985. The copy I found is in excellent condition with, halleluja, a mylar cover and autographed by the editor.Why is this excerpt from Lieutenant Bigelow's diary, from 1884-1885 in Fort Davis, Texas, so interesting and important?The Tenth refers to the Tenth Cavalry, one of the African American regiments -- "Buffalo Soldiers"-- established after the U.S. Civil War, famed for its exploits in the West during the Indian Wars of Bigelow's time (and later, in the Spanish-American War, also of Bigelow's time, but that would be another blog post).Fort Davis, tucked among the volcanic Davis Mountains, and surrounded by hard desert for hundreds of miles around, was one of a string of US Army forts set up to protect the El Paso Road.To give an idea of the remoteness, Bigelow wryly remarks:Fort Davis, Texas. Thursday Jan. 15, 1885 ... One is apt is a country like this to suspect everybody one meets with some discreditable reason for being here, without thinking that one is subject to the same suspicion oneself.It was highly unusual for anyone to keep such a detailed, articulate, and thoughtful diary as did Lt. Bigelow. No doubt he was encouraged in this endeavor by his father, John Bigelow, a dedicated diarist himself, and newspaper owner and editor, author, ambassador, and publisher. (For one of my previous books, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, a novel based on the true story during the French Intervention in Mexico, I consulted Bigelow Sr.'s diary in the New York Public Library's Manuscripts Division. More about Bigelow, Sr. anon.)Back to Lt. Bigelow. Writes McChristian of Lt. Bigelow's Fort Davis diary:"A keen observer and a skillful writer, Bigelow left a vivid record of events and relationsips at the post as he witnessed them. He included no expeditions or battles, no heroics, no glitter-- only the realities of life on the frontier."Nuggets in Lt. Bigelow's diary include:Fort Davis, Tex. February 12, 1885 Have written to Chicago for 1/2 doz. base balls for the troop. The men have bats and bases. I hope my efforts to afford them recreation will counteract the unpleasant impression they receive from the extra drill that I give them and the increased severity of discipline to which I subject them.The men were not so isolated as they might have seemed:Fort Davis, Texas. Sat. Feb. 14, 1885... I read the report in the New York Herald today that Khartoum had fallen. From that paper I gather that the British do not comprehend yet the power of their enemy. They think of turning the tables with five or ten thousand additional troops. They will want five or ten times that many troops to conquer the Mahdi.And Bigelow mentions meeting Quanah Par[...]

The Typewriter Manifesto by Richard Polt, Plus Cyberflanerie on Technology


 [Viva, Richard Polt! He says that if you send him your address he will send you this postcard.]One of the themes in my work-in-progress on Far West Texas is the nature and pervasive influence of technology, especially digital technology-- but also other kinds of industrial and military technology.So what's with the typewriter poem? The poem pictured above, "The Typewriter Manifesto," is by philosophy professor Richard Polt. I'm a big fan of his blog and his book, The Typewriter Revolution.My 56 year-old Hermes 3000works fine, no need to update the OX!(Yes, ribbons are easy to scoreon eBay)Nope, I am not a Luddite, but yep, I use a typewriter on occasion. When needed, I also use a Zassenhaus kitchen timer, a 30 year-old finance-nerd calculator (I used to be a finance nerd), and a battery-operated alarm clock. Yes, I know there are apps for all of those, and yes, I actually have downloaded and previously used all those apps on my smartphone but, e-NUFFF with the digital! Too many hours of my day are already in thrall to my laptop, writing on WORD or blogging, emailing, podcasting, maintaining my website, surfing (other blogs, mainly, and newspapers, plus occasional podcasts and videos), and once in a purple moon, making videos. Most days my iPhone stays in its drawer, battery dead, and I like it that way.But kiddos, this not a writer-from-an-older-generation-resisting-innovation thing. Back when I was avid to adopt new technology. I had a cell phone when they were the size and shape and weight of a brick. I started my website in 1999! I bought the first Kindle model, and the first iPad model. I was one of the first writers to make my own Kindle editions (check out my latest). I started podcasting in 2010. I even spent oodles more time than I should have figuring out the belles-and-whistles of iTunes' iBook Author app... and so on and so forth.From Charles Melville Scammon's "California Grays Among the Ice"Whales! Magnificent outside!Digestive juices inside!In short, with technology, especially anything having to do with writing and publishing, I dove right into the deep end... and I have seen the whale. And it was not, is not, and will not be on my schedule to get swallowed whole.(My schedule, by the way, is on my Filofax, a paper-based system, and paper-based for good reason.)P.S. Ye olde "Thirty Deadly Effective Ways to Free Up Bits, Drips & Gimungously Vast Swaths of Time for Writing." I hereby remind myself to take my own advice.CYBERFLANERIE ON TECHNOLOGYRichard Polt's NYT Op-Ed "Anything But Human"Mark Blitz explains Martin Heidegger on technology.(The original pretzel-brain inducing essay by Heidegger, "The Question Concerning Technology," with its handful of profound points coccooned within copious noodathipious deustcher Philosophieprofessor fluffermuffer, is here.)On the express elevator to the top of my To Read tower: Richard Polt's Heidegger: A Introduction###Recommended reading on technology:E.M. Forster "The Machine Stops"Kevin Kelly's What Technology WantsJason Lanier's You Are Not a GadgetDmitry Orlov's Shrinking the TechnosphereTed Koppel's Lights OutMatthew Crawford's The World Beyond Your Head###For those who can handle an esoteric discussion on technology without firecrackers going off in their wig, there is Dr. John C. Lilly:S.J. Kerrigan on Lilly and the Solid State EntityS.J. Kerrigan's documentary John C. Lilly and the Solid State EntityAnd here is the Lilly interview with Jeffrey Mishlove, for "Thinking Allowed" (the one where Dr. Lilly wears his earrings and Davy Crockett hat).###Delighted to have surfed upon Tadeuz Patzek's blog, LifeItself. Patzek is a professor of petroleum engineering, recently chair of the department at University Texas Austin. He is&nb[...]

Medieval Party Music, Plus Cyberflanerie: Clive James on Lewis Namier; Ilya Zorn's Typewriter, Bob Lefsetz, Rachel Laudan & Etc


More and extra-wicked-effective email ninjerie... I am whittling down my Outlook Express inbox to the Medieval Music Party Mix: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="215" src="" width="260">Because of multiple household and office moves this summer and fall I have gotten so woefully behind with my correspondence that you might wonder how I can proffer advice on managing email (one of the top posts in the 11-year history of this blog). Well, gentle reader, point number 9 of my 10-Point E-Mail Protocol is.......drumroll........boomwackers and bongo drums... ... enter stage left, monkey in turquoise silk suit, a-banging a garbage can lid... ....descending from ceiling, forest of gamelan bells...  ... and another... ...drumroll...APOLOGIZE.Works better than a charm! And when it doesn't, well, the world keeps turning, with everybody on it managing as best they can. Somebody wins the lottery, somebody wins the booby prize, and the sun will rise again tomorrow replete with infinite possibilities, except for the dead who have, bless them all, achieved inbox verily zero.CYBERFLANERIEGrow new brain cells whilst reading Clive James on Lewis Namier!Over at my other blog, Maximilian and Carlota, for researchers of Mexico's Second Empire & French Intervention, a post on Konrad Ratz's Correspondencia inédita entre Maximiliano y Carlota.Life in a Typewriter Shop: The Amazing Story of Ilya Zorn and her Gold Royal Typewriter. (Yes, I have been pulled into the surprisingly charming orbit of the Typosphere...)Nigeria-Norway fish connection via food historian Rachel Laudan. (As Laudan says, it's nerdy, but I say, Total Yum if you like salted fish and Quintuple Wow Yum if you happen to be fascinated by food history and economic history.)Bob Lefsetz on the Enimem video. This is important reading about an alligatoresque moment in the swamplands of US culture and politics-- and precisely why it is such a moment-- and it is especially important reading for those (and that would include myself) who would sooner buy a rabid raccoon than download an Eminem tune. Hey, that rhymes! Uh oh. Naughty Muse."Casual empiricism suggests"-- I spotted this marvelous pompadour of a phrase over at Marginal Revolution blog, quoting one Todd D. Kendall. "Little gems": Not just a kind of lettuce! As casual empiricism suggests.P.S. I am truly honored that Joseph Hutchinson, Poet Laureate of Colorado, has reviewed my latest Kindle, "Dispatch from the Sister Republic or, Papelito Habla," a longform essay about the Mexican literary landscape written with todo mi corazón. Check it out.> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.Cyberflanerie: Cymru and ComancheWhat is Writing (Really)? And a New Video with Yours Truly Talking About Four Exceedingly Rare BooksCyberflanerie: Carnyx Edition[...]

Notes on Poultney Bigelow, Author, World Traveler, Pioneer Publisher of "Outing: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine of Recreation"


[ POULTNEY BIGELOW, 1855-1954 ]Andy Warhol must be twirling his wig there in some fuggy realm of the astral watching the Instagramming-Tweeting-Facebooking smombiedom of our day. So it seems, everyone and their neighbor's cousin's twinkle-eyed cat is a 24/7 celebrity in their own iPhone. A century ago, many a decade before Mr Warhol's meteoric flash through the bizarropheres of celebridom (which I daresay have reached their apogee with our Tweeter-in-Chief, DJT), celebrity meant something different, and if not always, at least usually a more curated and dignified elevation to social visibility, and perchance of a literary nature. Well! I'll leave it for our social historians to parse out the granular detail from that particular conceptual bramble-clogged tarpit. I'm just bloggin' here about POULTNEY BIGELOW, an obscure figure today, but a dazzler of a literary celebrity in his time. One measure of that celebrity: when he died in 1954 at 98 years of age, the New York Times granted him this lengthy obituary.[ READ AN ISSUE HERE ]The author of a raft of books and pioneer publisher of the sports magazine Outing, Poultney Bigelow has popped up on my radar because I am at work on a book about Far West Texas that will include some discussion of his older brother John Bigelow, Jr.'s articles about the Indian Wars, which Poultney published in Outing, along with illustrations by his Yale University classmate, Frederic Remington. > View Outing online. Also here.> Next up on my reading list: G. Edward White's The Eastern Establishment and the Western Experience (Yale University Press, 1968).JOHN BIGELOW SR.[ JOHN BIGELOW SR ]Poultney (b. 1855) and John Jr. (b. 1854) were the sons of John Bigelow, a skyscraper of a figure in US, New York State, New York City, and Panama Canal history. As President Lincoln's Minister to France, John Bigelow Sr. also had quite a bit to do with twisting Napoleon III's arm to remove his army from Mexico... and Abolition... publishing history... and Swedenborgianism....See also this article about the Bigelow family homestead in Malden-on-Hudson, where Poultney lived his last decades.> "The First Family of Malden: Eccentric and Worldy" by Jennifer Farley, Saugerties Times, July 10, 2012More about John Bigelow, Sr. and John Bigelow, Jr. anon.ARCHIVAL RESOURCES ON POULTNEY BIGELOWHis papers are in the New York Public LibrarySome letters to his father are in the John Bigelow Archive at Union College.[ A wee selection from Poultney Bigelow's ouevre ]BOOKS BY POULTNEY BIGELOWThe German Emperor and His Eastern Neighbours (1892)Paddles and Politics (1892)Bismarck (1892)The Borderland of Czar and Kaiser: Notes from Both Sides of the Russian Frontier (1895)History of the German Struggle for Liberty (1896)White Man's Africa (1897)The Children of the Nations: A Study of Colonization and Its Problems (1901)Prussian Memories (1916)Genseric: King of the Vandals and First Prussian (1918)Prussianism and Pacifism (1919)Japan and Her Colonies (1923)Seventy Summers (1925)A FEW GEMS FROM "SEVENTY SUMMERS"Poultney Bigelow's best-known work is his memoir, Seventy Summers, in two volumes, 1925.When he was a boy, as mentioned, his father was President Abraham Lincoln's Minister to France. Those familiar with Mexican history will recall that the French Imperial Army had invaded Mexico to support a return to a Catholic monarchy: the regime of Maximilian von Habsburg. By 1866, thanks in part to Bigelow's persistent pressure in support of the Mexican Republic, Napoleon III's support for Maximilian was waning, and the Mexican monarchy began to collapse. Poultney Bigelow (vol I p. 33):[ The Prin[...]

Spotlight on the Electric Grid: Ted Koppel's LIGHTS OUT, Plus Cyberflanerie


LIGHTS OUTWith the catastrophe in Puerto Rico in the news, I am surprised not to have seen more mentions in the media and the blogosphere of Ted Koppel's LIGHTS OUT. The subtitle of Koppel's book of 2015 is A Cyberattack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath-- but when the grid goes down, it goes down, whether from a cyberattack or, in the case of Puerto Rico, from back-to-back major hurricanes.We've all experienced a storm that leaves us for a few hours or even a few days without electricity. (As for me, I live in Mexico City where my barrio's transformer regularly crashes, especially in the summer rainy season. And a couple of times over the past couple of years the transformer just exploded, quién sabe porqué. So I keep flashlights charged and plenty of candles and matches handy-- which I rarely need for long. The Comisión Federal de Electricidad guys always show up, and they always manage to get it working again.)But the grid going down for weeks or months, that is entirely different magnitude of problem. The most recent reports are that this may be the case in Puerto Rico for as many as six months. In his 2015 LIGHTS OUT Koppel spells out exactly what is now unfolding and likely to continue unfolding in such a circumstance. It is grim but important reading.++++CYBERFLANERIESundry items on my radar over the past week:* Margaret Randall, "The Role of Small Presses in Fortifying Literature"I came across this one when I was Googling up a certain small press in Texas... why? That would be another post... P.S. My post that mentions Randall's pioneer literary magazine, El Corno Emplumado. See also my longform essay on the Mexican literary landscape and the power of the book, "Disptach from the Sister Republic or, Papelito Habla"* David Allen's GTD PodcastsGTD (Getting Things Done) is a methodology at once simple, powerful, and, for those who want to / are prepared to recognize it, based on something profoundly metaphysical. (Whoa! No, I have nothing to do with his church!) Anyway, for those who might be interested, the way I use GTD-- certainly not the only way to do it-- is with a Filofax, oodles of PostIts, and individual files for upcoming events and travel in a free-standing stand at-hand, right behind my desk. These GTD podcasts were a lifesaver of a refresher for me this week; I have been in the crazy-making midst of moving house, and not for the first time this year.P.S. "Why I am a Mega Fan of the Filofax Personal Organizer"* Alice Friedemann's Groovy-Goofy Cracker VideoCLICK HERE TO WATCH THIS GROOVY-GOOFY VIDEOBecause I have been contemplating interstate highways and trucks... and oil... (as those of you follow this blog well know, I am, after all, writing a book about Far West Texas) I have belatedly come upon the work of Alice Friedemann. I have never met her, but perchance, my grandfather, chemist Frank R. Mayo (1908-1987), would have known her grandfather, geologist Francis Pettijohn (1904-1999); they were of the same generation, both spent time at the University of Chicago in the late 1920s... although, who knows? I have yet to read Alice's book, When the Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation, but I shall... I am anxious to read it because I found her interview with James Howard Kunstler worth listening to thrice. I shall also try her cracker recipe, looks yums. In the video she also talks about her book, Crunch!> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.Daniel Yergin's THE PRIZE, etc.Blood Over Salt in Borderlands Texas: Q & A with Paul Cool, Author of SALT WARRIORSBook review:BITTER WATERS: THE STRUGGLES OF THE PECOS RIVERby Patrick Dea[...]

The Liberator Without a Country


If you haven't heard of Agustín de Iturbide, he is Mexico's George Washington-- but it's muy complicado.Last Thursday in the Club de Industriales in Mexico City historian Luis Reed Torres presented his latest book, El Libertador sin patria (The Liberator without a Country), a most extraordinary and illuminating collection of 19th century texts by liberals about Agustín de Iturbide, many of which Reed Torres rescued from the deepest, mustiest recesses of the archives. For anyone interested in Mexican history, El Libertador sin patria is a must-read work, and a must-have reference.I hope to post a link to where you can find El Libertador sin patria on-line very soon. In the meantime, for your reference, the ISBN is 978-607-97750-0-1.> Read my prologue in English> Read my prologue in Spanish> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.Tulpa Max or, Notes on the Afterlife of a ResurrectionA Visit to the Casa de la Primera Imprenta de América in Mexico CityWhat the Muse Sent Me About the Tenth Muse, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz[...]

From the Typosphere: "Bank"


Isn't just too too too tooooo much a-gurgling and churgling and over-arcing and under-the-rugging in this techno-kray-zee world? In the spirit of calming things down, this Monday I offer a wee but wicked poem, typed on ye olde 1961 Hermes 3000:


"Bank" is in my forthcoming collection, Meteor. 

P.S. New on the blogroll:

The Long Slow {typecast} Blog

The Typewriter Revolution

Welcome to the Typosphere

Cartridges and Postcards from the US-Mexico Border of Yore


Postcards from the US-Mexico border, 1916.About a century ago, after the fall of Francisco I. Madero's government in 1913, with the ensuing struggle between the Huertistas and Carrancistas, and the chaos along the US-Mexico border (in part fomented by German agents, hoping to keep the U.S. Army otherwise occupied during WWI), the U.S. Army set up a number of camps there. On ebay, my sister found these postcards, probably sent by a soldier stationed near El Paso, dated October 26, 1916.One of the postcards shows an address in Alliance, Ohio, a town noted for its Feline Historical Museum. Thank you, Google.Here is another GIF, this one of some cartridges I picked up-- by invitation, I hasten to emphasize-- on private property right by the Rio Grande about 20 minutes' drive down a dirt road from Presidio, Texas. Seriously, these are cartridges from the time of the Mexican Revolution (probably from target practice); they were just lying on the ground. That is how isolated a place it still is.Cartridge circa 1916, from near Presidio, TXOne last GIF: An overcast day on the otherwise spectacular Hot Springs Historic Trail in the Big Bend National Park. The river is the Rio Grande, the border with Mexico. At sunset the mountains turn the most otherwordly sherbet-pink. Imagine this scene with a wall through it-- your tax dollars down the hole for a perfectly pointless aesthetic and ecological atrocity. (I shall now take a deep breath.)Hot Springs Historic Trail, Big Bend National ParkFar West Texas(Don't watch this GIF unless you are part Viking,it will make you seasick)Not shown in my video: the guy hiking a few minutes ahead of me on this trail wore a T-shirt that said TEXAS GUN SAFETY TIP #1: GET ONE. Well, it ain't California. Excuse me, I need to go crunch my granola. Much more anon.> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.Haiku In the Guadalupe MountainsThe Strangely Beautiful Sierra Madera AstroblemeNotes on Artist Xavier González (1898-1993)GIFs of Far West Texas[...]

What is "Writing" (Really?) / And a New Video with Yours Truly Talking About Four Exceedingly Rare Books


On his always thought-provoking blog, the author of Deep Work, Cal Newport, recently posted "Toward a Deeper Vocabulary"  on how we need more words for "writing." As a productivity expert (among other things) Newport has often been invited to "dissertation boot camps." He writes:"Something that strikes me about these events is the extensive use of the term 'writing' to capture the variety of different mental efforts that go into producing a doctoral dissertation; e.g., 'make sure you write every day' or 'don’t get too distracted from your writing by other obligations.' The actual act of writing words on paper, of course, is necessary to finish a thesis, but it’s far from the only part of this process. The term 'writing,' in this context, is being used as a stand in for the many different cognitive efforts required to create something worthy of inclusion in the intellectual firmament of your discipline." I agree. In writing all of my books it has been my consistent experience that "writing" is not a linear process akin to clocking in, and, say, ironing shirts. It's a complex, zizaggily circular-ish process-- to quote Newport, "involving different cognitive efforts"-- that oftentimes doesn't look like "writing."(That said, sometimes-- sometimes-- you've just gotta velcro your posterior to the chair and bang the words into the Word doc.)As those of you who have been following my blog have heard ad infinitum, I am at work on a book about Far West Texas. Um, that means I need to write it. But there are other tasks directly relevant to ending up with a published book, for example, reading about Far West Texas, traveling in and observing Far West Texas, taking notes, transcribing notes as dictation, reviewing photographs and videos, interviewing people, transcribing those interviews, and so on and so forth.Right now, for example, I am finishing Andrew Torget's excellent Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands and last week, I plowed through Andrés Reséndez's also superb The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America. Pending writing for me is an essay / podcast (to be edited and incorporated into my book in-progress) about the Seminole Scouts (many of them ex-slaves) in the Indian Wars...If I were to simply sit down and commence typing, it would be akin to trying to cook without having assembled the proper equipment and ingredients. In other words, I need to have read Torget and Reséndiz (among many other works), to have transcribed my notes, and so on and so forth.Not that I have not done quite a bit of the writing already, I mean, there are words on paper, there are bits and pieces, an introduction, some sections... Like I said, the process is zigzaggily circular.I oftentimes compare "writing," in its broadest mushiest sense, to cooking. And chefs will understand me when I say, you have got to master mis-en-place.YE OLDE "MIS"What is mis-en-place? In plain English, you don't want to start the whipped cream for what might be a chocolate cake when your countertops, stovetop, and sink are cluttered with pots and spoons and dishes and splotches from the mushroom croquettes. Or whatever it is you were making. You need to start clean; then assemble your utensils and equipment; then assemble your ingredients; then wash, cut, chop; then cook.So to follow the analogy of writing as cooking: reading and researching could be compared to assembling utensils and equipment; taking notes, transcribing, and filing could be compared to washing, cutting a[...]

Haiku in the Guadalupe Mountains of Far West Texas


McKittrick Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains National ParkPhoto: C.M. MayoCLICK HERE TO VIEW A HIGH RES IMAGEON MY WEBSITE(This will give you a much better idea of the extraordinary quality of this letterpress printingby Matthew Kelsey)As those of you who follow this blog well know, I am at work on a book about Far West Texas and, as part of this work, back in May of this year, I was the artist-in-residence at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. About an hour and half drive east of El Paso, the Guadalupe Mountains are little visited, especially outside of holidays and weekends in the fall and spring seasons. Although I was there for the crush of Memorial Day weekend, it wasn't much of a crush; for the rest of my stay I often had trails all to myself-- except for the rattlesnakes. I happened upon two rattlesnakes in my two weeks, one curled up in the middle of the trail; the other darted out right in front of me, rattling loudly, from the brush. It's not Disneyland out there.I'll be writing about the Guadalupe Mountains at length, but here I'd like to share a photo of my official donation to the park. All artists-in-residence give a workshop, and donate a work or art-- in my case, it will be a framed letterpress broadsheet of seven haiku, "In the Guadalupe Mountains."The first haiku from "In the Guadalupe Mountains" by C.M. MayoThis letterpress printing was done by Matthew Kelsey of Saratoga, California. Poets and others with something special to have printed, I warmly recommend Matt Kelsey, he is a master craftsman and a pleasure to work with.The seventh haiku from "In the Guadalupe Mountains" by C.M. Mayo> Visit my poetry page here. I'll be posting the haiku there.P.S. Last fall one of the artists-in-residence  in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park was one of my very favorite painters, Mary Baxter of Marfa, Texas. Listen in to my interview with her here. Check out her landscapes, many of the Guadalupe Mountains, here.> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.For the Vivid Dreamer: Notes for My Writing Workshop in the Guadalupe Mountains National ParkMy Review of Patrick Dearen's BITTER WATERS: THE STRUGGLES OF THE PECOS RIVERBlood Over Salt in Borderlands Texas:Q & A with Paul Cool about SALT WARRIORS[...]

METEOR Wins the Gival Press Poetry Award


Delighted and honored to announce that my poetry collection, Meteor, has won the Gival Press Poetry Award and will be published in 2018.Founding editor of Gival Press, Robert L. Giron, is an amigo from my days in Washington DC, and a fellow El Pasoan, so I am especially delighted that he will be my publisher. I am even more honored, however, to know that Robert did not select Meteor for the prize; for Gival Press he runs a blindly judged contest (no names on the manuscripts), the winner chosen from a pool of finalists by the winner of the previous year's Gival Press Poetry Award. So Meteor was chosen by someone I have not yet had the privilege of meeting: Linwood D. Rumney. His book is the haunting Abandoned Earth.Rains of karmic lotus petals upon you, dear Linwood D. Rumney!> Visit my poetry page.> Poems in Meteor now online includeMan High (originally published in BorderSenses)UFO, 1990 (originally published in Gargoyle)In the Garden of Lope de Vega (originally published in the anthology edited by Robert L. Giron, Poetic Voices without Borders)Stay West (as messily typed on my 1961 Hermes 3000)Meteor takes its title from the poem that was originally published waaaaaaa-hey-hey-yyyy back in 1996 in the anthology American Poets Say Goodbye to the 20th Century, edited by Andrei Codrescu and Laura Rosenthal, and again in Ryan Van Cleave and Virgil Suarez's anthology Red, White and Blues: Poets on the Promise of America, 2004.P.S. Hell yeah, I am still at work on the Far West Texas book. Stay tuned for the upcoming Marfa Mondays Podcasts. I invite you to listen in anytime to the 20 podcasts that have been posted to date.> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.Q & A with Karen Benke, Poet, Creativity and Fun Maven, Letter Writing Aficionada, and Author of Write Back Soon!Francisco Aragón on 5 Books of Latino PoetrySarah Cortez, editor, Goodbye Mexico: Poems of Remembrance[...]

What's Happening in Mexico City: Bridges Not Walls!


www.bridgesforunderstanding.comDid you know that there are some 1.5 million U.S. citizens living in Mexico? Many of them, including myself, have been here for decades and have binational families, and we are profoundly aware of the importance of maintaining good relations between the US and Mexico.Here is some excellent news in this direction.Last week, thanks to the digital wizardry of Helena von Nagy, the website of Bridges for Understanding went live from Mexico City. Anyone and everyone who cares about US-Mexico relations, please check out this grassroots effort in the American community here to help promote better understanding, and so better relations, between the US and Mexico. Their mission is:To contribute to the preservation of US-Mexican relations based on an exchange of ideas, personal narratives, and advocacy.Mary O'Keefe and sonsThe founding members / leadership team are Monica French, Mary O'Keefe, Nancy Westfal de Garrulo, Sam Stone, Jan Silverman, Helena von Nagy, and Lisa Milton. Check out their bios, they are impressive bunch!Here's what they say about who they are:Bridges for Understanding (B4U) is a grassroots, non-partisan, membership and advocacy organization comprised of primarily U.S. citizens and bi-nationals living in Mexico and elsewhere working side by side with their Mexican neighbors.Founded in January 2017,  B4U strives to promote the shared principles of freedom and economic prosperity that bind the two nations. We seek to combat the deterioration of bilateral relationsand its impact on human rights, commerce and economic stability on both sides of the border.Many U.S. and Mexican academic and nonprofit institutions are networking with Bridges for Understanding, among them, the American Benevolent Society, CIDE, Global Jewish Advocacy, New Comienzos, Rotary International, the Wilson Center, and many more. I am proud to report that that my blog post is the first for the B4U cultural blog: "A Visit to the Casa de la Primera Imprenta de América in Mexico City."READ THE FIRST B4U CULTURAL BLOG POST"A Visit to the Casa de la Primera Imprenta de América in Mexico City."So check out, surf around in there, and if you like what you see, become a member, sign up for the listserv, tweet, FB, whatever you can do to help build bridges.P.S. You will find Bridges for Understanding on Twitter @Bridges4underst> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.Reading Mexico: Recommendations for a Book Club of Extra-Curious and Adventurous English-language ReadersWhat the Muse Sent Me about the Tenth Muse, Sor Juana Inés de la CruzQ & A with Mexican Historian Alan Rojas Orzechowskiabout Painter Santiago Rebull[...]

Spotlight on Mexican Fiction: "The Apaches of Kiev" by Agustín Cadena in Tupelo Quarterly, and Much More


Delighted to announce that my translation of the short story by Agustín Cadena, "The Apaches of Kiev," appears in the very fine U.S. literary journal, Tupelo Quarterly. It's a story at once dark and deliciously wry. It caught my attention because, well, everything Cadena writes catches my attention-- he is one of my favorite writers in Mexico, or anywhere-- and he happens to be living in Hungary, so the Eastern Europe angle is no surprise. In all, Cadena's is a unique and powerful voice in contemporary fiction, and I hope you'll have a read.THE APACHES OF KIEVBY AGUSTIN CADENA(Originally published in Spanish on Agustín Cadena's blog, El vino y la hiel) Translated by C.M. MayoThe story about the body they found in the Botanic Garden came out in the newspapers and on television. The Kiev police identified it immediately: Dmitri Belov, reporter and political analyst known for his scathing criticism of President Poroshenko’s administration. Presumably it was a suicide, but until they could confirm this verdict, the police had been ordered to put all resources to work.Among the underemployed— peddlers and prostitutes— who roamed the Botanical Garden, very few were aware of this. So how was anyone else to find out? They didn’t have televisions and they didn’t spend their money on newspapers. Understandably, those who knew about the body avoided that area. They knew there would have been a commotion, and especially if the body belonged to someone important. The police would go around searching for possible witnesses to interrogate, and by the way, shake them down on other charges. It wouldn’t do any good to explain to the police what they already knew: that every week all of these underemployed people paid a bribe to be left in peace. Ignorant of everything, three men of approximately 40 years of age, exotic-looking, dressed like Apaches in a Western movie, appeared after 11 in the morning. They were Ernesto Ortega, Gonzalo Acevedo and Milton Guzmán: Mexican, Salvadorean and Venezuelan, respectively. The three of them dressed identically: a headdress of white feathers that went from their heads down to their waists, jacket and trousers of coffee-colored leather with fringe on the sleeves and the back, moccasins, and ritual battle makeup. They carried assorted musical instruments and they took turns playing Andean music: “El cóndor pasa,” “Pájaro Chogüi,” “Moliendo café,” etc. They knew the music did not go with the costumes nor the costumes with their ethnicities, but this strange combination was what worked for them commercially. Americaphilia was at its height in Kiev, and passersby were happy to give money to these “North American Indians” who played the music “of their people.” Perhaps the happy notes of “La flor de la canela” led the Ukrainians to imagine the beauty of life in teepees, among the buffalo, wild horses, mountain lions, and bald-headed eagles. The fact is, in addition to playing and signing, the “Apaches” also sold their CDs of this same music, displayed on a cloth spread on the ground. [... CONTINUE READING] P.S. My amiga the poet and writer Patricia Dubrava also translates Cadena. Check out some of her excellent translations at Mexico City Lit.# # #This past Saturday I had the good fortune to be able to attend Cadena's book presentation in one of my favorite Mexico City bookstores, the FCE Rosario Castellanos in Condesa. (Here is where I inter[...]

Some Old Friends Spark Joy (Whilst Kondo-ing My Library)


Elvis approvesI moved. And of course, this involved oodles of Kondo-ing.For those who missed the phenomenon of Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo: She says the way to do it is to pick up each object and ask yourself, does this spark joy? If so, keep it (even if it's a raggedy T-shirt), and if not (even if it's a brand new suede sofa that cost a heap), thank it, then chuck it--or donate it or sell it, or whatever, but get it out of your space. Many organizers and sundry pundits have dismissed Kondo-ing as "woo woo." Too bad for them because, by Jove, by whatever Shinto spirit you want to name, or the god Pan, or Elvis Presley, it works.My personal and working library is at last in good order, and I am delighted to share with you, dear and thoughtful reader, just a few of the many old friends that sparked much joy:See this post that mentions the luminous Sara Mansfield Taber: "So How's the Book Doing? (And how many books have you sold?And what was your print run?)"Both of these books made my annual top 10 book read lists.2011 Wandering Souls: Journeys with the Dead and Living in Viet Nam2014 Finding George Orwell in BurmaPost re: Bruce Berger's amusing, eccentric and very sensitive artist's memoir.I often quote from Rupert Isaacson's The Healing Land in my literary travel writing workshops.Taking the advice in Neil Fiore's The Now Habit enabled me to finish my novel.David Allen's GTD saves the bacon every time.Back in 2010 Regina Leeds contributed a guest-blog:"Five Plus 1 Resources to Make a Writer Happy in an Organized Space"I have a sizable collection of books about books. Books for me are heaven.I wrote a bit about book history in my recent longform Kindle,"Dispatch from the Sister Republic or, Papelito Habla" Sophy Burnham is best known for her works on angels, but she has a sizable body of outstanding work of literary essay / sociology. Her The Landed Gentry was especially helpful for me for understanding some of the characters in one of my books.Doormen by Peter Bearman... that merits a post...Drujienna's Harp was one of my very favorite novels when I was first starting to read novels.As for The Golden Key, pictured right, my copy was left for some days by an open window in the rain back in 1960-something, but I have saved it and I always shall.> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.Top 10 + Books Read in 2016A Simple Yet Powerful Practice in Reading as a WriterDispatch from the Sister Republic or, Papelito HablaA Longform Essay on the Mexican Literary Landscapeand the Power of the Book[...]

Roopa Pai Decodes the Bhagavad Gita, the Holy Book that Predates Organized Religion


The other day a Mexican Spiritist author sent me some questions about how Spiritism influenced Francisco I. Madero as the leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution and as president of Mexico (1911-1913)-- so the topic has once again been on my mind. Of course, as those of you have read my book about Madero's secret book of 1911, and/or who been following this blog well know, Madero's Spiritist Manual is more than a rehash of ye olde Kardecian Spiritism: Madero stirs in sprinkles and cupfuls of all sorts of esoteric ideas from other authors and occult tradition. Also reflected in his Spiritist Manual is Madero's avid interest in the Hindu Holy Book of 700 verses in 18 chapters known as the Bhagavad Gita.> See my post on Madero's commentary on the Gita.And there, in the Bhagavad Gita, is where I believe we can find the answer to another more frequently asked question, how did a Spiritist, supposedly devoted to brotherly love and peace, pick up arms and fight a revolution?The Bhagavad Gita is about war. It is also about the afterlife and life itself, down to some very earthy, very granular levels. Because I have since moved on to work on another, very different book-- a travel memoir about Far West Texas (in which Madero makes a cameo appearance, of course, because the 1910 Revolution started at the border)-- I have not been able to go into the detail about the Bhagavad Gita that the subject warrants. So I was very pleased to find and be able to link to this TEDx talk by Roopa Pai about the Gita, "India's book of answers." Pai calls the Gita "a shining moral compass for guidance"; "a primer on the art of civilized debate"; "a killer app for contentment"; "the ultimate equal rights manifesto"; "the original monograph on free trade"; "the original tree huggers handbook"; "the Indian book on baby names"; and "a mathematical treatment on the mobius strip called karma."Roopa Pai's is the best short introduction I have yet found to the Gita, and I highly recommend it. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="215" src="" width="360">P.S. In addition to the link to Roopa Pai's talk on the Gita, you will find many more resources for researchers on the webpage for my book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual.> Resources for Researchers (films and videos)Biographers International Interview: Strange Spark of the Mexican RevolutionCyberflanerie: Soltario Dome EditionTulpa Max or, Notes on the Afterlife of a Resurrection[...]