Friday, January 30, 2009

Stuff is just different out west

I was headed over to Austin for the Lonestar roundup last April and I got up early to go gas up the car. I pulled in and saw a van from Mexico with something that looked weird on the roof.

I got a little closer and discovered it was covered in skulls. You see shit like that all the time out here.

Mexican Drug War

I work in Juárez Mexico, one of the most violent cities on earth. Directly across from J-town as it’s affectionately known is El Paso TX, one of the most economically depressed cities in the United States. This combination makes it one of the most important smuggling corridors in the world.

As you might imagine with anything valuable, it’s worth fighting for. And fight they do. Juárez is currently the location of an all out pitched battle for control of the right to load dope into every imaginable vehicle and attempt to pass it into the US.

Every day for the past year 1-10 people have been murdered in the streets or tortured and then dumped in the streets. The official toll is around 1,500 for 2008 while the news media toll is around 1,650. Considering the Mexican government's history of covering stuff up I’ll go with the news.

Inspired by You Tube videos of Iraqi insurgents, the victims are often decapitated and placed in public places with notes stapled to the bodies threatening their rivals. More common is “acribillaron por cuerno de chiva” or “sprayed (with bullets) from the ram’s horn", slang for the curved clip of an AK-47.

A roving news team using SUVs and motorcycles has a daily rundown of the days killings on the 10:00 news. We call it “watching the muertos”, or watching the dead. But you really don’t need to watch the news, just drive around. Here are some photos I took on the way home from work:

This guy got wasted on a major street in front of a school and a crowded grocery store. He’s still in the car as I got there before the cops. 5 minutes earlier and I might not be writing this today.

At the same time in a separate unrelated incident about a block away a group of men in this white SUV were trying to escape their fate. Crashing into the pickup infront of them, they ran through the red light before getting gunned down. “Perito” is Spanish for “Coroner”. This truck is a typical ride of the local narcos. You learn to watch your rear view mirror for these trucks and stay out of the way. Missing liscence plates are also common as most of the trucks are stolen from El Paso.

Instead of a truck, this guy had a nice new BMW 540. He didn’t get long to enjoy it. He was shot down exiting a pool hall. I got there along with Channel 44 and stood in the big crowd that these events attract. The “sicarios” or “hit men” are never captured when this happens. According to Channel 44, they shot this guy, calmly took his keys and took “something” out of the trunk and left.

Now then, does your commute really suck that bad?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I've got a few buddies who work in Washington. One of them managed to send a photo taken on inauguration day that had been quickly suppressed. In the spirit of a free and open society I thought I'd share it with you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lincoln didn't really crib Renault did they???

I was looking at photos from the Detroit auto show and front and center is the Lincoln C Concept. My first thought was:

Damn! that thing looks like a Renault Megane!

Is Detroit so bankrupt of ideas that they have to copy the French??? Hate to admit it but the Renault is probably the better looking car. I've seen alot of them running around here in Mexico and they are pretty funky, just interesting enough to catch your eye.

You decide:

Monday, January 5, 2009

My weird hobbies

I'm one of those people who is car obsessed. Don't try to parse that, you either are or are not. It like something you're born with that stays with you forever. Alot of my free time is spent doing something based around old cars. Either working on them, looking at them or shooting bull on internet forums about them.I'm not real sure how I got this way but some of my earliest memories are of me playing with my matchbox cars so I've had it a long time.

My other much stranger hobby is collecting antique beer cans. These are the kind you'd need an opener to get the beer out. I know exactly where this came from. When I was about 13 my mother used to take me to the Asheville Mall and drop me off (this was back when the word "predator" was used only to talk about large meat eating animals). I'd play Missile Command, Galaga, Defender and Robotron 2084 until I ran out of money. One day went to B. Daltons Booksellers and happened to pick up a book about it. I was hooked. It's a laid back hobby that usually involves drinking beer at some microbrewery, which isn't a bad thing to do.

Metal detecting is another old recently reaquired hobby from my childhood. As a kid I'd read about Mel Fisher trying to find the Atocha and was enthralled with it. I'd dream about finding lost treasure. I was probably 10 years old and mowed lawns for $5 a pop (did you know that kids nowaday get like $50-$75 for doing this?) until I saved up $240 to buy a then state of the art Compass metal detector. A few months ago I bought a new one to look for cans with and found that I really enjoy wandering around aimlessly in the desert looking for stuff other people lost.