The Economic Adventures of a Transborder Street Musician

Heading down south for the big Pesos.

Kaffe 1870 July 24, 2008

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iSoul June 7, 2008

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(photo by Gustavo Martinez)


I want to be scrambled and encrypted
An HD pixel of a million being lifted.
I want to be ripped and burnt
And shared.
I just want to be spelled.

I want to be porn, I want to be leered
And unlike  a post-orgasmic cache hastily being cleared
I want to be saved, I want to be stored,
I want to be clicked again on moments of bore.

I want a book where I’ll have a face
And you can read about my encoded little craze.
I want to go forward without reply
A little emoticon blushing so shy.

Oh god, do I want to be linked!

I want to be the server and the host
While being downloaded always the most
Your USB as a BFF
Where I can save what of life is left.
The FAQ of the inner you
The best of all the songs playing at its cue…
And yes, of course,
I want to be opened and browsed
To tantalize a mind always aroused.
But I have to admit that I want it all right here
In the rarity of the realm of real
Where my flesh might casually meet my reasoning with a beer.
Oh yes, I want it all here
Where the dust can dry my skin
And the wind may drift my mind clear
I want it all right here.

                                                  Ramon Alvarado


The power of curves…and lines. March 20, 2008

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US soldier

It’s the sign’s 50th birthday and the BBC talks about its history

Just a little something, more busking adventures tomorrow.


Nicelandia… March 13, 2008

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gus’ downtown pic 

*Photograph by dear friend Gustavo Martinez

Again, across the river, as a welcoming message, laid that smoggy hue. It was just there floating as if waving hello in slow motion, heavier than the power of the gentle breeze that felt too lazy to struggle with it. 

I arrived to my area from the side street and discovered that a shop in the front, one of those predatory finance companies, had a PA system full blast with loud C music and an even louder DJ repeating over and over that they could get you out of debt…with a loan. So if I actually stood where I always do, at the left side of the main entrance to the museum, I would be straight across the speakers and would have had no voice by the end of the first song. I didn’t of course and opted to head towards the corner, probably one of the busiest corners in the whole 1.4.million people town. At first it was kind of difficult to hear myself but I then managed to modulate my voice and the guitar to get something out of it. I guess what usually helps me be louder just a hundred feet from there are the walls of the buildings facing me. At the corner my voice just goes everywhere without bouncing back.

I arranged mys guitar case with the essential anchor charm: a dollar bill and three coins holding it from flying out. The day was perfect and I played for a good hour, rested a little bit and then played a half more. As I have discussed in previous post, the mere fact of being there spraying my voice against the whole revolving chaos gives me sudden chuckles, outbursts of joy comparable to those expressed in a drunken state when surrounded by very good friends. I think its the nonsense of it all. I managed to gather a crowd that stayed for a whole song, that is always a pretty cool thing. It gave energy to continue playing after I had finished my first set. People even threw coins from cars which even though might be with the best of intentions it does not strike me as something I want hapening all the time.

Day 18


Amount of money made: $7.37

Time Played: 1h 25m

Exchange rate: 10.67 pesos/dollar


They don’t call it the Sun City for nothin’. February 11, 2008

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This is just a little present for some of my friends and readers who are still somewhen (yes, I just made that up) in winter time, somewhere in winter land,  while we Sun City dwellers have to annoyingly carry our jackets on our arms by noon. Whether it is good or bad, here’s a piece of home. I’ll start busking again this week, I have to admit that I am again somewhat nervous. Passports are now required and lines are said to be longer than usual. I am not taking my Goped across yet, I’ll assess the situation first and then decide upon the practicality of the matter. See you soon.



So you thought… February 9, 2008

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New lira

So you thought I had made it big and forgotten all about the small time busking, right? Well, in case you don’t already know, I haven’t just yet and I haven’t forgotten about the busking thing either, how could I? Not long ago I told a painter friend of mine from Canada how the busking thing felt to me as if finally, after a long time, my soul was able to fit into that emotional suit it had been longing to fit into its entire life. I guess its not the busking thing in itself but rather the whole experience that has a certain element of Gipsyness and just playing out there brings my whole body to smile unexpectedly.

I know it has been a long time without a guitar but the past month has brought some good things. Two things specifically: A guitar of my own that arrived yesterday (I won’t say brands or anything like that because I frankly don’t care enough) and a Goped (a motorised standing scooter). So the busking thing just got a little easier. I have a case for the guitar and I can jump on that goped and head out full speed (20mph) towards the downtown crossing bridge. I’ll do that this coming week, so expect some more adventures being posted very very soon. Thanks for waiting!



We Had No Idea January 23, 2008

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You must know that in addition to the trans-border bi-city complexity of this urban conglomerate we also have a separate little military city embedded within. It isn’t precisely located in what one could call the heart of the urban area but maybe in what might as well be the prostate of El Paso. The name of this military complex is Fort Bliss and according to the 2000 census it is home to something like 9,000 people. Now, the year 2000 is long gone and Fort Bliss is changing and growing really fast. It is said that the base is being prepared to receive as many as 40,000 people in the next 5 years.  That being said without any particular commentary allow me to tell you a little anecdote that happened this weekend.

As I sat at work just staring at the mountain from afar waiting for a story to unfold a call came. It wasn’t for me but rather for the person with whom I share a tourist information booth, that happens to be inside Fort Bliss. The caller informed my working neighbor of something happening at one of the gates of the military complex, a protest of some sort. According to the caller it had to do with some anti war thing. Because I was so extremely busy giving out tourist information to soldiers that can’t even leave base, as soon as she informed me of such happening I grabbed my camera and said “I’ll be right back.” I started rapidly walking towards the indicated direction when I suddenly remembered that my bicycle had been parked at the bike rack for the past week and a half. So I walked back in the opposite direction, past by my booth again and towards the northern exit of the building. I grabbed my bike and started pedalling.


When I got to the indicated gate all I saw was a lot of military police vehicles and some sort of improvised barricade, I thought it was over but still decided to go a little further out of base. So I crossed the overpass that leads to base and when I was pedalling down I saw the protest:  a group of 5 or 6 ladies and a teenager holding American flags and a bunch of banners surrounded by something like 20 bikers, all in full leather attire with more American flags counter-protesting the protesters. Some of the bikers were ridding annoyingly around the protesters drowning their voices with their exhaust. As I arrived nearer to the event, I parked my bicycle next to the cops safeguarding the whole ordeal. Three of the slogans written on the banners inevitably caught my attention. They said: “God is you enemy”, “Pray for more dead soldiers” and, “God hates fag enablers.” From this I kind of deduced what the protesters were about, I’ve read about them and I know they had nothing to do with the antiwar movement, nevertheless I decided to let my inner journalist out and start asking questions. From the demographics of the event I decided that between extremely pissed off bikers, some weirdo haters and law enforcement officers my best bet for reliable, educated and updated information was an objective and knowledgeable cop. So I started with the questions, casually:

Me– “So…what is all this abut?”

Cop– “That’s what it is all about” He said pointing to the banners of the protesters.

Me– “Yeah, yeah, but I mean, who are this people?”

Cop– “Liberals I guess…”

I guess I had tapped not just the wrong source of information but the I-don’t-care-about-anything-I-was-just-sent-here-and-all-I-know-is-that-liberals-suck source. So then I thought about my second best possible source: a biker lady with a cardboard sign.

Me– “So what is this all about?” 

Biker lady-” They are protesting our troops.”

Me-” I understand, but who are they or how did you know that they were going to be here in order to mount your counter-protest?”

Biker Lady– “I don’t know, you should ask that guy over there…”

She pointed to a guy across the street who was holding an American flag, was dressed in leather, had the inevitable beard and was wearing a nice and friendly confederate army hat.

Me– “Hi, I was told that you could tell me what’s going on here, where are these people coming from?”

Biker dude– “They come from Fuckin’-Nuts-Land, Kansas” 

Me-” Ooookay…And…uh… how did you know they were going to be here in order to counter-protest?”

Biker dude-” We have our ways…we have our ways.”

Me-“Oh, alright….well, thank you for your answers.”

Confyborn to be wild

I know I wasn’t being extremely objective here but I just didn’t feel like asking the actual protesters, it seemed to me that it all came to show you the amount of entropy that can permeate even such a small public gathering. I mean, I wonder who knew what was actually happening and what reasons if any existed for the happening. The protesters were protesting a funeral of a General that died in a motorcycle accident (whatever that has to do with homosexuals and how and what they enable just escapes my reasoning); the counter-protesters were protesting the fact that this group was protesting the troops and; the cops were just staring at the void like inanimate shields that only filtered the friction as a matter of some lunatic liberals rubbing against some hard-line patriots.

It kind of tells you how far is El Paso from anywhere. Far enough from Mexico to fear it, so outside of Texas that anybody running for office runs as a Democrat,  further away from New Mexico than from Arizona defying geographical logic and just…well, you have no idea, and apparently neither do we.

Sorry about the no-busking thing…I swear it won’t be too long.