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  • hardie karges 10:39 am on July 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Blues, , , Dos Lobos, , , Los Lobos, Mexico, , religion   

    Leaving LA in the Not-so-Broad Daylight… 

    IMG_2509I’ve been accused of writing country music songs in my spare time, to make ends meet and to fulfill other sporadic random urges, apparently, so maybe I should. Here goes another attempt, one more time, so how’s that howling coyote go? Wa-ooo, wuff wuff wa-ooo, get along little doggies…

    Except that the LA in this case is Los Angeles, not Louisiana, and the time in question is midnight, not daylight, BUT: Hey, it’s better than ‘LA in the Rear-view Mirror, US in the Gutter’, which is how I really feel. Don’t you just love it when happy coincidences converge in real life? (More …)

    • davekingsbury 11:04 pm on September 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      The admirable sub-text here is a plea for less commercialism and more community. You do end on a hopeful note, however. I guess the task is to paint a picture of the way it should be – much easier said than done, alas!

  • hardie karges 1:59 pm on May 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Energy drinks, Mexico, , , ,   

    ADDICT! Confessions of an American Coffee Drinker… 

    IMG_0099.JPGHi. My name is Hardie, and I’m an addict.”

    “Give Hardie a nice welcome, group.”

    (Multiple voices in unison) “HI, HARDIE!”

    “Why don’t you tell us your story, Hardie…”


    Same in any language…

    Well, I knew I had a problem when I started carrying around a pack of Nescafe, for travel, and totally unselfconsciously, mind you, the hard stuff, too, not the 3-in-1 lady coffee, and I would mix it straight with bottled water and maybe a little sugar, if I was lucky, and happened to have some…

    At that point my habit was probably 200mg a day, though I’m sure I did 400mg many days, espresso cappucino latte’ macchiato, I’ve tried them all, including the Italian ‘ristretto‘, hard to find, like mainlining a little bit of Heaven straight to the carotid artery, pure caffeine, milk and sugar optional, add water to taste, it keeps you awake during prayers, yeah right…

    (snickers and subdued laughter, smiles on a head or two nodding)

    I got my start in the Millsaps College grill, lousiest coffee in the world but cheapest, too, ten cents a cup, and honor system, so you could just thump the cup if you were short on change, for good luck and good measure. That lasted a couple years, there and assorted mini-marts and lousy greasy spoons, Maxwell House, Folger’s, Yuban, Taster’s Choice, mother’s little helpers with a Good Housekeeping seal of approval…

    …but I saw the Promised Land in North Beach, San Francisco, 1974, espresso for a dollar or so a shot, way outta’ my budget, though, me hanging shopper ads on door knobs for less than minimum wage in nameless suburbs where the others lived, enough for a $25 a week studio pad on Washington Square, but I knew then what I wanted to be when I grew up. So it came three years later in Mexico City…

    While Lupita was doling out Burroughs his little pile of junk on anonymous street corners in DF, I was in the downtown cafeterias, real cafeterias, coffee-houses, European-style, with the good stuff, black meat, cafe’ espres’ and cafe’ cortado, just like the Beatniks in North Beach, but only a quarter dollar USD, so I could imbibe, in post-devaluation Mexico, and you get a waiter dressed-like-a-penguin to boot…

    Like Water for Nescafe…

    007 (2)…only problem was that you could get nothing of the sort outside DF, so I’m hooked by then, and stuck in Oaxaca, looking to score at 6am, and nothing open till eight, and then only Nescafe, “agua para Nescafe” infinitely preferable to whatever else might be on tap, at least they’d let you mix it yourself from a large jar with crusty rim, keeps me off the streets and out of the gutters, and somewhat normal for another twenty-four hours at least…

    But Portland, OR, sealed the deal for me, where coffee was already king in the early 80’s, and you could score for the good stuff all over town. But my favorite was macchiato, aka ‘meth’, because it had a dollop of creamy froth to neutralize the acids, but no one would mistake it for a lady drink. That’s the problem with cappucino: unless you know your local dealer, they might put cinnamon or something on it, and by then it’s too late…

    If they don’t have macchiato, then I’ll usually just order the espresso to avoid that possibility, same with latte’. But when Starbuck’s finally hit the big time, it was hard to pass on that two-dollar twenty-ounce bad boy called ‘Veinti‘, so nobody ordered it but me, because they didn’t know how to pronounce it, much less actually know what it means. I figure that monster cup had about 400 mg. of pure caffeine, maybe more if you filled it to the brim, no room for milk—ha! I know that trick…

    Then the energy drinks came along and upped the ante post-Y2K, though I’d known them for years in Thailand, where the Red Bull and many others originated. They made caffeine a party drink, speed-balling caffeine and alcohol, so that you can drink all night, because in effect, you never really get drunk. You just go out of your mind! And the American manufacturers actually improved on the taste of that medicinal-flavored retch—though it does grow on you…

    But most of all there’s now a clear equation of what one milligram of caffeine should cost, and what your choice of flavors are to go with it. Between that twenty-ounce Starbuck’s bad boy and those Monster energy drinks with 160 or 240mg frequently found for less than a buck, I refuse to pay more than five cents USD for a milligram of the drug, and I expect to have my choice of delightful flavors, coffee in the morning, lively limey citrus in the afternoon…

    IMG_0959But my conscience still nags me: isn’t there something wrong with this? I know the Islamic mullahs long ago ruled that it’s okay, but still… Then my Buddhist priest not only okayed it—he started fixing me up every morning before first light, then again in the afternoon, too. He says it helps with meditation. You got that right…

    Fast-forward to the present, and I finally decided to quit. Junk is junk. Maybe it was the betel-nut chewers in Burma or the heroin junkies in Amsterdam—I don’t know. How can I live with myself if I’m disgusted at the same time? If you want to move forward, then you’ve got to leave some things behind, that’s what I figure. Freedom starts in your own mind. If you need help getting up in the morning, then you need to make some changes in your life.” I shrug. “That’s my story.”

    Wow, Hardie! That’s some story! And I’m sure that all the others and I are glad to see you clean, straight and sober. It must feel good knowing that you’ll never have to go back to drinking that nasty stuff…”

    (space intentionally left blank)

    Wait a minute. I didn’t say that. Did I say that? No, I definitely did not say that.”




    • davekingsbury 2:20 pm on May 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      My nerves are shot to pieces after reading this graphic account … only one thing for it … brew myself a cafetiere of full-strength Kenyan Fair Trade!

  • hardie karges 12:15 am on December 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cartels, Mafia, Mexico, San Diego, , Wat Metta   

    Jet-Lag Diaries: Mafia in Mexico, Satori in San Diego, Trumped in Tucson, WTF… 

    img_1276Sometimes I feel like an archaeologist of myself, periodically coming across a shard or shrapnel from my past of which I have no clue as to where it came from or why it’s there, in this case an unopened letter from twenty years ago containing my college transcripts, grades and such, my university report card signed sealed but never delivered, for reasons unknown, the six ‘w’s of life—what where when who why WTF—left unanswered but for the nagging clingings of consciousness…

    What was I considering studying: physics, microbiology, linguistics or anthropology? Whatever it was, I doubt it was philosophy, or religion, but I never did it anyway, never even applied, wherever it was, which ever it was, however I planned to pay for it, just a milestone of non-accomplishment, filed away for further consideration, flopping…

    …floundering in the bottom of a file cabinet, somewhere, filled with assorted floppy disks, CD’s, DVD’s and other period pieces that defined my lifestyle of the past two-three decades mostly unattended, from one storage unit to another, from one American city to another in hopes of a brighter later, so maybe now it’s time, since grades don’t expire, now, do they? (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 1:16 am on December 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      “O, Mr. Karges, do you write?” I can hardly comprehend what I read – remarkable!

    • hardie karges 1:52 am on December 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      thank you, Esther, I try…

  • hardie karges 2:50 pm on June 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Chiapas, Mexico, Monterrey, , , Veracruz   

    Time Travel 1977 Mexico-USA: Brokedown Chiapas, Giggle Bordello, Busted on Burpin’ Street… 

    continued from previous

    March 1977


    The back road from Agua Azul to San Cristobal de las Casas through Ocosingo is nothing spectacular, but a pretty enough drive.  This is the area that will be ground zero for the emergence of EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) and ‘Sub-Comandante Marcos’ in a few short years, resulting in being ‘liberated’ by them on New Year’s Day 1994. But for now it’s a dusty backwater, as far into the outback as you can get in Mexico, deep in the jungle. Unfortunately our bus breaks down before reaching the city, so we all have to get off, and find alternate transportation.  Fortunately it breaks down not far away, so finding something else isn’t too hard.  (More …)

  • hardie karges 7:12 pm on June 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Merida, Mexico, mushrooms, Palenque, Tulum, Yucatan   

    Time-Travel 1977 Yucatan: Maya Illusion Cubensis Mezcal… 

    Continued from previous…

    March 1977


    Chetumal is the first major Mexican city coming north from Belize.  It’s a free port, so something of a shopping mecca for the region, as well as a regional crossroads.  It’s also a jumping-off point to go to the Mayan ruins of Tulum, maybe the only one built right on the coast.


    Tulum is not a major set of ruins by Classic Maya archeological standards, but it rates pretty highly by backpacker ones.  These are right on the beach, so you can watch the waves roll in from Chac Mool’s belly.  There are many campsites in the area, with license plates from the US and Canada, so I’m reminded that I’m back in that mostly-non-European nexus, which frankly I was starting to like…

    I really don’t want to do an American beach scene.  I’m heading to Palenque, the one major set of developed Mayan ruins in Mexico which lies outside the Yucatan, and which in fact pre-dates them, part of the Classic Era lowland jungle network which includes Tikal in Guatemala and Copan in Honduras.  But first Merida… (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 4:09 am on June 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I may have told you that Fran and Rick took a trip to Belize, so I am sharing this with them.


  • hardie karges 10:27 pm on April 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Lake Atitlan, Mexico, ,   

    Time Travel 1977 Panajachel, Guatemala: Life Sweet, Whiskey Sour… 

    Continued from previous…

    If the drive from Guat City into the highlands is exhilarating, then the drive down to Lake Atitlan is nothing but spectacular.  Imagine a mile-high lake ringed by three volcanoes and a dozen Indian villages with some of the most colorfully dressed people you could ever imagine.  It’s easy to fall in love with beauty like that, and many people have already.  Hippiedom is alive and well here in 1977, so that’s why they made me cut my hair.

    These are some hard-core hippies, sleeping on the beach and playing songs for tips in restaurants.  The restaurants are good, too, with real live vegetables on offer, which is something almost unheard of in Mexico, where food is meat and beans and corn and rice, and vitamins are something to be extracted from fruit, especially jugos y licuados, aka ‘vitaminicos’ and zumos in other versions of the vernacular.  It’s cheap, too, dollar a meal, much less than pre-devaluation Mexico a hundred miles away, a devaluation still weeks away.  (More …)

    • Philip Melnick 8:23 am on December 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Hardie…I owned Roger’s Pub (Risian) from January 1979 to 1981. I leased it from Rudy, a Guatemalan guy who was married to a woman from Quebec. (Her father was a famous Canadian country music singer). The minute I first walked into the pub in 1977 I wanted to run the place. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. We used to greet the tourists coming into Panajachel and tell them the other bars had live music, but we had live bartenders!

  • hardie karges 8:18 pm on April 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Frida Kahlo, , , Mexico, , Tehuantepec   

    Time Travel 1977 Mexico to Guatemala: Socialists, Hippies, Haircuts, and Screwdrivers… 

    Continued from previous…

    OAXACA   1/25-27

    Oaxaca is burning.  Isn’t it always?  The Revolution of 1910 was Mexico’s ‘permanent revolution’, ensuring that disgruntled democrats and befuddled Bolsheviks would forever find something to complain about—Mexico’s ‘perfect dictatorship’.  Mexico’s rites of protest are a perfect counterweight to its lack of development and chronic corruption.

    This time they’re burning buses, so I get a van south to Tehuantepec, on the Isthmus, that serves as Mexico’s narrowest point, and once in play for the canal that became Panama, so but for some quirk of fate we might be reading about the ‘Tehuantepec papers’ today.  But not before being held up at screwdriver-point in the market in Oaxaca.  Huh?

    I was negotiating for an ice-cream when an interested bystander pulls a screwdriver on me—in broad daylight! I almost burst out laughing!  “Don’t you have a Phillips-head?” I shoulda’ said.  But I didn’t.  I just gave him the money I had in my hand—not much.  Enjoy your ice cream. (More …)

  • hardie karges 12:29 am on March 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Huautla, Mexico,   

    Borderland Mexico seemed pretty weird, way back in… 

    IMG_0069.JPG…1974 when I was twenty years old.  Now I know why it seemed so weird at the time.  It is.  The border between the US and Mexico is one of the weirdest places in the world, and used to be even weirder, back in the days of donkey shows and so forth.  There was a whorehouse scene down there back then that would give modern Thailand a run for its money.  Of course some of the Mexican girls might inspire you to run for your life.  What they do with makeup could put hair on your chest, or something on your somewhere, at least.   (More …)

  • hardie karges 7:18 pm on January 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Mexico   


    IMG_0138Borders are where creativity happens, the edge of turbulence where one reality attempts to mingle with another in a dance of denial. To win is not the point. To create a viable form in a previously unknown dimension is the fruit of forgiveness. Mutually exclusive equations hold hands in a symbolic logic and agree to disagree for the sake of the children, taking solace in the beauty of combination, lying fast asleep in a bed of leaves.

    Limbs intertwined avoid unclipped nails and other rough edges folded under for safety, weapons washed waiting for demons of the night yet unslain. The morning comes right on schedule, like cosmic clockwork, the law of large numbers happening on such a vast scale that we don’t see the changes, the uncertainties, and minute indecisions within the scale of our own puny lifetimes, much less the passage of our sun across the sky. Motion is the normal state of nature, a fact so obvious yet so illogical to common sense that it’s scarcely acknowledged even now.


  • hardie karges 4:30 pm on January 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Affluenza, El Chapo, Mexico, narcotrafico, screenplay   

    El Cheapo and Kidd: Mini-Screenplays for Imaginary Mexican Shorts 

    006INT. – Mexican Jail Cell – Day

    ‘EL CHEAPO’ GOOSEMAN is a 60-ish Mexican drug lord. He trims his mustache, preening in the mirror. He looks very self-confident, self-absorbed and unconcerned. F. (LOU) ENZA KIDD is an 18 year old American white kid. He doesn’t look too happy, head in hands and no trace of a smile.


    Que hiciste?



    I don’t speak Spanish.


    (clipped and deliberate)

    What deed jou do, mon? Why are jou here?


    Don’t you know? Everybody else does. I got drunk and accidentally killed some people, so my mother brought me here to escape. What about you? (More …)

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