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Up and Out in San Miguel

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

For someone who is the "Mayor of Events" (which sounds even better in Spanish, El Presidente de Eventos), I don't get around much anymore. Publishing my event newsletter on Fridays and selling my girlfiend's fashion in the market on Saturdays (and, boy, do I sell) are both very demanding activities, leaving me, on weekends, little inclination to paint the town red. We tend to have people over or accept invitations to their house.

Then, resident seven and a half years as I am, the glow has worn off of certain of the town's more quotidian pasttimes, like art openings. Don't get me wrong, I am a social animal. Growing up not far out of New York City, I love fast-paced banter, flitting from one group to another. Once I am there, I enjoy myself immensely. It's just in the getting there that I usually fall flat.

All this is made more extreme by the fact that, as publisher of Lokkal, I get into concerts, films, talk and such for free. All of these, concerts, films, talks and free, I like, Still these days I tend to make my own amusement.

I think of myself as an artist, diligently, even obsessively at work, loathe to leave my studio. Some people paint. I publish, my event calendar for seven years now and my magazine for almost four. And there are some exciting new developments in the studio. We are about to introduce the magazine in an expanded format, San Miguel Sunday, to be published along with your bagels or croissants every Sunday morning. Then, my plans (and long efforts) to replicate my event calendar in other cities, are about to bear fruit.

The cavalry has arrived. Persons hae appeared, who recognize the value of the magazine and the calendar replication project and are willing and able to help. I am reminded of the summers of my youth spent along the Connecticut shore. When a storm blew in, the normally placid waters of Long Island Sound got choppy. I remember, then as the surf rose, men with no confidence in the anchorage of their cabin cruisers holding, in the shallow water, the mooring rope as wave after wave rolled over them and lifted high their boats. They held on until reinforcements drove the truck with trailer down to the waters' edge to extricate them from their peril.

I've been in the surf, usually gentle, but sometimes trying, holding out and on. I've been creating and maintaining, enjoying and preserving, convinced that what I had was valuable and should not be dashed against the rocks. Like the little duck in the children's book, Are You my Mommy?, I have gone around appealing for assistance. I would offer, "This is what I could make by myself." Well, gracias a dios, my ducks are in a line and I no longer have to go whoring after help.

Yes, I could have taken it easy. I could have just focused on the event calendar, enjoying the satisfaction of creating it (I love putting things in order) and the modest, but sufficient income it produces. But I have a certain mania for words (the magazine) and a belief that cities all around the world each need a digital town square (event calendar and directory; think Yellow Pages as they were 30 or 40 years ago). Anyway, the team has arrived, the practices have been going very well and I can smell a championship season.

Be that all as it may, a few Friday nights ago, Veronica and I were invited out to her friend's birthday party, and we went. The woman is a long time aquaintance of Vero's, who owns a considerable property outside of town. The party, however, was in town, on the large roof of an extensive house half-way up the hill. It was a posh affair. The canapés were delicious. The champagne flowed non-stop for hours. There was an open bar, a live jazz trio, a man who juggled fire and more. The rooftop showcased multiple fountains and, of course, a spectacular view. Did I mention the birthday cake?

Already acquainted with a good number of the guests, I was schmoozing to my heart's delight. Veronica, a Chilean connoisseur of wines, was relishing the champagne. Having found someone with interest and Spanish, she was chatting it up. The birthday girl came over and, placing her hand on my shoulder, smilingly told me, in particular, that she'd been complimented on her "eclectic group of friends." Well, my long white hair and beard do give me a certain prophetic look. It's a look I hope will come in handy when I launch the website that changes the consciousness of, and pulls this silly planet together (see "Planetary Consciousness").

I spoke briefly with a lovely man who told me that he was a judge. (Being a judge, like being the President, a doctor or a rabbi, is one of those things that stick with you, whether or not, you are retired; you can't get away from it.) He went off and then quickly came back exclaiming appreciatively, "Someone just told me that you make Lokkal." I take great satisfaction in helping people organize their lives... and in my quasi-celebrity status. I mentioned that the black and white stripes of the shirt he was wearing, were once quite popular in prison fashion and might be seen as an odd choice for a judge's wardrobe. I'm afraid that the irony was lost on him.

I spent some time sitting on a couch next to a woman I know, a friend of a friend, who told me about where she was traveling for Passover. Having moved to San Miguel 40 years ago, she went on to offer pithy anecdotes and interesting perspectives about the town, some concerning the changes that have come over our once quaint hamlet. At one point, looking around, she observed rather demurly, "These people are all rich."

What happens for me is so often my doing. It sounds terribly immodest, I know, but I, not my co-conversationalists, leaven most of the conversations I have. Fortunately for me it rarely comes to exsanguination, but as my guru used to say, "A dog chews on a dry bone until his gums bleed. Tasting the blood he thinks the bone is sweet." I loved the party, the party girl, her husband. Many of the guests were dear to me. I was one of the last to leave. But the whole party scene, the beautiful people displaying their beatitude leaves me flat. Their sameness makes me cherish my non-conformity.

In this regard, because it broke the mold in which the evening was cast, I now look back fondly upon a brief episode that night. I was second in line for the birthday cake (it was great cake). Waiting ever so briefly for the server to begin, I observed the rich, older man who was first, impatiently about to plunge his fork in the cake and rip off a bite. But for my quick admonishment he would have done so. A few seconds later, leaving with two slices, he deliver the second to his wife, who was hovering arm's length. Then, obviously quite unused to being restrained, he turned to look, rather astonished, at me, who had just delivered an almost parental restraint upon him, as his well-fed wife grunted her disapproval of my effrontery.

Still, the whole encounter was authentic. It was a genuine, unbridled, socially-incorrect act upon which he was intent. And, like a shade of his parents, I broke in genuinely upon his world. Who else, for decades past, had ever restrained him?

Some months back, I raided the library of a friend whose wife insisted that he make her room upon the bookshelves. I came away by a book, "America" by the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. I first encountered Baudrillard in reference to his concept of "hyper-reality." Hyper-reality is, according to Wikipedia, "an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced postmodern societies." For example, the inability to see the difference between your "Friend's" posts on Facebook and the actual life of your "Friend." Or believing that Tom Cruise's laughter and smiles during an interview is an indication that he is happy. (See my article Playboy, Hyper-reality and Mexican Culture.) Now the French can be really snooty, but here on page six of America is a phrase that for me sums up my social attitude. Speaking of his journey through the desert Baurillard observes, "The inhumanity of our ulterior, asocial superficial world immediately finds its aesthetic form here [in the desert]..." What passes for social interaction is really not social at all. And we, accustomed as we are to our over-produced, pseudo-reality, no longer know the difference.

When it comes to society I am, like the turtles in the lily pond at Escondido Place, largely in my own shell. Although I come up on the shore to bask a while in the sun, I soon return to the water. Air breathing, every once in a while I must poke my nostrils up above the surface. Still it is amazing how long I can remain submerged.


photo: Alessandro Bo (cropped)

Dr David has invested years of his life and more money than he cares to reckon into his global Lokkal project, an event calendar and searchable directory/business network for towns and cities around the world, combining aspects of Facebook, Google and Trip Advisor. Think: Digital Town Square. Think: the yellow pages for the new millenium. See more. A madman crying in the wilderness for years, reinforcements are recently arriving, the A team is assembling and preparations to launch in other cities are being made, gracias a dios. Interested?

events @ sanmiguelevents.com

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