The season is upon us: Halloween/Jalogüín, and/or Días de los Muertos.
In my novel Smoking Mirror Blues I suggested combining them into a three-day celebration – Dead Daze. I still think it's a great idea, and I recommend it whenever I can. Maybe one of these daze . . .
But this was the 21st century, and recomboculture was a global phenomenon. Halloween collided with the Day of the Dead, becoming Jalogüín even here in the very heart of Mexico. Someday soon it would be a mongrelized Dead Daze, just like Beto's El Lay. (From Smoking Mirror Blues.)
The Southwest is full of tales of things that go bump in the night. La Llorona and El Cucuy don't have problems inspiring fear in this climate. That upstart El Chupacabras seems to thrive on the new electronic environment. Gnarled cacti, thorny trees, and jagged mountains can send chills up the spine after the psychedelic light show of the sunset dims down. Then there's our hoodoo rock formations, vultures, Gila monsters, and scorpions that glow in ultraviolet light, and all those UFOs . . .
You don't need to go to Transylvania!
It's amazing how people can see – and live in – this place and not realize how fantastic it is. We filter our perceptions, put on blinders. This is dangerous – especially for artists, writers, and filmmakers. I'd like to see new visions that take us far beyond the stereotypical “Southwest” of motel landscape paintings and Hollywood Wild West clichés.
One such work that does this is a short story “Memorabilia” by Rudy Garcia in the ebook anthology Needles & Bones. It's packed with history and myth woven through New Mexico, bringing in dragons and sorcery to a landscape that is usually a backdrop for arid road trips. Centuries are packed into its pages. I also sense that there may be the seed of a novel that I would love to read in there.
We could also learn a few things from Mexican filmmakers, who have never had trouble creating chills in a hot climate.
And recently, René Castillo has brought to life a new La Llorona, in Hasta Los Huesos, an animated masterpiece that takes you to world of calaveras worthy of José Guadalupe Posada (only in three dimensions), and beautifully illustrates Mexican attitudes of love and death.
Here's to a bright future in celebrations of life and death!