by Ernest Hogan
I probably would have never written High Aztech if I hadn't been to Mexico City, thanks to my sister Carol. It blew my mind, to use a cliché that seems to pop up a lot these days – maybe there's something in the air, or the gravity waves distorting that part of the spacetime continuum . . . I took along a sketchbook, made some notes and drawings that captured some what was happening to my mind. Here are scans of the pages, and transcriptions of my scrawled notes, with minimal corrections, and the run-on sentences intact to emphasize how I was overwhelmed by Tenochtitlán:
27Jul82 (Flying in Mexican air-space): Plane flies thru an electrical storm. Lighting is different when you're on its level or above. Flashes reveal instant landscapes of the storm-clouds. Is it more spectacular flying over Jupiter?
Later, from a decaying taxi I see this sprayed on a Mexico City wall . . . ¡PUNK!
Like a feathered serpent uncoiling in the primordial dawn – Mexico City gets up early, winds up, comes to life. By sun-up, workers are busy excavating Aztec ruins less than a mile from the Palacio Nacional. This is a city built on a city built on a city . . . onward until the 21st century. Decaying buildings spew forth people in modern business dress. An Aztec serpent face peers out of a 16th century wall. 1960s psychedelic color (long faded) art deco façades. Drivers & pedestrians slide into mad rhythms that don't allow for error. Blind people are all over, the infirm, the starving, the hustling . . . an old lady begs at the entrance to the National Cathedral, a man pantomimes hunger in front of a diner. Indians in Aztec costumes play music and dance. A man plays the accordion while his daughter holds out a tin cup. Boys in uniform hold rifles and pose for tourist's photos in front of national treasures. The concrete is cracked, flowing and organic – This city is a living thing. Murals & graffiti – History & news. Disco sucks here too. (27Jul82 Mexico City)
Top Cat, Beany & Cecil, Bozo the Clown, Little House on the Prairie and Sheriff Lobo all habla español on Mexico City T.V. We arrive a day late to witness a political demonstration. Programacion infantil. Yanqui go home. Tourists come here to look at another culture. (27Jul82)
29Jul82 – Climbed to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun . . . WHEW!
31Jul82 – The Metro & bus system of Cuidad Mexico ain't all that bad. Despite all the hassles & crowds I wish L.A. had half as efficient a rapid transit system. Everywhere (museums, streets, subways, buses) people are reading tiny Mexican comic books. On the Metro guys get on & hawk books (on buses too). Also on the Metro as a blind beggar made his way thru a car singing a little boy tried to steal a coin from his outstretched hand. Blisters erupt on my feet. Saw “The Illustrated Man” w/Spanish subtitles last night. Sipped wine while watching lighting flash behind the Palacio Nacional. Graffiti is more political than adolescent search for identity. Parts of Mexico City (and the suburbs) look like the L.A. area, except for the ancient decaying churches, the Aztec ruins in the middle of the Metro, and all the beggars, cripples, dwarves & hunchbacks – it also rains most every day in this wet season. Also young people of the same sex walk hand & hand, arm & arm around the streets, they do the same with their mothers & fathers – touching and affection don't necessarily mean sex here. Culture shock. In the Metro there's no “ladies first” politesse – when the train stops, it vomits and swallows masses of humanity, then speeds off on its merry way.
ErnestHogan's High Aztech in available in an enhanced ebook version, and a premier trade paperback edition will be coming out in April, 2016.