Thursday, December 1, 2016

Last Call For Resident Author Applications

Thanks to all who have submitted resumes for the writer-in-residence jobs we announced two posts back. Quite an impressive group. From Random House authors to Playboy magazine columnists to Fulbright research fellows to Sundance film screenwriters, the competition has been fierce. (Well, as fierce as a bunch of writing geeks can be.) We've already offered one professorship and will soon rudely though metaphorically slam the door on further applications. This is the last call. If you're still considering whether to apply, here are more details:

The University of Papaloapan is part of Oaxaca's state university system. The campus is a web of stucco edifices and cobblestone walkways in a manicured tropical garden that is surrounded by rainforest and just ten minutes outside of the state's second largest city Tuxtepec. The lush terrain here is gorgeous and fertile. It produces fruits, veggies, and meats with a quality and abundance found in few other Mexican locales. There are modern supermarkets, movie theatres, dance clubs and a department store. Only an hour away, the Sierra Norte climbs from palm trees, hummingbirds, and iguanas to cool Oregon-ish rainforest then frosty pine forest.

Working here feels like a permanent vacation, plus the university cafeteria has great coffee from a local finca. Even as I type this, I feel a little guilty for inhaling such fresh air and slouching in my office without a care in the world. Most of the therapists that gringos go to could use a little of the therapy we get here. No, I'm not overselling it. I'm leaving out lots of good stuff. (For example, the local mosquitoes are so huge that it's easy to kill 'em.)

Unlike Canadian and American universities, there's no expectation that your published writings be politically-correct or approved by a consensus of nerdy academics. You get paid to follow your muse. Though I shouldn't toot my own horn, working with a department head who is easy-going and life-loving is a serious job benefit, when there are so many miserable bastards to work with in this world ... or so I hear.

On the weekends, one can visit museums of Olmec sculpture, swim under jungle waterfalls, tour cigar-making companies, or listen to Jarocho music at a pineapple wine festival. That's all the info I can think of at the moment. To be considered, rush a cover letter and resume in an email with scans of your university degrees and passport info page attached to

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Is Donald Trump America's Pancho Villa?

This week celebrates the revolution here in Mexico, so I would be remiss not to note some uncanny parallels between Donald Trump and Pancho Villa. Yes, I'm serious. I've discussed this theory with over 200 real Mexicans in Oaxaca who generally validate that comparison. So, you faux LA (Latino activists) in faux LA (Los Angeles) can stop practicing your deeply-offended looks and go get a Thai fusion taco then whine to CNN about the cultural appropriation on behalf of all Mexicans and people of Thai descent. If you crack the taco shell, CNN will even dub it breaking news.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Travel Writer In Residence Dream Job

Not many folks get paid to write. Much less to apprentice with a critically-acclaimed author. Yet, that opportunity is now available to you for a limited time. The daily routine of this job includes writing travel stories for three hours in a private office overlooking the Oaxacan rainforest, coaching university students for three hours on their communication skills, and being mentored for one hour by writer Lyn Fuchs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Author Lionel Shriver On Political Correctness

I hate to disappoint you folks, but unless we stretch the topic to a breaking point this address will not be about the assigned theme of “community and belonging.” In fact, you have to hand it to this festival’s organisers: inviting a renowned iconoclast to speak about “community and belonging” is like expecting a great white shark to balance a beach ball on its nose.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Black Lives Really Don't Matter

I was the white-skinned member in a black church through most of university. Not because I was making a human rights statement. I just liked the blues-based music better than the country stuff across town. Most of the women I've loved have been Latina. Not because of a fetish. Just because I've often lived in places where the hotties within reach were brownies. I care about skin color about as much as I care about eye color. The lack of racism in my heart isn't because I'm righteous. I think I've committed every other sin except orgies, and that's just because no one ever invited me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Brief Undocumented Migrant Phase

Forboding creeps into my heart as the bus nears CopacabaƱa border crossing. I'm taking a gamble. All the other passengers are European, because Americans are supposed to get visas before entering Bolivia with a two-way plane ticket, but I'm relying on the schmoozing powers that have so magically transported me across many frontiers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Learning Stuff From Primitive Savages

Jack's Cafe may sit on Cuzco's most touristy corner but truly deserves its long line of travelers spilling out into the street. The famous Desayuno Gordo (fat breakfast) is flawless. The scrambled eggs are fluffy; the roasted tomatoes are ripe; the parsley potatoes are crispy; the bacon is fully yet gently cooked; the white beans are succulent; the sourdough toast is yummy; the cafe con leche is strong and foamy.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Only One Situation Justifies Domestic Violence

The Inca-berry-slathered alpaca filet on my plate and the narcotic coca leaves in my teacup can only mean one thing: I'm in Cusco. Sitting cross-legged on a llama pelt at the Blue Alpaca cafe. The steep cobblestone lane outside has Quechua women in bowler hats coming in for the market while tourists head out for nearby Machu Picchu. This recalls local history.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Cracker Lives Matter In Lima Peru

Nirvana is to be experienced rather than defined, except to say that the airport in Lima is its exact opposite. Gray drizzly clouds block all window views of the natural world. Glaring florescent lights thrust a salty, greasy, sugary world of McDonald's, Papa John's, and Dunkin' Donuts into a traveler's throbbing brain. Peruvian women do little to restore my bliss. Many faces suggest human/llama crossbreeding, while many bodies offer a plus-size-version of Daddy Yankee's "Shaky Shaky" video. An overpriced taxi to the cheezy-sounding Nirvana Hotel seems like a ticket to paradise for me.