AFTERWORD ihnde Esta Artaud? BY DAVID HOMO ILLUSTRATIONS BY PENNY VAN HORN The Tarahumaras visit the cities sometimes, drawn by a desire to travel, to see, as they say, how the mistaken men live. For them, living in the city is a mistake. Antonin Artaud, Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumara I’m no cartographer, nor do I have any drawing skills, but for the last two years I’ve been mapping various streets in Juarez and El Paso that I’ve been driving or walking through all my life. I’m interested in certain “zones” within our city, their ambience and history, and the effect they have on our collective psyche. I’m not sure why I’m making these maps. It’s become a sort of obsession with me.To a large degree I’m following the lead of the Situationnistes, an obscure and defunct group of avant-garde artists and urbanists. In 1954, the Situationnistes began a series of urban explorations they called experimental derives. Groups of them would drift through European cities with no plan or direction charting psychogeographical ambiences, making maps of the vibes they got from each zone as they went about looking for the _city’s soul, its hidden poetry. They hoped the results of their cartography would form the basis of la revolution quotidiennethe transformation of everyday life. With their maps they were supposed to create new cities out of old zones. One of the founders of situationisme, the 19-year-old Parisian Gilles Ivain, drifted into the Bizarre Zone, the Happy Zone, the Noble Zone, the Utilitarian zone, and the Sinister Zone. For some reason he never came out. He wrote one brilliant piece and never wrote again. Some say he got lost, went crazy, ended up in the Insane Asylum Zone. Maybe he became un beatnik. Who knows? I’m too burned out to become a beatnik, or even a revolutionary, but I was captivated by the idea of drifting through our cities, and without regard to Migra-created barriers, making an emotional vibe-zone map of La Frontera. Recently I spent some time drifting aimlessly through two Juarez streets with quite a reputation for history and sinAvenida Juarez and La Marisa.. I started out on the American side of the Santa Fe bridge, where the barbed wire begins, let’s just call it La Zona de Nadie. I was jotting down notes hereclothes by the pound, plastic bags trapped on barbed wire, a soldier with chain, saw . helps U.S. Customs agent cut through impounded car’s gasoline tank, etc.when a security guard who thought my act of writing seemed suspicious came up and asked to see my ID. In La Zona de Nadie everyone has to answer three sixty :thousand-dollar questions quickly. “Who are you?” “I’m not sure.” “Where are you from?” “I think some of my ancestors crossed the Bering Strait and others drifted in from the ocean.” “Where are you going?” “I’m going to do a psychogeographical map of the border.” The zones aren’t static, they ebb and flow like tides. When Pee Wee Russell played at the .Big Kid’s Palace in the early ’20s, the whole Avenida Juarez from the Santa Fe Bridge to . Calle .Comercio \(today known as Diez y Seis . he’d finish blowing his hornPee Wee was playing the sax back thenhe would hire a cop for a dollar a nightas a bodyguard,. get drunk, and go watch badger-bulldog fights for fun. From prohibition to the forties, Hollywood stars like John Wayne and Robert Mitchum as .well as Fort Bliss soldiers would hang out in Avenida Juarez watching Copa. Cabanastyle dancing girls with the big feathers ontheir derrieres. Charlie Chaplin came to Avenida Juarez in 1942, not to catch the show, but to get a quickie divorce from Paulette Goddard. 36 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 1/17/03
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