"The city is being swept away by the metropolis. This action does not just replace one noun with another, but radically turns one state of affairs into a state of perpetual motion. As a collective action -- a verb more than a noun -- the metropolis destabilizes our concepts of time and place. With the dissolution of the city into the forever- emerging metropolis, our existence slides into permanent mobility." - L. Lerup, in After the City


forty-five.5: between logistics . . .
9.13, tonight the storm has come later than usual. after walking long and slowly from the westerly Polanco neighborhood ‘home’ to the Casa de los Amigos (a Quaker-run guesthouse once designed by Luis Barragan for Jose Clemente Orozco), i have recovered from a guilty global cup of coffee which deservedly produced some sort of instinctive revolt: once in awhile these well-heeled neighborhoods of boutique hotels and sidewalk cafes become too smoothly convenient to digest well. the sani-wrapped plastic fork, the over-sized small ‘tall’, the Journal and its takeovers and conglomerates, the subservient dog being abused by his extremely preppy owner – such minutiae can produce in a fatigued mind a surreal and unproductive time-space glitch. nonetheless, this encounter with bad coffee-culture does not epitomize all of the Polanco area, which otherwise boasts quiet avenues that avoid sterility by virtue of the lush greenery and the eclectic homes lining the streets. sometimes the case in transitional zones, as Polanco gives way to the ambiguous zone around the Circuito Interior highway, its charm succumbs to a little too much intentional flair. (ex. the avenue where i had my coffee probably boasts Mexico's highest concentration of bridal boutiques).

i discarded my half-finished acidic cup to the cheers of my stomach, which was still rumbling from the best moment of my day -- lunch: two stewed tacos pulled out of a trunk on a pristine street corner. Polanco’s gentile residential thoroughfares do not allow for the informal ambulantes that otherwise infuse the city. however, the demand for tasty street food still exists, so cars full of food simply drive into the neighborhood during lunch hours and park on the street. this practice seems accepted by everyone, including the guards and cops hovering around the very popular trunk where i enjoyed my tacos, along with the rest of the local white-collar crowd.

continuing centre-bound, i crossed the Circuito Interior on the lime-green pedestrian overpass, gazing down on the clog (northbound) and stream (southbound) of traffic. women selling knick-knacks take advantage of the stop-go traffic and walk between the highway lanes touting their goods. even at this slow and sporadic speed the pursuit was brave, but i imagine it’s a well-understood rhythm, not unlike that known by the stoplight street-performers and 10- second windshield washers. (the fire breathers have gotten under my skin more than most, as their soot-covered faces and rag-covered mouths belie a visible physical sacrifice). the Circuito serves as a hard and disruptive boundary between waning Polanco and the middle speed, middle class residential neighborhoods that dissipate out from the E-W Paseo de la Reforma and its CBD. long-angled 5pm light cast tree shadows against the sides of comfortably worn buildings, illuminating how well the vibrant color scheme of the city works in this phenomena of dark-skied, golden-hued summer afternoons. the sidewalk ambulantes prepped for the evening crowd in semi-silent concentration, and it was easy to notice how easily and readily people smile here, looking each other in the eye. this is the same social quality i’ve enjoyed while using the Metro; even during a peak-hour commute, crowds are flowing but unhurried, and people seem to move in a focused but slow-motion river of spacious bobbing. the rhythm is comforting, and the underground warmth soporific.

Mexico City’s got it – the thing i wasn’t sure existed – some workable balance of the formal and informal. there are just enough cracks in the official here, just enough need for common-sense opportunism, just enough colorful rebellion, to enliven the everyday with that element of spontaneous humanism. the social effect of the city's ubiquitous food ambulantes – that strangers in suits and teens in caps and workers in overalls all stand on a corner eagerly biting into delectable, affordable antijitos – cannot be underestimated. the act is leveling, and honest, and makes me wonder if the vitality of a city’s pulse doesn’t somehow reside in how openly her residents will imbibe together in public.

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