Posts Tagged With: mexico

H-Bomb’s Sunday photo, week 62: an art museum in Mexico City

Happy Sunday, people. On this day in history in 1867, the British Parliament passed the British North America Act, which created the Dominion of Canada as part of the British Commonwealth. Pursuant to that act, Canada became a country effective July 1, 1867 (although it didn’t become fully independent of the British Parliament until 1982).

This week’s featured image comes to you from a different part of North America: Mexico City, where a new art museum opened in 2011. Called El Museo Soumaya, it was built to house the collection of Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim Helú, who according to Forbes is the second wealthiest man in the world with an estimated net worth of $77.1 billion. (Bill Gates, of course, ranks no. 1 on the Forbes list.) Designed by Fernando Romero with assistance from the firm of the legendary Frank Gehry, the aluminum-clad exterior certainly has a distinctive appearance:

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The interior is kind of a knock-off of New York City’s Guggenheim Museum, with ascension between levels accomplished via a gently sloping ramp that curves around the outermost portion of the floor plan. (There’s also an elevator.) Continue reading

Categories: H-Bomb's Sunday photo, North America, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, week 3: a very strange house in Mexico

Today’s featured photo is of a bizarre-looking home in Naucalpan, a suburb of Mexico City. The residence is called the “Nautilus house” due to its resemblance to a nautilus shell:

I saw this house, which was designed by Mexican architect Javier Senosiain, during my visit to the greater Mexico City area in May 2011. I actually toured the Nautilus house as a special guest of the owners (who can be seen entering the house in the photo above). To read more about that trip of mine to Mexico City — including the night when a taxi driver robbed me and left me in the middle of nowhere — go here.

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Categories: North America, travel | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Rogue taxi drivers and “La Bamba”: my weekend in Mexico City, 2011

The Pyramid of the Sun is located along Calle de los Muertos (the Avenue of the Dead), at Teotihuacan outside Mexico City.Several nights before I flew to Mexico City, I was shaken up by a disturbing nightmare. In the dream, there was a cloud on the ground and I stepped onto it; the cloud was then magically transformed into a glacier. Walking on the glacier, I fell into a hidden crevasse and started plummeting for what would certainly be hundreds of feet. Even if I survived the fall, I knew I would end up too far below the surface to ever climb out or be found by rescuers. And I thought to myself, “This is what it feels like to know I’m about to die.” Then I woke up.

One year ago this weekend — Memorial Day weekend in the United States — I flew to Mexico City because I’d never been to Mexico, and that city was geographically close enough (roughly a four hour flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to Benito Juarez International Airport near Mexico City) that it would be easy to jet down there for a long weekend and check off another country on my World Karaoke Tour. The concept here was similar to the reasoning I’d employed when I added Canada to the tour via a weekend jaunt to Montreal in August 2010. I’m constantly looking to increase the tally of countries in which I’ve sung; and while I understandably get enthused over exotic locales like Easter Island, there’s no reason for me to overlook the “easy” destinations (especially those that are immediately adjacent to my home country). Still, as I headed to the airport, my excitement was tempered by a sense of disquiet. Mexico City's newest museum, El Museo Soumaya, opened to the public in March 2011. I wondered whether my nightmare portended a tragic outcome for this journey. My initial reaction was to associate the dream with my fear of flying, and to interpret it as a premonition of a plane crash (This speculation was heightened as a result of bad weather in New York on the day of my departure; I become especially nervous when there’s a predicted risk of thunderstorms around the time of takeoff). But did the dream serve as a more generalized warning regarding my impending travel? In the dream, stepping onto the cloud seemed innocuous enough at the time; but it became the type of fateful and irreversible decision that would inexorably lead to my demise.

Saturday morning and afternoon: sightseeing

Things started out innocently enough. I arrived in Mexico’s capital city on a Friday night. On Saturday morning, I headed out to Mexico City’s newest museum: El Museo Soumaya (see photo, above right), which had just opened about two months prior to my visit. The interior of El Museo Soumaya is more than a little reminiscent of the Guggenheim.

This museum displays the art collection of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú, who according to Forbes is the wealthiest man in the world. The emphasis of the Soumaya’s holdings is on European and Mexican art. Among the highlights is a large trove of Rodin sculptures, including a copy of “Le Penseur” (“The Thinker”). Also included are works by such artists as Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Renoir, Van Gogh, Dali, Miró, El Greco, Tintoretto, and (as you would expect in a Mexican museum) Diego Rivera. Moreover, the Soumaya is one of those museums whose architecture is as notable as the treasures it houses. As shown here, the interior of the Soumaya is evocative of New York City’s Guggenheim, with the focal point a gently sloping ramp that curves upward and gradually ascends to the top level. The concept may not be original, but it’s well-executed.

After getting some culture in the museum, I explored Mexican history at the Palacio Nacional (National Palace). One of the signature attractions of the palace is its murals by Diego Rivera that vividly dramatize his country’s past.

Then I had a stop to make outside the city. I made an excursion to the suburb of Naucalpan, to experience a very distinctive-looking house. That home is known unofficially as the “Nautilus house,” due to its resemblance to the sea creature of that name. I’d come across a photo of the Nautilus house on the internet, while perusing a website that showed examples of unusual architecture from around the world. The Nautilus house in the suburb of Naucalpan.When I realized that this unique home was located in the vicinity of Mexico City, and that I would be visiting that very metropolis, I knew I had to see such an architectural gem in person. Only one problem: despite my formidable googling skills, I couldn’t find an address for the Nautilus house. What to do?

I took a chance and emailed the architect who had designed the Nautilus house. I didn’t even expect to hear back. But his firm responded and contacted the house’s owners (yes, there’s a family that enjoys the enviable distinction of living in this remarkable abode!). The result: I was invited to visit the Nautilus house as a special guest of the owners.

So on the Saturday afternoon of my weekend in Mexico, I ventured out to Naucalpan (my mode of transportation was a private car service arranged by my hotel, and that was a good choice because even with detailed directions, the house was hard to find. My driver, however, was able to telephone the house and converse with the residents in Spanish to obtain the necessary navigational assistance).Inside the Nautilus house. The Nautilus house is situated in a gated enclave that abounds with elegant homes, but those other residences are attractive in a much more conventional way. I could only imagine what the neighbors think of this bizarre habitation in their midst.

Upon my arrival at the Nautilus house, I was treated to outstanding hospitality by the occupants. They welcomed me inside and gave me a full tour. As you can see in the photo on the left, the interior was just as spectacular as the exterior. (More photos taken inside the Nautilus house can be seen in the full album of photos from my Mexico City weekend, which you can view here.) The patriarch of the household and his son then took me for a walk around the neighborhood. By the way, it turned out that conversing with the family was not a problem, as its members spoke English fluently.

Saturday night: karaoke

I’d already had a full day and seen some cool stuff; but after I circled back to Mexico City, it was time for the activity that supplied the principal purpose of my trip. I was off to sing karaoke! Continue reading

Categories: North America, police blotter, World Karaoke Tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

It’s time to get things started!

Shown here is my most recent international singing experience, in Mexico City in May 2011.  The scene depicted in this photo occurred at a bar called “Pedro Infante no ha Muerto.”  The name of the bar means “Pedro Infante hasn’t died.”  In case you’re wondering who Pedro Infante is, Wikipedia states that “José Pedro Infante Cruz . . ., better known as Pedro Infante, is the most famous actor and singer of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.” Wikipedia also tells us that notwithstanding the optimistic outlook of the bar’s proprietors, Señor Infante departed this world in 1957. Anyway, I think that “Pedro Infante no ha Muerto” is a pretty cool name for a watering hole.  What wasn’t cool was how, when I was trying to get back to my hotel at the end of the night, my cabdriver robbed me, forced me to get out of the taxi, and left me in the middle of nowhere.  But that’s a story for another time.

Hello and welcome to H-Bomb’s Worldwide Karaoke!  This site was created to document my ongoing World Karaoke Tour.  I have sung karaoke in 23 countries on six continents, plus Easter Island; and within the United States I’ve performed at karaoke venues in 12 states plus the District of Columbia.  You may have noticed that I mentioned six continents, one fewer than the total number that the Earth has.  The missing continent — for now — is Antarctica, but I will get there eventually.

Yes, there’s a place to sing in Antarctica. Gallagher’s, a bar located on the scientific research base McMurdo Station, offers weekly karaoke nights.  It’s not easy to get there; most tourists who visit Antarctica arrive by sea, and McMurdo is on the opposite side of the Antarctic continent from the place where you would alight if you arrived on a cruise ship from South America.  So transportation is a challenge, to say the least.  And it’s no easier to find lodging for such an extreme destination. There are no hotels on Antarctica — let alone at McMurdo Station — that you can book through a site like Expedia or Orbitz. Well, to be more accurate, there are no hotels at all.  But despite such daunting obstacles, singing on the seventh continent is absolutely a bucket list item for me.  I will find a way to make it happen.

I sing karaoke under the stage name “H-Bomb.”  I’ve been performing under that nom de guerre since the fall of 1992.  Back then — in the mists of time, when the United States was the only country in which I had ever done karaoke — I was a first-year law student at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.  On Thursday nights I would sometimes go out for karaoke at an establishment called the Jennifer Street pub, in the Dupont Circle neighborhood where I was living.  My actual name is Harvey, and so naturally I would write that name on the song slips that I handed to the KJ.  On one such Thursday evening, the KJ didn’t care for my singing.  Each time that it was my turn to sing, when he would call me up to the stage, instead of calling me by the name I’d written down, he would summon me as “H-Bomb.”  He meant it as an insult.  But I immediately saw the possibilities of becoming a weapon of mass destruction.  Despite the origins of the sobriquet, I readily embraced it, and I’ve been singing as the H-Bomb ever since.  My identity as the H-Bomb has permeated my life; my handles on internet message boards usually begin with those letters, and even at work, it is not unusual for colleagues to refer to me as the H-Bomb.

I said that I’ve been singing as the H-Bomb since 1992.  And that is mostly true.  But there is one exception:  In 2008, when I visited Japan, I thought that to sing under the name of an atomic bomb might not show sufficient respect for cultural sensitivities.  : )  So, at those Tokyo karaoke bars, I sang as “Godzilla” instead.

My next scheduled international trip will take me to Lisbon, Portugal for New Year’s weekend 2012.  I also am scheduled to travel to Egypt in February 2012 for a cruise on the Nile (I was originally supposed to go to Egypt in February 2011, but as you probably know, a revolution erupted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in the early part of that month.  Egypt’s version of the Arab Spring resulted in the cancellation of my tour, and I went to Morocco instead, while rebooking the Nile cruise for one year later.  As my delayed Egyptian vacation approaches, the political situation in Egypt continues to be unstable, and I am monitoring it closely). I hope to fit in some singing during both of those upcoming excursions.  As I add additional locations to my World Karaoke Tour, I will post updates on this site — with photographs and videos!

And the updates will not only be about my singing.  My karaoke wanderlust is about satisfying two of my great passions:  karaoke and travel.  So when I am on the road, I will blog about the sights that I’m exploring during the daylight hours, as well as the venues where I grab a mic in the evening.

Between trips, I will use this site to report on my karaoke adventures on the home front; and in the beginning while we’re getting caught up, I will reminisce about my international karaoke experiences to date.  Much has happened since the magical night in June 1993 when an outing to the Duke of Argyll pub in London made the United Kingdom the first foreign country on my World Karaoke Tour. : )  I will also blog about my general thoughts on all things karaoke.

I envision this blog being interactive.  I’m generally very good at finding karaoke spots in my travel destinations — usually well in advance of my departure.  But sometimes, especially in non-English-speaking countries, finding a singing venue is quite challenging for me.  I look forward to a time when my readers in far-flung locales will advise me — and each other — on where to sing in every corner of the globe.  Maybe I’m being unduly optimistic, but that’s the way I roll.

Last week, I visited the Louis Armstrong house in the Corona section of Queens, New York. This unassuming brick edifice (seen in the photo on the left) is the actual home in which the great Satchmo lived with his wife, Lucille, for the final 28 or so years of his life (Lucille was actually his fourth wife, but by all accounts she was the great love of his life). You can see the rooms of the house, preserved as they were several decades ago when Mr. Armstrong was in residence. It was a fascinating tour. So, the tour guide was mentioning how Mr. Armstrong was the first musician who traveled all over the world to perform. That tidbit has provided further inspiration to me as I continue with my own, much more humble musical wanderings. And another thing: the guide claimed that Mr. Armstrong appeared on “every continent.” However, I strongly suspect that he never made it to Antarctica. So if I can make it down there, I have an opportunity to do something that even the legendary Louis Armstrong was unable to achieve. : )

Well, that should suffice for an introduction.  Thanks for your visit, and I hope to see you back here soon!  And I apologize for kicking things off with one of those cliched “hello, world!” posts.  I promise that some exciting new content is coming soon. This is only the beginning!

Happy singing,

H-Bomb

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