The statue of el Moro at the turn-off to Cumpas, Sonora, June, 2004. Photo by Jim Griffith.
If you ask any of the musicians who stroll our bars and restaurants to sing “El Moro de Cumpas,” chances are they will respond with a corrido or ballad whose beginning translates into English as
Don Rafael Romero in his sala, January, 1984.
Sometimes jokes, like other stories, hide a deep truth behind their surface.
Capirotada is not the only special Mexican food associated with the Lenten season. Another is tortas de camarón, or shrimp fritters. These use dried shrimp, of the sort that can be found in markets that specialize in Mexican ingredients. If you find powdered shrimp, well and good; if not, gr…
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday — the beginning of Lent. For Catholics in particular, this forty-day season comes with food restrictions: occasional fast days, no meat on Friday, and the like.
Here’s something that happened while we were photographing those African-American quilts back in 1979.
I’m a folklorist, not an historian. My kind typically uses the past to help understand the present, rather than treating the past as subject matter in its own right. So I find myself turning Black History Month into Black Heritage Month for the purposes of this blog.
Mrs. Ella May Muldrow and Worth Long holding Mrs. Muldrow's strip quilt ouside her home in Randolph, Arizona.
Worth Long and Mrs. Lenore Mathis with Mrs. Mathis' "Light shade" quilt, Randolph, Arizona. This is the most startling quilt I have photogaphed, and I couldn't bear to leave it out.
Reverend and Mrs. Hilaseo Howard with Mrs. Howard's "hourglass" quilt at their home in Eloy, Arizona.
Mrs Ruby Woods with the "bow tie" quilt top she has just pieced. Tucson, AZ
Another take on the "bow tie" pattern. Reverend and Mrs. Cartwright and Worth Long outside the Cartwrights home in Florence, Arizona. This time the bow ties are organized in strips, rather than squares.
The rodeo is almost over, but there’s still time to add a little context to this popular sport.
The 89th Tucson Rodeo Parade will take place this Thursday, starting at 9 a.m. The route goes south on Park Avenue from Ajo Way to Irvington Road, then west to Sixth Avenue, then north to the Rodeo Grounds, where it ends.
The annual Tucson Old-Time Fiddling Contest takes place tomorrow, Feb. 15, at San Miguel High School, 6601 S. San Fernando Ave. That’s south of Valencia and between Sixth and 12th avenues. Admission is free; the competition starts at 10 a.m.
I once asked famous bluegrass fiddler Leslie Keith about the difference between a violin and a fiddle. “Well, Jim,’ he replied, “you keep a violin in a beautiful tooled leather case, and you tote a fiddle around in an old flour sack.” In other words, same instrument, different social baggage.
Just west of Gu Achi (Santa Rosa Village) near the center of Tohono O’odham Nation stands a beautiful shrine — one of the holiest places on that nation. It consists of a pile of flat rocks surrounded by a circle of peeled ocotillo stalks. This circle has four openings; one for each of the fo…
This story, which is part of a much longer narrative, is set near the Sonoran O’odham village of Pozo Verde, near the southern end of the Baboquivari Mountains.
The setting is far to the west of Tucson, near present-day Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. At some point in the far-distant past, a huge animal called a nehbig came out of the ground and started sucking people into its maw.
It’s as close to cold weather as we might get in Tucson this year, so it’s time for me to share with you some of traditional stories of the Tohono O’odham. According to their owners, these stories should be told only during the cold weather, when the snakes are asleep, and I prefer to respec…
From the earliest days of Europeans in our region up to the present, there are three major themes that have profoundly affected our history.
The Tohono O’odham are not the only folks in Arizona who play waila music. The sounds of waila are just as popular among their cousins, the River People, whom many outsiders call Pimas. I can’t hear much difference between the two musics, but there is a difference in what they are called. Th…
Now we come to the most familiar form of O’odham music — waila. The word means both this genre of music and “polka.”
The music I described the last time is what is left over from the days before the Europeans arrived in this region. It has changed, of course, but it has the oldest roots of any O’odham music.
Last Saturday morning I was eating menudo at the Little Mexico Steakhouse on Valencia Road and discussing possible blog topics for the new year with the folks at the table when Ken Boom suggested that I write something about waila music.
Yesterday was January 6, the day of the Three Kings. I’ve already written about the traditional fiesta that some folks hold on this day, complete with a ring cake to cut and responsibilities to assume.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the casa
Whatever you call them – creches, nativity scenes or nacimientos – these assemblages of statues are springing up all over town.
Tohono O'odham Nacimiento by Tom Franko at San Xavier Mission
This roadside painting by Epifaneo Molina is on Highway 15 as it goes through Imuris. It gives us the whole scene - except that the Virgin is handing the roses to San Juan Diego, rather telling him to pick them.
Shrine to the Virgin on the side of an automobile shop on the outskirts of Magdalena, Sonora.
The Virgin etched on the window of a low rider car.
Assembling a float fir the evening Guadaupe procession, Querobabi, Sonora. The sign tells us that the float is sponsored by the Centro Guadalupano.
A curb protector in Villa Seris, Hermosillo, Sonora
The Virgin protecting traffic on the road east of Moctezuma, Sonora.
Guadalupe altar outside a home near Carrilo School.
Juana Valencia with her miniature Tepeyac hill, December 12, 2000. Many residents of Querobabi, Sonora put up altars along the route taken by the evening Guadalupe procession.
Her picture appears in every possible context: in churches, on t-shirts, on low rider cars, even sprayed on boarded-up windows. She is the Patroness of Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe. The philosopher Octavio Paz once wrote that she and the National Lottery are the only things that Mexicans …
To round up our look at lost mines in the Santa Cruz Valley, let me tell you the story of the Lost Opata Mine. And when I’m through, if you don’t agree with me that this is not an actual tradition from the Colonial Period, I’ll be surprised. Here’s the story:
Let’s interrupt our tales of lost mines and buried treasure to describe a real treasure in the upper Santa Cruz Valley: The 43rd annual Fiesta de Tumacácori, which will take place this year over the weekend of December 7th and 8th.
If you believe the stories, Tumacacori Mission was a hotbed of successful mining during the Colonial period. There’s the Tumacacori Mine, the Pimeria Alta Mine, the Alto Mine, the Mine of the Bats, the Mine with the Iron Door, the Ópata Mine (of which more in a later blog), and the Virgin of…
If our part of the world ever gets paved over, it won’t be with asphalt, but with stories. Stories can stick to the roughest terrain, seldom need maintenance, and can breed other stories.
The chupacabras at work, boasting of his Puerto Rican origins. I bought this Tshirt in the late 1990s, at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet, at the height of the Chupacabras craze.
A glance at the illustration above might suggest two things: The chupacabras (“goat sucker”) is somehow connected to Puerto Rico, and this mysterious blood-sucking beast has moved from folklore to pop culture. Both guesses would be right.
Even for a non-existent animal, the carabunco (sometimes written “carabunclo”) is remarkably shy and shadowy. It seems to be a nocturnal bird or small lizard-like creature whose major physical characteristic is a bright light in the middle of its forehead. It has most often been seen in Sono…
The first known reference to the onza is in a wonderful book written in 1795 by an ex-Jesuit missionary named Ignatz Pfefferkorn. Published in 1949 as Sonora: A Description of the Province and reprinted by the University of Arizona Press, it’s a great starting place for learning about our region.
The next few blogs will deal with some of the mythical animals said to inhabit our region: not imaginary critters like the sand trout, but creatures “unknown to science” in whose existence some folks firmly believe.
Yesterday, Nov. 7, was Mexico’s National Day of the Railroader. There’s a story behind this fact, and it touches our region deeply. It’s a story of heroism and self-sacrifice. It’s the story of Jesús García, el héroe de Nacozari.
These flowers in Panteón Rosario are made of aluminum scraps and bottle caps.