Mexico City

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««« The Ministry of the Third Culture

the city

Pyramid of the Moon behind us, Pyramid of the Sun coming up. It's hot. We're looking South down the arid calzada between the ruined temples.

We gonna walk to the end of this? says Brutus. A long way... must be three klicks.
Could land a jet here, says Ajo. Space craft, no problem.
You ever read The Chariots of the Gods? I say.
Von Daniken? says Ajo. That's like asking a hippy if he's ever read Carlos Castanada.
Castanada died couple years ago, I say. Suburb of Los Angeles.
Thought it was last year, says Ajo.
Maybe it was, I say. Know who was a big fan? Fellini.
Fellini was a fan of Carlos Castanada? says Ajo.
Fellini tried L.S.D. because he was so smitten by Carlos, I say. Wanted to get to what Carlos calls the interior dialogue.
Did he? says Ajo.
Apparently not, I say. Figured he could make a movie with Carlos, though.
Did he? says Ajo.
No, I say. Came to L.A. but they didn't meet.
Ever read him, Brutus? says Ajo.
Yeah, says Brutus. Read von Daniken too.
Such crap, I say. VD appeals to lazy thinkers.
It's fun when you're stoned, says Brutus.
It makes perfect sense, says Ajo. Spacemen from another galaxy come to planet Earth and live in a stone pyramid.
Well stoners like stone, says Brutus.
Maybe it isn't so stupid, I say. Maybe these cities are cargo cults.
Parodies of an extraterrestial culture? says Brutus. Uh, think VD says space aliens built them.
His thesis is far from perfect, I say. Could be a cargo cult. Humans build them in the image of what they saw, mimic the aliens.
Think he says the aliens mated with our women, says Brutus. Hence evolution.
VD says that? I say. Now that sounds... Teutonic.
The Teutonic Plague, says Ajo. Von Daniken is pure fiction.
What about Castanada? I say. Is he fiction? He says Don Juan actually exists.
Si, says Ajo. Castanada is fiction too.
Didn't he pass off his first book as his Ph.d. thesis? I say. I think he did.
Fiction I'm sayin', says Ajo.
Anthropology, I say.
Fiction, says Ajo.
I'm not disagreeing with you old boy, I say, it's just that a lot of people took Castanada as the truth. Still do.
Same boreholes as believed von Dorkhead, says Ajo.
Hey man, says Brutus. Show some respect -- Doctor von Dorkhead.

We've crossed the avenue, we're considering the big pyramid. The sun ripples down the steep slopes, the black pock stones like fish scales.

Are we going to climb it? I say.
I need water, says Ajo. Got any water Brutus?
Drank it all, man, says Brutus.
How can I climb the fuggin' pyramid without fluid? says Ajo.

Like magic, a kid materializes from an enclave with a bucket.

Pepsi, senores? says the kid.
Beer, says Ajo. Got any cerveza?
Es illegal, senor, says the kid.
Pepsi sounds good right now, says Brutus.

He's looking into the ice bucket.

Ten bucks fer three cervezas, says Ajo.
No cerveza, says the kid. Pepsi.

There's an old man in the enclave. Thin like a coyote. He says something to the kid, beckons.

Cerveza? he says.

We follow him down the steps into a stone room. Idols, rain sticks, obsidian masks, craft trinkets arranged on a blanket. Young girl pours three shots from a long gourd. The old man hands them to us.

Ajo holds up his glass, studies the clear liquid.

What's this? says Ajo. Tequila?
Es not tequila, says the old man.
What? says Brutus. Mescal?
This es pulque, says the old man. Drink.
What's pulque? says Ajo.
The drink of life, says the old man.
Got no beer? says Ajo.
Cerveza is coming, says the old man. Drink, look, maybe you like something....

We drink the pulque... sweet, soft, no problem. And another... no problem. By the time the young girl shows up with the ice cold Coronas, Brutus has bought an obsidian mask, an ugly fuck straight out of a nightmare. Two hundred bucks.

Who's the artist? says Ajo.
Take me two weeks to make this one, says the old man. Dos.
A fine piece of work, says Brutus.
This man looks like Mescalito, I say. Don't you think he looks like Mescalito?

We're all chuckling here in the stone tomb. Or whatever this place is.

You know who Mescalito is? says Ajo.
Mescalito..., says the old man. Es this a drink?
No no, says Ajo. Like peyote.
Ah peyote, si, says the old man.
Carlos Castanada, says Brutus. The writer. Mescalito is a character.
Yeah, says Ajo. You take the peyote, see Mescalito. He's like magic.
Magic, says the old man. Ah, si -- El Brujo.
That's right, I say. El Brujo -- the warlock.
You look like Mescalito, says Ajo.
Si, si, I'm magic, says the old man.
Isn't Don Juan the warlock? says Brutus. Mescalito is his spirit figure.
Who cares? says Ajo. Hey, these your kids?
My son, si, says the old man. And this is my wife.

This stops us in our tracks. Pretty, doesn't look more than thirteen. She smiles eagerly.

Corona? says the old man. Pulque?

The Pyramid of the Sun »»»

© Lawrence Russell

Culture Court 2000