Every Friday morning I meet my friend, Ed, for breakfast. (Ed is an artist. I discussed his work with you in little cat feet on the sand.)
The main purpose for meeting, other than enjoying some of the best huevos rancheros in Mexico, is to discuss how the Indian school is operating. Our main concern being food and school supplies.
But we do venture afield. One of my favorite topics is the nature of art. How often can you sit down with an artist who understands why he is an artist and discuss, at length, his motivation? One of these days, I need to bring you into one of our discussions.
But not today. I have a completely different topic in mind. As you might guess from the photograph above.
Last Friday while driving to the restaurant where we meet, I saw one of the most unusual sights I have seen in Mexico. Or anywhere for that matter.
A faded red construction truck drove in front of me. On its right side (just behind the cab) was a large swastika. Black in a white circle. I could not have been any more startled if Fidel Castro had been standing on the street corner announcing the opening of a Subway shop while wearing a clown suit.
But I was wrong. I could have been more startled. And was. Beside the Nazi spider was a painting of Che Guevara.
Who was this guy who put these icons on his truck? A man brave enough to put two images together that look incongruous, but share one rather nasty detail?
Of course, my camera was sitting inside my bag on the seat next to me. I tried to speed up to snap a photograph, but he was gone with the wind.
I did notice, though, that the left side of his truck had only a swastika. Sans Che. Leaving the left without Che. But that was enough symbolism for one day.
My fellow blogger, Gary Denness over at Mexile wrote a post recently about symbols. In fact, the two of us exchanged comments about the same two symbols on the side of the Mexican truck. How they are powerful and why.
Symbols do not impress me. But, there is no doubt, that both of these symbols elicit strong reactions. For the swastika -- almost unanimously negative.
But for Che, the reactions are mixed. My former girlfriend Linda loved him. She thought he was sex on legs. Of course, he was dead. It must be easy to turn a corpse into a sex symbol.
For me, he was merely another psychotic mass killer of the Twentieth Century, who tarted up his fascist psyche with snippets from Marx. I wonder if someone had been smart enough to put a bullet through the head of the not-yet Führer during the beer hall putsch if he would have become a t-shirt emblem for young men wishing to look cool and anti-establishment?
I doubt it. But they both seem to have that odd look in their eyes. The same look that the local boy gets just before the neighborhood dogs and cats start disappearing.
In my Asian travels, I have been startled at how often I see the swastika. On monuments. On Hindu shrines. On statues. Around a full balustrade of a Buddhist temple.
Because of our experience with Hitler's Germany, the swastika has probably been forever perverted in the West. But the symbol (in various incarnations) has long been a symbol of good luck. And is used amongst Hindus and Buddhists.
Even though I know this, I was still a bit startled when I examined the national costume of a Chinese minority in the Shanghai Museum.
The geometric patterns were interesting. Then I realized why. It was based around the swatsika that was center in the design.
I am still interested in finding the man with the truck. I wonder if he is as steeped in political philosophy as Ed is in art.
With my luck, he will probably be wearing an Ayn Rand shirt.
Update -- A little bit of sherlocking this morning helped me find my quarry. Here is the storied art work. But that is just the truck. I still know nothing about the owner. Well, not enough to say more.