Guitars as Works of Art

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text by Fernando Daniel Martínez
photos by Infobaja staff

In a workshop in the Colonia 20 de Noviembre neighborhood of Tijuana filled with Canadian and German spruces, Indian rosewood, Honduran cedar, African ebony, and other rare woods, masterpieces renowned as some of the finest classical guitars in Mexico are being made. They carry the name of Fructuoso Zalapa.

Zalapa comes from four generations of luthiers in Paracho, Michoacán. He has spent his life building guitars that are now commissioned by professional guitarists who demand the unique acoustical properties and fine craftsmanship that his work is known for.

After his life took him down several paths – among which he studied to be a classical guitarist and a teacher – he settled four years ago in Tijuana because this city allows him to build outstanding guitars thanks to the select woods available across the border. “For this work,” Zalapa comments, “excellent materials are essential even though they cost ten times more than ordinary materials.”

During an interview with Infobaja magazine, this maker of fine instruments and characteristic acoustics talked about his craft, with which he has achieved international fame.

Tijuana 1950 as described by Fernando Jordán

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Fernando Jordán Juárez (1920–1956) was trained as an anthropologist and worked as a journalist. In 1949, the magazine Impacto asked him to write a series of articles on the entire Baja California peninsula. That work was later collected into two books, still in print today and well worth reading.

Jordán was captivated by the anthropology, sociology, and history that he found throughout the peninsula but, when he got to Tijuana, the culture of tourism then present caught him off-guard. His horrified reaction, copied and caricatured by generations of chilangos since, is reflected in El otro México: Biografía de Baja California, in which the chapter on our fair city is entitled “This is going to annoy some Tijuanans”.

 “While noisy, Avenida Revolución has always seemed to me to be childish. It is unpleasant but not sordid” he wrote. “The Americans are simple-minded and very clean even when drunken. At daybreak they end their binges by cheering and by taking photos of themselves on little mobile stages of ‘Mexican’ scenes drawn by white burros painted with black stripes – ‘Mexican burros’ (!) – found at every street corner. The sailors climb onto these stages and arrange themselves among the cardboard cactuses, exchanging their sailor caps for charro sombreros, and smile for the photographer. The burros are impassive, enduring all manner of abuse: they are the philosophers of the carnival.”

In that same annoying chapter, Jordán has left us an early poetical approximation of our special form of bilingualism, which he addressed to his Spanish-speaking readership. To show that modern-day Tijuana holds him no rencor, we would honor his memory with a side-by-side semitranslation to accommodate our English-speaking readership.

Tijuana cardiologist honored for innovative stem-cell therapy

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Dr Juan José Parcero Valdés 

by Moisés Márquez

An eighty-year-old woman from the United States was able to keep her leg thanks to a team of doctors from the Tijuana Institute for Regenerative Medicine who successfully introduced stem cells into an incurable lesion left by radiation therapy.

The patient was treated last year at Hospital Ángeles Tijuana as part of a stem-cell study begun in 2010. Dr Juan José Parcero Valdés, a local cardiologist and the primary investigator of that study, was honored by the National Cardiology Association of Mexico for his work on that case. The CADECI Nacional award, presented to Parcero on 24 February 2012 at the association’s annual convention in Guadalajara, recognizes the country’s best research.

Stem cells are unspecialized cells of the body that change into the specialized cells of various tissues. They can be implanted into different parts of the body and onto damaged or sick tissues, transforming themselves into that type of tissue and functioning as such.