Off the Bookshelf: The Noise in Mexico City

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Short excerpts from long reads

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"I have to learn to live with the noise. I have to realize that something about the racket is nourishing. After smog, noise is the most prevalent pollutant in Mexico City's air. Both have their obvious drawbacks but both also have their magic. When I lived in Los Angeles, the toxic coastal smog created some of the most spectacular and psychedelic sunsets I have ever seen. Here, in the high, landlocked capital, the smog sits on you but it also makes for dazzling skyspaces. Neon orange, electric gray, brilliant purples, and slanting pinks. I begin to consider the noise as a security blanket.

"Silence is not to be trusted, because in Mexico City silence is insincere. The city never wants to be quiet. There is peace to be made with the noise. I now try to picture my square, little apartment as a magical, urban tree house hidden above a really exciting river of people and energy. There is magic on the streets, I tell myself. The hustle! The raw kernel of big-city life! Listening to Beyoncé or Wisin y Yandel blast through my bathroom window every day reminds me, of all things, that I live in Mexico City. That means a place in the world with too many people, too much pollution, and too much noise." ~ from Mexican Gringo by Daniel Hernandez, Slake #2, Crossing Over 


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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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