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Down and Delirious in Mexico City

Down and Delirious in Mexico City

The Aztec Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century

MEXICO CITY, with some 20 million inhabitants, is the largest city in the Western Hemisphere. Enormous growth, raging crime, and tumultuous politics have also made it one of the most feared and misunderstood. Yet in the past decade, the city has become a hot spot for international business, fashion, and art, and a magnet for thrill-seeking expats from around the world.

In 2002, Daniel Hernandez traveled to Mexico City, searching for his cultural roots. He encountered a city both chaotic and intoxicating, both underdeveloped and hypermodern. In 2007, after quitting a job, he moved back. With vivid, intimate storytelling, Hernandez visits slums populated by ex-punks; glittering, drug-fueled fashion parties; and pseudo-native rituals catering to new-age Mexicans. He takes readers into the world of youth subcultures, in a city where punk and emo stand for a whole way of life—and sometimes lead to rumbles on the streets.

Surrounded by volcanoes, earthquake-prone, and shrouded in smog, the city that Hernandez lovingly chronicles is a place of astounding manifestations of danger, desire, humor, and beauty, a surreal landscape of “cosmic violence.” For those who care about one of the most electrifying cities on the planet, “Down & Delirious in Mexico City is essential reading” (David Lida, author of First Stop in the New World).
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  • Scribner | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451610185 | 
  • February 2011
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Read an Excerpt

6 | The Lake of Fire

(Illustration by Rodrigo Betancourt.)


You can’t really appreciate the enormity of Mexico City until you leave it on the ground. Merely landing at or departing from Benito Juárez International Airport belies the city’s physical contours, the ranges of mountains that ring its basin. Flying in or out conceals what you’re really dealing with. You must experience Mexico City’s hugeness as a journey of distance, inch by inch, mile by mile, traffic allowing. On a late afternoon, nearing sunset, during the smoggiest season of the year, winter, your bus or car is climbing the mountains... see more

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About the Author

Daniel Hernandez
Credit: Analiyah Hernandez

Daniel Hernandez

Daniel Hernandez is a freelance journalist in Mexico City and a contributor at the Mexico City bureau of the Los Angeles Times. He is a former staff writer of the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly. His journalism has appeared over a variety of platforms and regions, including All Things Considered and Latino USA on NPR, The Guardian, El País, and Gatopardo. Daniel is a native of San Diego and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.

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