Archive

Archive for April, 2010

Book 4. De Barracks Yad Bay An Beach Club. Book 1. Isla Grande.5 Continued…

April 29, 2010 Leave a comment

De Barracks Yad Bay An Beach Club

 It jus so happen dat one day roun de bay dere by de Barracks yad a big truck come an dump out a truck load a san. Wha! Yeh meboy, (I se to meself) now yu talking boy, lemme go lay doun in it. No sooner said dan done an I was de fus man dare.

Boy, ah lay back an cross me leg an crass up me han dem behine me head like ah  comtemplating de  clouds in de clear blue sky. De nex second, ah jump up ana run back home to de head a pave street for me Muddah towel ana umbrella fo style, den ah grab up a can a sardine, two French bread ana red soda ana fly back to de beautiful new san at wha I kno gon soon be “De Barracks Yad Bay an Beach Club” Yeh meboy, ah se to meself now yu talking now yu talking.

 By de time ah reach back, three o fo touris had done fin de spot, but ah tro doun me self right in de middle ah dem, put an me shades ana open me sardine.

Jus den a big hard face man se “Hey Buckra, wha de hell yu tink yu doin, yu can’ see we come tu mix up concrete an cement?” Ah se “wha? Yu crazy? Wha yu commin’ to de beach tu mix up concrete and cement” De man se “Is you is de one who crazy, who de hell tell you dis is a beach, we makin’ a watahfront fo  bigtruck cou pass here” Ah se “wha? Is YOU is de one who crazy, look de beautiful blue watah de, look de san here, look de people in de middle. We here in de Barracks Yad waitin’ bocoups an many years plus fo somebody to bring de san fo de beach. Man de people dem  been laydin doun in de mud full a crab hole an rock stone an badein’ in de watah  wha de bottom fulla broke shell an beer can. De chrirren dem billin san calsel outtah mud an don’ talk abou when de gut runnin and de nightsoil commin’ doun, den dey makin mud pie outta dat!

 No man, we waitin’ two hundred years an mo for dis san tu come (an fo somebody to plug up de gut) We ain’ wan no concrete and cement fo de beach, how de people dem gon lay doun on concrete and cement?, why yu wan tu have to jump up wid yu coal pot an yu fry fish and yu mabi an yu blanket an everyting, everytime some schupid muddah skunk ina bigtruck want tu pass. Yu crazy? No man, bring mo san! Dis is de place right here me boy, in fac we should exten de beach all de way from Wes Indian dock to Cha Cha Ta…ah.. ah mean French Toun!

 Yu kno de beach belongs to de people dem and dat way every day will be like Christmas Mahnin fo de whole ah Charlotte Amalia me boy. Man sellin fraco an jumbi bead lef an right, woman sellin pate an benye by de poun. Touris frum all ovah de place commin to see de most beautiful town in de wurl, wid de bigges an de bes and de most beautiful beach in de wurl, rite in de middle ait. An de people dem will own de whole ting!. Man ah tell yu bring mo san! Bring mo san!

Book 1. Isla Grande. 5 Continued

In “La Isla Grande”, the upside of the downside, was always the kindness of strangers.

Which is not to say that all strangers were kind, nor to suggest that all kindness came from strangers either, but life has flung us all in a great tumble barrel of circumstance and situation and so sometimes, you just never know.

 For example…Howard had a friend from his soldierin’ days, who was himself still in the Army and stationed in Puerto Rico. The friend “Morris” would visit our pad from tine to time. Morris was a great looking, fine and enthusiastic fellow, He had light brown skin that set off his electric “blue green” or “aquamarine” eyes perfectly, and a spirit full of the most wonderful “joi de ve”.

 When Morris knocked at the door, all of our spirits would rise. He always brought a bottle for Howard and Mud, and probably slipped them a a few dollars for groceries as well. With Morris, every other word was  funny or kind, and he swept through the place like a happy tornado. However, there was one recurring behavior that had a really upsetting and ultimately, saddening effect on me.

For reasons that I still don’t understand, Morris, on his way out the door, would ALWAYS promise that the next time he came he would bring me a bicycle.

 It happened that at that particular time there was nothing in the world that I wanted more than a bicycle, and I believed him. And of course, he never brought the bicycle.. Never explained, never apologized, and never varied, “Next time I come, I’m going to bring you a bicycle.”

At the time, It was like some cruel and confusing joke. More recently, I’ve begun to view it as some kind of clinical experiment.

  1. 1.     Promise #1 unkept= deep-dissapointment
  2. 2.     Promise #2 unkept= lesser deep-dissapointment
  3. 3.     Promise #3 unkept= disappointment and wondering
  4. 4.     Promise #4 unkept= self-pity and… what’s wrong why me?
  5. 5.     Promise #5 unkept= anger and wondering what’s wrong with him?
  6. 6.     Promise #6 unkept= wondering and anger, why doesn’t he stop?
  7. 7.     Promise #7 unkept= Confused for life, what the heck did it mean?

 Yo no se.

Or as Doc Pomus often said about life, love, and the music business, “s’cwazy Scottie, s’cwazy!”…Continued

 

Advertisements

Book 4. Continued…Tales of The Second Coming.5 And Book 1. Isla Grande .4

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 4. Continued…Tales of The Second Coming .5

I am in the muddle of, ah…middle of, preparing for three very important occasions, and the April 15 tax deadline.

First, Sula’s One Hundred and Eighth Birthday, (the 22nd of April).

Second, The release of my new CD “The Virgin Islands Songs, The Musical. In Concert” Containing my new single “Surrender To The Sun” and

Third, A benefit Concert for COAST (The Council On Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, St. Thomas, St John) on April 25th at French Man’s Reef in St. Thomas, and…

 yes, I filed online, just in the nickel of dime.

 We have completed the production elements of “The Virgin islands Songs, The Musical, In Concert” and are now snaggled up in the manufacturing process.

Shari Brandt, Digitaldave (both from MAAC, the collective that I am involved with here in the states) and I spent much time on the cover last evening and that element looks great.  Shari had a photo of a “Golden Sky” that she took in the Virgin Islands.

The photograph is wonderfully representative of lines from “The Virgin Islands Song” 

The Virgin.Islands Song

 Have you ever been, to a Virgin Island?

If you answer no, come let’s go come let’s go

Have you ever seen what Virgin Islands mean?

If you answer no come let’s go, come let’s go

 In this world of gray on gray

I know where the rainbow day

Is born upon the golden sunrise

That scatters the stars turning diamonds to sky

Over Amalie… an emerald in the sea

Her perfumed mystery, bold as love longs to be.

 Have you ever seen what Virgin Islands mean?

If you answer no come let’s go, come let’s go

 In this world of grey on grey

I know where the rainbow day

Is born upon the golden sunrise

That scatters the stars turning diamonds to sky

Over sisters three… like emeralds in the sea

Their people’s history, bold as love, wild and free.

 Have you ever been, to a Virgin Island?

If you answer no, come let’s go come let’s go

Have you ever seen what Virgin Islands mean?

If you answer no come let’s go, come let’s go

If you answer no, come let’s go, come let’s go…

 And our upcoming single “Surrender To The Sun”.

 Surrender To The Sun

 Go down by the sea, surrender to the sun

Find the one you used to be, forget what time has done

 Go down by the sea and heal your heart,

Too many memories are tearing you apart

 Your eyes show you’re tired so

Of love of lose or win

Old friends know you’ve got to go

And let your heart begin again.

 Instrumental

 Your eyes show you’re tired so

Of love of lose or win

Old friends know you’ve got to go

And let your heart begin again.

 Go down by the sea and heal your heart,

Too many memories are tearing you apart

 Go down by the sea, surrender to the sun

Find the one you used to be, forget what time has done

 Go down by the sea and heal your heart,

Too many memories are tearing you apart,

They’re tearing you apart…

 We need to work quickly as I am scheduled to travel back to St. Thomas on Tuesday the 20th of April, for Sula’s Birthday Party on the 24th and the Benefit Concert at French Mans Reef on the 25th. I would like to have at least fifty copies of the new CD to take along. The CD is a double album so we are actually burning and printing 100 discs to make 50 copies.

The package looks great (Thanks to Shari Brandt of MAAC) the production quality is great (thanks to Digital Dave of MAAC) and the content is interesting and unusual.

(The printing and burning is being done as I write, by John E. a once well-known New York City recording engineer who is also a part of the exciting MAAC collective)

In terms of content, the CD contains what I believe to be a selection of good and appropriate “Virgin Island Songs” (of which there could have been three times as many) poetry, and lots of what we call (down in the Islands) “schupidness” aka (in the USA), as “humor”. I think that folks will find it interesting, amusing, and worth their while.

 This is our first co-production with MAAC (The Middletown Area Arts Collective) and this afternoon the media committee is meeting to discuss and create an action plan for getting the product (most especially the single “Surrender To The Sun” to the public. We do believe that there is an audience for this song and this recording of it, and the trick is how to get the recording to its audience. Specifically,

1. How to get exposure for the recording.

2. How to make the recording available to those people who would like to have it

3. How to collect sufficient pennies, nickels, dimes and dollars from sales of the recording to be able to create more recordings…

We think that this recording is close to the perfect one to help us develop and establish a promotion and distribution (and collection?) process that we will be able to utilize for future products.

 Of course we have no freakin’ “mowker balowker” (moolah boolah) (At last report it took an investment of $250,000 to get a hit) to pursue the traditional or established promotion and distribution processes. Which includes printing thousands of promotional copies and shipping them to radio stations, hiring an “independent record promotions person” who would “get our release to the top of the pile” hiring a publicist to get us as much  “press” as needed, shipping copies to and getting the interest and attention of ”reviewers” inclined to “rave or even rant” about our humble offering, and mounting a “Promotional Tour” to get exposure and support for the release” so, we have to uncover and discover new ways to achieve our goal. Which is in a word,.. ah six words, “To make this record a hit”.

We are certainly interested to hear your ideas and to engage your help in this. Please write to me at scott@lilfishrecords.com with your thoughts, and suggestions. I (and we) thank you very much.

P.S someone is saying “Scott you’ve got to bribe folks! Urging me to offer “half a bag of Hershey’s Kisses as a grand prize” Continued…

 Book 1. Isla Grande .4

I walk right up to it and stop and stare almost every day. The house on South Catherine, it was my sister Gale’s home. We were here together loving each other as much as a brother and sister can. What fun we had rambling through the house shouting or mumbling silliness in English, Spanish and Calypso, in and out of yesterday, today and tomorrow. (incidentally, that’s the fun of being a “grown up” you get to  shout and laugh and yell as loud and as often as you want to, and turn the music way up high).

Who in the world could have imagined that Gale would have to split? Not to California, not to Florida, but completely. Clean gone outta here, off the Earth…Not here there or anywhere, and not back tomorrow either. Gone gone gone. It’s unbelievable.

So, I walk right up to the house and stop. Almost every day. I just can’t believe she’s gone.

 She would have loved “The Virgin Islands Songs, The Musical”,  The MAAC Collective (right here in her little town, Middletown,) and her brudder bonehead’s new recording of “Surrender To The Sun”.  After all, she was the one. She was the one that first heard the whispers in the wind, that realized a new kind of music was being birthed, one that she and her little brother Bonehead, belonged to, and were born to be part of.

It was the beginning of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Bill Haley and The Comets, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Elvis Presley,  The Platters, The Moon glows, The Flamingos, Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, their music, the idea that their music was OUR music, that spoke, that sang our freedom became our strength, the sweet salve, solace and succor for the soul, that we, that Gale and I, in that time and in our place, so desperately needed. Continued…

Book 1. Isla Grande.3 Continued…and Book 1. Cortijo Y The Symphonic Friction of Silk, Skin and Satin

April 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Book 1. Isla Grande.3  Continued…

It’s difficult for me to write about our time in Puerto Rico, in Condado and our next move, to Ocean Park, because revisiting how I felt in that time and place is completely depressing, and frankly, I have worked long and hard to not feel that way any more. Depressing for me, for Gale, for Mud, for our little  brother Larry (who was born during that time and started life sleeping in a drawer) for Howard, and for all of those suffering in poverty and humiliation everywhere.

 Puerto Rico wasn’t the problem, Puerto Rico was an entire universe and the universe after all was beautiful. The problem was that we were living in the predictable consequences and painfully pitiful side effects of acute alcoholism, and were ignorant of that fact and further, powerless to do anything about it.

 I have been both actively and acutely strung out on alcohol myself and I have been a child in the middle of the chaos of familial alcoholism, and I will tell you that in my experience, being a powerless kid is by far the worse of the two, because there was next to nothing that we could actually do about it. And…Just as alcoholism is a progressive condition, so too is the ever-growing psychological AND physiological malaise you experience as you feel progressively worse and worse about yourself and your ever more pathetic situation.

There were other kids in the building, well, mostly in the big breezy one, more “Yankee/Ricanio” kids who unfortunately tended towards the uppity condescension’s of “Americano/ Castiliano kids” rather than the more proletarian “egual egual” of regular “Ricanio” kids. I could list blow-by-blow, enough humiliations, embarrassments and disappointments to sink a ship, but going through it all Uno by Uno is just too friggin’ depressing and who needs any more of that.

 I remember having a fight over something that one of the rich kids in the building said about me or my mother or my sister, or Howard and being too friggin’ weak to win. The boy sat on my scrawny chest holding my wrists taunting me and I was not able to budge the bastard even the slightest bit, it was among the most frustrating and humiliating things that I’ve ever experienced. I wasn’t a namby pamby, and was well used  to rough and tumble in St. Thomas, but I was unable to contain my self, and I burst into tears of rage, frustration and humiliation.

Even then tho, I didn’t have the good sense to.. ah..I mean actually  giving up was out of the question even then, so when the poor rich kid finally got tired of winning the blasted fight he had to let go and run for his life back into the rich peoples building and safety. Yep.

It’s funny how perfectly well I remember the helplessness that Gale and I felt watching  friends laughing with one another, leaving for the movies, the amusement park, or the ball park and not being able to go. In fact, not even invited because they knew,  and looked upon us with (God help us) pity, because we wouldn’t have the money to go, because we never had the money to go.

The flippy flappy fluppy flupping of the soles of your shoes and then the worn through cardboard, Gale’s cracked lense, broken and scotch taped glasses.

 I remember with great sadness one Sunday morning with nothing whatsoever to eat and mother taking me to a tidal pool on Condado Beach, armed with a safety-pin on a string looking, hoping, to find  something, anything to eat for breakfast, and failing completely. The little man that wasn’t, the little hero that couldn’t.

I can only imagine how Mud must have felt.

Life that way, is like living in some debilitating floor to ceiling drone that sucks the spirit, the light, the hope and the joy out of you. Leaving you more and more physically weak, and more and more psychologically vulnerable to insult and humiliation and more and more subject to the seeds of a focus less self-pity, a faceless anger and resentment.

I will mention that among other things we (our little family) got “boils”. Big fire red volcanic God awful biblical curse killer boils, that left you dizzy with pain and shame for days and weeks and when they finally exploded, well, you can imagine that mixture of revulsion and relief.

I got a hernia that went untreated for lack of moolah. Food poisoned by another Castilian Abuelita  when her friendly grandson brought me to their house to play, she fed us lunch, and then told me to leave and to go directly home. Within the hour, alone in our apt, I was experiencing the worse  sweats, trembling and abdominal pain of my life. I realized that if I knew what was good for me, I wouldn’t be going back to play with her grandson anymore. Gale was sick in bed for many, many, many weeks with TB that went undiagnosed and untreated (years later it was diagnosed by the scarring on her lungs). Both Mud and Howard wound up in the hospital at the same time for a month (she having complications and then a baby, he having Delirium Tremens). Followed by a long stay in the VA, leaving Gale and I to have a grand adventure taking care of ourselves on our own in Puerto Rico at 9 1/2 and 11.

Of course the first thing to go by the wayside was school, (we were going to “La Escuela de Santa Teresita” on Loiza Street at the time and we could never afford the tuition anyway).

 My job was to go out every day looking for, rather “hunting and gathering”, Coca-Cola bottles to turn in for deposit and for the pennies thrown away (two at a time) in the cellophane wrapping of cigarette packages. Cigarettes sold for twenty-eight cents a pack in cigarette machines and the two cents change was stuck in the wrapper. With my earnings Gale and I would go to the store and buy sugar and flour. All the ingredients we  needed to make our favorite dishes, fried sugar and fried flour cakes.

We would set the table like civilized children and gobble up our dinner as if we were on top of the world.

However, we  lived in acute fear that someone would tell the authorities that we were living all by ourselves and we would be caught and sent to…God knows where.

Fortunately, the only adult interventions came in the form of the bright red apples or neatly wrapped sandwiches or containers of Spanish rice that we would occasionally find leaning against the door when we would come back to the apartment from our flour and sugar runs. Continued… 

Book 1. Cortijo  Y The Symphonic Friction of Silk, Skin and Satin

I recently attended an interesting event in observance of “Virgin Islands/Puerto Rico Friendship Day” a discussion of the impact of Puerto Rican music on the music and culture of the Virgin Islands. For those of you who don’t know much about the music of Puerto Rico, it is as varied as “Trio Los Panchos” is from “Cortojo Y su Combo con Ishmael Rivera” with every kind of Jibaro (Puerto Rican “hillbilly”) thrown in for double good measure.

 Afro-Cuban is more well-known in the states, and I have nothing negative to say about “La Muisca de Cuba” but being “all but Borincan” my self I must confess a personal affinity for “La Musica De Puerto Rico”.

I am not on the panel this year, but the influence of La Musica De Puerto Rico on my music and on my excitement with the idea of making music, is very powerful. I am very happy to offer my recording of “El Gringito” as a demonstration of that, it is a classic Jibaro style song and arrangement, and our Guitar based recording (as opposed to the piano based one) of “Surrender To The Sun”  as partial confirmation of the fact that we’ve got a serious case of Borenquen in the soul of the Virgin Islands. (That is the great Jeff Medina playing those beautiful guitar lines).

The great Emile Francis of “Milo And The Kings” ( by far the most popular virgin Islands band of the last fifty years, was all but a Ricanio himself, and the band (with many players with familial ties to Puerto Rico) was second only to Cortijo when it came to full blast sizzling hot Mambo and Meringue.

In 1959 and 60 Tuts and Anibal and I were working at a dance hall that doubled as a skating rink or vice versa. “The Carousel”.

Skating was/is great fun, and being a skate boy/bartender at fourteen and fifteen, was certainly the best of both worlds. Leaping and spinning and flying around the rink at speeds exceeding eighty or a hundred miles per hour (I don’t care what the physicists say about the limitations of ball bearings in circa 1960 skates, or resistance of masonite floors, skinny kid legs and the self-limiting properties of all the atoms involved, as conclusive proof that actual speeds were probably no more than one-third of those claimed) we were flying and when you dipped too low and slid too far on a turn, smashing your shinbone into the sharp edge of a door jamb or support pillar, you knew, and everyone else that heard the crash-bang and the screamin’ and cussin’, would agree, that you had to have been doing at least a hundred. 

Sweet “styling” for the teenaged girls, and being ever-present and accounted for on the Saturday Night Rock and Roll radio show that originated at the center of the universe, the skating rink, was great great fun.

But when “Cortijo Y Su Combo Con Ishmael Rivera”, was there, and the scratchy forty fives were replaced by the live blasting trumpets and blaring saxophonicas and banging timbales Congas and Bongos, guiro, maracas, clavos, Guitarra, bass and crazy piano along with simply the best of the best singers in Ishmael Rivera, all together “tedando” the hottest mambo in sixty galaxies, and the giant mirror ball (on top of the rum) had the room and everyone in it spinning in eight directions at once, and the mounting scent of the sweat of pure passion and the perfumey fumes rose up to your brain and voodooed into it as tight as a Turkish towel and the sandpaper sound of oh so tightly wrapped and bursting at the seams, silk and satin bottoms  frictioning and bumping, rubbing, and sliding one against the next ‘til the place was about to spontaneously combust  like a flambo..

All a lusty young lad boy  had to do, was  solo dance himself out to the middle of the floor where he would find himself transported to heaven. Crushed breathless  amongst and betwixt the mambo frenzied bums  of five hundred panting, heaving mamacitas. Each cheek and Chica fully charged, and determined to out shake her neighbor… demonstrating for their dance partners and every one else in the world (or rather, anyone that dared to look) exactly who had the hottest haunches and the sweetest salsa pot, and further, exactly how these endowments could be expected to perform as soon as time and place conspired to align and allow them to do what they could do. (what we used to call “de ting”)

And, perhaps most importantly, and paradoxically beyond the immediate promise of things to come, was the clear once and for always illus/demon/stration of what “the poor pendejo who wouldn’t proclaim his love and fling down his life for her, this very night and forever more”, would and could surely count on missing every day and night of the rest of his miserable God forsaken time on Earth.

Many more than one of Uncle Sam’s poor intoxicated swabs found themselves swept up in this divine, elemental maelstrom, missed his boat and was sunk. Other wise good men who have had to answer questions like these ever since, “Son, how could you disgrace the family by getting a dishonorable discharge?” and “Dad, how long did you have to stay in the brig when they said you deserted from the Navy?” and “Dad do you think they’ll ever forget what you did and let you get a good job and move us out of this trailer park?”

I suspect that the concerned family members are quite puzzled when an odd sweet smile followed by a faraway glazed look is the only answer they get.

We of course had our own band that (as soon as we figured out how to play anything beyond “Perfidia” and “Ruby Dooby Doo”) would be just like Cortijo.

Tuts played the trumpet, I was the singing sax man, Anibal, played “an instrument to be named later” and our friend Guillermo who played the conga, was so taken by the excitement that we think he ran off to Old San Juan, where he may have tried a “stick up a mulberia” to get a set of timbales, and is probably still in La Princessa Prison, just outside of Rio Piedras.

Anyway, I don’t think I will raise my hand and try to offer that kind of testimony from the floor this time, but by God when it’s my turn to be invited onto the dias, I will have this and much more to say. Yes indeed,

 

Book 1. Isla Grande Continued…Book 4. “Tales of The Second Coming” Continues..

April 2, 2010 1 comment

Book 1. Isla Grande Continued…

While we were living at “Parada Vente Cinco, Y El Fangio” I was enrolled in “El Colejio de San Juan Bautista”, a fine and upstanding Escuela, wherein not a word of English was spoken..

None, no, nunca, nada, except of course for the odd combo/ patois dialect passing for English, spoken by yours truly.

The experience at San Juan Bautista was after all is said and done, one of the most instructive and educational of my entire academic career, and I would recommend it for anyone. The experience of becoming and being “El Estupido” simply because of language is like becoming the Hunchback of Notre Dame, or Louie the leper over night A most illuminating and ultimately, empathy producing exercise that I think ought to be a required part of every ones education.

 While at Parade Vente Cinco, I made a friend, Terry (who lived nearby, but away from El Fangito).  Through Terry, I was introduced to “Abuelitas” (a Spanish term for “little Grandmothers”).

My friend Terry’s Mother was “Puerto Ricania” his Father was a state-sider as I recall, but out of the picture at the time…  In any case Terry and his Mother were living with his Abuelita, in a beautiful old “Spanish Moroccan” style, mini Hacienda, A very “Castiliano” pad and atmosphere (in those days the “upper class” considered themselves “Castilians” or “Castilianos” pure or semi pure “Spaniards” as opposed to the “lower classes” which were made up of a mixture of Spanish, African, Indios, and, well you name it. All together known as Puerto Ricanios, Boricuas, Borenquenios, as fine a Sangria of humankind as can be found any where on the Earth.

Americans occupied a position in the Castiliano hierarchy  below the sub heading of “Vulgar” “Vulgarians” were tolerated more or less in direct relation to the individual’s power or financial status. And God pity the vulgarian who was “poor” “ese no vale nada”, their only redeeming quality was the fact that by their existence, they proved the natural superiority of Castilianos.

Castilianos who were of course, by divine preference, selected by Dios as most appropriate to “discover”, civilize and rule the new world.  Ah yes… there had been some mismanagement, setbacks and perhaps even a few mistakes, but as long as “los Castillianos” held true to their superior attitude and ideation, this too would pass, this too would pass. Terry’s Abuelita was one of those.

It was through her intervention in our friendship that I given my first introduction to an interesting new point of view on my natural place and relative worth in the world.

 Terry and I were talking about ways to make some money, (actually I suppose, I was the one concerned with making money because he always seemed to have all he needed, while I had none.)  One block over from Aveneda Fernandez Juncos, was “Aveneda De Diego” a far more ritzy Aveneda, than Fernandez Juncos, On Aveneda De Diego, was where you would find “El Nilo”, a well-known breakfast and  lunch type restaurant with these fabulous giant glazed donuts in the window (that I was dazzled and dizzyfied by but could never afford)  always on sale for only “un bejon” a nickel.

 Further along Aveneda De Diego, there was an empty lot in which a little traveling carnival set up a few rides. Among them, these great looking little cars that you got into and steered around a wooden track. I wanted more than anything in the world to be able to give them the quarter fare needed, and take my turn around the track. It happened that the day that my dear Mudder dear had sufficient discretionary funds to give her dear little bonehead dear a quarter, was the very day that the little cars had packed up and left. I was very sad and disappointed.

 I know that things were worse in the Fangito, that my self-centered materialistic material wants, were wants, not needs and in the grand scheme of things blah, blah, blah. However, the experience of “having not” and “getting not” over and again, brings a sadness to the spirit, and the question of “hey, wot th’ heck, what’s goin’ on?” and” hmm, what the matter with me?”, begins to bubble sweetly beneath the consciousness, silently building to the subtle burp and overt belching of odd and uninvited emotional and cognitive bub-splosions and disturbances from time to time. 

 There was a big air-conditioned movie theater on Calle De Diego that was advertising and showing a really interesting looking grown up movie “Carmen Jones” starring a really interesting grown up actress, Dorothy Dandridge. The posters outside showed a strikingly  beautiful lady of color in the starring role, (which even an eight year old knew was very unusual) I was really intrigued by the posters and knew there was no way that I would be able to pay my way in, so we decided to ask the movie theater man for a job. To our surprise and delight he said something like “sure, I’ll give you un peso each to sweep up and clean out the theater after each show”. With that he took us into the theater, it was enormous, but we got right to work…a sweepin’ and a pickin’ up and a moppin’ and a pickin’ up and a moppin’ and a sweepin’ and a “oh oh” a scrapin’ gum and a god knows what and a sweepin’ and as always, Terry’s Abuelita wanted him home for lunch, which meant that he had to leave before the job was over..Which meant that I had to do it alone, which was no fun, not even a little. 

When I saw Terry later, he said that his Abeulita had told him that he couldn’t do that kind of work, that theaters “were filthy and full of spit” and that she said “while I could do it, she wouldn’t allow him to go back there anymore”. When I heard that I wondered why if he couldn’t, I could? While I didn’t quite understand what that meant, I knew it implied something that didn’t “feel” right. Something was wrong and further, it left me cleaning up the whole filthy place all by my self.  

 Fortunately we moved to Cacique Street before my soul sank completely through the sidewalk and “el estupido” got demoted all the way back to the first grade.

 Cacique Street was interesting for a few reasons, One, because we lived in a house completely devoid of any furniture or furnishings (knives, forks, plates) of any kind, what so ever. And Two, because Gale and I had never been so all out blasted and interminably hungry in all our lives. It seems to me that all that Gale and I did on Cacique Street was wait and wait for an adult to bring us something to eat. It was crazy.

The only thing in the house other than our hunger and our suitcases was a radio…Gale and I played it day and night. Not surprisingly, the piece of music that I remember best from Calle Cacique was a bouncy melodic advertisement (in Spanish) for “Fruta Melocoton…..Libbys!” A jingle for Libby’s brand Peaches and Apricots, I’m telling you, it made a deep Impression…to this day  “Melocoton” is one of my favorites  of lip and lingo.

 In a stroke of good fortune, we were unable to pay the rent, and had to move again.

This time to a furnished apartment at 1700 Ashford Avenue, in “El Condado”. Condado was a relatively upscale section of Santurce, that ran parallel to Condado Beach. 1700 Ashford Avenue, was an eight to ten story wonderful Spanish style old world apartment building overlooking the ocean, The coconut trees swaying in the breeze along the silver strand,  the morning sun rising up golden and good out of the idyllic blue. It was beautiful.

We lived in a little apartment over the garage behind the main building blocked from the sea breeze and the view, still it beat the flaming heck out of tragico El Fangito and the crazy hungry nights and days of Cacique.,, Continued

 Book 4.  “Tales of The Second Coming” Continues..

Last evening, Your sixty four year old singer who will not take no for an answer, continued his voyage of discovery in pursuit of his ever elusive audience, up to and into the Capital of the great state of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. He was accompanied by un congero Puertoriciano que se jama Rafael, a blond Croatian guitarista Goddess that calls her self “Barbie” and a “visually challenged”, well…a blind stick tappin’, ex NYC recording engineer and whiz-bang computer wizzit, John “E”

The object of their objective was a small (but big inside) bookstore and coffee joint called “The Midtown Scholar’ where he would be auditioning via their “Open Mike”, for a coveted one hour slot in their performance schedule which and when, there-upon therein, he would be allowed to put out a tip jar and possibly pass the basket.

We were met at our Capital City objective by the spark plug and leader of the MAAC (Middletown Area Arts Collective), Shari Brandt www.middletownarts.com (Middletown is “The Gritty little City that Glows” ever since Three Mile Island made it the shiniest place on the map) MAAC’s radical new Theater and Media group may be producing “the sixty four year old writer who won’t take no for an answer’s” new mini opus “Three Mile Island, The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth, The Musical” we shall see…

Shari was accompanied by her husband handsome Dave and Bob The Train Engineer. All there to provide a kind and much appreciated collective support experience.

 Meanwhile, your boy knows more than a little about “passing the basket” being a veteran of Greenwich Village in the sixties and Washington Square Park, in particular. (The best spot was under the arch where a singer could count on a nice echo effect)  in fact the very spot in which and where in, he had accidentally discovered that the most astounding, surefire and guaranteed success with a singular “ basket pass” had little to do  with the quality of the performance and everything to do with the visual effect of the comely wench making the round of the crowd, basket in hand. Remembering clearly that his most successful basket pass of all time occurred when his wild redheaded earth mama sweetie Annie’s proud young gravity defying  pink and ivory breast had found it’s way out of her hippified peasant blouse to astound, electrify and thrill the crowd out of $80.00  (eighty dallah) cash money in Pennies, Nickels, Dimes. Quarters, Dollar bills (even a twenty) and sundry bells, buttons joints and medicinals. (yes, yes, I know, I’ve promised a “G” rated Memwa? but Annie is the Mother and Granny Mother of two of my girls and I think the story may be important and potentially  useful for them to reference, when heated discussions arise over their own behaviors and wardrobe choices)

The question tonight here in Harrisburg, will be will these neo-hip folks object if we skip the songs and go directly to having the Croatian Goddess Barbie, flip, or float one out, basket in hand, for a quick killing. We shall see…

 The problem turned out to be, that the person your singer needed to impress to get the gig, didn’t bother coming, and nether did the sound guy. So your boy stepped up to the mike, electric guitar in hand and offered up his performance in honor and remembrance of forty-five years of folkies, Earth Mothers, basket houses, bazooms, high falutin’ coffee house waitresses, rainy nights in the village, dark streets flashing reflections of red amber and green, neon lights and pouty lipped girls.

Your sixty-four year old “comeback kid” screeched a splendid and heartfelt medley of Zimmerman tunes artfully scrunched in between the Donovanian  epic “Catch The Wind” in a trans Atlantic, sense defying audition tribute to what was, what is, and what will be, this moment, that moment, and forever, etc. Quite something to hear as the vocal mike was live live live and the guitfiddle amp dead dead dead.

 Ah well, it certainly wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last… We arranged a second audition with the decider, and the singer will keep his spirits clean and sober and high high high, because it turns out that for him, life and love and music, is just better that way. Continued…