Home > 1, Music, The Music Business, The Virgin Islands > Book 1. Isla Grande Continued…Book 4. “Tales of The Second Coming” Continues..

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

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…

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