Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Vuelos de Fantasia/Flights of Fantasy

Nothing like an ennui -laden visit to childhood stomping grounds in South Austin, post-pubescent, Lone Star beer-fueled sex and scramble runs on the West Side of San Antonio and a return to the scene of so many youthful experiements in teatro, muralismo, arte Chicano and poetic transformations. For the last ten days or so, it's been a non-stop rocket ride or a roller coaster descent into the maelstrom depending on your perspective. It was extraordinary to see my brother's latest salvo from the culture ward. Tomás, the artist who gifted me with a Che Guevara t-shirt when I was only nine, spent the late 80s and early 90s in San Juan Bautista as an apprentice at Teatro Campesino under the tutelage of the extended Valdez clan. In 1997, he revived the historic Pastorela tradition and staged a version very loosely based on the one our Californio brethren had been mounting in that marvelous mission church up north for years.

Have to say I could not have been prouder. The show ran at a 15-years-in-the-making Mexican American Cultural Center, in a building designed by Mexico City architect Theodoro González de León. I was pleased to see that support for such a staple of our annual holiday celebration was supported so strongly. Latinos make up about 30% of the population there and with nary a review or an article in the local (read: general market) press, La Pastorela had sell-out houses for its entire run.
Also managed to get my dose of Tamaleville (coined by Marisol Perez, my niece) nourishment while indulging in a laconic big screen marathon that consisted of I Am Legend one night, Beouwoulf 3D the next and The Golden Compass on the night after that. Finished it all with a Saxon Pub visit to hear Stephen Bruton and the Resentments. Bruton's played with everyone including the late great Stevie Ray Vaughn. He's also produced albums for Alejandro Escovedo, rocker, troubador and everyone's favorite músico under the influence as well as a spoken-word CD for indio-poet-honorary uncle raúlrsalinas. I know the Wolfe school says you can't go home, but Christmas trips to the land of bluebonnets and pecans can definitley put you in a place that makes for nostalgia and recovery.

Meanwhile, a dinner at the world-famous Guero's on South Congress Ave. saw me in the company of my 7th and 8th grade English teacher, Rosa. She and her husband Joe Pérez--both now retired educators who settled and taught in Brownsville after leaving Austin in the 70s--have my undying love and admiration. They tour together these days performing traditional border tunes in two-part harmonies. Rosa writes poetry and composes songs to pad their already considerable considerable repertoire. All of this is really her fault because she once whispered quietly into my ear about destiny and a mission and the need to transcribe these tales.

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