Published by admin on 27 Jul 2008
It was a long day yesterday. I have been feeling awful, a string of ‘woman’s troubles’ coupled with various side effects from quitting smoking, the most annoying being my ability to pack on some pounds, have me mood swinging and nay saying and grumping around town like some kind of Oscar without her trash can. The extra weight is making me feel worse than I expected, and I’m pretty sure if the scale keeps pegging up in the direction it’s going, I’m going to feel more than a little crazy. I don’t know if smoking was an anti-depressant for me, but the anecdotal evidence seems to be pointing with two gigantic pointer fingers and popped out eyes in that general direction.
The course of the day is a little fuzzy. Weekends and weekdays all run together for me these days, I’m not working and I’ve been traveling and they only way I know I’m on a weekend is when I walk into a restaurant during daylight hours and there are actual people in there. People who look like they have jobs. Yesterday was apparently a weekend. Until at 3 o’clock when suddenly we were alone in Dusty’s and I wondered if it was a weekday. I ordered another glass of wine and forgot to figure it out for a while.
I spent most of the rest of the day in bed with Mr. F. That sounds like too much information when I write it, and I guess it is, but when you no longer smoke, and you have wine in the fridge it seems to leave many, many hours of free time.
I woke up around 8pm, disoriented, but well taken care of, still though, feeling like I had wasted another day. That the world on my shoulders was never going to feel lighter. That GODDAMNIT I NEEDED A CIGARETTE. Or a cocktail. Preferably a cigarette flavored cocktail. Mr. F looked out his 11th floor window and told me to hold on he had an idea.
I put the clothes on that I had been wearing since clothes were invented and we crumbled into the elevator.
“We’ll walk a block and you’ll be surrounded by the best mariachi band you’ve ever encountered.”
I thought some negative thoughts about big hats, trumpets and stupid pants, but I let him lead the way. Mariachi is something you’ve probably heard at a Mexican restaurant with your parents on your 17th birthday. If you aren’t from Mexico, I’m guessing it isn’t in your playlist. It certainly isn’t in mine.
We walked into La Fonda. In my home town, Camp Verde, Arizona, we had a restaurant called La Fonda. This place looked nothing like it. This La Fonda looked like a banquet hall. It had rows and rows of tables lined up in spokes telescoping from a relatively small stage. And there was a balcony where we were seated immediately. I hoped this wasn’t going to be the disaster that sent me back to my Camel Lights. Mr. F assured me I was going to love it. I was still very skeptical.
They finally filed onto the stage at around 9:45. Three guitars, two trumpets, four violins and some sort of bass. Not a big stupid hat to be seen (except on the young flamenco dancer who performed for just two songs). A strong clear voice, accompanied by the swell of well trained strings, followed in by a crescendo of trumpets and the steady rhythm of guitars and I was totally fucking sold. This band, this band who was giving us a free concert a block away from where I lived, was in-fucking-credible. Each of the band members would file to the mike and sing a song, the hole in their formation filled in with the ease of a marching band. When the only female mariachi player I’ve ever seen took the mike, I squeezed Mr. F’s hand. She gave what is quite possibly the best live vocal performance, of any genre, I’ve ever seen.
That is until the leader of the band said a few words in Spanish about a member of the audience having a birthday, and how she wanted to sing a song with the band. I worried a little as the band led her in with some chords and she confidently took the mike, but the voice of this middle-aged woman with painted on eye-brows and plunging cleavage ripped through the crowd and she held us in the palm of her hand. I don’t know what she was singing about in particular, but I know it was about love, and maybe a little loss, and she, this random woman from the audience, belonged up there.
I studied each of the band members as they took their turn singing. The handsome young protege and the devilishly mustachioed trumpters, the goofy guitarists hamming it up in the back, the string section with the band leader and his three counterparts, and the lovely woman who seemed to be an outsider but when she sang looked like she had been doing it all her life. There were so many stories I wanted to hear from this little band, but since I didn’t get to talk to a single one of them, I filled them in in my head.
Their name is Mariachi Monumental de America, and if you have a free Saturday night in Los Angeles, you would be a fool to miss them.