Day 5 (Part 2)
Thursday. September 16, 2010
As the boyfriend, his father, Fred, the sweltering heat and I walked home along the quaint, plank-board sidewalks along the coast of Puerto Vallarta, I was all the time keeping a look-out for a keen thank you gift for Smithy, who’s house-sitting for us had caused her such difficulty after the devious plotting of the demon spawn we call “our kitties.”
You’d think that a tourist trap like Puerto Vallarta would be ideal shopping, but I couldn’t imagine Smithy exactly swooning over a miniature beaded palm tree statue or a Hard Rock Café tank-top.
Then, at last, I saw just the sort of boutique that catered to the refined taste of my dear,lady friend: a tequila specialty shop. Hypnotized by the variety of tans, camels, and caramel colors that shone through the many-angled bottles, I floated in and got real thirsty. The vendor – who’s name I never got, so I’ll call Graggenhauserfrauschembaur – practically materialized from out of my shadow, eager to exchange some of his wares for the far-less delicious bills I kept in my wallet.
“This,” I thought to myself, “Is gonna be a great relationship.”
It was. At Graggenhauserfrauschembaur’s insistence we sat at a tiny portable bar and were lined up shots after shots of tequila tasters. It was like being a college freshman girl at her first date rape. Graggenhauserfrauschembaur’s salesmanship was bar-none; how brilliant to get your customers drunk! And the tequila was, truly, lekker. My personal favorites were a coconut-crème tequila and a tamarind liqueur that made me wanna be an alcoholic again for the first time. I purchased some booze for Smithy, and some for myself. I bid Graggenhauserfrauschembaur a bittersweet farewell, and he scolded the boyfriend and I for coming from Los Angeles and not being able to speak Spanish.
I have been blessed to know Jose “Crunchy” Espinoza for about fifteen years. He is one of Los Angeles' finest musicians in a town of many great talents. You probably don’t know him by name but you have heard his work through the music of Ozomatli (he was one of the co-founders of the group) and The Salvador Santana Band. He has also done plenty of session work with the likes of The Black Eyed Peas, Blackalicous and Money Mark, just to name a few. Crunchy, a multi-instrumentalist who plays sax, flute and percussion, has been leading various Jazz groups in recent years. One of the groups is the monstrous, Cuban Funk inspired Ubalaye, which has the sickest collection of L.A. based musicians in one band. He took some time off from touring to finish his masters degree in Afro-Latin Music at Cal State L.A. Since then, besides recording and gigging, he has been teaching music for grade school students as well as raising his own kids.
This year has been tough one for Jose. He has been fighting cancer most of the year and has gone through stretches where the doctors have advised him not to play. Still, Crunchy continues to write music and you can hear some of his pieces on Sunday, December 5th at a show entitled “Crunchyfest” at the California Institute Of The Arts (CalArts). On The bill will be The Cal Arts Salsa Band, Cava, Salvador Santana, Sono-Lux and Crunchy-led Umbalaye. The event is free but donations will be accepted to help Crunchy with his medical expenses. The show is from 12 pm to 6pm. For more info please click here.
Let’s just say, theoretically, that some of your family is in town visiting for Thanksgiving weekend and, theoretically, your 72-year-old mother brings you a few gifts, like freshly dried seaweed, homemade hummus (green with pureed parsley), and a circus clown tin full of Mexican Wedding Cakes laced with greenbud marijuana, which, theoretically, you eat two of and the next day you are crazy hung-over and all you want to do is lay in bed and watch old re-runs of Leave It To Beaver but you have to write this blog you’re now reading. Theoretically.
What music do you listen to?
Frankly, the whole scenario is a bit far-fetched, and I’m not sure why you’re even bringing it up. Certainly nothing like this is what I’m going through right now, because marijuana is illegal and I’ve never even heard of it.
But, if I were in such a ridiculous situation, I suppose the sort of thing I would enjoy listening to would be this…
Monday. September 13, 2010
The boyfriend and I woke-up to the sounds of two billy-goats fighting to the death using spoons, blankets and old cassette tapes as weapons. At least, that’s what it sounded like; in actuality it was room service delivering our breakfasts.
I use the term “breakfast” lightly, as what our silver-domed trays revealed was something more akin to after-birth than food. What must have been powdered eggs had a texture that reminded me of the phlegm I used to cough up back when I smoked clove cigarettes. And the bacon? It was like really juicy, succulent, pan-fried Dr. Scholl’s inserts.
Chop and fry and add to omelette!
The boyfriend, too sleepy to deal quickly with the delivery, neglected to tip and felt guilty as a result.
“I’ve got a tip for them,” I growled, “Don’t bring me this garbage to eat!” We determined then and there to forgo the “luxury” of room service and take our morning meal at the buffet, where we could be discerning, from then on.