ruben sings of his love
pablo de vincenzo on accordion, his wife sandra with castanets
like a dance moment in Carlos Saura's Carmen
Selma's wine-tasting event this month, the last Friday of the month, was Cuban Celebration night. Cuban finger-food spread out on the table, all of it amazingly delicious, the quality of the cooking a treat to the palate. The wine was good, of course. This time, Latin American wines. Good vibrations throughout the party. much dancing to Latin rhythms. Lisa de Milo who started off the night singing was more wonderful than I imagined her to be. I imagined pretty good, given her history with the big bands of what we think of now as Las Vegas music, Frank Sinatra, his league all over the country, all over the world, with her husband Johnny Violin. She sings a good song in English, New York New York, and some beautiful Latin songs in Spanish. She has a good command of the floor when she's on. I've an idea that along her way she has wowed many an audience.
It was a mild form of excitement to have some Cuban musical energy generating in the crosshairs of downtown Sparta. Good Cuban music flowed out the screen door into the open windows of cars stopped at the red light. It's a sensuous, flowing music everyone can dance to, from old to young. All are the same age dancing to Cuban music. It's not like kids jerking around laughing at the old people who hold hands when they jitterbug. One looks at the other and laughs with derision at them for knowing nothing about fashion. On the dance floor at Selma's, the Cubans were showing the anglo Americans that we who call ourselves white can't dance at all. Everybody Cuban in the place was dancing at one time or another in their own ways. Selma got to flowing with the rhythms when her work was done and she was free to join the party. She is not afraid to dance. She's another wide-open woman, uninhibited with her feminine. Like I said of Ashley a couple days ago, I can say of Selma too, that she'd be a good model for a painting of Goddess. That's the kind of feminine energy I see with her.
By Goddess, I mean a full woman. Her feminine grace is her own.
I'd known Johnny Violin and Lisa de Milo for some years, mostly on the telephone or a chance meeting in the library. He called me one day asking something about a fiddle shop in Galax, wanting to know how to get there and what it is. We talked for quite awhile. He told me his life as a violin player with orchestras that played for Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, the whole list of singers of that generation of urban music that was pushed aside by rock n roll in the mid 50s along with bluegrass and everything else. None of those musics that rock n roll eliminated died out completely. It seems like now rock n roll is dying out. It's an inclusive music and by now, after half a century, it is an open field with every kind of music being played on the charts. I can't help but think something new is getting ready to move in to fill the gap when rock n roll has become so thin that a lot of people are losing interest and turning to full-bodied acoustic music. There is an awful lot of good musicianship in rock n roll, and certainly dynamic presence. It seems like the wheel of fashion is turning, bringing something up as rock n roll is fading down. I'm suspecting the musics that rock pushed aside are coming back, like bluegrass, big-band, regional kinds of music, like polkas in Michigan, Bob Wills music in Texas.
With gas prices prohibiting going out to corporate entertainment, as it gets more and more expensive to go to a concert of about anything but local music, I'm thinking a lot of people will return to supporting local music. Maybe. That's one possibility of many. Whatever. The music at Selma's came from the people there. Lisa sang, Ruben sang. The accordion player's name is Pablo de Vincenzo. His name is Italian. His papa was Italian and his mama Venezuelan. He was something spectacular on the accordion. He can make you appreciate the instrument like never before. The woman dancing to his music is his wife, Sandra. She was a beautiful woman and a good dancer. She brought to mind women in Carlos Saura's films. Saura is Spanish. I was tripping on Latin culture, how open like family they are with each other out partying, when they see each other. Anglo culture doesn't permit touching except for sex, and dancing is something anglo Americans used to do. When auditorium rock came along, anglo culture quit dancing and sat down at concerts. When anglo's do dance, there's no dance to it, jumping up and down in place for the kids, uncertain, awkward footsteps for the adults. Watching Dr Joe Arocha and his wife dancing was some smooth Latin dancing you'd see on a dance floor at a Cuban dance club.
I was an old stump sitting on a chair or stool the whole time, taking pictures. The other anglo guys avoided the dance area like I did. I'm a boring old white turd. We call ourselves white, but we're really pink. Or is that too much like a pig? As it's been all my life, the fun I have at things like this or anything else is my own enjoyment inside myself. I've always been one to have my fun alone, like going to a movie or a concert. I despise going to a movie with somebody who gripes about it when it's over. Or gripes about whatever's not right about a concert, like, 'I wish everybody didn't stand up all the time! I couldn't see anything sitting down!' That particular concert, Golden Earring, 1976, Charleston, SC, was a great concert from the beginning that put everybody on their feet, and the band kept everybody on their feet throughout the concert, except, of course, for my date, who wanted to sit down. Go ahead and sit down. On my right a 14 year old girl was screaming her guts out, jumping up and down all the time. I said to myself, 'I'm with her.' This is what I mean by boring anglo (white) folks of the English heritage that inhibits sensuous movement. It has inhibited us til we don't dance anymore, as a rule. The Cuban dancers flowed freely with the music, the movements of sensuous Latin dance. Compared to anglo stick-figure dancing, the Cuban dancers flowed like rapidly changing clouds.
Cuba libre seemed to me the atmosphere of the evening. I was seeing in the Cuban people their allegiance to Cuba before and after Castro. I might have got my first understanding tonight of how the Cuban exiles think of Cuba as it is now. I think if I were to leave my country to be an ex-pat in some place like Finland after the Republican Party overthrew our government with the help of the Supreme Court and set up the police state, I'd feel similar bitterness toward the police state that has run the American Constitution through the shredder and put a complete end to American liberties. We'll have the right to watch television, though what we watch will be monitored. I can't help but think the Democracy experiment in America only lasted 2 centuries. The cancer of self-destruction started growing inside and by now is on the verge of imploding the government by methodical intent from the inside. It's especially fervent now with a get-the-nigger zeal. These were my thoughts spending the evening among Cubans who have been here so long they're now as American as any anglo present. Good vibration, good energy in the people throughout the whole party. Nobody got mad. Nobody started a fight. Nobody cussed anybody out. The place flowed with Selma energy from opening to closing.