viernes, 7 de diciembre de 2007

Livin´ La Vida La Ceiba with Aurelio Martinez and other tales

Here I blog in the last days of my La Ceiba existence - tomarrow I head into the Mosquito Rainforest with my host Aurelio and a team of Brazilian documentarians, which I am incredibly excited for, and then there are visitations and plane rides and then holy shit I´m in Argentina.

I´ve mentioned a bunch of times that I life with a pop-star/senator named Aurelio Martinez, but I don´t think I´ve communicated exactly what its like to live with a popstar/senator named Aurelio Matinez. Well first of all, he´s a pop star. Hailing from Plaplaya - the deepest, most isolated, most traditional Garifuna town in the country - he played with a bunch of Punta Rock conjuntos untill leading his own called the Bravos del Caribe, who became famous with the subtly-named "pompis con pompis" (ass to ass), which as maybe you can imagine comes with a special dance. Since then, he´s departed into the lucrative and less bootylicious genre of "world music", exporting deliciously sad Garifuna blues to all over. Then, at about age 30, he got elected as a sentor - the first black senator from his province in Honduran history. He´s basically the man.

With amazing kindness, upon hearing that I came all this way to study Garifuna music, Aurelio offered to put me up for practically nothing. Living in his half-built mansion in the ghetto is hilarious. Being the man, he decided not to hire archeticts and instead design the house himself. As a result, its basically the strangest house ever, huge (on Honduran standards) but with no space to do anything, filled with endless hallways yet no rooms. You walk through the bathroom off the kitchen to get to his office; rooms are bizarrely shaped and uneaven. On top of this, its decorated entirely in motel-quality landscapes alternating with endless award plaques he´s won over the years. Our little family consists of Aurelio, his brother, his son, the maid, and a rotating cast of people, whom I honestly still can´t figure out who they are and what they´re doing there. It´s really a wonderful and bizarre place to live.

I realize I tend to give Aurelio a hard time, due to his slightly megalomanical personality, but the truth is he´s an amazing guy. He´s basically a born rock star - the kind of guy who can do or say anything and people will think it´s cool. He possses a certain level of swagger that makes you not question him when he walks around in a white jumpsuit with a USB pen around his neck. He has an electric and spontaneous personality, a thunderous earthquaking laugh, insane dance moves, and a magic touch with the ladies.

On top of being a rockstar, he really works himself near to death, selflessly fighting for his people in a senate characterized by sticky-fingered old-money crooks. Being Aurelio´s friend has given me access to Garifuna communties in an incredible way: he´s incredibly loved and respected, and people assume that if Aurelio is down with me, I´m allright. Countless times I´ve showed up to a village and knocked on doors of freinds of his, and have been instantly treated like family.

I´ve spent a lot of the last few weeks teaching Aurelio how to record himself with his shiny new Macbook, and we´ve basically put together a demo of his new album. Recording with Aurelio is humbling. I never realized how great a musician he was untill we began to overdub him playing every godamn instrument, nailing the parts on the first time, inventing harmonies on the go, like clockwork in time with the metronome. With one shitty mic, Garage Band, and my minnimal recording know-how, we´ve made some really incredible recordings, and its just proof that serious talent is really all you need. Maybe he´ll let me put one of the songs up here, who knows.

I´ve also been going out to a nearby, incredibly tranquilo village called Corozal to take lessons with a guy going by the name "Chiche Men," which is Garifuna for "Baby Man." And in a way, he is like a big, grown-up, genius baby. Chiche lives in a former cassave factory in a little room filled with endless instruments, and basically spends his days jamming, eating delicious food brought to him, and smoking giant blunts pretty much constantly. To give you an idea of the kind of skills this man posseses, Belizian Gariufna music producer Ivan Duran calls him his "secret weapon," responsible for the arrangments on Andy Palacio´s recent WOMEX-champion album. Lessons with Chiche were more like long musical chill-sessions, as sometimes he´ll just take a nap in the middle, and then we´ll go hang out on the beach and play dominoes, and then play some more music. He´s kinda like a big teddy bear that teaches you everything you ever needed to know about Garifuna music.

Other than that - I took a trip last week to Tela Bay to visit some more villages and meet musicians. Triunfo, a town of endless bycicles driven by children and old ladies heading in endless directions, was especially alive in culture, and I interviewed anciently-wise and kind Neta who runs the best folkloric troupe around. Then I headed to Tornabe on a bus stacked to the seams with fish, bus the bus broke down, so I had to walk a bunch of miles, and pay a dude 20 cents to ferry me across a river with a canoe, to get there, wherupon I hung out in a similarly ridiculous mansion owend by Victor Arzu, a former Spanish-reggae star and NY-based producer who was really the nicest guy on Earth, possibly.

Played my last expat-gig (on Honduran TV yet again, but no dancing this time!), said goodbye to the crew, and ya me voy volando.

4 comentarios:

lil sis dijo...

Hi mar-mar i miss you and cant wait to see you. it sonds like your having alot of fun and have awsome friends.
you really are a good writer. toby loves you and misses you to: dfjnkmjhgvfdghjnj. He he he. gotta go , im supposed to be working on Math HW and if mom finds out, she'll kill me. Bye- your little sister megan and toby XOXOXO

Vladimir dijo...

So very enjoyable to read, Thunk! The music - your demos and the video - and everything you write, draws me so strong to the subject matter.

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