A Wednesday this year, weeks ago now in a fog of mad deadlines but bracketed by two weekends full of delights and I took the day off to go to London. The week brought me some of my very dearest friends whom I haven’t seen for years … at the Trinity in Brixton, breaking every rule in Cheltenham. Also a meeting with my editor (I love those words) and free books, the Rock on imax, Holst’s birthplace, Victorian pockets, Mayfield Station, looming chimneysweeps, Annie’s, decanted wine, Fast and Furious live, bookshop and book presents and the reading and some writing of novels, and Mark and my friends. Happiness.
MacArthur Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon, shimmering green against shade and sun, palm trees and the dirty blue of the lake. It was full of families, there were even some people fishing. It was also full of people sleeping, forms stretched out in every patch of shade and lost to the world, lost to themselves. On the corner of 7th and Alvarado you can still buy anything, but there are fewer people selling then 10 years ago. Their faces are different, but the look is the same. Lean, hungry, watchful. They look me up and down; in a segregated Los Angeles where race almost always equals class and people stick to their own in both company and geography, I clearly do not belong. Usually I am happy that there is nowhere and nothing I belong too, it frees me to move between worlds, spending time in each with the people I love.
A small fat preacher was shouting into a megaphone, hurling words in Spanish of love and belonging, a yellow banner stretched between two trees, 25 folding chairs set up on the grass, a ragged crew of people clustered around him. Most slept on of course. “Quizas la proxima semana…” the preacher yelled, “perhaps next week you will stop smoking, perhaps next week you will pick up the phone and call your mother or your daughter, perhaps next week…” And the people listened, he called them up in revival style, “Tu hermanita, tu, necesitas salavacion, venga…” There is such desperate need for belonging, need for hope, the people came.
At the other end of the park another small fat preacher was screaming into a megaphone, suited and tied, his words were entirely of hell and the book of revelation. Everyone slept on, walked past as though he were not there. One of his associates blew a long animal horn of grey that curled upon itself, it sounded deep and echoed off the palm trees and no one listened. I myself dream that people will take responsibility for themselves and for the world, that people will cease to look for salvation as a gift and demand a better life as their right, that people will work to change what is broken…and what is not broken? My faith is that this is possible. I almost stole the megaphone but reflected that shouting at people in the street was hardly exemplary of my vision. Perhaps next week I will come back and smite it.
I walked past MacArthur Park because we had a reunion today, of everyone that had ever worked at CARECEN though I am sad to say not everyone was there…enough to make it enjoyable though. My friend Ruel made it quite enjoyable in fact, we met first at our old Winchell’s and had donuts and coffee. Winchell’s, with its perennial sign stating they have been “fresh and warm since 1948,” and an even better sign saying “CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN! 14 donuts!” It’s like an alternate universe really, that has been making me smile for 8 years now. I missed Don Tonito though, he used to sell artesanias and Salvadoran books on revolution and revolt. He lent me old tapes of boleros and home videos of when the FMLN marched back into San Salvador to sign the accords. He used to tell me stories about the guerrilla, like the time he was hiding with a companera in the end house of a long set of row houses. The military came searching house by house along the ground and there were more of them walking along the roofs so that no one could escape and he believed he was dead, when the roof of the house right beside theirs fell in under the weight of the soldier on top (good old poverty), and the soldier broke his leg. And that was enough to stop the search and save my friends’ life. Funny that most of the stories I know from El Salvador are tragic and brutal and still haunt me, it is only the stories of the fighters that have humour and hope in them. I wish I’d stayed in touch with him. But I’m back in touch with some other old friends though, and that is always a beautiful thing
Alright, this will be quick, had a little goin’ away party last night, so much happened, I’m off to san diego in 30 minutes, so I decided to just focus on one thing before I post the rest of the pictures…chinatown, 2 am…you know who you are. And you should be afraid 🙂
Right, so if you’re lucky enough to have a friend who actually owns an inflatable jumping castle, and you’re lucky enough that he decides to throw you a little going away party one Saturday afternoon (Gerry, you are the best), this is how to have a good time.
1. Find an adult friend who also wants to jump in the jumping castle. Funnily enough, this is a bit difficult, I cannot understand why…Ludin can’t either.
2. Kick all of the kids out of the jumping castle (one of the few perks to adulthood as far as I can see)
3. Get in and start jumping!
oh the joy! DO NOT allow the kids to discover that you are only pseudo adults, they will quickly pile in, and since this is a small home version of the industrial strength fair castle, it will immediately start to deflate. And I’m a bit out of order here…you should have taken off all of your jewelry before entering, because if you don’t, it will get trapped in the netting and you will end up like this…
arse in the air and children laughing at you…so you boot them out again, wait for the thing to re-inflate (with some help from Evelin, photographer), and then jump once more. Sadly, it often happens that you forget just how tiring jumping castles are, and when the kids pile in again you don’t have the strength to boot them out, you end up semi-comatose, getting bounced around like so, this is when it’s not bad, Ludin looks positively asleep:
This, however, this is not good at all:
So finally, with the last ounce of strength you possess, having given up the battle against the evil children and the castle that continues to deflate and inflate, you struggle out of the mesh exit designed for 5 year olds, and collapse onto the grass like so…
And then. once you’ve some breath back, you spring back up and put on a good show like everything happened as planned and you’ve had the upper hand all along.
like sharks, children can smell fear and weakness…
My Friday was a bit magical! First I found a football (soccer) friend who actually likes football and not just football players and we’re off to see Barcelona play las Chivas on August 6th. Hooray! And Manu Chao is coming in concert and I’m going to that too! Second, late afternoon whiled away chatting with one of the tenants I work with and Gloria and the subject was brujeria (witchcraft). One day back home in her pueblo, years ago, her aunt’s stomach swelled and swelled as though she were pregnant but she was not, her stomach swelled and her legs bent and she began to appear as a giant toad, dark magic and the curandero told them the ceremony they needed to carry out to rid her of the evil, and said that when the animal within emerged from her mouth as the cure was working it would run immediately to the home of those who had set this upon her, and if the family followed it they would know who had cursed her, but they allowed its dark shape to flee without discovering where it went, prefferring to leave vengeance to God…her grandmother died of brujeria, having a small spot over her lip and modern medicine could do nothing to cure it as it spread and spread across her face consuming flesh, eating up her left eye and when she did go to the curandero it was already too late and nothing could be done. She had been told as a child she would die after going through seven metates, and as the seventh dwindled her spirit and body also…
Gloria believes in God not in witches, but told of the department in Honduras called Olancho where vengeance is a way of life and entire families have been killed, one by one by one in a cycle of killing for a killing for a killing, and so when anyone does anything terrible it is asked of them tu vienes de Olancho o que? And fathers will not allow their daughters to marry men who come from Olancho…
And the evening, despedida for Kique and Paige and the night was warm and the orange trees blooming and the beer cold and the carne asada hot and delicious, and Ceci and her friends played jarocho for us, pics coming soon…jarocho comes from the east coast of Veracruz, played on the jarana, a mezcla of indigenous and African beats, a music of resistance, drums were outlawed by the spaniards who knew their power of rebellion so the music is entirely played on the voice and the jarana, but a wooden platform is set up and the percussion comes from the feet of the dancers…it is the same beat hammered out as that of Afro-cuban music and much speeded up the samba from Brazil. I learned to zapotear a bit, then sat on the front porch of Kique’s house with friends, my Bohemia in my hand talking shit of course, my nonexistant Surena tattoo, and my DJ name la green eyes, or la juedilla de la guerrilla…am a little fragile this morning but life is so good!