Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

The Log: April 19 — Fight the dark side: Dance, sing, read, write poetry


#1 CONNECTED: Rose Alcantara’s daughter, Caira Button, celebrates her birthday today, far from her Chicago home but in very good company in Western New York. Rose sang Happy Birthday to her from our home in Mexico. Technology rocks.

#1A FACETIME WITH FAMILY: Spent almost an hour in a video chat with Ryan and Larisa and grandson Augie, who is saying his first words! They remain in place in San Francisco where it can’t be easy. One of the world’s most beautiful cities outside your door … and you can only look out your window.

#2 BIG OOPS: The worst thing you can do upon waking is open up Facebook.  Trust me, bad news accumulates while you sleep. All this rage with no outlet …

A.Illinois governor forced to secretly buy badly needed medical supplies from China for fear Trump’s government will impound them.

B. Boston hospital team makes secret rendezvous in mid-Atlantic region to score protective medical supplies, as feds threaten to take them away.

C. Stimulus funds will reward more than 43,000 MILLIONAIRES with an average $1.6 million each.

#3 WELCOME RELIEF: Found in Garrison Keillor’s Letter from Manhattan.  Crafting good limericks and simplifying life — that’s the life. “It’s been a quiet week in apartment 12B.” That’s the stuff.

#4 TELEVISION: “CBS Sunday Morning” is like nestling in with an old friend. I can hear my blood pressure settling down for the day.

#5 DISCOVERY: Nobody has a lock on the truth about coronavirus — yet — but everyone has an opinion. I found a reasonable voice in Richard Lehman, professor of Shared Understanding of Medicine at the University of Birmingham.  His post in the British Journal of Medicine opinion page is calm, reasoned, informative, fact-based. I look for more from him.

#6 PAIRINGS:  Pink Floyd’s “Ummagumma” goes especially well with Gore Vidal’s 1977 essay “On Re-reading The Oz Books” from the New York Review of Books archives.

L. Frank Baum wrote 14 “Oz” books, the unevenness of which Vidal excuses because the man was writing 48 other books at the same time.

I’ll admit it, “Ummagumma” and me on psychedelics did not go well in late-1969. It goes better with the Wizard of Oz. Wish I knew that then …

#7 VIDEO: I’m not sure where I found it but there is an amazing video of liquid-limbed hipsters holding a dance-off to the Devil’s Music, jazz, baby. On further research, I found an 8-minute version that says this is a Sunday night party during the Jazz Roots Festival in Paris in 2015. Swing, baby, swing.

#8 I WROTE A POEM: Titled “Remembering to Dance Like Nothing Else Matters.” The first half was inspired by this video and the rest is based on something that happened to me in the early-1980’s in Rosarito Beach, Baja, Mexico.  I’m not a poet. These things just happen.

#9 PODCAST: While walking Moppit tonight, I tuned into the New York Times show “The Daily.” On Sundays, the program presents a spoken piece of long-form journalism borrowed from partner app AUDM. Today’s is “The Woman Who Might Find Us Another Earth.”  Sara Seger is a brilliant astrophysicist, a certified genius, but befuddled by the most common challenges of living on Earth.

#10 SHORT STORY: Edna Ferber’s “The Gay Old Dog”(1917). Chicago man becomes a Loop-hound. That is not a compliment, or, wasn’t back in the day.

#11  I leave you with this, the BEST PLAGUE PARODY SONG YET:

San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Remembering to dance like nothing else matters

Mural by Thomas Hart Benton


Enough. Stop.

 Let the outrage machine simmer.

Turn off the echo chamber. 

Take a breath. Exhale.

Invest six minutes in some simple joy. 

Maybe a memory or a YouTube video

Search for something like:

“Crazy good dancing”

And see what comes up.

Wantonly happy dancers

All legs and jazz and smiles

Effortless abandon belying the practice, practice, practice.

Lose yourself in the motion

In the ecstasy

In the rhythm and youth and heat and sweat.

Remember all the times you

Could have danced and chose not to.

Too late for regret but ample time

To remember.

And wonder if every step not taken

On some lacquered floor

Now rises up like bile,

Angry fingers dancing across a cold keyboard

Dance, dance in your room.

Dance, dance in your yard.

Dance, dance in the office.

Dance, dance in your cubicle.

Dance, dance in the post-op.

Dance, dance in the checkout line.

Dance, dance on ZOOM with everyone you know and strangers.

For once, we have the space to dance.

Social distancing creates its own stage.

Dance as if the sanity and safety

Of the whole world depends 

On your awkward, gangly, unique

Beautiful, joyous, free steps.

Don’t post, don’t throw more flames on

Facebook fires already consumed.

Step away from the keyboard

And dance, dance, dance.

Recall that long-ago Sunday trip

To storied Rosarito Beach Hotel,

Safely south of Tijuana’s gamey streets.

A womb of illusions and harmless fantasies,

Behind ancient stone walls,

 And thick oak doors. An escape

For those who could not afford a flight,

Could not afford a house in Palm Springs,

Missed the invite to Malibu.

The bar on the bluff

Overlooking the crystalline capped surf

Contained like a landscape in glass windows

And tinkling bar glasses

All glass and lapping cerulean expanses.

Like flying. Above it all.

With a white baby grand on a lemon oak-panel floor.

And kids, Hollywood kids

Refugees from the studio lots and unemployment lines

And waitress jobs, and parking lots

All tumbled down to Rosarito, answering a primal cry 

For something exotic, something foreign

Something away, just far enough away

To rekindle thwarted dreams

Here, in the Rosarito’s bar

We’re all somewhat mysterious celebrities,

Stars on the lam, like Gable, Lombard, Bogie.

Bar the doors to the imaginary paparazzi,

Warm up the piano, 

Let the revue begin! What

Did they say … Let’s put on a show!

Kids with a thick dossier of rejections

And even more talent

Leap to the floor

Singing and dancing with abandon

Sweaty abandon, finely honed and practiced abandon

From high school musicals and college debuts

And second rows on stage

And gaudy rock-star glutted stripper bars.

Icy margaritas fuel scorching  moves, 

torching songs.

Saucy, sultry, racy chops

Designed for the lines of thin summer dresses

And nicely fitted khaki slacks and T’s.

Star-struck dreams are tossed, 

With flaming hot ambitions, 

Into the dance floor bonfire,

Like nothing matters, when

Come Monday,

Everything will.

But not now, god willing, not now.

Now is only the music and the chops

And the hothouse air and tropic sun

And shimmering mirrored ocean below

And Spanish exclamations from smiling bartenders

And the illusion that we are all 

In a Cinemascope Technicolor

Foreign film, the script of which,

Is within our own power

To write.

Every moment is a closeup

Everyone is a star. Everyone is

Hitting it big.

Monday is an opening-night away.

More margaritas, amigos.

More music, more dance, more song

For up North, a thousand more

Just like us

Are having their dreams coddled and crushed

On the mercilessly hot streets of Hollywood.

But not you, not me

Not today.

The war will still be raging when we return.

 But we will rejoin the fray with smiles

A new, fresh look for the face. 

Isn’t that worth it?