The motivation was a longing for Mexican music on the part of the band’s principal songwriter and lead vocalist, Sandra Velasquez, a California native who was studying music in New York. Her solution: to form a band that played the music of her youth.
Sandra plays acoustic guitar and sings. She is accompanied by a five string bass, accordion, electric guitar and percussion. She has a delicate voice and sings everything in Spanish.
“Polvo” is pretty song. She plays a lovely finger-picked guitar while everyone else adds flourishes to flesh out the song–never overpowering her voice or guitar. The song has a louder moment with some oh oh oh ohs before growing quiet again. It ends as prettily as it began with the delicate finger picking.
“Ponle Frenos” means put on the brakes. She wrote this after having her first child when she realized that she needed to rest from time to time. It is upbeat and bouncey with a reggae feel in the verse. And there’s a fun refrain of what I hear as “beep beep beep.”
“La Despedida” is the final song, appropriately translated as “The Goodbye.” This song feature “the symbol of the dessert,” the donkey jaw. It is a quiet and slow ballad with bongos as the featured percussion. There is great work from the (mostly unseen) electric guitar–nothing fancy but adding great textures and melodies over the main acoustic guitar. He also adds a beautiful, lonesome-sounding guitar solo. About 3 minutes in, the percussion starts playing the jaw bone along with the bongos. He just hits it with his fist to make the rattle sound, And then, she walks “off stage” with her guitar—standing in the audience watching. And then the accordionist puts her instrument down and walks off—leaving just bass guitar and percussion. Then the bass departs. After the last chords ring out the guitarist leaves just the bongo and donkey jawbone. After a measure or two, he gets up and walks through the audience with the jaw. It’s a great ending to the set.
It’s wonderful hearing music from other cultures, especially one that is so close to us, yet which we tend to spurn. RESIST THE WALL.
[READ: January 27, 2017] “I Was Ayn Rand’s Lover”
This story was written near the election of Obama’s first term when Paul Ryan was a weasel with bad ideas but little power. Now, sadly he is a weasel with worse ideas, no spine whatsoever and access to a lot of power. But this essay is at least a fun way to make fun of him. It begins like this:
Many of my Republican friends have said to me, “George, why are you voting for Barack Obama?” They assume it is because I believe in his radical socialist agenda of being fair to everyone, even the poor. But that’s not it at all. I could actually care less about the poor. We have some living near us, and pee-yew. They are always coming and going to their three or four jobs at all hours of the day and night. Annoying! No, the reason I am voting for Obama is more complicated.
The reason is that back in 1974, when he was just 17 and she was an internationally famous author, he and Ayn Rand were lovers:
By “lovers” I mean: we were constantly raping each other. Well, first there’d be a long speech. Usually by her. Then we’d gaze deeply at one another, and our souls would begin speaking the only language a man and a woman ever need: the language of mutual self-benefit…. I was actually the basis for Howard Roark, and the way he rapes Dominique Francon in “The Fountainhead.” Except, in real life, Ayn was Howard Roark and I was Dominique Francon.
The raping is pretty constant, both of him and their environment. And that’s funny, but pretty dark. Rather, I especially enjoyed this comment:
And I’d be like, “Ayn, look, I’d love to but I have Algebra—” at which time, because I’d rebuffed her, she’d correct my pronunciation of her name. She was always changing the way it was pronounced. Sometimes it rhymed with “line,” sometimes it was plain old “Ann,” sometimes it was “Ion,” and once, during a confusing period, she briefly became “Randy.” (That I didn’t get. But I knew better than to challenge her. You could get de-Objectified very quickly in those days.)
But it wasn’t all raping. Sometimes they went to Denny’s. Or just sat and read the newspaper and got angry. Or walked around feeling violently alive.
There’s a very funny scene where they go to visit his elderly Aunt Sue (Ayn hates Aunt Sue because she accepts handouts from the government).
This could have been a pretty one-note joke, but then he throws in a twist. A new kid came to town. And that kid was…
He was handsome and confident and ripped, and I could tell right away, as soon as she saw him, that my days of being consensually raped were over. In many ways we were alike. I was working-class, he was working-class. I was a weightlifter, he was a weightlifter. In any other situation, we would have been friends. He was a nice guy. I had nothing against him. But we were in love with the same old intellectual woman, and there was no way around it. We became bitter rivals.
Young George was no match for the brutality of Paul Ryan. And Ryan quickly won Ayn Rand over.
Sometimes I’d see them in the drive-through at McDonald’s, in Paul’s red Camaro, Ayn (or “Ann,” or “Ion,” whatever) sitting nearly in his lap, eating his fries, chiding the minimum-wage workers behind the counter whenever they slightly slowed in their efforts—it was a heartbreaker.
The details of this go on for a pretty long time. So long that I had forgotten the thing that opened the article: the Obama election. And it is his comment, “But I said to myself: someday, I shall have my revenge” that leads us to circle back to where we began.
If only we could go back to those days when Rand’s stupid ideas were laughed at and he wasn’t a sycophant to an idiot whom he at one time seemed to oppose but doesn’t have the backbone to stand up to now.
Incidentally, Saunders said that (amazingly) he did once believe in Rand’s philosophies. In an interview with the New York Times (which is ostensibly a book review but is much more), we get this:
After he graduated from the Colorado School of Mines [studying geophysical engineering], Saunders went to work for an oil-exploration company in the jungles of Sumatra. “I was trained in seismic prospecting,” he said. “We’d drill a deep hole and put dynamite in the bottom and blow it up remotely, which would give you a cross-sectional picture of the subsurface, which tells you where to drill.” They worked four weeks on and two weeks off and in the down time would be shuttled in helicopters to the nearest city, 40 minutes away, and then from there fly to Singapore.
“I’d been kind of an Ayn Rand guy before that,” he said. “And then you go to Asia and you see people who are genuinely poor and genuinely suffering and hadn’t gotten there by whining.” While on a break in Singapore, walking back to his hotel in the middle of the night, he stopped by an excavation site and “saw these shadows scuttling around in the hole. And then I realized the shadows were old women, working the night shift. Oh, I thought, Ayn Rand doesn’t quite account for this.”
Such a delicate way to put it.