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Monday, March 21, 2011

On the Tejano Music Fair, Baby Strollers, and Jemileh

Spring has officially arrived as of yesterday.  The plants that froze during the winter are struggling back, and the pond is dotted with tadpoles the size of map pins.  It’s nice enough to leave the windows open in the house and let a breeze waft through.  In a month it will be too hot for that. 
On Friday night, the moon was huge and the weather was perfect for strolling around outside, specifically, at Market Square in downtown San Antonio.  James wanted to go to the annual Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair.  He likes Tejano music.  What can you expect from someone who was born in Carrizo Springs and spent his formative years in Corpus Christi, the home of Selena?  I like it too but perhaps not with the same intensity.  And we both like the local Tejano radio station.  Back when I had a job, I often listened to it on my way to work.  The Jonny Ramirez in the Morning show was funny, and, although it’s mostly in English, the occasional Spanish commercials and conversations kept me semi-brushed up on my Spanish.   
So on Friday night, there we were amid hundreds of Latinos in a slowly moving crowd.  We were two of only a handful of gringos in attendance.  There were entire families with the abuelos, the parents, and kids of all ages.  Tejano bands were playing all over Market Square.  There were vendors selling the usual stuff:  cheap jewelry, t-shirts, those little cloth bracelets with your name on it, and so on.
The food was delicious—no health food there, needless to say, not a bean sprout in sight.  We’re talking not only deep-fried, but deep-fried in lard.  I take that back – there was fresh juice made out of every fruit you can think of and many you couldn’t, and, of course, roasted corn.  Usually you nibble it right off the corncob, but at this place you could buy it in a cup.  I waited patiently for the woman before me to finish doctoring her cup of roasted corn.  With a practiced hand, she mashed in at least a quarter cup of whipped butter, then added paprika, Parmesan cheese, a couple of other mystery spices, and finished up with a squirt of lime juice.  I followed her lead, except I used less butter and left out the mystery spices.  It was delicious.  Then I ate two greasy gorditas, deep-fried corn tortillas stuffed with beef or chicken or bean-and-cheese, plus lettuce, tomato, guacamole and hot sauce.  Very tasty. 
With a gordita in one hand and a foaming cup of beer in the other, we wandered around looking and listening.  Some of the bands were young and the guys wore jeans and t-shirts.  Some bands wore the traditional cowboy hats and Tejano style western gear.  We saw one group of musicians dressed in Irish garb.  I’m not sure what that was about.  The singer in one of the bands announced they were from Snyder, Texas.  Snyder?  It’s a small town in West Texas, not an area known for Tejano music.  I suppose the arts can germinate in all kinds of peculiar places.  (Marfa springs to mind.)
We had a good time, decided the $10 we were fleeced for parking was worth it, and were back home by 11 pm.   I have only one complaint:  There should be a rule against bringing one of those limousine-size baby strollers into a crowded event like this.
When my kids were babies, they were perfectly content with a simple umbrella stroller.  It was light, inexpensive, and you just could fold it up and carry it.  Now it seems mandatory to have a gigantic, luxury baby stroller.  It’s funny how things that never existed before become absolute necessities at some point. 
Jemileh, again - Yesterday, I practiced that tricky half turn/quarter turn section in Jemileh.  I worked on it until I could do it with all the elements (hip circles, arms, hand twirls, and turns).  Now I need to practice it to the actual music, which is faster than my practice tempo.  I also dragged myself to the gym.  So I feel pretty virtuous right now.  In spite of the gorditas and beer on Friday.

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