viernes, 13 de agosto de 2010

How does it feel?

To depart and promise that I will come back but without ever knowing the twists of fate that will take me further away to other shores and new horizons.

It's never a pleasure to say goodbye when you can't be sure when you'll be back again but at the same time it's exciting to be moving on to fresh pastures new and not so new, feeling good about going back to Buenos Aires to see the people I love, to Paris to walk those Funcky streets and England to remember how to dance for real - enough salsa!...

So with a happy heart me despido de Peru y de toda la buena gente que ha enriquecida esta experiencia para mi . En los ultimos dias podre ir a ver unas pelas latino americanas en el festival de Lima, capaz al circo, ayer fui al concierto de Gustavo - Black Sabbath motherfucker!!! some drinks, some dances, some tears I expect and then once more trekking to the airport with my mochila enorme sobre los hombres.

I'm looking forward to you Buenos Aires. I want to take yoga classes everyday and eat in wonderful restaurants and hopefully not freeze my ass off too badly.

See you soon -

...cuando yo te vuelva a ver
no habrá más pena ni olvido...

lunes, 2 de agosto de 2010

We waltz through existence like wandering Cavaliers

The nickname is sometimes a rushed judgement, a tender comment and often a difficult epithet to conquer. I have known a few in my time and reflecting back from now, a time when I enjoy 3 or 4 "apodos", each conjours up a plethora of memories and fragments of settings of my past. Finding myself with time to reflect on a rare day off I was tempted to write about the subject when I was asked about "Juanelportentoso" my Gmail address.

For six months I lived and studied in a small Mexican city located on the trade route between Veracruz, the main Gulf port city, and Mexico DF, the capital of Mexico and the largest city in the world. My time there is marked on my left shoulder by an Aztec tattoo I designed representing Quetzalcoatl, the God of fire, blood and re-genesis who sacrificed himself to save the Azteca from the wrath of the other vengeful Gods and was prophesised to return from across the ocean leading to the eventual mistaking of Cortes to be Quetzalcoatl's reincarnation.

It was a time of spiritual re-genesis for myself because the previous year had seen my chaotic descent into a flawed suicidal misery, a wild and complex often ruinous first year at university and the pursuit of certain Nihilistic tendencies. Like so many young men I needed a massive distraction from the hum drum drunkenness of Univeristy life and could not wait for my gap year for fear of my overbearing temporary delusional state. Having spent the first months of the year miraculously avoiding tsunamis in Thailand, where they called Woody and I Farang, I passed through the UK only briefly before my parents saw me off to Mexico on board a Lufthansa flight along with John and Rosa.

Once there I embraced as much as possible the zestful living of the Beatnik poets, always carrying with me my journals, attending late night jazz reunions in bars with names like El vortex and El Tajin, meeting dark and sultry senoritas from Chihuahua and Monterrey and drinking and intoxicating myself with seedy characters trawled out of the local miasma. I lost myself with great pleasure in the youthful vice of Xalapa's underground cool scene, attending punk rock concerts in hidden bars and all night raves by the sides of rivers out in the jungle. I remember vividly how a negro American girl gripped my arm in terror one night in the booths of yet another blue lit club screaming "They're climbing over the sofas!" as stupoured Mexican boys leered over the backs of our couches, literally clawing at this exotic foreign meat.

For the first time in my life I felt libre enough to adventure without care, the tropical climate and my status as the Gringo gave me an enormous courage and I enjoyed a decent popularity with the local ladies, entertaining my dates in the floral gardens a short 10 peso bus ride out of town. I would take them out to walk under the boughs of great monkey puzzle trees and bumble my way through seduction amongst the beautiful, vibrant flowers in a broken spanish.

I spent the majority of my time with Mexican 20 somethings and the odd extranjero deemed cool enough to enter into elite parties and fashionable theatrical circles and revelled in being special, a veritable attraction for everybody to  say "Mi inglesito" my English gentleman. On this wave of confidence and learning I was taken to the Lucha Libre by a friend and laughed all the evening long at the corny spectacle designed to inspire and educate Mexican schoolboys (the most famous wrestler in Mexico EL SANTO promotes the conservation of the Gulf's turtle population). There I witnessed the satanic, muscular heroe GRONDHA fall foul of the trickery of the other evil wrestlers yet rise to hear, departing, the roars of the adoring public.

Walking home that night with my poster underarm I gleefully related the experience to my thespian companions and declared that from then on I would also call myself JUAN, El Portentoso and the following day, in one of hundreds of visits to an internet cafe in the times when wifi was sparse in Mexico, I gave digital birth to my first and current gmail account.

Although University was a dark period in my life due to my great anxieties it was also a time of extreme exuberance. My nihilism was born of a strong determination not to be hounded by depression but rather to throw caution to the wind and leap before I looked, how very typically Aries of me. I used to dye my hair red, read preposterous philosophy and dance for days on end, consuming almost constantly and almost certainly damaging my delicate frame for years to come. I never tried to be cool or streetwise but I mixed with happening people such as Nicolai, the musical guru of our band, and Rob, my angelic brother and poetic inspiration to this day.

Whilst my friends were an eclectic mix of drugged up Welshmen and hipster late teens my classmates were Pompey geezers and rarely comprehended the pretentious nonsense I would often bore them with. Nonetheless they did appreciate my boundless energy and we would attend the horrorific Student's Union in search of fresher meat and tarts in mini-skirts. I remember a pair of red snowboard trousers that I would wear out on the town and all manner of garish tops and accessories, up to 3 or four wristbands of assorted colours bedecked my arms and elbows and helped hide my "attempt" scars.

I gained the nickname thanks also to the presence of another John, a complete opposite of that which I represented in that moment. A man of dark complexion and an awful tendency to be one of those useless human beings who you wouldn't mind seeing strung up in a town plaza sometime in the 17th century. A man you may denounce as a heretic just to have the pleasure of watching the inquisition burn his skin from his body. Perhaps this is extreme but until recently I found it almost impossible to like this boy. He loved Depeche Mode and wanted to tattoo the bassist's face onto his shoulder after seeing my Mexica ink work. To my knowledge he never dared. He would speak incessantly about things he knew nothing about, always trying to fit in, begging for attention like a whipped street dog. One time when I failed to avoid him and took him to one of my delightful local restaurants I tricked him into revealing his stupidity by purposefully mixing scenes from Doctor Strangelove with Casablanca. "Oh, yes, that's the best part" he would sputter between slurped mouthfuls of refried frijoles. "I've always loved Kubrick, Casablanca is one of my favourites, that scene with the nuclear bomb on the boat is great!" Game, set and match, sometimes I can be cruel and especially then I revelled in sinking his battleship, cutting him down with the line "You've no idea what you're talking about. You've never even seen that film and you've no bloody idea who Kubrick or even Humphrey Bogart is!" But I can also be tender and once grudgingly invited him to stay the night, scaring the thespians with his insane stare and garbled spanish. There on the rooftop I offered him some of the joint I was smoking to help me tolerate his presence and he uttered a memorable phrase - "It's crazy, your life is so amazing. You've got such fantastic friends and everything seems to go right for you." Well, I suppose that's why I got the nickname QUALITY JOHN from my university colleagues and he received the less flattering nick DJ, DULL JOHN.

Readers can take some solace in knowing that I believe I saw him many years later smothering another skinny white boy with sordid kisses in an East Village nightclub in NYC. He looked like he'd finally found his niche in life.