Mexican life

Birth and death

WE WERE IN Mexico City for four days, and a couple of important things happened.

My birthday — I am 69 yet again — and the shocking death of Juan Gabriel. First things first.

People unfamiliar with the Latin world might not know of Juan Gabriel. He was Elvis. He was Frank Sinatra. He was everything. He died, and Mexico went bananas.

Juan Gabriel was a fantastic singer, prolific composer and a stunning showman. I’ve been a fan for decades, far longer than I’ve lived below the Rio Bravo.

Gabriel was also a flaming queen, making his fame ironic in macho Mexico. We forgave him everything.

He came from very humble beginnings and even spent a spell in prison due to — according to him — being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It happens.

Like Elvis, he started young and handsome, and he ended fat, dissipated-looking and filthy rich. No matter. His talent and heart overshadowed it all. I will miss him.

And the second matter: I keep getting older. I have already racked up six more years than did Juan Gabriel.

Were I to light an accurate birthday cake, we’d have to phone the fire department. Just recently I was sitting on the Jesus Patio when my child bride took this photo.

feliPlease note that my hair remains as coal black as it was when I turned 25 not that long ago.

Our brief jaunt to Mexico City was to air out the apartment and pay a few bills that cannot be paid online.

But it’s sweet to be home at the Hacienda. We returned yesterday.

28 thoughts on “Birth and death

    1. Ms. Shoes: Alas, no. As usual, we did the minimum and rushed back. Although my extreme aversion to visiting the capital has waned a good bit, the sheer hassle of going from Point A to Point B ruins the city for me. I wish it were otherwise.

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  1. Juan Gabriel had just moved next door to my band partner Elba, and they had some wonderful conversations in the last few weeks. We added one of his songs, “Gracias al Sol” to our repertoire, and when she told him, he was delighted and hinted that he’d like to come hear us some evening. He surprised her with new potted plants for her patio, and advised her about stagecraft and performing.

    By the way, you’re still looking muy guapo in my opinion.

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    1. Bliss: Gabriel had homes all over the world. Interesting about your band partner. Had Gabriel not died, maybe he would have crooned along with you folks one day. That would have been fun.

      As for being guapo, yeah, I’m still hanging on. Thanks for noticing. Good genes more than anything.

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  2. We are on the same timeline. Black hair? My hair is still red, natural. I had a doctor appointment yesterday and something about him looked different but I couldn’t figure it out while I was there. After I left I realized his light brown hair used to be salt and pepper. Maybe he’s in a theater group. Good picture of you looking cool.

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  3. Happy Birthday, Felipe! I was wondering about the time gap in your blog and was thinking he’s either off somewhere or something has happened. Glad it was the former!

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    1. Scott: The time gap here was considerably longer than four days. I just ran out of steam. Perhaps it’s temporary and perhaps not. I hope so. It’s what keeps me off the street and out of mischief.

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  4. No tribute, no matter how humble, would be complete without mentioning the song Querida, which he wrote. Here’s a live version, and not the best, from just three years ago. He was in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.

    Here is the official version from years ago. It’s my — and I imagine many others too — favorite song of his.

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  5. Happy Birthday! Arithmetic and all. With those shades, some black pomade, and more weight, even you could pass for Elvis. You won’t make as Juan Gabriel unless you can sing in Spanish. But knowing you, you probably can.

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    1. Carlos: So, basically, you’re saying that I could pass for Elvis except for all the details. Well, okay. As for singing in Spanish, sure, I can sing in Spanish if someone writes out the lyrics. I guess I could even fake being a flaming queen. Might even be fun.

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    1. Kris: So you can see my black hair? That gladdens me. Sometimes, on passing a mirror or store window, it appears just for a flashing moment to be stark white. Must be a phenom of weird lighting. Sure, that’s it.

      As for enjoying many more birthdays, I hope so, but who knows?

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  6. How could you omit “Se me olvido otra vez,” “Ya lo se que tu te vas” and “Te sigo amando?”
    When I first heard “Se me olvido otra vez” it was sung by Yolanda Del Rio, but it wasn’t until I heard it done by Juan Gabriel that I got the full import of it. It was his life.

    As for getting around in DF, maybe you should try the Metro and Metrobus. Avoid peak hours though.

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    1. Señor Gill: Juan Gabriel composed and sang tons of great songs, and other people recorded his tunes too. He was an exceptional talent.

      As for the Metro and Metrobus, yes, I’ve taken them. Almost invariably a huge hassle. Avoid peak hours? They’re all peak hours. At least during the time of day when we’re out and about.

      We get around exclusively by taxi these days. Dirt cheap when compared to any big city in the United States, but still considerably pricier than the Metro and Metrobus.

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  7. I suspect that you are denying your white privilege when it comes to your hair. My short white hair today is almost the same color as the blond hair of my youth. Besides, just because there’s snow on the roof doesn’t mean there’s not a fire inside. Foolish Elvis checked out too early at the age of 42. You’ve outlived him by 30 years. Congratulations and Happy Birthday.

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    1. Angeline: Gracias for the birthday greetings. Stunning? My, my, I’ve never been called that before.

      As for Juan Gabriel being missed by many, that doesn’t begin to touch it. You should be down here now. Mexico is still reeling. I don’t think my child bride or her sister, for example, will ever recover.

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      1. I’ve been watching on Univision every day. It gives me great pleasure to see that on a daily basis vs. what’s on the American news channels, if you get my drift.

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