My artist friend Julie Levine has been very busy painting 100 Love Rocks. Why? To give as surprise gifts on Valentine’s Day. She will scatter them through Old Town, favouring windowsills and benches as hiding spots in plain sight, on the 14th. What to do when you find one? Go to Julie Levine Artist on Facebook and post a photo of what rock you found. The first three to check in get a bigger rock painted by Julie for free; they make great doorstops. Julie loves Vallarta, and this is her way of giving thanks to her adopted city.
Rodolfo, Vallarta’s talented blind tenor, packed Coco Tropical Sunday evening as he usually does; Thursday evenings as well from 6 to 8:30 pm. Folks danced and enjoyed the stellar food and gorgeous setting. What made last Sunday special was an important football game. The same thing happened last year – Rodolfo won the Super Bowl with the score now standing at 2-zip for our tenor. Enjoy his lovely voice twice a week on the beach at Coco Tropical.
Rizo’s Supermercado is finally coming down. I was passing there last week and stood for a second, longer actually, to say goodbye. Wondering if I should go get a chunk of cement as a memento and didn’t. A day later I saw a man kitty-corner to Rizo’s taking an old wooden countertop out of a half-wrecked building on Constitucion. He stood and stared in at the rubble. I walked up to him, and we both quietly looked at his destroyed walls and broken tiles. I remembered eating at that fonda in 1986. There was a sign saying it was a family restaurant and that was why they didn’t serve alcohol. I said, “You must be so sad.” He nodded, “Fifty years my family worked in this block. Do you remember La Iguana?” I did. We hugged each other and cried a bit then moved away in different directions. Just like progress.
Geo and Lobo reunited at the Palm in “Arte Puro” last week. Wolfgang ‘Lobo’ Fink on flamenco guitar and classically-trained Geo Urich on Lobo’s ex-partner, Willie Royal’s violin. The last time that violin was played in The Palm, it was in Willie Royal’s hands. He died soon after and left his wildly transformed violin to Geo. The first time Geo played it in concert, he had barely mastered the complicated idiosyncrasies. Eighteen months later, Geo has learned to play the violin! Willie left his beloved 100-year-old, modified instrument to Geo to learn and preserve the magic that Willie invented and to pass it on when it’s time. The concert was nostalgic and sweetly fiery and brought back nearly thirty years of memories. It made Willie Royal smile. Me too.
I was twelve when I fell in love with Leonard Cohen. I read ‘Favourite Game’ and had to wait three more years for ‘Beautiful Losers.’ When Cohen started to sing his poetry I remembered thinking, if Bob Dylan can get a recording contract with that voice, Leonard Cohen should do just fine. And he did. I was so jealous when my sister Patrice saw him live shortly before he died in 2016. When I heard there was to be an LC Tribute show at the Boutique Theatre, I knew I had to go. Thinking it would be like other Tribute shows that I see a lot of, I was surprised at the set decoration on the stage. I thought, oh no! The re-enactment of Leonard Cohen’s life. Positive in my head that all that was needed was a chair for the guitarist and a microphone for Mark Zeller.
I love when theatre surprises me! Of course, Mark Zeller would do some acting – it is his life’s work. But he didn’t ‘act.’ He recited and sang and prowled the stage at times angry, sad and furious with ‘things.’ Leonard Cohen was the best thing to snuggle up to during a major depression or heartbreak. He had seen it all in visions and had the grace of god herself to be able to put them into words. I knew I would never write a book in my life because Beautiful Losers had already been written and there is no more than that. His songs transcended even his two literary miracles.
LC’s music was so faithfully played by guitarist Rafa Zermeño. He sat just offstage and watched and listened to Mark absolutely. He waited for the applause to die and he started over when he needed to; Rafa and Mark were precisely in sync.
I loved this show. I was only a half-hour before curtain so had to sit in the balcony (take that as a big hint to go early!). I like to sit up close and watch the actor’s and singer’s eyes when they perform. I have never been so grateful to be stuck up high and in the darkness whispering the words to songs I have known for five decades while I watched Mark Zeller enunciate every word flawlessly, his voice booming and whispering with authority. All that through a veil of tears. It was joyously painful. I never saw Leonard Cohen live, but I have certainly seen his spirit.
That’s quite enough nostalgia for one week, no? Love and hug one another hard and hold on tight, From Here.