Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Annual Balmorhea Labor Day Frejole Cook-Off

...Only I never saw the first bean. There were lots of burritos though. This was a two-day celebration of bad music. I think my favorite song was the one that went.... Chinky-chank-chank:
It sounded a little better than the one that just went...
I couldn't quite figure out... if the band was playing the one chord they knew in C or in G. I'm guessing it had to be one of those but it was hard to tell with one strumming one chord and the base player picking the one string of the other.

They knew a pretty simple poem, too... In between songs in that one chord, whatever key it was, the lead singer -- if what he was doing was really singing or belching Butt-Weizer, as everyone kept calling it -- recited for the crowd. He'd tap on the side of the mike and say, "si." Later, after drinking a few, he'd stroll back up to the mike again, tap it on the side with his pick between his fingers and say, "si." This went on during the half-hour breaks between individual songs. So if they weren't strumming "Chinky-chank," the lead singer was reciting, "si." I'm sure he must have studied the style of e. e. cummings in college.

No one was expecting it -- it wasn't announced -- but I think we had the
First Annual Balmorhea Semi-Amateur
Gang-Fight Tournament
It was a mixed card... but before the matches could get going, apparently all at once, while shifting and weaving in-and-out among themselves, always one holding another back while he barked and growled as if that were the agreed upon rule of safety, the order of the dance, the Sheriff Deputies strolled up to let them know that the referee had canceled. So all 25 or 30 of them went away together, "dispersing," to buy each other another Butt-Weizer and to complain about the guy's breath who was in their faces a little while ago.

I got the distinct impression, since no one was dancing, that once they got started drinking Butt-Weizer and arguing, most of the men of Balmorhea would rather fight than fuck. They all must have been married.

Nobody seemed the least bit concerned... No punches were thrown. Grandmothers were sitting in plastic woven lawn chairs from Wal-Mart saying the rosary. "They was all jest family," someone said. "Familia." Indeed, kids were everywhere, running in and out and around the taller grown-ups as if they were ancient trees or orange road cones, hiding in the shadows and dashing over the foot bridge that spanned the 8-feet of shallow spring water flowing to distant alfalfa fields through the concrete sided irrigation canal. I wanted to role up my genes and go for a wade down one side and up the concrete steps on the other, beside the little bridge. It would have been more fun with my dog but I left him at home because he almost got me arrested last year when he pissed on bundle of the vendor's cheap cellophane bags at the corner of his booth and the vendor and I got into an argument because he said I refused to pay for them and I said I saw him wrap toys in them to $ell to the local children anyway.

In fact, one of the hottest items this year at the little bazaar booths -- these boxed-up and tarpaulin-shaded mercados, offerings of scattered trinkets and turquoise colored sacramentals, traveling vans of gypsy-infested freak shows we'd never get to see, huddled under the surrounding live oaks, bored and half-dreaming under their weeping branches reaching lazily outward to each other like grandmothers holding hands before Mass -- was the AK-47. Unchallenged. An unrecognized phenomenon, still accepted with cordial and unnoticed apathy, generations after the last Hollywood Western. The boys were all over the park jumping from behind the gazebo and killing each other along with everyone's dog. The kids that couldn't afford a gun bought a sword or a knife. But to be realistic, they really should have sold the boys little plastic cans of Butt-Weizer to go along with their guns so they could be just like their daddies.

The phosphorescent alien antennae were popular with the girls. They were running around, buzzing and binging, glowing in streams of swirling light, acting giddy, eyeballs spinning top-like in a centrifuge of dizziness, spinning, spinning eternally inward like a snake-spinning mandala or the whirling optical pattern at the end of a Rod Sterling Twilight Zone, credits passing downwardly, signifying insanity or some other dimension, a dimension that giggles and pinches; then whispers excitedly and runs away again screaming at a pitch so high it makes grown men shrug and squint, and dogs drop thrown-away turkey legs and Bar-B-Que gristle to wale in harmony. I guess, like the boys, they were practicing to be grown-ups, too.

All that and only one couple was dancing. I think they were drunk. Or tone deaf. They seemed to like the "Chinky-chank" song that I didn't. Pretty soon, they disappeared, but they were both so ugly no one wanted to think about it.


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