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December 01, 2004

Three things I love about where I live

Riding BART to work in the morning two weeks ago. I was listening to Lila Downs on the old iPod. She was singing an arcane central Mexican waltz. A thin kid, probably 20 at most, opened his duffle and drew out two plastic Indian clubs, started juggling. This was not a performance: he was merely using the idle time to practice. A few minutes, with no one in the car particularly paying him any mind (other than myself), and he put the clubs away as Lila slowly built toward a crescendo. Out came a clear sphere, which rolled down his arm, up onto his fingertips, and then up the other side of his arm to his shoulder and back to fingertips again. Lila put her full diva weight into the waltz, complete with snare drum, and he was juggling striped harlequin beanbags: four, then five, then eight of them. We both got off at Embarcadero Station and he ran for the escalator.

It was my co-worker's birthday one day last week. I was buying her some chocolate. I walked into the shop and Amália Rodriguez was singing on the sound system. Any day that has some fado in it is a good day, and I bought extra chocolate. The clerk rang me up, and I noticed he was singing along, in Portuguese, with the lament about Lisbon becoming too much like Paris. (Probably the oldest anti-globalization anthem, and how appropriate that it come from Lisboa.) "It's rare enough to hear fado in a store; I can't remember the last time I saw a clerk singing along with it." He smiled. "I love fado." "Are you Portuguese?" I asked. "No," he smiled.

Tchico-Tchicaya was playing on the iPod this morning as I ride BART. I was reading the local free weekly. A concert ad caught my eye: Arlo Guthrie and the Klezmatics are appearing together in Berkeley next week. The program involves a never-before-performed, just-discovered collection of 20th century Jewish sacred music. Written by Woody Guthrie. Entranced by the idea, I started absently nodding to the music, which nodding graduated into full-blown actual shoulder weaving and foottapping as I walked toward work. Something about African dance music, you know. Someone smiled at me at the corner. I blushed, pull out the earbuds. "Must be good," she said. I offered her a listen. She held the buds to her ears, looked up, smiled, and said "Hey! Tchico-Tchicaya!"

Posted by Chris Clarke at December 1, 2004 02:58 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:

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You know, I always enjoy stories about people and their music, and I like listening to certain kinds and LOVE dancing to nearly anything with a beat -- but I think my brain just doesn't work right when it comes to choosing favorites or remembering performers and song titles. I keep seeing these lists people put up of their favorites, or their iPod lists, or stories about "their song," or the like, and I always feel somewhat stupid, because my brain doesn't work that way. I tend to like music at the moment, and forget the label parts.

Books, too. If I work hard I can remember some authors and titles, but generally, it's more a genre-level liking.

The worst question ever is "what's your favorite book/movie/song..."

But I like this post. :)

Posted by: Rana at December 1, 2004 03:54 PM
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I hate the "favorite book/movie/song" question, because my "favorite" changes from moment to moment.

Well, except "movie," because I almost always say "To Live" by Zhang Yimou. But that's just because no one's heard of it, and people always expect the answer to be something like King Of Hearts.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at December 1, 2004 04:42 PM
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Oh, and Rana, if your brain doesn't work right, I wish more people's brains didn't work right the same way.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at December 1, 2004 04:43 PM
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