Mateo's Blog

What's Bred in the Bone….

...comes out in the flesh. Robertson Davies: one of my FAVORITE authors. As I get on in life, I find his world-view, his philosophy (never stated only implied), his humanity, appeal to me immensely. This work, in which a "daemon" named "Maimas" figures prominently, is captivating. It's helping me with things I ponder, particularly related to "Our Bones Are Thus." "Don't be distracted by trivialities, said the Daimon Maimas. What do the theologians say? Circumcise yourself as to the heart and not as to the foreskin. And never neglect what is bred in the bone. Do you think it was bred of Francis to be a victim all his life? How would that reflect on me? As a rather superior mortal once said to a sentimental friend, Clear your mind of cant! Shall we continue?" And, again: "Astrology is part of the science of the past, and of course the science of the present has no place for it, because it is rooted in a discredited notion of the universe, and puts forward a lot of Neo-Platonic ideas that don't make much sense---until you live with them for awhile. Astrology is based on a notion nobody wants to accept in our wonderfully reasonable Western World, which is that the position of the stars at the moment of your birth governs your life. 'As above, so below' is the principle in a nutshell. Utterly dotty, obviously." Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the midst of a most agreeably hot summer!
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3 May 2018 Madrid

Some comments on shows I've been seeing: Friday, 20 April@ Casa Patas Fundacion---Guadiana. Voice not unpleasant like years before. He has great feel, sentiment, pitch, soniquete. An 8.5 Accompanied by Carlos de Jacoba, who plays with really good swing. A little short of material, a little boring, his bulerias a 9+. 2 boys as palmeros who danced pataitas por bulerias super-well. A satisfying evening! Thursday, 3 May at the Fundacion, again. Capullo de Jerez: groove, soniquete, sentido, swing, verdad---inspirado! With Manuel Jero, son of Ninyo Jero, he's also called Jerito. He's got all the mugging looks, smiles, arcane glances of his father. Similarly, his limited technique: mostly thumb, virtually no picado, arpegio, horquilla, tremelo. But, along with 2 wonderful palmeros, produced a grooving pocket of flamenquismo that was damn engaging! Contrasting the "jazz" of Jorge Pardo with Josemi Carmona, Javier Colina, and Bandolero (May 1st at Club Bogui in Chueca): jazz without swing (don' mean a thing...), too damn many useless notes and scales, fast and loud and furious; everyone competing to outdo each other. Did I say I generally detest bass and drum solos? In fairness, I felt Josemi played very very well and I enjoyed his toque immensely. But, the rest? Has Pardo forgotten how gorgeous a long and lyrical spellbinding line can be?
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26 April, 2018: Madrid

Nearly 80 degrees, sunny and divine. I'm at Peyma, my "office," on calle Embajadores. Great place. Totally unpretentious with good food, drinks, cafe and "menu del dia." I'm staying with a friend, across the street and up the hill a bit. Playing my Montalvo guitar, from Paracho, Mexico, that's been at my piso (38 Olivar in Lavapies) since I can remember. With new Savarez strings it sounds great! Resonant, rich. Practicing a lot, which I always do when I'm in Madrid (so many great players inspire me, yes indeed!). Good progress with that, in part due to listening to so much Glenn Gould. My NEW obsession: the "Glenn Gouldization" of my playing. I'm trying to analyze what, exactly, that means....
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Madrid!! Mad-Town Here I Come

I'm continuing to copy these blog posts, originally written in my old-fashioned notebook, onto the web-site. ....And a huge snowfall in Minneapolis, Minnesota over the weekend (wait! Its mid-April!). I'm at Charles DeGaul Airport (Paris) about to complete the last leg to Madrid, once again. And, glad of it! Only 5 weeks. It is 9am in Paris and I'm holding up well, so far. First day is always difficult...had a nice cafe au lait. Reading Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson (Georges Gurdjieff) again. The 4th time, but after a few decades: it seems slow and ponderous. Even pretentious. I'm half-way through it and bogged down. And now, Tony Robbins not faring too well vis a vis the #metoo Movement, which, by virtue of an 11 minute video that went viral----exposed his masculine aggression, bullying, and failure to listen/understand/empathize when most needed. Did the money he's made, and he's made a lot of it, work as a curse? The video of his resort, on Fiji, grossed me out. Ah, the joys and disillusion of growing old! obat
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Antigua, Guatemala—what is OBAT, anyway?

Beautiful (always!), dry, warm, cool nights. Playing duo guitars with my friend from Barcelona, Miguel Angel Gomez, tonight at Angie Angie. Doing a bunch of Pop Flamenkito stuff featuring his fine lead guitar but also keepin' it real (what I call real, anyway jajaja). Our Bones Are Thus. Nuestros Huesos Son Asi. Simply OBAT for short. My personal AUM. or Amen. Which really are "remates." So: remates to life, its manifestations, movements, stagnation, developments, struggles, triumphs, set backs, all of it. Freed from the concept of time. Or not. Minute by minute. Hour by hour. Day by day, by week, by month, year, phase, era, by life. But, also going the other direction: by thought, ideas, concept, impulse. Emotion, too. The physical, the emotional, the mental bodies all have remates. Remates are ESSENTIAL to flamenco.
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Antigua! I’m Coming Home!

Enroute to Guatemala. At last. Been a tough winter. My emotions are raw. Gotta chill out! Calm myself, diffuse the anger. Maybe deal with little angers early before they deepen and embitter. I can be so damn prickly. Too quick, too impatient. Slovenliness and heavy-handedness irritate me. Live and let live! Speak with good purpose only. I've been experiencing roller-coaster emotions. Intense highs and happiness. Also, dark moods of irritability, impatience, and anger. Easy for me to get wrapped too tightly. Chill the F*** Out, Dude! 1. Keep that "quality of life" distinction alive and actively work to implement it. 2. Be simpler and more direct in asking for what I want and require. Say: NO! 3. Speak less. Listen to my silence. Its time to focus on SILENCE. Past time. I'm coming full circle these days, in a lot of ways. returning to 48 years ago. Such as: 1. Rereading the works of Gurdjieff. 2. Remembering, reflecting upon, rekindling the whole "Mardan" issue. He was Guru Nanak's close friend and confidant who played the rubab. 3. Huge de-emphasis on alcohol (I Love Wine!!). 4. I've got my Les Paul Custom 1967 back! 5. Gradually withdrawing from material life, pursuit of gigs, money-money-money preoccupations. 6. Gradually moving toward sanyasi status, perhaps with guitar in hand. Nothing else feels right at this point. Ties in with #2. 7. My meditations to be musical ones, suffused with SILENCE. And a final note: last week's shooting at Parkland High in Florida that left 17 dead and hundreds traumatized really hit me hard. I'm not exactly sure why, apart from the "normal" horror of yet another school shooting. Now, as I watch the surviving teens take the lead on the issue of out-of-control gun violence----I feel a glimmer of hope. Actually, it WAS a glimmer; it is slowly igniting into a certainty, even a conviction. These brave PTSD teens are leading their parents, and all of us nattering adults towards....towards what? meaningful change? Progress? A bi-partisan dialogue in a time where liberals/progressives and conservatives/right-wingers have nothing but contempt, mistrust, even hatred for one another? We have failed them. I believe in them. Yes, I do. And so: Guatemala. 5 weeks. La Busqueda. Reflections. Meditations. Walking.
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Improvisation—Minnesota Winters—la Busqueda—Our Bones are Thus?

A word of explanation. I've been writing my blog posts in a old fashioned notebook for a few months and neglecting to post them here. So, here's to catching up! OK. OK. Now I have 19 strategies for improvisation: they're good, useful, easy to implement, "genial." Most likely, no one is interested. So, for now at least, I'll keep them, try them out, fine tune them. See what happens. Two days until SUPER BOWL LII, here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. No Big Deal!!!! A damn football game. And, frigidly cold, snowy, a real old-style winter. It has been very nice and cozy here at home, in the house. I don't leave too often. My son, Aaron, lives here, too. He's a ballet dancer. My daughter, Grace, stops by a lot. I am getting good practice. Working toward my 2018 mantra (and honoring Paco de Lucia in the process): la Busqueda. Buscando mi sonido. Buscando rapidez. Buscando la verdad. Is this my retreat into asceticism, even semi-sanyasism? We talked about it so long ago, in India---maybe 48 years ago. My connection with Guru Nanak. With Sai Baba? Retreat from commercial success into the Flamenco Jondo? To be investigated. Our Bones Are Thus.
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Booksbooksbooks

I've always been an avid reader. Mostly fiction. Arguably, more for style than content. No vampires, ETs, zombies; not so big on sci-fi. Read enough self-help for two life-times. Recently, I finished the Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl who Played with Fire," "The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest." I'm told they were trendy-popular maybe 10 years ago. Not surprisingly, I've just read them now. Great stuff! Very compelling characters, plots, full of local color. And the Swedish film versions are great, too. Noomi Rapace, as Lisbeth Salender, is a most compelling actress. In my late teens, I lived in Stockholm for many months. Played folk-n-blues on the streets and in the subways. Precious memories brought back to life with these books and movies. Now, its back to Henry Miller, a favorite of mine in late adolescence (my 1st adolescence, not now....). "A Devil in Paradise" is one I'd never read. Its vintage Henry Miller: over-blown, bloated, drunken ramblings and ravings that no longer satisfy---they just wear me out. So, at least in that respect, I've matured a little. I've a memory of crossing Turkey on the Orient Express, clutching "Nexus" (book 3 of "The Rosy Crucifixion'), which today I'd find insufferably boring, particularly when compared to the real-life adventures happening at the time. Damn! Long sentence, isn't it? He's already rubbing off on me! We'll pursue this improvisation thing some other time. Have come up with 18 separate strategies so far....
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Frozen Solea-sicle on a Stick!

Trying to keep it real, keep it flamenco, maintain the soniquete---here in the deep freeze known as Minneapolis, Minnesota. After Madrid, I spent 5 weeks in Guatemala, doing lots of shows, and just generally loving living there. I came to Minnesota for family, friends, and Christmas/New Year's. Its been very very cold, snowy, icy. Playing every Sunday with my band, ROGUE TANGO, has been wonderful. My home is wonderful (I hardly ever leave it, it seems---guitars, oriental rugs, and warmth: life's necessities). Doing a lot of teaching to a small cabal of dedicated guitar students. Playing shows at several local fine-dining restaurants. So why am I complaining? Am I complaining? NO! Of course not! I'm making important distinctions... 2017 is behind us. President Trump was, and continues to be, a huge embarrassment. After a lifetime of liberalism and support of progressive causes, this guy and his administration is very hard to take. I prefer to live outside the US. In my musings and "meditations" I've been searching for strategies of improvisation. Fun! I've articulated some 16 strategies, so far. I'm thinking of writing about them here---is it too pedantic? Too pretentious? Gotta think about it a little more....
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A Pepe Habichuela: 60 Anyos de Guitarra Flamenca

Madrid. Its a 3 concert homage to this (still VERY active!) guitarist from Granada. Tonight was the 2nd concert and I have to write about it...IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!!! Tomatito opened the show and, from his first note, the night turned magical. Then Jose Merce appeared and sang extremely well, accompanied by Tomatito and, sometimes, Josemi Carmona. Here I have to diverge a moment and say that Josemi has done, and continues to do, a sterling job putting this thing together, directing it, playing very very well---he's the glue holding it all together. My respect for this man is enormous. El Pele followed: powerful powerful. His opening Siguiriyas was accompanied by Pepe Habichuela, then Josemi and Tomatito took over. Pele can be so unbelievably compelling, entrancing, mystical even. Tonight he was all of these things. Then Ninya Pastori----true star-power. Without being pushy, aggressive, or in any way overbearing she spun a magical web that ensnared us all. (Sorry for all the "y's" but I don't have tilde on my computer) Then-----Farruquito. Predictably mind-blowing. His baile continues to deepen. He's compelling, to say the least. Fin de fiesta was a love feast. Best show I've seen in years. 1st show was excellent, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's featuring Poveda as well as Israel Galvan. BTW: Canales danced on night 1----I LOVE Canales!
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