In the predawn coolness of five a.m., we made coffee, put the dogs in the CRV, and set out along the deserted carretera to Chapala, a few miles away, where we walk the beasts. The night was dark and empty as an anchorman’s mind and a drizzle splattered across the windshield. Fulu Miziki poured from the stereo, which is pretty good in a CRV. I wondered how a Southern country boy came to be driving with an exotic Latina and a carful of useless if agreeable street dogs in central Mexico. Life is strange, I thought with my customary originality.
Africa, a long and low slung pooch, sits between the seats and peers down the road like some sort of guardian. She appears to be the product of a midnight liaison between a Border Collie and a fire hose. We found her a few years back as an abandoned puppy with the world’s most godawful case of mange. The vet dipped her in some strange potion and she bloomed. Few things in life can really be counted on, but mange dip is one of them. You have to believe in something.
But Fulu Miziki. These are a street band in Kinshasa. See what the internet has done? Your children may be Facebooking with them. The masks suggest interbreeding between the Hindu masks of Bali and something stolen from the store room of a Beijing opera company. But damn, the Fulus are fine musicians and having a hell of a good time.
We got to Chapala, parked, and got the dogs out on the malecón, which is a sort of tastefully patterned cement boardwalk along the lake. The malecón shiny with the rain. Waves were breaking on the shore and no one was out except the street sweepers and a few early runners.
Anyway, Fulu goes to garbage dumps and finds things to make musical instruments out of (Yes, two terminal prepositions. I am a bad person.): bottles, lengths of bamboo, old shoes, and unoccupied skulls. Its schtick, it says, is to persuade Congoans not to leave trash around, but I suspect they just can’t afford high-end instruments. They are great fun if crazy as three monkeys in a bag and enjoying themselves splendidly. Why not? If the rest of the world is miserable what with the virus and American foreign policy, why should they be?
Now you may be wondering, “Why is Fred running on about mad dusky buskers in the everloving Congo for God’s sake when he could tell us tales of death and horror and epidemic in Mexico? The virus is getting tedious is why.
But it is dangerous. A conservative friend says that the face masks tend to clog up with moisture from breath and nasal effluents, and stop the flow of air, causing oxygen deprivation and brain damage, so that you end up a Democrat. He may be biased, though.
I suppose I should say that I write about Fulu to spread word of the oneness of man and to share heartwarming examples of the contributions of differing cultures to all that makes us human, and so on. This would be pure bullshit. Actually I seem to have a God-given talent for disgruntling almost everybody. I believe that one should exercise one’s gifts. In particular I like to horrify White Nationalists, WhyNats, who annoy me by writing sententious agitprop about places I rather like, such as India, China, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.
Ha. Fulu must seem to them like the nightmare rhythm section of a banned human sacrifice ceremony by midnight in the zombie-ridden outback of Haiti. You know, the kind where the hors d’oeuvres can only be made from the pituitaries of living humans.
Or maybe they are just a street band in Kinshasa. You can’t have everything.
(“WhyNat” is under patent protection as being almost as tediously ostentatious as “ChiCom” and may be used only with prior written permission.)
Write Fred at [email protected] Put the letters pdq anywhere in the subject line to avoid heartless atuodeletion.