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Wrapping Up: All The Be?t

June 15, 2013 – Day 694

? = s

I have written about the music scene here in Lima (see here and here for samples) and how acts ranging from the 1980s to today fill the seats with their performances.

Another aspect to the music scene (and one I have not written about before) in Peru’s capital city is the thriving world of cover bands. Also known as tribute bands, one can buy tickets for these performances honoring the musical styles of Bob Marley to Madonna to U2 to Radiohead.

Tonight, on this Saturday evening, is an act that appears to combine the two. In honor of the 71st birthday of singer / songwriter (and left-handed person) Paul McCartney, there is a musical act coming to the City of Kings to embrace the music of the Beatles. In one sense, this performance is a tribute band honoring the Fab Four.

Nothing new there as there have been tribute bands to the lads from Liverpool before.

What was different was who was leading this night’s performance.

His name is Pete Best and he was the drummer for the Beatles before Ringo Starr.

To me, Best’s band appears to be the intersection of a tribute band and a musical act.

This place never ceases to me amaze me.

? = r

Over the course of this blog, I have had a quartet of goals during my stay in Peru. The first three (originally written about here) were…

a) Come home in one piece
b) Have fun
c) Avoid sparking an international incident

As for “a”, knock on wood, I am a few days away from achieving that accomplishment.
As for “b”, I have satisfied that goal in buckets as I have travelled to Machu Picchu, an amusement park, a park, and rode a sandboard…just to name a few.
As for “c”, a thorough query of any Internet search engine produces no hits on my name and the phrase “international incident”, so I call that a success.

My fourth goal deals with Bert. That’s the name I gave to the cactus I wrote about during my fifth day in Lima. Back then, I wrote that my task was to ensure that Bert stays alive during my stay.

Nearly 700 days later, I am pleased to announce that…

It's alive !

It’s alive !

…Bert has survived my black thumb.

(If there is any botanist in my audience who can disprove my assertion based on the visual evidence provided above, please let me know.)


From the 80s to Today

April 24, 2013 – Day 642

Over my time here in Peru, I have made mention once or twice about how Lima appears to be a magnet for musical acts that were popular back in the 1980s.

The City of Kings has seen Roxette, Aerosmith, and Erasure make appearances while I have lived here. The hits simply keep coming as the news is out that the music group Yes will be performing in Lima in May.

However, the era of Reagan, Flashdance, and shoulder pads for women is not the only period of time that sends its musical acts to Peru. Nope, Lima is also on the leading edge of music hip-ness as Korean pop music (aka K-popwhich is a vastly different musical style from K-Tel) sends its practitioners to this South American capital.

PSY has not yet shown up (only a matter of time, I suppose), but this weekend sees the ten-member boy band from South Korea, Super Junior, in concert. Actually, there will only be nine members showing up for the gig as one of them dropped out to join the Army.

How big is this concert?

It’s so big that one of Peru’s largest newspaper, El Comercio, placed a large poster of the group in its paper as a souvenir item to promote the April 27 show. Part of the poster is reproduced below…

Their show is called "Super Show 5"...that's why their hands are that way

Their show is called “Super Show 5″…that’s why their hands are that way

I may laugh about the bubble-gum quality of K-pop, but I did the same decades ago when the Backstreet Boys hit it big.

And now that quintet has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Who’s laughing now?

Update From Last Week

Today’s post – as the helpful title up top suggests – is all about updates from stuff I wrote about last week.

Tuning Up

As mentioned in this post (among others), Lima attracts many music acts from around the globe.

Last week saw the following performers and groups ink deals to come on down to the City of Kings:

…Foreigner (April 2);
…Black Sabbath (October); and
…Ringo Starr (November)

Under The Robes

That same post about musical acts also mentioned that Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Antonin Scalia flew to Lima to headline a seminar about justice. While I could find no news clippings about Justice Scalia travelling to Machu Picchu or any other Peruvian tourist site, I did catch this photograph of him in El Comercio that accompanied an interview held with him.

This justice is not color blind

This justice is not color blind

While I will not categorize Justice Scalia as a fashion model, I must admit that he certainly can rock the casual “I’m-on-vacation” look better than Justice Ginsberg but probably not as well as Chief Justice Roberts.

Dry Elections

St. Patrick’s Day, as mentioned in an earlier post, saw a city-wide election in which the citizens of Lima were decided whether or not to recall the city’s mayor, Susan Villaran.

Starting on Friday, the concept of “ley seco” (dry law) took effect. The ley seco prohibited the sale and public consumption of alcohol for a few days before an election. At our local grocery store, the beer and wine section were covered with white plastic with a note to the customers explaining why spirits were not being sold. I’m not quite sure what the purpose of the “dry law” is, but the alcohol-free St. Patrick’s Day was not the oddest aspect of this Sunday.

Yes, the recall vote was held on a Sunday. For those in the reading audience who might be wondering how this civic function affected church services and attendance in this Catholic country, fret not.

The city of Lima simply cancelled morning and afternoon church services.


What is Spanish for “Irony”?

The votes have been counted and Mayor Villaran survived…barely. Just over fifty-one percent voted to keep her in office. However, there were casualties. Twenty of the thirty-nine regidores (akin to City Council members I believe) were voted out.

Ironically enough, the son of the man who was a main backer of the drive to remove Villaran was one of the twenty regidores shown the door by voters.

I bet that’s going to make for an awkward Easter family dinner.

Discos De Oro

Day 247 – March 25, 2012

The 1980s are big here in Peru.

Radio station play their music. It’s piped in to the local grocery stores. Bands of that era come to the City of Kings (i.e., Elton John, The Smiths, Aerosmith, Erasure, Roxette).

The 1980s are big here in Peru, but I have found another decade that lives on the airwaves.

Completely by accident (and the short version of the story is I overheard it while my daughter was at a roadside kiosk making a painting for the low, low price of S/. 2), I discovered Radio Magica 88.3 FM which has the tagline of “Disco de oros en ingles” (Golden oldies in English).

This is a radio station, located on the left-hand side of the dial that is in the United States reserved for National Public Radio, that plays mostly hits of the 1970s and a smattering from the 60s and 80s.

Eighty-eight-point-three on the FM (which, by the way, stands for Frequency Modulation) dial is where I can now hear Billy Joel (the pre-Christie Brinkley Mr. Joel), Glenn Campbell, Barry Manilow, Karen Carpenter, Kenny Rogers, the Beatles (the Mop Top version of the Fab Four), and KC & the Sunshine Band.

Other than having the opportunity of hearing “Close to You” or “Copacabana” again and relive those fond aural memories, I can listen to the radio and not have to worry about F-bombs like I do with other stations.

When in the car and listening to my favorites 80s station, Oxigeno, I will sometimes teach my three kids about the 1980s music that we hear (The Police, The Who, Eagles), which leads to some interesting discussions (“Really, Papi, the lead singer of Twisted Sister is a guy even though he sounds like a girl”). Now I have a whole new decade of music that I can teach them about.

I can’t wait to show them the YouTube videos so they can see what disco really looked like.

The April Music Scene

Day 255 – April 2, 2012

I have written before about how Lima, Peru, is a go-to destination for musical acts and how the 1980s are alive and well on the radio airwaves.

Today’s post, in a way, combines those two elements as I provide for you a list of some of the performers coming to the City of Kings in April, which is a mix of local flavor and the 80s.

Tenor Juan Diego Florez – April 10
Roger Hodgson, former member of the band Supertramp – April 12
Star of Camp Rock and the Disney Channel show Sonny With a Cause, Demi Lovato – April 17
Swedish pop duo Roxette – April 21
Roberto Carlos, Brazilian singer and composer – April 26
Lead singer and founding member of UB40, Ali Campbell – April 28

But wait, there’s more…

Coming April 27 to Lima is the Rock & Roll All-Stars show consisting of (in part)…
Gene Simmons (KISS),
Duff McKagan (Guns N Roses),
Sebastian Bach (Skid Row),
Joe Elliot (Def Leppard),
Vince Neil (Motley Crue),
Billy Duffy (The Cult), and
Ed Roland (Collective Soul)

To give you an idea of ticket prices, I have the list of prices for the Roxette concert.

The lowest level of tickets goes for S/. 84, which is equivalent of $31.50 (using an exchange rate of $1 = S/. 2.664). The VIP level of tickets sell for S/. 218 ($82). The penultimate level, Platinum B, will set you back S/. 360 ($135) and the highest level, Platinum A, charge S/. 465 ($174).

I obtained this list when I had lunch one day at Bembos, the Peruvian hamburger franchise. They’re one of the sponsors of the tour.

Las Siete Palabras

Day 237 – March 15, 2012

George Carlin, one of the funniest, most intelligent people to walk the planet, had a comedy routine dubbed “Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television.” As you might surmise from the title, Carlin spoke of the septet of words that one could not utter over the airwaves.

These were the words “that would curve the spine, put hair on the back of your hands…” and there was “no way you could weave them on the panel with Doc and Ed and Johnny.”

None of these words will be repeated in full in this posting. For the complete list, you may point your browser here.

This routine about those seven words is so infamous that it even spawned a ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States that declared that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could punish radio and television stations for airing material that contained any of these words (and some extra ones for good measure).

In my previous life before my previous life, I was in radio. For four years in college and for a few years after that, my voice rode on electromagnetic waves and could be heard for miles around (but only if you had a radio to receive my ramblings). Talking on the radio meant that I had to be fully aware of what I was saying. Especially on the college station where the atmosphere was a tad more relaxed, I really had to police myself to make sure that no S-words or F-bombs slipped through in my conversations. I certainly did not want the FCC to come down on me and the station I worked for. The FCC has gone to the mat to punish networks that have aired swear words (e.g., Bono on NBC in 2003, Cher on FOX in 2002, Nicole Richie in 2003) and I didn’t want to be on that list.

So what does this have to do with my current life in Peru?

Because those folks at the FCC who monitor the airwaves for Carlin’s Seven Words would blow a gasket down here because songs are played on the radio here that contain swear words but they are not bleeped out or silenced as they are in the States.

My first fleeting example of this phenomenon was when I heard Alanis Morrissette’s “Hand In My Pocket” on the radio. It contains the line, “I’m brave, but I’m chickensh!*”, but it was not censored in any way.

Thankfully, the kids (especially our little girl) were not in the car.

I thought the playing of the Morrissette song was an aberration, but I heard more and more songs that had the occasional S-word, F-bomb, B-ryhmes-with-rich, etc. thrown in.

As of today, I can put my hand on my heart and say that Peruvian radio stations that play English songs (with one exception) do not censor.

Today, I was listening to Radio Planeta (107.7 on your FM dial), whose shtick is that they play “Tu musica, en Ingles” (Your music, in English). A song started up that was unfamiliar to me.

THANKFULLY, the kids again were not in the car because I would have created a sonic boom due to how quickly my hand leapt to the radio buttons to turn it off.

It was Eamon‘s “F**k It (I Don’t Want You Back)”.

This song contains eight utterances of the F-word in its chorus, which only has eight lines. It has another of Carlin’s Seven Words and other langauge that would send Terry Rakolta into a letter-writing rage.

The lone exception of a song being censored that I have discovered so far is “Lighters” with Bruno Mars. The sections rapped by Eminem and by Royce have noticeable audible gaps where the swear words would be.

As if dodging combis and taxis weren’t enough of a distraction on Peru’s roads, now I have to have an ear out for what’s playing on the radio.

Then again…it could be a wonderful learning opportunity to teach my children about the richness of language. As Carlin said, “There are no bad words, bad thoughts, bad intentions, and wooooords”.

Final Note: Today’s title, for the non-Spanish speaker, translates to “The Seven Words”.

Los Anos Ochenta

Day 015 – August 6, 2011

Before making our move to Peru, I remember telling my kids while we were still in Virginia that there was only one thing that I was definitely going to miss.

It wasn’t family and friends (sorry) because thanks to the series of tubes known as the Internet, our group of five would be able to keep in touch with folks back in the States. All hail e-mail, Skype, and Facebook.

When I made this statement to my children, we were walking to the one place that I was going to miss during our sojourn to the City of Kings.

I was going to miss California Tortilla.

Nowhere in Lima would I be able to enjoy the wide variety of burritos as they are offered at CalTort. In fact, I’m not even sure that the burrito is a staple of Peruvian cuisine. For that matter, I’m not even positive that Mexican cuisine holds the burrito in its pantheon.

While it was true that I was going to miss the great food and the wall of spicy sauces at California Tortilla, what I truly really was going to miss was the music they played at our establishment in Ashburn, Virginia. That California Tortilla played nothing but ’80s music.

Ah, the look of bored resignation that would come over my kids’s faces whenever I would wax nostalgic about Men at Work, The Police, Van Halen, Robert Palmer, Adam Ant, or any other musical act that was big when I was lad in high school (1982 – 1986…thanks for asking) was the extra salsa on my burrito that made our outings that much more special.

So, when coming to Lima, I was resigned to the fact that if I wanted to hear my music, I would be confined to my iPod and Pandora (thank you again, you magical series of tubes).

Oh, dear Heaven above, how wrong I was.

Remember in my last posting when I wrote about our trip to Jockey Plaza where I wrote…

We finished our mercantile excursion with a stopover at a grocery store. My audio impression of that portion of the trip will wait for another posting…

Well, here is that other posting.

In the local grocery store in Jockey Plaza, the music that is piped in from the ceiling to entertain the shoppers was nothing but music from the 1980s.

There was Phil Collins with “Sususido”, The Bangles with “Walk Like an Egyptian”, Huey Lewis and the News with “The Power of Love”, Pat Benatar with “Love is a Battlefield”, and (my personal favorite, and wtih a great video to boot…and now you know way too much about me) a-ha with “Take On Me“.

Not only is my local grocery store a fine purveyor of aural nostalgia, but I have since discovered a radio station, Oxigeno (102.1 on your FM dial), that dabbles in “Los Anos Ochenta” (that would be Spanish for “The Eighties”).

If I can hear “Sultans of Swing” or “Money for Nothing” on the radio or while shopping for butter, I know things are going to be okay and that I can enjoy my burrito-less environment.