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Showing posts from February, 2009

Eva Ybarra, Queen of the Accordion, tells her story

She calls them viboras, the men who deny her stature as one of the world's best accordionists. She lives here, in San Antonio, and she doesn't have a car and is worried about her taxes. Eva has played in New York City, and yet no one in San Antonio seems to want to pay her what she deserves. Enough to live on.

The other day Eva played me a new composition, it's called Eco de Mujer. The song is haunted, a polka-tango-blues of a woman's pain and loneliness, betrayal and it sounds exactly like when my mother used to cry at the clothesline under the hot Texas sky. Like she was on fire and there was nowhere for her to go -- except to hang up more of my father's workshirts.

My mother listened to Lydia Mendoza. I listen to Eva Ybarra.

On Thursday evening, I finally get to read from my novel, with her accordion accompanying me. Though it is really Eva, her music, and that voice of hers that I wish I could put down on paper: That voice made of hard,
dusty, gravelly, ro…

No candy, no flowers, just love the world like Luti does

Last Friday, my girlfriend Luti Gude treated me to dinner and we talked about politics, cats, and always, her children. Luti Vela Gude comes from a prominent, progressive, South Texas family, puros Tejanos (and don't forget it!) with ties all the way to the (current) White House. Even in that family known for their enlightened views and activism, Luti shines because she ran in the Boston Marathon in her forties. She's currently a graduate student at UTSA in Counseling, and from all accounts, teaching them more about the community than the faculty can ever teach her. Luti was also determined to raise her children to care about the world -- and it's working. Her oldest son, David, a spectacular student, attended Brackenridge High School and other public schools in the inner city, becoming a humanitarian, dedicated to giving something back to the world as a physician and researcher.

David's life has not been without suffering, believe me. But last year he got married t…