synanpses 4
By John Brantingham

We’re stuck in the most touristy hotel
in San Antonio, which is a surprisingly
touristy town once you get down
by the Riverwalk near the Alamo,
and we’re eating an over-priced burger
on an outdoor patio overlooking a mall.
There’s a stage over by the Banana
Republic and on the stage is what seems
to be the first authentic thing
in the whole place, a native Mexican
group, which a flier says is using
traditional Mexican instruments
(I don’t recognize them anyway)
to play the music of their homeland.
What becomes clear pretty soon though
is that they’re playing native Mexican music,
but that every second song is a cover
of the Eagles, and a pattern presents
itself to us as we’re masticating
and observing: the shoppers blithely
go about their shopping while the Mexican
music is going, but when the band starts
in with “Hotel California” or “Desperado”
or “Take It Easy,” the tourists all stop what
they’re doing en masse, turn to the stage
and spontaneously burst into applause
and that long Texan “woooooo” only to walk
away again once the Mexican music starts back up.
Something about the display nearly
demands cynical irony (which I’m good at),
but something else stops me from doing it.
It’s easy enough to be world-weary
and easy to roll my eyes, but the display
is a certainly genuine and heartfelt tribute,
and maybe these people are unwilling
or uninterested in experiencing something
new at that moment, but back in my hotel
room, I’ve got another Kinky Friedman novel
going, and as much as I love the Kinkster,
I have to admit that if you’ve read one,
you’ve pretty much read them all.
The only people I truly pity in the tableau
is the band, who have learned through
probably heart wrenching experience
that you’ve got to give the people what they want.

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