Friday, October 08, 2010

The Accordionist

While we were away over the summer, there were some organizational changes made to the perro's namesake street urchin's family business. Jesús has been more or less relieved of his gum-selling duties, those having been passed down to his three-year-old sister, while the boy has been moved to the playing-accordion-for-loose-pesos position, where he is hampered by a bad attitude that may or may not be connected to his complete inability - apart from the first few bars of Cielito Lindo - to actually play the accordion.

Don't be misled by the grin - that's from playing hide-and-seek with the camera-toting gringo. For the first few weeks before he taught himself that one snippet of a song, he repeatedly denied the instrument was his - he was merely "holding it" for his brother - which might have been believable if he did, in fact, have a brother. Now he cranks out the occasional bit of Cielito Lindo while staring dejectedly at the empty bowl in front of him. Meanwhile, his sister wanders the streets selling far less candy and gum in a week than Jesús could move in two nights. We're sure this new arrangement makes some sort of sense to the children's mother, a nice-enough if not especially bright young (very young) woman who in any civilized society would be doing time for child negligence.

Of course, Querétaro isn't really a civilized society, given the fact that the windowsill the boy is perched upon here - working a 10-hour day when he should be attending school - is part of the Casa de la Corregidora, the city's most richly historic building, and the seat of the state government. In a state with 1.5 million people, we can understand if some disadvantaged kids fall through the cracks, but this boy is literally sitting outside the governor's office. We imagine that, from time to time, the governor's wife comes to visit him - walking right past the young accordionist - when she can get some time away from her day job as the head of DIF, the state agency that's supposed to care for indigenous child laborers like Jesús, but is instead a vanity prize traditionally awarded to the governor's wife for the propaganda value of being photographed handing out blankets and Christmas dinners while actually doing fuck-all of any fucking value whatsofuckingever.

Who knows, maybe the kid will improve his playing enough to get into Julliard despite not attending primary school, but based on his desultory rendering of Cielito Lindo we'd say it's kind of hopeless. He's probably got about six more years to nail this instrument. If not, we're sure there'll be plenty of work available for him in the Failed State of Arizona.


Dave said...

Great piece! Somehow you can mix humor, snark and biting social commentary in one awesome piece. It's a perfect example of why I'm hooked on your blog.

Okay, enough adulation. Now get back to work.

By the way, as a child I had to suffer through accordion lessons at the local bowling alley in the vague hope (of my parents) of being the next polka king. I think I'd have preferred cielito lindo. I feel for the kid.

Anonymous said...

Do you know who was at Julliard? Remember Olga Bressking, the Russian Mexican babe? Her father, Elias Breesking was a child prodigy studying in Julliard with a Stradivarius before moving to Mexico.