FOX & HOUNDS PUB,
STUDIO CITY, CALIFORNIA, APRIL 4
With our carry-on luggage at our feet, Camella, her two twenty-something nephews and I raise shot glasses of silver Patron in a toast to the Riviera Maya and the Casa Iguana. Wincing, we chase the tequila with gulps of Corona and toss our sucked limes into a dirty ashtray. After checking the time, the decision is made to blow off the metro rail network in favor of calling a taxi to take us to LAX for our over-night flight to Cancun, Mexico. Which means that we’ve time for one more drop of the creature and another round of Coronas. Who knows, maybe even someone will score a goal in the soccer match on the big screen before the cab arrives, although the possibility of this happening seems rather unlikely. Hell, never mind the Brits and their goose eggs. I just hope my 3-ounce container of Redken Extreme makes it through security. Anything less just won’t cut it in the jungles of the Yucatan, but try telling that to Camella’s young nephews…
FRONTIER AIRLINES FLIGHT TO CANCUN, MEXICO
On the bumpy plane ride I study the works of several Mayanists in preparation for our day trips to the ruins in the forests of Quintana Roo (the Maya ruins of Coba) and the Yucatan (Chichen Itza). With regards to this whole San Antonio curse business, as I’ve explained before, our hope is to become ‘time tourists’ by utilizing the hyper-circuitry of the Pacal Votan module (upon decipherment of certain glyphic text on stelae encoded by the Tollanants in the mysterious language of the Zuvuya). Once we’re able to successfully navigate the river of time like those galactic sojourners, the Maya (and hopefully not dial-in the wrong channel in the harmonic matrix – is that a glyptodon!), to lift this particular malediction, I’ve a pocket edition of the Grimoire of Pope Honorius III which, of course, contains some very effective counter-spells (being the most demonic of all occult manuals – there’s even an enchantment against hemorrhoids!), including three, no less, proven beyond doubt to extinguish a fire. “In te, Domine, speravi, non consundar in aeternum” looks good, nay infallible, although first I’ll have to bone up on the preparatory operations and this strange “making the sign of the cross” thing.
The Mexican Caribbean during spring break. ESTABLISHING. Pretty much what you’d expect at 8:30 in the morning: Modern beachfront hotels with bronzed and not so bronzed vacationers on the white powder sand. Turistas snorkeling in the warm Caribbean waves as noisy gulls swoop over those participating in various other water activities: Pleasure craft, sailboats, jet-skis, kayaks, catamarans, wind-surfers, para-sailing, etc, ad nauseam. Wandering across the white-talc stuff in my bare feet, I spread my purple towel near a shade palapa. Before I can get properly situated, we’re informed by a local in an antiseptic khaki uniform of sorts that the umbrellas are reserved for owners and guests of the nearby luxury condos, but that for $20.00 U.S. I can rent some shade. This sounds reasonable enough, although this gringo suspects that the guy doesn’t work for this or any other beachside resort. I’m becoming even more convinced after we pay the fellow and he disappears into the tropical scenery. Not to worry, though, it’s already 9:00 am. A fifty peso straw hat that smells like a mule’s sphincter and a few icy cans of “Sol” under a thatched-roof bar ought to solve this and any other problems.
Basically, we’re just hanging out on the beach to kill some time (that and you don’t spot too many pods of dolphins in the farmacia). My girlfriend (oops, after St. Paddy’s Day in Las Vegas, make that, fiancée, with the date set for December 22, 2012) is due to land around noon, after which we can drive to Akumal. Still, I can’t help being a little nervous, knowing damn well that we need to make sure we’re long gone before all the college kids wake up in the heart of the hotel zone.
While sipping cerveza stuffed with the ubiquitous lime and gazing out at the shimmering Caribbean, despite the hordes of college girls wearing bikinis in every color of the spectrum, in my mind’s eye, I visualize the MTV playground as looking like a grainy dupe of a 35mm two-color Technicolor print that has a lifeless, washed-out look to it, appearing almost as a sepia wash, tinted in frames with blue and amber tones. (Note: Hopefully, some of you in the audience are wearing special 3-D glasses to enhance the mayhem of the spring-breakers’ party central.)
The sun is sinking fast. Off in the distance, calypso drums beat menacingly over the strains of lurid ‘canned’ music. With SLOPPY JUMP CUTS, sandy tattooed bodies begin to appear on the Boulevard Kukulkan. Amid the cacophony of ring tones, survivors of the booze cruise in flowery togas with pink all-you-can-drink-wristbands head towards Burger King, Papa Johns, K.F.C., the Hard Rock Café, Johnny Rockets and T.G.I. Fridays (God, why would anyone come all this way to eat Cheesy Bacon Cheeseburgers at “Fridays!!!”) All around is the smell of clove cigarettes, nachos, and coconut sun-block. But the Americanized fiesta is only just beginning. Next, they’ll be heading for the discothèques… towards the outrageous nightlife they were promised at Dady’O, La Boom, Coco Bongo and Senior Frogs (God, no, not Senior Frogs. Fuck me and the tadpoles are yours!!!) Dancing on woodchip-covered floors in a webwork of colorful lasers, tangerine-painted thumbnails type on BlackBerrys to the rhythm of reggae, techno, salsa and merengue as acrobatic bartenders mix cocktails from Patron Azul, Midori, Kettle One and Captain Morgan. In the slithering mist of fog machines, sweaty chicas with pierced navels slam Rohypnol-laced Azure Flames, Green Iguanas and Mexican Jellyfish as their classmates, zonked on shwag, dodge projectile vomit of vivid Grenadine-tinted Parmesan Crusted Sicilian Quesadillas from “Fridays.” In the explosive atmosphere, undulating blondes peel off their tank tops as barf-encrusted San Miguel shoes stomp on Sonny Bono glowering from some fiery Abaddon. RAGGED EDITING of drinking games, lap dances and conga-lines in the ultraviolet lighting. Shots of Don Julio… limes… limes everywhere… Thongs… lacy magenta thongs… (Someone ought to bring a video camera to film these nasty young things; I’ll bet they might even be able to make a few bucks off of the debauchery.) Outside, throngs of dudes smoking ditchweed and chugging Robitussin from pewter flasks check out the tanned buffet (Chlamydia included), hoping to at least get Cancuned by some Menthol-tasting hottie with sawdust on her ass. Make no mistake about it; these are not the goldfish swallowers of the 1950s! South of the Border taxi drivers appear like zombies as gigantic moths circle flaming torches. Party hoppers in Quicksilver swim trunks and Fifty-Nine-Fifties start talking about tequila lines and human bowling. More ring tones and knit caps... Grimacing with horrified anticipation, I open my eyes to a SHOCK CLOSEUP of a bilingual cabbie peeling an aluminum wrapper from a pork tamale: “Taxi?” There are still a few moths fluttering around his Caribbean flavor. I check the time. It’s almost noon. Sorror Mystika Dilla (LaraLee) will be landing soon.
We’ve got to get away from this MTV “hot spot” before THEY come out… far away from the Pina Coladas and light shows… far away from the Ruth Chris Steak House and pricey tamarind margaritas… far away from what that girl gone wild, Wilma, left behind on this godforsaken “Las Vegas on a sandbar” spring-break destination of choice…
HIGHWAY 307 TO AKUMAL
While speeding along the Cancun-Tulum tourist corridor, the sepia tones of my mind’s spring-break horrors gradually take on more tints, with the gorgeous turquoise and pastel green Caribbean to our left, and colors galore in the various roadside shops and taco stands. Driving on Highway 307 is a bit chaotic and nerve racking (as it is anywhere in Mexico), but Camella’s nephew, Nick, seems to be doing just fine. So are the local couples on motorbikes with their helmet-less toddler offspring crammed between them. I am, however, a little concerned about the six guys standing on the back of a vintage garbage truck going about a 100 kilometers an hour, but upon noticing all the plastic Saints, Popes, Virgins, and Jesus, himself, on the dashboard I feel a little better about things, such as any sudden speed bumps that could knock the workers into the air like bowling pins. Traveling a little over an hour without incident, we arrive in Akumal, and easily find the Casa Iguana, the private oceanfront villa that we’ve rented for the week. VIEW
CASA IGUANA, AKUMAL
Checking out the house and re-arranging the beds and furniture to better suit our needs, Joe, Nick, LaraLee and I walk past the sandy volleyball court down onto what we assumed was going to be our own little white powder beach. However, somewhat short of all of our expectations, this turns out to be an iguana-infested coral reef almost too treacherous to walk on. Within minutes, that blonde mane called Camella approaches in her swimsuit, all smiles and ready for the inviting Caribbean until nephew Joe suggests that she first puts on her hiking boots.
After unpacking our things in our palapa-roofed bedrooms, our first mission is to head into ‘town’ and stock up on supplies. On the way, we spot what we think might be a howler monkey, but what turns out to be a Yucatan anteater. Of course this brings up that great debate: what DO anteaters have for appetizers?
In a little grocery store catering to tourists that is owned and operated by a scary hippie woman in a high-tech motorized chair, much to my relief, there are many familiar brands on the well-stocked shelves. But if we want a little taste of home, we’re going to pay out the whazoo. It’s either that, or go across the highway where the locals live and shop when they’re not going to Sam’s Club, CostCo and Wal-Mart. Wanting to grill on our first night, I am a bit disappointed (perhaps, crushed would be a better way of describing it) as I stand there aghast, examining a package of frozen meat that might be carne asada, but that could just as easily be____________.
Feeling brave as I always do in Mexico, I grab some tortillas, a small bag of Kingsford Matchlight that costs $9.00, and a can of Pringles (I prefer those magnificent clones over the greasy Sabritas brand one finds in Mexico) just in case the brown stuff becomes even more mysterious once thawed in the microwave and spread out on the ignited coals. The others purchase beer, rum, Cohiba “Panetelas”, bottled water, chips, salsa, and avocados. Now we’re ready to start drinking under the shade arbor back at our little slice of paradise (minus the white sand beach).
“Who’s been stealing my Pringles?” I ask suspects Jose and Nick after noticing a telltale trail of three of them that somebody spilled on the tiles near my bedroom door. (NOTE: With this, INSERT A CLOSE-UP of the potato crisps on the ground – a cue to those of you in the audience who are paying attention) Just then, Danny and Rynne show up in their rental car. An hour or so later, Adam, Kevin Willis and their artist friend, Matt Santoro arrive in another rental car. This is good timing on their part, as I’m just about to rub an onion sliced in half on the grill (depriving Willis of this and other culinary glories).
To this carnivore, the grilled ingesta, whatever it was, wasn’t that exciting, but with some makeshift seasonings put together by Willis, a little pico de gallo, and a slathering of guacamole whipped up by LaraLee, it was worthy of being washed down by Mexican beers. After dinner, seated in Adirondack chairs and lying in hammocks beneath the large shade palapa that overlooks the sea, we do shots of tequila, drink plenty cans of “Modelo” and puff on the moist Cubans. In the marine breeze, Danny and I entertain the others with tales of all the nutty UFO conventions that we attended back in the late 1980s and early 90s – tales of Venusian embassies located between the 12th and 13th floors in hotels, and grey extraterrestrial biological entities that teach Russian school children as is evident only by the squeaky chalk held by invisible hands moving across chalkboards filled with abstruse scientific formulas. As we laugh about such Terziskian absurdities, out over the dark waves a brilliant orange glow appears, emerging like a luminous flame in the Caribbean night.
What I hope is an oceanic UAO piloted by Pleiadians from their underwater base in the Yucatan turns out to have a more prosaic explanation. I’m telepathically advised by a pod of dolphins that this blinding luminosity is only the moon rising. There goes my disquisition upon certain matters maritime and other crackpot notions unless, of course, the ingenious little critters have tricked me, and secretly formed an alliance with the tall blonde humanoids of that galactic system. Whatever… with waves crashing against the shore and the occasional flashes of heat lightning, the moonrise is striking, and we’re far away from the costumed mariachis, bubble-machines, and the “Iguana Wana” nightclub in Cancun with its wet tee-shirt contests and throbbing beat of the “PussyCat Dolls” singing (?) “Don’t you wish you girlfriend was hot like me…”
While walking back to my bedroom to get something, I suddenly feel a strange presence… something lurking there in the shadows. With moths batting softly against the window screens in the lantern’s dim cast, CUE the ghostly notes of a pianoforte… no, make it a harpsichord, which I think you’ll agree is much darker. The feeling only lasted for a few seconds, but whatever it was, without sounding overly dramatic, filled me with dread.
Before returning to the others, my friend Kat (who was only able to travel to the Yucatan in the astral, as she didn’t get her passport renewed on time) appears to remind this drinker who writes not to forget about the anteater line for the newsletter. She then vanishes, but not before taking a sip from my Modelo. Having one last drink under the stars, LaraLee and I decide to call it a night.
After a blast or two from my “snore extinguisher”, as I lay my head on the pillow, I can hear Danny in the adjoining room, calling the play-by-play of a Lakers game to his girlfriend as he reads it from the text on his lap-top. Also, there’s a rustling in the thatch directly above me. Probably just a bird, but it reminds me how nice a quarter of Xan-bar would be right now. I’m finally about to doze off when I hear an excited Danny announce to his listeners: “Goddamn, Smoosh just hit a three-pointer!..”(Such is Danny’s love of the game that when I went into his dressing room to grab a couple of beers midway through Tool’s recent San Diego show, I saw that one of the crew members was watching a Lakers play-off game on the television in there, relaying the score via a walkie-talkie to drum tech Joe Paul on the stage who, in turn, was relaying it to Danny as he played the drums.)
AKUMAL, APRIL 6
Getting a late start on things, it’s almost noon when we walk into town. As Adam, Camella and the others stop to rent snorkeling equipment at the Akumal Dive Shop, Danny, Rynne, LaraLee and I decide to get some breakfast at a thatched small open air counter next to the “Super Chonak’ grocery store. Not quite ready for Yucatan specialties, Danny gets a double order of Huevos Rancheros, and Rynne a burrito. Although a Quintana Roo cinnamon roll from the Turtle Bay Café sounds pretty good, I settle for a beef taco plate to go with my newest can of Pringles and a glass bottle of Pepsi. LaraLee just wants a cold bottle of water (who the hell doesn’t!), but couldn’t find one in the store. Watching tourist after tourist leaving the place with what are obviously bottles of cold water (cold for a few minutes, at least), I tell her to just guard my tacos from all the jeweled taco-flies, and no matter what it takes, even if I have to go to Playa del Carmen, an eerie cenote, or, god forbid, aisle 5 at Sam’s Club, I will get that bottle of cold water for her. Returning a moment later with the goods (of course that motorized hippie woman has bottles of cold water!), the carnivora in me considers ditching his tacos for what I anticipate will be a mysterious salty hamburguesa. Too late, though. Here come the others, all wanting to find our seaside paradise.
Walking on a sandy path between restaurants and handcraft stalls, we quickly find the beach with its glittering white sand and inviting turquoise surf. The only thing missing are some sun-tanning beauties. I wonder if Camella’s twenty-something nephews, Nick and Jose, notice this? Wasting no time, LaraLee and I head for the Palapa Bar, content to sip Modelos and such under the huge cabana with its gorgeous view of the Caribbean.
ZONA ARQUEOLOGICA TULUM
Whether Tejas and I had one too many Modelos, Sol and Coronas, or Camella saw one too many Eagle Rays, turtles and barracuda, when we arrive at the clifftop ruins at Tulum, they are closed (at 4:00 PM!) There is no “Marty Moose” to punch, so I ask LaraLee to take a photo of me posing by a picture of the Mayan ruins on the large advertisement of them next to the ticket booth. Adam smiles his approval, but after checking out her photo on her camera, he shakes his head and says “No!” He then has me pose again, and carefully frames the photo so that it looks like I’m standing next to the real thing (well, almost). Anyway, we’ll have to try again tomorrow on Camella’s birthday.
Before heading back to the Casa Iguana, we look for a carniceria on Tulum’s main drag, but without any luck (how we missed a “Super Carniceria” right there is anyone’s guess). We eventually find what passes for a supermarket in these parts, and fill our carts with supplies for tonight’s second attempt at grilling. Danny grabs steaks, chicken breasts and the best ground beef (?) that money can buy. Jose and Nick load three cases of “Superior” into their cart, with the cans of this Mexican cervesa having a picture of a faux-blonde wearing a bikini just so that it’s marketed to the right people. Hola! Although Camella rolls her eyes, giving them one of those “she might as well be spreading her legs apart” looks of disgust, 24 more pictures of the skank are placed in the already crowded cart. Shit, I guess they did notice the lack of honeys on the beach this afternoon.
“What are we drinking tonight”, someone asks? “Not tequila” Danny replies with authority. I pick up a couple of bottles of rum and set them with the rest of the stuff. “What else are we going to do? Night snorkeling?”, I suggest in my most sarcastic tone. Now the search is on for some decent fruit juice mixers. Jugo, as we call it in L.A., but I’ll bet we’ll have to settle for Agua.
CASA IGUANA, AKUMAL
Lots of laughter by the pool where Willis is rubbing an onion sliced in half over the grill (By the way, his salmon croquettes served as appetizers were a big hit, and he later informed me that crushed Pringles were one of the ingredients.) While sipping a rum drink made with diluted fruit juice – the “auga” I spoke of earlier, LaraLee tells me that there’s a “huge” grasshopper in our bathroom. I go to check it out, grabbing it with a Kleenex and putting it back outside. But while out there, as tropical perfumes waft from the exotic foliage, I sense that something is not quite right. It’s that same feeling of dread that I experienced the night before. I shine my violet mini-Maglight, looking for something that might be lurking about, but don’t see anything except for some bits of the spilled Pringles. Once again, as in every bad horror film, the feeling only lasts a few seconds.
When it subsides, ‘astral’ Kat appears. With little difficulty, I give her a sip from my lousy rum punch. “So, not much happened today… not a lot to put in the newsletter” she says in her soft Aussie accent. “What do mean?” I reply. “LaraLee wanted a bottle of cold water (who the hell didn’t!)… I had tacos and was close to getting a mysterious salty hamburgesa at Loncheria. It’s part of the whole ramping up thing… just like the band’s live show. And besides, there’s always manana.”
XEL-HA (RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO)
For her birthday, among other things, Camella wants to go to Xel-Ha, a kind of lawless water theme park created “by the Maya gods” in a lagoon not far from Akumal. Once there, Willis advices us to get the ‘All Inclusive” pass, which gives us access to all the water activities, an all-you-can-eat buffet as well as all the liquor we want. This should be epic, even though the pictures in the glossy flyer for the place are only “an artistic representation of the Xel-Ha experience, and don’t necessarily depict the truth.” I wonder if they’re talking about the heavy-set gringo floating gently down the river on a gigantic green leaf or the parrotfish that’s the size of a school bus? So long as they’re being forthright about the open bar, I don’t care if the brochure does show iguanas the size of house cats.
As we walk in, I hear someone ask if we want to swim with the dolphins. “No thanks. I’ll swim with the dolphins when the noble fellows take an urban hike with me down Ventura Boulevard, or learn to ride a bicicleta to the nearest Seven-Eleven on a beer run. Until then, they can just swim by themselves.” After downing a couple of foamy cups of Corona on tap and a Pina Colada so weak that even the ninos would toss it in the bartender’s face, we’re ready for those water activities.
Adam, Camella and a few others decide to go snorkeling in the cove, hoping to see all kinds of wonderful colorful fish (telling me later that the “cool and crystalline waters” weren’t that great due to the hideous oily film created from all the suntan lotion and insect repellent on the other visitors. Evidently, Kay-op, “Guardian of the Waters” isn’t doing his job, or just can’t keep up with 21st-century drug store marvels). Rynne, LaraLee and I think floating in inner tubes down the river might be the way to go, so we stand in line to be fitted with a life vest. Once seated in the inner tubes built for two, we quickly find ourselves tangled in some branches in what seems like a mangrove swamp. Danny comes to our rescue and, while snorkeling, pulls us most of the way down the river. While doing so, LaraLee says to me: “Renting the Casa Iguana for a week: Thirty-six hundred dollars. An All-Inclusive pass to Xel-Ha: Fifty dollars. Having Danny Carey pull us down the river with a recently torn bicep: Priceless.”
After a while, while floating on our own and enjoying the scenery, suddenly we’re told by a guy standing on a platform (an employee?) that we’ve reached the end of the line and need to relinquish our inner tube. This would be fine except for the fact that we’re still in the middle of the river. I’m wearing my shirt, sandals and glasses, and have a bulky purple beach towel. What am I supposed to do with my straw hat that smells like a donkey’s sphincter? Why, I’ve got cigars in my shirt pocket, a lighter, keys, lens cleaner, etc. ad infinitum. Still, before the guy pulls out an automatic weapon or something, we climb out of the rubber ring and with a rush of adrenaline swim towards the closest shore. Clambering up some large slippery rocks, we eventually make it into the shrill birdcall of the steamy jungle. After catching our breath, I tell LaraLee to start gathering some branches and palm fronds just in case we need to build a fire or construct a shelter. While she does this, I go to have a look around the place. After walking only a few yards, I see a sign that says “RIVER SHUTTLE” with an arrow pointing to my right. “We’re saved!”, I tell LaraLee. “Not far from ‘Dolphins World’ and ‘Hammock Island!’ Then I see an iguana… the size of a housecat… I’ll be damned…
Having walked back to civilization, we meet up with the others at a thatched roof bar where I’m more determined than ever to drink $50.00 worth of foamy Corona on tap. Before I can do so, however, most people want to have lunch at the all-you-can-eat buffet. Okay. So, now let me tell you about this all-you-can-eat buffet: Standing in a long line, tourists are helping themselves from silver chafing dishes heated by blue flames of sterno cans. The white rice looks all right, so I spoon a pile of it onto my plate The sign for the next one says LASAGNA, but the heathen near-vegan can’t eat it because he detests cheese… the queso as we say in L.A. The one next to it says STUFFED PEPPERS WITH MEAT. The word “meat” is rather nebulous, so I pass on it. I’m going to need a little more information than that. The next tray is not so nebulous. It says HEAD OF CATTLE. Head of Cattle? Here? In this Caribbean Disneyland? Head of Cattle! I look around. “Excuse me, where’s the all-you-can-eat chunks of lobster sautéed in a brandied coconut sauce flamed with almond tequila served in a coconut shell garnished with tropical fruit?” With a plate full of white rice, I sit down at the table and order… yep, a couple more foamy cups of that Corona on tap. All and all, not a bad lawless water theme park, but if I ever come back, I’m going to bring a flask, a handgun, and a bag of Doritos.
RUINS OF TULUM (AGAIN)
Ancient Mayan ruins on a rocky bluff overlooking the blue Caribbean. Large iguanas sunning themselves on rocks as tourists snap photos. Souvenir peddlers hawking their wares: obsidian blades, animal figurines, ceramic incense pots and various shell adornments for “almost free!” I try to imagine what the place was like all those centuries ago: A walled city of stone structures along the dazzling coast. Large iguanas sunning themselves on rocks as tourists attempt to draw what they see. Souvenir peddlers hawking their wares: obsidian blades, animal figurines, ceramic incense pots and various shell adornments for “almost free!” Yeah, the place really must have been something before all the new mega-resorts put them out of business… Today, the palace and some of the other structures are worth seeing, but most of the fresco murals could use a touch up job. Just an observation. Now, let’s go down to the beach and have a couple Modelos in that large thatched-roof bar. I tell Camella that there will be monkeys…
Back at our private villa, I watch from the shade palapa as Danny attempts to sneak up on a very large iguana drowsing out on the coral reef. Wanting to get a photo of this thing, he moves cautiously over the sharp rocks, unaware that the sky has suddenly darkened. With the huge lizard now only a few feet away, he is about to get his shot when most menacing cloud that I’ve ever seen lets loose it floodgates, completely drenching him and his camera. Seconds later it’s sunny again, but the iguana is nowhere to be found. Have you ever seen America’s most funny home videos? Well, if I had a video camera at that moment, I would have undoubtedly got some footage of a UFO as it silently emerged from the secret sea-base, unnoticed by all those standing on the shore (I don’t trust these telepathic dolphins anymore).
To celebrate Camella’s birthday we all have dinner in a nice restaurant on the beach. I see lime soup, paradise ceviche, stuffed calamari, mint perfumed scallops, crab-stuffed mushrooms, blackened shrimp fajitas, lobster enchiladas, heart of beef fillet, hogfish, fried turnovers stuffed with baby shark, duck baked in green peanuts, cactus salad, backed potatoes, baked tomatoes, wine, champagne and tropical cocktails… No wonder they thought they could charge us $80.00 for her birthday cake (even spelling her name wrong!) Now, how much to get some mariachis to sing “Malaguena Salerosa?”
On the way back to the Casa Iguana, in the pale moonlight, a rickety old Hermit crab (carcinsed?) is trying to cross the gravel road. Little does it know that it’s about to meet his worse nightmare: Adam Jones, Kevin Willis and Matt Santoro. Once spotted by these film and video artists, the poor fellow is picked up, prodded, pronged, pontificated upon and subjected to having flashlights shined in its beady black eyes (I’m starting to feel bad for the guy. Now it knows what it’s like to be taken aboard the craft of the Zeti Reticulian 2 standard grey types before being placed back in his bed with the wrong pajama bottoms on and a bad case extraterrestrial-induced amnesia). Once the lighting is exactly right, and it has signed a confidentiality agreement with a ballpoint pen placed in its twitching claw, the crustacean is then recorded in a movie on their digital cameras, choreographed and then re-shot in a different movie. Placed back on the road, in all likelihood suicidal by now, it hobbles straight to the restaurant we were just at, totters for a moment on the plush carpet before it continues past the oblivious diners into the noisy kitchen where, several times, it desperately attempts to climb to the top of a shiny boiling pot so as to jump inside, never knowing that one day it will be featured in a Tool stage projection.
At that moment, Kat appears with a wry smile, as if to say: “C’mon, that last bit about the Hermit crab jumping into the boiling pot, carcinsed or otherwise, it didn’t really happen, Blair. You were just looking for something to make the newsletter more ‘Toolish.’ Okay, I admit that the crab probably didn’t commit suicide, but the guys really did subject it to an examination before shooting movies of it with their digital cameras from several different angles and with various recording modes… for some reason. In fact, such was the production that if we hadn’t just had dinner, I would have complained about the lack of Craft Catering on the set.
Along with a rather persistent mosquito, I stay up late reading some of the books that I brought with me. Sitting under the ceiling fan, I’m particularly interested in what a certain Mayanist has to say about the Xibalba episodes in the Quiche Maya epic,Popol Vuh and their possible relation to the complex scenography of Xibalban deities and death imagery on pictorial Maya ceramics (funerary offerings). Although aficionados of Maya culture (and their underworld mythology) never make the neural linkage, in my way of thinking, the gruesome symbolism of death-skulls, crossbones, disembodied eyes and otherworldly denizens on these artifacts are just more hints to the true message of the Pacal Votan module depicted on the limestone sarcophagus lid discovered in a burial vault in Palenque’s Temple of the Inscriptions (the same carved slab that Von Daniken and other ancient astronaut enthusiasts claim to show a space capsule). Ah, but I’m tired, and I need to eradicate that damn mosquito. The esoteric interpretation of macabre ceramics will have to wait. And besides, those guys in the band had a curse laid upon them. I must follow my spirit guide, Azotochtli, the little digger of the space-time continuum…
“SUPER CHOMAK” GROCERY STORE, AKUMAL
With or without fractual calendrics, it’s Easter on the Mayan Riviera, as is evident by the conch-shell trumpets blowing gloriously from afar (or was that Jose after polishing off the rest of Camella’s duck baked in green peanuts?) In that all there was to eat at the Casa Iguana but some leftover lobster satay on a bed of arugula… a frozen crayfish pizza that would have to be nuked (but it’s got cheese on it), and some pumpkin flower soup that Jose and Nick overlooked, at the little grocery store I gather the makings of a decent peanut butter sandwich without jelly for about $20.00 (hell, I could have rented some shade in Cancun for that). This I plan to assemble in the car on the way to Chichen Itza where, I’m quite certain, amid the ancient pageantry, the feathered ghosts of centuries past will be playing a noisy game of Pok-a-Tok with their rubber ball in the ruins of the largest masonry court in MesoAmerica, all the while incurring the wrath of the sinister Xibalbans below. Which, of course, means that heads will (also) roll, not to mention no large contract extensions for the players in all their marine-shell finery.
SOME TOWN WITH A CATHOLIC CHURCH AND LOTS OF POOR PEOPLE,
NOT TO MENTION DOGS WITH MANGE, SCABS AND ROT ON THE WAY TO CHICHEN ITZA
With Adam driving the lead car and Danny following close behind him, we get a call from Camella who tells us that her husband wants to stop at the town we’ve just entered on the way to the ruins at Chichen Itza. Seeing that the locals are having a fiesta in a crowded square, I tell LaraLee that he probably wants to check out the flea market hoping to find some pre-Columbian bric-a-brac and Star Wars collectibles. When we park near a grand old Catholic church with its beautiful choir audible from the street, over by some creaky carnival rides, I see a gummy old guy with a cart selling some bottles of strange colorful concoctions, with the strangest being a murky chocolate-water substance with bits of black debris floating in it that I stare at with fascination, mystified to this very day as to what the treat consisted of.
After walking around for twenty minutes and finding not so much as a mummified Hand of Glory cigarette lighter, Danny settles for a couple of CDs featuring Mexican pop artists. Once back on the road, we listen to one about seven times before trading it for the one that Adam has in his rental car. As we continue on the narrow road to the place of those who were once in tune with the mediator of the sun, I read up on the sacrificial well (cenote) and the behavior patterns of leaf-cutter ants. Soon we pass about a half dozen Mexican police officers that are looking at what we presume to be a dead body lying on the side of the road in the scrubby jungle (either that or it’s some kind of weird Easter egg hunt).
A few kilometers further up the road soldiers brandishing machine guns stop us. As a couple of them approach the car, I pick up my copy of the Grimoire of Pope Honorius III and turn to a page with an enchantment against firearms: To make a gun misfire, say the following words: “Abla, Got, Bata, Bata, Bleu… Now I wish I had purchased the bottle of Holy Water back at the town with the dogs with the mange, scabs and rot. And I believe I saw another spell to avoid an interrogation. It’s either that or maybe give them the CD with the Mexican pop artist. Damn those Tool enthusiasts with all their nasty e-mails saying they won’t rest until the curse is formally removed. What, is rodeo season over already! I still haven’t tried a mysterious salty hamburguesa. Astral Kat suddenly appears with a traveler (margarita): “Looks like a cliffhanger, ay?”
TO BE CONTINUED