Thursday, June 21, 2007

Goodbye to a legend

Yesterday morning I walked two blocks from my apartment in San Francisco to Mission Street so I could pick up some ingredients for a smoothie and an omlet at Azteca Produce. On the store's audio system I heard a familar voice: Antonio Aguilar. One of his most famous songs, Gabina Barrera, was playing. When I heard the DJ praise the singer and call him a great man, I realized what happened. Antonio Aguilar, a legend of Mexican music and film, died.

Just a few weeks ago, my mother mentioned to me that he was in a coma and had been ill for sometime. Isn't he like 80 or 90? I asked. I made some comment about how he's had a good run and it's not that tragic for him to die. I was being my usual facetious self, but now that he is dead, I am sad. My previous statement holds true because he lived an extraordinary life and has had immense cultural influence. I think just the nostalgia of seeing such a legend pass away is painful. For me, Antonio Aguilar was not just another celebrity. Hearing his voice and seeing his photos have always reminded me of my father. Random strangers would ask my father if they were related. It wasn't such a stretch. Aguilar is from Zacatecas, a state less than half an hour from my father's hometown in Los Altos de Jalisco (northern Jalisco state). Aguilar was also known for his ranchero lifestyle of raising cattle, riding horses and living on an hacienda. I remember watching a television special about him when I was a kid and he said he never signed a business contract when it came to matters of his ranch. He made every deal with a handshake and always kept his word. That, perhaps, is another stunning similarity with father.

My favorite song he sang is Albur de Amor about risking everything for love even if you end up with nothing. One lyric says something to the effect of "If they shoot me, let them kill me, afterall what does it matter?" It seems like a melanchology, depressive message, but I think the sentiment is a feeling of completion that even though you aimed and missed, you lived. With that done, the end has no consequence. Beautiful.

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