Sometimes I’m really good about remembering anniversaries. Sometimes. Last week I had an anniversary that was meaningful and I forgot all about it. On February 28, 1998 I taped the first show of Casa Martínez, Música y Más. My first guest was the great mezzo soprano and television host, Suzanna Guzmán. Second guest was the musician and visual artist, Willie Loya.
The format was clearly talking head – you know, two folks on screen chatting about something. But the content was fairly unique. We had guests that talked about everything from performance art, to ethnic and racial identity, how they came to find sobriety, how they identified themselves culturally, ethnically, and racially. There were others who spoke about playing the guitarrón, how one should choose a school (private or public) for their children, and others who shared stories about their lives in Pasadena in the 1930s and 1940s.
Friends Ed and Rita Almanza put together the set that was supposed to feel as if the guest and I were sitting on the porch. The Coffee and El Portal donated the food that we had was eaten by the crew and by the host and her guest. The magic of the eye of the camera made the set work and the magic of the crew made the show fun to do and interesting to watch.
We taped a little over 100 shows. In our first year, some titles included:
Bicultural names, Bicultural lives, Meso-American music, El Pachuco 1943, The San Patricios, Literacy, Theatre, and Self-esteem, Sephardi music, How do you say danza in Nahuatl?
Some of the guests had names that most folks know or whose work is well known. Tony Plana, Raul R. Rodriguez, Herbert Siguenza, Dyana Ortelli, Valente Rodriguez, Val Zavala, Cris Franco- what a long list.
And there were names that might not be as well known – Oscar Castillo, Kevin Bruce, Rosie Guerrero, Rick Krzyzanowski, Sasi Magallanes, Ginger Varney, Cy Wong.
In the mix was a “creative”, a folkloric teacher, an investigator, a person with expertise in paper cutting from several different cultures, an actor, and a producer who studied at the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts.
We taped on beta, 1/2 inch vhs, and mini cassettes. Two copies for every show. All the shows are in our house. We have lots and lots of tapes. These are the keepers from the first batch.
There’s the rub. Part of the work that I am doing is getting the tapes in order and trying to make sure that I have a good copy. We’ll need to transfer it to a current form. In the meantime it’s about organizing and storing.
Easier said than done. Ask James. He knows exactly what I mean.