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As I look for a restaurant I am transfixed: The coolest car I have ever seen. A matt silver Chevrolet Impala heroically scuffed, spectacularly down on its uppers, its crumpled sagging bodywork all but trailing in the tarmac, insouciantly pumping out black exhaust at the red lights. Behind the tinted windscreen a glass bead rosary glitters and swings from the rearview mirror; behind the rosary side by side two of the dodgiest Zapata-esque moustaches imaginable. Here was one car you would not let your daughter ride in. The lights changed to green, and with the underpowered and tentative roar of a motorboat this epic heap slewed round the curb and with a fuck you plume of exhaust gunned uncertainly up the Eje Central.

I turn down into the Centro Historico stopping for lunch at a restaurant run by a whole family of sweet plump women. I eat black beans, fritters, chicken and listen to a trio, accordeon, double bass, violin outside on the pavement. My lunch costs me $2. I go to the bookshop next door; its stock is almost entirely Marxist Leninist; the owner plays mambo records; real mambo, not chacha (which is mambo for gringos.) I then walk haphazardly through the Centro Historico and find myself in a square of printing shops. Under the trees at one end a group of lads in baseball caps have set up a band with primitive PA system. They play rock, lambada, cumbia. It is touching to see these boys go through the little vanities of the rock artist, the riffs, the air guitar gestures, the one two one twos into the mike in this little square with an audience, under the trees, of about twenty. What happiness to sit there and listen to the delicious queasy sinuosity of the lambada, the shuffle of the cumbia with the sun beating down in the heart of one of the biggest cities in the world.

I leave and spend the afternoon (for I fly tomorrow) buying presents; lead soldiers, a skeleton for my son, little quilted jewel boxes, plaster religious statuettes. I drink a big goblet of orange juice under an awning in a street which has been swamped by a concentration of armed and armoured police ringing some building of importance. My fellow juice drinker is Judge Dredd, in full body armour and helmet. I am slightly distracted from my drink by the fact that the muzzle of his sub machine gun is knocking against my knee.

Back to the hotel to conclude a perfect day in the Piano Bar Chato de Londres drinking tequila.


need these streets
city sublime
seismic city
chopper shot
perfect city
dark city
global flaneur
shanghai and seoul
city tourist
loathsome centres
krung thep
sex city
hong kong
nightmares dreams
new sublime
dickens in la

  verybigcity: e-Book by Rodney Blakeston
  :: SITEKICK.CO.UK :: 2002©Rodney Blakeston