Laughter A Universal Language

I’m headed for Turkey in a couple of hours where I’ll be sampeling ice cream from street vendors at every chance.  I’m willing to put my waist line at risk for two reasons, OK three reasons since reason number one is my serious addition to ice cream.  But beyond my weakness reason number two, the ice cream in Turkey is really good, but even better than the taste is reason number three, the show the vendors give you when they make your cone.

I talk about ice cream as performance art this week on my radio show, National Geographic Weekend.  I’ve watched the routine dozens of times but it always leaves me laughing and even when you don’t speak the language, laughter opens the lines of communication.

In this video after serving up a little ice cream I also try to make bread with some Turkish women in a small village.  This time the laughter is related to my feeble attempts to master their bread making skills.  You can hear the full story of laughter as the great universal language on National Geographic Weekend.

A Taste of Tex-Mex Music

Watching the Texas Tornados perform at Jazz Fest in New Orleans this year brought back good memories of the times I spent filming these guys and other influential Texas based musicians for stories on the Today Show.  The original Tornados was made up of Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, Freddy Fender, and Flaco Jimenez.  Sahm and Meyers were the key members of the Sir Douglas Quintet in the 60’s that recorded such hits as “She’s About a Mover” and “Mendocino.”  Based on the band’s name, many fans thought they were another British import band.  Of course once anybody heard Dough talk, there was no doubt these guys were from Texas.

Freddy Fender had two big hits on his own, “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” and “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” and Flaco was a leading figure in Tex-Mex or Conjunto music.  Freddy and Doug are now deceased but Doug’s son Shawn has joined the Tornados.

I don’t have a copy of the story I did with the Tornados, but I found a copy of story I did on Tex-Mex music when the Today Show was on location in San Antonio.  In this piece I have some very rare footage of Flaco playing guitar with his father Santiago playing accordion in their front yard in San Antonio.  Santiago, who is credited with creating the Conjunto sound talks about how he combined German Polka music with a little hot sauce to come up with the Conjunto style.  I’m not sure of the exact date when I did this story in the early 80’s, but Santiago died in 1984.

The video ends with music from a young Joe King Carrasco, another Texas musician, who takes Tex-Mex to the next level with what he calls at the time Nuevo Wavo or Tex-Mex Rock & Roll.  His “Party Weekend” is still a bit of a party classic.

Once again I wish I had all the outtakes from this shoot.  There are moments that can never be captured again, not only with Flaco and his father, Santiago, but also the images of  a very young Boyd Matson and Bryant Gumbel.