Musical synchronicity

I spent much of Tuesday putting together material for my posting on Mikey Bustos and his parody “I Wear Speedos” of the hit song “Despacito”, by Puerto Rican pop stars Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee. That led me of course to the great Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin, who’s been steadily on public view ever since he joined the boy band Menudo back in the 1980s.

So I had a day experiencing several versions of “Despacito”, many times over, and also returning to the pleasures of Ricky Martin’s performances, starting with “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and going on from there through his oeuvre (with digressions to Enrique Iglesias and Shakira).

Then yesterday to lunch at the Mexican restaurant Reposado, where they play pop music in Spanish as background. As I sat down, I recognized RM’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca”. Which was followed immediately by Fonsi & DY’s “Despacito”. How unlikely was that?

Synchronicity at work.

Synchronicity, then a lot of Ricky Martin (sometimes shirtless, once in a Speedo), with a digression on Mexican tripe stew.

Synchronicity. From Wikipedia:

Synchronicity (German: Synchronizität) is a concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.

Jung seems to have intended something here more substantial than the human inclination to seek (and find) meaning in everything, plus the fact that coincidences are much more common than people imagine.

But I’m content to believe that the La Vida Loca / Despacito recurrence was in fact nothing but coincidence, involving as it did the appearance on a Latino music service of possibly the most famous piece of Spanish-language pop music ever together with the currently most-listened-to piece of Spanish-language pop music. It was just an accident that I’d been listening to and thinking about these two songs the day before.

(I note in passing that if you’re going to suffer from earworms, “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and “Despacito” aren’t at all bad as aural irritants, especially if you can visualize the canonical videos, which are full of life and energy.)

Ricky Martin. From Wikipedia:

(#1) RM in a concert performance of “Livin’ La Vida Loca”

Enrique Martín Morales (born December 24, 1971), commonly known as Ricky Martin, is a Grammy Award winning Puerto Rican singer, actor, and author. Martin began his career at age 12 with the all-boy pop group Menudo. After five years with the group, he released several Spanish-language solo albums throughout the 1990s. He also acted on stage and on TV in Mexico, where he achieved modest stardom. In 1994, he appeared on the US TV soap opera General Hospital, playing a Puerto Rican singer [with long, wild rock-star hair].

In early 1999, after releasing several albums in Spanish, Martin performed “The Cup of Life” at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards show [you can watch the official video of “La Copa de la Vida” here], which became a catalyst in bringing Latin pop to the forefront of the U.S. music scene. Following its success, Martin released “Livin’ la Vida Loca”, which helped him attain enormous success worldwide [you can watch the official video here]; it is generally seen as the song that began the Latin pop explosion of 1999 and made the transition easier for other Spanish-speaking artists to move into the English-speaking market. Since its release, the song has sold over 8 million copies, making it one of the best selling singles of all time. His first English-language album (also titled Ricky Martin), has sold 22 million copies and is one of the best selling albums of all time.

A bit more detail on “La Vida Loca” (from Wikipedia):

“Livin’ la Vida Loca” is generally seen as the song that began the Latin pop explosion of 1999 and made the transition of other Spanish-speaking artists (first Enrique Iglesias, then later Shakira, Thalía, and Paulina Rubio) into the English-speaking market easier. Before this time, most non-Latino Americans had never heard of Martin until what CNN reported was a show-stopping performance of “La Copa de la Vida” at the 41st Grammy Awards show, which became a catalyst in bringing Latin pop to the forefront of the U.S. music scene.

Menudo moments. The boy band and the tripe and hominy stew. From Wikipedia:

Menudo was a Puerto Rican boy band that was formed in the 1970s by producer Edgardo Díaz. Menudo was also one of the biggest Latin boy bands in history, releasing their first album in 1977. The band achieved much success, especially during the 1980s, becoming the most popular Latin American teen musical group of the era. The group disbanded in 2009.

The band had several radio hits during its course. Their success led them to also release two feature films: Una Aventura Llamada Menudo and Menudo: La Película.

The band was a starting point for both Ricky Martin and Draco Rosa, who were members around the mid-1980s during their youth.

Menudo’s original line-up consisted of two sets of brothers: Fernando and Nefty Sallaberry from Ponce, Puerto Rico (Fernando was born in Spain) and the Melendez brothers, Carlos, Oscar and Ricky Melendez; the latter three are Diaz’s cousins.

Specifically (also from Wikipedia):

(#2) RM in the middle

Can’t Get Enough (1986) is the 23rd album by Menudo. This is their third album in English and features Charlie Massó, Robi Rosa, Ricky Martin, Raymond Acevedo and Sergio Blass.

By all accounts, Menudo was a tough life for a teenager, with a heavy schedule of performances and very strict control by the managers.

Then there is culinary menudo (for which the group is named). From Wikipedia:

(#3)

Menudo, or pancita ([little] gut or [little] stomach, from Spanish panza “gut/stomach”) is a traditional Mexican soup, made with beef stomach (tripe) in broth with a red chili pepper base. Usually, hominy, lime, chopped onions, and chopped cilantro are added, as well as crushed oregano and crushed red chili peppers. [That makes menudo essentially tripe posole.]

Menudo is usually eaten with corn tortillas or other breads, such as bolillo. It is often chilled and reheated, which results in a more melded flavor.

… Menudo is traditionally a family food prepared by the entire family, and even serves as an occasion for social interactions such as after wedding receptions where the families of the groom and bride go to either family’s house to enjoy an early morning bowl of menudo. In popular Mexican culture, menudo is believed to be a remedy for hangover.

Since menudo is time and labor-intensive to prepare as the tripe takes hours to cook (or else it is extremely tough), and includes many ingredients and side dishes (such as salsa), the dish is often prepared communally and eaten at a feast.

Back to RM. RM projects immense energy and sexiness, with big smiles and first-class pop-star hip action. And a body he enjoys showing off, in performances and in posed shots. Shirtless here:

(#4) RM channeling George Michael

(#5) RM rocking a Speedo; cf. Bustos’s “I Wear Speedos”

RM has always had a big gay following. Eventually, he came out as gay himself. While he’s sexually attracted to both women and men, and has had extended relationships with both, he says that his affectional attachments are to men, and he’s now engaged to be married to a man, artist Jwan Yosef. (His position here is much like his position on nationality. He now holds dual citizenship, in the US and Spain (no doubt he could get Mexican citizenship if he wanted to), and he has a home in Madrid, but says that his emotional attachments are to Puerto Rico.)

In 2008, he became the father of twin boys, through a surrogate mother, and entered what amounts to a second career as a publicly visible sweet daddy. Recent photo here:

(#6)

Just as there’s a trove of shirtless photos of RM, there’s a trove of photos of RM with his sons (and often with Jwan Yosef as well); in fact, there are sites entirely devoted to these two themes.

Status report: RM is 45, Yosef 32, and the kids 8. The men are currently failing to get their wedding plans together, largely (it seems) because of their multi-national attachments: you could make a case on RM’s side for a wedding in (in descending likelihood) Puerto Rico, Madrid, Miami, or Mexico, and Yosef’s side is no less complex; from Wikipedia:

Jwan Yosef (born 1984) is a Syrian-born Swedish painter and artist of Kurdish and Armenian ancestry. He specializes in plastic arts and is based in London, England.

So: Sweden, London, or someplace in the Syrian, Kurdish, or Armenian diaspora. (Syria, Kurdistan, or Armenia would probably not be a good idea.)

They could just pick some other place entirely: Hawaii, Tuscany, Paris, the Iguazú Falls, Rio de Janeiro, Bali, Cape Town, Santorini, wherever.

You can find lots of photos of RM and Yosef together, in formal wear, in casual clothes, or on the beach. But Yosef is, like RM, a hot guy in great shape and perfectly willing to display himself, as here:

(#7)

Welcome to the world of highly talented multilingual multicultural gay hunks.

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