Archive for the ‘Acho Manzi’ Tag

The heir of the great poet   Leave a comment

The heir of the great poet

By Alberto Paz
Augusr 4, 2013
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On the night of Saturday, July 27, 2013 the world of tango suffered a great loss.

Acho Manzi, a poet, a musician, and a very dear friend of mine died in Buenos Aires at the age of 80. Acho was the son of the great Homero Manzi and he devoted much of his life to keep alive the memory of his father.

Acho was born Homero Luis Manzione on March 6, 1933 in the neighborhood of Boedo. He inherited his father’s poetic vocation and at age 15 he collaborated with his father penning the lyrics of El ultimo organito

Acho was 17 when his father died. In 1954 he wrote a poem entitled Father.
Fleeing the burden of being the son of Homero Manzi, he choose the anonymity of an adventurous life in the United States. Far away, he put away memories of another life and the dream of becoming a poet. But the experience of confronting himself a cancer diagnosis changed his plans.

Some friends who moved to Spain, left him a huge ranch home in California. He went into a downward spiral beginning to feel discouraging physical symptoms. We got together once week at my house in Sunnyvale, and took turns to cook fro each other. He couldn’t decide whether to go ahead with the treatment recommended by the doctors. Then he met an Argentine woman who was doing tango research, they became friends, and that was a magical encounter for him. She convinced him of the need to take care of his illness.

He returned to Buenos Aires, got treatment, and beat the cancer. He married Marilu, a wonderful woman and they had a daughter which he named Malena, like the famous tango written by his father. We kept in touch and he was there in 2005 during our Katrina exile, inviting us to spend Christmas with his family. Then in 2008 he joined us at Club Sunderland for the celebration of my birthday. We last saw him in 2009 when we met him at the offices of the Society of Authors and Composers to discuss the possibilities of handling the North American offices of royalties collection.

He was among the first to call Valorie to offer his unconditional support when I suffered an almost deadly cardiac arrest in Calgary. Knowing that I had been in an induced coma for 48 hours, he asked me a week later, “Did you see my dad by any chance?” His deadpan sense of humor was something we both always cherished and were proud of, in good and bad periods of our lives.

The news of his death came late and took me by surprise.

I paraphrase verses he wrote about the loss of his father, to express my sadness for the enormous vacuum Acho has left in our hearts when he departed unannounced to his eternal rest. The pain that chokes my heart is so intense that I have not been able to shed any tears until this moment…

Acho, my brother in tango, how much we’re going to miss you.

Yesterday you were just a gentle and sad giant
Merciless claws ripped you away from me
You left in an instant without saying good bye
You never compromised the way you lived.
You accepted that one day we cease to exist
You were among the first to rejoice when I almost bit the dust
In a world where it is easier to forget
Forgetting you is not an option for me.”

Valorie and Acho rejoice as I blow the candle at Club Sunderland, April 19, 2008

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Posted August 4, 2013 by Alberto & Valorie in 1, IN MEMORY OF

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Nobody can take our tangos away   Leave a comment

Nobody can take our tangos away

Ever since I suffered a cardiac arrest on the way to Customs at the Calgary airport my memory of the time between getting to the Continental gate in New Orleans and waking up in a hospital bed three days later is totally blank. All I know so far I have been told and documented on video by my dearest Valorie, Gina and Alberto Jr.These days my heart is full of emotions as dreams and reality flash by in random order. Not just from the recent incidents, but for instance, right now I remember sitting at the controls of a radio station in 1991 in the middle of the night playing tangos for an invisible audience, and I’m haunted by three specific circumstances that led to the birth of El Firulete, The Argentine Tango magazine in 1994.

First, it was the phone call commenting on some sort of tango activity at Stanford University. Great, I thought, hoping that I would get more information. Wouldn’t it be great to have the only tango program in the United States being associated with the academic world?

Second, it was another phone call, this time announcing the unexpected death of Raul Dinzelbacher on the grounds of Stanford University. I had known Raul and his wife and dance partner Nora only briefly when we hired them to dance for a fund raising festival we had produced with a group of Argentinos in San Jose a year earlier.

Third, it was meeting Acho Manzi, son of the great Argentine tango poet Homero Manzi, who had walked into the radio station after somebody called him to tell him that some guy was doing a special segment dedicated to your father.

I never received any acknowledgment from Stanford University; I came to know Nora better when I hired her Argentina Folk Ballet for a couple of functions at the Patio Español dedicated to promote my radio program; Acho and I became very good friends and continue our friendship to this day. A check for $500 was waiting for me when I finally made back home from the hospital. And a message with a question, Did you see my father, and was he waiting for me?

When I decided to find out the nature of Stanford University Tango Week in 1994, I was part of the paying public who was allowed to participate only at the Thursday night concert and exhibition. By then, the radio program no longer existed and my life had been torn by a series of unfortunate bad choices in relationships. I remember how out of place I felt snoozing during a lengthy Piazzolla recital by an orchestra that the mild and mellow announcer kept calling a band.

On the way out, an old timer raised on the tough streets of Avellaneda in Argentina quipped, you should have broadcast this as the Prozac Tango Club. Shame on you, I said, at least these guys do something. What do we do but bitch and bitch from the sidelines?

Criticizing and bad mouthing had always been a pastime for the “superior” mind of some compatriots who allegedly knew better, but did nothing to contribute to the experiences of their cultural heritage in our adopted society. I was on my way to becoming one more of them: bitter, envious, excluded. That was when I put on my thinking hat and came up with the concept of not just a publication about tango, but The Argentine Tango Newsletter. Julio Sosa was singing on the stereo, who has told you kiddo that the times of the firulete are over… and the rest is history.

The San Francisco Bay Area was absorbed by the tango dance and I began to learn about tango dancing and in the process I learned about tango. In the end I learned about the effects of shining the light of knowledge and experience over the murky darkness of ignorance and deceit. It would be self-aggrandizing to say that I have made a major contribution in shaping the world of Argentine tango in this country, even it might be a fair thing to say. Many people have expressed their appreciation and their recognition in many different ways, and for that I’m grateful and proud we have crossed paths, although at times I have not looked at this as being the most important reward. Born and raised in a society where people need to be constantly proving that they are honest and continuously seeking the approval and validation of the figures of authority, I had trouble first, finally learned to live with, and eventually laughed at the reactions that the publication of El Firulete provoked on my perceived figures of authority in the tango community.

Who translates to English for you? was Acho Manzi’s first form of admiration for the material evidence of an unfulfilled dream he also had. What kind of computer, what kind program, what type of printer?, were the embarrassing questions of a long time tanguera who considered herself beaten to the finish line in her imaginary race in pursuit of her own literary ambitions. I’d love to help you with the design if you would come and stay with me, suggested another tanguera, unaware that by then esa gringa rubia as she later disdainfully called her, had relocated to the West coast. Rather than success, the wrath of a scorned woman bred one of El Firulete‘s several imitations.

I have always tried to look ahead and not give back handed forms of flattery any public recognition, but I remember that on the fifth year of El Firulete I had to publish a message sent by another friend.

Alberto, you have been in our thoughts for the last week or two. A student of ours showed us the crap some coward has been circulating about you. I am shocked and saddened how people misuse the power and anonymity of the Internet, well, maybe not shocked, not much shocks me anymore. What a cruel and cowardly thing to do. I would say not to take it too personally but that would be a light handed response to a very personal attack. But how else can you respond to such an anonymous attack. We also have learned how petty, vicious, and stupid some people will act, just not as publicly. I hope you can hold up your head and let the strength of your character get you through this. Hopefully knowing your friends are behind you and that this type of anonymous accusations don’t hold much water will help.

I read somewhere that there is a theory about human social evolution: life doesn’t progress much after high school, and the tango world and social networking are living proof of that.

Did you hear that there was a toad who half-sunken in mud, was trapping glow-worms that were flying by, and spitting them out? When asked why it was killing them, it answered, because they shine too much.

Posted January 9, 2011 by Alberto & Valorie in ESSAYS

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