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Al's faux pas

Column: The Other Side Of The CD

by Al Santiago

"Faux pas" is a French phrase meaning you laid an egg or made a blooper. Did you ever start to sincerely compliment someone and end up causing a faux pas by making a verbal blooper? At a party at D.J. Carlos de Leon's house, I met a Muslim. His name was Mohammed and, when introduced, I innocently said, "Hi, Mo" and he froze, showed annoyance and forced himself to walk away. I asked Yoruba Guzman, who introduced us, "what's with him?" Yo said that when I said, "Hi, Mo" he heard "Hi, Moe" (a popular Jewish name) and was insulted. The above happened in the early '70's as did the following: I was sitting in a car with Tito Puente in front of the old Caravana Club on East 149th St. in the Bronx. Since we were alone I decided to tell him my favorite trumpet mambo passage. I told Tito that a certain line in one of his arrangements from the Pupi Campo Seeco/Tropical LP was my all time favorite trumpet mambo. I hummed it to him, Tito looked disappointed and said "Joe Loco wrote that" I very wittily answered, "Oh."

Willie's Steak House, is sponsoring the Tito Puente Julliard School of Music Scholarship awards be held at Jimmy's on April 15th. The large downstairs room was rented from Jimmy's for the $75 a plate dinner dance worthy charity.

About a year ago Pacheco, T.P., Frank Santiago and myself were being photographed by Kenny for his large walls at Willie's. During the shoot, Pacheco whispered in my ear, "Al, we certainly made musical history in the 60's." I responded, "Yes, but we didn't like each other." Johnny said, "That's because you were stingy." I answered, "Stingy? I gave you a brand new piano." Pacheco said, "Yes, but that was all."

When in my teens a young not very talented bongocero was sitting in with my Chackañuñu Boys as a favor to my very talented alto sax man. The bongo aficionado came from a very wealthy family. They owned and may still own India beer. They got us a few choice gigs including one at the Waldorf-Astoria for a Catholic charity. He invited me to his family's estate in ritzy titzy Bronxville, I took a commuter train for the first time in my life and he picked me up at the railroad station. Wow, what an estate! What rooms! We sat down for dinner and they served what I thought was chicken soup. I was just about to put my spoon in when I saw they were all dipping their fingers and then drying them. Oh, my gosh, I nearly committed a faux pas. Later, I did commit one. The old man was talking about his workers and he called them peons. He was talking in Spanish and when he said peons I thought he meant that they passed gas frequently. I remarked, "Does all beer give you gas or just India?" I was never invited again.

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