A Serenade

Last night I reviewed a Mexican restaurant in Watsonville, and I’ve been mulling over the various poetic dissonances that occurred in the process, from the lackluster food (and believe me, there are plenty of great Mexican restaurants in Watsonville), to the layerings of sound: the jukebox flashing purple lights and booming out brassy banda and norteño music; the accordionist walking around the restaurant, playing against the music from the jukebox; the din of the customers and their kids in the echoey dining room; and the sounds emerging from the big-screen TV. The 5 or 6 closed-circuit cameras mounted on the ceiling added a silent dissonance of its own. Add to that another, mental, layer–that of expectations–of what a “Mexican” restaurant should be (funny how ideas about food get all caught up with ideas of identity), what a newspaper expects of a review, what the belly expects of a meal, and what I expect of myself as a “reviewer”…and you have a real mind-bending, stomach-twisting cacophony…call it performance art:

Guillermo Gomez-Peña: “Instant Identity Ritual.”