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AJ Freeman’s Vibrant Vices: A ‘Spook-tacular’ Week in Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Well, this is the edition of “Vibrant Vices” we’ve all been waiting for since the beginning…the week of The Pleasant Uprising’s first big gig has finally come (and passed, but hey… it’s the first one, not the last)! Of course, that’s Wednesday… before then, we have ample monkeyshines to recount, including…

Halloween, Tuesday – This has always been one of my favorite holidays, among the few widespread public celebrations that I personally place any stock in.

Its central tenets of candy for all and universal costuming align well with my everyday beliefs and practices…it’s refreshing to see adults embrace their inner desire to wear wild, fanciful attire instead of boring nonsense like khaki pants.

To highlight the holiday, Chuck over at Vallarta Abuelos invited me to spend the early part of the evening helping create future fun adults by leading local children along a pre-planned trick-or-treating route.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived expecting to meet my new buddy and instead encountered Spider-Man, the legendary web-slinging super hero apparently on vacation in Vallarta…I get it, I wouldn’t want to spend all my time in New York either. In any event, It was fun to watch the kids build up their outfits from the pool of festive attire…reminded me of assembling my own costume.

In case you don’t know, procedurally Halloween is actually done a bit different around these parts…at least on the occasions I’ve been a part of, we don’t go politely door to door asking for candy no no no, we march through the streets of the city, a shared goal in our minds and a common chant on our lips: “Queremos Halloween! Queremos Halloween!” We bring our desires and demands directly to your doorsteps.

It felt like pretty good practice for protesting, but as I mentioned earlier in today’s segment, much of the appeal of working with children in any capacity is to help create future adults that I feel enthusiastic about sharing a society with, so that’s a good thing.

Wednesday, 11/1: After the weekly jam session at Colectivo Hueco to wrap up October, the (first) big day finally arrived for the Uprising. After a quick huddle at the space, we loaded all our gear up – it’s a lot, pick up an amp sometime to develop a fuller appreciation for your local music scene – and headed on down to the Isla Cuale for show time.

I’ve typed at length about the show itself in a previous piece, but what I want to spotlight here is the experience we had as a group during the day. Left to our own devices after our sound check, we now had about a quarter-day to kill before we took to the stage for the evening’s event.

Now, it’s not like we were expecting a dressing room or anything, and we were provided with water to comply with various humanitarian statues, but as multiple members of our collective have physical conditions that limit their ability to stand for long periods of uninterrupted time – say, 8 hours including the set – a dedicated seating area would have been nice.

With pretty much every second of the day from 11am on dedicated to putting the show together, we hadn’t really had time to prepare a nice home-cooked meal either but all agreed that eating anything at all was probably a solid idea.

Our compensation for the event didn’t leave much room for festival fare, so I headed over to Figueroa’s and got burritos for the band… sure it ate up my entire emolument on the day, but if you’re gonna wear that captain’s “C” as I do so proudly on this team, you better be damn well prepared to personally address any issues that arise affecting the collective.

As I explained to a band mate upon handing him his meal for the day “La familia siempre come.”

Standing near a trash can, we tore at our envelopes of food… band life, I suppose.

…and so, hours later, fairly exhausted and more than a little frustrated, we took the stage that evening to the warm welcome of the festival crowd. Their appreciation did lift our spirits, but I couldn’t help retaining some of the inner agitation built up over such a long day…but like any good pro, I used it in the performance.

You tell me a better mindframe from which to front a band called “The Pleasant Uprising” than “upbeat and enthusiastic but also tired and a bit pissed off.”

The set went pretty great if you ask me, and that’s thanks in primary part to Ernesto, who singlehandedly secured the permit that made the Isla de Los Muertos festival a possibility in the first place. Pat and Carlos of the Act II sound crew were also indispensable, and did a fantastic job making our messages clear all evening.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers like these, the event was a resounding success and earned the Friends of the Isla Cuale organization a very healthy sum for the upkeep and preservation of the island and its green spaces.

Maybe next year the organizers can arrange a few food tickets for crew, and entertainers… working folks gotta eat, ya’ know.

Friday, 11/3 – After taking it pretty easy on Thursday (and by pretty easy I mean just walking around taping Kasava Karnival posters to stuff), a pretty full-on Friday afternoon was welcome.

I swung by Taylor’s monthly digital nomad meet up on Playa de Oro, where as always I met plenty of interesting people doing beautiful things…or is it beautiful people doing interesting things? Guess it doesn’t matter, always worth the outing either way.

Later, after an engaging chat session with Sofia and ZiZi at Bretton’s place, 40 percent of The Pleasant Uprising went to see another 20 percent in person as our guitarist Kimbo was scheduled in solo action over at the BeatNik. Unfortunately couldn’t stay for the whole set with such an early wakeup call for the Three Hens and a Rooster market on the morning horizon, but the guy is just so damn good with a guitar that it’s always a treat to see him play whether I’m on stage with him or not.

Saturday, 11/4 – I don’t know if it comes across in these things, but I’m not exactly a morning person. I have known this ever since I was a school-age youngling, when I formed the opinion that it was frankly ridiculous to drag a small child out of bed before sunrise and ship them off to a warehouse where they will be force-fed information on random subjects at 45-minute intervals until their parents can get off work.

Anyways, I did manage to make myself appear at the famous Three Hens Market before 8:25 that Saturday morning, as specified in market bylaws. I gradually woke up over the next few hours, and a few bracelets later I found myself participating in the children’s art class at CCV… they never specified that inner children could not participate, and I figured I could stick around for ZiZi’s singing class onsite a little later.

Afterwards I even somehow stumbled into a recording session for a major band here in Mexico, a Mexican metal group by the name of Emarebi Nocturna… they were cool enough to let me hang around (and enjoy the AC in the Isla Cuale rehearsal space) for a bit before they had to record a video, so much love to my black metal brothers for that.

Welp, to crack the 4th wall a bit, today’s Sunday and wouldn’t ya know it, I’m gonna be pretty busy today too! At least it’s gonna be fun this time, as I’m set to guest host for 322 Trivia at Jardin de Versalles tonight… got some big shoes to fill substitute teachering for the well-liked Robert, but hell… I always wanted to be a game show host!

As for the Uprising, we’ll be back in action this Sunday afternoon at the Kasava Karnival… from face painting and jugglers to tattoos and tarot readings and, we’ve got a little of everything planned out and of course, you’ll hear all about it here.

…but isn’t it always better to be there?

Probably see ya around.

AJ Freeman has enjoyed Vallarta’s warm welcome for over 5 years and hopes he has done some good during his time here. Passionate about self-expression and human potential, he combines these interests in weekly wrap-up “Vibrant Vices.” AJ also shares a body with Warflower Jones, ringleader of The Pleasant Uprising… which is totally just a local party band and not a political organization of any kind as that would be against various jurisdictional laws.

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