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AJ Freeman’s Vibrant Vices: Halloween and Día de Muertos in PV

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – At the time of writing, it’s hours before The Pleasant Uprising’s big gig on the Isla Cuale November 1 and, despite the fact that I’ll be stepping in front of perhaps thousands of people for the first time in a while, I find myself surprisingly calm.

In the cool, composed words of a certain comedian as he publicized his thoughts in the dressing room before one his many high-profile showcases: “This is going to go well.”

Some might attribute my strong belief that the Uprising will seize the city as planned to overconfidence, but I’ve heard it said that arrogance is just the gap between where you think you stand and where you do in reality… and from that angle, I feel like I’ve done everything I can do to stand before you ready to deliver November 1, 9:00 pm.

If you’ve been watching this space for a while now, you know that I’ve consistently been in the streets of this sunny city by the sea spreading the good word about my various endeavors and picking up some new ones along the way… naturally, I saved some of my best work for the days leading up to the main event (so far!).

Sunday 10/22: What I may not have publicized so much in these pages is that I actually volunteered for double duty at the Isla de los Muertos festival!

I’ll be (or will have been, depending on when you read this) painting faces on the eastern end of the island sometime that afternoon… figured I’m certainly gonna paint my own face at some point November 1, but I do that most days anyway so it’s nice to see the other “adults” give in to their inner costuming impulses this time of year.

To that end, I joined up with some friends of the Isla Cuale for some group face painting practice Sunday afternoon under the leadership of Linda. I discovered that last year’s well-reviewed turn as Día de los Muertos face painter and aforementioned experience in self-decoration made me one of the most experienced professionals in the room.

Putting these and other skills to good use, I walked out of the lobby at the luxurious riverside condo with more face-painting skills (and oatmeal cookies) than I walked in with.

Later, I met up with Chuck to discuss the next week’s Halloween festivities for local children… and why not, raise a few glasses to the sunset down by the ocean at Oceano Azul.

See, as you might expect in a town that subsists chiefly on the leisure of visitors, many children that call this city home year-round spend their youth doing stuff like selling candy and beach trinkets instead of just being 7 years old or whatever, and that’s why I’ve made it my business to ensure that these younglings can at least enjoy these kid-forward holidays to the greatest extent possible… I’m proud to be working with Vallarta Abuelos for Halloween, and I look forward to doing it again on Christmas.

Plus, y’know… I get to come up with some cool costume or other. Always fun.

Monday 10/23: As has become a bit of a schedule staple lately, I started off the productive portion of the week with a study session at Mairel’s Bookshop.

Good friend and all-around beautiful person Yurani was on campus as well, and we took the opportunity to catch up about busy weeks past. I eventually learned that tote bags featuring her original artwork were available for purchase at the shop, so I just had to have one that day… it’s where I keep my street team press kit (a stack of posters, a handful of flyers, a roll of tape, and a single copy of “64 to Infinity”) now.

Tuesday 10/24: Tuesday was the deadline to register for the famous Three Hens and a Rooster Market on the Isla Cuale, and so I did just that to continue my slow takeover of the island this season. I’ll be offering an array of handmade jewelry so cool I would wear it along with taking preorders on “64 to Infinity” at the popular Saturday marketplace this season, so come on out to hear this column as a live podcast.

Wednesday 10/25: As per usual up to this point, on Wednesday the Uprising convened once more at Colectivo Hueco to fine-tune our musical stylings for the big dance party on the Isla Cuale.

Multiple band members (that are not writing this article) have commented on the instant chemistry we’ve developed in our relatively short time together, changing arrangements on the fly and developing our own flavor seemingly overnight.

You take a look at that band photo and tell me we don’t look legit.

Of course, music isn’t about how performers look – at least, not mostly, although I’ve heard of people being rejected from blind-judgement televised talent show “The Voice” for not appearing interesting enough one way or the other – and if you want to know how we actually sound before I see ya at the show on the first of November, thanks for checking out our YouTube channel!

Thursday 10/26: Feeling pretty jazzed about the direction of our band, it was easy to summon the enthusiasm to hit the streets and get promoting… if you see any of those Isla de Los Muertos flyers around the town center, please know that I personally ensured that you did and am not at all above gloating about it, don’t you read these?

Among the stops on the promo tour that afternoon and evening were Laura’s monthly Women’s Networking Event and Vallarta Social’s Halloween Party at Nacho Daddy, where Aria or ZiZi or whoever met up with Pleasant Uprising drummer LoLo and Hueco regular J-Ram to express our appreciation for their talents. Aaron and Funky of Vallarta Social were also there, putting their twin guitars to work in service to their special holiday lineup “The Rolling Bones”… wonder if they’ve ever considered a casino gig?

Friday 10/27: Continuing an especially well-booked week, Friday afternoon I met a photographer back over at the shop to discuss an upcoming cover shoot for the Mairel’s-exclusive production of “64 to Infinity: Love Letters in Crayon!” In a time of thrilling developments in my personal and professional life, getting my book republished in the coming weeks absolutely ranks near the top.

…but until then there’s gig huntin’ for the band! I made a stop over at Jardin de Versalles to cajole a soft “yes” out of the venue’s music manager, and also made a quick appearance at BeatNik’s Filmmaker Friday, where I asked Quinn pointedly whether a previous offer to make a video for the band was a real resource or just fun bar chatter.

He assured me that it was both, and so since it’ll be tricky to print a music video in the paper I’ll let you know when you can check it out!

…and so, here we are, essentially back at the present timeline. Due to the production schedule of some publications, by the time most of you read this, November 1 will have come and gone.

It will be/was the first big gig for this band full of pleasant uprisers, but far from the last… whether you read this before or after the 1st, our future is in the future!

If you missed Isla de Los Muertos, you can join the Uprising at the Kasava Karnival November 12… ZiZi and I spent the last days of October interviewing vendors for the event, but perhaps more importantly the hosting venue has some of the best damn BBQ chicken, coconut rice and fried plantains I’ve ever eaten.

That ain’t just me selling my event, check those Vallarta social media groups and see what they have to say about the food at Kasava Taste.

In any event, we have some final preparations to make for our grand unveiling in just a couple dozen hours, so that’s enough for now. As you can tell from the length of this week’s piece, event season is kicking into high gear and that means there are plenty of happenings on the horizon in this sunny city by the sea… It’s satisfying to say I’ll have my 17-ringed hands in some of them.

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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