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78 THE MINNESOTA REVIEW MARTHA ROSLER THE RESTORATION OF HIGH CULTURE IN CHILE She has a friend who visits her every so often, a charming, quirky man, a music critic for a large Eastern paper. He does a good bit of traveUng, to conferences and seminars. The last time he visited, he was on the way to something in San Francisco and had just come back from a month at a castle in Salzburg. She is not part of his world, and probably because he is a bit unreal to her, his middle-aged gallantry strikes her as pleasant more often than it irritates her. WeU, he's a romantic and a lover of good times, good company, good music, and he'd had a wonderful time in Austria. He'd been entranced by a young singer named Norma; her rich voice, as he describes it, matches her dark beauty and radiant warmth. It is especiaUy wonderful to him that this young woman has married an old friend of his, BiU, an electronic-music composer at one of the large Midwestern departments. The critic and BUl had been out of touch, and the critic was delighted to find BiU transformed, humanized. In his telling ofit, Norma's brunette generosity has thawed and tempered BuTs Nordic reserve. The pair had produced a child, Maria Elena, at 9 months the darling of the festival. The critic explains that their loving, indulgent ways with her captured the hearts of their musical coUeagues and helped the community feel itself as one. At month's end, Norma pressed the critic to visit her mother and brother on his way through San Diego. She promised a warm welcome and wrote Mama immediately. The critic is a bit shy; he interrupts his story and looks at her. She realizes then that the story is instrumental. He asks, wiU she come along to visit Norma's family? He has phoned ahead and been urged to come that evening. She discovers that the family Uves in Tijuana. She searches her memory of the previous moments of talk but finds no clue. The international character of concert music, she thinks. The famüy, it develops, is indeed Mexican. They Uve in Tijuana and control the operation of the manufacturing concern that Papa, now dead, had established ROSLER 79 there. Her curiosity defeats her reticence; she wiU go. That evening she and her friend buy Mexican car insurance and cross the border. Her friend doubts her answer of 500,000 for Tijuana's population—almost as big as San Diego?! They foUow Mama's directions to a part of the city she's never seen before. Norma's family Uves near a large international hotel displaying huge posters welcoming one of the candidates in Mexico's forthcoming election. They park. They walk up and back, looking for the house number. They enter and ask the clerk, in poor Spanish, does he know the family? Next door, he says in EngUsh. There's only a brick waU, they say. The gate is around the corner, he responds. They almost circle the block to find it. They ring; the gate unlatches. They walk up the path in the gloom and are met on the porch by the family, the mother round, smaU, dark, carefuUy coiffed, cordial; the brother taU, quiet, dark-haired but pale, with the almost muscleless look some people have. Their clothing is that of the estabUshed Mexican bourgeoisie: expensive, tasteful rather conservative—maroon double-knit sweater and skirt, Ughtgray suit. AU gUde into a dim house, a dim parlor. Red velvet drapes and sofas, dark wood cabinets, books, an oilportrait—Papa. On the coffee table a photo of Norma, smiUng, in brown velvet evening gown, holding a long-stemmed red American Beauty rose. PoUte conversation over good sherry. The family's EngUsh is fluid. Mama and the critic speak warmly; she and brother lean silently back in their seats. She fingers her camera, takes no pictures. PeriodicaUy she notices, across the dark room, something ghost white jumping sUently in a tank. Mama speaks with controUed verve about Norma and BUl, their music, precious Maria Elena. TaUc IuUs. Brother opens a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 78-87
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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