Strolling the Golden Block when times are tough.
The rain is fierce. I hurry down the street and take refuge inside Angel's Record Shop.
Here it's salsa central. On impulse I pick up a CD by Hector Lavoe, best known by Anglos as the singer portrayed by Marc Anthony in the movie El Cantante. True, I already bought my embarrassing Juan Luis Guerra, but there's something about Lavoe's story that, on this rainy day in the barrio, seems to fit the mood.
Lavoe was an enormously talented singer--the Sinatra of salsa--who got hooked on heroin and pills and suffered from depression. When he died of AIDS, crowds gathered in the Bronx and sang his songs. Even in sadness over his loss, they poured out their joy, dancing in the streets.
I walk out of Angel's with Lavoe's Historia Musical in my pocket, and wait for the rain to clear. There's a radio on somewhere. After a rumba ends, I hear a DJ say: "Cuando salgas de trabajo, ven a Happy Hour."
"When you leave work ... " How optimistic.