“Aria de la Calle No.12: an urban symphony”

A truly bizarre thing happened this afternoon. I was on the phone when it started raining. Raining hard. I could even hear it! And only just this morning – Vicky & I were talking about how we miss living in a house for the simple pleasure of listening to the rainfall outside. Here in the apartment we only hear the hiss of passing traffic on wet streets.

The rain got louder and louder. Glancing out the window, I saw it was really coming down too. A car alarm went off – the car’s horn methodically keeping track of the passing seconds. I continued my telephone conversation. Another car alarm sounded. The second set of blaring horns added half notes creating a catchy rhythm. I added percussion by bouncing my pencil in time on top of the desk. A third car’s horn joined in and the neighborhood was starting to get a little loud.

We are used to city noises. It is normally not so bad except around rush hour and the occasional Saturday night (actually Sunday morning between five and six o’clock) when young revelers are singing or shouting their way home from the discos. Maybe we are just used to the noise. For some weird reason, it was attracting my attention today…

Aria de la Calle No. 12

I ended my phone call at just about the same time that the fourth horn piped in. The rain pelted down harder. My God, I thought, this must really be a swift and crafty car burglar! And he doesn’t mind getting wet!

Car # 6 joined in. This one was one of those car alarms that changes sounds every four notes – Puerto Rican State Birds, I call them. Kind of like an in-store demo of doorbells playing clever little tunes or a K-Tel “Greatest Hits Of…” TV commercial.

The urban symphony was under way. It wasn’t tango nor was it salsa. It was closer to Kraftwerk or perhaps Phillip Glass. A sort of modern touch with Car # 6 playing lead. Aria de la Calle No. 12, performed by The Buenos Aires Peugeot-Fiat Orchestra, Enrique Ford, Conductor. Not to my tastes. Not even VICKY could dance to this crap!

What the hell is going on, I wondered. Another organized strike? A revolution? Is some crazy bastard lying down in front of traffic and refusing to move?

No way the porteños would simply run over the poor fool. My curiosity got the best of me. Center stage sounded like it might be directly across from the front gate of our building, so I dashed to the balcony for a better look.

The symphony got louder as the orchestra grew. The rain came down even harder. I looked out the living room window and couldn’t believe my eyes:


The front lawn surrounding the building’s driveway was completely white! It was hailing like crazy! Now, I won’t tell you it was golf ball-sized like everyone else does but it was realistically more like small marbles. And it was coming down thick!

A dozen or more cars converged from all directions underneath the covered parking garage across the street. Pedestrians took refuge in nearby cafes. A few brave souls made mad dashes to their cars to shut off the alarms. It made no dent in the chorus of horns. The hail had tripped alarms on cars parked in a twenty-four-square-block radius of this section of Palermo!

The chaotic music continued. The hail pounded away. By now, there were several Puerto Rican State Birds screaming away at a frantic pitch; young boys sheltered under store fronts and trees – along with construction workers on a nearby high-rise – whistled and shouted, adding human voices to this strange, urban symphony. Though not harmonic, it was pretty exciting!

I marveled at the scene. Amazing! Then it ended as quickly as it started.

The Urban Symphony: “Aria de la Calle No.12”

an incredible performance by God, Machine, and a host of street players!


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