The fabulous voice of this Fonzerelli By Belkis Cuza Malé The first time that I saw him I recognized him immediately. Sure, ten years back somebody had given me a flyer where he appeared with then greyish hair, although the smile was the same. Then, I did not know that behind that smile there was a "warrior", it was in his blood, half Kiowa and half Comanche. And as if that was not enough, his father is of Italian origin and his mother is of Barcelona. The result is Alfonse Monteon Armendarez, to which all call "Fonz".I am seated in front of him, having coffee. He talks as much as I, but also knows to listen. We talk for hours in an interchange that travels from the present to the past and returns on it's steps. He talks Spanish like an Italian and moves his hands and laughs and only remains still when I speak to him of Cuba and the horrors of the Castro dictatorship. And I know that he has understood everything, although I know he did not need my explanations, when he tells me that he has met other Cubans.I do not tell him, but I almost cry imagining him at four years old when he went to live in an orphanage in Dallas, the city where he was born in 1945. His description of that first day in the life of a boy who would grow there between little monks and casseroles (because he chose the kitchen as refuge) transfered me suddenly to some of those stories of Dickens. How not to suffer when one knows that there he is, separated at such an early age from his little sister (also in an orphanage for girls) and from his father, a patient, shut in a sanatarium?We returned to the present, an Engineer of profession, retired now from IBM; he has traveled across almost all of the country and some parts of Europe and for twenty years, he has been famous in Dallas, singing in prestigious night clubs, until suddenly, his life gives an unexpected turn. That day, seven years ago, he lost his wife in a terrible accident where he was also seriously hurt.It is not easy for me to think that this man of eternal smiles, without tears in his eyes, is the same man that says: "I like to see me like a happy person and able to entertain". And I would add that iron will that drags obstacles with himself and he prevails over, which some call adversity, a word that Fonz seems to have exiled from his vocabulary. He knows that God has left him on the Earth like another "warrior" from that tribe of undefeated beings, armed with his voice and not a voice any.An Elvis Presley, a Pedro Infante, a Jorge Negrete? Imagine him. "Music is my life", he says, and I believe him. Then. there are his songs, his world of generous delivery to a profession to which now he dedicates all his time to. If somebody asks him where he learned to sing, he will say that with the little monks, in the church, singing all along. "We had to sing at force..., whether you sang good or bad", he says laughing. Soon, he himself was first in being surprised when their friends of adolescence asked him to sing.To the other side of the ample large window of the restaurant, thousands of black birds descend on a bordering field, and we see them take off in groups. Fonz is excited with grazing of the birds, as if of some way they also intoned a maintained greating song in the air like those black wings. And while they move away, shaking the dusk, he watches me fixedly and he says to me: "I want to sing in England and Japan". I know that there is an audience waiting for him anywhere in the world. And not only do I have faith in him, but many do, like his friend, the prestigious guitarist of blues, John Nitzinger, who baptized him years ago as the "Fabulous Fonzerelli", when Fonz opened one of his presentations in the Bass Hall of Fort Worth.Since then, the "Fabulous Fonzerelli" has not gotten tired to show that, it does not matter what, the world can continue enjoying "happy days", like his homonym, the personage of the series of television. Without imitating anybody, with an ample repertoire that includes thousands of songs, Fonz is a star in his own right.Do you want to listen to him sing? To corroborate what I say here? Well, Fonz, the "Fabulous Fonzerelli", has said to me: "Belkis, bring me to all the Cubans, I want to sing for them". And yes, he is going to sing on the 24 of February, here in La Casa Azul: Heberto Padilla Cuban Cultural Center.(http://www.lacasaazulcubana.blogspot.com/), in Fort Worth, when we celebrate the day when the last war in Cuba from it's independence of Spain began. We will have Cuban plates, sweets and songs like when the Cubans of the other exile in the XIX century met in New York or Key West in those unforgettable evenings, dreaming like us now about the independence of the Island. Thus is. (Published in Spanish: El Nuevo Herald, Miami. February 18, 2007 & Panorama, Fort Worth, Tx. Feb, 2007 ) BelkisBell@Aol.comwww.elvisjohnsmith.blogspot.comwww.belkiscuzamale.blogspot.comwww.belkiscubanparadiseart.blogspot.com
Belkis was born in Guantánamo, Cuba. She studied Humanities in la Universidad de Oriente. In 1967 she married Cuban poet Heberto Padilla. Though initially a supporter of the Castro Revolution, Belkis later became a censor critic of his regime. She was jailed with Padilla in 1971 charged with "subversive writing", It was known later as the "Padilla affair". She went into exile in the United States with her little son in 1979, until the Cuban goverment authorized him to leave Cuba. She founded Linden Lane Magazine, a review of Latin American and North American writers in 1982. And in 1996, La Casa
El viento en la pared,1962.
Tiempos de sol,1963.
Cartas a Ana Frank,1966.
El clavel y la rosa: biografía de Juana Borrero, 1984.
Woman on the Front Lines. (Includes Juego de damas y El patio de mi casa . Trans. Pamela Carmell). Greensboro: Unicorn Press, Inc., 1987.
Elvis. The Unquiet Grave or the True Story of Jon Burrows, 1994, Juego de damas, 2002 and La otra mejilla, Ediciones Lunáticas ZV, Paris, 2008. In 2011, Linden Lane Press published her nook of poems Los poemas de la mujer de Lot.