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The Bismanti Brothers

August 16, 2011


The three Bismanti Brothers- Sylvestre, Elmestre, and Dinizar all fabulous musicians who played for coins on the streets of Tangiers. I loved their music and followed them with my Sony tape recorder. I knew how boring these tapes would be to everyone back home. But it gave a raison d’etre to my travels and so made me more comfortable. Sometimes Sylvestre would put down his blue flute and sing weird snakey songs while Elmestre and Dinizar continued on their green and red instruments.

One day, while playing in the European section an Arab child ran out into the square to dance to their magical flutes and stood frozen and barefooted as the truck hit her. The police roughly hauled the brothers away.

When the crowds cleared I saw the green flute cracked and scattered in the orange dust and saw a dark teenager running off with Dinizar’s red flute. I felt sick and left Tangiers that afternoon for Spain.

I was grateful to have captured their music but I was never able to listen to it without feeling guilty as a thief. That’s how a memory gets stuck to a tune.

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One Comment
  1. Marylisa Tencer permalink

    How beautiful things can turn ugly so quickly…reading the NY Times this morning…so many horrific stories…Tibetan Monk Immolates Self, and on go the sad stories.

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