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Monday, February 14, 2005

Chico y Jose, Renaissance man

Chico y Jose is a man of many distinctions, as well as many names. Actually his full name is Chico y Jose Portillo Hermoso Chalupa de la Enfermedades Gastrointestinales. Chico y Jose is said to own one of the largest suet producing ranches in the Northern Hemisphere and spends his time waxing poetic or funny as the muse leads him. And he’s one hell of a golfer to boot.

My first run in with Chico y Jose occurred during the finals at Wimbledon in 1980. We were both there at Centre Court as Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe in five thrilling sets. Earlier in the day I was sitting at a small café nearby when I spotted a man devouring strawberries and cream like it was Peter the Great’s caviar. By the time he was finishing his fifteenth bowl I just knew this was a man I wanted to know and introduced myself. CyJ (that’s the brand you were asking about) let out a good-hearted chuckle and asked me to join him for a few bowls. Over another five bowls we conversed about our lives, struggles, poetry, iron smelting, fly-fishing, and origami before going to our respective hotels where I had the runs for three days.

I next came across CyJ at the 1988 Grammy Award as I was a place-holder who happened to be in his seat. Surprised to see him there I asked what would bring an old ranch hand like him to a music awards show. He admitted to me that he had co-written Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. Seems CyJ’s had done the first version and Bobby had altered it to suit a wider audience. We’ll never know what would have become of “Don’t Worry, Pack a Snub-nose .38”, but I take solace in its inspiring words.

Well, not to get too long-winded on Chico y Jose but the man is like a brother to me now and I am proud that he will join us to dispense his brand of humor to our growing audience. I used to have a photo of CyJ and myself at the 1996 Academy Awards where he was to support his good friend Billy Bob Thornton on his nomination and win for the screenplay, “Sling Blade”. The movie was partially based on a novella that CyJ had written entitled “I Reckon, Mmm’hmmm”.

This is NOT Chico y Jose. These are not Chico y Jose's ranch hands.

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