Apparently, in March, the great Kurdish Turkish singer/actor Ibrahim Tatlises was shot in the head. He is reportedly recovering and may lose the use of one half of his body.
Randomly discovering Tatlises' Haydi Söyle in the 90s completely changed my life; this blog, among other things, is very much a direct result of that. Here, in fact, is the first posting to BodegaPop, sometime last year (before I learned how to zip whole CDs for downloading):
In the mid 1990s I was living on Grand Avenue near the corner of Snelling Avenue in St. Paul, Minn. My (now ex-) wife, Marta, and I had moved there from San Francisco in 1991 following a near-death experience on the 2 or 3 train while on our honeymoon in New York City. We were in our late 20s.
That move had been the worst mistake either I or Marta had ever made. We were both California born and raised, we loved the Bay Area, we knew nothing of the American Midwest, had no particular interest in it, but moved rather abruptly when our post-traumatic stress symptoms refused to subside six months after our Brooklyn subway fire experience. We convinced ourselves that moving to a boring, medium-sized city in the middle of nowhere would be the late 20th century American equivalent to taking a European spa after having been diagnosed with tuberculosis.
Other than a handful of truly life-saving friends, I hated the Twin Cities. But I somehow convinced myself that I was there for the long haul, and immersed myself in the local culture--at least that portion of which I could stomach. Basically, the music scene. The Replacements had broken up by then and the bands that followed in their wake--Babes in Toyland, The Gear Daddies, Trip Shakespeare, The Tropicals--weren't great, but sufficed, at least so long as I kept my horizons limited to a radius of 50 miles, give or take, either side of the Mississippi.
One day in the late summer or early fall of 1994 I made a trip I often made, the 15-20 minute walk from my apartment on Grand Avenue around the corner and down Snelling to Cheapo Records and Tapes (now Cheapo Discs). I loved Cheapo. It was, at least at the time, cheap. You could get pretty much any used cassette tape you wanted (I hadn't yet made the switch to CDs) for a couple of bucks. And Cheapo tended to have close to everything.
On this particular day, for whatever reason, I couldn't find a single tape I wanted or didn't already have. Nothing spoke to me. Until--eh, what?--my eyes rested on the cover of a very light blue cassette sporting the image of a middle eastern-looking guy with a big black mustache smiling confidently into the camera. "Ibrahim Tatlises" read the semi-florid script in reverse-out white over his head. I had no idea what language the title ("Haydi Söyle") was in. The red price tag read "$1." Fuck it, I thought. I pulled it from the shelf and walked over to the register.
At home, I popped the cassette into my ghetto blaster, hit PLAY and pretty much resolved to (a) never, ever, EVER again settle for lame American pop music and (b) to move out of the Twin Cities at the earliest possible convenience (another three years, as it turned out, for New York).
An incredible performance on TV from around the time of Haydi Söyle's release
Postscript Ibrahim Tatlises, though I didn't know it then, is a Kurdish/Turkish superstar. A film actor and arabesque singer, his down-and-out roots (his family was homeless when he was born in 1952) are part of the semiotics of his mystique.
After a few years of living in Brooklyn I discovered Uludag Video (1922 Avenue W, Brooklyn), where I picked up numerous CDs by Tatlises, including Haydi Söyle, so I could finally listen to it in my iPod. Alas, the last time I stopped in, late last fall, I was informed that they can no longer afford to carry CDs and are concentrating now solely on pirated DVDs of Turkish films.