Arthur, Arthur, Art & Arturito
Thursday, September 11, 2014
The idea for what promises to be a long blog came to me last Sunday. Both Randy Rampage and
birthday boy Zippy Pinhead kept calling Art Bergmann, Arthur. It struck me that his real friends call him that and for the rest of us Art is enough.
I then wondered how many Arthurs had gone through my life, who I not only photographed but somehow had left something of themselves in me.
Arturito Durazo Díaz (33) showed up in Vancouver in 1982. At the time I had some dealings with the unofficial Mexican Tourism Director in Vancouver, Carlos Hampe. I visited Hampe and noticed Durazo sitting behind a desk that had nothing on it in a room that was virtually empty of furniture and decoration. I was introduced to him. He was affable, friendly and interested in the fact that I was a photographer and that I spoke Spanish.
During his stay in Vancouver which was around two years he often came to my house for dinner. He had a passion for jig-saw puzzles. He often stayed for hours with my daughters fitting the pieces to 1000 plus puzzles. Durazo told me he had helicopter pilot’s license and wanted to learn to hang glide. I accompanied him to many of these lessons in Langley. He was brave and he tried to convince me to try. I told him I had no life insurance and since I was a free lancer, any accident would leave my family with no financial support.
My daughters liked him as did my wife Rosemary. One day he showed up with a box full of beautiful Florsheim shoes. He told me that inmates of several Mexican prisons made them and he was starting a business to import them to Canada.
Arturito’s 2005 police mug shot
Any questions I directed to Hampe about his “assistant”, who seemed to do nothing at the office, only resulted in the rolling of his eyes and silence.
All I knew was that Durazo’s father, Arturo Durazo Moreno had been the chief of police in Mexico City, between 1976 and 1982 during the 6-year rule of President López Portillo.
During those 6 years Durazo Moreno’s underlings had to pay their quota of contributions. There was an organization that arrested promising thieves who were protected and of course had to pay their quotas. In some cases these trained thieves and the policemen robbed banks. One of the biggest scandals was the appearance of 13 Colombians in the city’s main sewer. Some had their heads missing; others had been mutilated and tortured.
López Portillo’s successor, President Miguel de La Madrid initiated an investigation and the murders were linked to Durazo who fled the country.
That would explain why his son, also left the country and why Carlos Hampe could do nothing about having the man appear in his office and get a salary for doing nothing. I remember that Arturito had a better car than Hampe. It was a very large Pontiac.
Arturito was a handsome young man. His father was quite ugly and because he was dark-skinned he was called El Negro Durazo. Durazo died in 2000 after having served 6 years (he had been extradited from Puerto Rico, and given a 16 years sentence but because of “good behaviour” and delicate health he served those 6 for drug trafficking, corruption and extortion). At his funeral a police mariachi played a famous song about El Negro Durazo.
As soon as Durazo Moreno died the army generals rescinded his lofty rank of General de División. They had been furious when President López Portillo had celebrated the man with the rank.
But what perhaps riled the usually patient Mexican populace were the many mansions that the Police Chief built. The most famous one La Partenón in Zihuatanejo was said to have gates that had been stolen from the storied Chapultepec Castle (where young Mexican cadets had fought back with heroism but in futility against a well equipped American Army, one of the officers of this army a young Robert E. Lee.). You might know that U.S. Marine Corps song “From the halls of Montezuma…”
In the late 80s a Mexican cumbia band, La Sonora Dinamita recorded a song by its then singer Juliette called El Africano (The African) in which one of the lines “Hey mom, what does El Negro want?” to which then Juliette answers, “Could it be another Parthenon?” Of interest to readers here is the fact that Ray Conniff did an instrumental version of the song called African Safari.
This was my Arturito’s father. In 2005 Arturito was imprisoned for unlawfully taking over a large property. He is now probably out and is on Facebook.
If you look for images of Arturito you will only find one through Google. The Mexican newspapers announcing his arrest have blank squares where his picture should be.
I was never allowed by Arturito to take his picture but he did ask me to photograph his lovely Mexican girl friend who had brilliant bleached blonde hair. I have lost the colour pictures and I have forgotten her name but I did find some negatives which I took with Kodak b+w infrared film.
If I were to run into Arturito I would invite him for dinner and I would take out a box with a 1000 plus piece puzzle.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.