Friday, July 8, 2016


The message began with a quote from the Beatles: "You know my name, look up the number." It was a charming way to start. The letter was lengthy, written in the best English the sender could summon, filled with the expected misspellings and bad grammar, but I was able to feel and to understand every word of his truly heartfelt response to my small but sincere tribute... to the very band he had founded and led for over 30 years in Mexico, Los Dug Dugs. Yes, indeed, there he was right in my email box on my computer, the one, the only, the legendary... Armando Nava. The very one whose name was the only clue on all those records I'd found.

Time froze. Shivers went up my spine as I read his words. Armando insisted he had cried tears of joy for 20 minutes while looking at my site. He gently corrected a factual error or two I had posted, and wrote a nice little poem in tribute to him, and us as well. The message ended with his full contact information, including the address of La Reunion, the Mexico City nightclub he owned at the time, and two phone numbers with an open invitation to call him and speak with him directly. This was all too much for me to take in at first! Whoda thunk my search for Los Dug Dug's, that band I found in a Mexican record store a decade earlier, would end up like this?

So, of course, now I had a really big news update, and what an update it was, posting Armando's letter with the promise of much more to come. In the process, I took another look at the front page of the site. "Los Dug Dug's Homepage." Ugh. That name just wasn't gonna cut it anymore, especially now that Armando Nava had seen it. I pondered the matter for awhile, and then remembered a 1960s Mexican movie someone from the Bomp board where I promoted the site had sent me on VHS which had an appearance by the band. I replaced the last word in its Spanish title accordingly, and knew I had a proper name at last -- "El Mundo Loco De Los Dug Dug's." Little did I know exactly how loco that world was about to become.

Admittedly, it took me awhile to summon the courage to talk to him, but a few weeks later, in mid-December '97, I finally got up the nerve to place a long distance phone call to Armando Nava at his nightclub in Mexico City. It was very late at night, about 2 in the morning, and he'd just gotten offstage, but was more than happy to talk for as long as I wanted. I couldn't believe I was really talking to the main man on those Mexican album covers. But there he was on the other end of the line, speaking in his best English (which was actually very good) about the band's entire history for almost a full 90 minute cassette. It was the first of many conversations we would have over the next several years.

It wasn't always easy to figure out some of the details Armando was trying to give about the band, but I somehow managed to write up a basic historical overview of Los Dug Dugs from what he told me. I thought it would be sorta cool to have him record a holiday greeting for the site, it being December by then, and he graciously obliged. He was a total class act in every respect, and so appreciative of my interest in his music. It's always a thrill when you talk to someone you've admired and respected and he turns out to be a kind and generous person who deeply regards his fans. And little did I know this was just the beginning of his generosity.

Armando told me he was going to send me lots of stuff. And he said he meant a lot of stuff. Initially he told me to just watch my mailbox. Three months went by with nothing from Mexico turning up in my mail. I'd heard Mexican mail was pretty unreliable so I thought that might be why I'd not received anything. Or maybe he was taking his time, I don't know. Me, I was just happy to have been so wildly successful in finding Los Dug Dugs. But I was getting a bit impatient just the same.

That's why, when I found myself coming across an original sealed vinyl copy of "Abre Tu Mente," their mid-80s singles compilation, at a prog-rock specialty shop in NYC, I thought nothing of the 50 bucks they wanted for it, for I wanted anything Dug Dugs now more badly than ever. Besides, the back cover was a whole mess of further clues about the band, including a long list of former members and a dedication to the bassist on their amazing second album SMOG, who had died around that time. I made the best sense I could out of it all and posted updates to the history I'd already begun.

Suddenly, El Mundo Loco had become a real website. I was cooking with fire now, with the main Dug Dug now watching over it all. Or was he? I hadn't heard from him in almost four months.

When we talked on the phone in December '97, I had given Armando my phone number and forgot about it. So it was quite a shock when a telephone message came for me in early April '98. It was from Armando, and he had some major, major news for me -- he was coming to New York the following week! He didn't even have to ask me to do the honors of picking him up at Newark Airport. I knew it was my absolute date with destiny calling. I had to catch my breath after this one for sure. In just nine months, what started as a simple inquiry as to who and what and where Armando Nava was, became a full fledged opportunity to meet him in person. I never, ever thought it would ever come to this. And it would get even better still.