© 2024 Marfa Public Radio
A 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Lobby Hours: Monday - Friday 10 AM to Noon & 1 PM to 4 PM
For general inquiries: (432) 729-4578
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
We're continuing to experience intermittent technical problems with our KOJP signal. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Did we pistear too much?


Órale, the feature of this week is the word pistear. It means to drink inebriant or become inebriated. There are close-sounding words in both Spanish and Nahuatl, pisto and pizoh, which mean a frittata and flooring respectively. But neither come close to the Caló meaning. There’s also the related noun in Caló, pisto, which means a drink or sip of something or hard alcohol itself, as in, he bought of bottle of pisto for himself and a caguama (quart) of beer for his ruca. While pistear usually refers to alcohol, Caló-speakers will understand what you mean if you use it in reference to non-alcoholic drinks, but they’ll take it as an off-handed reference, as if you’re saying the pisto is a substitute for alcohol. "You pisteando, ese? Simón, but just tea."

Another story that circulates up and down the Rio Grande from Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico is that of a party going crazy and the participants figuring out only after it’s too late that the devil himself was responsible. There’s even a saying when conditions turn this way, el diablo anda suelto (the devil is on the loose).

A popular story in Northern New Mexico is that of a late night party that was commandeered by the devil.

As the story goes, a merry and packed party had formed at the local liquor store one New Year’s Eve.

Everybody was having a good time pisteando and chancleando, and more and more people kept coming in. The vato spinning the rolas was also the bartender, and he seemed to be in perfect tune with what the people wanted to hear. By midnight, it got so crowded that it was shoulder touching shoulder, with the people dancing making everybody rock and roll whether they liked it or not. The rolas got hotter and hotter, and the pisto more and more de aquellas.

Then suddenly somebody in the crowd looked down at the DJ-bartender vato’s feet under the bar and saw that, instead of human feet, they were big goat’s hooves. Pretty soon everybody heard about it and started looking at the vato’s feet.

Pos when the vato noticed everybody looking at his feet, he cast a big smile that shone a mouthful of gold teeth, and in a split he second slapped on a slow rola that got everybody feeling in love with the person next to them. Then everybody started dancing together and rotating through the isles and across the tiny dance floor, slushing back and forth like they were a single body of water.

Couples who came together separated and were drawn to other partners. Everybody wanted more, and the diablo gave them more. Time seemed to stand still. The mob seemed to fuse into one undulating being.

Then suddenly the sun shone through the windows. It was morning. All at once, everybody seemed to awaken to the fact that they had been dancing with no music at all! But it took them a long time to stop and get out because they were so tightly packed. Once out, the cold morning air revived them enough that they started asking themselves what happened.

“I don’t know. I don’t remember anything,” was all they could say.

Couple who had come together were now embarrassed to get back together.

And the vato?

He wasn’t anywhere.

“You know who the vato was?” somebody finally asked.

“Chale, I don’t even remember what he looked like.”

“Did we pistear too much?”

“Nel, we just got witched by the devil.”

Oscar Rodriguez is the creator and host of Caló.