Brief Encounters With Marc and J-Lo

Frankly I’m not sure how to react to the news. I’m down here en la isla trying to figure out some things about what it means to be Boricua in difficult times, when people are getting their patio furniture ripped off while the old lady downstairs sleeps through the whole thing, or maybe she was afraid of what might happen if she said something? The left wing of the PDP is grumbling because they didn’t pick Eduardo Bhatia for Senate President in that Sábado Gigante thing they had at the Wyndham Riomar this weekend. The no-IVU back to school sale was a ripoff because they just raised the prices to make up for not charging the tax.

The first 15 minutes of Super Xclusivo on Friday were devoted to speculation about Marc becoming uncomfortable with weeks of gossip about J-Lo’s ex Ojani Noa and his book and the alleged sex tape he says he doesn’t have, and just today this densely packed series of quotes from various people with unknown agendas appeared in El Nuevo Día: J-Lo is fed up with Marc’s manipulative, jealous ways, Marc was not happy with plans to move J-Lo’s mom into their house in Long Island, J-Lo is upset that Marc owes millions of dollars worth of taxes on the L.I. house, and Marc is upset that J-Lo will bare her breasts to an actor named Rodrigo Santoro in an upcoming movie called “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”

But even though it was very disappointing to see them with Fortuño and Santini in that Puerto Rico Film Commission photo op, and of course it’s been disappointing that they are more symbolic of empty celebrity than their considerable talents, they were probably the most famous Nuyorican couple in the world, and it’s kind of sad to see that end. For me they represented two sides of my Nuyorican reality–J-Lo was raised in the lower-middle-class East Bronx of my childhood while Marc hailed from El Barrio, the landing point of of my family during the Great Migration. Jennifer was the bigger star and had spent time honing her career in L.A., so she was more polished, reserved, expert in the craft of simulated intimacy, already a veteran of high-end celebrity journalism. Marc was the opposite of polished–seemed like he couldn’t wait to rush up to the roof for a cigarette–but he leveled with you with the ease of a guy in the back room of an Uptown bar waiting for his ship to come in.

And it did, for both of them. But I wish my lasting memory of them wasn’t their drunken junkie fighting in “El Cantante,” or the charmless video or Grammy performance of “No Me Ames.” I wish it had been making a video about La Perla with Calle 13, or making a movie about Julia de Burgos’s last days in Spanish Harlem. Nope, none of that. It’s over. At least it doesn’t have the tragic feel of the end of an era.

Here are a couple of things they said to me about each other in the late ’90s, before they gave in to the inevitable:

Jennifer:

Marc is the best singer out there. One of the best voices in the world. The power in his voice, the way he uses it, his talent for expressing feelings through his voice, everything, the timbre is just gorgeous. It was definitely a very challenging experience for me, making this album. He was in the studio with me, and I was doing whatever and he said to me, “you know what, I know that you feel it. But don’t forget, when I hear it, I gotta feel it. I can’t see you, I just hear it. Make me feel it.” You can love the song, you can understand the song, you can feel it, you could have written it. It could have come from deep within your soul, but if you can’t express it through your voice, no one is going to feel it. Just him talking to me and taking me through that process, just being in the studio with him that one day, changed the way—I actually went back and re-cut vocals after that.

Marc:

Jennifer’s my buddy. She’s my homegirl. I met her when I was doing The Capeman but she had gone to 16 of my concerts and I never got to meet her. She was ever-present at my concerts. It’s her mother that’s the big fan. She flew her mother to PR and her sister and her family, because it’s a big event. She goes to all my concerts. Not just her, her mother. Nobody says anything about her mother, no one says anything about friends of mine. Once they see Jennifer Lopez, they’re like, oh, there has to be something. Give me a break, you know what I’m saying. That was a big story recently, because my fiance was in Chicago for the holidays and she didn’t go to the concert, but they saw Jennifer there. Oh, Marc Anthony broke up with his fiance, oh my god, that ran all over the world.

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