by Peter Peter Hughes

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When I was seventeen, for reasons that will remain forever inscrutable, I wrote a song for my Casio-powered solo project Party of One which imagined the 1950s race car driver, five-time Formula One World Champion, and Argentine icon Juan Manuel Fangio piloting a then-current 1980s-model Saab 900 Turbo across the Andes mountains on a covert mission to assassinate the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Twenty-three years later I bought a well-traveled example of the ingeniously versatile car that accompanied the hero of that song, and began writing songs for an album that would pick up where “A Fangio for the ’80s” left off.

The real-life Fangio died in 1995, long retired from racing. On the track he’d been known as El Maestro—the teacher—and a legendary bad-ass. Off it, he was El Chueco—most commonly translated as “bandy-legs”—short, squeaky-voiced, the very essence of good-natured humility and universally beloved for it.

The Fangio of my imagination is slightly different. He’s still alive for one thing—though by what Borgesian mechanism it’s never made clear—and so haunted by his own refusal to speak out against the atrocities of Argentina’s Dirty War that he’s gone underground as a sort of international rogue agent, beholden to nobody and determined to clear his conscience by evening the score: against the CIA, against the cartels, against every agent of oppression that conspired to terrorize and exploit the people of Latin America over the last half century. This album should be properly read as one part DC comics, one part Tom Clancy novel, and one part Marxist revolutionary tract.

Fangio was recorded entirely at home, by me, using GarageBand—which, in its ubiquity, cheapness, and user-friendly simplicity, I regard as the clear 21st century successor to my old Casio MT-100. And it sounds like New Order because I’ve always wanted to play in a band that sounded like New Order. I make no apologies.


released September 1, 2010



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Track Name: Operational Detachment Juan Manuel Fangio
once upon a time I couldn’t go out to eat
without everyone in the room rising to their feet
I couldn’t go shopping
I couldn’t walk down the street

but I traded that all in a long, long time ago
in exchange for immortality, some sort of purchase on my soul
I struck a sinner’s bargain late one summer night
not to be a hero, but for the chance to make things right

now I roll invisible, stripped of every badge
for maximized efficiency I’ve but a single task
I’m more than an assassin and I’m not a hired gun
I’m Operational Detachment Juan Manuel Fangio
I’m a special force of one
Track Name: El Narcoavión
find a light twin-engined airframe
rip out all the seats
stuff every inch with hidden bladders
filled with aviation gasoline
arm yourself with a small revolver
garlic and cocoa leaves
now you’re good for direct service
from Florida to Medellín

and if there’s E-2Cs around
just stay under the radar
and if the Sinaloa shoot you down
just take one of these

once you’re back in U.S. airspace
stay beneath one thousand feet
pick your favorite abandoned airfield
and set her down nice and neat
call your man to arrange the drop-off
tell him where and when to meet
announce your flight, you’re all alright now
get yourself something to eat

and when there’s federales on your tail
you can jettison your cargo
and if you need to spend a night in jail
next time: submarines
Track Name: My God Is An Angry God (Juan Manuel Fangio Castiga Los Pecados Del Mundo)
I killed a man in a synagogue last night
I put him in a headlock
and I squeezed out his cursed life
afterwards I put the windows down
and I drove til it was light
I killed a man in a synagogue last night

I killed a man at the Temple Beth last night
when I was done I looked up
and saw a god I recognized
I said you know what he was doing here
I hope that makes it right
I killed a man at the Temple Beth last night

I killed a guy in Jericho last night
I killed a guy in Jericho last night
for every set of circumstances
there are corresponding consequences
I killed a guy in Buffalo last night
Track Name: La Consciencia Intranquila De Juan Manuel Fangio
narcos in Colombia
anthrax traced to Wichita
backpack bomb Islamabad
where you gonna run?

IEDs in Kandahar
hijacking Paris–Dakar
you’re not the man they think you are
where you gonna run?

Juan, where you gonna run?
when it’s you you’re running from

the pirates of Somalia
the thieves that guard LaGuardia
they’re picking out a part of you
where you gonna run?

the face that haunts you in your sleep
the threat that lurks on every street
the promise that you couldn’t keep
where you gonna run?

Juan, where you gonna run?
when it’s you you’re running from
Track Name: Edwardian Gray
they met me at the airport just like they said they would
one guy with a sign, two more with a hood
we all nodded politely and headed for the door
they bound my wrists behind me and put me on the floor

two long hours in the back of a van
driven badly around the city just as fast as they can
off came the hood, up went the door
and I got a funny feeling—I’ve been here before

a business park on the outskirts of town
three units back, two units down
we scanned our palms and irises and stepped inside
sure enough—there was my ride

a Swedish stunner in Edwardian Gray
with a sagging headliner and a dirty ashtray
a two-liter four under a clamshell hood
boosting plenty healthy and sounding good

that roof so high, the hood so low
the way the greenhouse wraps around its occupants
it just says go
I’ve never had a more faithful steed
safety, comfort, stealth and speed

it had been more than twenty years since I put her away
but one whiff of cracked leather
brought me right back to that day
nothing that anyone could do about it now
and there were more important issues at hand

I grabbed that rubbery shifter and I threw it in first
spun the front tires and launched with a lurch
I had a pressing obligation one thousand miles away
with a—well let’s just say “an old friend”

across the high arid plains I drove all night
not another vehicle or soul in sight
sixteen valves tapping out the code
the oldest song I know

I reached my destination in a cold, cold sweat
how I was received I honestly forget
my friend must have known why I had come
he didn’t even try to run

that roof so high, the hood so low
the way that function has made a slave of form
it just says go
I’ve never had a more faithful steed
safety, comfort, stealth and speed
Track Name: Bebe's Song
well of course there were others
in the end there was only one
from the best days to the worst days
to the broken, bloody cursed days
you were my keeper, you patched me up

what was in it for you, Bebe?
through good and bad you were always there
that husband of yours didn’t notice
he didn’t notice or he didn’t care

you gave up the child I gave you
perhaps I was child enough
you needed someone to take care of
I needed your patience, I needed your love

what was in it for you, Bebe?
through good and bad you were always there
that husband of yours didn’t notice
he didn’t notice or he didn’t care
Track Name: El Hombre Más Macho
who’s that driving that fancy car? Fangio, Juan Fangio!
who’s that drifting that SLR? Fangio, Juan Fangio!
who crossed the Andes in a rusty Saab? Fangio, Juan Fangio!
who put the final bullet in Escobar? Juan Manuel Fangio

who’s that leading at Monaco? Fangio, Juan Fangio!
who’s that sideways through Nouveau Monde? Fangio, Juan Fangio!
who gave the Heisman to Marilyn Monroe? Fangio, Juan Fangio!
¿quien es el hombre más macho? Juan Manuel Fangio
Track Name: Compared To Their Predecessors, Today's Politically Motivated Kidnappers Are Total Dicks
late winter
snow still on the ground
eleven weeks now
these guys aren’t fucking around

it’s not like Havana in 1958
it sounds weird to say but those guys were okay
a case could be made
that they saved my life that day

I remember talking
Cuban sandwiches and beers
which title meant the most to me?
asked my most gracious host of me

like Stockholm Syndrome except in reverse
I charmed the pants right off of them
smiling they sent me home again

twenty-four years later I had a heart bypass
I got a card: “Get well soon Señor Fangio”
signed, Movimiento 26 de Julio

a tu salud, Señor Fangio
get well soon Señor Fangio
Movimiento 26 de Julio
get well soon Señor Fangio
we miss you too Señor Fangio
hope you’re doing good Señor Fangio
things are good here Señor Fangio
get well soon Señor Fangio
Track Name: Los Viejos
sometimes I miss my mom and dad
my brother and his kid
but I can’t afford to look back now
it’s not like I ever did

I lost my best friend on a road like this
and another at the ‘ring
since then the disappeared have piled high
hands up if you know what I mean

so as I drive along this precipice tonight
it comes as no surprise
when the mind begins to play its tricks
and the ghosts pull up alongside

Wolfgang, Luigi, Alberto
Peter and Pierre
Pedro y Ricardo
look now, the gang’s all here
Track Name: Beat Your Halfshafts Into Swords (The Radicalization And Redemption Of Juan Manuel Fangio)
I don’t like to kill
it gives me little satisfaction
to do what’s now required
of the responsible man of action
the psychopaths and sadists
they bring such joy to the task
but me, yeah, not so much
why do you ask?

it’s been too many years
since I dropped in on Balcarce
the town where I was born
where I kept my Maserati
it’s a sweet 250F
I last drove at Spa, 1954
it was like an extension of my body then
not anymore

regrets, I’ve had a few
well okay, I’ve had a lot
I was courageous, a hero on the track
and off it I was not
I watched my countrymen
sent off to their deaths
and I never said a word
instead I used my celebrity and my fame
and I hid behind my name as a shield
a fucking shield
when it should have been a sword