Foglines chapters 9 & 10

 

Fog 9-0

We arrived at the theatre a little before eight. Rory paled. Street looked a bit like a war or a gang zone. Or a bit of both. A couple of abandoned cars at the corner, windshield smashed, snow piling inside. The theatre itself was a late XIXth century affair that probably featured operas and the likes of Caruso before the whites gradually abandoned the area, fleeing to the south of Babylon. The façade had definitely seen better days. A big Ethiopian flag covered the front. People were pouring inside. Rory looked at his car, sighed and said:

“Okay. Doesn’t matter, I suggest we take one wheel each to make sure we still have them when we come out.” With a grin, that’s Rory.

Mary-Sue showed our tickets at the entrance to a black mountain of a guy. He gave her a 36 teeth smile, and told her “anything you need Baby, I’ll be right here”. 200 watts more of smile. Mary-Sue, who shrinks at the very idea of being called Baby said: “Sure, grandpa, I’ll keep that out of my mind”. And we entered the place. Mid rows, center. Good spot. Took off our coats, sat on them, after checking the once red velvet chairs for loose springs.

The theatre had indeed known better times. Balconies left and right where one could imagine black tie etiquette, men in long black coats, elegantes in corset, coming to hear Operas, Tchaikovsky… Most balconies were now barred. Remnants of worn out red velvet curtains hung on either side of the stage.

The atmosphere was composed of 20% oxygen, 60% nitrogen and at least 20% grass. The unmistakable smell of joints was everywhere. Plumes of smoke mimicking the fog in the streets. I guess they had a special arrangement with the Mayor for a temporary suspension of the non-smoking acts? Or was pot okay now that tobacco is a sin?

Crowd was largely, 70%, black, 20% white and 10% “others”. I assured Rory that should he need to go the john at intermission, I would accompany him, lest he should meet a couple of black mountains on the way who might question his ethnic origin. He said:

“Sure. Girls do it all the time, go to the loo in pairs or trios. Thanks M’Boy. Feel relieved already.”

Musicians were already tuning their instruments on the stage. A bit of Larsen now and then. The choir women (Not chorus girls) were on the left. Three black girls (sorry, women), two almost skinny, one of ample proportions. All three dressed in long yellow gowns. All three with a sort of turban, yellow, green and red, which, by now I should  have made clear are the national Ethiopian colours. They were already swaying to an unheard beat.

Greetings! In the name of the Emperor! Haile Selassié I (Aye) the First!

Shah! Rastafar(aye)

Ever living, ever fearful, ever sure!

Selassié Aye the First!

Yeah!

YEAHHHH! Shouted the crowd.

Yeah!

YEAHHHH!

Rastafar(aye)!

Ever living!

XYZ Marley or whatever his name was, had entered the stage unnoticed and started the show with “Rastaman! Positive vibration”. A good choice.

Rastaman vibration. Yeah! Positive!

(Positive)

Live if you want to live

(Positive)

I-n-i vibration yeah!

( Positive!)

Got to have a good vibe!

Iyaman iration, yeah!

(Irie ites!)

That’s what we got to give!

(Positive)

Wo-wo-ooh!

(Positive vibration, yeah! Positive!)

I was beginning to feel the music. Half closing my eyes.

Make way for the positive day,
Cause it’s a new

(New day)

News and days –
Cause it’s a new time

(New time),

And if it’s a new feelin’

(New feelin), yeah! –
Said its a new sign

(New sign):
Oh, what a new day!

On my right, Mary-Sue was tapping her foot, moving her shoulders back and forth, left to right. Sophie, on my left, was shaking her head slowly, left to right. Rory, as usual wasn’t shaking anything, just smiling to the music.

Pickin’ up?
Are you pickin’ up

(Now)?
(Pickin’ up)

Jah love – Jah love

(Protect us);
Jah love – Jah love

(Protect us);
Jah love – Jah love

(Protect us).

I was beginning to feel the vibes. Though Rasta beat is not exactly African, there is enough in common to let it seep through your skin, your bones. Enough to feel the  heat.
Rastaman vibration, yeah! The singer and choir finished with a flourish.

YEEEEAAAAHHHH!!!!! Applause. Whistles. Expectations…

(Exodus! Movement of Jah people! oh-oh-oh, yea-eah!)
Everybody got up. Shouting. Whistling.

Men and people will fight ya down

(tell me why!)
When ya see Jah light.

(ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!)
Let me tell you if you’re not wrong;

(then, why? )
Everything is all right.

Crowd started moving.

So we gonna walk – all right! –

through de roads of creation:
We the generation

(tell me why!)
(trod through great tribulation)

trod through great tribulation.

I started “dancing” back and forth. Arms close to the body. Like the  Masai warriors of my childhood.
Exodus, all right!

movement of Jah people!
Oh, yeah! o-oo, yeah! all right!
(Exodus: movement of Jah people! oh, yeah!)

Mary-Sue started to dance.
Yeah-yeah-yeah, well!
Uh! open your eyes and look within:
Are you satisfied

(With the life you’re living)?

Uh!

She moved well.

We know where we’re going, uh!
We know where we’re from.
We’re leaving Babylon,
We’re going to our father land.

She moved very well. (Contrary to popular belief, not all blacks dance well. Only 91% do)

Exodus! Movement of Jah people! Oh, yeah!
(Movement of Jah people!)

Send us another brother Moses!
(Movement of Jah people!)

From across the red sea!

She danced very, very well. Eyes half-closed. Good moves.

(Movement of Jah people!)

Send us another brother Moses!
(Movement of Jah people!)

From across the red sea!
Movement of Jah people!

Me? I was just enjoying myself. If I dared I would have started jumping up and down like the Masai or Samburu.

Exodus, all right! oo-oo-ooh! oo-ooh!
Movement of Jah people! oh, yeah!

“Hey Bwana boy, you move all right for a white boy,” Mary-Sue said.

“You too,” I said, “for a Babylonian.”

“Ha!” She laughed, and rolled her shoulders.

Exodus!
Exodus! all right!

Mary-Sue’s eyes.

Exodus! now, now, now, now!

Mary-Sue’s smile.
Exodus!

Mary-Sue’s hands.
Exodus! oh, yea-ea-ea-ea-ea-ea-eah!

Mary-Sue’s legs.
Exodus!

Mary-Sue’s hips.
Exodus! all right!

Mary-Sue’s lips.
Exodus! uh-uh-uh-uh!

Mary-Sue’s arms, up and around.
Move! move! move! move! move! move!

“MovePete! Move, Bwana Boy. Exodus!” Mary-Sue said with her eyes half closed.
Open your eyes and look within:

Getting closer. Smelling her perfume.
Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?

Get the rhythm. Get her rhythm. She gets your.
We know where we’re going;

Back and forth, around and around.
We know where we’re from.

Do we? I don’t know where I’m from. Does she?
We’re leaving Babylon, y’all!

Mary-Sue started rotating her hips. Like only African and Latino women know how to do. I’ve seen Myriam Makeba do it at 70-something years old in a concert only a few hours before her death. Rotate the hips, shuffle your feet, turn to your right a little, rotate, shuffle, turn…

We’re going to our father’s land.
Mary-Sue’s eyes into mine: “where are we going with this”?
Exodus, all right! movement of Jah people!

Mary-Sue’s moves.
Exodus: movement of Jah people!

Pete’s moves. (This honkey can dance?…)
(Movement of Jah people!)

Teeth…White!
(Movement of Jah people!)

Hair. Hands. Breasts rolling. Almost in my face!
(Movement of Jah people!)

Move! Move! Move!
(Movement of Jah people!)

“Dance Pete, Dance with me, White Boy”!
Move! move! move! move! move! move! move!

Triple X Marley is dancing too. Very Marley. Arms extended. Right arm lower. Left arm higher. And he turns, like the dance of the crowned cranes in East Africa. And he turns. Like a tribal dance of the high lakes.
Jah come to break down pression,

And Mary-Sue extends her arms, starts turning. Like a crowned crane.
Rule equality,

And I extend my arms. And I start turning, like the big birds on the lakes.
Wipe away transgression,
(Set the captives free.)

SET THE CAPTIVES FREE! Shouts the crowd.

SET THE CAPTIVES FREE!
SET THE CAPTIVES FREE!

Exodus, all right, all right!

Mary-Sue bends towards me. Rolls her… shoulders again.
Movement of Jah people! oh, yeah!

She smiles.
Exodus: movement of Jah people! oh, now, now, now, now!

Turns around.
Movement of Jah people!

Rolls her hips.
Movement of Jah people!

Turns around.
Movement of Jah people!

Bends towards me.
Movement of Jah people!

Rolls her… shoulders.
Movement of Jah people

Movement of Jah people!

Rolls her shoulders in my face.
Move! move! move! move! move! move! uh-uh-uh-uh!

I smile.
Move (ment of Jah people)!

She smiles.
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!
Movement of Jah people!

YEEEEAAAAHHHH!

We collapsed in our chairs. Laughing. Mary-Sue gave me a high five. Rory was a little out of breath. Probably hasn’t danced since Eric Clapton was playing with Cream. Sophie was peachy.

WAONW! Cried the guitar.

WAONW!

WAONW!

We all jumped up again.

TUN DU TUN!

TUN DU TUN!

TUN DU TUN!

Stir it up little darlin’

It’s been a long long time

Since I got you on my mind…

(Is it????)

Come on and stir it up!

“Stir it up Mary-Sue…”

“Stir it up Bwana Boy…”

I’ll skip “No more trouble”, “Is it Love?”, “Kinky Reggae”. The crowd was dancing on the chairs, on the floor, in the alleys. We didn’t need no more trouble, just the sweet, soft, warm, sandy rhythm of Reggae. Triple XYZ Marley ended up with Jammin’. We jammed.

10

Say: who will be the ennemy

Of angel Gabriel?

It is he who by the will of God

Laid down the Book on your heart

– Quran  02 – 91

We all grabbed our coats. Filed quietly to the door. Street outside was very white. Not sandy white, despite the two hours of Jamaican beat. No, “Môn”, just snow white, without the dwarves. No foggy grey. We found Rory’s car after ten minutes of brushing the snow off every car on the street. Which obviously led into a snowball fight. Guess who started it?  Not Sophie. All four wheels were there in the right place. Windshield wasn’t smashed. We packed in. Rory and Sophie in the front. Mary-Sue and I in the back. The back seat suddenly appeared to have shrunk. Mary-Sue’s knee was brushing against mine. We all commented the best moments of the concert.

            Rory drove carefully. Some snow. Bits of fog appeared on 52nd. Mary-Sue’s hand was resting on my knee. My arm was resting on the back of our seat. Playing with the yellow, red and green highlights in her hair. Very un-British of me, I must say.

            Rory lives on 45th and Sorrel. On 46th, he slowed down and asked:

“You guys want me to drop you? Mary-Sue?”

“Thanks Rory,” Mary-Sue said, “there’s a bit of snow on the street. Dangerous in the car.” (Big smile.)

“Thanks Rory,” I said, “I’ll walk her home.” (Re-smile.)

“Suit yourself. Thank you so much Mary-Sue, lovely concert.”

“Nice to meet you guys,” Sophie said, “and thank you again Mary-Sue for the invitation. I had a wonderful time!”

“Nice to meet you Sophie,” we choired. “Bye Rory.”

We walked the five blocks from 45th to Mary-Sue’s place in quiet silence. The white Bwana Boy and the Black American girl. Babylon was white. The snow crissed under our feet. Sorry. That’s French, crisser, I mean crunched. Crissed is an Awstrailian expression meaning extremely smashed, pissed beyond redemption. We arrived at Mary-Sue’s building. Without skipping a beat, Mary-Sue said:

“Wanna come upstairs? For a drink or something?”

“Or ‘something’”? I said. “Sure.”

We were tearing at each other’s clothes before the lift doors closed.

*

I woke up with a start. I must have dozed. The lights were on. I was in Mary-Sue’s bed. She was lying on her side, her head propped on an elbow, looking at me with a giant smile.

“Hey Bwana Boy,” she said.

“Hey,” I said.

“That was nice, white boy, but…”

“But?” I asked.

“You sure about this?”

“Positive,” I said. “The greatest concert I’ve ever been to!”

She looked at me speechless for endless seconds, then threw her head back in a mighty laugh.

“Hon(k)ey, you really are something! Anybody else I would’ve hit right now and here.” She waved a black fist under my nose. Yellow, red and green nails. She really had prepped for the concert. I smiled and said:

“Did I sense the mere whisper of a (k) in the word Honey”?

“Yek(s)! No(k). Heaven forbid, thing is I’ve never… dated a ‘honkey’ before. Kinda nice, though. Not very different. Just the color. Yek! You be so white”.

“It’s a genetic defect, I’m told. No melanin. Runs in the family.”

She laughed again. Gave me a big juicy kiss on the mouth, and said:

 “You have a mouth on you, Bwana Boy. A nice mouth. But what you should know is that I am a B-Witch.”

“(B)Witch?” I asked.

“No. B-Witch,” she said.

“As in B-ware?”

“That too. You can also pronounce it B(w)itch.”

“B as in?”

“BITCH,” she said.

“Okay, Babe In Total Control of Herself. I can handle that. But, the (W)itch part as in…?”

“WITCH. I’m a witch. Voodoo and all that inherited from my slave ancestors down in Louisiana, Alabama or such. I have certain powers. Runs in the family too, I’m told. Witches have many powers. So beware!”

Fog 10-1B-W-ITCH by Lorne Dann

 

For those unfortunate enough to have missed the original Marley ’79 Concert in Babylon, click or copy the following link:

 

 

Text © BMO and Equinoxio

Lyrics © Bob Marley

And thanks to Youtube. 🙂

 

 

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