Starting Out at the End of the Line
The last two days characteristic of the display of unreasoning anger as demonstrated by different flavors of the perpetual underclass from two different sides of the world. Each in their own way so out of control that one’s first inclination is to call the cops. And, with the help of big brother national media, the darker one knowing intuitively that any black bitch top of her lungs ghetto propelled screaming at strangers type behavior on her part however continuous and outrageous will be tolerated by the local constabulary who are too cowed politically to step in any more. Thank God the other one is unawares of her tricks!
Bienvenue Chez Toni !
Back once more again at the ‘croissant house‘ off Michigan Avenue across from the Cultural Center consuming my share of French culture, literally speaking. By the time of my arrival at half past ten there is but one conventional croissant left before closing time for breakfast at the approaching hour mark. Incorporation lurking on the near horizon. Wannabe executives lounging about the establishment’s oak. Hangdog and carefully perfected prune-faced expressions signifying lifelong defeat or the unawares arrogance of simply being part of ‘the club‘. The usual influx leading to the fight for tables and chairs claiming territory in the name of their favorite sovereign of themselves. All races colors and creeds in quiet desperation of not becoming the one without a chair when the music stops and having to take their order to go. The purse drops unexpectedly nearby both physically and metaphorically.
A ‘big cheese‘ troops in with his junior executive entourage in tow. Perpetually dialing and talking to disembodied strange forces beyond the powers of normal man to comprehend he turns a weather eye to the lack of sufficient chairs and orders his mercenaries to stand down and retreat to some anonymous lobby far off from mortal sight nearby. Saving a smile and a friendly equal being the obvious money man whose back he massages with a couple of light and respectful pats. Definitely a playful sort when he cavorts with his own kind. His underling calling down a locust scourge of batteries of attorney’s to join the fray at this offshore secret location.
A resident liberal ‘femme‘ plunges all her available attention into the man spread of the N(j)ew York Times beside her ‘weak tea‘ companion thrilling to all the wonderfully politically corrupt but elegantly verbose descriptions of the world, the way it ought to be, for them. Her hapless male drone ‘insignificant other’ offering futile conversation bouncing off the 4/c quarter page newsprint advertisements emblazoned on its reverse side. Headlines proclaiming the same old sneaky harangue of, “All Hail Zog!” The outside wind pushes a fresh batch of willowy ingenues through the stately hardwood and brass revolving door. Each well-attired but unfortunately too vain about it to enjoy it. The waitress picking up dishes by comparison being a fuzzy haired beach ball figured with an enchanting face. The narrow waterway between now counter-commanded by one of the willow girls, little French schoolgirl briefcase backpack slung perfectly upon her narrow shoulders. My own verbally manipulative mental chess game of word flirtation summoning to mind my late father’s favorite sayings. “Any girl with a smile like that can’t be all bad!” and “If God made anything better than you, he kept it to himself!” The words echo and fade.
Preston Bradley Auditorium
“La jeune maîtresse de talent est à l’œuvre à pratiquer son art!” Or just plain superb for the rest of us Midwest country bumpkins! She and other performers like her are why I come here each Wednesday to sit amidst a soon to be dying flock of past generations incrementally fading into the auditorium’s ether. You would think that amidst this group of gray hairs there would be more demonstrable frivolity? The answer attributable perhaps to latent fears or to an over tired grip to boost their flagging spirits back up upon their long standing vainglorious pride? One of the few out of place looking solitary black guys plays a ‘Charlie Chaplin‘ around the room looking in a quite demonstrable manner for a better more distant viewpoint back further in one of the wings. One of the resident coughers arrives testing out his art before the show begins. I am all eyes to the hijinks and, as such, fair game to all eyes. Looking here and there in my mind’s eye translating the various collections of dowagers into reminiscences of my late departed mother and her inner circle.
That previously spied lone black guy in the back loudly doing his best to stand out by strenuously looking like he isn’t. His act is so good that it is so painfully easy to see him out of the side of my head. Two older fruits pass arm in arm towards the man and sympathetically sit just before him. The old gray heard dame guarding the back door looking resplendent in her Kelly green coat looks on as the ‘short shit‘ little general of the event enters from the direction of the side rooms. Her sudden presence signaling that the commencement of the affair is now imminent. A tall thin spooky looking Asian at her side on the return stroke, his striking appearance convincing enough to easily believe that he is currently an understudy for the modern Bela Lugosi at the next ‘Young Dracula‘ conference. A distant WFMT sweat-shirted Highland Park refugee works the room just beyond.
The solitary progeny of a thousand generations of Polish cleaning ladies makes her entrance in an old amorphous ‘pee yellow‘ nylon sports jacket supported by a gray wool knee-length lifeless skirt and the mismatch of droopy green socks. The mediocrity of her outfit being shockingly beneficial to the overall impression of humdrum perfectly offsetting her two thick white cedar tree trunk calves. Thank God I’m fat, bald and dumpy and can perfectly fit in here! I notice no ones sits in my vicinity as if I have farted? My late father’s characteristic breathy exhale come to mind fresh off my own lips. The semaphore of one medium, four short, and one extra long and fading away to silence. The mother of the dog who inspired, “who left the dogs out” passes slowly by. The intricacy of her hairdo is fascinatingly complex.
Finally! The little general marches towards the podium and take command of the microphone. “Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen . . “, she begins in the same precision of previous weeks. The litany is read and the impressive factual accolades for today’s performer are recited in carefully considered prose. She is the ‘Lake Como‘ of serene in her delivery. Just over by the wings today’s performer demonstrates her joyful effervescence taking in the glow of a thousand times a thousand Tiffany tiles. On cue, she enters looking arrestingly stunning in a tastefully modern version of an Arte Noveau evening dress. The black uniformed young vampire following at a discrete distance to take his place rive gauche to turn the pages. The music flows forth from the friction of her fingers translated through the keys into the ebony beast. My own facial expression animating theatrically like a 19th century steam organ at the saveur of the constantly meandering counterpoint of delicately placed intervals of sound and silence and intervening tempos. The first gnarly cough somewhere now hidden within the audience seems imminent! The first selections progressing without hardly a click or rustle or bang.
My own throat caught attempting to summon the nervous demon of a building tickle trying to evolve into an inadvertent hack. But stopped short by my sudden awareness of this mischief! I recall my dreams of the night before within which my avatars tried mightily to remain super quiet in order not to disturb the ever contentious forces of the nocturnal below. This performer understands the value of silence and the decay of notes and chords wrested from dying stanzas. Another unexpectedly deep breath. Stillness and a few distant polite coughs and throat clearings in the distance. A constant tremor in the hands of a woman sitting in front of her right beside the younger clone of her younger self embodied by her daughter. The presence of this duo uncovering loose soil over the shards of my own bittersweet memories of my own poor recently departed mother. The sparse gray roots upon her head atop the slowly melting candle of her torso sinking into the soft spread of her ever widening hips overflowing the seat of the chair. I wonder how imminent is the younger ones appointment with a much lonelier destiny not too far ahead? How sad!
The ‘old guard‘ green coat by the door pads silently across the room to a photo-cam happy Asian tourist interceding their impulse to so conspicuously point and shoot away. My mind rebounds from this interruption to the occasional ceremonies of little acts of kindness silently performed by me to others like her in my mother’s name. To look around the room it is not hard to imagine that I am not the only one in similar reflection of the same thought. The performer continues on and I wonder if she counts every cough rendered anonymously in her audiences at every venue? Does it feel like a slap? And then, Manuel deFalla!
The piano keys tumble forth And no I wonder if the strange talent formed in lifelong dedication by these performers is there to simply resurrect the dead? The tempo rousing, stirring, sharp reaching into one’s intestines. A perfectly chosen piece as a parting finale. A sequy from past eras to this one. Bartok, Ravel, and bits and pieces of who influenced who. I sometimes think that classical musicians share the goal the raise the spirits of these muertos channeling their force to embody their spirits once more alive and vital?