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October 15, 2004

Mayan Art Exhibition

I never really understood rain sticks.

I mean okay. It’s a stick. You turn it. It sounds like rain. Cool for about two minutes and then it’s this thing leaning up against your wall taking up space.

Now I hear the purpose. By itself, it’s a stick that sounds like rain. In isolation, things have little meaning, it is in the context that the melody takes shape.

On Friday, October 15, my mother and I went to a museum exhibit/music exhibition at the Legion of Honor in S.F., The Mayan Kings.

Many years ago, when I was a child, my parents and I went to the Yucatan peninsula. I can still remember climbing the steep pyramids with my small feet. Climbing deep inside a pyramid at Chitchen Itza to view a jaguar throne. Looking into the mouth of Quetzcoatl. Walking down ball courts. Standing at the observatory at Tulum.

I remember through a gauze. The Vaseline lense of childhood. Mostly I remember when we were stranded at a bus station in the jungle and our bus did not come. I held the bottle of real vanilla, its scent hanging in the hot humid air, while my parents tried to filter their limping Spanish into getting to the next stop.

This time the signs were in English and Spanish and we didn’t get stranded in the jungle. As my mother said, “It’s a cheap trip.”

The exhibition down stairs included a nice smattering of art and explanation. Each room was arranged on a theme. Women of power in the world of Priest Kings. Mystical Maize gods and dancing rain. Incense burners in ornate curves. Warriors and Battles.

A Vaseline obscured world hinted at by bits of stone and ceramic and paint.

Then the hints became experience as we went up stairs to listen to traditional Mayan music played on instruments old and new.

And at last I understood sticks of rain. They aren’t meant to be played alone. A single stick turned to let the rice fall. They are meant to turn with wind sticks and thunder drums and you close your eyes and listen to the birds call through the down pour. Listen to jaguars grunt and monkey’s howl. Close your eyes to the flood lights and listen to the sound of the rain. Inhale the faint hint of vanilla wafting over the years.


October 16, 2004

Heroes, Heretics, and Harlots

A tiny playhouse that used to be a Laundromat. A play as ritual.

Sometimes Berkeley is so very, very Berkeley and I like it. After all, if it didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it.

The idea behind this show is for actors to choose a historical figure that “speaks” to them. They then research the figure and those figures are integrated together into a play.

In this case, all of the actors that came forward with women and the theme coalesced into the way one generations Heretic can be the next’s hero, etc.

·        Mary Magdalene

·        Hildegard von Bingen

·        Mary Shelly

·        Marie Laveau

·        Marilyn Monroe

Scenes ranged from a possible moment in the person’s life, the actor talking about their connection to the character, to moments when the figures met and discussed. The blond bombshell competition was funny. Although, I really wanted X to win.

It was the sort of play, where a person’s pleasure in a scene depended on one’s connection to the piece. Mary Shelly’s scenes washed me in the elegant current of her language. X was just dead on hilarious. The actress playing Marie Laveau had an impressive range as she shifted to play other characters.

I didn’t connect in quite the same way with the Monroe or Hildegard scenes and the Magdalene bits struck me as a little too earnest.  

Actually, in this play of Mary, Mary, Marie, and Marilyn, I was struck by the preponderance of Mary’s. As I listened to the actors talk about why their characters were (or in one case not) their heroes, there was the common theme of standing out. To be a rebel. The Magdalene and not the Mother. 

When we went in, there was a book to fill in the name of someone in history that you’d like to meet. I put in T.E. Lawrence, as I find his mercurial chameleon nature fascinating. 

As the play, closed I couldn’t help but think of the Shaw quote from Man and Superman that I associate with Lawrence. 

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” 

Or in this case, women.


October 22, 2004

Waltz Macabre

A new event spun out by the Friday Night Waltz crowd and inspired by Saint Saens Danse Macabre, which I’m happy to say they used my copy. 

The music selection was an incredible selection of modern and period danceable. I mean really, we danced to songs like Blood Makes Noise. I waltzed to This is Halloween.  

It was a good night. Nice costumes. And a pleasantly timed Dracula dance number during one the breaks. Often the temptation is drag the entertainment on too long. This was long enough to catch our breaths, watch some dancing, and then get back to our beat. 

The evening closed quite naturally with Danse Macabre and it was good. 


October 30, 2004

Gaskell’s Halloween Bash

Ah, the event where the costumer’s come out to play.  

There were some beautiful costumes and beautiful people as the Halloween season drew to a close in exhaustion. 

But wait, there’s more. 


October 31, 2004

New Wave City with Death Guild

put on a Halloween event. 

For a mainstream event, great costumes. I mean, no one expects Duff Man and the Prisoner.  

In addition to music, there was a live performance by Rosen Coven doing sort of spoof goth rock.

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