October 15, 2004
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
A tiny playhouse that used to be a Laundromat. A play as
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.
Hildegard von Bingen
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
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
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
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
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
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.