August 10, 2007
Mendocino to San Francisco
More chicken scratch diary from Lark in the Morning (hippie band camp):
We set up the coffeehouse first thing. Going for a Turkish / Tunisian oasis-tent vibe. The girls practice making chai and reciting (and arguing about) the method.
Mom takes out a pen to write it down … NO! NEVER in the history of the coffeehouse has it been written down. It’s forbidden. Also: it’s the most delicious chai in the history of tea leaves.
Circus tinsel has been thought of already, apparently. They called it Gypsy Rope, though it’s a new millennium now and we’re all learning the G-word is a slur we should never say and they’re called Roma or Romani people.
The rope is an old Renaissance Faire delineator they invented when people were having so much fun at Black Point’s original Faire they couldn’t bring themselves to leave.
Their version, made with rope and ribbon instead of Cyclecide’s circus-tinsel bluejean-seams and belllydance-pants scraps, was Security’s “hey babies, look at the rattle, now geddoutathere, Faire’s over, goodnight” aisle-maker into the parking lot. This is now the second thing Cyclecide has accidentally “channeled” from the Ren Faire, after Paul the Plumber’s Chik-N-Pult. We seem to be the only ones in camp who have never been to the Ren Faire.
We overhear the greatest conversations waiting for the shuttle between classes: One dude and his Ghanaian friend are bringing classical music to Ghana for the first time — via donated instruments for kids and hopefully a radio station too. Dude and his friend talk a lot about the possibility of one day hearing Beethoven’s Fifth on thumb harps.
We dip out to the Eastern European dance, where a gorgeous older woman with long straight hair and elf shoes makes squeaky noises and leads the crowd in a number of hand-holding, foot-shuffling line dances. We’re into it. All about the Balkans.
Last year at Lark, through our studies, we discovered the connections between the Roma and how their route traced from India through North Africa, the Balkans, Hungary, the former U.S.S.R., France, and Spain. Then we saw Latcho Drom and felt 1) stupid for not having seen it yet and 2) clever for making the movie’s connections on our own, with no help.
Balkan classes, Turkish dance classes, bellydance classes. That one 10/8 meter song the Turkish symphony class practices each day makes us feel like we’re riding on a camel, swaying back and forth in the woozy heat.
5/8, 7/8, 9/8 … it’s like Roma, who are historically impoverished and discriminated against and kicked around in all the countries they migrated to, enjoy music that sound like they couldn’t afford that last beat per measure. Or somebody stole it. Or the wagon wheel is broken and they have to hurry up and leave before the authorities arrive and accuse them of playing instruments lifted from some respectable property-owning family in town.
We love Romani music, to an intuitive degree. To where the bell in our heart starts to ring really loudly and force us to think of past lives we might or might not have lived.
Late most nights in the coffeehouse, after many campers have gone to bed and the fire has gotten low, a quartet (guitar, violin, upright bass, dumbek) practices a song in 13/18 meter.
13 freaking 18. The brain can’t get it. We don’t like to say “can’t” but we really can’t get it. All we do know is, after a few hours of listening to that, one’s brain actually begins to spread apart, so more music can be crammed in.
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