Discordian Harmony at the Pacific Northwest Folklife Festival
Sunday 24 May 2015
My eyes heard him hunched over his old green guitar before my ears could see him stretching notes thru the air. Old Man God stood in the Center of Seattle crouched in the corner facing Jerusalem on the other side of the world before turning his back on Abraham’s minions to face Ancient Timbuktu instead, his skin all black as Mississippi Goddamn and his beard as snowy white as polar bear belly all while focused on changing what never changes as he grasped the old, banged-up, burring, purring, electric, green guitar in his hands the same way Neptune once burst open the sky with his trident held high all a buzzsaw humming like Betty Dodson’s Hitachi Magic Wand gripped in Goddess hands orgasming the Himalayas apart with the Love Song of a Cosmic Chainsaw. His hands trembled all steady with purpose as he caressed his green guitar with the adoration Zeus once had for electric thunderbolts and nymphs sweaty with humid rust. Old God Man shuddered back on his feet, unwound his pelvis as Mike Mulligan once cranked up trusty Mary Anne, lumbered forward at the wall as a Zen steam shovel on testosterone and played his green guitar with a certain must with a deliberate lust driven to play things as they are with a ferocious thrust not what others demanded oh yeah he played with raw beauty and ugly grace oh yeah he played with verve to shear men and women like sheep oh yeah played his old green guitar so damn hard I swear the sky blazed electric blue and in the midst of such Rapture heard a vast groaning zombie drone as reanimated angels buzzed straight up outa the ground like Jimi Hendrix lighting up Woodstock high up on stage high above the mud deep down in O Mississippi Goddamn mud it’s Nina Simone eating up the sky with her brow all furrowed like eight thirty o’clock way up upon a stage crowded with pianos on fire PIANOS ON FIRE! giving voice to the lynched the burned and to the drowned. Aye, my hearing aids filled with the android squeals of Betty Dodson Jimi Hendrix Nina Simone jackhammering open bones skin and soul to touch my love with feathers stuffed with steel.
See, I heard all these things in a voodoo of pain nothing could change not even Deuteronomous Dali Bosch.
Oh man oh man so beautiful hey hey aye hey yea SEE Old Man God play his old green guitar!
Daylight faded between trees and buildings as dusk edged darkness. An unruly circle of drummers and other percussionists jammed chaotically around tangles of people dancing as if each to their own rhythm.
All ages, too, it seemed from eight to eighty at least. People swayed and giggled and spun around and wiggled.
Some danced with fluid grace. Others staggered, jerked, and skittered.
Three drunken, burly White mandude bros, one in an American kilt, charged each other growling and snarling to leap up and smash their chests and torsos together. Then they’d stagger back, plant their feet wide, lean forward, hunch over, flex their arms like crab mandibles, lower their heads like bulls about to charge, then opened their mouths wide as if they had ape fangs and snarled at each other like rape-drunk werewolves. I was mesmerized and amused by their primal idiocy. Scared, too. Yeah those devil men all full of science and technology possessed by Archons spewed forth from the Kosmic bowels of an inverted Black Hole scared me. Dark stuff stained their faces, but I couldn’t tell in the encroaching darkness if it was blood, mud, bad tattoos, insects, food goo, or all five smearshed together. These guys were huge, built like castles, and with as much intelligence as a row of fire hydrants. Their blundering stupidity and looming carelessness magnified their already grotesque disrespect of everything but Death but thanks to Jesus and Demon Rum their only pistols hung as flaccid as thawed out hot dogs as trite as sodium nitrite.
So many people appeared so intoxicated. Crazy shit going down all happy like liquid sex. People drunk. People stoned. Or both. Or with scabs and sores gone all to hell with minds cooked in bell jars and every track a trainwreck birthing oozing baby Cthulhus, worse.
Once nightmare dancers swirlking in shadows wailed hard so hard I could almost feel them clenching their souls as they dug into themselves with fistfuls of ten-penny nails gutterwauling, “We Hurt. We All Hurt. We All Fucking Hurt.” Ahhh, shit, but like hulk it, Brotha, and like blow out the gahdayum lights and stop popping so damn dirty while I play my fiddle under the sycamo’ tree while my gorgeous ol’ ugly ass pug-faced doggie dog with a red bandana tied around his neck oh so punk-hippie cute bobs up and down at a big ass kitty kat dyed violet purple-pink ignores the ugly ol’ doggie dog as she bats with her paw a fool ass toy Seattle Seahawk mermaid dangling all helter-skelter from the gahdayum mambo tree Zwish~SLAM! …Thump… Buh-BUH-Buh-BUH-Buh-BUH-BLAM! BOOM-BOOM-THUMP! thump…
Wha-What th’FuKka? Yo, burly White manbros in facegoo! Yeah, you, you three javelinas, you…Argh! Goin’ cannibal or what, but do stay over on your side of the grass, please. Jesus, dudes! Y’all be like adrenalin zombies, yo!
All three burly White mandudes SMASHED themselves together so hard I thought they would stoop over and vomit or toddle sideways into the ring of smoking glitterheads and little old lady Deadhead types and puke all over godmen’s post-afterthought creation.
Engrossed in madcap pandemonium, I wandered around with my girlfriend at the time, Darling Little Sky. We’d been dating barely four months, and it would last barely one more, but in the moment we really grooved the relationship music we made together. She was of Human descent, short and cuddly with long black hair and dark bronzed skin. Best of all, she was lively, funny, spiritual, artistic, passionate, beautiful, sexy hot, street smart and crowd savvy, and close to me in age. Well, I was five and a half years or so ahead of her on the timeline, so to speak. No matter. Darling Little Sky showed up in my life from out of the blue after half the sky fell down.
We loved people watching at Seattle’s now famous Pacific Northwest Folklife Festival. Felt curious at the strange mix of clothes and hairstyles, tattoos and piercings, ethnicity and religions, and pungent clouds of legalized cannabis.
Amused at how people live, I fall in love with all of them. We’re all one One, even those among us who smash each other into bug meat.
Darling Little Sky is disgusted and shakes her head. Then laughs.
“William, will you hold my things for me while I dance?” she asks, and I say, “Of course.”
So I take her bag and camera to sit and wander but with always at least three antennae up for my woman’s safety. I wasn’t up to shaking my tootsie across grass and cigarette butts or swaying as lost in the wind as a juggler’s runaway hula-hoop hoop. Darling Little Sky weaves and bobs among people as a martial artist in disguise and vanishes into the darkening bat shit crazy gloom to shimmy and spin but she’s always in my vision as my skin knows the wind.
The buzzing lifts high half the sky. I turn around. There. There he stands all hunched over in his inner nirvana: Old Man God with the Green Guitar.
He is as still as Buddha and as rooted as a redwood giant. He’s focused. Intentional. Intense. Old God Man is Man on Purpose. His deep life purpose unfolds before my mindbodyheartsoul. He stands so still. So still. His feet are planted shoulder width apart. White polar bear beard pinned down upon his chest. Black clothes hang off his body. He grips a long-necked electric guitar with a burnished wooden neck and a green body. A large, white pickguard covered much of the bodyfacing. The guitar looked like a Fender from a distance. I fantasized the old green guitar was a Stratocaster. Wasn’t sure, tho. The instrument, however, looked almost as ancient as the man who wielded it. As an Elder God ripped apart sky and sea he bent those metal strings into s-bend v’s and z’s to hack open Chaos with psychedelic buzzsaw vibrator hacker blues.
Keep in mind I wrestle with being a profoundly hard-of-hearing man with a touch of synesthesia, and my then-girlfriend-now-ex-girlfriend is a hearing woman, a beautiful hearing woman. I could see the telltale signature of a classic Guitar God thru the air long before I saw him with my ears. It was as if the sky vibrated, but the digital technology of my hearing aids insisted my auditory faculties faciled music directly into my brain.
“Can you hear that weird buzzing humming guitar music?” I asked Darling Little Sky as she stopped swaying to cock her ears up toward dark skies. “It sounds like Jimi Hendrix with a little bit of Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. I hear a lotta distortion. Psychedelic blues rock kinda stuff. Can you tell where it’s coming from?”
“Over there,” she replied after she tapped me on the shoulder and smiled into my eyes to break my own spell. Then she clasped my hand in hers, and I almost got lost in admiring the feel of her petite fingers and small hand entwined with mine. But we were on our way deeper into the mystery sound as we moved around and between throngs of dancing, swaying revelers twisted apart by little kids running zither and zather.
“Come this way,” she said. “Ooooh, may I have my bag back please? I want to get my camera out. Ah, thank you, William.”
One woman sat alone on the small stage about eight feet away from where Old God Man hunched over his green electric guitar where he stood facing his amplifier. The stage was surrounded by the travesty of a white picket fence with a gate. What had been neat rows of pink and blue chairs were now pushed apart in all directions. Most of them had been moved out into the grass to encircle the drummers and dancers nearby.
Darling Little Sky got closer to him than I ever did. She asked the woman sitting in a chair up on the edge of the stage if she knew him. I wondered if the woman was the guitar god’s daughter or even girlfriend. No, and no. I shot pictures quickly and hurriedly from afar. Blurred. Every picture a captured mess of vibration.
I realized I felt afraid. And I didn’t know why. But I was. I was scared. Aye, just a little bit scared. Damn. I hate being scared.
This was a god standing there. Working his magick. I, however, felt as an intruder. I felt as I invaded his privacy. Maybe he was once a world famous musician. Why the Hell did I not ask? Reminded me of a zombie, too, a zombie Jimi Hendrix, a zombie devouring the heart out of music, except instead of the notes disappearing into the belly of his soul he shared it all with the world, shared it all.
Darling Little Sky once worked in the film industry. She helped make documentaries and movies once upon a time and exhibits a certain courage. She’ll push her li’l bitty ass on up into skittish situations in edgy places and poke folks with microphones and camera lenses. This evening, however, she stood back and went no further than the white picket fence. Old Black Man God with old, beat-up, green, electric guitar, oh, he never turned. He never stopped. He never looked up. He stayed focused. Looking down. Hands and fingers intent. He was genius. And he played for himself. He played for God and Goddess. He played for all the world, aye, for Planet Earth. Atop Mt. Olympus? Hell, no. Atop Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa? Naw, man, this dude was bending notes from the top of Mount Everest.
He was simply there, Old Man God Zombie Jimi. There, here, now.
Zombie Jimi God. Human Demi God. Purging Archons.
Perhaps he was a homeless dude who showed up to take advantage of an opportunity to plug in and play. He played like he had not played in a thousand years. Maybe he was drunk and stoned, or as sober as ice and fire. Didn’t matter, tho. Lost in his own hallucinations, dreaming of a more glorious past, he was at the same time right here now and present to everything everywhere.
As a guitar god, this man achieved the heights of human integration. Consider the context of masculine-feminine polarity dynamics, which has little or no bearing on gender identification and sexual orientation. This term is more about bio-neuro-chemical energy. Music, dance, movement, life, and art in general as well as nature and the world are “feminine.” Emptiness, the void, stillness, death, purpose, focused intention, discipline, and consciousness self-aware and yet present to all and others are considered “masculine.”
Old God Man stood creating art with his green guitar as he demonstrated absolute mastery of both the sacred feminine and the holy masculine. The divine feminine and masculine interpenetrated one another in the muddy, messy, bloody, oozy wet perfection of biospiritual integration. Oblivious to all and yet acute present to everything, he gripped his instrument with surrender.
Eventually we walked away as the night swept in as high tide across the beach. Darling Little Sky and I strode uphill to where our car was parked somewhere above the Seattle Center. We could see the crunched sprawl of Seattle below and around us. Ours is a beautiful, quirky ass city of nerds and mountaineers, of plumbers and poets, of rebel entrepreneurs and bow-tied cowboi genderbenders, of baristas and sailers and pilots and kayakers and right-wing gun nuts and revolutionary left socialists and Arctic fishermen and national park rangers and wealthy capitalist barons in blue jeans and clever, smart, drug-addled squatters. Seattle is squeezed between mountains and the sea, deserts and rain forests, and between rain and sun. She’s a beloved, weird Capital of Secrets jigsawed apart by peninsulas and lakes and rivers. Seattle remains dynamic, eccentric, and moves with verve. Being here ears wide apart feels more as a provincial town on the fringes of empire growing so fast and so big it’s soon to become the capital of its own kingdom. Perhaps it reflects the undercurrent yearning for an independent or autonomous Republic of Cascadia.
Far off in the distance we could still hear the buzzsaw notebending of psychedelic blues and the trembling, wailing electric feedback of acid rock swirling as acoustical eddies in Seattle’s salty air. As we stepped higher up the hill and turned to look back to feel into the energy of air, lights, and city, I could see with my third eye Old God Man still hunched over his amp as he played upon his beat-up, green, electric guitar, his fingers as lithe as a wizard’s. Somewhere down there our Elder stood still in silence as he transformed air into music with sound. Amen, Zombie Jimi. Ameen.
William Dudley Bass
May & then October 2015
& finally 2 November 2015
City of Seattle, King County
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Copyright © 2015, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.
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