I wrote this the week before I turned 27 and had an extremely limited print run on November 16th, 2016 where , in a bizarre turn of events, some copies were distributed right under my nose. These days those print copies are worth thousands of dollars to the right collector.
The Open Mic
Some nights, not every night but some, I only need a few hours of sleep before I wake up like a spring-loaded child on Christmas morning. Tonight has been such a night, and, while I can’t point to any particular anticipation this time, my mind recalls a different night spent in the autumn of 2011, when I had the chance to see, and meet personally, one of the greatest artists of our time: Lady Gaga.
At the time, I had been on the tail-end of getting my bachelors at Oakland University, living in Troy with my brother Mark just before he got married but right after he finished his last overseas deployment in the Marines. Living in a Marine’s home as a young and burgeoning Marketer Extraordinaire was quieter than you might expect, but perhaps that’s just my perspective. I spent most nights in my room reading books the college didn’t assign me, writing poetry about my non-existent love life, and picking tunes out of the ole guitar I co-opted from my brother who received it from our grandparents who purchased it in Nashville, Tennessee some long year ago.
You see, I had in mind at the time one goal that was sure to assuage all the pain and trouble I thought I had, one goal that- though lofty and nigh impossible – I felt was uniquely within my reach. I wanted to get filthy rich and famous by any means necessary.
My brother, in his way, believed in me. He’d come to my room after turning the thermostat lower every night and tell me “Scott, those dulcet tones of your voice are only comparable to the expressive ringing melodies coming from that old guitar you stole from me. But greater still are the cutting lyrical poetics you form out of mere English clay.” Bashful, I’d smile and shake my head no, grateful for the kind words.
As I worked more and more toward my dream, crafting perfect song after perfect song in the madman’s lab known as my bedroom, I began to itch to pull the trigger, to take my creations out to the public so as to entrance the masses as I had my brother.
I signed up for my first open mic in the Black Lotus brewery in Clawson. When you’re a nobody who wants to be a somebody, you have two choices of venue distinguished only by vice: caffeine or alcohol, coffee shop or bar. As a marketer, I knew audience choice was everything, so I picked the drunk one.
I had written thousands of songs at this point, trashing just about as much. Some call this demon perfectionism, but I just thought of it as iterative mastery. In any case, of the thousands two survived, and that was just enough for an open mic set.
I drove down to Clawson on my own, without telling my brother my designs. If he were to come, I felt his imposing presence coupled with his borderline sycophantic love for my art would influence the crowd of drunkards like a gunshot dissipating a flock of birds hidden in the trees. If anything were to get these people moving and tapping their feet, moving and crying tears of repressed emotion, it were to be my two songs, and I needed to be sure of it.
I walked into Black Lotus with guitar in hand and looked about at the sparsely populated room. I had made the classic mistake of showing up to a local music event exactly on time, and I was the only musician there. Hell, it seemed beside the staff I was the only person there.
So I found a corner to lean my guitar against and sat down, ordering a beer to calm my nerves and keeping my eyes peeled for a sign of life.
Fifteen minutes came and went and so did my beer, but no people showed up. Upon ordering my second, I asked the waitress what the deal was.
“That’s not for another hour at least! Did you remember to set your clock back for Daylight Savings Time?”
Blast! In my creative reverie I had completely forgotten about that. Some master I was, I thought, sitting there an hour early with my big black guitar case drinking in an empty bar. To save face, I thought it best to order food, so I got myself an order of sweet potato fries and tried not to look like the idiot I felt like.
Soon enough, true as the lady’s word, people started trickling in, and by Jove some of them were musicians too, all with their very own big black guitar cases awkwardly positioned here and there while they ordered their drinks.
Musicians are an interesting lot, coming in all sorts of various guises. You have the rocker types with their zippers and their stubble, pop-punk types wearing eyeliner despite their gender, folkies with their anachronistic garb that makes you wonder where they shop, and all of them looking nervous that the ace up their sleeve is just another joker.
One musician came in with her big black guitar case and managed to stand out. She was amiable, unguarded. Laughing.
She seemed to know everybody but, more importantly in my eyes, everybody seemed to know her. Strategically I knew I had to meet her.
While I was plotting my strategic advance, picking at my sweet potato fries to steady my mind, drinking my beer too, as if the perfect approach laid only in the next carbohydrate or ounce of alcohol, she ruined any chance of a thought out meeting by coming to my corner herself and sitting across from me.
“ARE THOSE SWEET POTATO FRIES?” She bursted forth.
“They are cold sweet potato fries,” was the best I could manage.
“Heat is overrated. Can I have one?” She had already eaten three. “Are you signed up for the open mic, or are you guarding that guitar? I haven’t seen you around before.”
“I’m new, brand new. Never played before. Where do i sign up?”
“What’s your name?”
“I gotcha.” With that she sprang up and went up to a guy with a clipboard and cables in his hand, scribbling something very quickly, then she came back.
“All signed up! You’re going after me. I’m Emily by the way.”
The night, so far, has been going much less like I thought it would. But I wasn’t prepared for the snowballing avalanche that was to come, the sequence of weird and downright bizarre events that would lend me across a table under a Havana canopy, crying, being comforted by none other than Lady Gaga herself.
An Unexpected Dancer
A funny thing happens when you listen to music in a live setting, performed by artists you’ve never seen before, who could very well have just walked in from the street, just like I did that fateful night I met none other than Lady Gaga. At least for me, when I see a local act play, I see broken reflections of myself, perhaps in a different time or had I made different decisions.
The first artist to play that night was an older gentleman than I, probably mid-forties, and I could tell playing these songs for strangers for him was as convivial an experience as drinking was for the rest of us, though perhaps holier. He worked through old Bob Dylan covers, singing in a steady rasp about changing times and the North country, and concluded his set with what he claimed to be an original. The chorus went something like this, if I remember correctly:
Though I walk a crooked path
And though my feet are sore,
I know I’m walking Eden’s trails
For the apples on the grassy floor
Or something like that. It’s been awhile.
He concluded his set with a gracious smile and joined his compatriots in laughter amidst their applause, and the emcee thanked him, announcing the next act.
Now I don’t know to this day if it was nerves or the booze or the sweet potato fries, but I started burning up right quick and needed to get some air, so I left my guitar as a tacit form of collateral, always afraid of looking like a dine and dasher, and headed outside.
Once outside, the heat continued to flood into my face, and as I stood under the eaves, my vision blurred. I heard someone approach and once they got closer, I noticed they were beautiful if inhuman.
Her hair was long, dark and drenched. Large, crescent moon medallions hung from her ears, and, in my hazy vision, I could swear I saw a third eye sitting squarely on her forehead.
“Wha- who are you?” I stammered.
“I am your guiding spirit” said the guiding spirit, “and I need you to listen carefully.”
“Well that was easy. Anyway, you cannot perform tonight. It is not in your stars.”
“But…I am already signed up! Emmawhatshername already put me down!”
“It’s an open mic kid. Nobody cares if you skip out.” Her moon medallions glinted in the moonlight.
“If you play your songs tonight, the world will delve into chaos. I will dance to the dulcet tones of your voice, and in my dance, destruction of the known world will commence, and what was old will become new, and all that is certain will be shrouded in mystery once again.”
“That’s some heavy stakes…” Before I could finish my thought, the spirit was gone, and I found myself staring at a lamppost with a flyer stapled to it advertising a local band called The Dancing Shivas.
Shaken up, I returned to my car and filled my pipe with tobacco, unconcerned about the long-term health effects of smoking, trading the risk for a moment of centering. It’s not everyday you hallucinate, and certainly not everyday said hallucination makes a grave threat barring you from doing something you were literally about to do.
I started my car and drove out of the parking lot, forgetting my guitar, driving south. I couldn’t explain why. But soon enough, I knew it wasn’t serendipity that drove my will that day, but kismet itself.
City Of Ghosts
I had been driving for hours, with only kismet in my heart guiding me. The night had long settled and cars on the interstate were hardly there to be seen, only an odd pair of headlights every so often.
To keep awake, I kept my pipe packed and smoking and played music loudly with the windows down and heat blasting. Concert venues would like you to believe music is best enjoyed live and maybe there’s truth to it, but for me, music is best enjoyed while trapped in the confines of a metric ton of steel hurtling down cold pavement at excessive speed, totally alone flying mere feet above the earth.
Here, you can enjoy an album or song on repeat, for hours, with no fear of judgment or need to appease some crowd or duty to do something else. So long as the car isn’t groaning and you stay within the lines on the road, your duty is fulfilled, and life like that suits me just fine.
It’s a different state of mind, and if I could access it and spin yarns on the multitudes of genius ideas, emotional revelations, and spiritual blessings bestowed upon me during these meditative flights down the American interstate system, I would. It would be better than this trash. I’d even hazard to say it’d change someone’s world, even if just mine. But the mind at work there is a different one from the one writing to you now, and was never meant to be shared. And that suits me just fine as well.
Out of my trance, I found myself in the only American city with a vibe as ancient as those in Europe, one storied and cultured in a way you know you’re walking on hallowed ground, though hallowed not by any God you know. Parked at the mouth of the Mississippi, unfed, unwashed, ears ringing, and smoke trailing out of my nose, I found myself in none other than New Orleans, Louisiana.
Bob Dylan once said of this town that the first thing you notice are the cemeteries, lives of those who have sinned and now entombed lingering by the sepulchre and hanging off the wrought iron. The lazy rhythm hanging on the air that brings a feeling of lingering, that those who die here stay, and that the dead remain for a long time.
The city is a very long poem, and everyone there is worth listening to. A man named Charlie approached me and said he had a bit of poetry he was working on and he thought I was there to hear it.
There was a bluebird in my heart
Who wanted to get out of there
But I was scared to let him go
So I barred him away and
Hid him from all he wanted to see
I tried being tough but he sang so sweet
Nothing would quiet him and
Though he couldn’t be seen
He could always be heard
Even over the trumpets and laughing
Even over the gas burning and women crying
There was a bluebird in my heart
He wanted out
I wanted to keep him away but I was
I let him out one night when
I couldn’t sleep.
I said to the bluebird, you
Want out so bad?
Here you go.
He sang one last sad song for me, true as he was blue,
And flew away to find a place to die.
I weeped loud and long, and when I stopped
I tried to listen
But now I hear nothing
I told Charlie that’s a mighty fine poem, a bit sad though. He didn’t look the type to be sad out loud and I guess that’s what he was saying. He laughed at the end of that poem though, saying it wasn’t close to done if that’s what I thought. He moved on to the next guy down the street and said the same thing. As I walked away I heard him laugh again.
I hadn’t slept in days but I didn’t feel the need, so I went to one of the famous bars on Bourbon street hoping to find my kismet.
What I found there wasn’t the end of my journey, but certainly close to it.
It was the middle of the day, so the bar I went to on Bourbon Street was only half-full. I sat alone, across from where they pour the beers on tap, and tried to get a grip on the insane situation I threw myself in, what the feeling in my heart was, what the hallucination, if it was that, meant, and how I managed to travel over a thousand miles in a single night without pause.
The only answer I could come up with was music. It’s not unheard of for music to move somebody literally, after all, that’s what dancing is. But to move me across the country? Seemingly on impulse?
There was something more to it. And for some reason, I felt the answer was at the bottom of a glass of Wild Turkey 101. And when I found no answers there, I felt it must be on the bottom of the next glass.
It didn’t take long until I stopped thinking about the problem my sudden flight represented and started thinking about the problem four glasses of Wild Turkey 101 on an empty stomach represented. A bubbling churning started in my gut, and I felt it was time to join in on the storied tradition of Bourbon Street. I ran out the bar, leaving a twenty-dollar bill behind, and made my way for the alleyway, hoping to preserve at least a little of my dignity behind some dumpster.
I felt derelict. Beat up. Strangely sober, but tired as all get out. I laid myself down on the sidewalk and let my mind go into still darkness.
I don’t know how long I had been sitting there when I heard a soft voice break into my consciousness, a kind voice, not a Southern accent or even a Cajun one, but British.
“Oh you poor thing, look at you. You look like you’ve fallen from space!”
I opened my eyes to see a face as beautiful as her voice was kind, framed by fire-red hair, kneeling before my supine body. Her hands moved the hair out of my eyes and I immediately felt trust in her.
“I’ve fallen before too, don’t feel bad mon ami. I’ve fallen out of favor and I’ve fallen from grace.” She held onto my hand and helped me up. “Let’s get you taken care of, shall we?”
She walked me to her hotel, holding onto my hand as if I’d be the one to run away. But I didn’t feel compelled at all to do so. I only felt compelled to let her take me in and heal me. Perhaps kismet was in the care of this stranger?
On the way, she told me stories of spirits in the buildings. Thieves, liars, unrequited lovers who linger in the halls of storied buildings. She cautioned me, don’t call them thieves or liars, but make it clear you wish not to be stolen from or lied to. The spirits of lovers were the most dangerous. They will make you fall in love with them and you will love them so much you will kill yourself for them.
She had taken me to a hotel in the French Quarter called the French Market Inn. The whole building was covered in brick, and even on the inside walls, brick covered everything. It had the feeling of either a fortress or a mausoleum. Though in this town, perhaps it was both.
Once in her room, she had me sit on the edge of the bed while she scrambled around gathering clothes, towels, and some food she had in the mini-fridge. She told me her name was Florence and asked me to tell her my story, which I found odd. Usually these exploratory questions take place earlier, but it didn’t seem so much like she was listening. Though she managed to finish my sentences for me when I began to trail off, and she managed to ask the perfect question to keep me going when I lost the thread.
She had me shower and change into new clothes, and when I came out, she had a full meal ready for both of us sitting on the little table in the corner by the sliding glass door. Night had fallen, and the roar of waves crashing could be heard in the distance.
She noticed me looking out to the sea.
“The ocean is a great sweet mother, isn’t it?” She looked behind her through the glass door to the beach. “Why don’t we eat out there?”
I must have visibly lit up, because she sprang up with a huge smile and hugged me, grabbing her plate with no regard for the contents and jumped in the air.
“Thálatta Scott! Thálatta!”
I quickly gathered my plate and tried following her, but her lack of any apprehension made her swift. I tried shutting the glass door with my foot while balancing plates and cups but she moved so fast I feared I’d lose her in the distance if I tarried longer.
By the time I caught up, she was sitting cross-legged with the tide coming dangerously close to the hem of her dress, eating her meal in perfect contentment while I panted, collapsing across from her.
We ate together and she told me of her views on communion. That it wasn’t always just had in temples and cathedrals, but anytime a meal is shared between friends or family. That eating together is bonding, a peace brokered between not only the participants at the meal but between each individual and their own life. To take in sustenance, which will become body and energy, is to reaffirm our own lives as worth living, and to do so together is to say our lives are worth living together.
It was beautiful to think about. It was beautiful to think about next to the tide with the moon overhead and stars glistening and music carrying over from the New Orleans night. It was beautiful to think about, too, that impulse brought me here, and seemingly, nothing more.
Then she asked me a simple question. If I were to see any musician who has died play for me, who would I want to see?
It didn’t take me long to answer. My favorite songwriter has been Warren Zevon ever since I heard of him some years ago. He had been a hard rocking, hard partying man who managed to fight his demons and win, producing brilliant album after brilliant album, but he still died young, in his fifties, from mesothelioma, the asbestos cancer.
“Great choice, Scott! I couldn’t agree more. I have a surprise for you. Are you afraid to trespass?”
Leave My Monkey Alone
I have always been a night person. Sure, I’ve dabbled in waking up early. It was even enjoyable. I could see why people do it. But night-time Scott was always the best Scott to me.
Other people are different. Some people can’t stand the night; they get tired before the sun has even set. Still, others fear the night, and perhaps that night, I could have been considered one of them.
Florence changed as the night went on.
She led me down the way until we were far from the city and the music could no longer be heard. We must have walked for hours, silently, until we got to a dark cove fed by the great Mississippi itself.
There, she had me help build a fire and I arranged kindling and timber as best I could, remembering the old days in Boy Scouts when they gave me a little laminated card for being able to start a fire under strict surveillance.
She kept promising me that she would make my dream come true. She said the dead were easier to contact than the living. The living are too concerned with themselves, and unless you stand right in front of them and shout their name, you’ll hardly get the time of day out of them. The dead, however, were all around us.
Once the fire was going, she beckoned me to come closer to her. She was on her knees facing away from the fire and she had me kneel across from her in the same manner, legs folded under sitting on my feet.
“What exactly is happening?” Something told me I wouldn’t get my answer verbally.
“You’ll see.” Called it. “Let me see your hand.”
I gave her my right hand and she clasped it with both of hers. Her grip was soft.
“The water has given us so many things Scott. Life in ancient times crawled out from the water. Time and water flow hand in hand, carving the earth we see and love. But she’s a cruel mistress. And a bargain must be made.”
I wasn’t liking where this was going.
“To make life, we must take life and let if overflow. Take the water and give it to the dry and desiccated.” Her grip tightened and I felt a searing pain in my palm, and a hot spilling of blood into her cupped hand.
Fear gripped me. Fear like I’ve never felt before. What have I done, letting this madwoman take me in? But she didn’t seem mad when she was taking care of me. She didn’t seem mad when she was listening. My fear was born not of pain, but of confusion.
She leapt up, my blood cupped in her hands. I wanted to run, to get to safety. Back home. Where my brother keeps the thermostat set low and gives me compliments on my music. Where the biggest challenge was getting to an open mic night on time. But, as the blood coursed from my hand, something new came into my mind. Something alive. I felt my heart pulsing in the wound, hypnotic and rhythmic. That something alive was me. And here, I noticed that.
Florence was across the fire and I still knelt where I was, staring at the wound in my hand. I got up and walked to where she was.
She was chanting and spreading my blood across what could only be described as the corpse of a small, primate-like creature.
“Ha’ina ‘ia mai ana ka puana. Ha’ina ‘ia mai ana ka puana.”
Then, a thunderclap. And to my great surprise, the corpse stirred. It rose up, much like an old man would, and Florence gave him a pair of glasses with purple, circular lenses. The creature took the hem of her dress and cleaned the glasses, then put them on.
“I feel short. And thirsty.”
“Yes, yes, you are!” Florence handed the creature a bottle of water. “Do you know who you are?”
“Of course I know who I am! Who are you people?” This creature had spunk.
“I am Florence, and this here is Scott. He’s a huge fan of yours.”
“Tell him I don’t want to play Werewolves.”
Maybe the blood loss kept me from piecing together these events in a rational way, maybe I’m still hallucinating, but I was certain I knew who it was.
“Warren? Warren Zevon?”
“What, my biggest fan doesn’t recognize me? That explains the royalty checks.” Florence laughed and ape-pygmy-corpse-inhabiting Warren Zevon smirked.
If you ever thought you’ve experienced mixed emotions about an event in your life, try being lured to a ritual sacrifice where you are the unwitting goat but you also get to meet your musical hero who you knew has been dead for years.
Florence looked at me and the fear returned full force. But her face softened and so did my fear. She came up to me and ripped some cloth to wrap around my hand, disinfecting it with some hydrogen peroxide, before wrapping it tightly around my bleeding hand. She kissed it, and the pain vanished. She had prepared for this.
“You kiss his hand cause he has a cut, what do I get for being an undead monkey?”
Travels to Havana
Everybody’s mind has a little recorder, one that sets events to memory in detail your day-to-day mind is too busy for. You can feel when this recorder switches on, like a *click* in your hippocampus. Time slows, and you can feel it in the earth’s gravity pulling on you ever so lighter. You can see the wind pushing blades of grass with swaying grace.
In my memory, when Florence had Warren play for me, I can remember every little detail. Every melody, lyric, facial expression, everything.
Warren’s pygmy arms had human hands sewn on, and he played a little electronic Casio keyboard. He played song after song through his catalogue, stopping to regale me with stories of his past life, like the time Hunter S Thompson appointed him as the county coroner in Aspen, Colorado. He said it was lonely work, being the coroner.
Warren’s hands had started to fall off, so Florence tried to sew them up tighter, but they could only hold up for one more song. Warren asked me what song that would be and I had the perfect one in mind, sitting there by the fire.
It was the song that got me through the toughest times in my life, one that told me, no matter the situation I ended up in, no matter how angry the world was at me, I could always rely on my confederates, whether I was right or wrong, to help me out, and that there’s beauty in that.
He played Desperadoes Under The Eaves for me, and he played it slow and soulfully, sweeter than I’ve ever heard it before. As he hummed the final part of the song, the sun broke through the trees over the water, and I started bawling like a baby. They let me cry there for what felt like hours, Florence holding onto me and Warren sitting there, humming, repeating the outro as long as it took for me to process everything.
“Why have you done this for me?”
“You’re a very special man Scott. The dulcet tones of your voice ring out across all the existential planes, though you may not realize this. The truth is, we need you. We need you to meet The Great Mother across the ocean. The fate of the world depends on this.”
“This is getting weird Florence.” I looked over to Warren, to see if he agreed, but he gave me a look like I should’ve considered the situation weird hours ago. “You see, I had a vision, a hallucination, before I was about to play my first open mic night. A woman came to me, with long dark hair, soaked, and moon medallions hanging from her ears, and a third eye, and she told me I shouldn’t sing, that it would bring about the destruction of the world.”
“I see. We too were visited by this spirit. Her name is Shiva, and her dance is both terrible and beautiful. Pompeii, the Black Plague, all these events were brought on by the terror of her dancing. But also, from these ashes, she created strength in men, resolve, and new civilization that could love stronger than before.”
As Florence told us of Shiva and her great warning, I started feeling sick. What power have I so selfishly developed? Though I didn’t know, and I can’t blame myself for that. But then, perhaps the world needed a fresh start. But then again, who am I to decide that?
“Who is this Great Mother, and what does she need from me?”
“I don’t know. We’ll have to travel to see her. And she will have the answers.”
Just then, a barge came up, or moreso, a raft with a sail. It was made of bamboo and seemed self-propelled.
We got on the raft, Warren, Florence, and I, and it started out, by itself, across the bay and into the River. Lazily, but somehow we were making excellent time because, before I knew it, we were on the ocean itself, and land could not be seen.
Here, Florence pulled rope out of a crate and said to me these waters were dangerous. Sirens sing in these waters. They sing and lure travelers away from their course so they could feast on their flesh.
I was uncertain, again, but at this point I’ve acquiesced to worse so I let her tie me against the mast so I wouldn’t try to steer the raft off course. She then had Warren tie her against the mast as well.
“Warren, what about you? Neither of us can tie you.”
Warren laughed and said he had a great idea. He whipped his arms toward the ocean and his sewn-on hands flew into the deep blue.
“There. Can’t do anything without those!”
As we sailed on, sirens sang in the distance. Their harmonies, beautiful. Their messages so sweet. I listened and felt kinship with them, felt love swell up. They told me my worries were justified. They told me I was right, that I was unfairly treated my entire life, and that they were the ones who understood the best.
I listened and my heart pounded. I felt a wave of hysteria, and I wanted to kick out and rip the ropes off. But Florence tied them too tight, so I started howling and ripping into her, calling her the worst names I could think of.
She called back to me. “You skeletal goofball!”
Then Warren, dancing around trying to manage the sails with stubs for arms, failing miserable because he was too short, got in Florence’s face.
“YOU HORRENDOUS HARLOT OF HELL! YOU SPAWN HANDS FOR ME RIGHT NOW OR I’LL KILL YOU. AND I’VE GOT THE MEANS!”
Florence uttered a chant but it was of no use, she couldn’t get hands to spawn. Warren kicked at our ropes but his foot fell off and he toppled over. I could hear him murmuring, sobbing, saying to himself how poor and pitiful he was.
Soon enough, the anxious desire to meet the sirens was replaced with embarrassment. We apologized roundly and all agreed not to speak of this again.
In the distance, we spotted land, and the raft lazily came up against the shore. A veiled figure approached.
The veiled figure came onto our raft and loosened our ties, picking up Warren and cradling him in her arms.
Silently, we followed her through a tropical jungle and into an ancient temple, lit only by torchlight every fifty yards.
There was a holy reverence about the proceeding, and I felt compelled to follow, compelled to stay silent, compelled to follow kismet itself.
We got into a large room, where many veiled figures stood. And in the center of the large room was a marble slab, the kind of marble slab you see in movies concerning ritual sacrifice.
I wondered to myself, is it just me, or is stumbling into ritual sacrifice much easier to do than I imagined?
I laid myself down on the slab, slowly, and the veiled figure told me to get off that, and that it was old and expensive.
She put Warren down on the slab and performed a quiet chant into his ear, and his body vanished.
“The dead are not meant to tarry. He’s in a better place than we are.”
The room was silent. The figure who carried and passed on Warren went to sit on a grand throne at the head of the room, and beckoned me to stand before her.
Here, she removed her veil to reveal a face of beautiful, prominent features, blond hair with dark roots, and eyelashes that just go on for days. I tell you what.
“We are gathered here to speak with the one of desolate talent.”
The veiled figures all said something in unison from a tongue I’ve never heard.
“Scott, allow me to introduce ourselves. We are the monsters, and I am Mother Monster. We guard music so as to keep and spread peace in the world. We are responsible for keeping Shiva dormant, so she may not dance and destroy the hearts of man. Music is more powerful than people realize. It is magic. The fabric of the universe itself is music.
“You can hear it in the rhythm of the waves, the howling of the wind, the crackling of fire, burning substance into the ether.
“The music of the world is a beautiful music, ordained in ancient times. But like all music, it is a performance, and this performance can get flubbed, messed up, and cause discordant strife in the world.
“We are gathered here not to force you into a decision, but to ask of you something that would be difficult for everybody. Something that would cause any number of man or woman to cry for the rest of their life. We do not ask you this lightly.
“We ask you to give up Music, for your friends, for your loved ones.
“We do not ask you to go deaf, but we ask you not to sing the dulcet tones in your heart. We ask you to do what would be most painful for you for the sake of love itself.
“To make Shiva dance is to invite ruin upon your world. To play your music is to interrupt the divine plan set forth, for it is too powerful, too full of love and care to idly sit by as a bit player. Your music, once played, will enter the world’s stage with force, causing hate and destruction amongst those who listen and those who cannot.
“If you accept these terms, we promise to make it easy on you. To help you. To bring you out of this dark time and into the light. You will have your confederates in us. You will have love. But you cannot have the love in your heart that sings with such sweet dulcet tones.
“If you accept these terms, come before me, and I’ll place my hands upon your throat, and you will sing out of tune for the rest of your life. But you may sing, still, with this voice, and all those you love will be safe.”
Mother Monster had certainly given me a lot to think about. I really like singing. I love singing. I love having a melody in my heart that I can follow, that I can set my life to. I love the beauty in Music, the way it warms me, the way it heals me. But Music without love is nothing.
Mother Monster kneeled before me, and the veiled figures all kneeled, and Florence kneeled too. Mother Monster then stood up, clasped my throat, and all went black.
The Rosarita Beach Café
When I came to, I found myself at a small table, beneath a straw canopy, by a pool. The ocean could be heard, the waves crashing with a dull roar, and before me was a Pina Colada and a very pretty lady.
She had large, dark sunglasses on and a pink wide-brimmed hat. She was reading a book called A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man and had a drink of her own.
I wanted to ask where was I, but a sudden depression hit, and I started crying. I cried for my voice, missing, empty. I cried for the dulcet tones I would never carry again. I cried for the missed opportunities, for the unknown words of admiration I would never receive. I cried for my own vanity.
And the lady sidled up next to me and held me as I cried. And when I stopped howling and was merely sobbing, she told me to call her Gaga, and that she had a gift for me.
She told me about a frog. The frog wanted a loan for a lily pad. So he went to the bank and hopped up to the teller, read her nametag, and said
“Ms. Wack, I’d like to get myself a loan for a new lily pad.”
The teller looked at the frog and asked his name.
“I’m Kermit.” Said the frog.
“You sure don’t look like Kermit!” Said the teller.
“Sure, I was only named after Kermit. My full name is Kermit Jagger, my father was Mick Jagger.”
The teller considered this new information and asked the frog if he had collateral. The frog brought out a tiny, shiny, marble pink elephant, saying it goes excellent on any mantelpiece.
The teller told the frog she’d have to get the manager’s approval.
She went to the manager’s door and knocked. The manager said, Come in Patty, as they were on first name basis.
“I have a frog out here, says he’s Mick Jagger’s son. He wants a loan for a lily pad and he brought this for collateral. Any idea what it is?”
The manager took a long hard look at it and said,
“It’s a knick-knack Patty Wack! Give the frog a loan! His old man’s a Rolling Stone!”
With that, Gaga laughed. And I laughed, too, and I felt a pulsing rhythm, a beautiful melody in that laugh. I felt harmony between Gaga and I as we laughed. I felt music, though it wasn’t what I felt before, it was certainly just as convivial, just as beautiful.
I felt better. But I was still troubled.
“Gaga, what do I do when I hear sweet tones in the air, and I long for what I can’t have?”
And to that, Gaga replied: