i stood above the stairs leading to old cellar doors. there was no sign so i looked around. to the left, there was a man eating a döner energetically. i asked if it was the right place and he mumbled a mouthful of yeas and halal meat.
so i went down and entered the deep dank canal. (imma keep going with the metaphor.) the dancefloor was filled with sperm wriggling and wilding out to their own rhythms. particularly this french guy, next to me, who seemed like a candidate for saul william’s next stalker. usually i can let the vibe in certain places get to me but i will have to credit the poet with showing out, seriously performing out his ass, that i almost forgot about the irony of the situation.
i have this feeling sometimes, after seeing different black performers abroad.
with saul it was pronounced. i watched his mouth moving and his arms and his eyes. i heard words filled with thought, criticism, philosophy, provocation, and cultural reference. i listened to the crowd. i looked at the two black people on stage and i looked down at my own shoes and counted to three. while white folks were chanting repeatedly, call and refrain, african people, african people, african people.
and what does that mean? does the swedish, french, norwegian, german audience know jonathan livingston seagull, the headbone connected to the neckbone, ankh or orisha or too black. i don’t know what they know about african people. they were being chanted down but the only thing close to african that materialized was my own blackhand side.
and what is saul without words, in front of a white audience and jacked up fill speakers. i listened to saul without words, beatboxing, thumping, writhing, dancing, eyeing, sweating, rhythm-ing, hanging himself on a microphone cord. and words seep in: nigga nigga african people hey berlin iraq.
what/who is he without words?
it’s funny because a lot of performers that come out this way, saul included, ask around the end of the show, 2nd encore, whether folks out there are really understanding what is being said. always a resounding yea. but i find that almost unbelievable without the VIVA subtitles.
i wonder if he thinks about performing without words.
performing his representation and reputation, performing his reflection, performing black manness and blackness, performing for white folk and me. for 17.50. if it is mouthing emptiness, is he perceived any different than shucking and jiving? is it seen as any more than a little sambo for your sunday night, something to smoke weed to, something to dance to, something to shout out african people to. that’s some only in europe type mess right there. i want to find the place on this earth where brown folk get together, smoke up, and dance around shouting white people, white people.
i saw a totally slamming show not long ago, keziah jones in paris. he tore up. and outside, three music critics stood around and shared their perceptive thoughts with one another. "Wow, he’s so muscular!" "I can’t believe how muscular he is!" "Did you see those muscles?"
i didn’t wait for comments after the saul show. i slid away from the cervix and swam on home.