I attended a reading yesterday by someone I knew slightly and made the mistake of sitting in front. My original intent was to offer support but as he drifted about making remarks, some smug, most lame, one about his girlfriend and “chick” who was helping him that day, I realized that I had to leave. I did to him what I hoped no one would ever do to me, getting up and walking out. I apologized to his chick, saying I had only wanted to say hello to her friend.
And so I found myself by Oakland’s Lake Merritt and began walking along its shore. There must have been a hundred Canada geese in and out of the water and two cranes. On the grass were ongoing picnics and amorous couples and children playing ball. Halfway on the north shore I came on a group playing the berimbau. The What?
The berimbau is a primitive instrument native to the north of Brazil; it is nothing more than a long curved wooden stick with strings attached along its length. The sound emitted by plucking the strings is a plain BOING BOING BOING on and on accompanied by singing. It’s all about folklore, and with that comes a capoeira show, or pretend fight. The fighters prance and do handstands and lunge at each other but never connect.
It was irresistible. I got close behind a berimbau player and sang in his ear, “Capoeira mata um!” He turned his head slightly and cried, smiling, “You know!”
Yes I did. What a bag of oddments I have in my mental closet.