09 November 2006

Ode to the Electoral Curtain Call

Today, the vibration of cautious change was in the air. Yesterday, the distressing questions that now plague contemporary American politics: Would this election be stolen like the others? Would we face another two years of ham-fisted one-party rule, trashing our institutions and traditions while America shops? I dutifully fulfilled my civic responsibility, attended to by kindly white-haired white ladies at the VFW post which served as my polling place, sans barking GOP goons asking for three forms of ID or threatening me with prosecution for exercising my right to the franchise. Alas, only to be rewarded by wearing a dorky "I Voted" sticker all day.

Waking up to the results in from precincts across the nation, I had to rub the sleep from my eyes. I felt a bit like Rip Van Winkle, asleep for a thousand years while the ideals central to my understanding of American values and virtue went underground, driven away by trolls and crooks and thieves and liars and criminals and hypocrites and apologists and the enablers, feeding on fear and hate and ignorance.

Did America wake from this nightmarish dream last night? Maybe a little, fitfully, a half-conscious disturbance, a lost blanket or limb gone asleep or the distant voices of drunks on the street causing us to toss a bit in bed, rearrange ourselves, dig deeper into the warm blanket. We shall see if the changes augured by the shift from our disastrous national experiment with one-party rule will bring real change to our lives. Perhaps this is one reason why myself and others today tread as carefully as cats, not discussing or celebrating or cheering, but hoping, as one might after having a particularly bad headache, that if one moves slowly and cautiously, avoids sudden movement and any straining or lifting, that the terrible pain in our heads will not return.

All day, I have been thinking of Puro Teatro, the beautiful and deliciously campy song by La Lupe, tragic diva of the Caribbean diaspora, the Queen of Latin Soul. Singer, Santera, beautiful and talented and troubled, as famous for her performative antics as for the intensity of her life, she is remembered as often going into trance-like states while performing, and disrobing the persona of La Lupe before the very eyes of the audience, ripping off her false eyelashes and kicking off her shoes as she sang her heart out. In this sense, she performed, many years before it became fashionable, the hyperawareness of the performative, the simulation, the teatro, that too many of us have come to live within. (Once, at a party hosted by my cuñado Quique in Caracas, one of his queeniest friends performed an excellent pantomime of La Lupe, right down to the tossed shoes and fallen hair pieces; yet another reason why you can never second-guess a Queen!)

As the curtain falls on the particularly bad drama we have been living for six long years, hopefully we will experience the national revelation that La Lupe offers us allegorically: the curtain falls but simultaneously is pulled from our eyes, allowing us to see the tawdry mechanics of the Wizard. I invite you to play the YouTube link below and sing along (aside from the annoying skips in the first couple of lines), to our new and challenging moment (translation by Oso moi-même with help from Mr. Gordo). I dedicate it to the falling scales from our eyes, the revelation that is crossing the proscenium arch, the waking from the nightmarish dream.

Igual que en un escenario / Just like on stage
finges tu dolor barato / Faking your cheap pain
tu drama no es necesario / Your drama isn’t required
ya conozco ese teatro / I know that act well now
Mintiendo, que bien te queda el papel / Lying, you've been cast very well
después de todo parece / After all, it seems
que esa es tu forma de ser / This is who you are

Yo confiaba ciegamente / Blindly, I fell for
en la fiebre de tus besos / the fever of your kisses
mentiste serenamente / You lied to me serenely
y el telón cayó por eso / bringing the curtain down

Mmmm teatro / Mmmm, Drama
lo tuyo es puro teatro / You are all about drama
falsedad bien ensayada / A well-honed lie
estudiado simulacro / A well-staged set
Fue tu mejor actuación / You gave your best performance
destrozar mi corazón / destroying my heart
y hoy que me lloras, de veras / And now that you are really crying over me
recuerdo tu simulacro / I remember your performance
perdona que no te crea / Forgive me if I don’t believe you
me parece que es teatro / It seems to me that you’re acting

Y acuerdate / And remember,
que según tu punto de vista / according to your point of view
yo soy la mala / I’m the bitch!
¡Ay! / Ay!

Puro Teatro, La Lupe

1 comment:

Professor Zero said...

Adorei a cancao, vou tocar de novo.

FYI a friend of mine has invented a term for particularly tacky and thin melodrama: "mellow drama". ;-)