Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Gorilla and the Spud

The Jackson Blue Line station in Chicago has its share of entertainers.  The young electric guitar head banger, the Red Line Band, various gospel singers, oldies singers.  No one can compare with the gorilla and no one -- no one -- can compare with the spud.

The gorilla is a man in a gorilla suit.  He puts on the suit, comes down to the Jackson Blue Line station and dances.  He's often just going through the motions unless there is the perfect storm of a song he likes and someone tosses a tip into his bucket.  Then he puts it all out there, feeling every note, every beat, every word.  A combo of popping and locking and bumping and turning and then he does it again.  In a gorilla suit.  I can't decide if he's a coward who couldn't do what he's feeling without the costume or if he's the bravest man in the city who dresses as he feels and then dances how the costume bids him to dance.  I imagine him very happy inside that suit.

 No one is happier than the spud.  The spud's a middle-aged man of average height with the body of a stubby Idaho baker.  He is an interpretive dancer.  The first time I saw the spud was during rush hour in the late summer.  There was another musician but I can't remember what the music was because once I saw the spud, nothing else mattered.  He used his space.  He felt the music.  He moved his arms and rotated from the waist.  He used the staircase that leads to the Red Line.  He flowed down a few steps then turned to step back up, lightly touching the arm of an older, taller man who was not feeling the music and wasn't enjoying the touch of the spud.  Just when I thought there might be shouts, the spud flowed ahead on the platform, again feeling whatever music the musician was sharing. 

Once in the morning the spud was at Jackson offering his artistry.  I was annoyed because I couldn't stop and enjoy the performance as I have to work for a living.  A third time, spud and some friends -- also spudlike -- were playing Whitney Houston songs, all feeling it, all flowing around the platform, all swaying and rotating from the waist, their arms moving above they heads to the magic they were feeling.  The train was not coming that night so I saw them perform two or three songs, and after one, the spud cried out, "We miss you, Whitney! Why did you have to die?"

Then the next song started and it was felt deeply and interpreted with love.

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