Saturday, September 17, 2016

Kissing Like a Bandit

Because ultimately, don't we all gotta have it?

But  first of all, we gotta have that indefinable "thing."

Sitting in the Grace Street Theater waiting for the second installment of the inaugural Afrikana Independent Film Festival, the three of us - full as ticks after fish tacos at Asado - were seriously grooving to Afrikana's usual excellent pre-show mix (see 1985's "Oh Sheila") when "Wishing Well" came on and all our faces lit up.

"Terrance Trent D'Arby," my photographer friend announced authoritatively and his girlfriend immediately leaned over close, rubbing up against him, saying, "I love this man" because he'd known the artist's name.

Of course, in my perfect world, all men would recognize the sound of Terrance Trent D'Arby. It would be a fine way to separate the men from the boys.

We agreed that everyone needs their person to know certain things and he'd just scored big by knowing that one. But there's no way to know what your potential person needs you to know and therein lies the rub.

Seeing Spike Lee's first film, "She's Gotta Have It" on this, the 30th anniversary of the film, delivered a fascinating look at the '80s (white socks almost up to the knees, jumpsuits, Jane Fonda-era workout gear and men in gym shorts), female sexuality (I recall from seeing it in the theater what a huge deal the depiction of a black woman's sexuality was) and the very beginnings of the indie movie genre.

I can't recall how the black and whiteness of the film registered in '86, but tonight it felt right for the time, meaning that the interlude in color with singing and dancing amounted to an unpleasant reminder of bad '80s cliches.

For that matter, the audience cracked up at many of the cheesy '80s details throughout, but then, it had already been established that few in the audience had ever seen the film on a big screen, being far too young.

Which means that for them, the film's message of societal acceptance of female choice when it comes to number of partners must seem ridiculously obvious since they've never known any other reality.

For those of us seeing it 30 years later, it was a poignant reminder of the long arc of the double standard.

Because whether they're concurrent or consecutive, we shes of the world do gotta have it. Fact.

Bidding goodbye to the "sleepy" (perhaps a euphemism for "needing to have it") couple, I did a fast walk to Comedy Coalition for "Live from the Pacement," a variety show staged by trombonist/percussionist extraordinaire, Reggie Pace.

He and co-host Aaron sat in chairs with a revolving colored lamp on the floor casting patterns on the wall and welcomed an odd assortment of guests, to great hilarity.

Josh told online dating and Tinder ("The shallowest dating app ever") stories, asking for a show of hands on who's used Tinder, only to find a model couple there who'd met on the shallow app. In his own experience, he'd learned that nerd girls date for life because ~ spoiler alert, he said ~ to them, they don't see any difference in one guy from another.

From my vantage point of seniority, I could challenge that but I won't.

We got music from jazz guitarist Scott Burton, keyboard player Larry Branch and Reggie playing his smorgasbord of percussion, after which he pocketed his triangle. That led to a discussion of how John Popper wears a bandoleer to hold all his harmonicas and a side story about a man who carries his pacemaker in a similar vest.

It was real variety with potato jokes courtesy of comedian Katie as Mrs. Potatohead (What's the difference in mashed potatoes and pea soup? Anyone can mash potatoes), interpretive dancing (Josh: "That was proof that the girls in "Napoleon Dynamite' do grow up") and, in a more serious vein, a gorgeous flute rendition of "Winter Spirits" by Lauren Serpa.

"That was beautiful and now we're gonna ruin it," Aaron said, introducing Jim as Eleanor Gasm, who had the ability to read people's sexual histories by touching their foreheads.

Touching a couple's foreheads, she announced, "They don't love each other." To a guy with a peculiar high-pitched laugh, "You're going to die alone." To a guy about his date: "She likes the goatee, but lose the mustache." Her: "No, it's the reverse, lose the goatee."

To the crowd, "Who's willing to go home with someone here tonight?" No hands raised.

When he got to me, he touched, asked how I was doing tonight and announced that I was looking for two men. No one said Eleanor was always right.

The two guys next to me got highly uncomfortable when he asked how long they'd been dating (a month) and then if they'd done it yet ("We're not going to talk about that," the more uptight one said).

Man of the evening Reggie expressed amazement that Eleanor was polling the audience on their sex lives, noting that things had taken a turn for the worse. That was actually one of the best parts of the evening: watching Reggie as audience member onstage (when he wasn't performing), squirming and laughing along with the rest of us

Before the night was over, there was a hot dog break with three costumed hot dogs and a riff on "Rapper's Delight" done by Reggie's "father" in a bad fake mustache and high voice ("My boy is so talented!").

The collection of hosts and performers on the stage eventually came up with a takeaway for the evening: Things can always get worse.

Now there's a mantra for a Friday night.

To prove it, the show closed with "Barb" in a glitter vest and wearing rollerblades, entreating people to join her in karaoke, including a Dido tune which evolved into a rousing group singalong.

Because sometimes you gotta make do when you gotta have it and can't.

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