Thursday, January 24, 2008

Asking For Vision (Day 2, Rez Drums)

We were up and rolling in very good time. The drive up to the rez was gorgeous. We rolled up to my cousin's place, got the RV parked and leveled and hooked up, the horses stabled and the trailer's living quarters hooked up by the barn in short order.

My cousin and his long term partner were their usual charming selves. My new niece was absolutely entranced while being her natural entrancing self. We got Larry and his family settled in and introduced to the clan folks who were all there getting ready for the afternoon and evening's festivities.

When we gather for things like this the main focus is food. Lots. Of. Food. There were BBQ pits going with pig and game, the inside ovens (my cousin is as big a foodie as me and he has a kitchen that would make Gordon Ramsey hush up his rude ass mouth) were just beginning to turn out the loaves of corn and other breads. Cousin tells me that he is expecting Angel Cakes, I allow that this is not unreasonable and that I brought along some wonderful beans of Tahitian Vanilla to throw into them as an extra, added bit of subliminity (if that's not a word, it should be, and will be on this blog).

Larry's twins get involved with helping me make them and we have a great time, taking turns whipping up the egg whites by hand. I still have no scientific explanation, I even allow that my feeling might be completely psychological, but I still maintain that an angel food cake, or a soufflée whipped by hand is texturally superior to something whipped by a machine. (backgroung music to this paragraph should be Bruce Springsteen singing John Henry) I've said it enough times to make it something true by the Lewis Carrol or even to make it my own under AA traditions. When we have our cakes cooling on bottles on the counter we go outside to meet the folks just arriving and to wander around the various cooking stations, stealing the odd bite here and there. Lingering over the outside vat of oil where golden brown, light and puffy discs of fry bread are the subject of great debate and family honor. (first rule of fry bread: Grandma's is the best. Ever. It must, and will always be even better than Mom's)

We have picked up my new niece and wander over to a small fire where Silas is holding forth over a flat, shiny stone. He has a big bowl of blue corn slurry that he spreads over the heated rock for a few seconds and peels off a wafer thin translucent sheet of piki bread. He beams and fusses over the girls. They are totally entranced by his little ritual of making them. He always holds the bowl in both hands and gives it four swirls in each direction, then four stirs in each direction with a wooden spoon. Then he scoops up a perfectly measured handful and swipes it over the stone, sets down the bowl and wipes his hands on a cloth. He holds his hands over the cooking smear of piki and at just the right moment lifts off a beautiful, fragile little sheet which is stacked in wobbly towers all around him. He carefully hands a sheet of piki to each of the girls and we watch their faces as they take their first bites. As soon as piki hits your mouth it disintegrates, and just as instantly your mouth is filled with the delicate pure taste of blue corn meal, ground very fine by hand. Then, even before you can swallow your saliva has begun to turn the starches in the corn to sugars which leaves a slightly sweet, slightly salty aftertaste. It's magical stuff. All the time this is going on, he is telling the girls a story about Spider Woman's son Cornstalk, who taught the people how to grow the different types of corn, and how to use all the other plants. The little girls are mesmerized. The only way I can get them to leave is to ask them if they want to come feed the horses with me.

When we come back into the house I am totally jazzed to see that some of my old friends have brought over their instruments. Kirby has his electric piano set up, Rich has brought his bass, my 16 year old nephew brought two guitars and has been kind enough to set up two of mine. Joy, of joys, there are two drumsets. I know the double bass set up very well. It's my young friend Vincent. He's still very young, only 29, but, at my urging and through my contacts he was able to spend three years on the road with Ike Turner. Ike turned him from a very talented, very gifted young drummer into a professional powerhouse. I see Vince and note with pride that he is dressed for tonight's show like he was playing the Palace. Sharp. I tell him that I will be certain to change before we go on.

The rest of the evening is spent introducing our new family and clan addition around, gorging on what ever delectable food strikes our fancy, then, when there's a break in the sound from the band my mother, as is a mother's right, demands that I take a set.

I strap on my Variax, stomp a few settings onto the board and tell young Vincent "Give me the Bar-B-Que beat." Vince grins and lays down bump bump CHICK! bump bump CHICK! and we launch into Cadillac Ranch. Dancing and celebratory movements ensue out on the floor. The little girls are in a tight group of other little girls pogoing in and around the adults with gleeful abandon.

I go through a few requests from family who tell me that I don't show up on the rez nearly enough, and when I don't show I don't play enough. They're family, I can't dispute how they feel. I tell them they are right and I will try to do better. Then I grin at my nephew and Vince and tell him "Give me some Indin drums." The people know what's coming. From the singing of Keith Secola. . .

INDN Karz Forty Nine

I've been driving in my Indian Car
Hear the pound of the wheel drumming in my brain

My dash is dusty, my plates are expired
Please Mr. Officer, let me explain

(everybody shouts this chorus)

I got to make another Pow Wow tonight
I'll be singer 49, down by the riverside
Looking for a sugar, riding in my Indian Car

My car is dented, the radiator steams
One headlight don't work, but the radio screams

I got a sticker that says "I Brake For Pow-Wows"
I stuck it on my bumper
It's what holds my car together

I got to make another Pow Wow tonight
I'll be singer 49, down by the riverside
Looking for a sugar, riding in my Indian Car

We're on a circuit of an Indian dream
We don't get old, we just get younger
When we're flying down the highway
Riding in my Indian Car
Riding in my Indian Car
Riding in my Indian Car
Riding in my Indian Car

I wander off to grab a smoke and some quiet time when Silas tells me that it's time to go into the kiva.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

added bit of subliminity (if that's not a word, it should be, and will be on this blog

One syllable too many:


This public service announcement has been provided by your local hopeless pedant.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The little girls are mesmerized. The only way I can get them to leave is to ask them if they want to come feed the horses with me.

Well, considering who was doing the story telling that's as it should be. :-)

Another f*ckin' awesome tale in the making, I see.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MB: You sure have a knack for episodic storytelling. I'm hooked...

oddjob: fwiw, you're my favorite local hopeless pedant...

6:23 PM  
Blogger nunya said...

You do tell great stories.

Dude, I was born and raised her in SD & had no idea Ike Turner lived here till dude was dead. Obviously I'm not a musician, eh?


7:17 PM  
Blogger Sherry Pasquarello said...

what a great time it must have been. i make fried dough. my grandparents taught me how to cook and italians are big into pizza fritte. no one cooks like a gramma (or grandpap )

even tho i think i am a very good cook and baker, no one could make a
pie crust like my gramma.

my cousin stevie is a patry chef/executive chef foe a big muckety hotel and he is terrific at desserts but our gram's pies were the best.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Sherry Pasquarello said...

my fingers aren't working well today. too cold, even more typos!

11:12 AM  
Blogger FriĆ°vin said...

txrad and I were watching a doc awhile back and saw the blue corn slurry being prepared.

11:55 AM  

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