Monthly Archives: June 2014

An American Horror Story: Getting out your Summer Clothes

stained shirtThis week I finally admitted to myself that I had to put away my turtlenecks for the summer, and change out the winter clothes for warm weather duds. As I took last summer’s outfits out of the storage the overwhelming question in my mind was, “What the hell was I thinking?” (soundtrack from Psycho….Reet,reet, reet, reet, reet!)

Was it sun-blindness that made me think it was OK to go out in public wearing these far-from-white blouses? (Honestly some are closer to gray or tan than white). And holy cow, the colored tops with clearly permanent stains—on both sides!

Why didn’t anybody tell me—or stop me from wearing them before they reached this state….And I cheerfully put them away so I could wear them again this summer…OMG

Please, before this summer gets into full swing–and you admit to yourself that the sweat running down in your eyes  isn’t just hot flashes–have a clothing intervention with your friends. Stop them, before they see a horrific shot of themselves on Facebook wearing something that they should have burned last September!!!

HOW DEEP DO YOUR ROOTS GO?

shinnecock editedWP_20140601_002

Sunday, June 1, 2014 I went to Drums Along the Hudson, a Native American Festival and Multicultural Celebration—translation: an Indian Pow Wow. This not the first of these I’ve attended, but as I sat in the stands watching the dancers, enjoying the drumming and fighting the urge to go join them, a question occurred to me. How much of your ancestry is hiding inside you, waiting to come out?

My father once told me that like most African Americans we have very mixed heritage. We are part (maybe 1/16th) African, french, scottish, and blackfoot indian. I always assumed those were just numbers, but on a recent trip to Colorado, I found postcards with photos of blackfoot indian tribe families. The resemblance to my Dad and his family was unmistakable…Locals told me Blackfoot originated in the south—where dad is from– and were brought to Colorado because of their skills in mining silver.

Although I learned how to sing in German and Italian in my private voice lessons, when I studied French in High School, I found I had a flair for speaking that language….Photos of Scotland, and the skrill of bagpipes fill me with yearning to go somewhere I’ve never been…..Touring the African exhibits in the Museum of Natural History gives me chills. Looking at the ceremonial masks on exhibit there, I get (vibes) that they are not happy about being in the museum on public display.

My strongest reaction however, is to Native American Music. Although I’ve attended many Pow Wows—in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and even the Shinnecock Tribal festival in Southampton, Drums Along the Hudson is the only one that allows—and encourages—the audience to participate in the dancing. Even though I’ve never studied their dances, I suddenly find myself out there reveling in dancing with abandon in the grass, under the open sky. I have no idea what the singers are saying, but it doesn’t just strike me as simple noise; the only thing that matters is the drums, that drive you on…. which is also a huge part of the African music…..

Looks like the roots go far deeper than we realize!