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My Valentine!

Tuesday February 14th 2017

Today is a year to the day I started vlogging on the Tribal Baroque channel! One year of daily vlogs! Yay me! It’s so f**king difficult! Let’s see how long I can keep it up! Hopefully forever! God damn.

I was of course nervous to go out and play in the park. Would we be bothered by a park ranger again? I painted a heart on my forhead to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Last year I painted this incredibly complicated design on my face, this year I went for simplicity. I know now it makes no difference. I do complex makeup now only because I really want to. I’ll get on a run with it, just as I do with drawing. Sometimes I’m completely inspired to do crazy, complex makeup, sometimes not. My makeup is always different…

Valentine’s Day 2014… Button face!

2015… Confetti face!

2016… Heart face!

2017… Goth face!

Today was our first Valentine’s Day playing in front of Casa Del Prado instead of in the back like we used to. We played back there for years for fear of park rangers. Last January and February was so horrible I swore we would never play back there ever again, no matter what happens. Playing in the back caused a lot of depressive episodes for me last year. The acoustics weren’t very good and people didn’t gather as easily. It was so frustrating, especially knowing we would have a much better time up front. The acoustics are so much better in the hallway up front, and people gather effortlessly. We can also play up front 5 days a week if we so choose. Back there we could only play 3 days on the weekends. I don’t know how we survived all those years. I will never go back there. We deserve to play up front where everyone can see and hear us.

Tori, her sister and Pascual came to see us today. Tori was all dressed up and had on pretty colorful eye makeup. She was gorgeous! I know now why she loves us so much. She’s a very creative person. She reminds me in a way of myself when I was younger. We had such a magical play. Lots of people came around and watch us and cheered. We sang like angels. We were so joyous and happy. People can tell when we’re happy, especially our fans. Tori said she could feel it.

Sadly, a female park ranger came over after Thoth’s solo and let us know need a permit to collect money. I told her we knew our rights. Thankfully, she left after that. Officer Morales, our friend and fan, was on patrol and looked out for us. He gave us his number again so we could call him if we had any problems. That made me feel wonderful. It’s nice to have a police officer on our side for once. We told the audience what had happened and they cheered for us loudly. I got it on film. We continued playing and had a fantastic time. We were both on cloud 9 when we finished. Tori, her sister and Pascual hung with us while we packed up  and we went home. We went out to have Indian food for our Valentine’s Day dinner sitting on cushions. It was so sweet.

We have to be so strong and brave to do this work. People who ask about our lifestyle think it is magic and and dream. It is, but it is just as hard as anyone elses life. We make it work. We have to take each day as it comes.

Being Fearless Doesn’t Mean Being Unafraid

Sunday February 12th 2017

Despite that we played yesterday with no hitches and we were both all read up on our constitutional rights, we were still scared to go out to play at the park. That didn’t stop us from going out. I painted X’s on my eyes and on my forehead to represent my rights being trampled on. Prayformance becomes a form of protest when we are under threat by authority. We can not stop prayforming. We have no other way to live. Nothing that is more important to us.

Tori and his step daughter arrived, as well as Bill to see us play. We feel safer when friends are there to witness us. A few other people who knew us were waiting for us to begin. I was completely shocked to see Forrest arrive just as we started. I had to run over and hug him. It’s been a month since we got here and today was his first time seeing us. He’s been overly busy with his work. It was another very passionate prayformance. All of our friends stayed through the entire performance. I like that very much. Many people who had come specifically to see us and stayed through until the end.

No one knows how fragile our life and work is. Sometimes it is head together by the smallest thread of self will. There is one small step between continuing and not continuing. Continuing for us happens through sheer willpower, but sometimes it can be through someone’s support of our work. People coming to see us play really helps. On Friday I thought it was all over, but I know now that we will never stop prayforming. No matter what happens. It what we have that keeps us going.

If the world was fair and just, our work would be celebrated in every city we perform in. Not only by park goers and fans who love our work, but by those in authority. We would feel appreciated and welcomed and safe and we wouldn’t be so alone. The truth is very different. People love our work, but we alone will ourselves to do it. There is a very small community around our work, but we ourselves must forge ahead and do it. Fans come and go. Audiences come and go. Things change. The one thing that doesn’t is our commitment to each other and to our work. We are devoted.

We were so happy to get two wonderful weekend days of uninterrupted bliss, we treated ourselves to dinner and were oh so happy.

Saturday February 11th 2017

I was depressed this morning, terrified that the park ranger would return to harass us when we went out to play. I’d researched and learned that we are of course breaking no laws by performing and being given donations in a public space. The ranger is actually the one breaking the law. No officer, who is charged with upholding the constitution, is allowed under the guise of law to take away a citizen’s constitutional rights. This is what the ranger was doing on Friday. He claimed we were involved in commerce because he saw someone give us money, which he didn’t produce any proof of a law which defines that. If an officer takes away a citizens rights under the guise of law, he is subject to a fine, or even jail. That’s probably why he threatened us with a ticket instead of giving us one. He doesn’t want it to go to court because the park would loose. He didn’t know what he was talking about, and now we know what our rights are. That’s didn’t stop me from being scared.

Many people came to see us in Balboa Park today. People we hadn’t seen since last year, and some of our diehard fans, Pascual and later, Bill. Pascual graciously stood watch to make us feel safer while we played. We are responsible for ourselves, but it was helpful to have protectors there. We sang our hearts out. Even though Pascual was standing guard, he later said our prayformance was intense. Yes, indeed it was. We were singing for our lives. When our work is threatened, we go back out the next day and sing as if our lives depend on it. No one can stop us. What we do is protected under the first and fourteenth amendment, and yet rangers do not protect those rights. Only we can stand up for them.

We were so happy when we finished. There were so many people there supporting us who talked to us afterwards.

DOING THE WORK AND TRYING TO LET GO OF EVERYTHING ELSE

Sunday February 5th 2017

We knew without a doubt today would be slow in Balboa Park, it being Super Bowl Sunday. The world is so backwards and twisted my friends. People would rather watch men in helmets giving each other concussions rather than watch two special people make love with music. To each his own I guess, but I wish the world loved music more then it loved sports. It just shows me how backwards it all is. Sports don’t make any sense to me, as it wouldn’t make sense to aliens. Music would. Music transcends all boundaries.

There was no one in the park. At least Ian would be there to witness us and record our prayformance and interview us for his podcast “Messages from the Multiverse”. Bill and Tori said they would come as well, so we would at least have three audience members. Ian arrived and set up. Bill and Tori arrived during our first song. They’re getting to know each other. They’re the only fans who have come to see us and we’ve been in San Diego for 5 weeks. Usually by now all of our friends have come to see us. It makes me sad. People seem to loose interest so fast.

Thoth told me to let go when we started. Let go of audiences. I did. I just sang beautifully and let everything else go. My voice was crystal. Sometimes my voice surprises even me. I sing higher than usual and do things I don’t usually do. I don’t know if other people who listen to us regularly notice. After playing for an hour, we had a nice size crowd. I did a solo and Thoth did a solo. I could hear people applauding for him. When I came back, he was talking to the audience and they applauded again. I filmed it. That rarely happens.

A woman in the audience offered to film one of our pieces after Thoth spoke. Turns out she was a big fan who’d seen us in New York City. It’s interesting when someone says they’re a big fan of ours and they’ve never spoken to us before. Here we are. Right here. If you love us, talk to us. How can we know if you don’t tell us? Someday you won’t be able to. It does nothing but good.

Tori and Bill stayed behind with us and Ian for our hour long interview, which was lovely. I’ve gotten better at letting Thoth talk. He always lets me talk. I’m learning to embrace myself more and try to get away from negative thinking. It’s a lifelong process. The podcast will be released in a month I think. I’ll share it here when it’s finished. Ian asked me how people can be more creative. I don’t have an answer to that other than J U S T  D O  T H I N G S. 

Tori said something amazing. That we’re some of the most beautiful things in the universe! What an amazing thing to say. I was in shock actually no one has said that to me before. I was so honored, but it will take some time to sink in.

Saturday February 4th 2017

This morning I had the worst time with my play synopsis. I just sat there staring at it, unable to write or think of what to do next. I told Thoth this and he talked with me about it for over an hour until we punched a hole of some kind through it. I don’t want the stories I write to be cliche, so I over complicate them to the point where they don’t make sense. Thoth helps me to simplify. I tend to do that in all aspects of my creativity. I tend to over play or over sing when we improvise too. I have to learn to pull things back and make them simpler and more straightforward.

Breaking through this morning with Thoth helped me feel better as I got ready to play. As we played today, I wasn’t into it. I felt like I wasn’t performing well. Bill and Tori were there, and I felt like I was disappointing them. It’s been a bad week. Very slow, and right after paying rent. Scary.

Today was “permit” day in Balboa Park. We don’t follow the rules. We never follow rules in that regard, we just play. In every city we prayform, accept Lisbon, we are not sanctioned to perform there. However, First Amendment is on our side and people love us. We bring people to the park to see us. Today a ranger who years ago used to make our lives hell in the park showed up out of nowhere and asked if we were having a good time, then he left. That was it. Thoth almost had a heart attack, but I was happy he didn’t bother us. He can’t. I don’t know why we should ever feel afraid of anyone stopping us from doing something that isn’t hurting anyone and is giving many people a lot of joy in the park. A few years ago a fan said Balboa Park should officially sanction us. Fat chance of that happening. See how cynical I’ve become?

It wasn’t until the end of prayformance when we did an improvisation that I felt better. Sometimes improvs just click and feel really good. It makes me feel good when we end on a high note. Long improvisations like these are a testament to my growth. I couldn’t come even close to doing this when I was a teenager. Now it’s a fun, carefree and wonderful experience for both of us. Thoth trusts me more than he ever had before. It takes so long to learn how to do things. I never ever thought I could learn how to improvise, and I still don’t think I’m as good as I want to be, but that’s me never being satisfied and giving myself a hard time.

Our friend Tori wrote something wonderful in my journal. Here’s a little of it: “You two are a force of nature. Your raw, natural love and toil will be known, as surely as every other natural force is recognized.” It touches directly on my issue that things take so long to come to fruition in our life and my anxiousness to do more than I can do in one day. That will be the case, because we are making a creative impact on the world as much as two people alone can. One human interaction at a time, one song at a time, one improvisation at a time, one vlog at a time, one blog at a time, one prayformance at a time, one day at a time, . Some people, the ones who really understand us and love what we do, are able to wait and believe.  Thank you.

I M P R O V I S I N G

Wednesday January 18th 2017

This morning we decided we’d go out to play at the park. It’s supposed to rain the next five days so today might have been the only day to play. I wrote on Facebook and Tori said she’d drop all her plans and come. That made me feel good. At least one person. Been listening a lot of Bobby McFerrin, so I suggested to Thoth we do a completely improvised set today in Balboa Park. It would get me out of my comfort zone, be challenging for me, and wouldn’t matter to anyone else as it would be slow in the park. The idea completely depressed Thoth. “It’s too much work.” he said and then went around the house silently until we left for our bike ride to the park. He had a really hard day today. Poor baby. It wasn’t just that, it was super low pressure today, before the rain.

I want to try new things. We can do whatever we want in the park. There’s no expectation. The thing is, improvising completely new ostinatos causes me to not hold them as consistently as I do in our usual set, which causes Thoth to not have as much fun and feel lost. We also don’t move around. He likes to dance and get his blood pumping. I’ve don’t felt the need to move as much. I’m more focused on the music, he’s more focused on the whole physical act of it. Moving, breathing, expelling sound from his body. Sometimes I just like standing there and singing. Most improvisational musicians, if not all, simply stand (or sit) and sing or play. It’s not so much a theatrical show they’re putting on, it’s music only, like Bobby McFerrin does. There’s nothing wrong with that. Thing is, if Bobby McFerrin stood in a public space and did what he does in a theater, no one would stop to watch him. Getting people to stop to watch us in a public space requires a certain amount of theatricality. I naturally revert to being still, while Thoth naturally moves. I was trained from childhood to stand and sing, or stand and play violin. Even after 8 years of dancing and singing and playing violin, I still like to stand and sing. I am a singer after all. My gift is my voice. Thoth’s presence in my life has challenged me to do things that don’t come naturally to me. I’m actually quite reserved in my movements and facial expressions naturally. I have to push myself to move and express myself physically.

As a compromise for our prayformance, we played a few improvs together and each did two improvised solos. That took me completely out of my comfort zone. I’m used to having Thoth there. Playing alone shows me my shortcomings, or what I see as shortcomings. No one clapped after my first solo either. I have a lot to learn, but I am young and have plenty of time. I’m so good at giving myself a hard time. I was proud of myself for doing it. I need to do solos every day. I want to be able to gather big crowds on my own, like Thoth does. The true miracle of Tribal Baroque is that we gather a crowd in a public space and some people give us donations, enough to keep us alive and safe and traveling so we can continue to prayform. I couldn’t do what I do now 8 years ago. Not ever. I don’t know anyone who does. The important thing is to get outside my comfort zone and just do things that scare me, like doing solos.

It’s amazing we can do this. We don’t owe anyone anything. The only thing we owe is to ourselves and to our creativity. We don’t work, we play. We figure out problems, we challenge ourselves, we grow. We do stuff. We do stuff every day. I get to go into one world of writing in the morning (my new dark play/story) then I can go into the world of art or reading or whatever creative act takes my fancy, then I can go into the world of public performance. All of that rounds out for a productive life that I am proud of living. I am proud of the life I live, the bravery and faith I must have to do what I do. The skills I’ve learned, the problems we’ve solved. We make it work. We want to be creative, so we’ve made a creative life.