Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Jump in the Line, Winona
One frigid night at the Mission a gargantuan whore draped in what looked like burlap straddled some drunk on the sidewalk beneath one of the red brick crosses that decorate the Mission facade . If not for occasional groans and semi-rhythmic movements you couldn't be sure what was going on at first. Milhouse tip-toed and edged across the road and got as close as he dared—this was the Family Shelter—then scurried back to our chapel line in front of the Men's Shelter (JESUS SAVES!).
“It's exactly what you think! I'd keep my distance.” The horrid coupling went on for quite some time to the accompaniment of plenty of jeers and lewd encouragement, then a police squad car arrived and two uniformed cops used their time-slowing device to turn the whole thing into that weird molasses temporal dimension present whenever law enforcement appears.
Finally the cops—one male, one female—separated the couple like biologists prying apart a pair of weird organisms mating and loaded them up into the specimen compartment in the back of the squad car.
After that there was nothing to do but totter up the stairs into chapel and steel ourselves for some imbecile literal-minded pastor's interpretation of an obscure Bible passage to mean we should avoid eating dog food, but cat food is okay, except for Frishkies. Instead, to our delight (no irony here, promise), we were knocked out 9 times and then some by a youth percussion group from 1st or 2nd or 9th street church who played a brilliant (to my untrained ear) steel drum, bongo, bells and every noise maker/banger available HURRICANE of Jamaican/Brazilian music plus a bunch of Calypso tunes.. The effect was galvanizing. The normally depressed and angry men came to joyful life. The whole thing was led by a rather scary woman in some kind of athletic jumpsuit thingy—like that Glee chick—and she had under her command about 20 mostly white boys and girls with blond hair (I calls it like I see it). To her everlasting credit, she knew percussion and never once played anything Christian. It was pagan jungle rhythms to the max.
The ecstatic highlight was an old Harry Belafonte hit, “Jump in the Line.” Many remember it from the end of Tim Burton's first big hit Beetle Juice where a pre-shoplifting ultra-cutie pie Winona Ryder levitates about 20 feet and performs a delirious mid-air dance to the music, more powerful than any “demon” haunting—or any pastor's doltish rant. You can see adorable Wynona on YouTube, I believe.
Well, the Mission Guests caught the spirit because a conga line formed briefly, composed of all shapes, races, and degrees of bodily decrepitude. Smiles, high-steps, snaking defiance of convention and rows and ranks of hard metal chairs while Jesus stared down from his spooky pictures in awe and fear. The fucking Disciples broke it up and made everyone sit down. “I'll never forget that!” shouted someone.
JUMP IN THE LINE! Everybody, join Harry and Tim Burton and, especially you, my baby Winona!