Monday, October 29, 2012


Blarney in action

For many years I've been learning to play the Irish whistle at various sessions around Santa Cruz including some that are open to the public such as Britannia Arms in Aptos. Happening upon one of our public sessions, Lynnette, entertainment director of Driftwood, a retirement community near the beach in Live Oak, asked if we could play for a birthday party. A few of us agreed, called our group Blarney and did the Irish bit for the party. Last week, Lynnette invited us back. In this incarnation, Blarney consists of Nick Herbert on Irish whistle, August O'Connor on bodhran (frame drum) and Peter Koeneman on fiddle. A good time was had by all.

The word "Blarney" means eloquent (often nonsensical) speech -- the "gift of gab" -- and is associated with the Lord of Blarney Castle in county Cork who exasperated Queen Elizabeth I by his ability to talk endlessly without ever acceding to her demands.

On the week of the Blarney concert I was invited to one of the most prestigious venues in Santa Cruz -- Kate Bowland's legendary Halloween party. Kate Bowland is one of the most powerful "witches" in Santa Cruz, a world-famous midwife who has delivered more than 2000 babies in her long career, a mistress of ceremonies in the many female dance and drumming circles around town. Kate is a woman with a lot of mojo. The tradition at Kate's masquerades is to interact "in character" with the other party-goers for the first hour and later have the option to be yourself or continue in character. At a previous Bowland Halloween that I was privileged to attend, two woman came, one dressed as Marilyn Monroe and the other as Jackie Kennedy. After seriously ignoring one another for most of the hour they suddenly came together in a public cat fight that was the hit of the evening.

Following the enthusiastic reception of the Blarney event, August and I were so full of ourselves that we decided that I should go to Kate's party as "God" and she would come as "God's Bodyguard" -- a rehabilitated fallen angel armed with a ray gun for smiting those who might dare to piss off the Supreme Being who made all things and keeps them in existence.

So we drive to the party, turning heads at Trader Joe's, as God and his sidekick shopped for supplies. As expected, the people at Kate's party were superb. Kate herself was dressed as a red, white and blue suffragette complete with political banners loudly arguing for woman's equality and right to vote.

As I was going into the kitchen for a beer (God likes Guinness) I bumped into a scantily-dressed woman with laurel in her hair, an apple at her bosom and a snake around her neck. On her back was a small sign: "I left him in the flying saucer." I introduced myself: "Eve, I presume. I'm that guy that put you in the Garden."

We spent a lot of time talking with Eve, whose real story was as fascinating as her legend. God and his sidekick found Earth's first sinner, Earth's first scientist, to be a lot of fun.

But for me the best riff occurred at the beginning. I had just gotten inside the door when two more guests arrived, dressed as a pair of magnificent hippies, big wigs, fake moustache, splendid attire.

I asked: "Who are you two?"

"I'm Sonny Bono. And this is Cher." The disguise was perfect--Sonny and Cher really looked the part.

"And who are you?" Sonny asked.

"Why I'm God," (pause) "Good acid, eh?"

Eve conversing with God and Bodyguard

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