December 25, 2007 Chefchouen and Meknes…
Chouen and Meknes
hyeongssi and i are in a small and wretched affair of a town called chouen or chefchouen.
it’s a few hours from tangiers. feels like being trapped in the food
court of an american mall. all the joints are themed, but hyeong-chan
loves this place so we are here for another day at least…
we’ve got the whole ditch-the-street-hustler thing down, “my wife says no.”
they all seem to think she’s japanese or chinese so there’s a lot of
‘kinichi wa-ing’ and ‘nee hau mas’ following us like the cat calls all you
ladies hear downtown. me, well i am obviously ‘rasta!’ or ‘africaine…’
pretty funny; especially when they accuse me of being paranoid for not
scoring kif or hash or cannabis…
hopefully we’ll leave this wretched tourist trap for meknes tomorrow.
they have famous musical instrument shops there and i want some
for those who are wondering or were unfortunate enough to see me
before i left and knew how terrified i was of this trip (does she
still like me? will we be able to stand this much time together?) the
answer to that is yes. we are blissing out. a little rough at first,
but now we are like twin pigeons feasting on old pizza on the
waterfront of anytown, usa; the feast never ends!!!
we are in the imperial and thoroughly chilled out city of Meknes.
this is the place kids.
giant walls of stone made over one thousand years ago by a murderous tyrant named Ismail. streets paved with two thousand year old marble plundered from an ancient roman conquest site. a massive walled courtyard where 15,000 negro slave guards paraded before their king when they weren’t busy slaughtering the unruly tribes of animists who lived in the surrounding mountains. and streets that only a little more than 100 years ago ran with the blood of thieves and political dissidents.
i am home!
yesterday, the erstwhile object of all my recent affections, hyeongssi, and i went wandering through the more impoverished shrines of what barely passes for living in this country. children playing soccer to the sound of wandering mules in streets that are still broken from an earthquake of over 90 years ago. the stench of piss and shit gags
me, but hyeong-chan seems unaffected. she tells me this reminds her of home before her parents got money and the municipality of seoul, korea began to consider the fortune of finding favor in the eyes of its poorer citizens.
people eye us strangely not just because we are obviously moneyed, in
a sense, but because they never see koreans and what the hell am i
with these dreadlocks and that strange woman on my arm?
as i begin to fear the vultures are circling a man runs up from a
broken and smoldering vehicle. he is smiling and covered in grease and
obviously a mechanic. ‘how can i help? where do you go? this is a bad
place for you.’
i explain that i am looking for the gate, bab jdir, and the souk of
the berber instrument makers. he sends us on a better path, out of the
old ghetto and down to a main street. the stench and the poverty make
me reflect on the worse parts of philadelphia and mississippi and
anyone who doesn’t agree should try exploring those cities more.
after more wandering through the dead tyrant’s ancient courts and
boulevards we found our destination: the bab jdir, north western gate
to the medina. and it is amazing. everywhere old men in traditional
attire or three piecers selling instruments, spitting on the ground at
hagglers, grabbing a young hustler by the scruffiest of collars and
hurling him around the corner (‘yalla!’); it is my place and i have
come a long way to get here.
an old guy in a big chunk of wool obviously high out of his mind and
barely able to whisper, but quite capable of growling, shuffling and
depositing desirable objects and i really get into it. for 150 i want
a horn, some extra mouthpieces AND some cymbals, dammit. no way, 200
you stinking tourist; here, smoke some of this and let’s argue some
more. forget it pops, if i were to smoke that crazy mountain shit it
wouldn’t be while i’m arguing about cash and prizes. fine, but still
200 you stupid interloper.
all this occurs in the most ridiculous pigeon stew of french, spanish,
english, arabic (‘bismillah!’) and berber. eventually things get loud
and someone old and grouchy is stuffing my new horn with extra
mouthpieces while a younger guy intervenes and argues with me in pure
french. after much more haggling, a small child getting slapped for reasons i was never able to pry from these grumpy old farts, hyeongssi telling me that i am ‘beautiful language’ every ten minutes or so and snapping candid shots while being asked not to and a lot of kif
smoke clogging my contacts, i have the horn. i have the mouthpieces. i have my amazing obsidian cymbals. all wrapped in newsprint like the fish i used to watch my dad buy from the door to door muslim fish mongers when we lived in akron. muslims, muslims, muslims. i love muslims.
did i ever tell you the one about the muslim, the christian and the
jew who were trying to get into heaven? another time. just stop me on
the street or buy me a cold one and i will happily give you an
american’s rendition of real moroccan storytelling.
i have been taking a lot of photos. i just can’t post from here. or
maybe i can. it’s just too much work to find out. whatever. i will be
seeding them to some online site when i get back or else illustrating
my dormant blog with these same tales that i have been sending you. i
promise that some of these shots will be worth the wait: i have so
many nudes of young dancing boys and voluptuously large old ladies
feeding me couscous by the pea in my ramshackle bed. hey. did anybody
out there know that they finally outlawed pedophilia in this country?
can you imagine how awful the state of american and european letters
(cough.cough.) would be today if they’d done that back in the 20s and
30s? no good burroughs, or bowles or any of the rest of those boy
lovers who made our literature possible.
god bless the King! Mohammed the 5th! A’Salaam!
from Meknes, Imperial City Extraordinaire,
‘a jew in the high country…’
p.s. i do not do drugs. really. ask around. i also have not had a
drink in days. i am going crazy without my rum.