Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Unnamed women and the O.G.

Pirates or Latin Kings?


I leave a day immersed in the Serbian community of Astoria, Queens...a bakery, a store filled with dried carcasses and the intoxicating smell of smoked meats, shelves lined with ayvar (red pepper paste) and other products from back home, a cafe with a brunch of drinks and Balkan mezze, to jump into Kimberley’s internship project.

She’s called it the nameless project, exploring several unnamed women in the Bible. The first is Lot’s wife, turned into a pillar of salt for looking back longingly on the city she was forced to leave. (Gen.19:26) Not a good thing on a rain stormy day like this. 

Then Jeptha’s daughter. A story I’ve definitely repressed if I remember it all. (Judges 11; 29-40) The man makes a vow so God will help him in battle. He’ll sacrifice the  first thing to come out of his house if he wins. Tums out to be his daughter. He tells her. She asks for two  months to mourn her virginity on a retreat with her friends. Then she comes back and he “does as he had vowed...” What?!!

Why does God never say anything?
Why does he feel he’s got to  follow through?
Why does she agree?
If she can go to the hills, why not just leave? 
Why don’t her friends who go with her intervene? 
Why is she unnamed? 
Why is this in the Bible at all? 
What are they trying to say to us?
This one completely escapes me. 

So Jeptha was a son of a prostitute. Abused by his family. (Some in the circle who’ve lived through this seem to feel a connection...) How were three girls held captive in Cleveland against their will? To say, well that’s the Old Testament God, just isn’t enough for me. It’s supposed to be the same one.  The Bible can be  a dangerous book. 

Finally Samson’s first wife, the one before Delilah. (Judges 13-16) Issues with choosing a wife from outside of your own community. Resonance of West Side Story (One of your own kind, stick to your own kind...) A fight with a lion. Bees making honey in the lion .A wedding feast. A riddle. About the lion and honey. The wife threatened with burning if she doesn’t find the answer. Seduction. Revelation. Slaying 30. Losing his wife. Tying torches to foxes’ tails and burning the fields. Wife and family killed. Slaying 3000 with a jaw bone.  And later yet another Philistine wife. You’d think he’d learn. But as for this unnamed one?
Who was she loyal to?
How’d she feel about being forced to choose  between her husband and her own people?
How’d she feel about being married off to Samson’s best man? 
And what does it mean that her husband’s anger gets her killed? 
What’ going on here?

Can’t help but think of the old Rev. Gary Davis singing sermon, Samson and Delilah:

If I had my way
If I had my way
If I had my way
I would tear this old building down

Well Delilah, she was a woman fine and fair
She had good looks, God knows and coal black hair
Delilah, she came to Samson's mind
The first he saw this woman that looked so fine
Delilah, she set down on Samson's knee
Said tell me where your strength lies if you please
She spoke so kind, God knows, she talked so fair
'til Samson said "Delilah, you can cut off my hair
You can shave my head, clean as my hand
And my strength 'come as natural as any a man"

Yeah you read about old Samson, told from his birth
He was the strongest man that ever had lived on Earth
So one day while Samson was-a-walkin' along
He looked on the ground and saw an old jawbone
He stretched out his arm, God knows, it broke like flint
When he got to movin' ten-thousand was dead, Mmm

Well old Samson and the lion got attacked
Samson he jumped up on the lion's back
So you read about this lion had killed a man with his paws
But Samson got his hand in the lion's jaws
He rid that beast until he killed him dead
And the bees made honey in the lion's head

Good God!

I remember that from the old Blues at Newport album. Been covered by everyone from Peter, Paul and Mary to the Grateful Dead to Springsteen to Shirley Manson. Good stuff.

Kimeberley’s got the makings of a good series. These unnamed women. Weird and disturbing stories.Good that Stephen and Cara were there. Got to run to a wedding....

Outside,  storm is raging. Water flowing up out of the gutters onto the sidewalk. Marty looks  up, sees me on the steps, laughs and says, The rain in Spain ...

Hours later back from a disastrous wedding experience. Working late on tomorrow’s service.
On my way home, Anna on the bus stop bench again. Marine Rodriguez points to my black Pirate hat with the yellow P logo and brim. That, that there, that’s the king colors. The Latin Kings. Anna looks up. ‘Swhat I’m talkin’ about. And if you wear the yellow, you’re O.G.
Anna looks puzzled. Original gangster, I say. I tip my hat, remembering Public Enemy used to wear Pirate hats. 
These New York kings, nothin like the LA ones,says Sergeant Keith. Rodriguez shakes his head. I was a king before I was a marine. You don’t want to mess with them...
Good night, Anna. I’ll see you in the morning. See you in church. 

Samson...the Rev. Gary Davis

Peter, Paul and Mary

The Grateful Dead

3 / FR / Lyon /                                              SprSpringsteen

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