Goats Head Soup

February 8, 2012

You’re following three lovely lasses up six flights to a tiny East Village walk-up, three lovely asses leading the way over white tiled stairs to who knows exactly where.  You’d say it was around 1987, but in post-modern Los Angeles you’re starting to lose track.  Soul’s train’s now a ghost train unseen by helicopters hovering over Mulholland in the predawn.

Masud welcomes you all with velvety red wine.  He proudly lifts the big stew pot lid and you gaze at goat’s heads drowning in broth.  You know the girls are not going to go for this as aromas of Morocco dance around you in the little funky kitchen.

Your head swims as talk and music and pretty girls laughing takes you around the world and sidewalks sparkle far below under yellow mercury vapor light richer than the color of turmeric dancing on the wrong side of invisible tracks.

Those goats take you back; back in time to a sunny Spanish morning in Segovia, to flowers dropped from balconies upon a solemn procession, and goat’s heads in a wheelbarrow at the market, their eyes laconic and all-seeing in languid death.

Back in time to Ann Arbor, nineteen seventy-nine, Halloween.  You’re dancing on a table in an all girls’ dorm, wearing eyeliner and channeling Mick Jagger.  You’re breaking up with a girl you met as Mick, neither of you as interesting as you were that last October night in the dull November light.

You’re sitting in the library of your secondary modern high school wearing headphones and listening to a record and you just can’t get over the fact that your best friend is in a box under the earth.  You lift the needle again and place it in the groove that leads to Angie:  “…when will these clouds all disappear?”

You never play that first track, Dancing with Mr. D. and the album cover sort of freaks you out but you keep staring at it every afternoon in that library, and Mick keeps singing and you’re listening as if somehow this record is going to get you through even though you have no idea of how or why:  “all the dreams we held so close seem to all go up in smoke.  …I hate that sadness in your eyes.”

And then you’re back, or is it forth into an East Village night?  You’re sitting at the table with the three girls and Masud and you know they’re shoving their stew back and forth and eating the bread and you know Masud knows it and when he reaches into the pot and pulls out a single eyeball and places it upon a piece of bread and declares it a delicacy and an honor and holds it between you as an offering that you would be the worst sort of coward and boor to refuse it.

The three girls watch; they are your fates and yet they possess six eyes between them, five more than one-eyed Rafik who sells you your film stock to make your student movies at NYU, his shop also up six creaky flights on lower Broadway.  How can you possibly make a film to hold a candle to life?  What can you say?  What can you capture with your camera obscura?  “Everywhere I look I see your eyes.”

Into the mouth that goaty eyeball goes, viscous, horrid and magical—initiation into a mushroom trip you’d been on ever since the caterpillar asked you, way back when in ‘67, “Who are you?”

After dinner Masud jumps up and down on his bed and you drink more red wine and then you all jump up and down on the bed.

You trudge down the steps and out into the night.  Later you get into a car with one of the girls and drive across the country and drink whiskey in Musso & Franks, and later you marry that girl and she and the other two dance at your wedding in a garden in LA as soldiers head out to the Gulf War.  But Masud is not there.  You never see him again.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

rebecca @ altared spaces February 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm

See that drawing up in the corner? I’m not sure if it’s an illustration of the time you describe here or one of my three year old’s mandalas. Interesting to me that it could be either…


Bruce February 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Exactly… sometimes it becomes a bit surreal as to who did what and when. Here’s to finding the Self in each other’s mandalas.


TheKitchenWitch February 9, 2012 at 2:11 am

I love the stream-of-consciousness style of this post. And it’s funny, because last night, over dinner (linguine, not eyeballs) my man-cub, his new girlfriend, husband and I argued over the merits of “Angie.”

This was a great read.


Bruce February 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

Hey KW (and Mr. KW)… they can’t say we never tried—and maybe it really is good to be alive. XO


Laurie February 9, 2012 at 9:15 am

Well done. Happy Valentine’s day.


Bruce February 9, 2012 at 9:56 am

Thanks for kind words and Happy V-Day to you too, Laurie (although it may be hot chocolate in LA, once upon a time it was hot lead in Chicago).


Kristen @ Motherese February 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Imagine my surprise when I learned one day that Mick wasn’t, in fact, singing, “When will those clowns all disappear?” But I knew what he meant. I’ve never liked clowns.

Like this evocative dip into narrative. Nicely done, my friend.


Bruce February 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Clouds to the left of me, jokers to the right…


BigLittleWolf February 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Brooding and quirky and tangible and surreal and so alive. Quite a read.


Bruce February 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Thanks BLW, always good to see you here, or anywhere in the surreal soup


Wolf Pascoe February 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm

And Jimi was singing, “‘Scuse me, while I kiss this guy.”


Bruce February 10, 2012 at 7:59 am

Beyond the red state and the blue state comes the purple haze


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