David Bowie, Little Black Sambo, Transcendentalism

January 14, 2016


The beat is strong. Heavy bass drum, insistent tom­tom, crackling snare.

David Bowie’s Modern Love. What a rocker!

Get me to the church on time.

Before dawn, before the heavy sun shakes off its sleep and lifts itself above the horizon. The steady beat of life and the throbbing planet.

God and man.

Cross fitting with wooden boxes. Metal bars reminding me to grip harder. Float. Slam the ball to the floor. Chest up, full squat. Feel it. Row. Sweat, Breathe. Sing out with Bowie.

Casey, nephew, says squats, lunges increase a man’s testosterone. The beat goes on.

A tiger, wearing the clothes he has bartered away from Little Black Sambo in return for his life - ­that lithe, supple, heavily muscled, black and orange-­striped tiger with whiskers that signal its soft walk through the jungle - ­that tiger starts racing around a tree. Other tigers join the race. Madly chasing and whirling, toeses to noses.

The drum beats - ­God and man, Modern Love - ­grow more insistent. Loud music. Sweat. Several people doing the same thing. Their heart beats synchronizing with the music.

Church on time. Blending together. Becoming one. Tao te ching. Returning to the source. The tigers race faster, now a blur, one tiger indistinguishable from the next, an infinite yellow circle. Little Black Sambo watches from behind a tree. Fear turning to wonder. The miraculous universe.

Poet Robert Bly. Universe means one song. Bowie’s music, the beat of the drums and the hearts, become a singular hum. The whirling tigers, heated to the melting point by exertion, slowly, speedily, transform into a pool of butter.

Sambo’s father, Simbu, gathers the freshly tiger-­churned butter in a brass pot. Mama Sari smiles, her heart deeply content with love for her family. She makes pancakes, seasoned beautifully and tastily with the butter, a gift from the universe, one song, a gift from Bowie.

Church on time.

God and man.

Modern love.


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