Karaoke, to fantasize, to laugh

It was my friend J’ birthday, and after Mexican meal and esoteric goodbye rituals at their old home – also, my old home, the one that left a striking mark on my first experience in America, as this was were I landed with my suitcase at the very first place – we ended up in a local Karaoke bar, here at the border of Oakland and Berkeley. No shit I have never seen a bar like that. J immediately hanged me a big book of thousands of possible songs we all have a chance to present now. No joke it had all the punk and rock’n’roll in it as well as good oldies so classic to the Karaoke culture.

I have seen a bunch of Karaoke around the world, it is a phenomena of the global, but nothing simply homogenous in it – it’s as specific to its localities as it could get! Estonian-Finnish ferries used to be infamous for their Karaoke sessions – good way to get drunk and nostalgic at the borderlands of sea. It was specially heart-warming to see the elder ladies with berets singing soulfully their favorites in small bars scattered around Russia. It was weird to hear that in Indonesia you can book a karaoke room which already consists some cute chicks for a sing-along (and possibly a lap dance).

Karaoke seems to have it’s definite space within our transnational leisure-scape, drawing on the cultural capital of the latter part of the 20th century, and growing wider, getting viral, making it into business, because… we, people like it and maybe, maybe realy somewhere deep inside we all just wanna be a star (sounds such a clishée, and no way it’s deep inside! But it definitely feels like it.). Put in better ways, we would perhaps all enjoy occasional disidentification (see José Muñoz, this piece is also in memory of him) with a star, an artist or a memory deeply engrained in our personal history. It’s a strategic identification by the marginal with the dominant – here, we simple people around the globe  who like singing, and the glorious stardom, unreachable memories of nostalgic aura, or it’s a drag, liberating laughter in a mask. And the last is surely not the least. It can be so much fun to go through old time favorites, dress them in drag, laugh at them and make the best out of them.

photoHe painted his lips dark and we all laid down on our knees to sing about love, in tight vibration with H. and N. in the lead.

I personally made Never Let Me Down happening…

The sexual matrix of love

I have been totally  blessed to have lived the first month of my stay in Berkeley with J. He has an awesome girlfriend H, a total reflection of his interests with fit so well with mines. Just couple of days after my arrival she also moved in. So now we’re three. She’s also a reflection of his desires, a fascination for the unexpected. They seem to be sharing love in its purest sense, with no desire for control, no desire for ownership, just pure lust, respect, companionship and joy.

For me they’re almost like an archetypical Oakland couple. Looking really good, mixing up lots of styles from sixties, eighties, nineties, feeling powerful and camp. Secondly they’re open to cross any kind of socially constructed limitations for an institution we call “a couple”. Why monogamy when you could also be polyamorous? Readings of the Ethnical Slut. Thirdly, they’re really having fun with each other and also with other people, being themselves as individuals and partnering when the moment is right. And most importantly, they’re having their crazy love of their life. Sounds like a perfect fit for me.

Hanging out in the city night with them, rocking in the venues, talking on the streets and getting late-night burritos, made me rethink about my formerly raised question about the queer as it’s experienced again. Seems that queer can appear on the heterosexual scale, but it’s good to be aware that this is not a line, but it’s a matrix. Other people can come in, from the same or from the opposite sex. Fantasies can lift you up, no boundaries, only colorful selves. And love. And love. And love.

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I made it into the fifth life cycle

Some first nation people in North America talk about 7-year life circles. Each of them carry some specific function for personality, each of them opens up some new layers in life. Since I was child, I somehow never imagined my life lasting longer than the age of 27. I just didn’t see it coming afterwards, except perhaps an image of driving a motorbike when already retired. But apart from that I didn’t really relate to any imaginations that would go towards the period of life which would start the fifth life circle.

IMG_8823Exactly one year ago I was raising some glasses with my friends in Yogyakarta, joking, that I sure will have a great last year of my life. And I felt I didn’t want any party, but at the night of my 27th birthday I wanted to pray. Pray for some absolute energy, ultimate vibration, null-energy, tone of the universe. And Shiva, yes. Hindu temples could possibly raise this connection. So I told my friends that I’ll be taking a motorbike an hour drive away from the city to a small hindu temple at night, feel free to join me. Instead of couple of friends (I didn’t expect anyone care to drive out in the middle of the night), we were altogether seven people – Berit, Marie, Monica, Jali, Ethel among them.

What happened though, was that our crowd turned out to be joyful people, full of life and… bigger plans. So on the way we managed to set up another plan for a much bigger Hindu temple. The one which was so heavily calling.

What followed, was the most exciting, beautiful, breathtaking birthday one could ever imagine. And then what followed, was the most absurd, ridiculous, embarrassing and terrifying birthday one could imagine. Which eventually still ended without any real problems, but the threat was real – to be fined for 10 000 rp!! And we only wanted to pray… Luckily, we were left with just the bittersweet memory of an adventure of layered meanings, absurdities, guilt, joy and a fortunately, a sweet follow-up.

Although I probably knew a year ago that setting my age of 27 as the last one to remember must be a joke, I was still curious enough – am I gonna make it or not. The year blessed me with moments, when I almost didn’t care for further. But even then it also striked my mind that the exhibition I was curating was supposed to open when I would be already 28. That kind of meant that I should become 28. How otherwise?!

Anyway, I still love, therefore I am. Now 28, silently entering my fifth life circle. It will be a blessing. How otherwise. 

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Cross-continental mental lines: doors to open, love to keep

One of the stories most hard to understand and admit that ever happened to us along our journeys comes from Africa. It was in 2010 when me and Berit spent an intensive month of experiences in Benin, West Africa, where we were digging into its worlds of voodoo and Rastafarianism.  See the stories here.

We also met an incredible soul, a true and humble Rastafarian and promising artist Joel Doussou, who became our Beninois Godfather. I also performed a crazy musical gig on stage with him for 3000 people! When leaving Benin, he gave us his paintings as gifts to remember our shared experiences. Mine had a spider on it – the thing I was afraid the most at the time – to fight my phobia.

A few months later after returning  back to Estonia we heard this terrible news. That he had been killed. Brutally murdered. In flames. By radicals. For what? For the sake of some extreme fetishist voodoo? For jealousy of his success? For conservative thought?

This was both as mysterious as a deep personal mental shock that made me feel five years older in two days and didn’t allow me to sleep for weeks. But his beautiful art work is still with me, decorating my room in Tallinn, keeping the memory of his warm nature and sunny smile. Making me still feel close to Joel.

Couple of months ago I met another warm and sunny soul here in Tallinn. He’s a Buddhist monk, an fruitful academic and a funny and caring friend. Chipamong Chowdhury also appeared to be my neighbor in my new temporary living space (seems that I will remain temporal forever, never-ending story in a life of an anthropologist?). And as a caring friend Chipamong offered me a hand while moving my stuff from one place to another. And so I documented with my video camera this little journey where Africa meets Asia, where Rastafari meets Buddhism, where sweet memory meets present testimony, where love meets life, where there’s always doors to open and love to keep.