In my last post I explored the creative benefits of being an alien from another planet, which is how the jazz musician Sun Ra saw himself. In this post, I will examine how my creativity was affected by a “close encounter” with this alien. In the next post I’ll look at what Jonas Lehrer (Imagine: How Creativity Works) says about the importance of such “close encounters” to the creative process, in general. (Also see the “Caption Challenge” at the end of this post.)
Sun Ra and I both lived in or around Philadelphia in the 1980s. A friend and I decided
to go to a Sun Ra concert in neighboringCamden N.J. It was held in a run down Community Center in the middle of one of Camden’s poorest neighborhoods. There were supposed to be refreshments before the concert, but by the time we arrived the Arkestra had eaten their way through the goodies. The concert was held in a small basement room with a tiny stage crammed with the band members wearing weird costumes. I was not really a big fan of Ra’s music (and am still not) so what I remember best is just the sheer weirdness of the spectacle.
At one point, about mid-way through the concert, Sun Ra got up from the keyboards and came down into the audience. Shortly , each member of the band stopped playing and followed him down the stairs. Soon the whole band was walking up and down the aisles chanting something in unison. I could not make out the words at first since the band members were on the far side of the auditorium. It was a simple, non-melodic refrain, that had a hypnotic quality to it. Because it was chanted in unison and Sun Ra and the band maintained a serious demeanor , I felt like I was witnessing some sort of mysterious ritual. As the line of musicians came closer to where we were sitting, I began to figure out what they were chanting with such solemnity. This was the chant: “Gonna rip the mask, rip the mask off Batman. Look out Robin, gonna get you too”.
That scene has stuck with me over the years and, as you will see,served as an inspiration for my first music video. Click on the link below to see the short video on YouTube. At the end of the video, click on return arrow to finish reading this post and to respond to today’s “Caption Challenge”
After watching this video you may have the same kind of response as you did to the video featured in What the ____ is that Video About?, namely: “What the _____is this video about?” Fair enough. I’ll try to tackle that in my next post where we’ll return to some of the ideas put forth in Lehrer’s book. Be sure to send in your caption for the image below, which will pop up again in future posts.