The humpback whale who appears to be light taupe, unless what he more accurately is as a matter of objective fact is dark ecru, would seem obviously to be the biggest James Brown fan of all time. Unless, that is, you have ever been lucky enough to get a good glimpse of one of his brothers. Those are some big boned boys growing down there in the unfathomable depths. And they really know how to shake that thang. All the lard just adds extra oomph.
The youngest of the brother humpbacks, who is both behaviorally and stylistically a non-neutral, violet tinged charcoal gray, and militantly so at times, is the electronics guru in the pod. He deserves a lot of credit because he’s worked hard at it. That’s one area where a couple of thumbs might have come in handy. Still, he proved more than able to bypass the primitive human wiring he encountered, tap into the maze of telecommunication cables at the bottom of Monterey Bay, and hook up with the NSA satellites in space that spy on the nerds of Silicon Valley.
As a result, the humpback whale who appears to be light taupe can get soul brother #1 James Brown 24/7 on any of the sentient electronic devices he chooses. When he does, those are some thumping days. By the time he gets to the second or third go-round of Make It Funky, there are usually tell-tale signs of redness penetrating his flukes. He doesn’t even need a partner. He gets his juices all slathered up and frothy by swimming at hyperbolic speeds in the shape of a multiple figure-eight, the basic building block of the multiverse.
And when James Brown exclaims, “I got ants in my pants and I need to dance,” you better believe the joint gets jumping. There’s barely enough room to bust a decent move in the cooler two thirds of the planet surrounded by water.
The tawny owl tells me he can feel those days, too, and simultaneously dig them while they’re happening, not only by the thumping vibes, but by the shape of the waves at Pleasure Point that get higher than a Silicon Valley nerd in a room alone with a bong.
Sadly, I have no way to know. He knows that, too, of course, although he thinks it’s funny, not sad. It provides him with another classic opportunity to laugh his ass off.
“Swimming is okay,” the tawny owl has told me, “and it sure as hell beats walking when you need to get somewhere, but nothing comes close to flying. The whales know that. When they are out there and flying high on the path to Galaxy NGC3314a or NGC3314b there’s no way not to know it.”
What, I thought at the time, and not only then, am I supposed to say to that? And what, or how, am I supposed to think? My neck only extends so far and rotates a measly 180 degrees. I could say nothing, or I could say something that invariably sounds, and qualifies as, dumb. Even something that might sound smart to me, would still invariably sound dumb. I knew that better than anyone.
I knew it would be smartest to say nothing.
I said, “Sadly, I have no way to know.”
The tawny owl looked at me archly in that way of his, which is qualitatively little different from laughing his ass off, and he dropped a mottled shit bomb nearby. It was in the greenish to ocher range on the eternal color wheel, sort of. That very same look, I have been told, pisses off his lovely wife, Thee Mrs., until she approaches the point of snapping, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. Besides, I clearly have fewer choices than she does. A Benedict Arnold to his species learns to improvise and make do. He learns to crawl first and crawl last.
I tried to change the subject. Sometimes, though rarely, that works. I said, “That humpback whale sure packs a lot of weight from up close.”
I immediately regretted it, of course, but what is left to do after the blather is out of the bag? Stick to the feeble guns packed inside your shorts? I was aware and becoming self-conscious of the icky clot that was stuck in my throat. It began to make itself feel right at home.
After he was finished laughing his ass off, the tawny owl said, “Humpbacks are just a little too slick for my taste.”
Right away, I understood there could be several ways to interpret that statement. According to the genius Ludwig Wittgenstein in one of his latter day stages, most misunderstandings between bipeds derive from differing usages of the same word.
I said, “Do you mean that otherwise you might be tempted to take a bite out of one?”
He hesitated just a tad, I believe due to a known stupification factor, before laughing his ass off so hard he had to fly away and soothe his craw by regurgitating the head of a pesky mouse. That occurred, as it does, in private. That left me in familiar territory, out in the open, and exposed.
I tried to forestall the threat I was discerning from a kink in my back that was revealing an ambition to become a fully formed spasm. I opened a bottle of brown beer. I drank it down. There is something spiritually illuminating to be discovered in a first brown beer. Hummingbirds, I believe, understand that cosmic mechanism best. I practiced my primitive figure-eights while sitting atop a big inflatable ball and bouncing to Afrobeat music from Femi Kuti. That helped me to improve a lot, as it did James Brown back in the day, though not so much for Africa. I disagree with Wittgenstein only on rare occasions, but I believe firmly that the secret of communication can archetypically be found in unlocking the hips. At least my hips. That’s a major area where studying under the tutelage of the tawny owl has proved to be enlightening.
I drank a second bottle of beer. Deftly, I opened it first. The laws of gravity held astonishingly fast. I don’t believe for a second that any of this talk of illumination or enlightenment obscures the basic cause and effect relationship between stars and orbs that get right down to the real nitty gritty. This is James Brown we are talking about, after all, not the rigid logic of Ludwig Wittgenstein in his early autocratic stage.
According to the tawny owl, if you deign to twist and flex before mindlessly bending your knees in supplication, and avoid publicly as well as privately falling down hard on them in a spasmodic episode of idolatry, zealotry, greed, power mongering, or rage, there is a much better chance to avoid cracking up into shattered pieces.