Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"homie don't play that"

So, last night I was watching some television and happened to come across a rerun of In Living Color. Homie the Clown (played by Damon Wayans, and invented by Paul Mooney) was "keepin' it real" by bopping a group of young children on the head with a partially-filled sock. It reminded me how in college, one of the texts for a Latino studies class I was taking, talked about a Brazilian trickster/clown figure who engaged in similar antics. I was moved to try to find information about that particular character online (and failed) but I did find a brief description of a related Puerto Rican character...

The Vejigante
The Vejigante (bay-he-GAHN-tay) is a fantastic, colorful character introduced into carnival celebrations hundreds of years ago. He is a classic example of the blending of African, Spanish, and Caribbean influences in Puerto Rican culture.

The name Vejigante comes from the Spanish word for bladder, vejiga. The Vejigante inflates a dried cow's bladder and paints it to resemble a balloon. The Vejigante's costume is made from scraps of fabric and looks like a clown suit with a cape and bat wings under the arms.

During the carnival celebrations in Loíza Aldea and Ponce, the Vejigantes roam the streets in groups and chase children with their vejigas. The Vejigante is such an old character that he is even mentioned in the classic novel Don Quixote written in 1605.

homie don't play that!

9 comments:

Hassan said...

We need Homie roaming the streets in the hood right now.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

Yup... but We also need Homie in DC right now...

DA said...

I remember hearing about this dude from someone I used to train Capoeira with.

Incidently, I've never seen a more varied cross-section of people than when I trained. We looked like the floor of the UN.

Laury Silvers said...

It seems like every human community has one of these characters--there is always someone who is a bit cracked or out of place and permitted to tell the truth to the people when no one else could get away with it. Sometimes these figures are funny and scary or sometimes like clowns (oh, wait, clowns are funny and scary. I hate clowns).

Comics do this now, don't they? Paul Mooney's humor is searing to this white girl--or Dick Gregory or Richard Pryor. You'll cry laughing so hard while the kick the living stupidity out of you.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

Actually, it is interesting to think about the kind of space these truth-telling characters have to occupy. Comedians, clowns. Huey from the Boondocks. Or before him Michael from Good Times. Or more broadly now, rappers. "Tell us the truth but entertain us"

You might think Paul Mooney is hard but if some things were told "straight" it might be harder to take. you know?

Laury Silvers said...

Exactly, we couldn't hear it otherwise. The negative aspect of the soul doesn't seem to have as many barriers up to the assault of truth told through humor. Maybe because it tricks you? You think it isn't serious so your defenses are down? You've got little choice but to listen and deal with what you've heard. Interesting, very interesting.

Abdul-Halim V. said...
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Abdul-Halim V. said...

mullah nasruddin stories are kind of the same way. They are like Sufi "koans" except ata very superficial level they function pretty effectively as jokes.

So Zen koans are less forgiving in the sense that unless you "get it" you probably won't see much in them. (Not that I"m pretending I do).

But Sufi teaching stories are more "forgiving" since even if you don't "get it" you can at least laugh.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005 3:06:11 AM

Anonymous said...

this is fantasticly interesting :)