7 – Blog 21 – Boys Keep Swinging

It is almost the third weekend since I came out of a year and a half coma. With no memory of what I was like before being knocked senseless, I have been ‘winging it,’ performing anywhere and at any time. This weekend I have two sold-out shows at the Montreux Casino in which I am MC and play in or be sound engineer for every band, from a pickup cover band of roadies called the Knobs, the number 1 Stadium rock band in the world, Queen, and a Berlin lineup backing David Bowie as he promotes his Turkish reggae single ‘Yassassin’ (Long Live). My new best friend is Michael Jackson who is incognito in Switzerland. Choreographing the dancing for the show is Amar, a 15 year-old Tunisian, whom Mike and I met at Lake Geneva and is a Muslim Sufi Whirling Dervish. Fifty of his Lake friends will whirl with him as Bowie  sings about human rights for Muslim immigrants. If all works well the rock and roll circus will be on tour the rest of the year. The goal is a tour-ending sold-out show for 90,000 fans, chanting ‘Yassassin’ in London’s Wembley Stadium. All we want is for people to be nice to immigrants.

My daydreams are interrupted by Bowie who wants to chat. Maybe he is my new best friend. We leave everyone outside at Freddie’s Lake House pool and retire to the lounge.

“Mike spoke with his dad. How did that go?” David asks.

“Mike stood up to him even when Old Joe threatened him physically.”

“Do we need actual bodyguards?”

“Naw. I listened in to the call and wrote down the actual words and threats. Miami Beach is going to get an injunction to allow Mike to perform on the tour. The verbal assault will be insurance that Joe doesn’t try to stop him.”

“What tour are you talking about?”

“The ‘Yassassin’ tour promoting your song for immigrant rights. If the shows go over well this weekend Henri has us on the road to a Wembly Stadium finale. We’ll get different acts to support you once Queen has to be here in Montreux for the Festival.”

“This is your idea? You might have asked me first.”

“Naw. Henri set it up. He spoke with MainMan in New York.”

“Okay, boss, as long as you’re running it.” Bowie slides next to me. I lay my head in his lap.

“You are something. What about the swim lessons? Who will organize them if we are on tour. Duncan is counting on you.”

“Henri is paying the older kids to run it. Duncan will be with you on the weekends.”

“How much am I getting paid?”

“MainMan negotiated your fee. You only get to keep half of it.”

“Fucking Tony Defries.”

“Poor Davy Jones. First the Monkees stole your name. Now your manager keeps stealing your wages.”

Mike looks in, seeing my head in Bowie’s lap, he slides in on the open shoulder. It is a Bowie sandwich.

“I hear you spoke with your dad.”

“I spoke with him. He yelled at me. I’m missing a Pepsi commercial.”

“You okay?” David asks.

Mike shrugs and pulls both of us into a hug.

“As long as Miami Beach can keep dear old dad off my case, all’s well.”

“I need your help on the ending to ‘Pressure Drop.’”

“Can’t get that high note, like you used to?”

“Sometimes you need a boy to do a man’s job,” David squeezes the two of us.

“Whenever you need me. Call my name. I’ll be there.”

I take Tito’s alto as Mike and I duet.

“You miss your brothers?” David asks.

“Yeah but I ain’t cryin’ over spilt milk.”

Me neither. No tears tonight.

“Guess  who wrote  the lyrics to ‘Yassassin?” David quizzes us.

“Not too heavy. I bet it was Eno.”

“Wrong; the guys in the Young Turks. I kept asking them what is it like to leave their home. Their lives are just sad.”

“Yassassin. Life long,” I mistranslate.

“No, but they gave up everything to be in Berlin. The Germans treat them like dirt. Everywhere they go, it is the same. They don’t belong.”

“You like them,” I observe.

“Yeah. Like them I never fit in – Ziggy Stardust, the man who fell to Earth. I even lost my name. I name my son Wowie but he rejects it. I’m always on the outside looking in.”

“So sad,” we both say. “But we adore you.”

We stand and sing ‘Je t’adore’

“You don’t love me anymore?” Bowie complains.

“The world loves you,” Mike explains. “Only we adore you for everything you are, not just for your celebrity.”

“We don’t love you for helping immigrants; we adore you for it,” I add.

“I want a cause to show I am more than a space alien or the androgenous white duke.”

‘Fame? What’s your name? What’s your name?’ we sing to Bowie.

‘Fame (fame) puts you there where things are hollow,’ Bowie stands with us and sings.

‘Fame is solid so we follow,” I improvise. ‘That you’re shallow is hard to swallow,’ I imagine my own fame.

‘Is it any wonder you are too cool to fool,” Mike sticks the knife in.

‘Fame, fame, fame, fame’ Bowie ends our Broadway skit.

We all smile and collapse together on the couch.

“Are you using your fame for a just cause, or are you seeking more fame?” I ask.

Bowie looks silently at me, accusing me of questioning his credibility.

“Oh, David,” I hug him, “we know your aim is true and not at all selfish.”

I want to take back my words.

We lay there wrapped around each other.

“You think I am less than sincere in helping immigrants?” Bowie finally breaks our silence.

“Have you fully thought about what the problem is?”

“Rich Europeans need cheap labor to meet their personal needs. They treat immigrants as less than human when they clean their homes, raise their children, and receive discounted wages for work white people believe is beneath them.”

“So, we don’t appreciate what they do for us?”

“We despise them, and they hate us for disrespecting their culture.”

“So, a little reggae may help them?” I take him to task.

“I take the piss out on you two in ‘Young Americans.”

Mike sings,

‘We live for just these twenty years
Do we have to die for the fifty more?’.

“We both will be twenty in a couple of weeks,” I note.

“And searching for love in your old age?” Bowie scoffs.

“Love is easy but making it last can be a lifetime,” Mike being profound.

I rap,

‘Heaven loves ya
The clouds part for ya
Nothing stands in your way
When you’re a boy.’

“That can be my new song,” Bowie exclaims,

‘When you’re a boy
Other boys check you out’

‘Boys
Boys
Boys keep swinging
Boys always work it out,’ Mike adds.

We race into the home studio. Bowie on guitar; I am on the MOOG; Mike shakes the tambourine and sings backup in his high falsetto, just like a boy.

Freddie wanders in.

“That’s great. Let me get it on tape.”

We play the song again, ad libbing, ‘God just kissed you hello.’

We hold our breath  toward the song’s ending, afraid we will burst out laughing.

“That’s a take,” Freddie announces.

We start giggling and shaking each other. Freddie is amused, giving Bowie the stink eye for being so immature.

“It’s a song about boys, Freddie,” Bowie defends himself.

“It looks like Bowie on boys, to me,” Freddie watches us roll around on the floor.

David stands up, straightens his bulky clothing and pretends to be above it all. Mike and I grab each other and start another round of laughing and rolling on top of each other.

“We should add it to the set list this weekend,” Bowie is on a roll.

“So you can watch all the Arab boys molest each other?” Freddie is not letting up.

“That’s sick,” Bowie defends himself.

“Well, Laz is my boyfriend but only sleeps with your boyfriend, Mike.”

“Jealousy raises its ugly head,” Bowie observes. “I’m not the one sleeping with them.”

“We’re not doing ‘it.’” Mike defends our sleeping arrangement.

“That’s the problem, Laz and I are no longer doing it.”

More accurately, Freddie and Max are not doing it. But I thought Freddie and David were doing it. I am not jealous. Does Freddie want to do it with Mike? That may be a problem.

“I have nothing against you two doing it,” I point at the two adults. “why do you have something against Mike and me not doing it?”

They look confused. Freddie grabs David and drags him to the master bedroom. I know who the master is in there; it is not Freddie.

“Well, there goes my opportunity for a three-way celebrity fuck,” I joke.

Mike frowns but looks relieved. “You told me your dog did it with Freddie, not you.”

“That’s not what Freddie thinks.”

We are laughing again.

“Let’s go find Amar and quiz him about his sex life. I bet it is not as exciting as our non-sex lives.”

Amar is at the Lake as usual. His reaction to our sex questions is bewilderment.

“This is boring,” I remark. “Let’s go to the Casino and check out the stage set-up. I bet they’ll let us eat for free at the café.”

Amar’s eyes light-up.

At the casino, there are posters advertising the weekend shows. Amar is depicted in his sufi robes. He wants to take it down as a souvenir of his dancing debut.

“I’ll get Henri to save you one once the shows are over.”

15-year-olds are easy to please.

The stage is ready for the next night’s show. The amps, monitors and drums are in place. Just add guitars and MOOG. Amar pulls out white robes.

“Try whirling in the robe, it may help your rhythm to feel them flow.”

It is of little help. I am useless at dancing. Several casino workers are observing us from the back. We make them come down and don robes. The five of us join hands and circle around Amar. He starts spinning as his robes fill with the lift from his movements.

More workers come down, several of whom appear Mediterranean. They don robes and are whirling outside our circle. We continue for an unknown length of time. It is first time I feel entranced, outside of time and space. No music is needed to create the rhythm. Amar slows and his robes deflate. Everyone stops.“

Êtes-vous vraiment soufi danser ici demain,” one worker asks.

“Bien sur. Puissiez-vous danser avec nous?”

“Vraiment?

“Oui, vraiment?”

Amar explains when they should come and to bring their robes. They listen raptly to his instructions.

“They treat you like a god, Amar,” I remark.

“Never say that!” he rebukes me. “There is only Mohammed, the Prophet. False idols are wrong. I just give them directions.”

“They know how special you are,” and I hug him.

He grimaces and glares back at me.

The café assures us that our meals are compliments of the Casino, their error for telling us before we order. We make it a five course meal. The staff seems pleased that we are taking advantage.

We wander up the plaza near the gay club, Taboo.

There are a few Queen fans, hanging outside, hoping to see their heroes. One recognizes me from our previous pop-up show there. It feels good for once to be recognized for something I remember. I tell the fans that Queen may possibly be a surprise guest at the casino tomorrow night and the next. They run off in a tizzy to get tickets. The three of us are amused by simple fan behavior now that we are the stars, with Amar on the poster. Our head cannot get any bigger, else we float away like hot-air balloons. Amar’s question about Taboo brings me rapidly down to earth, “What goes on in that club?” he asks.

“You don’t want to know,” Mike avoids answering.

“But just men go in. Is it like a Muslim social club?”

“Not exactly,” I am too squeamish to tell him.

Amar takes matters in his own hands, “Well, are you guys gay?”

We laugh.

“No,” Mike quickly asserts. “We just act gay.”

“It’s more complicated for me,” I state. “I have no memories prior to the last three weeks. I’m holding out for a more definitive answer.”

“What does that mean,” Amar may have a future career as a lawyer.

“We fool around without having sex, having sleepovers and hanging all over each other,” Mike lets me off the hook. “We’re best friends.”

“Can I be best friends, too.”

“We love you little dude but you are still in school. We’re five years older than you. You live at home. We cannot live at home anymore.”

“Why?”

“Get to know us better.”

“Can I get a hug?”

“Sure, but don’t get horny.”

“I don’t know how that works.”

“And we won’t tell you!”

We laugh and hug again. We walk him home. His dad comes out, so we speak about the show and the adults from the Casino who will join the whirling tomorrow.

“You’re coming, n’est pas?

“Mais oui. J’ai vu l’affiche avec Amar.”

“Il est l’etoile.”

He laughs, “Vous est trop fou.”

“Bon soir, monsieur.”

“Bon soir.”

“Whew,” I gasp as we walk away. “Amar said his dad hates me.”

“Your charm works on everyone, even when you slut around with Freddie.”

“It was just a stage kiss.”

“Well, we can’t really include Amar in our little gay club.”

“You said we act gay. We just act like innocent eight year-olds.”

“Like Duncan?”

“That boy is more than wowie; he’s zowie.”

“Should we teach Amar some gay tricks.”

“Don’t. I need a best friend, not friends with benefits.”

That is extremely funny. We hold hands and skip all the way to the Lake House.

It is the morning of our first rock n roll circus show. No sleeping in for the instigator. I just push Mike out of bed to wake him up. He glares at me and drags himself to get dressed. We invade Freddie’s master bedroom, finding his head buried in a pillow as Bowie is laid out on his back.

“Surprise,” I yell. Mike looks mortified. Bowie and Mercury do look surprised.

“We’re going for croissants,” I announce and leave them to go back to sleep. It is 6:30 am, still Thursday night in their minds.

Ever faithful Jim made coffee and offers to drive us to the patisserie.

“Let’s walk,” I grab him. “I need to burn off excess energy.”

Mike and I skip hand-in-hand to the shop. Jim buys a dozen warm croissants. He is such an enabler.

“Does early to rise have to do with milking cows” Jim asks.

“Do they have cows in Switzerland?”

“Does Heidi like chocolate?” Jim retorts.

“This is the only home I know,” I explain. “I just want to fit in.”

“You boys holding hands in public at 7am may get you arrested.”

“Les gendarmes m’aiment.”

“If they ask, I don’t know you.”

“You’re the perfect beard.”

Mike may not be fully awake yet. I can smell the coffee as we walk back into the house. Jim lays out butter and jam for us and we have two croissants each.”

“Oh, Captain, my Captain,” Mike speaks! “What next?”

“A swim in the pool,” I am full of surprises.

We butterfly/dolphin several laps. When we get out, Mike’s dreads look like drowned cat tails. We rush to the bathroom and I spend 30 minutes twisting his roots back into dreads.

“I have a song,” I decide to wing it

“Why am I not surprised?” Mike is a nob.

“It’s called ‘Snaked’,

‘Boys can’t survive’ (over and over again)

They are laughing hysterically.

“Where did you come up with this song?”

“Don’t ask me to remember what I cannot. It just bubbled up. Try this one, ‘Golden Boys’

‘Aimless, ain’t got no where to go
All my thoughts have gone
Ready?

Mother Mary had a son
Whose days were spent on having fun
And Monday he got a letter: you could make yourself feel better

Mother Mary had a man who healed with healing hands
Millions of boys lay dead

Mother Mary had a baby but he had his he’d never tasted
He hunted all the others then he hunted all his brothers

Mother Mary had a man who healed with healing hands
Millions of boys stay dead

Go-Go-Golden Boys
You’ve got your war toys
Looking straight on
And with your eyes of blue
I will remember you
One for me, one for you

Mother Mary baby, rock and roll
Rock and roll, you know I only want you for your rock and roll Mother Mary

Mother Mary had a man who healed with pleasing hands
Millions of boys stay dead

Go-Go-Golden Boys
You’ve got your war toys
Looking straight on
And with your eyes of blue
We’ll do the old one two
One for me, one for you

1, 2, 3, GO!
Brother mother baby you’re flipped out
You’re over influenced
One day you will feel it
You’ll make yourself feel better

Mother Mary had a man who healed with healing hands
Millions of boys stay dead
Millions of boys stay dead
Millions of boys stay dead

Songwriter: Darby Crash

“What are you saying, all boys die?” Mike is worried.

“Yeah, so what. All the more reason to get out there and live like there’s no tomorrow.”

“We have a second show tomorrow.”

“If we’re not dead yet.”

We rush out the door in our bathing suits to meet the kids at the Lakefront. They are all there, waiting for us to inspire them. Amar starts whirling, setting off half the crowd. We barely notice and run screaming into Lake Geneva. I swear I see a dolphins doing leaps above the water.

Mike grabs me around the neck. I butterfly toward where the dolphin was jumping. Half the kids are swimming after Mike and me. As we get into deeper water a phalanx of blue dolphins comes charging at us. I dive underwater ten feet to the bottom of the lake, push off and with rapid kicks break the surface and fly out above my waist with Mike around my neck before diving back under. A white dolphin flies 6 feet over the water and dives with us. I reach around its head and hang on as it launches itself for another jump, carrying Mike and me with it into the air. The blue dolphins swim to the group of swimmers chasing us. Several boys hitch rides on the dolphins’ backs. The other kids are terrified by the charging mammals, frantically swimming back toward shore. The dolphins easily catch them. Poking and shoving the panicked kids until they reach the safety of shore. The kids on shore start singing ‘Heroes’ as their friends recover their cool and start butterfly/dolphining back and forth.

Soon the lake dolphins are arching above the swimmers, leaping high in the air. The white dolphin leads the blue dolphins with kids hanging on back and forth in front of the kids singing to them. The single dolphins are doing leaps and flips above their brethren. It is inter-species lovemaking. Suddenly they shake all of us off and depart as quickly as they appeared. Everyone gathers on the shore.

“What do you think Amar? Do the dolphins know we have a show tonight.”

“They gave us a show this morning. Lake Geneva is magical.”

“Is everyone coming to the show?” I ask.

Most yell in the affirmative. I gather those who are not dancing or do not have tickets.

“Can you come and sing ‘Heroes’ before the show and draw the dolphins to perform like they just did?”

They are enthusiastic. I’ll have David come out and sing to the lake behind the Casino. We will have a pre-show for those who arrive early and those who have no tickets to get inside. Henri can provide fresh fish to feed the non-human mammals after they perform.

I have blind faith that we have a psychic connection with them and they know we want them to perform. Magical thinking. If they fail to show, it will just be kids swimming in the Lake.

Amar, Mike and I rush back to the Lake House. Most of the performers including the Young Turks are there now. There are no croissants left over. Jim is manning the grill for Wimpy burgers and a large hunk of lamb has been chopped up for Shish-ka-bob. When I get older I want a Jim to entertain my friends. Does that mean I’m gay? Or, maybe Jim is like having a wife. Who knows.

“I have bigger fish to fry,” I speak out loud.

“Do you want fish? I have a nice lake dolphin I got at la poissonnerie.”

“No,” I scream. I am horrified. I feel like a cannibal. They are our friends. “I’ll just have a salad.”

Roger Taylor calls me a pussy hippie for not eating meat.

“The dolphins are performing with us tonight,” I explain what happened at the Lake.

“You are deluded, son,” Roger dismisses me.

I will get his respect back once he sees the lake show. I need him to take me seriously when Billy and I combine to replace Brian May on guitar tonight, the missing Queen member on maternity leave.

My burst of energy barely bubbles with no protein for lunch, I pull Mike and Amar to my room, and we take a nap. I dream about flying with dolphins, chasing flying fish. I catch one with my mouth and wake up gagging. I am a cannibal.

“Laz. You okay. You were choking,” Mike shakes me.

“I dreamt I ate a flying fish.”

“You need food,” as he drags me to the kitchen.

“Feed him,” Mike orders Jim.

“Oh, you want some of that dolphin I bought.”

“No,” all three of us yell. “They are our friends.”

“Don’t be mad. Cows are nice and also make great burgers.”

“Ew,” is the common response.

“Here,” he slides a sandwich toward me. “This is left over ka-bob.”

“Poor little lambies,” I am losing my appetite.

“Are you hungry or not?” Jim retrieves the ka-bob.

“It’s okay. I need the protein. I just had a bad dream. That’s all.”

“About eating lambs?”

“No, flying fish.”

“They are barely edible.”

“That’s what I thought,” I take a bite. “Thanks, Jim.”

“Are you having pre-gig jitters?”

“No. But we have a surprise. I need to speak with Bowie.”

“He went with his band to do sound check.”

“Then, I’ll see him there. Thanks.”

“Want a ride?”

“Sure,” who ever turns down a ride to your gig in a Rolls?

The kids surround us as we arrive at the front of the Casino. They seem disappointed that is only us. No stars. Well, time will tell.

We walk around the back to the Lakeside of the Casino.  It is perfect for our Lake Geneva Sea World show

I find David on stage.

“I didn’t wake you boys for sound check. It is all good.”

“I hate monitors. I always move around too much. I came early to tell you about swimming at the Lake this morning.”

“You sure were in a hurry to get going.”

“It was incredible. The kids sang ‘Heroes’ while we swam out into the Lake. The dolphins came in and swam with us, giving us rides and jumping over everyone.”

“Is this something to do with the White Dolphin you’ve been talking about?”

“Better. I think they will show up here at the Casino tonight. Can you sing ‘Heroes’ to bring them closer.”

He starts laughing and cannot stop.

“Laz, your imagination is killing me.”

“You don’t have to believe. We’re ready to do what we did this morning. The kids can sing, but it would be so great if you joined them from the balcony in the back.”

“Don’t tell anyone about the dolphins but I will set up to play outside before they let people into the Casino.”

We walk out the back and David gets Henri to set up a couple of amps, a mic and a drum set – just in case. It will be a surprise preview of the night’s show

Henri approves my instructions.

“You told David about the possible tour if this weekend is a success? It was just an idea.”

“Well, if anyone can pull it off, tu peux, Henri.”

He smiles at my use of ‘familiar’ French.

“Go eat. You boys look hungry.”

“We’re always hungry,” Amar remarks.

“How are you going to sing with the Knobs as well as swim with the dolphins?”  Mike asks.

“Maybe you should sing with them?”

“I don’t know all the words to redneck white boy rock?”

“You should broaden your horizons.”

“Really? You know we started on the Chitlin Circuit. Not much chance to hear ‘Smoke on the Water.’”

“What is chitlins?”

“Fried hog intestines.”

“I’m about to lose my lunch again.”

“We didn’t eat chitlin, just had to eat with people who eat chitlins.”

“You are one adventure after another.”

We agree that both of us will sing and run the MOOG synthesizer for the Knobs.

Time to go looking for the White Dolphin and friends. I am convinced that Mike and I must swim out in the Lake as we did that morning. Mike makes me promise not to leave him in the deep water..

“Best you hang on tight. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.”

He looks distressed. But I know he trusts me.

The crowd is waiting for the Casino stage doors to open, milling about. The whirling Dervish kids are all there dressed in the robes that Amar’s sisters sewed. We announce to everyone that there will be a special ceremony blessing Lake Geneva at the back of the Casino. The kids clap and rush to be close to the water. Many of the patrons do not want to lose their place in line, until we announce that the doors will open after the Lake ceremony. We say nothing about Bowie singing. The swimmers line up at the water’s edge. I look out into the Lake and imagine I see the white dolphin.

Mike and I walk into the water. As it gets deep enough, he grabs onto my shoulders and I dive head-first into the dark water. Sunset is about an hour away. I pray that the dolphins show up. Once far enough out I wave to the other swimmers to follow us. I see a considerable crowd is watching on the other side of the dervish dancers, who are dressed in white robes. Mike wraps his arms around my neck and I start my butterfly stroke/dolphin kick in the direction where I believe I can see my dolphin.

“Just because he’s white doesn’t mean he’s yours,” Mike hisses in my ears.

I also hear the first lines of ‘Heroes’ being sung on shore.

 To my left, a streak of white flashes by, turning as it closes on us. Lifting its tail, I grab a hold and we speed up considerably. White D turns us, so we are speeding toward the swimmers following us into the deep water. Mike tightens his grip.

“Trust me,” I tell him with water moving in its own wave away from the three of us.

White D flips his tail as we approach the others and Mike and I detach. The dolphin flips high into the air. A cheer is heard from the crowd. The singers up the volume as they race to finish their song. White D races away from us. I hear the drums start up on the terrace and know David is ready to sing his song.

I turn to the swimmers and tell them to pair up and do the butterfly/dolphin behind me. White D has turned and the blue dolphins are rushing to join him. I turn to swim in their direction. The dolphins race at us, turning just before we collide. They nudge the swimmers who clasp them around their necks. White D comes close enough for Mike and me to ride it. I dive down to the bottom, push off with Mike on my back, breaking the surface in time to connect with White D. Henri has spotlights turned on to capture the spectacle. It is spectacular. As the swimmers ride dolphins, other ones start jumping in the air, flying over the swimmers.

Bowie ends the song

‘just for one day.’

Lake Geneva is magical.

Bowie announces, “Let the show begin.”

White D bumps me, then kicks away and is gone. Mike is speechless. He is so brave to be in deep water when he has only been swimming for two weeks. We hug and I pull him to shore. We have a show to put on.

Next: