by Kathy Collins
Listen to this column read aloud in pidgin:
So I jus’ went take one fast-kine bite outta da Big Apple. I donno why they call ‘em dat. To me, New York City seem more like one humongous fruit salad, da kine we call ambrosia, wit’ da marshmallow creme.
I went ovah deah fo’ perform at da Lincoln Center Out of Doors’ La Casita festival. Was one multicultural show, wit’ all kine bands an’ poets an’ singah-songwritahs an’ me. Five hours of music and talk story from all kine places: Africa, Latin America, da Mediterranean, da Middo East, Haiti, an’ all across da mainland; from hip hop to sacred chants. Was like one old-fashion May Day pageant on steroids. Only t’ing missing was leis. An’ crack seed.
I got deah Friday night, performed Saturday aftanoon at da Centah, an’ on Sunday, we went take da show to da Bronx, to da Pregones Theater. Eh, even if dose Puerto Ricans no talk pidgin, dey unna-stand ‘em jus’ fine. By da time I pau tell ‘em da story of Pele an’ Kamapua‘a, dey was cheering fo’ La Tita! An’ me, I went sing along in Spanish, dance to Balkan music, an’ cry at Mindanao prayers. Even dough we use diff’rent words, we was all talkin’ da same language: Passion. Passion fo’ pahlatics, hist’ry, love, or jus’ life. Was easy fo’ tell what dey was saying even if you no unna-stand all da words.
Was kinda da same in Manhattan. Jus’ walkin’ t’roo da hotel lobby, I went hear languages I nevah did hear befo’. An’ yet everybody unna-stand each odda . . . excep’ ovah deah, seem like da common language is money. An’ when come to money, I get limited vocabulary.
In batween da shows an’ right up until Monday morning, I went soak up as much of da city as I could jus’ by walkin’ around. Central Park, da Village, Times Square. . . . I went covah so much miles, I ackchally went lose weight, even dough I went pig out on halal-cart gyros, soups an’ breads, hot dogs, an’ gelato. Plus I went find my crack seed in Chinatown.
Befo’ I left Maui, all my friends went gimme advice. “Yo’ first time to New York? Oh, you gotta see/do/eat (whatevahs).” I tried, but no ways I could do ‘em all. I nevah ride da horse-drawn carriage in Central Park, I nevah see one Broadway show, an’ I nevah eat at Carnegie Deli. But I went catch da subway couple-t’ree times, an’ I went eat blackberries an’ scones from one open street market. I even seen one real live sewer rat cruisin’ down da street like he own ‘em. I went dance salsa at one Bachata festival, disco with some funky rollah skaters, an’ swing to one jazz band—all in one aftanoon in Central Park, an’ all fo’ free!
All my friends t’ink I nuts, go alla way ovah deah jus’ fo’ one weekend, but to me, was perfeck. Was like ambrosia. All kine different tastes an’ textures, all onolicious; in fact, so sweet, you only can eat liddo bit at a time. Too intense. But addicting. Dass why now, I call NYC Da Big Ambrosia. And I ready already, fo’ one noddah taste!