Monday, April 2, 2012
"Bless Me Father, For I Have Sinned...I Think" (Songs 'n' The Hoods Part 12)
Palm Sunday, the Catholic holiday that celebrates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, is also the day, 34 years ago this week, when my Catholic upbringing made a right turn at Albuquerque.
Sunday mass, whether serving it as an altar boy or simply attending it as a spectator, was never a pleasant experience. How could it be? It took place on a Sunday morning. If that wasn't enough, the priests celebrating the masses at both the church attached to my grammar school and the church closer to my home (see pic above), didn't really have a command of the English language. It was more like a surrender. Whether in Italian or Lithuanian, I had to sit for what felt like an eternity, and pretend to know just what was being celebrated through the worst public address systems known to man, in a language that skimped on words in English.
(Seriously, what is it about churches and their sound systems? An empty paper towel roll would have projected more clearly than the $7 microphones and $15 speakers that seemed to be installed in every house of Catholic worship across America.)
Yet every Sunday, I'd sit and listen to a language I couldn't understand as these voices told these crazy tales of miracles and suffering and impossibilities. I had to. It was my obligation. Plus, the nuns who also taught grades 1-8 at my school, pretty much guaranteed that if I didn't show up for church on Sunday, God would know and would smote me on a regular basis.
Palm Sunday, 1978, I had had enough smote talk. I brought the Arts & Leisure section to mass, where I was sent by grandparents, aunts & uncles to retrieve the palm leaves distributed, and just sat there, reading, while Father Baciasukas stood there, preaching...about something. About 3 minutes in, I saw this on Page 4:
And like that, I blew by the confessionals and made my way to the exit, forgetting the family's palm in the pew. I headed up to Madison Square Garden. It was that easy. No internet. No passwords. No pre-sales. Just a subway ride to the box office.
The ride back was tricky. My heart was pounding with excitement, as I held onto these golden ducats for one of my rock and roll heroes. But, my soul was trembling, as well. What if God wasn't impressed with Bowie's collaboration with Eno? What if he...excuse me...He doesn't really love us all no matter what we do? I was sure as shit gonna get it now!
Look at this:
Reading in church
Leaving before the end of mass
Forgetting the palm
Oh, and the lying to my grandmother, which was about to take place, as soon as I got home without the goods.
I don't recall the rest of that afternoon. I do have vivid memories of David Bowie at Madison Square Garden. Does that make me a bad person?