May 19th, 2005

operesque

I am Camões!

Because last night's venue, atop the hill near the Castello in Lisbon, was very delightful, with a seated cabaret-style audience and big dramatic black-and-white pictures of costumed, gesticulating actors on the walls, I was in theatrical mood, and improvised anecdotes between the songs. Here are the first few...

"Everywhere I go in Lisbon people see my eyepatch and shout out "Es Camões!" So I've decided to give in and admit that I am in fact the re-incarnation of your great one-eyed Portugese poet. I have had many adventures, as you know, but perhaps you don't know that I recently decided to make a trip to the Arctic Circle to find Tom of Finland, because I'd been intrigued by his images of cowboys, naked from the waist down, pressing their penises against each other. In the north of Finland, in a farmyard, I eventually came across two cowboys pressing their genitals against each other, dressed only from the waist up. I don't know why they were there, but I was relieved to discover them. I approached and was about to ask if they knew where their creator, Tom of Finland, was, when suddenly we were surrounded by a group of large, menacing, bright white polar bears. We would certainly have been torn to pieces if I hadn't had the presence of mind to pull out my guitar and sing the following song. It's called "The Homosexual".

"Camões, like all artists, was very much preoccupied by the theme of charisma. In fact I can tell you that he decided, in the middle ages, to go to Sherwood Forest in the north of England to study the most charismatic figure of that time, Robin Hood. I know this is not a great day for Portugese national pride [Lisbon's team had just lost to Moscow] but I'm going to have to deal it another blow: I'm sorry to tell you that Robin Hood is English, so your great Portugese poet learned about charisma from an Englishman. Here's a song about him: "Robin Hood".

"Before he was reborn as a one-eyed Portugese poet, Camões lived in Rome, and he was known as Virgil. I heard him telling this story about Romulus and Remus, the wolf-suckled orphans, about the origin of Roman democracy, it's called "The Rape of Lucretia"...

I can't really remember the rest, but they got stranger and stranger. Miguel videoed the show (and made a 5:1 Dolby sound recording), and intends to put it out one day as a DVD, so they'll come to light eventually. (As will the moment I kicked one of my flip flops about fifteen feet up into the gods.)

Since Camões was a bit of an adventurer, "true" stories from his life are no less absurd. He's said to have lost his eye in India. On the return voyage, just as his ship was approaching the coast of Portugal a terrible storm arose and the vessel went down with all hands. But somehow Camões was able to swim ashore... holding the manuscripts of his new poems above the water with one hand!