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By John A. Barry

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About this blog: I am the creator of trAction Painting, a process/performance genre in which paint is applied to large surfaces with bicycles, roller skates, and other wheeled conveyances. I have produced works on canvas, plywood, particle board, ...  (More)

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"The Miracle of Turban Boy," a performance piece by Turban Bill

Uploaded: Aug 5, 2011
In terms of a Hollywood movie pitch: it's Bollywood meets director Philip Kaufman meets "Beach Blanket Babylon." The following scenario was written by guest contributor Bill Carmel--an artist of many media--in furtherance of the Turbanism movement (outlined in my April 15 posting), of which Carmel is a charter member.

The story begins with several thousand Turbanists (True Believer Artists, TBAs) assembled in hundreds of hair salons all over San Francisco. There the stylists fashion brightly colored bolts of cloth into turbans on the Turbanists' heads (many in the style of Beach Blanket Babylon). When the turbans are completed, the Turbanists begin walking the streets of San Francisco, carrying placards that show a printed image of Turban Boy. They time their walk so that they converge on the United Nations Plaza from all directions at once.

As they approach each other, the Turbanists break into choreographic dancing, as on MTV videos, and finally coalesce, in grand marching band style, into concentric circles, with one Turbanist in the middle. At this moment the clouded sky parts and the great left hand of God (like the one Michelangelo painted in the Sistine Chapel) descends, with index finger pointing down (sort of a "deus ex milliner"). When the finger approaches the turban in the middle of the circles, it instantly splits into thousands of pointing left hands, each coming to rest on the top of each Turbanist's turban.

Then thousands of little right hands appear and travel down from the hole in the clouds. Each right hand grasps the end piece of fabric on the outside of each turban and pulls. Each Turbanist pirouettes under each left finger, accompanied by Curly Howard's "woo-wooo-woooo-wooooo" sound.) Spinning faster and faster, like ice skaters pulling in their arms, like wooden tops as their strings are pulled, like turbines turning in a jet's engine, like possessed dervishes, these thousands of whirling Turbanettes create such turbulence in the air that soon thousands of little tornadoes (dust devils) appear. These suddenly join and become one giant tornado, which gathers up all the unraveled turbans, now long ribbons of shimmering, multicolored fabric.

This terrific tornado of toile ribbon rises, traveling up into the hole in the clouds in the sky above UN Plaza (as in "Raiders of the Lost Arc" ). The ribbons slowly organize into an enormous ball of seething glistening fabric. This fandango of fabric is punctuated by lightning and thunder.

The pirouettes stop, the hands of God disappear, and the TBAs spontaneously move into a wide circle at the edges of the Plaza. The huge ball of fabric, now colored basic blue, falls to earth in the middle of the great circle of TBAs with a great thud!

All movement stops. Nobody can believe it, but the blue ball is in the perfect shape of a head and there appears to be a silhouette of a turban-topped head, the face with its nose pointing up, at the top of the blue ball. A rumble of ontological oohing and aahing. . .trying to guess, "What is the face? Is it art? What does it mean?"

Silence fills the plaza when a booming, amplified, androgynous voice from the top floor of the City Hall across the street exclaims: "Hey, everybody, hey, everybody, I can see it from here! Hey, everybody, I can see who it is! I can see who it is. . .it's Turban Boy!!!"



Wild Applause! Shouts of great joy! Singing and dancing in the Plaza follow the announcement. Suddenly, there is a great rumble in the earth with shaking rattling and rolling--an earthquake. It stops after about 15 seconds.

Everyone looks around, relieved that it is only a small one. The Blue Turban Boy Head begins to crack with a large sharp noise, amid much murmuring from the crowd. As a column of thick blue smoke rises from the cracks, a blue Michael Jackson in a blue turban pops up and out, singing and dancing to "Oklahoma" for about a minute; then out flies a Blue Judy Garland wearing a blue turban, singing and dancing to "Like a Virgin"; then a Blue Jim Morrison wearing a blue turban jumps out singing and dancing to "The Circle of Life"; then a Blue Ethyl Merman wearing a blue turban singing and dancing to "I'm Bad"; finally, a Blue Elvis wearing a blue turban jumps out singing and dancing to "The Sound of Music." More dead Pop Icons come to life and jump out of the cracked Turban Boy Head, and a mesmerizing medley of Bollywood-style song and dance follows. Hot air balloons lift off from the perimeter of the Plaza and video the extravaganza. The Goodyear blimp with an LCD screen over its entire surface displays the Jumbotron-broadcast aerial views of the kaleidoscopic frenzy.

And from the place in the sky where the clouds parted come radiant, brilliant bands of light that form a huge triple rainbow over the plaza as the sun sets in the West over the Golden Gate Bridge.

John A. Barry is a writer and avocational artist. To share anything art-related, call him at 314-9528 or email jobarry@pacbell.net

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