Adorable Dudamel, Fuck Your Encore, Love Alice
Her long, skin tone gown stays pressed to her body down to the tops of her knees; as she walks, the fabric and gemstones below the patella flail with the angular momentum and sweeping back and forth motion of a gondola ride at a carnival. She sits down at the piano, waits for silence, and begins to knead the keys as the rest of the orchestra softly strokes away at strings of various lengths, wound tightly, to masses of desperate proportions.
Dudamel faces the orchestra and waves his hands faithfully, though his motions seem abbreviated from his signature moves, frozen in their triumphant candor and suspended from light poles throughout the city. The musicians’ eyes burn through their sheet music anyway; they have been fixated on her ever since the moment she appeared before them. Her sounds begin to escalate over the rest of the instruments, turning the entire symphony into background noise. She accelerates her motions even further. They pause and watch stoically; she keeps playing, faster and faster.
His back remains turned to her; she sits in front of him, in front of all of us. In between everyone, she is the center of the earth. The one who cannot face her is the one thought to be in charge. She talks through him, and demands, through accentuated notes, when the rest of the orchestra can play and, with the same sweeping inflection, when they should stop.
Her hair is trimmed just above her closed eyes, sharply cut to their outer edges; sleek blackness jetting down extending out forward beyond her face, impenetrable blinkers, internalizing her visual space. Her limbs move like mating cobras, cantering left and right, spiraling, a devilish conga line of succinctly played notes unraveling without mercy.
She masterfully understands the musicians’ inadequacy and is now deep into herself, her hands becoming less and less clear, blurring the faces of those behind her, only coming into focus in the rupturing moments when she sends herself flying off her seat from the force of her fingers crushing into the black and white keys for an extended note.
The ones waiting to be groped tremble as she strikes down upon their neighbors, hesitant now about their acquisition, no longer asking to be touched but more so begging to be left alone. They quiver as she obscures classical sounds; sounds we have heard again and again, maneuvering them around the listener’s ability to recognize their expected cadence. These songs, that should be so familiar she reconfigures and guides them beautifully into something so dramatically unique that the sheer confusion of the should-be-familiarity sends us all searching for foundation.
In a titanic fit of desperation, keys begin to abandon ship. They pop off one by one C and D, E, F, G, A and B, only to find the ground to be no resting place at all, no solace or escape. When they hit the hard wooden floor, no unique beautiful crash is made; they are detached and there is no difference between any of them. The ground throbs from the rupturing pedals she kicks down with her feet, sucking in each key from the vibrations, smashing them all to bits, no hopeful moment, only immediate recognition of despair. It was too easy the jump; they should have known she would not have let them leave without consequence.
Her hands now sit unscathed in a mess of springs, screws and metal bits. She dips her head down toward them and pushes herself up to her feet, faces us, smiles, and ducks down into a playful and perfectly inelegant bow.
For a moment it seemed silent, but it was only because her playing had stopped. We were already on our feet clapping, silent only because our cheers were deafening.
She exits the stage, but we all remain firm in our stances, we clap, and clap, and clap because we don’t know what else to do, a few put their hands in the air and slap them above their heads. Others follow suit, because it seems more extravagant. Those that know how, whistle. Others try and fail, so instead, let out strange, high pitched yells. We all shout for her return, although there is nothing left: the keys have turned to dust, a circle of grey soot cakes the stage with her exiting footprints delicately leading left.
What just happened? We looked at each other desperately. Where had she gone?! We felt abandoned, left as a unified, disheveled mess of trembling moans, twisting each other’s shirts for answers. We needed more. Encore! Encore! People screamed, as if they didn’t see the detritus lying scattered inside the large, carapace-like structure in front of them. One more song! Just give us one more! Those with quieter voices matched the seriousness of the screams with sobs of helplessness. She had clearly given us everything, yet our satisfaction was thwarted when she finished.
Someone would have to go in after her, pull her back out so she could give us more, or we’d risk eating each other alive. We were hungry, she had saturated us, trickled fluid down our throats but we were more than just thirsty. We demanded gargantuan bites; we wanted more than we could chew, to swallow her, even if it put us at risk of choking.
She clearly didn’t need us, she wasn’t playing out of desperation, aching to be written about, or acknowledged, she had mastered her craft, and we were at her feet in the dust of her caresses, she just simply needed to do what she knew best. She wasn’t fooling anyone, tricking us into thinking we were seeing a good show. She had nothing to hide, her performance wouldn’t exist because of overcompensating rave reviews. We took exactly what she was prescribing although instead of allowing it to heal us, we were stripped bare and relied on her for further direction.
Too much time had passed, but we were still cheering feverishly, not a soul had left; we’d clap until our hands were to bleed. We grew more and more restless to overcompensate for our inadequacy; our inability to bring her back had many spiraling out of control. Word got around that if one reached into another’s ear you could hear her playing, so people began gnawing and sticking their fingers down the side canals of each other’s faces, some even asked for it, or forced their neighbor’s hand down into their hearing duct, pleading for him or her to rip out their own eardrum, others took it upon themselves and grabbed whatever thin object they could find lying around, shoving and twirling it into the side of their head; searching for the encore.
But then, a word rang out, a singular bit of sanity amongst the staggering madness. Those who could still hear heard the voice of an angel, others, gripping cartilage and parts of their eustachian tubes in their fingers, read his lips as he yelled it out again and again.
Instantaneously, the reverberations shifted, our hands fell to our sides. It is you who must go, Dudamel! The voice near the front of the stage shouted. His name spread like wildfire, within seconds we were all chanting it, pointing at the forgotten man who’d been standing before us the entire time, behind the shattered piano. Tears of salvation poured down from men’s faces while blood trickled down their necks. The overall disposition became aggressively supportive as people began to desperately reconstruct each other’s ear canals. But, not wanting to take their eyes off Dudamel, they haphazardly shoved whatever felt like it belonged into place, pushing so hard that many crammed bones past the auditory nerve and into the brain. As bodies fell to the ground they became stools to stand upon for a better view of our savior; who now stood with his commanding right hand up above his curly locks, and finally with one swooping downward gesture of his arm, we fell into a deep silence.
Dudamel stood there alone in front of us. Through the stickiness of our promising eyes, he could surely grasp that it was her we really wanted but him we needed in this very moment. We hadn’t been cheering his name because of what he had done, but what he was capable of doing. He looked into all of our eyes simultaneously, and screamed out in a billowing voice, If I do this for you, will you remember me for it? We remained silent and salivating; he was our answer. We were not his.
Look! Look! He is going! He is going to get her! The man in the front yelled out.
Dudamel pivoted on his right heel, stepped down off his podium and headed off stage. One…Two…Three…Four… paces and he stopped suddenly in his tracks, a stone statue staring straight ahead, as she suddenly walked out from beyond the curtain toward him, her gait rapid and gritty. What had she been doing all this time? It’s as if she had been waiting for this moment. The lights, bouncing off her dress like a Perseid meteor shower, a cloud of dust rising from the bottoms of her feet, her hands slowly lifting as she approaches the stunned man with stiff hesitating arms and sweat slithering down his forehead.
His hands clenched in fists while he reaches around her, her hands sensual and caressing as they wrap around him. His face smiling uncontrollably, eyes wide, he faces us, while hers lays nestled in his shoulder, her chin against his chest.
She pushes herself away and gently takes the back of his hands in the palm of hers, they look each other in the eyes, her head cocked to the side smiling rapturously, eyes peering through her entwined lashes. He begins to tremble as blood drips down from his wrists, her nails embedded, the sweet nectar we had been waiting for.
She thrusts backwards, as if pulling a tablecloth out from under a set of fine china while leaving all the dishes in place, the skin from his hands is thrown behind her as she flips it into the distance, landing offstage from whence she came; his bones exposed, he remains frozen before her.
She smacks down on the tops of his fingers with both hands; sending his distal middle proximal and metacarpal bones all flying about separately, she quickly snaps his radius and ulna in two and his humorous in four, removing his skin and clothing simultaneously with the same sweeping motion as before. She elegantly rips out his clavicle with surgical precision; waves her left hand into the air, snake-like above her, and places her other at the top button of his coat, thumb and index on either side of his manubrium. Preparing for her final note, her head rolling back and forth against her own shoulders, eyes slightly open revealing two thin white lines, she pushes her talons into his chest cavity and pulls it rapidly along his sternum, ribs falling from top to bottom as she works her way down, concluding with an exquisite and perfectly timed glissando.