Saturday, April 25, 2020
About a week later an eagle came bearing a message I couldn't read. Zhang Fei happened to be there and was able to decipher it. It was instructions on how to get to a magical town on the West coast that would hold a big festival every year for a water Goddess. They had a ton of Man Tous and other great food. All the lions and dragons and kei luns and other creatures would gather their too from the Bamboo Bridge. Joyce said I should go but that she wasn't interested and that the children wouldn't want her to leave them again. The Children indeed were started to get very bit picky about enforcing rules. Saying that we should be more responsible and get better jobs.
Chapter 21: Lion dance IN chinatown
Chapter 22: The Lantern Inn
Chapter 23: A Temple and a Town
Chapter 24: The Ring
Chapter 25: Return
Chapter 26: Hibernation
Zhang Fei said he would fly me over and so he did. In the air I met with the Monk who was flying the Metal dragon..."How do you like it? I am borrowing it for our trip!" The mouth opened and Zhang Fei Flew in. The Dragon had been redone so instead of looking like a maze of scary iron it was a flying ship that had the decor of an old school Kung Fu movie. We flew over the Rockies and landed in Yut Fau.
Friday, April 24, 2020
I woke up to the sound of metal banging and the smell of steel and blood. I had a headache and I was in a long hallway that shifted and moved and slid like I was on a long cross town bus or a subway. Their was screeching of metal against metal too. I realized I was all alone and freaked out sprinting along down the hallway finding that I was in a maze of hallways.
I ran and ran and slowly came across Joyce.
"What's going on?" she yelled.
I was freaking out earlier... but her freaking out kind of annoyed me into pretending I was calm and that it was no big deal... so I shrugged my shoulders. Now instead of running we walked and stumbled.
We saw some animals and insects pass by as well as people who we tried to talk to but they just ignored us. Eventually we ran into the Monk, Wolf and his crew, as well as other people we recognized from the performance.
"What's going on?" People shrugged. Some people were afraid. Some people were not afraid at all but just kind of oblivious to what was even going on... whatever it was.
Finally we passed through a few doors. and came to an opening which looked like a giant mouth with teeth. Outside we saw the giant statue... only now he was way bigger than two stories, Wold made eye contact and suddenly seemed to go into a trance and started dancing certain moves which the statue copied... and in this way the thing we were riding was brought down from the air until we landed in the ocean. We all jumped out and got on top of what turned out to be a giant metal Dragon.
We started swimming around and sort of forgot that this could potentially be a problem. We were relaxed because the giant statue seemed to be in control of Wolf and the scales of the dragon were actually packages of food. It had fruits, baos, soy milk... all in little plant like containers and seemingly anything you could think of.
From a distance we saw Zhang Fei, our lion swim closer and riding him was Nara and Jinn.
"Where were you guys! it's been a whole week! you left us! we had to pretend at school that our grandparents were watching us. Luckily Zhang Fei can take human form and played along!"
"You can take human form?" I asked Zhang Fei... who simply licked his paws. "Are you sure?" I asked Nara.
"Oh you are going to pretend I am making up stories... like I am a child and you are an adult after we are rescuing you? We should just leave you here!" Nara said. But we climbed onto Zhang Fei and waved goodbye to Wolf and the monk and everyone else. They appeared to be working out how to get control of the Dragon itself, which was now a floating kingdom of its own, and we also saw the Lion Statue that we had brought to life.
"I had something else to tell you about... I will send an Eagle to you with a message. Look out for it." Said the monk.
Our family went home and we allowed the kids to do whatever they wanted for three weeks since they had "saved our lives" on the ocean and since they had functioned just fine on their own anyway.
Thursday, April 23, 2020
We briefly talked to each other to decide how to proceed. Joyce and I would be head, the Monk would play the Buddha and the Wolf would drum with a fellow brother and another master he had picked up in NYC.
The Wolf quickly taught me some of his system so that we would be able to sync up... but when in doubt, he would just watch and follow. But at least I now knew the signals to give and cadence to be familiar with.
And with that a giant lion was rolled out.
The King of the small NJ kingdom, which had influence all of the world whispered, "We needed to make the lion really wake up, to help protect us."
Protect us from what? Was what I thought at first, and then I thought, could Zhang Fei protect ys... iij instead of wandering all around doing who knows what with my old hand in his belly? Not that I cared. The Sun Wu Kong hand I had now had special powers, and would create a terrific ritual.
"Yut deem Jing!" I spoke in a voice that echoed off the high ceiling. Sun Wu Kong' hand helped me make the my voice shake the lungs of people listening, and even those who were not.
YUT DEEN TEEN DEI SUN!
I painted the red cinnabar the monk had brought into one eye which blinked even though we were outside the head.
YEE DEEM JING! Yee deem.yut yet ming!
JONG DEEM Jing. JONG DEEM GWAI SUN GING!
TEET CHIU WAHNG CHING GWAU!
TEEN LING LING DEI LING LING SUN LONG FU HOK SAM HUP YIY YING!
I breathed the power of the dragon tiger and crane into the creature and then Joyce and I seized it... jumping under the tail and taking control of its body.
We performed a dance of might and power... as well as comedy. The monk poured wine everlasting from a jug that had no bottom and afterwards we feasted their, the entire kingdom becoming drunk.
We forgot all about Nara and Jinn and were caught in the reveries for a whole week. Until Nara and Jinn had to ride Zhang Fei to get us.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
We arrived early and waited for the k to meet us with the rest of the crew whom we had never met before.
"I'm going to go and check in first." Said Joyce.
"No we have to wait."
"Why should we wait our here they have a lobby. That's what that's for."
"We have to look like one cohesive team."
"Okay but Inhave to go to the bathroom."
Eventually we all did meet up and we checked in, signed several security measures and then started walking down to where we would perform.with the equipment.
We passed by a giant statue that looked like a Japanese statue of an Indian God that you might see in anime. It stood over two stories high indoors and overlooked a reflecting pool.
Wolf snapped a picture and we continued on to where we would perform... where we changed into the monks uniforms. Wolf changed shirts openlynshowing his tatoos.
"Hey," said the monk, "your tattoo looks just like the statue."
"That's weird, it didn't look like that before. Take a picture. I guess we'll worry about Tatoos suddenly changing form later.
Right now we have to figure out how we are performing.
Monday, April 20, 2020
Wolf walked down the street caught a cigarette smoked it passed by a mah Jong table jumped in won, slid over to a take out place where he ordered a sam bo fahn. Someone across the street tried to rib an old lady so Wolf flicked his cigarette into the would be robbers eye with out looking then ran upstairs to give his some kids he was watching his sam bo fahn before coaching his lion dance team.
Later he got a text from the Drunken Monk that there was a special gig in the middle of New Jersey.
"Jersey Really? So what I have to pick up some.other guys and you meet us there with the equipment? Two other guys from New York and then a couple people from Jersey? They can do head? So what we just drum? You paying? Yeah sure we'll do it. I got time during the work week as long as it's okay just a couple ofnus... yeah I can pick another guy up."
"HAHA... yeah okay see you there then."
Friday, April 17, 2020
After returning from those lion dances we got a message via Eagle from the Monk who had sold us the pink heads. There was a mother lion dance at the end of a rainbow bridge that he could help lead us to if we could muster the people. We checked which among our team was free that day because it was during the work week and sure enough, we had enough for a team. We gathered at the bamboo bridge where we did see a rainbow and with the help of the monk we were able to tread across to a golden palace.
We brought two heads. The monk would drum, our students would do one head, and I did the other head with our neighbor and friend whom I had taught lion dance too while waiting for the bus.I will have to go back and tell you about that yet another time...
The Golden palace was in change of a big chunk of the money that passed through New Jersey. It only dealt with the gold elves that had kingdoms of their own, and large kingdoms at that.
There was a tiny town that remi6me if Chinatown inside the Palace, there was an arcade for people.to play the ancient games of the 1980's and several stores that sold hipster foods. We lion danced bowing at each store as if they had put out Chiangs...mainly to give our students the feeling of going store to store because New Jersey was not set up for that and we thought that one day... we may have to do that. After our parade around, the heads stopped and we performed Kung Fu.
Here I had my kids perform a three man fighting form that I had trained them to do for our Plum Village's Chinese New Year performance. We finished up, took our way back home crossing the rainbow and the bamboo bridge and continued onto another lion dance that Joyce had set up.
After this one we stopped to eat at a Malaysian restaurant where we ordered a lavish meal. Thr6restaurant was quite empty because it was a week night. We had called ahead and had Pai Teep to another branch of the restaurant.... and even though this crowd was not super enthusiastic at first about our doing lion dance, they had also given us permission to do it.
When we started suddenly mist of the staff did get pretty excited about it, pulling out phones and an elderly woman giving tye5head extra Hong baos. We did several rounds which the chefs interpreted as a second collection which cause them to stare straight into their rice bowls and homemade Chinese food that they had cooked for themselves. A lot of bitter melon and cooling foods to counter act the yeet hei of working in a kitchen all day.
The truth is that the first round was our newer students, and then Joyce did a second round because we knew that being recorded, we had to show that we had the Gung Lik and skilled experience of a seasoned team even if some of our members were new. Thi king back.... I realize that actually this dance had happened ed before our store to store...two days before to be exact.and that there was one more additional dance before the store to store I had forgotten to mention as well as Plum Mountain's Chinese New Year award show... whichwas the most stressful of them all.
But more important to the story would be the next to lion dances led by the monk where he would assemble a super team of lion dancers and where the truth adventures would begin.
Thursday, April 16, 2020
Our final stop was the Palace, our go to restaurant fornanlong time and it had been our final stop last year as well. They had expanded this year too. We were late... which ended up having good and bad aspects to it. The bad aspect was people had been expecting us at a certain time and a lot of people had to leave and didnt get a chance to see us. As we arrived some people that were leaving whinindedd did look like they were related to the people we saw working there regularly told us that a lot of people had been waiting for us. We got our stuff together and started drumming to warm up and also to stall while all of our member arrived. Now here is the thing, last time we had come earlier and this was before the restaurant had expanded .. so it was filled to the brim. This was good in a way. But then owners and the staff had to deal with the crowd and us. This time the only tables left in the restaurant were Jee Geiger yun. Their own people. I think the group that had just left was also relatives. But then main point of this was the traffic had slowed, they could relax... and the lion dance ended up being totally different than last year. We bowed to several altars, the kitchen, the life sized statue of Guan Yu at the door. The staff was eating at the same time as we were so we got to have a more relaxed and conversational feel. And as we did the last Choi c Chiang outside... the owner paused at the pink head saying, "let's see.... it's been over 20 years...." and got in! I quick started playing the drum again. It turns out, all of them had done lion dance in their youth and were from Hok San Village.... the Hok San, as in Hok San style heads... often referred to as competition style heads. The beaked faced lion heads popular in their use on the poles.
The other staff people eating were from Taishan... and we put the pink head on display for people to take pictures with, which people lined up to do.
"Where is the black head from last year?" The manager asked. I explained that we got new heads for a new year and left that one home.
"Do you know what the black head is for? In my village our black head was very powerful. Whenever we went near another teams the other heads had to go down otherwise the black head would go over and hit them. The black head represents Zhang Fei." He told more stories of his youth and lion dance and how he saw the heads being made by his neighbors to be shipped out across the world.
The funny thing was I had no idea he knew how to lion dance and had we come on time there really wouldn't have been time to talk or to now to Guan Yi gau again...which, having done this for the third place that day...made me want to reconnect with my own personal relationship with the saint. Although I have three altars in the house to him, theybfeel like they are less connected than the o e which held the central place at the Kung Fu school where I had learned these skills.