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May 13, 2024

Greek to Us

By Julian O. Long

Greek to Us

You had no idea listening, although
you now think it must surely have been
part of your prof’s intro that this
apparently ancient man had once
been a colleague of Isadora Duncan,
maybe because you had no idea
who Isadora Duncan was,
hadn’t yet read USA with the lurid
tale of her death, strangled by
the scarf she wore.
           Vassos Kanellos,
foremost dancer of Greece (you didn’t
know that either). What you remember
still is his laughter and the zest
with which he told stories of songs
he had shared with tribal shamans in
Oklahoma. He had a research project
going to study the then developing
notion of cultural kinship between
the Cherokee and Ancient Greece.
It’s still around, Cherokee now
alleged kin to Jews, Phoenicians
Egyptians, etc., etc.

He would drop the needle mid-record,
like your music history prof
did on exam day, sly up --
pretend to listen a minute or two,
then burst into wrinkled laughter
mimicking equally ancient shamans
sagely pronouncing what they heard
to be an Indian song. To which
he then rejoined with glee: “Greek song --
Greek song!” his laughter resounding
like strains of the Academic Festival
in that room filled
with Gringos for whom the entire
exercise had been Greek from the getgo.

Article © Julian O. Long. All rights reserved.
Published on 2022-08-29
Image(s) are public domain.
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