Seminole: Cut From the Rest

Tuesday, June 27th 2017

Finally got the evaporative cooler fixed so I was able to sleep through the night. I woke up and remembered my dreams, but I mostly remembered this one image or thought:

Seminole: Cut From the Rest

I dreamed that the Seminole Tribe was really not a tribe but was a loose collection of misfits that ended up in the Everglades. They were made up of all the Indians who didn’t fit in, but also runaway slaves and Whites, too. I read that somewhere recently but can’t remember where. I think that what I read said the definition of Seminole was “gathered from the wind” but in my dream it was “cut from the rest.” Since, like René Descartes, I had the luxury of lying in bed and ruminating [Cogito, Ergo Bum]; I thought of three instances where I had heard of the Seminoles and the Everglades:

1. Most recently, I overheard a conversation between a woman who was going to Miami with her boyfriend for vacation and a friend of hers named Richard. The woman was a bus driver, Hispanic, old enough to have several children, the oldest being 27. Her boyfriend lived in the Bay Area and he also had grown children, as one purpose of the journey to Florida was to meet his son who lived in Miami. She had impressed me as a woman who took good care of herself as she did some stretching exercises and meticulously adjusted the bus mirror while we waited at the terminal for the scheduled departure time. Her body and her bus were temples. Richard wore a big floppy Safari hat, camouflage design, Cargo Shorts, and he walked with a cane. He somehow reminded me of Tennessee Williams in Key West as he regaled the bus driver with his tales of life in Florida, how they tried to ‘drain the swamps’ of the Everglades. Put in housing developments and condos only to have snakes and alligators show up in their pools.

“Alligators,” Richard said, “can move very slow in the water, just floating for hours so you think it is just a log. But they can run very fast on land, out running a horse for short distances. Very dangerous.”

2. My dad was swept up in the Folk Revival of the ’60s. He was so very Pete Seegeresque. In all the Hootenanny Hoop-la of those halcyon days I recall he had a Kingston Trio Songbook. I used to look at it and even if I’d never actually heard the song, I could imagine a melody. There was a song about the Everglades that went something like this:

“Where a man can hide and never be found,
And have no fear of the baying hound
But he better keep ‘a movin’ and don’t stand still
If the skeeters don’t getcha then the gators will.
Running like a dog through the Everglades.
Running like a dog through the Everglades.
Running like a dog through the Everglades.
Running like a dog through . . . . “

[Board Fade] Or is it ‘bored’ fade?

3. I had a friend in Oakland who whose father was part Seminole, part Black. She had sharp chiseled cheekbones–as if they were cut with a tomahawk. She was beautiful. She looked like a Black Barbie Doll®–though she was raised in Berkeley by her ‘2 moms’ who forbade her to play with Barbie Dolls! She had to learn about clothes and make-up–all the wiles of womanly ways–from drag queens! They taught her well–much better than her two moms would have been able to even if they had been so inclined. Still, the suppression of her true gender identity and the fact that–in her mind–they had driven away her daddy left her with a lot of unresolved anger. She had a temper. Hell hath no fury. When she was on the warpath I could really see her Seminole blood boil.

This is a tangent we don’t have time for now, but there was an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry bought a cigar store Indian as a gift for a Native American woman who is offended by it and throws it away. Cosmo Kramer–who as a cigar aficionado, had previously seen and coveted the wooden Indian–retrieves it from the trash and as Jerry is trying to make amends and is apologizing profusely to the woman Kramer cruises by in a taxi with said Indian in tow. In his unbridled glee about acquiring the artifact Kramer greets Jerry with a triumphant Indian war whoop and tomahawk chop that can only be interpreted by the woman as cruel mockery directed solely at her.

All right. That was a tangent that I went on and I said I wasn’t. You have every right to shout, “Digression.” But as Holden Caulfield always said:

“Sometimes the digression is the best part.”

I won’t go on the other tangent I was considering–about Michael Richards, the comedian who played Cosmo Kramer–and his career-ending melt down at the Laugh Factory in 2006 after being heckled. Or the tangent about Lenny Bruce pushing that envelope. And then pushing it even further. Or Sarah Silverman. Or Kathy Griffin–not the latest outrage–my tangent was going to be about when she was a guest on Seinfeld as a wannabe comedienne whose entire act was attacking Jerry Seinfeld. No, none of those tangents and digressions today.

IMG_2309The main topic is the Seminole and how the rough terrain of the Everglades was a refuge for outcasts, like the ancestors of my friend’s father. She only met him one time briefly, but he thought it important to tell her in that fleeting moment they shared about her Seminole heritage. How he was an example of that mixing. They both were. They came from runaway slaves who sought refuge with a tribe made up of other refugees. Of all the Indian Wars, perhaps the one with the Seminoles was the bitterest. Did they ever officially surrender? It seems that they would have to wipe out the entire Everglades to defeat them. And they tried, and destroyed a lot of it. The fact that they harbored slaves and other fugitives, were in fact themselves fugitives, had a lot to do with the desperation of the cowboys who tried to quell the Seminole, but never quite could. This stuff was all off the top of my head, but later I would go check it out on the Internet and find it was basically true, and a whole lot of other interesting facts that I won’t go into at the moment. Look up Black Seminoles.

So, I kept my promise to talk about 3 items–albeit that last one was kind of a hydra that would grow 3 heads whenever one was chopped off. Anyway, to finish my dream journal entry, I also dreamed that I met a guy who had a home recording studio and I was going to record and of course my poetic prowess knew no bounds. I was going to be a rapper because I could spontaneously say stuff that would not only be profound and mind blowing but also would rhyme, be in perfect rhythm, and make Shakespeare weep with envy. I had the flow due to my well endowed vocabulary. I had a really big dic-tionary, that I would peruse nightly. Of course, in so-called “Real Life” I don’t even much care for Rap and Hip Hop, let alone have any aptitude for it. Go figure.

Christopher Robert Craddock © 2017

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