COSMIC BALLET & URBAN PANORAMA
by artist DEBORA CHEYENNE CRUCHON
[GUS shuts the backdoor of his modest hamlet. And with a gesture, YANCY is invited to survey a beautiful landscape, a meticulously curated garden, and a fleet of futuristic vehicles. He leads YANCY over to a clementine-colored limousine. BLOOP! BLOOP! thrums the atmosphere, and butterfly doors open. GUS and YANCY hop inside. The car begins to exit the circular driveway. The two kids are side by side.]
GUS: You seem wound up.
YANCY: It’s this juice recipe. I’m trying to figure it out. It’s tricky and I’m growing impatient.
GUS: Tricky? How so? Our people just pass down our traditions. Don’t yours?
GUS: Go on . . .
YANCY: No. Nah. People always tell me this shouldn’t be therapy.
GUS: What’s wrong with therapy?
GUS (opens curtains, rolls window down, coughs, spits arcing loogie onto the sidewalk): You go to therapy?
YANCY: Yeah, all the time.
GUS (rolling the window back up): What? Church?
YANCY: Kinda . . . I ride moto.
YANCY: I’m only playing. Well, kinda . . . I need the adrenaline. I can’t get enough of the soot-y, smoke-y air. You go to therapy?
GUS: This tactic is always used as some silly, unsubtle way of deflecting. What difference does it make?
YANCY: Does that seat you’re in get hotter if you dare to answer your own damn question?
YANCY: So do you smoke cigarettes?
GUS: No, but do you dig what I’m saying?
YANCY: No. Because you wouldn’t take relationship advice from a kid who is single or a divorcee, would ya?
GUS: Depends. Are they a professional?
YANCY: Would you take business advice from a person who doesn’t build or run businesses?
YANCY: Aye Gus, pull the car over right quick.
GUS (rolls his eyes): Certainly.
YANCY (to the Homeless man): ‘Scuse me, mister. Where you going?
Homeless man: Yeah, young fella, you shouldn’t.
YANCY: What? Why not?
Homeless man: Ain’t no serial killer. Just gon go up here to this course. It’s gotta mountain in it. I’mma get up on top of that mountain, get me a green jacket—like Tiger—Masters. Then everybody is gonna know my name . . .
GUS (gets out of other side of car): What’s he saying?
YANCY: I’m not so sure. Can’t follow him. He mentioned some course with a mountain. Maybe we can ride some bikes there. I don’t know.
Homeless man: Then they gon all come to me. I’mma pick twelve. I’mma ummm . . . I’mma ummm . . . I’mma send dem out, let dem talk to the people. They’ll have the power. I ain’t gon restrain ‘em.
YANCY (Homeless man walking hurriedly): Slow down brother. What do you mean?
GUS: Mister, do you need some help?
Homeless man (in his best running stance): Question is, young fellas, wanna race?
YANCY: What? No. No, we saw you walking out here all by your lonely. We wanna make sure you’re alright.
Homeless man: Ah! Gentrifiers. Do-gooders. Those who seek to rationalize their plunder through philanthropy. Let me guess, you have a program that’ll find me somewhere nice and comfy to sleep tonight?
YANCY: Not exactly. We’re much more authentic than that.
Homeless man: Ah, ah! Lemme see, lemme guess . . . Your operation really serves as a brand to tell the story of what we can accomplish in this here community? Or what we’re to aspire towards?
GUS: YANCY, is this dude trying to offend us? Because he’s beginning to succeed.
YANCY (snobbish and smug): We’ve just got plenty of money though.
Homeless man (His eyes protrude into huge tubes of inquisition, making intense eye contact with YANCY): Seems to me you’ve got a simple syllogism of choices to make little buddy.
YANCY (unphased): Don’t call me “little buddy.”
GUS (turns to YANCY): Hate to intervene here, but . . . Dude . . . don’t we wanna avoid triggering this guy more?
Homeless man: Yeah, little buddy . . . you shouldn’t.
YANCY (to the man): Just don’t call me that. I’m a man.
YANCY (to Gus): And you quit it with the victim-blaming . . .
GUS: How are you the victim here? You asked me to pull over. You got outta the car.
YANCY: Screw him Gus. Let’s roll. We can finish what we were talking about.
Homeless man: Seems to me you’ve got a simple syllogism of choices to make young manly.
YANCY: That’s more like it.
[James Brown’s “Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul” begins to play as a third, translucent display crops up in a final juxtaposition to the other two looping scenarios. YANCY sees himself wearing a wetsuit, weirdly shaped wet shoes, and running full speed towards a bright purple body of water. He’s “liquid mountaineering.” A hoax that he remembers vowing never to participate in. All of a sudden, YANCY sees his imaginary self succeed at the impossible. With astonishing speed, he makes it across the purple bank. In triumph, he looks so fucking dope! On the other side, he steps on a bronze hoverboard and is elevated at light speed to another galaxy.]
[At Galaxy headquarters, YANCY is awarded a platinum medal—it’s diamond encrusted. A remarkable crown is placed above his head. Droves and galleries of supporters congregate awaiting YANCY’s most substantive and/or trivial requests. He is presented with an oversized, cardboard blank check by Rihanna. Afterwards, she freshens her lipstick to give him a congratulatory kiss.]
GUS (as YANCY hesitates): I think we should consider getting back in the car.
YANCY: Ah. Come on, dude. You’re so risk averse. I’ve changed my mind now . . . I ride moto. I wanna play with the trigger. You know I like a little gamble.
YANCY (turns to the Homeless man): You wanna know, if I had my way, which of these fates would I pick?
Homeless man: But do you really believe your destiny is in your own hands? It’s a question of fate or chance, young manly.
YANCY: Aight Goose! Lead me, guide me, order my steps! What we got here? Whatcha thinking?
GUS (begrudgingly): I’ve already expressed my opposition to this impious activity . . .
GUS (rubs his chin, contemplates, and cracks a devilish grin): . . . but, if I had to admit, I’m quite partial to the first scenario.
YANCY (rolls his eyes at Gus, thinks to himself): Number three seems like a ringer—much too smart for that. Number one is the status quo. And Lauryn Hill said anything that isn’t growing is dead. Soooo, I’m going to gooooo wiiiiiiittthhh . . .
YANCY (aloud to the Homeless man): Door Number Two!
[The boys are fast-forwarded from their present place, diagonally across time. As they hurry behind him, the Homeless man intermittently blips the throttle, and, every now and again, takes a break by switching into his freshly-acquired limousine. The kids share the load of carrying the Man’s things and are so consumed by the task that they hardly notice his luxury. However, as more parties join them, one-by-one, the weight of the items decreases. Among the twelve are a set of brothers, both brollic and helpful, smelling of catfish and grits. The task ends up not being as bad as advertised. Accordingly, the group begins to harmonize on a sweet song. The Homeless man looks from on high at his followers, and is unable to conceal his smile. He rides in sweet delight until they arrive at the reception desk of the country club.]
Gabriela: Howdy! I’m Gabriela. How may we serve y’all on this fine day?
Homeless man: Howdy! We thirteen wanna set ourselves up an 18-hole game.
Gabriela: Sure. No problem. So you’ll be needing thirteen sets of clubs, right?
Homeless man: No ma’am! We’ll only be needing one set. We’ll be playing as a team, das right!
Gabriela: Ah, ok. That’ll be free, then.
Homeless man (looks over his shoulder, gloating at YANCY): Yes, I’ve researched your website. Can you please show my esteemed colleague (gestures to YANCY) where he can park my two fine vehicles?
Gabriela: Yes, of course sir. Here are your entry wristbands, course maps, and golf balls. You can rent clubs by using these tickets over there at the equipment shop. Enjoy the links!
YANCY (to GUS as he is walking towards him): Great . . . Just my luck. Had a good thing going, traded it on a gamble, came all this way, and I’m still just a glorified valet.
GUS (to YANCY): Dude . . . you shouldn’t trip. Just park the whips and come join us on the green once you’re done. Maybe they’ll let us ride moto after.
YANCY: I’m just saying. I ain’t trippin . . .
Homeless man (eavesdropping, leaning, and towering over the boys): Yeah, you shouldn’t.
[Gabriela points the others toward the equipment shop and motions for YANCY to follow her through a different door. In a moment of useful distraction from his lot, YANCY notices Gabriela. She guides him down a narrow corridor outfitted with motion sensored lights. The first are turquoise. The next are chartreuse. The last are blush. They’re going crazy off of each other. The lighting creates a glorious incandescence beaming back and forth on their bodies. Her skin color is glorious. Somehow, between the size of the hallway, the glimmer games played by the bulbs, YANCY begins to feel a synergistic energy with Gabriela. Perhaps he feels a proximity to his new leader. Her eye contact is self-assured, excited, and heartening, yet altogether mysterious. He already likes her despite knowing nothing about her save for her beauty, profession, and general air of hospitality. They exit the passageway and come to a large carport. The carport is massive, empty, and covered by a pristine parquet floor. Looks more like a ballet studio than a garage. The rich voice of Nat King Cole’s daughter belts through a world-class sound system.]
Gabriela (YANCY listens): Ooooohhh, I love this song! Do you know this song?
YANCY (sensing an opportunity): No. Can’t put my finger on it, but let me listen for a bit . . . So, your name is Gabriela, eh? Can I call you Gabby though?
Gabby: You can call me whatever you want. You’ll know what works by what I answer to.
YANCY: Ok, cool. Gabby. How long have you been working at this course?
[The two are now standing in the center of the carport.]
YANCY: What was your project before? What’s your next project?
[Gabby removes a small, plastic Nalgene bottle from a belt bag she’s wearing. She takes a small sip of some money-green liquid. As she removes the bottle from her lips, YANCY spots a tattoo on the teenager’s inner bicep. A small fly pesters her. She ignores it entirely.]
Gabriela: But, to be quite honest with you, I’m sure you’re a nice kid and all . . . I just don’t have any interest in sharing an overview of my psychoanalysis with a complete stranger.
[Extending his right hand in olive branch.]
[Gabriela pauses. Instead of shaking his hand, she turns and signals to their surroundings. YANCY hurries back into her line of sight. His ears wiggle like Alfalfa’s. He’s flirting in his own way.]
Gabriela: Here is our parking lot. You must bring your vehicles to the reception area where we met, through the corridor that we just exited, and then you can put them anywhere on the lot that you like.
YANCY (judging this system as absurd and this process as futile): I can get the bike in here, easy, but how in the world am I to get that limousine through this tight hallway?
Gabriela: Oh, be creative. Can-ya dance?
YANCY: I stopped dancing a long time ago.
Gabriela (giggles at the silliness of this answer): Why?
YANCY: When I was child I did things as a child.
Gabriela: Yeah, but you’re still a child. Besides. Being a kid is fun!
Gabriela: You mean to tell me you really never dance? Shame.
YANCY: Only when I’m listening to music on the streets, in my headphones, and no one is around to see me.
Gabriela: Why not in private if you don’t want folks to watch or join you?
YANCY: Because everyone expects us all to dance.
Gabriela: Ah! There we go. You don’t wanna be the sad clown.
YANCY: Exactly. I’d prefer to be taken seriously. Do people take you seriously?
Gabriela: I’m not sure that I want to be “taken seriously.” And I’m a Scorpio, so, I dunno if I want to be “taken” . . . at all.
YANCY (pointing): Oook. Well, at any rate, our vehicles need to be taken . . . from outside . . . into this carport. Can you help me figure out how to get that big ole car through that narrow hallway? Seems like I’ll need to perform a miracle.
Gabriela: Miracles reinforce our faith, Mister YANCY.
YANCY (smacks his lips): Man this is just like that song.
Gabriela: Which one?
YANCY: The one that goes, “Can you get my friends in the club?”
Gabriela: I’m not following.
YANCY (continues): I said, “Can you get my Benz in the club?”
Gabriela: Huh? What?
YANCY (continues in rhythm, rapping): “If not, treat ya friends like my Benz, park they ass outside, until the evening ends . . .”
[Gabriela rolls her eyes because she hates when customers become opportunists, but is used to it. Empty, at first, just as YANCY wonders why. Remembering that the golf course had many groups of players already engaged in games, at several holes. YANCY thinks. Shouldn’t this place be full? With many cars? At this anxiety, the parquet floor begins to populate with more and more vehicles. ATVs, Sedans, Hummers, other limousines, even a few vintage wide-axle chariots. Gabriela is holding a huge ring stocked with car keys, fobs, and alarm remotes. The carport is nearly full.]
YANCY: If I manage to actually get them inside here—which seems utterly impossible—how will I find the whips when we’re done golfing? Now that it’s getting so crowded.
Gabriela: Just focus on getting them in here, first. My job as the receptionist here is to greet you. To direct your visit on the property. And to answer inquiries, assuming they have clear answers. You don’t need me to teach you how to use your imagination. Embrace life, its infinite mysteries, and adventures!
Gabriela: Sorry, no offense. You shouldn’t need me.
YANCY (looking around the carport): None taken. And you clearly don’t need us up in here, either.
Gabriela: That’s the thing. We want your business. We want you around. If you need me to need you, then I haven’t done my job. This ain’t the partnership for you.
YANCY (laying it on thick): Was just looking for some help is all. And, who better to receive guidance from than an employee of this establishment . . . and ostensibly the best-looking employee at that? None other than you, Gabby.
[Gabby takes another small sip of the green liquid and discreetly puts the Nalgene back in her fanny pack.]
YANCY: Then, can’t we mutually exchange ideas on how to get this car inside? Do you see how scary that Homeless dude we came with is? He’s crazy! It’s as if I cut a deal with the Devil just on a humbug. So, your help would make me incredibly happy.
Gabriela: Your happiness is not my responsibility. You should find ways to make yourself happy. Just as I find ways to make myself happy. This way, we’re able to share our happiness. Giving someone a responsibility to make you happy when you can’t do it yourself is selfish.
Gabriela: I’ve gotta get back to the front desk. Take as much time as you need. They’re playing 18 holes as a team. You’ll figure it out.
[YANCY stands there, perplexed, watching Gabriela as she leaves the carport through the narrow corridor again. He watches her walk. He studies her eclectic outfit. Monochrome snakeskin print vinyl pants. A distressed white tank top—what ancient history has taught us to call a “wife beater”—that had been cut into a crop top. Big black boots. Plenty scaffolding of hand-crafted, clunky metal jewelry carefully built around her neck, wrists, and fingers. He stares at her belt bag as it wobbles and wavers with the same cadence of her hips. Then, he frowns, smarting from her rejection. Maybe Gabby isn’t attracted to him. He’s much younger than her. Maybe Gabby already has a partner. Maybe Gabby doesn’t find him interesting. After all, he neither comprehended her parables nor has he presented any sermon of his own. Maybe Gabby just wants to keep things professional. Maybe Gabby doesn’t want to do long-distance. Perhaps time is a gap that is much harder to fill than space. All of these—and likely more that he’s omitted—are risks, reasons, Gabriela, or Gabby, might not have given YANCY a shot. He’s already calculated his odds. Slim. Same as the probability of threading the corridor’s needle with that limousine. YANCY elects to try his hand at neither caper. Instead, he turns around to go back through the way he came, taps the top of his eyeglasses, and teleports to the tenth hole.]
Homeless man: Cars is parked?
YANCY: Nah, man . . . we should just leave them where they are. The parking situation requires too much scheming and too many details. It’s just not fair that I have to do all of this while y’all get to play.
Homeless man: Fair is where you go to buy candy apples, cotton candy and ride the Ferris wheel.
GUS: No. Fair-ness is justice.
YANCY: No. Justice is fairness
Homeless man: Fairness is just a less controversial word to define than justice. When, in actuality, you’ve all-ready been told, if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.
YANCY: This has nothing to do with religion. Justice bequeaths dignity to a person.
Homeless man: What kinda kid uses the word bequeath?
[The wind begins to rustle once more. The other eleven kids assembled around the Homeless man each take steps backwards. He turns toward the fairway, readies his stance, changes his mind, lowers the swing, and then rests his weight on the golf club. His big beard has grown longer since the last time YANCY’s looked, back when YANCY was capitulating and not recalcitrant.]
Homeless man: Technically young manly, you shoulda used your ability to teleport to park my cars. Instead you chose to use those talents to come back over here and complain.
YANCY (fed up): Tuh!
Homeless man (snaps): “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods! Except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house!”
Homeless man (raises the club in the air; a crackle of lightning strikes the iron and reverberates the entire sky; in his deepest voice): Race towards nonsense, huh? I see someone is afraid of a little challenge.
YANCY (un-fearing): Because . . . like . . . what is this supposed to prove?
Homeless man: It is not meant to be proof, but a sign.
YANCY: Yeah, a sign that I would’ve had Hell to pay. And, I ain’t afraid of no challenge. I ain’t afraid of nothing.
[YANCY looks down at the Homeless man’s bare feet. Then, looks at his own: brand spanking new sneakers. He considers. All of a sudden, YANCY notices action over the Homeless man’s shoulder. A figure pops up in the sand bunker of the 11th hole.]
Homeless man #2: No, you should race me!
Homeless man #3 (behind the kids at the 9th hole): Nah, race me!
Homeless man #4: RACE ME!
Homeless man #5: RAAAACCCEEEEE MEEEEEE!
Homeless man #17: Race me little buddy. I’ll dust yo ass!
Homeless man #250: Naw . . . Hell naw . . . Let him race me!
[YANCY surveys the distance that he’d have to run in order to beat the many Homeless men.]
GUS (tugging at YANCY’s shirt): YANCY, you shouldn’t.
[Without giving YANCY any look of request or agreement, GUS rewinds time. In a flash, the two kids are again chilling in the backseat of the limousine. YANCY again sees the dirty heels smashed against the backs of the sneakers—scuttling along doggedly. Whirling into a huge dust bowl, golden lamé flecks all about, disintegrating in the air, YANCY hears the Homeless man one more time. ‘Race me.’ Considering, and just as the space between silences is filled by the whistling, tweeting, and chirping of beautiful unseen birds— making YANCY feel confident that he can sing his own song—Gus slowly rolls up the window. SWOOOOOOSH! The weather is either calm now or no longer a factor inside the coach. The handwoven Coogi-referenced curtains, made from a mixture of velvet, silk, and rare beading, collapse and dim the cabin with green lighting. A lone fly has finessed its way into the coach. YANCY, aggravated, flails away at the bug.]
GUS (swatting at the fly too): Beelzebub! I’m sorry about that, YANCY. My timing was bad. I shouldn’t have pulled over. Should’ve saved you from yourself.
YANCY: It’s all good. That fly is always following me.
GUS: Yeah, I hate them too.
YANCY: No I mean . . . like that fly. Every time dude comes around I only think of what my mother would say about us and flies.
GUS: Fret not. Highly unlikely that a fly has a vendetta against you. They have very short lives. The adult housefly lives only about a month. Why not just outlast ’em?
[The fly levitates and squares up with GUS and YANCY. The fly gyrates its mobile head, spins, and then sets, its pair of large compound eyes is able to distinguish brightness and color between the two kids. Pointed in slightly different directions, and oriented to cover the entire coach, the fly’s compound eyes can’t appreciate detail, complexity, or nuance through its poor image resolution. However, through these eyes, it is prepared to swarm. In possession of a very large view, angle, and the ability to detect fast movement, as well as, in some cases, the polarization of light, the fly crashes in close to YANCY’s ears, nose, and mouth, almost daring him, with the threat of more nuisance and bullying, to react with frustration. It’s mocking YANCY in that it doesn’t seem to be interested in irritating GUS at all. The fly is ready to pierce, lap into, and suck the blood out of anything YANCY, the young aspirant, has going on.]
GUS: Just relax. It’ll leave you alone. Flies are of considerable ecological and human importance. They are important pollinators, second only to the bees.
YANCY: Do I look like I care about flies?
GUS: They have only a single pair of wings to fly, an arrangement which gives them great maneuverability, allowing for the performance of high-speed rotational movement and advanced aerobatics.
YANCY: Or how they fly?
GUS: We need pollinators because the transfer of pollen later enables fertilization and the production of seeds.
YANCY: Again, why would I care about agriculture?
GUS: I’m trying to teach you how to appreciate and deal with the flies, man. Because those proverbial fruits—those results that you care so restlessly about—are dependent on fertilization. Perhaps we bear this relatively small inconvenience in exchange for a greater collective wellbeing. A necessary evil, if you will.
[YANCY flails his arms in ultimate rejection of the fly.]
GUS: Maybe don’t chase and swat at ‘em so much. You ever see that interview Obama did back in ’09?
YANCY: Which interview? That was ages ago . . .
GUS: So, there’s this fly buzzing around while President Obama is trying to conduct a CBS interview. Obama swats at the fly at first, but to no avail. Instead of getting flustered, however, he maintains composure, makes a platform out of his left hand—his dominant hand. He patiently waits for the fly to land on his hand. The fly pesters around only a little bit because a fly can’t help itself, ya know? Once the fly lands on his hand, Obama slowly raises the platform, then, with his right hand—WABAMMM!—swats, catches, and kills the fly!
YANCY: So you want me to kill flies?
GUS: Aren’t you’re the one swatting?
YANCY: Oh, you want me to be Obama?
GUS: That’s not the moral of the story.
[YANCY swats at the fly.]
GUS: I’m pretty sure I narrowly escaped a scam the other day.
GUS: I received, or learned about (somehow), an application for a worldwide conference. We were going to work on global peace solutions. Not like the Pope kissing the feet of South Sudanese leaders. But close. Very strong petitions. Things of that nature.
YANCY: Ok . . .
GUS: Participation requires an application and a small application fee. I completed said application and paid said fee. Later I received an email stating I’d been accepted to the conference as a ‘self-funded delegate’. With this designation, I am asked to pay €12,000 on top of travel and accomodations. I appealed my funding status and my appeal was declined.
[YANCY swats at the fly again. Gus slightly cracks the window.]
GUS: Look. I am an artist. My work is contemporary. I apply my practice by organizing efforts, initiative building, and entrepreneurship. My practice is performative, conversational, and deadset on producing a movement and monument that contributes to our cultural enrichment. I can’t afford to be playing around with charlatans.
YANCY (laughs): Oh, whatchu thought? You was about to get a Guggenheim or a MacArthur?
GUS: Quit it . . . but, yeah, maybe I did.
YANCY: You can’t skip steps, Goose. If you want to get to the castle, you’ve gotta swim through the moat. You’re just having a struggle with perception, creditworthiness, and legitimacy.
GUS: No, this ain’t that. This is serious. People are frauds, man.
YANCY: I mean, you’ve clearly got money. Why do you even care about recognition?
GUS: Because the glory is all that matters. Why do you think in 2019 there were 23 Democrats vying for the party’s presidential nomination? What separates a church from a cult? A business from a hustle? A movement from a Ponzi scheme?
YANCY: Your intentions, I suppose.
GUS: Egg-xactly! Which begs the question, Mr. “I’m so obsessed my juice recipe.” Why do you even care so much? What are your intentions? What are you chasing?
[YANCY swats at the fly again, misses, but this time the pest heads closer to GUS.]
TERRON FERGUSON writer
Terron Ferguson is a lawyer and creative entrepreneur from Miami, Florida. He currently lives in Leipzig, Germany where he runs a small studio and network called YANCY, Inc. They support a diverse collection of international creatives as they produce projects on important civic topics. He earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Morehouse College and a J.D. from New York University School of Law. His professional background consists of various public service roles, including but not limited to: a special education teacher, political organizer, and human rights attorney.
Terron came to Leipzig as a German Chancellor Fellow with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The award has allowed the organization to research the Holocaust, World War II, denazification, and memory culture. YANCY, Inc.’s forthcoming project is a multimedia exhibition based on the findings of this investigation. The presentation will offer insights on how a country heals and moves past a difficult era in its history. If you’re interested or want to connect, reach out to him: email@example.com.
DEBORA CHEYENNE CRUCHON artist
Debora Cheyenne Cruchon is a french multidisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles. After getting a degree in animation from Gobelins, she directed a short film, Couchée, for French Television. She currently works as an art director for Buck, while pursuing her own projects in sculpture, painting and animation.
COSMIC BALLET and URBAN PANORAMA illustrate the confrontation of old and new identities, through the pressure of social inequalities and discriminations, while hoping for a better future, a self proclaimed, sovereign identity. It connects the longing for grounding in lost traditions, natural means of connection, with a digital environment constantly growing, a place where we can escape from an ever constricting reality.