Mississippi Mass Choir in Barcelona from ieishah clelland on Vimeo.
Who dat taking a bus tour through a favela in Rio? Hanging out on some obscure beach in Thailand that even Thai people wouldn't live on for a month and considering himself a "local"? Who is that flying to New York, taking the A train to Harlem and sitting in the pews of a "real black church", fat lens Nikon on hand, treating the Lord's house like a zoo?
Introducing the "tour-anthropo-saurus"!
More than a tourist (at least in his own head) and a lot fucking less than an anthropologist (than he is in his own head). Obsessed with "authentic" or "exotic" cultural experiences. Not relaxed enough to just be a damned tourist and approach travel from their particular perspective. On the other hand, far too clueless to go through what real anthropologists do while trying to get "inside" a culture. You know, the little things like getting a degree, learning a language, and asking the hard questions: Is getting inside a culture even possible for an outsider? And if it is, doesn't my very presence alter the nature of the community I'm studying? Doesn't observance of people's behavior, change their behavior? Touranthroposaurus isn't so into questions as he is into annoying the fuck out of less pretentious travelers.
Glory be for the Mississippi Mass Choir spreading nectar from the core of African American culture throughout Spain every other year. Whose efforts, surely, reduce the number of Spanish folk flocking to service at Abyssinian Baptist on any given Sunday.
The great Mississippi Mass Choir made its way to Barcelona's Palau de la Musica last Thursday, and played to an almost sold out crowd. One of the altos had lived in Madrid for a few months in 2007, performing with flamenco soul fusion singer, Pitingo.
In the end, Mississippi had Barcelona dancing in the aisles, then crowding around for photos and autographs in the lobby, as the singers indulged bad English and personal-space-invasive double kisses with appreciation. "This is the best audience we've had," Pitingo's former soloist confides. Mississippi will always hold in their hearts the moment when 2 Catalans broke into song in the lobby of the Palau. The choir members surrounded them, clapped and cheered them on, iPhone 4's out, taking video. Like tourists. And all of a sudden I was looking at a cross cultural engagement that was somehow more ethical. The cultural gap shrunk. It wasn't about observing the animal in his natural habitat. But still it was totally authentic.