Oh God, that infamous day. I had been wandering around in this South African shanty town in Durban with some ladies making visiting rounds to the sick. It was like this weird labyrinth of doors and structures and stairs leading to more secret homes and spaces. Like some M. C. Escher painting. This one door lead into a kitchen that was bright and terracotta tiled. There were several Zulu mommas bustling about prepping dinner and one convalescing in the sitting room just off the kitchen, I believe she was dying of AIDs. Me being a 19 year old who had never seen real sickness or a third world country was in a state of mild shock. My wide eyes looking all around me, for whatever reason, chose to fixate on the big orange bucket with wings and feathers flying about furiously. I forgot myself for a hot second and approached that bucket and peered in. One Zulu momma encouraged me to touch the chicken by taking my hand and stroking it’s back. All of the sudden I noticed it’s neck that was oddly missing a head. Screamy panic laughter ensued. All of the women were laughing hysterically, and I eventually melded into their laughter once the horror wore off. They liked me I think. I assume so because I got several an affectionate rubs to the back, squishy fragrant hugs, and a chin hold followed with “aye my bayyybie”. Sometimes I wish I could go back into those moments.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra performs Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” Live on BBC 6Music with Marc Riley Unknown Mortal Orchestra ‘II’ out now …