Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond
Send your nonfictional open letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Open Letter to the Aging Hippies Dancing at the Tinariwen Concert.
Dear Aging Hippies Dancing at the Tinariwen Concert,
There is not a culture in the world honored by your whack-ass dancing. You, woman with the long grey hair, dancing right in front of the stage, don’t do that, what you’re doing there. It’s not good. And you, next to her, same thing. I know the music is good, but this is no way to respond. They are like wizards casting a spell on us. You should be mesmerized, rocking hypnotically, but you are doing some weird kind of twitch.
Notice how the band is dancing. Small movements, practiced movements, deliberate movements. They are elegant. Yes, they are moving their limbs and you are moving yours, but there the similarities end. You are not doing the same dance they are doing. You are not one with them, they with slight tilts of the hand, dips of the shoulders, you with some hand-over-hand-like-you-are-unrolling-toilet-paper-over-your-head dance. And you, lady next to her, you look like you are trying to flick cobwebs off your fingertips.
Why do I care? Because you are making me look at you, because you forced your way to the front just like you do at every single concert you go to. Then there is the look on your face, which is so goddamn smug, which you force me to look at, which you force everyone here to look at, because you are dancing right in front of the stage. You didn’t discover this. You want us to know that you are worldly because you are dancing to this music, and you want us to think you understand the Tuareg and their traditions, and you share in their struggle because look at how profound your face is and aren’t you just one with the music. No, you’re not.
And then there is you, guy in the middle of the crowd. Why are you flapping around like that? Why are you taking up so much space? There are other people who would like to be close to the band. Yeah, the band is looking at you, of course the band is looking at you, but not because they see some kindred earth-brother. They see a spazzmatic ass. And why are your shoulders up around your ears? Unless you are dancing in a Bollywood musical, your shoulders should not be up around your ears.
You, guy in the back of the room, you’re cool. Your dance is awful but you force it on no one.
Oh, lady, do not gesture to the rest of the crowd to “get up.” It is not your place. This is not your show. I did not come for you, but you are stealing my attention. You have no right. Just because you probably went to Kenya ten years ago does not give you the right to speak for this band from Mali. They have earned the stage. I will listen to them. They have done everything and you have done nothing. I will get up when they tell me when to get up.
Hey. Hey! What is wrong with you? Look around. Notice anything? Everyone else is clapping! Why? Because the drummer who has practiced his ass off in a tent in the desert and who has worked so damn hard to make a life for himself has asked us to start clapping. So we are clapping. What are you—oh, my God, are you pretending to play the guitar? Is that what that is? It looks like you are strangling a swan. Lady, listen, there is no guitar right now. Why? Because the guitarist is clapping his hands!
Why do you think you can have this? The moon landing wasn’t enough? Hendrix at Monterey wasn’t enough? You have to be in front for this, too? Why do you think you are entitled to everything? Why do you think this is all yours? Just get out of the way, please. Move to the back, please and let us dance in front of the stage. We dance better than you.
OK, guy with the shoulders, why are you jumping? No one else is jumping. This is not jumping music. Stop.
Matthew Robert Lang
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