Behind the Rembrandt Hotel in Tangier, I find myself stumbling into a completely empty bar. Neon blue lights illuminated the hallway. The Bartenders (Men and Women) wear white shirts and black ties - a sign that the place has jumped head first into the 21st century. After failing to drink at William S. Burroughs's favorite bar or meeting any expats in the area (because of course they would be closed when I chose to visit), I find myself ordering a bottle of wine. I have no idea what it is, but from the looks of it, it'll keep me occupied. After all, I've got no place to be or business to attend to. I wonder if Anthony Bourdain would have passed by this little spot. It seems tacky at first, but the more inebriated I become, the more attached to it I get.
They play a mix of American and Spanish Music. I've never heard these songs before and all of a sudden I find myself becoming best friends with the bartenders despite saying nothing more than "please" or "thank you". "Would you like some more tapas?" one of them asks. I can't refuse the kindness of strangers. I tell him to keep it coming. Ronaldo scores a kick for Real Madrid on the TV screen. I can't remember the last time that I saw soccer on TV. But for a moment, I can pretend that I care as much as the other person smoking cigarettes on the other side of the counter.
How many people have passed by this place? The only reason I passed by it was because I needed to use the restroom desperately. The bars have little expectation of its clientele... I look different enough as it is but even if I make a fool of myself, the only consequence I feel is being locked up for a couple of nights in some dark jail cell.
I've made the mistake of following one of my heroes into the abyss but it didn't make me anyway wiser. It was more of a pain in the ass than anything. No one should ever follow my footsteps either - I'm making them up just like everyone else.
As far as how Rembrandt operated or he saw the world, I'm about as clueless of his inner workings than any of the lazy cats the live bathing in the sun. Tourists love to take pictures of his work at the Museum. I should know because I was trying to take pictures of his work before the other tourists ruined it and got in the way,
Although I'm enjoying the inside of the bar, I see some pretty lights outside and I ask if I can sit down. I'm like a moth when it comes to lights. I can't help myself and I just have to follow where it's coming from.
I've had about as many exchange of words as a Hemingway poem. On the way here, people are still the same back home: taking selfies, going on long romantic walks, and hustling for a living. One of the guys in the group next to me is showing his friends one of the girls that he matched with on some dating app: A sea of blue and grey text boxes that are supposed to bring two human beings closer together.
In my younger days, I would have tried to bum off a cigarette. Everything always sounds like a good idea during a good drunk. Self-destruction - even more!
The couple on my left-hand side are enjoying their honeymoon period by making out and cuddling. Normally I would have missed that but I've accepted that the present state I live in, I might as well enjoy this time alone. People are always praying for some level of intimacy when everything is fine just as it is.
Now that I've finished with the first half of this wine bottle, I just wish that the other half would turn into a miracle tonic to cure my body of any ailments. That's the problem with feeling good: you eventually have to come crashing down after you've understood the gravity of the situation even though you just want to go up, up, up!
It has started raining outside and I've been forced to go inside. My idols would have stayed outside, caught pneumonia, and written the next great American Novel but I don't have the hutzpah for that. If I even feel a shiver, I have to get the fuck inside as soon as possible. The bartenders told me I can't sit by the "reserved area" just in case a a group of real artists or wealthy tycoons come bustling in on Thursday night and need a place to sit. But we're friends at this point so I completely understand.
The bar patrons and I have continued our armistice. Neither of us have any desire to gather intel on the other. The United Nations should hold more meetings at divey bars.
The bar decided to change it's music and they're playing some Flute guy named Leo Rojas. Although he is good, he's a little too much right now and . That's the problem with feeling good - it's only matter of time before all the veils start coming down and we're left with nothing but smoking mirrors.
These three young kids come up to the performing area. They're just tuning in their instruments but I can already tell that they know what they're doing. And so the roller coaster continues to gonna on its ascend. Allow yourself to feel. Lonesome? Happy? Sad? Acceptance. Ever musician, every painter, every filmmaker, every artists, and every person asks: "Do you love me yet?"
As artists, we can only promise one thing: "I love you".
They start playing American Rock and Roll songs and I've been transported to the a different decade. All of a sudden, one of the patrons that sat by himself looking down feels the spirit of Rock and Roll and starts to dance like he's a teenager again. We're all in the mood for love now.
Six strings and one snaps but the show goes on. Nothing to fear - adaptation has always been the survival mechanism.
Sweet dreams are made of these. Blue I am to disappear. Everybody is looking for something.
For their last song, they ask if the anyone knows *indistinguishable sound*. Nobody raises their hands. The guitar riff of Sultans of Swings starts playing:
"You get a shiver in the dark,
It's a raining in the park but meantime-
South of the river you stop and you hold everything
A band is blowing Dixie, double four time
You feel alright when you hear the music ring
Well now you step inside but you don't see too many faces"
At this point it's pouring outside. Everything starts to make sense. We're the Sultans, WE'RE THE SULTANS.
After a good stumble outside, I do my usual figuring out where I am, getting lost, asking people for directions. I look for my phone and I've lost it. Shit.
I retrace my steps and I see a guy across the street pick-up something. Is it my phone? Is he gonna make a run for it? I go to him and sure enough, it's my phone. He looks at me and smiles. I give him a friendly pat and we go our separate ways. The kindness of strangers lingers on.
There's an open sandwich shop. That's more than I need than anything right now. Not money in my bank account, not the acceptance from the world, not the validation of existence. Just a hot juicy sandwich. This beautiful sandwich maker asks me if I want fries and YES, of course I do. He puts them right on the sandwich itself. Where the fuck is Bourdain? Did you see what this culinary genius just did?
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Everything starts pouring suddenly. Words flow through my veins. A minuscule moment of understanding:
You don't have to be perfect. You just have to be you.