The Ugly One Without the Jewels
By malks on Maj 15, 2005
|Laurie Anderson is a
long-time favorite of mine. She has a recording called "The
Ugly One With The Jewels And Other Stories", which my brother gave
me many years ago. The piece mentioned in the recording's title is
unusual (well, all the tracks are actually pretty unique) and
wonderful. It describes time she spent with the Tsutsil Indians, the
last surviving Mayan tribe in Mexico. She describes the people of this
tribe as speaking a "lovely birdlike language".
...well, that's me in the green shirt between Bono and Jack Valenti. Bono is lead singer of the Irish band U2 and Jack Valenti recently left his position as head of the Motion Picture Assocation of America after 38 years. (Jack Valenti has had quite an interesting history/career and perhaps I'll talk some more about that another time). John Crupi, CTO of Sun's Enterprise Web Services Practice stands on the other side of Bono next to Ingrid Van Den Hoogen, Vice President, Brand Experience and Community Marketing for Sun. Just to her left...Brad Pitt...
|Laurie Anderson continues her story: "One day
the women decided to braid my hair Tsutsil-style. After they
did this I saw my reflection in a puddle. I looked ridiculous but they
said, “Before we did this you were ugly, but now maybe you will find
...hi, it's me again (can't help feeling a bit like the Central Scrutinizer, from Frank Zappa's 'Joe's Garage'...any Zappa fans out there?)...Anyway, in this photo you see all the same folks but next to Brad Pitt add MaryMary, world famous blogger and Marketing wiz for Sun. You might be wondering why I have such a bewildered look on my face...several reasons, in no particular order...number 1: I had gum in my mouth and was trying to move it somewhere in my cheek where it might not look so silly...number 2: I'm standing next to Bono and Jack Valenti...number 3: Several thoughts were suddenly racing through my head, like 'am i supposed to smile? this is a press conference about Extreme Poverty'...then again 'The press conference is about \*ending\* Extreme Poverty, so I guess I can smile...I ended up doing something in between a smile and a yawn, and I think you can actually see my gum as a small white speck near my bottom lip.
|The story continues: In the local language she was
called "Lausha", which loosely translated means “the ugly one with the
The "ugly" label is a natural, (though often bewildering to an
oustider) result of any group's tendency to define aesthetics in a
localized way. But why the reference to the jewels? She reveals
this later in the tale: "I didn't find out what this meant until one
night, when I was taking my
contact lenses out, and since I'd lost the case I was carefully placing
them on the sleeping shelf; suddenly I noticed that everyone was
staring at me and I realized that none of the Tsutsil had ever seen
glasses, much less contacts, and that these were the jewels, the
transparent, perfectly round, jewels that I carefully hid on the shelf
Well, I don't wear contact lenses, but felt in just about as unfamiliar territory as Laurie felt in the Mayan village when I was in front of the cameras at this press conference for the ONE Campaign.
For me, a wonderful experience and an opportunity to be around a bunch of truly fine people.