A blinding green flash of inspiration recently hit Jim Green, aka the Rev. Jim, and he was moved to create the Hairy Eye Ball, a Mardi Gras costume dance to benefit East Bay nonprofit Food Not Bombs. He tied in all the important elements in his life: fun, food, and humor to combat war and hunger, and a dance floor filled with frolickers.
It will come to pass on Friday at Oakland's Fellowship of Humanity Hall (390 27th St., 510-658-9509), as the Rev. Jim presides over a congregation of dancers who pay (but not much; the ticket price is only $6) to support Food Not Bombs while dancing to the Funky Nixons, the Wild Buds, and Josh Paxton of Muffuletta. The party starts at 8 p.m.
Since becoming a self-ordained minister in his own Church of the Great Green Frog, the Rev. Jim has been spreading the Word of the Frog: "Ribbit!" It's a good-time religion, to be sure, one that takes a leap of faith (or is that a hop of faith?), but far from using it as an escape from the woes of a planet torn by hunger and strife, the good reverend explains, "Humor is so important. The only way we can combat terrorism is with laughter. So we're having a costume contest -- dressing in costume is at the heart of the true Mardi Gras celebration -- and I'm encouraging people to dress in green, gold, and purple military outfits so I can get a Mardi Gras militia together as "special farces' to combat the sick state of affairs in the world.
"There's lots to get angry about, but it doesn't solve anything" he adds. "We need laughter to keep us going. And we need volunteers, or rather Food Not Bombs can always use volunteers. They work so hard, they need support and fun."
The poster that the Rev. Jim designed for the Hairy Eye Ball is just that, an eyeball in place of a person's head with a star as the iris, and he's adorned it with the late New Orleans pianist James Booker's Afro and goatee. Not surprisingly, it was while living in New Orleans in the '80s that the Rev. Jim united the important elements in his life, combining his love of Mardi Gras with becoming a minister in the Church of the Great Green Frog. When he moved to Berkeley, he joined in the work of Food Not Bombs, serving food daily to those in need. For four years in the '90s FNB prepared meals at his house one day a week. "I've chopped many a vegetable for them," he says. "At the North Oakland house I'm in now, we also do the food one day a week."
The reverend picked the musicians for Friday's dance based on their dedication to the cause, to Mardi Gras, and to Food Not Bombs. "I'm a big fan of the Funky Nixons," he says. "They're political dance music, funky R&B. And they've got new songs including one whose chorus goes, 'Let's go bomb Iraq/They can't bomb us back.' The Wild Buds were inspired by Mardi Gras. And Josh Paxton of Muffuletta is playing James Booker's tunes on solo piano." It's a case of pursuing one's ideals religiously to the benefit of the whole community.
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