On a street corner by the harbour on the island of Victoria, British Columbia, a man stands every day, dressed up as Darth Vader, and plays his fiddle for tips from passing strangers. Having been in Victoria for the last few days, I’ve had several opportunities to observe this intrepid fiddler from the Dark side.
He stands there for hours, playing his heart out. And I must say, the man plays a mean fiddle. Tourists are variously bemused, fascinated, confused and disoriented. They did not come to Victoria for Star Wars themed performance art. And yet Star Wars themed performance art is what they are getting – gratis.
As I watched this energetic masked musician, in all his ebony black finery, I found myself enjoying the contrast between his utter strangeness and the picturebook backdrop to his performance. All around him was a world of genteel charm, from the magnificent ivy covered walls of the imposing Fairmont Empress Hotel to the lovely boats floating peaceably in the harbour, sun-dappled ripples from the flawless sea reflecting in their pristine hulls.
And in the very midst of this scene of Edenic repose stands the dark Emperor’s minion, Lord Vader himself, scourge of the Universe, fiddling away every day, inventing his own unique brand of sublimely crazy mountain-punk folk art – cannily combining the oddly matched symbols of violence and violins.
I wonder how long this can go on? Will Anakin’s dark music find a challenger? Will a defiant vagrant Obiwan plant himself on the opposite street corner someday soon, and proceed to play the oboe, in defiance of the no doubt evil plans of Senator Palpatine’s musical minion? Will this august Jedi knight be joined by young Master Luke on the lute, striking a chord for the Light side of the Force?
How many Star Wars refuges can crowd into downtown Victoria Harbour, a song in their heart and an instrument in their hand, before the local gentry will begin to take umbrage? Would a full-scale cultural war ensue, an epic battle between the local Chamber of Commerce and the forces of avant garde Comiconical musicianship?
I have no idea. But I wouldn’t be completely surprised if one day we see Spock on the spoons, Spidey on the spinet, or Hermione on the harmonium.