MY FRIEND Walla Dubois, from Tanzania, came to see me. When I visited his country, Walla entertained me at a tribal music festival in his village, and I thought it only fair to reciprocate.
"Would you like to go to Disney World?"
"No," Walla replied, "I want to go to a rock concert and be with the real people of America."
I had no choice but to get tickets for a Madonna concert.
Walla was terribly excited. "Wait until my people back home hear that I went to see Madonna. Is she still going with Warren Beatty?"
We entered the stadium where thousands of fans were naked to the waist waving their shirts in the air.
Walla whispered to me, "Do you think they'd mind if I took pictures of them? My tribe will not believe it."
"I'm sure they won't," I told him. "Rock concert fans are always posing for tourists."
Walla snapped away as Madonna writhed all over the stage.
The fans had their arms stretched up in the air in some sort of fascist salute. I said to Walla, "How does this compare to home?"
"We never get this primitive," he confided. "Our tribal dancing requires discipline and some sense of decorum. This is the first time I've seen so many savages in one place."
"They're not savages," I assured him. "They are just our children doing their own thing with our money."
"Madonna loves her body, doesn't she?" Walla remarked.
"If our kids couldn't yell and scream and wave their hands they would feel cheated, and they might go out and trash all of Queens. You must understand our customs, Walla. They may seem strange to you, but they have been part of our way of life for 20 years."
"I have just figured out the main difference between our music and yours."
"What is it?"
"Our performers play on drums and yours play on loudspeakers."
"That's true. But notice how sexual Madonna is when she is singing to the audience. It's almost as if she is making love to the entire world."
"In my country we're forbidden by the Supreme Tribal Council to do that. They no longer allow anyone to get too carried away by the passion of the moment. If Madonna comes to Tanzania she will have to put some clothes on, or they will run her out of the country."
"She couldn't. What makes her a great artist is that everyone is turned on by her costumes."
Walla said, "If she lived in our land, we'd find a good husband to beat her."
"We can't have any of that. Look at how many people she is making happy."
"What do these fans do when they are not at concerts screaming and dancing in the aisles?"
"They repair computers, perform heart surgery, fill prescriptions, fix cars and develop intercontinental ballistic missile systems. You wouldn't know it to look at them, but a lot of these folks are in charge of air traffic safety."
He said, "It figures."