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Juana Ghani



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Having grown tired of the daily doldrums of copy-cat artists who had forgotten the honor of their calling and had become imitators rather than innovators, Ghani broke all ties with everything safe and familiar and began to roam.

As he roamed, he spent time in the bordellos and traveling carnivals of Eastern Europe. Drinking with all the China men and walking the sewers of Paris, he danced along a colored wind and dangled from a rope of sand. He spent time with the Eyeball Kid and one-armed Sally from Nebraska wandering the coast of Borneo, swinging like an ape from a Banyan tree. Once, in a cantina in Carletta where Bessie Smith played on a jukebox all night long, Ghani, along with a British transvestite, some other Riff Raff and a very sad-eyed lady of the lowlife, witnessed the Spanish sun coming up on their empty cups and they were taken dancing deep down into the dawn. He saw the light and it was a revelation, an epiphany, a down-right eye-opening experience.

He set out in search of a much better half of himself.

He had heard legend of Ms. Juana. Tia, they called her. She stayed in her own jail cell where the warden would play a sweet little tune they called the “toe-nail dance.” The story went that she lived in the doorway of an old hotel with the radio playing opera somewhere east of East St. Louis. Home was anywhere with diesel gas where she made her own whiskey and gave cigarettes to kids. No one could keep up with her, no one dared. She was an untamed character. All she ever said was, “Go to Hell!”

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