A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Do Not Stand/Do Not Dance/ Do Not Sit Too Close

Final concert of the City Block series tonight at Stearns Square in downtown Springfield. Series standbys Roomful of Blues were on tap; they're the only band that has played for every one of the seven years. A big crowd assembled to hear them; the ugly fence was up; and I was there promptly at 7:30 with a group of friends. I positioned myself right up front and way off to the side so that I could take some pictures without being too intrusive.

I got some pretty good shots of the band (they've got a snazzily photogenic horn section, and the lead vocalist, Mark DuFresne, was wearing blue suede shoes). Then I flattened myself against the side of the stage to listen to the rest of the concert. Friends Laurie and Lorna had disappeared to somewhere in the midst of the assembled lawn chairs on a hunt for their beverages.

One of the cops I had so magnanimously let off the hook in my blog-rant of a week ago leaned over to me. "You've got to sit down," he ordered me. "Other people can't see." I couldn't imagine whom I might be blocking from my spot, or why everyone had to have their fat fannies in chairs at a swinging outdoor musicfest, but I did obediently sit down.

The minute I hit the grass, the bearded, kerchiefed aging boomer behind me leaned forward and said in my ear, "Are you trying to sit on my fucking lap?" What are these people eating for breakfast--ground glass? I scooted as far forward as I could, so that my nose was an inch or two from the back of somebody's lawn chair. And there I cringed until a guy a few bodies away hiked his lawn chair over a bit and motioned sympathetically to me.

Sliding over as inconspicuously as I could, I noticed that Laurie and Lorna were back--standing in exactly the spot I had been ordered not to stand in, cheerily chatting over the ugly orange fence with the same cop.

So what am I, chopped liver?

Sitting in Theodore's after the concert, I listened to Laurie bemoan the gradual erosion of the dance space by invading lawn chairs over the course of the season. "The band last week was fantastic!" she kept saying. "But noone could dance! They're a swing band, for crying out loud! Everywhere they go, thousands of people get up and dance! Except in Springfield."

So the concert season goes out with a bang, or with a whimper, depending on whom you ask. I know I've had enough, if it means rubbing elbows with terminally crabby people. I can hardly wait to see what ten more months of rabid anti-terrorist patriotism/chauvinism is going to do to people's temperaments, before next year's season begins.

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