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.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Block Party's Back

So there I am, working at my computer, and the dog starts to hassle me. Getting right up next to me, fixing me with a stare, and barking continually. That's the "let's go for a walk, stat!" bark. I start to argue with her, because we were outside not half an hour before, but she just raises her muzzle, turns her head to the side, and looks at me out of the corner of her eye, not ceasing to bark, which is her way of getting extra fresh with me.

And then I glance at the time: 7:22. Thursday night, July 6th...the first of the Stearns Square Block Party concerts is starting in eight minutes!

The dog has a clock in her head, I swear. And she loves the concerts--I've been taking her the last two summers, since she was a puppy. So I grab her leash and off we go downtown.

Tonight it was Chris Duarte, a bluesy band. Same band shell, same location right on the Square, same audience seated on the grass and standing all around the sides. The usual handful of people dancing near the stage.

Last year, the city started fencing off the area with an ugly, rickety orange temporary fence, so that everyone has to pass the beer vendor to get inside the Square. I suppose they think limiting entry and egress increases security.

Something new this year is no dogs allowed inside the fence. But I wasn't there to listen to the music anyway. For me--and, I think, for Taz--the Block Party is all about the bikes.

Stearns Square on a Thursday night is becoming a little Laconia. Every year, there are more bikes, not only up and down Bridge and Worthington Streets, but all along Chestnut and Main and every little side street, too. Filling all the parking lots. And cruising. I stopped counting at something over 400--I'd say there had to be at least a thousand bikes.

And not just any bikes. Gorgeous bikes, almost every one spotless, gleaming, and customized to the hilt. Mostly Harleys, but a little bit of everything else as well. Big fat Honda touring bikes, crotch rockets, fringed Indians, sleek Ducatis and Buells. With chrome switch housings, neon tank kits, ghost flame paint...name your upgrade. And an occasional teddy bear buckled in behind, awaiting his owner.

The Salty Dog Saloon on Bridge Street has become the unofficial headquarters of the bikers. But it's no Bleekers hosting the Black Rebels. These bikes are worth serious money, their owners have jobs, and nobody wants any paint to get scratched. Everybody's just in Springfield to show off and have a good time. And Taz and I are down with that.


As much as I love cheesecake, that's how much I hate graham cracker crust. Here's a cheesecake that doesn't have any crust at all. It's the one that I brought along yesterday to the cookout. Not sure why it cracked on top--it never has before--maybe because the eggs were so large? But I came home with an empty plate nevertheless.

Here's the recipe: 24 oz. cream cheese, a cup of sugar, 5 eggs and a tablespoon of vanilla, beaten together. Then 8 oz. of any kind of chocolate you like, melted, mixed with half the batter and marbled. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.