Sunday, September 16, 2007
this town here celebrated its 288th anniversary yesterday. it became a town when it got a church organized. the church, across the street, allowed 'us' to detach from neighbouring Billerica (3 syllable pronunciation, for those scoring at home). the celebration consisted of... lame maneuvers. noble canine and I scoped the territory out early, as things were setting up in the town hall parking lot. booths of veritable excitement. returning, I rousted Erin from bed (Beth is in NJ, by the seashore, with a friend). various town businesses and organizations showed their wares and/or wiles. I don't know the celebratory worth of hearing an insurance company's patter, frankly. Erin fell for the siren lure of fried dough, the presence of which was a concession to real town celebration. we went home, not far away, after that to change into dry clothes, for the windows of heaven were opened more than a crack. as we changed we could hear the town's fire engines and police cars, the beginning of the parade. we walked over to the green, across the street, to watch. Erin had his camera, Beth had mine. the town's DPW vehicles followed the emergency ones. someone in each vehicle tossed candy to the spectating forces along the street. this produced the effect of little children lunging avidly in front of dump trucks and such for the caramel bull's eye, Tootsie Roll or even Tootsie Pop that define their goal structure. rain became earnest at this time. apres such excitement was more organizations: scouts, athletics, bands etc. including the Mason's, who wore back suits, white gloves and what looked like a bib over their crotch (!!!). Erin;s karate school passed thru dramatically. Erin chose to pass on the parade this year. near the end of the parade the wind rose noticeably and the rain intensified, even like the tail end of a tropical storm. after noon the rain surprisingly cleared, so Erin and I went to the Native American Powwow just up the road at the VA Hospital grounds. pow wows are a yearly feature here but I've always missed them up till now. I didn't know what to expect. Erin said if it's a bunch of old men sweating then he's out. I can picture what he means but it wasn't so. the small open field held a ring of tented booths and in the centre a dance circle. the booths offered native American gimcrack, to put it crassly. jewelry and what not, much more interesting, tho, than what the insurance companies at the town celebration offered. the central feature was the 3 drum circle groups who supplied the music and impetus for the dancing in the circle. I know nothing from all this so excuse my ignorance. 6 or 7 males sat at a large tom tom. each beat on it and sang. drums incite me, no question. it is basic trance inducement. I love it. I felt like a clod watching the dancers but it is new to me. men, women and children would step into the circle in a gracious formal way and invest in the beat. I saw the steps taken, which I think is touch toe then touch full foot, then the same with the other foot. some waved fans. that's the measure, which is like a breath, which is a poetics in action. how this measure moves the individual is varied. some are very inward and meditative while others are outward and flash. children prancing, elders stately. the town celebration was so culturally inept, it wasn't there at all. Whereas I felt the cultural connection at the pow wow. there was a young fellow dressed up fine who sang with one of the drum groups. he wore a zowee 'native costume'. a red and black statement that is a translation of, say, John Travolta in Sat Nite Feev. he was a terrific dancer, a centripetal concentration. in the same group was one I suspected as his younger brother. he wore t-shirt and baseball cap. during one dance he came out and faced up his brother and they danced face to face, challenging yet lovely in the possibility of advance. They ended on the final beat with a synchronized pose, then hugged. my guess of their siblingship was confirmed by someone remarking on the brothers' performance. I saw an artistic energy of collaboration, which itself fits a challenge. one dance was for children, the candy dance. candy was scattered in the circle and the children danced until the singing stopped, at which point they could dive for the nearest candy. the song itself, the only English one that I heard, spoke of Tootsie Rolls and Charlston Chews. another dance was the jingle dance. this was for young women. several of whom wore costumes (I don't want to use that word) with jingly features. those features, it was explained, are generally made from the tops of snuff containers. a young dancer who was the female version of the guy in red, almost went en pointe in her dancing. she wore a brilliant yellow dress with myriad jangles. golly, it was all so lovely and direct. people certainly came from the further reaches of New England, if not further. some of the commercial offerings were telling, like hats stating Viet Nam Vet or Iraq Vet. I'd like to get that toe step down, tho I cannot feel common in the circle. I mean, I felt like white bread disease. my people celebrated their history by inviting insurance companies to show their wares.