Saturday, May 12, 2018

[Our] Back Pages

The Waltham Steampunk festival was held today.  This is the fifth year or so when our town has hosted this event. Waltham is a blue collar town surrounded by genuine affluence. We are nestled between Concord, Newton, Lexington, Lincoln, Belmont and Weston.  Each of these other towns is hoo-hah.  We are barely hoo.  Because of our proximity to Boston and since our real estate costs and taxes are a fraction of our neighbors', many aspiring rich people have moved here and are mingling with those who are middle class at best. In addition to our relatively sweet real estate costs, there must be incentives for restauranteurs and businesses of various ilks. Our major roadway, Moody Street, is now filled with a dozen high end eating establishments and several pricey watering holes.  I noticed the other day that a very snooty grocery store has opened near where high end condos have been built. I went in there today and the fare was impressive and pricey.  The good news is that there must be people in our town now who can afford the fare. The bad news is I have to think some of our neighbors will be forced out because of rents.

I imagine something about our relative affordability is what brings events like the Steampunk festival to town. It is a gas. People dressed up from another era parade through the streets. It is not unusual at all to see someone pedaling a unicycle or people who look like they just came out of a Victorian novel. I don't think there are strict guidelines regarding what era or culture people should represent. I noticed today on the front lawn of our library there were several civil war looking soldiers standing under a tent that one could imagine Ulysses S. Grant emerging from.  Sad for the participants today that it was pouring rain. But it was an interesting sight, even if those adorned from an era before autos, were scrambling into ubers to avoid being drenched by the downpour.

I thought of the Faulkner line, "The past is never dead. It's not even the past." Maybe these words surfaced because of the movie I saw last night.

I was in the mood for a flick last evening so I walked to town. My plan was to stop after the movie into a local imbibing emporium.  My ability to drive and drink these days is not great. So I walked the mile to the film and planned to walk the mile back with a stop for a beer to watch the last innings of the Red Sox tilt.

The movie I saw was Tully. It will be a challenge to describe it without giving away the key message.  Let me just write that as Faulkner contended and what the Steampunk enthusiasts reflect comes across clearly once you exit the theatre. I do not, do not, recommend that you read a review of the film before you go see it. I only look at how many stars a movie receives before I go and don't read reviews. If I had read a review and it gave away what I will not, it would have made going to see the film far less valuable than it turned out to be.  If you are over 40 and not dead in your head, I recommend the film. If you are dead in the head you probably won't get it.

I left the movie theatre and could go right down Moody Street or left as I had my choice of where to watch the Red Sox and drink beer.  I went right and about three quarters of a mile later on Main Street I stopped in a place I go to periodically but not regularly.  When I go there it is usually late, but last night it was only about 945 when I parked myself at a table.  I noticed something that looked odd, at least initially. The place seemed to be populated with people five to ten years older than me. This is unusual these days when I tend to feel that each person in a joint is a grandchild of someone I went to high school with.  But not last night. These were geezers and I was startled to realize that I fit right in. There was a band playing and I took a glance in its direction and, again, the group looked like a bunch of old guys who were going to sing songs from the 40s and sound like Lawrence Welk.

Well I got my beer and I was surprised to hear the band play "All My Loving".  This, those of my vintage will know, is a Beatles song and the first number that the Beatles played in their famous Ed Sullivan appearance in 1965. Well one Beatles song followed another. Then I heard Run Around Sue and My Little Runaway.  Throughout it all a guy who looked to be 75 but may have been my age was at an adjacent table, tapping his foot, and mouthing the words. A fellow at the bar who was, I do not exaggerate, a dead ringer for Fred Mertz was crooning into a beer bottle.  He had a host of others who leaned into him at the choruses. It was so incongruous. Who were these old guys singing my songs, knowing all the lyrics?

They were me. I am he as you are me as we are all together.

What is time anyway?  Are we any different now than we were. Have we just accrued the crud from travelling around the track multiple times.  The steampunks are pretending it is another century. Except for the technological advances, what is the difference between then and now. Are we just, stripped of our good and bad decisions, who we were-- and would we be to wise to get in touch with who we were if we have lost our bearings.

Ah but we were not much different then, we're just like we were now.

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