Monday, July 21, 2014

July 4th, Cape Cod Bear Week and Back to Brooklyn

July 4th, i read Dad's July 4th sermon from a decade ago, welcoming friends and memories
 We had a magnificent party of friends, celebrating the summer, enjoying being together.

And then off to pick up the kids from summer camp and make our way to wonderful Cape Cod.

For the next week, we made our way up and down  cape to see friends, talk writing, Marx, NYC, and stories.  An editor suggested I wrote a memoir. Sitting at the beach, I wondered about  what  I could write, would write and why?  What would be the story?   Would it be on   music, Ritalin, Football. Queer in streets, straight in sheets, Public Space battles, Activism, Teaching, growing up, difference, who knows? 
What lessons could be reveled?  mostly its that i have friends with whom to pass the days in between. 

I recall a sleepover with a friend.  We must have been nine or ten.  He was certainly one to weave a tall tale, sometimes as a boast, other times as a means of defiance to rules and realities.  We used to tell stories late into the evening while lying in bed.
             “Did that really happen?” I finally asked after one particularly outrageous yarn. 
“Of course not,” he confessed, with a laugh.  I admired his candor.  Just a few minutes earlier, I was wondering if he was a pathological liar.  Yet he was not.  This story always resonated.  

Sitting at the Provincetown Pool, disco pumped from the stereo. The kids played and the grownups sipped coctails and cruised.   Steve, my friend and mentor, dissertation adviser and agitating buddy from long ago, showed off hitattoos and responded to my banter, noting we don’t need a grand theory… we’re thinking bigger than that… ask someone a about negating the negation, we’re beyond that …

Later that night, we all listened to Billy Bragg's cheerful words about watching movements come and go and still waiting.

Waiting For The Great Leap Forward

It may have been Camelot for Jack and Jacqueline
But on the Che Guevara highway filling up with gasoline
Fidel Castro's brother spies a rich lady who's crying
Over luxury's disappointment
So he walks over and he's trying
To sympathize with her but thinks that he should warn her
That the Third World is just around the corner
In the Soviet Union a scientist is blinded
By the resumption of nuclear testing and he is reminded
That Dr Robert Oppenheimer's optimism fell
At the first hurdle
In the Cheese Pavilion and the only noise I hear
Is the sound of people stacking chairs
And mopping up spilt beer
And someone asking questions and basking in the light
Of the fifteen fame filled minutes of the fanzine writer
Mixing Pop and Politics he asks me what the use is
I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
While looking down the corridor
Out to where the van is waiting
I'm looking for the Great Leap Forwards
Jumble sales are organized and pamphlets have been posted
Even after closing time there's still parties to be hosted
You can be active with the activists
Or sleep in with the sleepers
While you're waiting for the Great Leap Forwards
One leap forwards, two leaps back
Will politics get me the sack?
Here comes the future and you can't run from it
If you've got a blacklist I want to be on it
It's a mighty long way down rock 'n roll
From Top of the Pops to drawing the dole
If no one seems to understands
Start your own revolution, cut out the middleman
In a perfect world we'd all sing in tune
But this is reality so give me some room
So join the struggle while you may
The Revolution is just a t-shirt away

Most days, we romped n the pond or the beach.

We watched the world cup final in Wellfleet, romping around, exploring, wondering through old bookstores, through the cozy little town. 

Dad used to read Pogo.  Copies lay strewn around his parent's house n Thomasvlle, Ga.  Number two took to it, reading it all afternoon, even during the world cup final. 

When the rain hit, we romped to Ptown, where they were celebrating Bear week.  Hanging around here, its like time stopped n 1976… with clones and drag queens and bears…a magnificent renaissance in action.   

What are bears, my kids asked as we hung out seeing the signs for the bear week.

Thinking about the bears, I recalled my friend Eric, whose final days were here in Ptown  
rofes died here shortly before bear week in 2006.  its hard not to see him in their faces.

So Larry and gals and I hung out all afternoon in Ptown, enjoying the fashion and silliness.

Later that night, read Eudora Welty and thought about Dad’s life.  The Optimists Daughter feels like a carbon copy of our experience.   Why does life have to imitate art this much?

The next morning, Larry, Steve, and i bonded the way aging academics do.  We went for coffee and worked on our respective book chapters, chatting about life in between. 

Back to Ptown for lunch as murry sparcles and lar set the stage.

Writing, beach going, and BBQng filled much of the week, as did
And thinking about all the other heroes from my friendship book.
Fred,  Eric, Pete S.
We all can be heroes they remind us even when life catches up with us. 
As we get lost n the details

These friends take us by the hand, showing us where to look.

As Leonard C sings:

Now Suzanne takes your hand 
And she leads you to the river 
She is wearing rags and feathers 
From Salvation Army counters 
And the sun pours down like honey 
On our lady of the harbour 
And she shows you where to look 
Among the garbage and the flowers 
There are heroes in the seaweed 
There are children in the morning 
They are leaning out for love 
And they will lean that way forever 
While Suzanne holds the mirror 
And you want to travel with her 
And you want to travel blind 
And you know that you can trust her 
For she's touched your perfect body with her mind. 

The last full day, we went body surfing and hanging out for the
Bbde or
Best beach day ever as number two explained as we romped through the waves, jumping as we stuck our heads above the crashing waves, hitting the beach.

Goodbye broken surfboards and Longnook Beach. 

The final night we cooked together. 

Last day, we dipped in the pond and rode home. 

Enjoying a moment itime, we listened to the People's History of the United States.  Over three bridges, we made our way back to beloved Brooklyn, where the summer graffiti pulses through our buoyant metropolis, making me want to take pictures, write and enjoy.

Looking at looming conflicts, plane crashes, and conflicts which feel so much like they did one years ago this summer... hoping for a better lesson of history.  

Barack Obama noted the flight was carrying people on their way to the  international aids conference n Melbourne:

"Let me close by making one additional comment. On board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, there were apparently nearly 100 researchers and advocates traveling to an international conference in Australia dedicated to combating AIDS/HIV. These were men and women who had dedicated their own lives to saving the lives of others and they were taken from us in a senseless act of violence.
In this world today, we shouldn’t forget that in the midst of conflict and killing, there are people like these -- people who are focused on what can be built rather than what can be destroyed; people who are focused on how they can help people that they’ve never met; people who define themselves not by what makes them different from other people but by the humanity that we hold in common. It’s important for us to lift them up and to affirm their lives. And it’s time for us to heed their example.
The United States of America is going to continue to stand for the basic principle that people have the right to live as they choose; that nations have the right to determine their own destiny; and that when terrible events like this occur, the international community stands on the side of justice and on the side of truth. "
-- Barack Obama, President of the United States, The White House, Washington D.C.

Friends from the conference sent reports that most of the conference was consumed with talk of the crash and other important figures in history who've been lost through such events.

Between the chaos, summer friends drop by, spend the night,  and drop back for the rest of the mp between summer.   

And we get ready for another day, another adventure as the story of my life  finds a new chapter between now and the great leap forward. Today Brooklyn, tomorrow Par

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