Tuesday, July 07, 2009

This is MY America

This is MY America: the Fenway Faithful help out a young special-needs man when he gets flustered while singing the national anthem:

So here's my parallel Universe, and the real Independence Day celebration, and the real American heroes, in that universe:

Where the marching band is Jim Reese Europe's 369th Hellfighters Band, sashaying down the streets of Harlem, playing charts by Charles Ives, with Charley's beloved-but-died-too-young father George, the youngest bandleader in the Civil War, trades off the baton with Lt. Europe, with James Brown as the drum-major, with banners heralding Peace and Freedom and Justice flying at the head; and marching in the van are all the boys who didn't have to die in America's contemptible elective imperial wars;

with a picnic on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, where Buddy Bolden, healed from the "madness" that was the only possible to the insanity of Jim Crow, trades trumpet licks with Clifford Brown, who walked away from the car wreck miraculously unscathed, and Janis, with a man who loves her and a church family that supports her, kisses Jimi and congratulates him on a fair record deal, and Bessie Smith, the Queen of the Blues, donates her royalties to a charity hospital for poor people;

and Blind Willie Johnson asks the blessing, and Gary Davis sight-reads the hymns, and Duane Allman and Charlie Christian trade choruses on the offertory while their grand-babies pass the paper plates, and Bird and Trane and Dolphy and Ayler man the horn section, and Fela and Miles swap licks and each agrees that the other is the greatest player;

and Zappa gives the patriotic address, and Bo and Mr Jelly Roll and Mongo and Lemon and Robert Johnson compare their versions of the hambone and argue good-naturedly (while the beer never runs out) about whose is better;

and there's corn and slaw and pickles and peach pie and mashed spuds and sweet tea and pulled pork and barbecue and Hebrew National hotdogs and fried chicken, but no animals ever had to die to provide them, and Tom Binkley approves the hummus and dandles his grandkids on his knee,

and my father is there, sober and happy, sketching the scene,

and saying "just lemonade, thanks."

I will work until I die to help make this nation more what it could be.

Here's the original.


T Dawn said...

Great post. When i experience moments in that (my slightly different, but very similar) parallel universe i often wonder if it's all just too romanticized (especially in my head), or if it could really, truly be possible that maybe one day those moments will become the real America... that those feelings of absolute raw and honest patriotism will exist beyond the several minutes it takes to sing We are the World or God Bless America... that the feelings of love, patience, and kindness will actually outlast the warm fuzzies everyone gets when the National Anthem is sung, the colors pass, taps are played, or a random act of completely selfless kindness transpires (continue to insert innumerable warm fuzzy-makers here). The experience excites and saddens me in one twisted emotion.

Thankfully, there are people like you out there who make it seem more possible, and who allow me to feel just a little more normal.

Here's to YOUR America. Never quit.

Christopher said...

Well, it started out just being a paean to all the American musicians I could think of who died too young, and of what, and to what sort of lives I wished they'd had. But it wound up being a poem about my father, and the life I wished he'd had.

Thanks for reading.

bobgoblin said...

I teared up reading that...& that was before I got to the part about your dad.