Friday, February 13, 2015

Intentional Cacophony

      Forest Hills, Queens, New York.  Picture it.  Already a physical misfit, the Forest Hills Tennis Complex seemed to have lost its way from Basil, Switzerland, debarking the IRT subway line and wending its way up the groaning escalator and emerging like a hippopotamus from an unlit, three inch drain pipe.  Power-wheeled feet of the 'locals', intent solely on finishing first in the human rat race remained unaware of this ambling amoeba save a flash of wonder as to the whereabouts of its recently-shed trappings of soot and cement.  Whatever.  No accountin' for taste in this burg.
       By the evening news, that it would be 'home' to TENNIS players, well, 'ther goss de nayborhoot', Madre Mia.'.  Fine athletes all, they ran to the beat of the cleat, already feeling the smooth, cool trophy that would cap at least a dozen family teeth.  But rackets were for the extra buck; white shorts could be used for first communion and you fished with nets for crabs at 
Sheepshead Bay.  
       When word got out that the stadium would also house concerts, the whole borough felt like wearing war paint and scalping a few 'folks'.
       Enter The Kingston Trio.  Three college guys in striped, long-sleeved shirts had just made it big with a single, "Tom Dooley". (About a guy about to be hanged), packed the Newport Jazz Festival the previous year and were about to sell out in Rhode Island again with The Newport Folk Festival.  Their key to success was singing and playing well on guitar, banjo and drums, being funny and avoiding the performing deathtrap of  politically controversial material.  (This was 1958-1959 and the 'Korean Conflict' was still bleeding.)
       A high school junior with a three day after school job at Macy's had some extra cash - at least enough to follow this witty, world-traveled, easy-on-the eyes fellas who  - just getting started - held the added attraction of cheap seats and the opportunity to 'hang' with college guys in the adjacent cheap seats.  I first saw them at Forest Hills (Brooklyn abuts Queens) and within two years, knew every word of every song they did.
       One of my favorites - political controversy be damned - was "A Merry Little Minuet".  It is a supremely sardonic, satire on international telations.  They did not write it, but performed it with exquisite charm and delicacy - qualities at the opposite spectrum of the commentary.  What is still striking to me today, lo these fifty plus years later, is its uncanny timeliness.  Yes.  It is both timely and frightening.  Not having the time to adequately research the tune, we shall have to rely on my memory, a very sketchy reliance of late - and in the early morn as well.  'Five, six, seven, eight. . . .
       They're rioting in Africa
They're thieving in Spain;
There's hurricanes in Florida
And Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering
with unhappy souls.
The French hate Germans
The Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs,
South Africans hate the Dutch.
And I don't like anybody very much.
But, we can be grateful and thankful and proud,
For man's been endowed with a mushroom- shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that one lovely day,
Someone will set the spark off,
And we will all be blown away.
They're rioting in Africa,
There's strife in Iran,
What nature doesn't do to us,
Will be done
By OUR felLOW   M-A-N. . .
This last line - and kindly forgive my awkward, hieroglyphically-rooted attempt at creating an audible impression using written symbols - was performed without regard for melody, tune, rhythm or acceptably-timed rendering.  It was a complete departure from its preceding, melodious and almost soothing regularity.  It sounded discordant and at once angry and sad, beaten.
       It was what I have dubbed, "Intentional cacophony".  The lyricist and musicions conspire to deliver what seems an inevitability from which there is no escape and toward which mankind was never intended - nor did he strive for - that is settling upon us.  I don't recall where I got this photo - probably DiAnne Ebejer - but it
expresses my feelings visually.  There
is no unity or order; the caricatures seem
non-thematic and of differing pur-
poses.  What was once unity and
intricate perfection, still developing
is disintegrating.

       To pause, reflect and attempt to devise alternative routes, preventable destruction is to be lured farther into the abyss.  Except this revisit will have for its escort more pain.
       The only escape from this widespread tragedy I see, therefore, is to edit out "Intentional".  We all can - and often must endure cacophony (You wouldn't want to hear my husband rejoice in his singing of "Danny Boy" but he wouldn't notice your moving away.)  Similarly, walk politely but swiftly past the mournful; know that looking back, some very funny things serendipidously happened during sad occasions and finally, there are ALWAYS occasions for re-writes.  It is given to us to always be on the lookout for those gifted ones who, should the occasion arise would and will become available to preclude disaster, change the ending, do that fine and timely re-write.
Later, Lorane. . . .