Monday, September 5, 2011
LABOR DAY REVOLVER
When I was a kid, Labor Day really was a day meant to honor all those who labored for a living. There were parades and demonstrations, all in praise of working people and/or for improving conditions even further than they'd become under strong unions and a political establishment that recognized that working families that made enough to live the American Dream—which included making enough to own a home and be able to send your kids to college, etc.—also kept the economy growing and helped make the country even stronger than World War Two (and the great economic job creating stimulus it created) proved it to be.
There were problems back then too, as there always are, but thankfully many of those problems have been addressed and even solved in some cases, or are still being addressed and worked on by progressive politics (like racism and sexism and etc.). But because of the regressive politics that dominated much of the Reagan/Bush/Bush/Cheney years, some of the old problems have returned (pre-New Deal income and wealth disparities, etc.) or new ones have been created (two wars anyone?).
But back in my childhood, for my family, like half of Jersey, Labor Day meant the end of summer and whatever summer vacations working families had then—which were often better than can be afforded time-or-money-wise these days—this was the last great day that we, along with half of Jersey it seemed (and probably was even more) would spend at the Jersey shore.
Like all eras, that one was a mix of good and bad, and I don't miss the bad, but the sweetness and freedom afforded the grownups, and us kids in turn, by at least a modicum of economic and political equanimity make aspects of that time still memorably sweet.
As for the present, I'm celebrating a rainy Labor Day in the Berkshires with an early birthday gift giving get together with my granddaughter later, while this morning I got to hear, and share with my older son and my daughter-in-law—thanks to him—this great Public Radio International program about the seminal Beatles LP REVOLVER.
It was not only enlightening and entertaining, as you'd expect, but inspiring all over again, that these working class lads from a working class English city, with nothing but raw talent, intense focus and a full on commitment were able to not just delight and excite but inspire an entire generation with a collection of "songs" more eclectic and original than any collection up until then—and maybe since.
Listening to this program turned a dreary day outside bright and sunny inside. If only the same could be said for listening to what's going on in our politics.
[That's me with my hands folded, or twisted, in each photo, the others my sister(s) and cousin(s) and mother and aunts, just a tiny slice of the siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles that lived on the street I grew up on.]