The National Anthem is one of the most played songs in America. If you have played in school bands, military bands, marching bands, or are a musician who has performed at any sporting or public event, you have played the familiar melody since you were very young.
In America, individualism is worshiped, but so is big Government.
Most of us fall someplace different on the line that stretches from pure individualism towards the right end of the line to pure communism towards the left, in relation to how much government control of your life you want. It is no wonder that we shake our heads at each other, erroneously thinking we all fall on the same place on this political line that crosses itself so often you don’t always know left from right. The tug of war between these opposing dreams describes our American dilemma.
After the National Anthem, some of us singing, the color guard marches off the putting green and we golfers all go to our assigned golf carts and roll out for a shotgun start to the golf tournament.
This golf tournament is a fundraiser for Lifequest, a group that mentors juveniles locked up in jail, believing that the Bible and good role models will keep juveniles from going back to jail after they serve their time and are released, often back into the same negative situation they were before they were incarcerated.
Regardless of where we are on any line, we all know mistakes are made and not every child has a home to come from, or a home to go too.
Listening to the National Anthem, I know where my battle line in the sand is drawn.
If politicians sons and daughters had to go fight in wars, we wouldn’t have so many of them.
Shadows begin to form in the early evening, thick stones in old city walls seem less heavy and ancient, a softness wraps itself around the Parque Colon, the Santo Domingo Cathedral, the bars, restaurants and hotels in the Zona Colonia.
This is a well visited area, picked by Unesco to celebrate because of it’s culture and history. In the evening, the light switch turns down in slow degrees and people come out to sit on benches, visit, watch tourists, and enjoy the feel of a place where Christopher Columbus once walked.
Plaza Billini recognizes the efforts of a well loved and respected Catholic priest who founded hospitals and orphanages in Santo Domingo. Plaza Duarte celebrates one of the founders of the Dominican Republic who was, ironically, a poet, writer and activist instead of being just a military man brandishing a sword and riding a horse.
Tonight, there are bursts of life coming from all directions. There is the Chu Chu train passing our two plazas taking visitors for a tour, explaining dozens of important locations where important people in Dominican Republic history lived and played their part on life’s stage.. When you walk the streets here there are plaques on the walls of residences everywhere that remind you that these blank faced, neglected buildings once contained living breathing hero’s and heroine’s.
Staying in the Zona Colonia, even a few days, lets you forget International Airports, freeways, Interstates, sky rise apartments, business complexes, urban scrawl and our modern world.
Our modern world has gotten too quick, large, and complicated.
Sitting in a little Plaza, off the main business streets, makes my world more intimate, personal, and endearing.
When was the last time we wanted to hug New York cities tallest skyscraper?
The last police band i saw was in Cuenca, at a celebration for ex-pats and foreign business development in that Ecuadorian city.
This Santo Domingo events aim is to support women and fight domestic violence in Latin America.This police band provides some of the entertainment. There are uniformed officers patrolling all the tourist destinations in this ” old City.”. and, except for getting hustled to buy things you don’t want or solicited to take a guided tour from one of the many guides in the area, the Zone is very safe.
The police band’s music is contagious, in a good way.
It is good for the police to show their gentle side since most of their job deals with locking up family, friends, and strangers who choose not to follow rules.
Police are still humans, we sometimes forget, who wear guns, handcuffs, badges, drive official vehicles. play in the police band, and put people in jail.
They can never lose their humanity no matter how much bad they have to clean up.
When public servants and institutions lose their humanity, we all lose.
If you want to know what people are looking for, count the cars in the parking lot. Tonight, the parking lot is packed full.
The dance floor is also packed full,dancers barely having enough room to stand, The band is hitting their notes, ladies are dressed to kill, the audience rocks with the steady booming salsa rhythm and yell when a tune is done for another one just like it. Latin music has hot harmony, high note trumpet playing, fluid solos and tight, intricate, group ensembles..
Chadd plays his flute solo on a new plastic flute brought back from a music trade show in Los Angeles and doesn’t miss anything.
It’s never too late, I’m thinking, to learn to dance better, even if you fluff your pillow and turn in before ten in the evening.
When Ladies get dressed up to dance salsa, they light up the dance floor and have contagious smiles.
Tonight, this is a party to be at, especially if you are a little kid, front and center.
I thought , at first,the little boy on the band stand was the son of a band member but was later told by Chadd his parents have been bringing him to sing and be on the stage since he was three.
Watching the little boy sing with the band is worth the price of admission, all by itself.
Part of the Albuquerque Botanical Gardens ” River of Lights ” package, for $110.00 per couple, is cleansing souls.
After the train ride, those who participate, write bad memories from the past year on a piece of paper, fold the paper, and toss it into the fire. They also write positive goals for the New Year ahead, on another piece of paper, and toss them into the flames too.
This isn’t as dramatic as the burning of effigies in Cuenca, Ecuador, but it has the same catharsis..
Joan and I throw our goods and bads into the fire and head to the Shark Cafe for dinner.
A big lesson I learned in Belize, is that it is better to eat shark than get eaten by them.
The big task tomorrow is figuring out how to wrap this night up and put it under the Christmas tree.
Sax Rats is our saxophone quartet – two alto saxes, a tenor sax, and a baritone sax.
It is cold this evening as we load into Dan’s van, drive down, set up, begin our first music set at the Holiday Stroll in Old Town, Albuquerque.
” In college, ” Chris tells us, ” I did gigs and made $50.00 a night and was happy to get it ”
” The other day, ” he continues, ” I did a jazz gig and still made fifty. ” he laughs. It is funny, in an unfunny way.
Chadd, my teacher, has a sign on his studio door that describes a musician as a person who will work most of their life to get enough skills to play music in public, play a several thousand dollar instrument, drive a hundred miles to a gig in a six hundred dollar car, spend fifty dollars on drinks, gas, and food out of their own pocket, make seventy five dollars for the night’s gig, and wake up the next morning with a hangover and barely enough money for huevos rancheros..
I expect we will be back at the Holiday Stroll next year.
Latest government stats say the U.S. doesn’t have any inflation.
Pots and pans are on the stove, the table has been set for three, a Butterball Turkey browns in the oven. It took four hours for this bird to cook and slicing it up on the kitchen counter means dinner is close.
Alan, Sherrie, and I have Thanksgiving this year at Alan’s.
At the White House, a Trump turkey is pardoned but White House chefs are in their sparkling kitchens preparing a big feast of beef, ham, salmon fit for a King and Queen. Dignitaries visit America’s White House throughout the year, and, while discussing policy, like to wine and dine as befits their diplomatic positions.
On a turkey’s calendar, November 22 is marked with a huge X and circled for emphasis.
On Thanksgiving, they load their families into their SUV’s, tuck in their feathers, and go to the beach, out of harm’s way.
Next year I’m planning on being there with them.
Seeing turkeys, in bikini’s, is something I just don’t want to miss.