Made an offer I couldn’t refuse, spent two weeks, June 9 to 25th, with Marcella on the US East Coast, hosted by a long time friend, Charles Lyman (since 70’s). First at an old New England sprawling 15+ bedroom old house outside Wareham, Mass., overlooking Buzzard’s Bay, which separates Cape Cod from Rhode Island. Had nearly a week there, kicked back, minimal net access, almost relieved from the social mayhem happening out in “the real world.” Then we packed up to go up north to a small private island located off the coast of Maine, near Bangor. Got as far as Brunswick before a simmering problem caused a U-turn back to Boston. [Was a matter another person casting a black cloud over things courtesy of a complex relationship with our host and alcoholism.]
Tucked in a little forest of Lyme’s disease tick-laden foliage we dodged that bullet – none to be found on us for the week. Enjoyed a laid back time of doing little, chit chat, and trying to absorb something of the old New England vibe of a huge family summer house, and all the things implicit: boats, seashore, old-line connections and sensibilities. Far from my American roots, and interesting for me to try to fathom. Our host, invited in part apparently with intentions of shooting some material of me, though we spent way less than an hour doing that (thankfully). Instead we got a casual dose of his family history, old family photos, and a haphazard glance into a once-life. Interesting.
Wareham and the nearby area were classic rural small-town USA, East Coast style, and like its parallels across the nation, a bit run-down unless a hot-shot tourist magnet. We did a little jaunt to visit friends near Woods Hole, on the Cape, and another to New Bedford and its whaling museum. Lazy days.
Friend Charles shifted plans a touch, and instead of heading up north to Maine on a Thursday, things delayed to Sunday, which began to chop our trip into pieces. Meantime a close friend of his, a regular in his life, became problematic with alcohol and maybe other psychological things, alienating Marcella. This prompted a bit of guru Zen Jon, suggesting she just let it fly by and not bother her. Boomerang properly came the day after we left Wareham, driving up to Brunswick Maine, a one-night stop-over enroute to Sutton Island. There staying in a lovely New England coastal home, this one of the famed New England Cabot family, from which Charles’ wife comes. Lovely place and setting, full of art. There our companion in this setting disrupted things in the morning, blowing my trip-wire, and I talked with my friend saying neither I nor Marcella relished 4 days on an isolated island with this potential negative element ready to intrude at any moment. He concurred, and we took the next train south to Boston. Sorry not to have visited this island, and if life permits, hope another chance arises to spend a week or maybe more there, in solitude perhaps.
Charles LymanKenneth Noland print
In Boston, stayed with cousin Holly on Beacon Hill. Couldn’t ask for a nicer location there, or a nicer host. Nosed a bit around the city, bumping into a demonstration on the Commons. A pathetic turn-out of 20 or so, chanting anti-Trump immigration stuff, reminding me of 50 years ago, the summer of 1968, and the chants done then: “Hey hey, ho ho, LBJ has got to go” and so on. Way back then in a very serious way “we” – me and my fellow confused socialists or whatever each person thought they were (not very coherent, to be honest) – lost and lost seriously. We were as nothing against the building corporate militarist state that had taken form. Now it runs the show and verges towards outright State Fascism. So passing this gaggle of protestors sent a chill through my soul.
Likewise the deluge of Trump Era news seems to have swamped the national psyche, also chilling my soul. The news repeatedly suggests the nation is headed towards some kind of denouement, whether a blunter police state, yep, Fascism some American-style, or a break down of civil order. Or given the small crowds my skeptical mind imagines a capitulation along the lines of the good German burghers of the 30’s, heads ducked hoping to stay out of the fray. There’s already ready-made Brownshirts about, eager for Our Great Leader to just give them (further) nods. Charlottesville. The other day in laid back hipster heaven Portland OR. there were street battles, with echos of Weimar where there were fights between Adolf’s forces and communists, leading shortly to… Well, you should know the history.
While in Boston saw a few friends, among them my old prison buddy Bill Cunningham, who has spent a life as a community organizer, and studied local housing in Cambridge, and is working now on a book about that issue. We had a great time hanging with him – full of information, a wicked wit, and just a pleasure to spend time with.
As a wrap up for our trip Marcella and I had a long day at Boston’s Museum of Fine Art, slowly taking in their collection, a welcome respite from the swirl of political ugliness which has enveloped the country. Though I know only too well that art is no refuge from reality.
And yet, stepping outside, we entered again the toxic atmosphere of America in these times, and frankly I was relieved to be headed far away, even if the bloated importance of my nation necessarily follows where ever one goes.