PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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A Moving Scene

 

There is nothing I find more moving in the world than actually picking up and moving. Because when you move, all your stuff gets wrapped in puckered cloth and tied up with miles of plastic tape. And suddenly it’s a fascinating work of art. You come to see that these are not movers clomping through your home, but conceptual artists, and you finally understand Cristo and wonder, hmmm, maybe he started out as a mover.

One thing I’ve learned about moving: lots of stuff gets boxed and then forgotten, until the next move. How do I know this? As it turns out, I’ve moved before. And I will admit that I’ve stood by and watched things get boxed even though I knew full well that I would never take these things out of their dark tombs, until it would be time to move again and therefore time to open the dusty box that arrived all those years ago to see if there’s anything inside of interest. Or simply have it moved again without bothering to look inside.

I’ve seen how boxed items can sit on a shelf for years, decades even, which someone is paying for. Not as a line item per se, but paid-for by virtue of the space that your boxed junk is occupying in a corner of your attic. That space may feel free, but it’s really not. According to a dry-cleaner I went to a few times, “Nothing is free!” The dry cleaner posted this sign because apparently someone had asked her to sew a button on a blouse, but didn’t expect to pay for it.

Well, before you know it, you’re dead and your kids have to hire a guy to come and dispose of all those precious 1940s commonplace wall sconces you were unwilling to part with so they can sell your old cranky house. And after opening boxes and looking at all the rubbish therein, everyone has a good laugh, even the junk removal dude. And then they start to weep bitterly because it turns out that you really were a pretty good guy.

There’s a bad novel in there somewhere.

 

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Spoonerism

I’m trying to remember how many times I’ve seen the band Spoon, and if my mind isn’t playing tricks on me, it’s about 100 times. OK, more like 7. Although Tim, with whom I’ve seen almost every show, claims to remember about 4, which means he is wrong. What about the Esplanade? What about Northampton?

Not to mention the Roxy, where they sold the place out and yet somehow it remained sparsely crowded. Even Britt Daniel scratched his head about that one, noting aloud, “this is sold out?!” I heard afterward that the owners of the Roxy and the city were in some kind of battle, and the city was punishing the club by seriously curtailing the number of tickets that could be sold. I’m almost certainly misinformed about that, but something was up that limited the gate (not demand.)

Here’s the thing about Spoon: they became popular with Gimme Fiction and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, but my two favorite albums are their first and second. (Agreed, that’s not something about Spoon as much as it is something about me.) And unfortunately, they never play songs from those records anymore. Their second album is called A Series of Sneaks, and I have half a mind (or three quarters or maybe even 19/20ths of a mind) to message Britt Daniel and say, “You should do a few shows where you play A Series of Sneaks from beginning to end.” (In my town).

And he’ll laugh with great gusto!

He wouldn’t even play “Quincy Punk Episode” when I saw them at the House of Blues, despite his having heard me yell out for him to do so. I want to see this performed live before I leave this planet:

 

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Crowd Control

It’s summer in New England and your family vacation involves laying around by the pool, taking an occasional dip in a deep and cold Adirondack lake, and enjoying a drink anytime of the day or night. The harsh New England winter and the “spring” that followed (essentially long stretches of cold rain) are long gone; now’s the time for sunscreen, short trousers in the evening, and visits to the Creemee bar. Except it’s 62 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside and raining. Better head to the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT where, for the first time in human history, scientists record the usage of the phrase, “You available for butterfly crowd control?”

Because you can’t go to a butterfly exhibit these days without encountering ruffians. Perfectly peaceful citizens with caterpillaresque demeanors can morph into hooligans after just a few minutes in a butterfly queue. Shirts come off. Fists fly. These people want close-up glimpses of Glasswings, Scarlet Mormons, and Indian Leafwings, so get out of their way.

Your turn: what unusual phrase did you hear on your summer vacation?

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Gappy

Before I figure out what my next move will be, I think I’m going to follow in former Massachusetts state senator George Bachrach’s footsteps and take a gap year. I’ve always wanted to take a gap year. The only thing that’s ever prevented me from doing so is that I need to eat and keep myself clothed.

George Bachrach and I go way back. He ran for the US House of Representatives in 1986, the year I graduated college, but lost to Joe Kennedy and that damnable last name of his. If I’m not conflating several election campaigns, this one was filled with “colorful” (i.e. ridiculous) characters like Clark Abt, Dapper O’Neil, and a Communist whose name I forget. I was at a debate at Boston University during that campaign and, when it was time to take questions from the audience, got in line and actually asked George an entirely pinheaded question. As I recall (hazily, as you might imagine) he was running as a kind of male feminist, and I asked him what he had against men, or something equally stupid. And as he was struggling to answer this nutty softball of mine, some low-level functionary working for another candidate strode by and said, “Did the Kennedy campaign put you up to this?” And for some reason I answered “yes.”

But I actually came up with that stupid question on my own.

That’s how humble I am: even when I come up with perfectly inane questions without any outside help, I’m totally willing to allow someone else to take the credit.

I will say that I have taken gap months before. Just after college, I drove across country until my money ran out, which happened startlingly early, such that my then-girlfriend and I had to drive from Texas back to Massachusetts pretty much without stopping. This is one reason I have never been to New Orleans.

I also spent 3 months with my grandfather up in Canada a couple of years after that, where I wrote an awesome play that won several awards. (Not really – I mean I wrote the play but the few people who read it hated it and ever since then those pages have only been used as scrap paper for grocery and to-do lists.)

Really, for me, gap weekends are where it’s at. I go to work and, by the end of the week, when I’ve accomplished everything there is to accomplish, I start to ponder my next move and usually decide I should have some kind of noticeable gap between the task I’m currently finishing up and the one I’m about to undertake. So a take I couple days off.

I’d keep writing, but it’s time for a gap overnight. See you in the morning.

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