Quote of the Day:
“I have a lot of opinions and I just want you to know you don’t have to agree with ’em and I ain’t even tryin’ to really change anybody’s mind it’s just that I have a lot opinions and you’ll probably hear a lot of ’em tonight and it ain’t even because I think I’m that smart it’s just that they rhyme.”
—paraphrasing one of Todd Snider’s jokes that he uses in his show
The good ‘ol days are now, no matter when you happen to be ruminatin’ on such matters. At least, that’s how I see the evidence tiltin’ most of the time. But I truly believe one of the things we’ve lost in the modern age is a sense of community. I don’t lay that at anybody’s feet. It seems to me there are just so damn many of us now that we view one another as simply another obstacle or threat to our daily routine. I doubt the ratio of bad people has increased any ever since the days when Cain made it one bad apple out of four; in fact, I think we’ve evolved and lessened that percentage considerably. It’s just that there are so damn many of us, so even if the percentage of villains is down, their sheer numbers are ever-increasing.
That’s why being part of a community beyond our immediate friends and family is so satisfying when it happens. I attribute the popularity of blogs to this, as well as the fanaticism with which some of us identify with our favorite sporting teams. But even those avenues to satisfying our innate longing for community are travelled with a safe mental distance between us and our fellows. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in a true community atmosphere this weekend in Memphis, Tennessee, and in the process, getting to listen to some sweet sweet southern tunage.
The Levitt Shell is an outdoor natural amphitheater on the grounds of Overton Park in Midtown Memphis. Years ago, the venue hosted such acts as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis, all in their heyday. Then for decades the Shell went into disrepair and disuse; until recently, that is, when a group of people came together, raised funds from both locals and local businesses and started staging concerts once again. The concerts are free, though a bucket is passed round each night. They sell beer for four bucks a pop, which I personally find offensive most of the time. But all the profits are recycled back into the concert series so I felt like I was doing a good deed on each of my beer runs. Same for the merchandise and the food. As far as I can tell, nobody is making a buck off these shows from the production standpoint. And they make a concerted and well received effort to encourage people to interact among themselves, a crowd populated by mostly regulars of all ages, races and apparent net worth and a handful of out of towners like TB who came mainly for the music, but ended up being charmed by the community.