This evening I went to the wedding of one of my young co-workers. The church that Derek and his bride were married in was small and few people were invited to the ceremony, as I was not. The hall they rented for the reception is in the area we call “Downriver,” the area along the Detroit River as it flows toward Lake Erie. Of course we’re talking only about the US side of the river; I don’t know what Canadians call their Downriver. But then this place was at least 5 or 6 miles from the river, in Brownstown Township, where 30 years ago I drove by prosperous sod farms and nurseries taking advantage of the black, alluvial soil, the sediment from the bottom of Lake Maumee, Lake Erie’s pre-Ice Age grandma. Now the agricultural vestiges are scattered among the beige subdivisions populated by blue-collar refugees from the deteriorating inner suburbs. I’m making it sound soulless, but I’m sure it’s a good life for lots of families. You can see in this photo from outside the wedding, how flat this country is. What else do you notice that you might not see in other parts of the country? See any foreign vehicles? (Don’t tell anybody my VW is stashed in the back somewhere. At least it’s union made)
I went back inside. I knew no one but my four male inspector colleagues, only one of whom had managed to persuade his wife to attend. She was pretty good humored, normally surrounded by males anyway, the hubby and 2 teenage sons.It was pretty much a blue collar event. But fun. I danced the shuffle once with a bunch of much younger people.
I felt old when I learned that the groom’s mother, the best dancer at this shindig, is about 15 years younger than I am.
Then, what a weekend! I got a minimal amount of gardening done, then instead of trying to buy my neighbor’s lawnmower, so that my grass wouldn’t continue growing until it reaches the point, in not many hours from now, when it needs a scythe rather than a mower; instead of that I dug out my most presentable (almost) sun hat, because I was determined to finally spend an hour or so at the famous Water Hill Music Festival. http://waterhill.org
There’s a neighborhood within walking distance (uphill) from downtown Ann Arbor, where ta lot of musicians happened to live, and somehow a few years back they developed a tradition of front porch performances on the first Sunday in May. Word got around, and people from outside the neighborhood started coming to listen and perform. An informal organization formed and the cops decided they would not get too bothered about the streets being blocked by the crowds, as long as the “organizers” agreed to keep the whole thing quite brief, noon to 6 PM on one day a year. I’ve heard for several years that the event was worth hearing and seeing, but this time I decided to get there.Having been warned not to try to park anywhere near, I left the car near the train station and walked up the hill, around 4:45 as many people were coming down. I just followed the sounds and the crowds. The first gathering was in front of a house with some guys playing bluegrass on a lawn.
I listened for a couple songs, spoke briefly to someone I knew and moseyed along up Spring Street, where “In the Jungle the Mighty Jungle the Lion Sleeps Tonight” reached my ears, sung by a chorus. As I approached the front lawn I beheld- a ukulele band! ‘Nuf said.
It was fun but not inspiring. I left after the next song: If you like a ukulele lady, Ukulele Lady like a you.
As I rounded the corner and headed back down Miner Street I heard some funky electric beats and found a band fronted by a young female singer, playing under a carport. Neighbors were traipsing down the steps with beer and wine, the first alcohol I had seen.
I had heard that not drinking in the streets has been one of the conditions of the thing continuing. This band was pretty good, but did not look like they played together much before this.
As I continued my stroll I saw scores of little lawn signs announcing gigs that had already taken place, like this one:
And stared briefly at a large crowd having a great time dancing to Tango music without dancing the Tango:
I finally got back to the edge of downtown, drawing closer to a complex cascade of rhythms that I discovered was coming from several drummers set up in front of a building that was still a few steps away from being remodeled. ( I vaguely recall it having once been an auto service garage. It’s soon to be a medical marijuana dispensary, I was told.)
Fortunately, there is no video of me dancing.