It is self-evident this community uses summer to celebrate and convene, given the typical obstacles to assembly in winter. This summer is somehow different, though as convivial as any, and with the proper squint, has something of a Rod Serling feel to it.
“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” That’s how Serling introduced his weekly television program (the narration changed from year to year), and somehow the little things about Ken-Ton in the summer, life this summer, have that roller coaster feel to it, awaiting the famous trick ending of his groundbreaking old television show.
We know more about the Higgs Boson than we knew last month. Physicists cried with delight, yet no religious official offered an opinion (in my observation) on the confirmation of the so-called “God Particle.” Churches are sturdier than they seem; acts of assault from without and self-destruction from within may be shaking them, but slowly and grindingly. Same with the religion of football at Penn State.
The winter here was practically tropical. So is the summer. Food is burning in the fields. Before the 99 percenters decide for whom to vote, the optimistic underachiever or the corporate raider with wealthy friends, it’s time to party.
That’s what we do out here in the summer, we party.
A free concert is available on government land, somewhere in Western New York, practically every evening of the summer. Canalside, the harbor, Artpark, convocations of the families whose households lost 39 percent of their net worth between 2007 and 2010 and hence are in no position to spend their way out of the current economic recession. Anyone going to Europe this summer? I have friends who are moving to Europe, where they’ll likely encounter unemployment, austerity and rage on a scale we hardly recognize here.
I encounter traffic jams these days, and for good reason: people are getting together, filling their vehicles with $3.50/gallon gas and going off in search of some conviviality. Driving through North Buffalo last week, Delaware Avenue was clogged by patrons of the Italian Festival, looking for a place to park. Further up the road, Delaware was closed for a car show, an informal convention of those who rebuild cars in their backyards and those who admire the handiwork. Tuesday this week, the parking spaces of Kenmore were filled with the cars of those attending the gardening seminars on the Village Green and the first of the weekly children’s concerts a few hundred feet up the road. (It was a jazz quartet and vocalist this week, so the tots got their first taste of Billie Holliday — I hope it’s not their last).
Drive further north and it’s Canal Fest in the Tonawandas. Man, these people like to get together. I’m reminded of peasant communities celebrated in movies and opera; life is tough, work is hard, the sun is hot, overseers are cruel and uncaring, but when the moment is right to party, party with abandon.
Pretty much everyone in America has had his or life shaped, at least in part, by television and its unattainable ideals, and the earlier one notices the aspirational aspects of TV are not to be believed, the better off he or she likely is.
At my advanced stage of the game I’m observing the collapse of things I once believed in, or was supposed to believe in, with a certain smug satisfaction. I was raised on “The Twilight Zone” (1959-1964, and in rerun), so I’m prepared to enter realms in which nothing is as it seems, little is to be trusted and a convoluted and surprise ending to every situation is expected.
What I have not figured out is whether we’re living in a dystopian era, a repressed and controlled state masquerading as a utopia, or just entering one. Does it get worse from here, or better? Do we surmount our problems, deny them, submit to them or walk away realizing they weren’t really problems at all?
No one seems to talk politics at our parties this summer. Evasive action, or a true measure of how important politics are? The only worries I hear expressed concern the cost of things: gasoline, back-to-school supplies, medical care for parents and grandparents.
There is an irony in something we often hear at these concerts, the blues band; if you’re feeling low, listen to some blues and you’ll somehow feel better. Learn to expect irony and plot twists. You’ll get through life more easily.
Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at
Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.