Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Diverse Diversions

[Here at mwbh we want to give a shout out to all the Mark Shea readers who are joining our little party. The item you are looking for is halfway through this piece. You know how to scroll, don't you?]

The Folklore Society of Greater Washington has produced the Washington Folk Festival since the early- or mid-1970s. (It says it is the “29th annual” festival, but they haven’t had it every year, so there ya go...) I used to go on occasion when I first moved here, but I never had anything to do with it. Then in 1992, I became editor/designer for the program guide. I've been involved with the annual event ever since.

By the time he was about ten, my son Paul would hand out programs or be a stage hand. By fourteen, he was running a sixteen-track sound board. I really liked watching that part of it. And they have been the best volunteer group in the world with which to work. No political harangues, no egotistical nonsense, just ordinary people dedicated to a common cause. It is such a rare thing in volunteer work, I simply cannot bear to leave it behind.

I had not visited the festival itself for two or three years, so I stayed around this time. You won't see me in the video clip, but you will see a Romanian folk dance called “Rustemul” (pronounced ROOS-teh-mule, or roo-STEH-moo, depending on whom you ask), a word that means “the Russian.” I used to love this dance, and I had not done it in at least twelve years.

Just like riding a bike.

While I was doing that, Paul had other ideas. He went to New York City to compete in the US Air Guitar Championship. “Rookie Sanjar the Destroyer took second place (34.4), only half a point ahead of third runnerup Fender Splendor (aka Paul Alexander).” Now, the scene in the video clip is not for everybody, but my family found it most amusing. You would never know that as a senior in high school, he read Plato's Republic, and has since read Alexis de Tocqueville and Leo Tolstoy, all for his own amusement. And among the favorite books listed on his MySpace page, is the Summa Theologicae.

Meanwhile, a young man of twenty-three is often engaged in what the old folks would call “high spirits.” I’m just thankful he learned to play the real (bass) guitar I got him for Christmas in ’07. Whatever keeps him out of real trouble is okay with me.

What can I say, the kid still cracks me up.

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