I’ve been coming down town since I was three. I ‘ve been frequenting downtown, nearly daily ( at least during a school semesters, since I was a freshman at North High School in the late 60’s. I’ve been working downtown, daily, since 1998. Yesterday a friend met me downtown and showed me his new camera, which was about the size of a large MP3 player. As it was so portable, I thought that the device would come in handy for those many moments, when some spontaneous and interesting thing happens, and I find myself cursing myself because I don’t have a camera on me. It was a nice visit.
Not everyday downtown is pleasant, however, today was even more special, unique and even magical.
Leaving the parking lot, on my way into work this morning, I heard the faint sound of the Ramones buzzing out of someone’s earphones. Cool, I thought, I turned to look at where the music was emanating from and it was an old friend who goes by the name Tom Cat. We chatted about the Ramones, about the recording buisness, about a reggae project and also how many people mistake him, usually because of his older hippie look, to be a “Dead-head”. We had some laughs and continued to talk about music and poetry. Before I knew it, all of a sudden, he was rendering his poems to me. Two stunning and amazing works. Without loosing a beat. World class. I couldn’t help but feel up lifted and exceptionally privileged for the private performance.
One of the reasons I think I continue to stay in Worcester and work in the public access movement is because of the unique talent I come into contact with and those types of moments like this morning. For my experience, Tom Cat is what makes Worcester special. I am sure there are other Tom Cats in other cities. The point is, it is the unique individuals, collectively, the Toms Cats, we share our sidewalks with, sharing their voices, talents, gifts and fresh ideas in simple and direct ways, that can make a city vibrant, and special. I believe, that for the average person, “quality of life” in a city is not found in the building construction project, parking lots, the corporate deals, government programs, development projects, or trite public events. Quality of life comes through the people. Revealing, in a charitable way, their talent, the compassion of offering someone a glass of water on a hot day, being helpful for no reason other than to be helpful. Something than can easily be lost and discouraged through the wrong kinds of legislation, the failure to put people first, and bad leadership decisions.
I have much to be thankful for. Family, Friends, art/music and work. This morning however, I am thankful for Tom’s poetry.