RAVE: Two words: Summer’s End. (Full disclosure - I am on the board of the Summer Arts and Festival Association (SAFO), the non-profit group who puts on this annual shindig).
If you don’t go to this amazing free concert commemorating the end of summer, you are truly missing out on one of the best things about living in our town. It is community gathering in the best meaning of the phrase. Well, all except for that over-caffienated woman who rudely demanded that I and another friend sit down as we were blocking her view. She was completely right, but there is a way to talk to people that makes them feel kindly and loving towards complying with your requests and she clearly hasn’t mastered it (hint: you use words like “please” and “thank you”). But most everyone is pleasant and happy to reconnect after the summer, sharing picnic dinners and catching up on news. It is one of the few events in East Greenwich where people of all ages and backgrounds come together.
What makes the concert even more special is the way it celebrates the talents of our town. The pre-concert is a showcase of local talent, including our own Varnum Color Guard presenting the colors, town-resident newscasters Gene Valicente and Ken Bell as dueling MCs, a stiltwalking clown, a juggler and a unicycler (ok, more full disclosure - two of those were my kids and the other was their close friend) leading the children’s parade (that’s right, there is a children’s parade - how Mayberry RFD is that?) and a slew of home-grown nightingales (such as The Hurricanes, Harold Ambler, The Three Amigos and The Lost Arts). The evening finishes with a polished performance by the Newport-based U.S. Navy Band Northeast Pop Ensemble. Hooya!
I also recently heard that Summer’s End is a coming of age for many of our kids - they have their first experience of being separated and lost from their parents, their first big concert (minus the moshing - though with a special appearance of Alex and Ani’s group The Colour of London, I thought we might have a bit of stage diving), their first first kiss and many of the other firsts that come with growing up.
But this may be my last opportunity to rave about Summer’s End. There is a very real possibility that there will be no concert next year. Since the recession, economic setback or whatever you want to call it, donations have been going down - patron as well as corporate. Community events like these - the very things that make our town so very special to live in (and, by and by, have a happy ripple effect on property values) - need more than the dedication of a hardworking board or even a high attendance to survive. They need financial commitment. If you gave, a huge and heartfelt thank you. If you didn’t and want the music to keep on playing, then it is time to step up. Summer’s End needs you. Here’s the link: http://egsummersend.org/about-ussafo.html.
RANT: I am not one to bite the hands that feeds me, but Patch, really? I know that AOL is having financial difficulty with figuring out how to make these local news sites pay for themselves. But I can do without mornings like the one I had Friday.
(Newly minted) fifteen year-old son: “Mom! Have you seen Patch today?”
Me: “Jazz, get off your Ipad! You have to get ready for school!”
Son: “Mom, just come here and look at this for a minute.”
Me: Angry sigh. “OK, what is it?”
Well, gentle reader, “It” was a near-naked girl in an ad for frankly I don’t know what because I didn’t care. Now I am no prude and I am also part of “The Industry” (media, that is, not near naked girls), so I understand as well as anyone that the media business is struggling to figure out how to remain economically viable in these days of all news everywhere anytime for free. I hate the inserts that come in The Phoenix - but at least I can remove those before they come into my house. I can’t monitor the ad shots that pop up online. I get that if I type in something along the lines of “chick” and “sex” - which I have done when wondering if the one of my hens was a secret transgender - that I may end up with something a lot more salacious. I accept this in the same way that I accept if I idly check the price of Uggs, I will be inundated with every variety of Ugg shot ads for the next week. But this seems to be just a general slew of ads under the guise of news that the “new and improved” Patch features. Here is the link if you must: https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=87719b039f&view=att&th=140d676ac071c748&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_KOp7dd0XM2kP7hWnCqA2M&sadet=1378146378811&sads=68F5Sebuo3f0EIN027yVdAPMQBY
Now I think Elizabeth McNamara has done a superhero job of making our Patch one of the best in the country. I have had friends from Brooklyn, Montclaire, NJ, and Seattle say how much better it is than what is produced in their areas. But I want to be able to trust my community paper - even if it is online - to be a wholesome source of news. Is that too much to ask?