It’s the end of September and the rich palette of our neighborhood is coming into full bloom before it all dies. This is a beautiful time in our part of the world. The rich reds and browns are accented with bursts of gold and yellow. The texture of the burrs and desiccating pods are brittle and sharp and all the dry life rattles in the wind.
I got to see live music outside the other night. Peter Mulvey at The Barn in Egremont. After October this won’t happen so we savored it. Peter is a Milwaukee kid who cut his musical teeth in the subways of Boston, usually Davis Square in Somerville so I never got to see him, never having a reason to be there and living in East Somerville, from where there is no good way to get to West Somerville.
Regardless, I saw him from time to time at open mics and Tiffany and I opened for him down in Plymouth once. He is an excellent guitarist and has the gift of gab, able to relate well to his audience, a must for a busker.
I was busking at the same time, usually in Harvard Square or Park St. It was hard for me; was not comfortable joshing with the crowd. I didn’t have any self confidence and was usually very nervous. I’m the same way now but I hide it better.
I had a song I’d written called OJ In White Car about the infamous slow speed Bronco chase we all watched on TV in ‘94. I had written it before the trial had even happened. It wasn’t anti-OJ, in fact at the time I felt a little bad for him, not knowing what was even happening yet.
I was playing it in Harvard Square on morning and a Black kid walked by and got pretty pissed off. “Lay off the Juice” he yelled. I told him to listen to the song, it wasn’t critical but he wasn’t having it. I was just some white guy assuming the black guy was guilty.
A year and a half later when the verdict came in and he was acquitted, I was working in a hospital in the South End. I remember it was lunch and all the Black staff had gathered around a TV in the lobby and they cheered when they heard the news. From the shouts I could tell that for many, this was a rare vindication of their racial and cultural identity. It is interesting that to this day, I have yet to meet a white person who doesn’t think he was guilty.