Saturday, April 11, 2036
The Boy on Tour
Got another letter from The Boy. Sounds like good news:
Hey. I got a new job now. We were about finished digging up this [stuff] anyway.
I was playing in the bar last week, and some people came in that nobody knew. One of them talked to me after I finished my gig, and he said they were part of a traveling chautauqua troop that's supposed to go around the refugee camps and cheer them up or something. He wanted to know if I was interested in going with them, playing music some nights and helping with their plays, and I said sure. It's a little money, but I get to play my own music once a week, and backup the other acts twice a week, then do stagehand work the rest of the time. I guess Serena knows how those things work, if I don't hook up with the manager I should be OK, hahaha. (Don't tell her I said that.) So I'm moving around a lot, I'll try to keep in touch. We're at the camp between Florence and Darlington this week, then we're going up to Fayetteville NC and I guess we'll keep working north as it gets closer to summer. They wouldn’t believe Serena’s my adopted sister, but they hope she’ll send them something new if she has anything.
Damn but it was cold this winter. I'm glad the warm weather is finally getting here.
But anyway, I got to play my first concert last night and people liked it I guess. I played I Opted Out Today and a lot of people laughed, but one of the other musicians said that song was risky and be careful next time. Whatever. I guess death country would be a bad idea, no BFE songs hahaha. We did some play this evening, I helped backstage. I'll be playing backup tomorrow.
I'm working on a set of songs for the Optout Beach album. Cal (the drummer) told me that a lot of people who play in the chautauquas put up albums for download, and it's a good way to make a little extra money. People who like your music will buy the album, I guess that makes sense. I remember you guys buying a couple of CDs from bands who played in a restaurant when I was a kid, so this is like that.
I think I'll tour with the chautauqua through the summer, and maybe buy that train ticket to California when it starts getting cold again. I heard they're not getting the cold weather there like we did here too. Maybe if I get people to download my CD, I'll have a concert on the beach in LA. That would be cool.
Dreams long deferred… I’m glad he’s finally getting to try out the life of a professional musician, even if it’s not quite what he’d envisioned 30 years ago. I ought to bring up the “rock star” concept in history class… and connect it to the “Great American Novelist” concept of the generation before mine. Maybe Steinbeck isn’t all that widely read nowadays, but you’d probably find more people who at least recognize his name than Bono or Alice Cooper (even if they’d heard the music but not read the books).
I told The Boy about our visit from the “news” people, and told him to keep an eye out for anything like that. He told me that a lot of refugees were telling the chautauqua troupe that they had heard they wouldn’t be welcome in the nearby towns already, but hadn’t seen news crews or anything like that. He also said some of the refugees are giving him ideas for songs about life in the camps… he sent me some lyrics, and I thought some of them could work as death country. It sounds like there’s some serious undercurrent of discontent. Disappointing, but not surprising, really… I guess maybe 20% (if that) of refugees got settled into new homes like ours, maybe another 10-20% got government housing, so easily half (and maybe 2/3) of the refugees are living in camps. I might have to have a powwow with the community soon, to see if there’s any way we can make room for some more people here — I guess even a straw-bale house might be preferable to a FEMA trailer, when it comes right down to it, as long as they know what to expect. Around the turn of the century, the county population was about what it was in 1900… and I know we lost a lot of people in the exurban subdivisions since then.
With the technology (sustainable!!!) we have now, we should be able to support a few more people in the county than we have at the moment. Or if they know how to farm, maybe a land grant out in the granary states might be the thing to do. We propped up the big agribusiness concerns long after they became a drag on the nation… now that they’re breaking up, maybe we should just give the plots to people who are interested in living with the land instead of on it. There’s really no reason why so many displaced coastal residents are still living in camps, especially when the West Coast exodus hasn’t even started yet. One analyst figures 3–4 million people might be affected before this is over… but that’s not even 2% of the total population. If one home in 50 would open their doors, and that’s not counting unoccupied houses, there wouldn’t be any camps. It’s ridiculous.