Setting Our New Raccoon Trap

A few days ago I bought a raccoon trap at a farm-supply store in rural Ontario County, where I stood in the line for the cashier behind a man wearing a bright red Make America Great Again hat. 

I was a little surprised as I stepped into the line to suddenly and reflexively feel revulsion toward this otherwise anonymous man. 

It reminded me of the time I was at a Woman’s World Cup soccer game between Germany and Norway in Ottawa, Canada, and I felt a sudden chill when a group of Germans sitting near us sang in out unison about Deutschland. No doubt I was flashing back to World War II films about Hitler, but my involuntary response made me feel a little sheepish. German fans were simply chanting the name of their team, as every national did at the World Cup. I knew that, but my subconscious mind evidently didn’t. Hmm.

The involuntary MAGA hat response, on the other hand, was to something that’s  current, a sign that my Trump revulsion is now hard wired. And I suppose it is. I find nothing persuasive in the “don’t impeach” arguments, no sympathy for supporting a president who digs in his heels while openly flaunting his corruption.

I want to believe he’s digging his heels into sand. But he’s not. The people wearing the MAGA hats are his bedrock, the foundation upon which he stands and from which he pushes back against perceived threats, which often are simply facts and truth. 

Still my revulsion to the man in the MAGA hat is a projection. Maybe he was wearing this hat because his usual John Deere cap got ripped in the shredder. Maybe he’s just a guy who’s tired of our stiff and bureaucratic government and gets a kick out of seeing someone make them uncomfortable. Maybe he’s not really paying attention to the news at all. 

I can relate to that. But whatever his reason for wearing the hat, I hope he awakens to our circumstances soon, because something is shifting beneath our feet. We just don’t know yet whether it’s sand or bedrock. 

In any event, I’ve got a trap now, and I’m determined to catch that varmint. 

Meeting Up With Jon Batiste in the Eastman Lobby

Sometimes the action comes to you. 

We were in the balcony of the Eastman Theatre in Rochester when Late Show With Stephen Colbert Music Director Jon Batiste said his band had one more song to play, and they’ll meet us in the lobby. It was Second Line Time!

Batiste had foreshadowed the band’s offstage mobility in their opening number. Four musicians were onstage—Batiste on piano accompanied by bass, drums and percussion—but wasn’t that a horn we were hearing? When a sax player finally emerged from behind the fold of curtains on stage right, the applause he received was surely for his playing, but also expressed relief that we weren’t crazy—we HAD heard a sax. It kicked off a good show of mostly instrumental jazz. 

But now, the show was ending, and the band was filtering offstage while playing their final number. The players emerged in the audience, snaking around in the front rows, each with a mobile form of their instrument. Even the Cowboy-hatted drummer’s tambourine was still sounding in the house PA system. 

Everyone in the balcony was on their feet, but few were moving, so we slipped behind the people standing in front of their chairs and joined the stream of folks headed to the lobby. Descending the second, final flight of stairs the faint acoustic sound of the band seeped into our awareness, and was suddenly louder than what came through the PA. The band was somewhere in the mass of people swirling about in the lobby. We pushed on until we could move no further, hearing, but not seeing them. I pulled out my phone, shooting video from up high, thinking the camera might capture things I was unable to see live.

Then the seas parted, and sure enough, Batiste emerged perfectly framed in my iPhone. Turns out he’s about my height—not as tall as I expected. They circled up in front of us for a solo or two. By then my wife had her iPhone rolling video as well. What a thrill, to have the band cozy up to us that way.

After a few solos, Batiste led the second line right out the door where they camped on the sidewalk under the Eastman Theatre marquis along Gibbs Street. We followed them. What else could you do? Maybe they would march us to an ice cream store and buy everyone a cone.

Well, that didn’t happen. But we weren’t complaining.