I live downtown. My neighbors are hotels, restaurants, office buildings, churches, hospitals, courthouses, a library, apartment buildings, and bars. One bar, in particular. It has a 4 a.m. liquor license and, from the sound of it, a massive sound system.
I like music. I do. All kinds of music. I even like loud music, occasionally. But the stuff pounding out of that bar in the wee small hours isn’t music. There’s no melody or vocals, no tune or harmony involved. It’s just low, insistent, repetitive, booming bass. The kind you feel in your chest. All weekend, every weekend.
It is summer, after all. Windows are open, doors are open, and sound carries. For many blocks, apparently. When the wind is right and the crowd has flowed onto the sidewalk, the pounding is accompanied by screaming and laughing and whooping and hollering. Nuisance is an understatement.
Calling the police is a complete waste of time. They show up from time to time, step from their patrol cars with lights whirling and flashing, do a slow swagger, and leave. They’re more uniformed attendants than law enforcement.
But last night someone somewhere did something wonderful. Something brilliant. Something glorious and profoundly enjoyable. They drowned out the pounding, monotonous bass with classical music — opera and symphonies and concertos echoed down streets, rang off buildings, and a peaceful calm settled on the city. It was, for want of a better term, mystical.
We were out for our final stroll of the day, the dog and I, when the classical music started around 1:30 a.m.. I stopped mid-stride. I listened. And I dropped my head in awe. I’d read about things like this happening, quiet uprisings of decency, but never imagined I’d find myself in the midst of one. Here. In a rusted, tired city trying to crawl its way back to vibrancy. I was, for a moment, overwhelmed with hope and calm. I thought to myself, if music this glorious, this powerful exists, we’re going to be fine.
To the person or the people who unleashed this magic, a sincere thank you is owed. To me, their eloquent defiance of the thoughtless and selfish was more powerful than all the armies and all the weaponry in the world. It was civilized. A commodity we’re desperately short of in this badly broken country.
Please, don’t surrender, boys and girls. There is hope — still and always.
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