Monday, January 16, 2012

An Off Day On

Every year I'm blindsided by the arrival of the MLK Jr. holiday, which makes no sense as it's a very big deal at the public school I've been a parent at for going on ten years.  In fact, it's the only holiday they celebrate and do so with gusto:  Every year, there is at least a 2.5 hours performance held in the evening where every class in the school acknowledges the issue of civil rights in some fashion:  play, song, slideshow, etc.  There are always quotes from Dr. King woven in, as well as a finale and warm and emphatic greetings from the school's principal who consciously founded the school around the ideals that Dr. King lived and died for.

So why am I always scrambling the morning of trying to find an act of service for the family to engage in, because that's what MLK Jr. Day officially is now, yes?   And why is this always so difficult:  Most of the events seem to be held in New Jersey, the Bronx, or the nether reaches of Brooklyn (places that seem to daunting to access during in typically frigid weather), and I never seem to be able to plan far ahead (because maybe King's birthday falls so soon after the holidays?) to create something from scratch.

So this morning, we listened to the King-related broadcast on the public radio station WNYC (I would link this, but html links don't seem to be working here anymore), and finished watching the Fonda/Parton/Tomlin vehicle 9 to 5, which we started last night.  (More twisted and violent than I thought it would be, its theme is decidedly King-like:  refusing to accept a sexist boss and the resultant unjust working conditions.  Lara also recently wrote about it.)  Then one kid of mine and I headed over to our neighborhood's local non-profit radical lefty volunteer-run bookstore to hang out and drink warm beverages.  (It's been frigidly cold for the past couple of days.)  Along the way, I picked up a few handfuls and deposited it in the appropriate receptacles.

Not the most ideal day, but we did what we could.  Lara (read below!)  pulled today off far better than I did.

Pointed the camera at the ceiling at Bluestockings Cafe and Activist Center
Speaking of which, I often used to listen to Phil Schaap, "one of the world's leading jazz historians," on MLK Jr. Day.  A deejay at Columbia University's station, he always emphasized that today always should be regarded, not as a day off, but as a "day on."  What Phil doesn't know is that I'm trying to treat every day of 2012 that way.  But some days go better than others.

What did you do today?  Give me some ideas for next year!


  1. well, i love the party our friends throw every year, complete with soul food, a civil rights quiz with prizes, and readings and songs re: civil rights. maybe you need to throw a party? i would be too daunted to go somewhere far away in the cold january, and too exhausted after the holidays. i only do it cause it's easy, truth be told. and me and c. tied for first place in the quiz tonight. thrilling.

  2. but, it was a great idea to go to bluestockings!!!!