The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday

To Dance the Tarantella
By Mary Jo Bang

There will always be those who wear a felt hat
pulled over their face, a Fra Diav'olo
hiding in the mountains of Calabria, frater in exile,

renegade from the imagined hag, False-faith.
Which Edgar doesn’t have a fiend? A Frateretto
who whispers that Nero lives as a trout in Lake George.

The jackhammer's ratta-tat reenacts
the tarantella, music once thought too frenzied
for the wearied ears of tourists.

But love in any language means
she invited the disturbance into the house;
locked all the doors, the windows, and stayed awake

for the better part of a century
. Where can a person learn
Take me, will you? and the other catchy phrases
one never finds in guidebooks. To dance,

to dance the tarantella. To speak
a language of tongue rolls and lip twists. What sweeter?
Sweet rose. Sweet oleander. Sweet olive tree.

Wherever you are, I am: a jewel in the crown,
a bright cyclopic eye, bound to outstare. To feel the rush
of air, the soft breathe-out, brief as last night’s sleep.

In the afterdance, everyone admits
that what they’ve fallen in love with is mayhem.
Oh you, yes, you. There’s only you and I here.

Take off your felt hat, I beg you.


Besides a having a sick cat and breaking up with my imaginary boyfriend over his anger management issues, I had a quiet Monday. I had to write up a Marina Sirtis interview that was great fun, as Marina often is -- she told stories about Michael Dorn and Patrick Stewart jumping on one another on the set and how one of the early directors refused to come back because the cast was so rowdy -- and I chatted with assorted co-writers about Star Wars, Russell, the Netherlands rejecting the EU constitution, whether one of them would make a better husband for Katie than Tom and whether the planet where Michael Jackson lives is scarier than that planet on The Next Generation where they almost executed Wesley Crusher for stepping in the flowers. Otherwise, my son who had no homework suddenly remembered that his month-long moon-watching science project was due in the morning while my other son came home from a friend's house soaking wet in a water-gun fight. And my cat seems to have recovered but the living room still reeks of rug cleaner.

There were huge thunderstorms after dinner which kept me offline for awhile, and after that I put random things in the DVD player because I was afraid to turn on my computer while there was still lightning...first the "Memorial Day" music video which is on my Prisoners of the Sun DVD that I found in CVS for $7, then Alan Rickman's first scene in Dogma because it rocks so utterly -- his utter disgust at the idea that he'd ever want to have sex -- and then, because I obviously couldn't watch that whole film while my kids were awake, I put on Evita which I'd gotten in the mood to watch during the Tony Awards. Madonna still isn't Patti LuPone as I remember her through the gauzy impressions of my youth, but she does a fine job in that film, as does Antonio Banderas (who isn't Mandy Patinkin but at least he's also not doing pharmaceutical ads), and Jonathan Pryce sings as well as Bob Gunton anyway. I like the version of the book that the film uses: the older one from London, not the Broadway one, where the fact that Che is in love with Eva is so apparent in spite of everything he believes. In that, it is simultaneously the most forceful criticism of politicians-as-celebrities and the most perfect encapsulation of how it works...when Eva sings "Don't Cry For Me," I am hers, no matter what I think of her financial shenanigans five minutes before or after (I don't buy the idea that she can be blamed for Peron's fascist leanings; he had those before he ever met her and it's likely that she kept an agenda for the working poor before him no matter what pressure he was under from the military). Must remember to have a conversation about populism with my kids tomorrow.

Yesterday I promised pictures of Glen Echo Park. This is now an artist's colony with theater, dance and music in addition to a wide array of visual arts, plus a nature center and local historical society, but it was at one time an amusement park with a skyride, miniature golf, roller coaster, etc. Some of the facades have been restored, such as the arcade and the "Cuddle Up" ride, and the carousel was saved from being shipped to California and donated to the park by local citizens, making it the only carousel owned by the National Parks and Planning Commission for the use of park patrons. But much of the amusement park remains in ruins, a reminder of a bygone era, and though the official web sites whitewash much of the official history (so to speak), if you've seen the movie Hairspray then you have seen a somewhat antic version of the park's worst days: Glen Echo was a segregated amusement park, and there were eventually race riots (it certainly wasn't integrated in song and dance as happened in the movie). The amusement park closed in 1968 and although structures that would have become dangerous have been removed, such as the airplane ride struts, there are still ruins from the shooting gallery, swimming pool and various other attractions in varying states of disrepair around the grounds.

The remains of the Crystal Pool, now nearly completely filled with plants.

The hand-carved, hand-painted Dentzel Carousel which arrived at Glen Echo in 1921 and was purchased in the 1960s by local citizens to save it for public use in the park.

The building that houses the carousel, which operates from May to September.

The popcorn stand in the arcade building, which now houses theater and artist-in-residence offices. The part with the towers behind the window houses Adventure Theatre and The Puppet Company.

The picnic area in front of the Spanish Ballroom, packed for the folk festival.

The bumper car pavilion, now empty of bumper cars and housing art shows and classes. In my childhood there were still derelict cars inside.

Glen Echo Amusement Park in 1968, the year the amusement park closed. This image is from a postcard.

Comment on Russell on the local news: "He certainly wasn't master and commander of his temper!" *snerk* Sadly, so true. And the bar across the bottom reads, "Not Crowing About Arrest."

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