EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 30, 2012

Column: ‘Sound of Music’ offers no escape from political realities

The Sunday before Christmas, I could have tried to find a solution to the fiscal cliff situation and emailed it to Washington D.C. — or, I could watch “The Sound of Music”, a four-hour special on ABC.

The movie came out the year after my son was born. I added the record album to my collection of show tunes: “Oklahoma”, “Carousel”, “The Desert Song”, “West Side Story”, and others.

Someone was saying last week that our best Christmas memories aren’t about material things, but about the pleasure of being with family, singing carols, baking cookies. Those are all nice, but my favorite Christmas memory was getting a hi-fi, which I should probably explain to younger readers was the music-playing machine between a simple one-record-at-a-time player and a stereo, which we later created by attaching the hi-fi to a radio with a speaker so that sound came from two directions.

I was in high school, but not too old to get up before dawn to just see what Santa had put under the tree. There, unwrapped: my own hi-fidelity record player, and “Oklahoma”, the first of my musicals! I hadn’t even asked for it, didn’t dream such a gift was possible.

After opening presents we left to spend the day with relatives; I could hardly wait to get home to my hi-fi. Didn’t know then, of course, how I would miss my parents and aunts someday at Christmas. But I do still have my musicals, the latest being ‘Wicked”, which has displaced “Les Miserables” as my favorite: it had displaced “Hair” when I moved from my hippy to my political revolutionary phase.

The message of “Wicked” is to get out of Oz, and live a happy uninvolved life elsewhere. I am trying, just for Christmas week, but politics is intruding more than it usually does during the holidays. Washington is finally admitting what most normal people have known for years, that it is hopelessly out of touch with reality, and therefore unable to function rationally by actually attempting to balance its budget.

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