Next Monday marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, the year’s longest astronomical day. It’s also the date of a global celebration, Make Music Day. “Launched in 1982 in France as the Fête de la Musique, it is now held on the same day in more than 1,000 cities in 120 countries,” the promo says.
But not in Raleigh. At least not officially.
That’s part of the problem. The celebration is mostly spontaneous. Anyone who wants to make music-like noise can join one of the thousands of events. But if you want to have an officially acknowledged MMD location, well, there’s some hoops. No one in Raleigh has jumped through them. Folks in Charlotte have.
The Raleigh Uke Jam has participated a few times — twice at Maus Piano Company. Once in downtown Cary. Once in our usual jamming space.
This year will be different.
I’ll talk more about it Wednesday.
For now, let’s consult the experts about solstice celebrations.
What I’m reading/hearing
• On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King. My friend and former colleague John Trump can’t say enough good things about this. He’s right. I got the e-book from the library this weekend and, as they say, have a hard time putting it down. Unlike other excellent writing guides — Zinsser; Strunk and White; Harold Evans’ Do I Make Myself Clear? — On Writing opens as a memoir, sporadic recollections of his life, including some of the events that inspired his work. It’s highlighted by the call from his publisher telling him the paperback rights for Carrie were sold for $400,000. King was teaching high school English. He, his wife, and kids lived in a ramshackle four-room apartment. He was an alcoholic and about to become a drug addict. The chemical haze erased memories of some of his successful early works, including Cujo. “I like that book. I wish I could remember enjoying the good parts as I put them down on the page.”
King tells his life story as a story. You’ll learn as much about writing readable prose in those early chapters than you might in a stack of textbooks. Then he gets to vocabulary, grammar, structure, etc. Pay attention. (I’m still reading.)
• “Say His Name: James Cates,” by Valerie Foushee and Nate Davis, The Assembly. I spent four years at UNC-Chapel Hill. I worked for the better part of a decade in Chapel Hill after graduating. I’d never heard of James Cates — murdered in the middle of campus by a white biker gang 50 years ago — until I read this stirring piece by his cousins. They recount the indifference of local police and university officials about the murder, and the campaign they’re leading to urge the university and the town to pay a modest tribute to his life.
• The Dispatch podcasts. Nothing unusual there. I try to keep up with all of them. Next in the queue is the fourth episode of Chris Stirewalt’s “The Hangover,” an autopsy of the 2020 election from a GOP perspective. Fascinating guests. He’s conducting the autopsy because the Republican Party seems to have no interest in doing its own. I try to keep politics off this site, but if you think our democratic system is stronger with two healthy parties — Stirewalt argues the Democrats are half-healthy, while the GOP may be in a medically induced coma — it’s entertaining and worth your time.
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