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Saturday, November 29, 2014
A kid goes to camp
Listening to:Queen, Jazz
Reading:Daddy, What's the Middle Class?
Weather:21, a few inches of snow on the ground
I was lucky enough to get to go to camp when I was a kid. I think I was about 12 yrs old when I went to Appel Farm in rural southern Jersey for 3 weeks. It was a performing arts camp, all about music, theater, dance. But it was on a farm, so there was fresh food growing and our bunks were old converted chicken coops and whatnot.

The counselors were from all over, Ghana, Australia, UK, etc. The kids were mostly jews from NYC and Philly. It was totally fucking awesome.

I spent my days learning jazz theory and improv from Lenny Liebman with a small group of musicians and my nights with my 8 or 10 slightly-older boycrazy bunkmates. They were worldly in an urban way. They knew enough to ignore the "don't bring anything to camp that requires electricity" rule. I was the token suburban WASP who wished the savvy chick who sneaked in a tapedeck had thought to bring more than 2 tapes. The blowdryer I could easily live without.

I still have the small dark blue trunk my mom bought me to pack my campstuff in, it's upstairs in my guestroom holding a couple of old wool blankets that I haven't trotted out in a couple of decades. Probably mothfood by now. Hopefully my grandkids never pushed the big latch shut, I have no idea where the key is.

Quantumleap back to the present, a team of my atheist buddies decided to try to raise $ to send a WV kid to Camp Quest, a weeklong sleepaway secular camp. While drafting the appeal I started this nostalgic mindtrip about the whole camp thing. Of course we had no internet back in 1978 or 1979 so we couldn't friend each other on the social web after camp or cyberstalk the cute boys or whatever. But we can do something like that now, if we remember enough to google.

I remember crushing on the sax player who riffed for hours over my piano rhythm from Herbie Hancock's Chameleon. He was from Teaneck. A few years older than me. He seemed like a fantastic player to me, what the fuck did I know, I was 12. Maybe he really was great, though. Remind me to bust out the Head Hunters album and see if it still sounds frickin awesome to me, too. Anyway, saxman's name was Ibrahim Tyner. We called him Abe. A quick google reveals that he died in 1999. Not much else. If he was a great sax player there's no evidence of that on the worldwideweb. Except this post. I wonder if he had kids? Became an insurance man? Got murdered? What happened to my sweet fellow camper from Teaneck who died at 36?

I also remember Injun Joe from camp. He was a counselor and fiddle player from India. Dot not feather. He was also a little bit creepy, liked to put his arm around you as you walked to rehearsal and feel you up a little. Yeah, if you were ever a 12 yr old girl you probably know exactly what I'm talking about, it's everyfrickinwhere. It wasn't all that serious, didn't put me in therapy or anything. My bunkmates eventually warned me about him and encouraged me to grab a buddy to go to rehearsal with. Buddy system, always good advice.

----Time Out----Just had to grab my guitar and pick along to Dreamers Ball. The Queen album Jazz is definitely a soundtrack to this time period for me, I was obsessed with Queen in the late 1970's, while apparently the guy who would be my college boyfriend was similarly obsessed with the Clash. But that's a whole 'nother Oprah. ----Time In----

So what were the two tapes? Of course I freakin remember, how could I forget? Blondie Parallel Lines (One Way or Another I'm gonna smash the fuck out of this tape. . . ) and the soundtrack from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me, you dirty old indian man. . . .). Yes, I know Blondie was new wave, not punk, but that 3 weeks pretty much pushed me far away from that whole corner of the musical world until 1984 when reintroduced by, you guessed it, a cute boy.

Well, I suppose if we get enough donations to send a kid to camp he or she might look back 35 years later wistfully, google or send a drone out to spy on the camp crush or whatever the kids are doing in 2049, maybe write a blog post about it. However it goes, hopefully the camper will have a fat stack of fineass memories of the experience to enjoy on Thanksgiving, like me.

permalink posted by cat 8:28 AM

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A kid goes to camp