Culture vulture

Photo Illustration by C. Owsley Rain

Party of providence
Somewhere long ago Culture Vulture read a folk tale about a traveler who was wandering in foreign lands. Most of the details of the narrative escape us, but the part that sticks in our mind is that at a certain point our wanderer, who perhaps was a bit down on his luck, arrived at a town that was celebrating a festival in which all the local inhabitants came together for a day of feasting and rejoicing in the bounty of the area where they lived. Everyone from the lowliest, most poverty-stricken peasant to the loftiest nobles and richest merchants gathered together in the town square, all bringing whatever they could afford to add to the feast and welcoming everyone to partake with them. The celebration was tremendous, with everyone eating their fill and enjoying the communal festivities.

At some point one of the townspeople approached our wanderer and, filled to the brim with food, wine and good cheer, said to him, “Well, my friend, I see that you are not from these parts. Tell me, please, what do you think of our festival?”

The traveler, himself filled to overflowing with the milk of human kindness, proclaimed, “Truly, this is the most wonderful celebration I have ever seen. When I return to my homeland, I’m going to go to the leaders of my town and tell them all about it and suggest that we have a celebration like this every day!”

Worldwide disaster party
Whenever there is a huge natural disaster or tragic accident, it seems as if the news media are filled with stories of heroic efforts that strangers rise to in order to help victims less fortunate than themselves. Donations of food, clothing and shelter are donated and shipped in from all over; medical supplies and treatment are flown in; and people of all sorts donate time to helping restore order to the devastated area and bring comfort to the victims of the disaster.

Culture Vulture can’t help but wonder what would happen if the entire world were treated for one day as the greatest accidental disaster conceivable. Suddenly everyone who is hungry, or in pain, or lacking a place to sleep or bathe, or in need of medical care or psychological solace or simply the comfort of having another person recognize their difficulties, could be treated for one day with the tenderness shown disaster victims. And all those who are capable of kindness and generosity but don’t know how or where to channel their compassion would have a sanctioned outlet for their charitable feelings. That would be some party.

Songs of work and celebration
1. “High on a Mountain,” Loretta Lynn

2. “The Millionaire’s Holiday,” Combustible Edison

3. “For Yasgur’s Farm,” Mountain

4. "Keep Us on the Road," Motörhead