Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Street cred

At first I thought I was having a neurological event. Did anyone else hear that?--the disorganized crash-and-thump coming, it seemed, from down the block? Then the racket coalesced into a discernible pattern, the pounding tempo of a full-on drum corps. This was not immediately much more comforting, I admit--for another moment, I wondered just what the hell had moved into Crazy Trashy Rental House now. The cats scattered under the furniture, huge-pupiled, and at last the horn section kicked in: a brassy but entirely recognizable marching-band arrangement of--yes, again--Thriller.

Okay, then...? On the sidewalk the noise was louder, echoing and bouncing oddly between houses as I walked up one block and then another. All around me were neighbors doing the same thing, with dogs and strollers and puzzled expressions, converging on the source...which turned out to be the Ballard High School marching band, stomping in place on 11th Avenue, in tight formation between the rows of parked cars on either curb. They swept into "You Can Call Me Al" as I approached, a clutch of cheerleaders in casual wear marching behind and gesturing briskly with red and silver pom-poms.

I asked someone, a lady leaning off her front steps, looking like a proud mom. Turns out the Beaver Band has some sort of upcoming event in Victoria, B.C.; they've been marching back and forth on the playing field, but apparently needed a little practice on a genuine street. Impromptu parade! Little kids ran down the block barefoot, looking goofily awed in the presence of marching, musical teens. The sun dropped slowly, shadows lengthening; the band finished its number to a small but vigorous clatter of applause, then set off in close-stepping quarter-time, creeping around the corner, heading west. A little Smokey Robinson, then, "Get Ready," everybody's yard dusky and green and bursting out into spring, and oh, yes, I am very ready for that it turns out.