I got the call, several times, and while it wasn’t anyone from the rock band, all the massages were for someones. I had a humbling experience at this uplifting event. I was kicked in the stomach by a number of startling realizations.
First of all, this concert at Mass MoCA was an amazing achievement. On so many levels the town of North Adams and Mass MoCA showed up in full force and enthusiasm. North Adams, MA has had a very turbulent couple decades and has been evolving and growing with no shortage of pains. Last year after 16 terms, the town elected a new mayor, and I think that shift may have been a contributor to this shift in presence for the past 3 days. In my experience, the town struggled to accept and embrace the expanse of its new identity. A steady stream of artists, lofts, and stores have continued to pop up since Mass MoCA has been around. A very different landscape than mill town of old.
Having grown up in a small midwestern factory town, I wondered where the familiar work ethic was, the town pride and the quiet steel of humans working for community and family. Moving to New York City at 23 was a sign that I was bigger and better than those people, right? When I moved I thought if I stayed in that factory town one more minute I would die of pure suffocation! Back then, I wanted away from family and community, I wanted to be where people didn’t know my name, where I could die my hair red to match my boots and not a single soul would send a note home to my mother.
So many times I have thought that upbringing was just in the midwest, just my small town, or just being on the inside. Last weekend proved me wrong. All along North Adams has been reclaiming itself. All along North Adams has been struggling to shake up the new folks, the new fangled; and shout, we know how to kick butt, just give us a minute! Their time has come, and not just because of Mass MoCA, or this great beautiful band, but because it had to and the timing clicked.
I was humbled. I realized I had decided a lot of things that North Adams wasn’t. I had made up my mind that the people, as a group, were too marginalized, too misunderstood to out do their past. I had decided that the New York Producers would run all over this town, encouraging even more resentment. I thought it was a one-off. Boy was I wrong.
The producers were awed. The visitors blissed-out, the band jolly and elated, the crew back stage said “I don’t usually have fun at these things!” and “there were more drugs at Bonnaroo.” I over heard a lot from my little massage table, tucked in the deep dark corner of the old factory. I heard my heart say “lucky Molly, you get to live here.” I also heard the ching of cash registers which in the long run is what this town needs. Bravo N.A, Bravo.