It’s been a while since I posted an entry for “friday fotos.” It’s appropriate that I ran across this beautiful picture of the culmination of my husband’s recent work with Opera-matic, a small non profit street opera company he’s been developing. You’ll be glad to know that you can see more pics from the event held last weekend in Humboldt Park on the Facebook page. You can see more of Jim’s great photography on his site: http://www.jimnewberry.com
Years ago, when the idea of Opera-matic was very young, the idea of the Lullaby Parade was percolating in the minds of a number of artists we knew and worked with on other projects. Dave and his partner, Mark Messing (who you’d know from the amazing Mucca Pazza fame) would often stoke the fire of this idea in between paying gigs, in between deadlines and the daily pressures of being creative small business owners in Chicago.
I saw the maiden voyage of this parade before we moved to Tennessee I think. My kids were small, some still toddling, some clinging to me. The bikes began it on that side street near the office we kept for Maestro-matic, Dave and Mark’s sound design company. The bikes rolled out, slowly on those dark streets in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. The name of that neighborhood even now gives Chicagoans pause. They shake their heads at the sound of it, it’s a place you wouldn’t catch any decent person after dark, they’d say. But the truth is that there are and have always been decent people, even in the roughest of neighborhoods. Humboldt Park is no exception.
There were children here, playing and singing, long before the attempts at gentrification. There are families everywhere- good people, loving folks, needing beauty no matter how gang infested, graffiti covered or low income. In the food deserts and the abandoned lot riddled areas, in the places where the city shrugs its big shoulders and throws up its hands, here we hold the first essences of the Lullaby Parade. And we roll out the bikes first, like an ice cream truck without the dairy treats attached, and the singing begins as they pedal down Talman Avenue from North. And the Paper Moon is projected on, the face singing sweetly, an easy song to catch, to hold, to carry. We are a small group at first and I am, I admit, a bit afraid because my children are small, some still toddling, some clinging to me as the parade makes its way down the road.
Then a child comes to the porch, then another, then a parent, a caregiver, a grandmother and they all wander down to follow along. And we sing as we wind our way down one street, then another, never going far, never going fast. The singing continues and the streetlights burn above our heads and the Moon smiles and the stars feel closer than they have ever felt. There is some laughter and some head shaking. There is some apprehension and some unbridled joy. There is confusion and honesty and the feeling that something important started here with something so small as this, something lasting, something truthful and beautiful.
There were more tastes of this between that first Lullaby Parade and the one held last week in Humboldt Park, more small starts, more important moments, lasting, truthful and beautiful. And it’s something, that given the chance, you should not miss and I mean that. Take some time and check out the amazing work of Opera-matic and the lovely photography of Jim Newberry (and others on our Facebook page.)
See what it stirs in you.