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Play It Again Queenee, Again

posted Mar 25, 2011, 1:20 PM by Jared Libby
I am nocturnal. My big sister is an early bird who lives and works on Long Island. She called me around 10:00am on 9/11/01 to make sure I was OK. "Whaddayou, nuts? Of course, I'm OK-I was sleeping!"
"Turn on the TV--You're not gonna believe this!"
Two cups of coffee finally helped me focus enough to realize what was going on. This was not the advertising trailer for another new special FX explosamovie. Something horrible really had happened to NYC's Twin Towers and all the people....
I'm just like everybody else. After we realize some awful truth, we ask "Why?" When there's no real answer, it seems like many of us dust off our books from some organized religion's curriculum and read the Bible, Koran, Talmud, or something else someone says comes from God. Some of us actually find an answer this way.
The strict Dominican nuns that schooled and socialized me 'till the end of eighth grade helped ensure I'd never pull out the Book of Revelation when I got scared. They executed their jobs with an attitude and style that would put military academy pit bull seargents to shame. Those brides of Christ zealously insisted I learn to read, write, spell, diagram sentences, add, subtract, multiply, divide, memorize, stand up, recite, shut up, sit down, polish my black and white saddle shoes every day, line up in perfect size place in a perfectly straight line, duck, cover, and cultivate my fear of the wrath of God, the priests who bossed the nuns around, the nuns who bossed the kids around, and other authority figures like hall monitors and crossing guards.
I graduated from eight years of this outstanding and horredous non secular education in June, 1967, when dignitariat from the Roman Catholic Church's Christ the King Elementary School, Springfield Gardens, Queens, N.Y. granted me my first meaningful diploma, my glorious ticket to high school.
I was now free to reject my childhood's organized Godogma, and I broke up with the Catholic Church while a crescendo of folk and rock music clanged and rang my teenybopper chimes.
I went to the poetry and music to find answers back then. Now, on September 11, 2001, I needed to sing some of that poetry again to help explain "Why?"
I poured through my '60's childhood's music, and my mind's permanent soundtrack replayed perfectly preserved phrases of each song I sightread. The music uncovered distant indelible phrases of me, like long forgotten browning news clippings pressed between those old songs' printed pages.
I heard the teenaged Diane Maria crying a whole lotta angry "Why?" I saw the young adult Diane Maria asking a whole lotta nervous "What, When?" I felt the middle aged Diane Maria crying and asking a lot less angry, nervous "Why? What? When?'' and wondering a lot more confounded "How?" "How could this happen, today, in the twenty first century?
My mind's soundtrack's album changed. "All you need is Love." "All We Are Saying - - Is Give Peace a Chance." "Come on, people, now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now..."
I thought the songs had fixed all that the first time we sang them. What about the dawning of the Age of Aquarius? Peoples' prayers and hymns? Group drumming and chanting? The Save the Children Fund? The Cosmic Convergence? Crystal work? The United Nations?
I was remembering Bob Dylan's "With God On Our Side" when my collective unconscious folksinger red alert light started to flash. The words burning my mouth and tune sizzling in my hands electrified me the exact undaunted intense way they had a long time ago. I realized that my stunned, confused friends, music students, and local community neighbors probably also needed to hear those same songs now. I sang and played them again, only they came out much better this time.