Fireworks Flare; Music Underwhelms
Hyla Douglas, left, my daughter, along with Mayya Isaeva, our friend from Bulgaria,
waiting the lastly few moments before the fireworks go off.
BY LIONEL ROLFE
As the light faded on July 4, the Queen Mary’s stern deck grew increasingly crowded, terrifyingly so. The revelers waited for the fireworks. It was quite fancily awful—terrible rock music filled the darkening air. It filled the darkening air and the crowds were overwhelmed with tired faces and they all seemed to be going slower and slower.
As I said, it was the this month’s Day or Independence and perhaps it was appropriate that the British ship was a launching pad for our nation’s independence. The warm, terrible rock music gave the darkening air an odd feeling—the sea of tired faces were surreal. The musicians, if you want to call them that, had a DJ and Beach Boy music and it was terrible.
If you stood inside Sir Winston’s on the ship’s stern and looked out the windows, you could see revelers were descending into in a silliness maelstrom.
There had been somewhat more appropriate music along the mid deck. There was rodeo, County Western, HiP HoP, New Orleans country music, and other kinds of identity music. There also was a classic American dance musicale—all shapely women in snaky outfits, in a large dining room. The music was traditional and standard, a little too old fashioned. It had a certain jazzy quality, but without any wildness. A pair of dueling pianist played on two attached white piano bodies that were actually only electronic devices.
The stern of the great shop was going to be where the fireworks would begin bursting forth, and the “Beach Boys” burst forth. It was the scene where the firecrackers would burst into the air as soon as the daylight was gone.
It didn’t sound Beach Boys—there was a DJ, lots of turgid sounds, vibrations, Texas and Hawaiian legends, all that sort of thing.
The “Beach Boys” had almost no melody—unlike the real Beach Boys. Every one of their songs created a strange and moonless droning, not music, sort of droning, not ballet. The noise was low although hardly original. The music was strangely without mood, contemporary or classic, and added only a droll of myriad moments. The faces of the crowd had no particular mood, although by the time the fireworks began, at least the music would shut off and be happily retired.
In fairness, the stern was so full hardly anyone could move. The music was all rock with no genuine excitement when the Fireworks began.
It might have been that it was not a good day for me to be there anyway—I’m an old guy who doesn’t like to stand alone much. The crowds get on my nerves. Still, the boat had a wonderful feeling of being, well, old. The Art deco had lots of beautiful old mostly blonde wood—that part was good.
The art-deco creates a certain mood that is impossible to easily forget. Most art-deco vessels, ships, trains and or even airplanes, have that special quality. I know that there is something very special about traveling in the old Southern Pacific Daylight train that used to go from Los Angeles to Seattle. I found those trips always special. I know that I used to sit at the art deco dining car and on this one special occasion I did so there was a particular woman there. It was a romantic trip, as we both stared down at the fog rolling in on the cliff next to the Pacific. I don’t know if we were really falling in love, but it felt like it. The slow-moving fog added to the mood.
Strangely, it was perhaps inevitable that we might never see each other again. It was perhaps too special for that to happen. We fell in love, but maybe it wasn’t a real falling in love. It was a ship or train romance.
The ship had moments like that—particularly with its sweet blonde wooden shield. But we also knew we weren’t going any particular place—the boat was cast in its spot in Long Beach Harbor by rows of concrete. And the number of people was just wrong. Modern life is crowded beyond hope—so is much of modern life, whereas the girl and I on the Daylight were mostly alone and sweet. The ship was harassment on a massive scale.
I think the intense crowd in the art deco Queen also didn’t help Mary enjoy her music. There were a few pieces of music that weren’t too bad—the chorus girls at the restaurant, the New Orleans Marching Band were OK.
As I looked out the window from the top cafe at the stern, it occurred to me that had the crowds really been moved by real music, and not just weakened rock ‘n’ roll playing, the crowds would have moved around with more feeling. The crowds would not have been drifting across the top decks and there would be little music intent there. Real music would have made them aware that this old great ship desired something much more than the pitiful rock music on board.
The art deco ship was ruined by the rock ‘& roll that dumped it with a load of ugly musical mediocracy.
The ship was built by the Brits, or at least the Scots, in the ‘30s. That was a time of very special and good music—and it was ruined by the stupidity that filled the air this July 4. I’m sure the music aboard the regular Queen when it was launched in the ‘30s was great. I think this time it was horrible.