Yes, I Used to Watch Mitch Miller

I hear from people once in a while about the contents of this column. Usually, these comments are well-deserved compliments, but there are people with gall enough to complain. These are the sorts of people who feel Da Vinci could have used longer brushstrokes in the Mona Lisa. They’re all over the place.

And one of these people noted that I was complaining rather vigorously this week, saying, “Why don’t you write about something you LIKE?”

“You mean what I’d LIKE to do to the next person who brings me old accounting textbooks in a banana box?”

“Something you ENJOY!” came the reproof.

“Oh, I’d enjoy it,” I said. But somehow that didn’t count.

Well, if you must have it, I enjoy the Dredge. This is what we around the Newb call both the annual party for Associates and the main performers at the party. See, every year in December, there’s a little get-together for anybody who cares to pay the price of admission, where we sit and listen to the Great Lakes Dredge and Philharmonic Society.

Uncle Blogsy sells books at the event, and he also drinks egg nog and eats cookies donated by some of the chefs who feed us at events the rest of the year. But listening to the Dredge is the center of the evening. In the past Uncle Blogsy would toss a tablecloth over his merchandise so it wouldn’t tempt the audience during the concert, but nowadays we assume you can contain yourselves.

The Great Lakes Dredge is a male chorus that began in 1934 over lunch at the Tavern Club. (One of thousands of things that started over meals at the Tavern Club, but we don’t have time for that now.) It is a remnant of the days when guys would get together and sing because they liked to sing. One of their customary numbers, in fact, is about that: how great it is to be a bunch of guys singing by a warm fire with a glass of wine and a pipeful of tobacco while the winter wind screams outside. (On another level, it is a recognition of how small are the human comforts of fire and fellowship against the mighty forces of nature, but let’s not get too busy with literary analysis. Not in MY blog, kids.) Another frequent song sings of the joys of a good, hearty wassail bowl. It’s all quite Dickensian, and urges you to take yourself to the land of some of our ancestors, where to this day “Little Brown Jug” is considered a Christmas carol.

In fact, I see the definition of the Great Lakes Dredge and Philharmonic Society given on this website is “a male chorus devoted to Christmas music and moderate drinking.” Did I mention the egg nog? There will be a barmaid, by the way, just as in the “Gloucestershire Wassail”, on hand to ask “with or without?”

It’s a boisterous evening of song and sugar cookies. You get to sing along, you get to carry a drink to your seat and TRY not to kick it over during the concert, and you can go buy books from Uncle Blogsy, who is drinking his egg nog “without the privilege” (I have to count money and fill in credit card slips.) That’s December 9, 5:30 to 7:30, $25 admission, kids 12 or under free; prepay online or pay at the door. I’ll have Lakeside Classics and art books and cookbooks and any other nifties I can bring out, and if you listen very, very carefully, you may hear my cracked baritone singing along with “Silent Night”.

Now back to blogging about people who donate books they’ve torn in half. 

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