Jay Meehan: The sweet melee
It’s a jungle out there. Can’t argue with that. But it’s not just about the Howling Monkeys, it’s the melee as a whole. But if you were to allow it entrée, it can become a quite sweet melee. Catch my drift.
Many of my friends never get to that place where the confluence of the Sundance Film Festival and Park City in winter cohabitate in an idyllic postcard setting of the mind. To them, even the word Sundance conjures up an annual two-week logistical purgatory with plenary indulgences only available to people-in-black.
I’m going to attempt a digression here to explain the chosen syntax for the title of this piece. Why, I’m not sure. As you semi-regular visitors to this space are well aware, more than anything, I love to leave the reader in the dark. I envision them (the use of the ‘plural’ being strictly hubris) playing a game called “Where the hell is he going with this?”
During my somewhat misspent youth, prior to our family acquiring a TV set of its own, my über-sportsfan father would often allow me to tag along when he went over to a friend’s house to watch the Wednesday and/or Friday Night Fights.
Early Gillette TV ads from those days still whirl around my then-even-more-susceptible neurological centers to the point where every so often while gazing with obvious trepidation into my shaving mirror, bloodied visages of the welterweight Carmen Basilio or middleweight Bobo Olson glare back at me.
I would bet research scientists at the NeuroFocus labs in Berkeley would salivate at the opportunity to attach one of their EEG caps to my skull and check out what’s passing between neurons as I view ads off the tube.
It was during one of these “field trips” with my father that I overheard him and his buddy dissecting the term “the sweet science” as it related to boxing.
Somehow, it got tossed out there one particular evening and for some reason, amid the highly-suspect brainwaves and chaotic electrical activity of my (excuse the expression) processing centers, continues to endure.
Now, as near as I can recall, “the sweet science,” as it related to the sport of boxing, alluded to subtlety and nuance and the art of the counterpunch. Sort of feigning and slipping and sliding and waiting for an opening. Exactly the same skill set I use during Sundance to deflect the howls of the monkeys when accosting long lines at film venues and the Music Café.
Now, that’s what I call a successful digression. Even if the seven paragraphs I employed to rationalize three words do not resonate in the least, they did buy me some rather cool father-son memories.
So when you’re dreading another “round” of hooks and jabs and rib-bashings at the hands of the film crowd and have no desire to answer the bell, try, if you would, to visualize the art of the sidestep and, most importantly, the counterpunch. Not with your fists, mind you. That wouldn’t be very “sweet.”
It’s about reducing your profile so that you become even more invisible to the throng than you already were while remaining ever vigilant of an opening. Slipping between the cracks. Keeping your feet moving and your guard up. Showing off your dance moves and giving them a taste of the ol’ rope-a-dope. Be subtle. Breathe deeply. Hang loose.
Now, I don’t want to leave you with the idea that I never lose a round but it’s usually on points, hardly, if ever, by TKO. In fact, the only time I ever got shut down from getting in to see a film that I considered a “must see,” I saw it later and it semi-sucked.
So, I guess what I’m really trying to sell here is an offshoot of the same old song and dance, sort of a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Not that you have to go as far as your humble scribe in the investment of emotional Bitcoin, just don’t let the pack of howling monkeys keep you from your appointed rounds.
As I’ve said, it requires technique. A bit of finesse, slickness, and the art of war will go a long way. Most importantly, of course, is to maintain a local’s swagger. And if such a ploy is missing from your quiver, well, just make it up as you go. May the sweetness of the melee be with you.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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