Scenes of Somerville: October 8

Welcome to my new column! These pieces will be quick sketches of the wacky and wonderful place that I now call home.

October 8: Honk Festival of Activist Bands

On the way to Davis, I stumble across a children’s lemonade stand. They are donating the profits to the PTO of their local elementary school. As I buy my drink, they offer to identify my spirit animal for an additional ten cents. A mother with blond curly hair stands in the background, strumming a ukelele and singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

It is all I can do not to put on my best teacher voice and say, “Children, do you know what cultural appropriation is?”

My spirit animal, according to them, is a dolphin. And a lemonade-drinker.


I listen to activist marching bands in Davis Square with a group of friends. As the band passes though the plaza, they play the theme to “Star Wars,” and each member has a sign that says “Black Lives Matter” tacked onto their costume. I make friends with a baby two feet away from me, who keeps nodding his head and knitting his eyebrows pensively as he stares at me.


I meet a dog waiting outside Starbucks. His owner is wearing a “Stranger Things” t-shirt and is clutching a latte and a two-pack of cough syrup. I tell him (the man, not the dog) that I have not finished the series yet. “Yeah, the ending is awful,” he jokes. “Everyone dies.”


On my way home, I pass a protest for fair wages for janitors at Tufts. They hold a large cut-out of a head swathed in red, green, and black yards of fabric, and block the rotary near my house. Once I learn what they’re protesting, I have to take back my initial assessment, which was, “Why are all these white folks saying ‘Si Se Puede?'”


The lemonade stand is still there. The children are still identifying spirit animals. The parents are now singing “Mr. Tambourine Man.”


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