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Betsy Block

Boston Globe

Cultural Resolutions

Im not proud of this, but when it comes to culture, I take the low road. In part I blame this on my kids: The arts keep me out past my bedtime. Or maybe I should go farther back and blame it on my parents. Yeah, thats it, even though I cant say exactly why, my lack of refinement must be my parents fault. There, I feel better now.

Still, even I have standards, and modest though they may be, I havent been meeting them. What I lack most in my life is music, of the soul-stirring, hip-swaying, life-affirming kind. The only problem is, I hate crowds, and I cant abide smoke, and I definitely dont want to go to any venue named after a corporation -- makes it tough.

OK, I guess I can bend on the crowds and the smoke, but not on the corporate venues. Here, then, are my realistic cultural resolutions for 2004; promises to myself that will make me a happier person in the upcoming year:

One wintry night many moons ago, my roommate and I headed over to Harpers Ferry for a little music and brew. Three beers into the evening, friendship blossomed into romance on the dance floor; fifteen years and two kids later, were still entwined in a duet. In the very near future, my husband and I want to return to the scene of our first kiss. If youre there on February 13 at 8 p.m., you might catch my man and me bellying up to the bar, swiveling around on our stools to take in Bo Diddley, who will be rocking the house. (He will also take the stage at 11 p.m., which is a big Not in this house.) I will probably order a better beer this time, but Im still patting myself on the back for knowing a great dance partner when I see one.

Speaking of the man I chose, for years now hes been wanting to see Little Joe Cook at the Cantab Lounge in Central Square. Why havent we done such a simple thing? See kids at home, above. In other words, were perennially tired. But Little Joe Cook is 80 and hes still pumping out the jams; if he can stay up late, then so can I. This is number one on my to-do list.  

Speaking of feeling old, now that Im a middle-aged housewife, I decided to sign on for my requisite midlife crisis. Whats the antidote? Ska. I grew up on it, and I miss it. Oh yeah, I could skank with the best of em back in the day. What, youve never heard of it? Ska was born in Jamaica in the 60s; heavy on the horns, it is absolutely guaranteed to make you shake your groove thang. Not even knowing where to begin, I check out for the name of bands, and I find Pressure Cooker, Beat Soup and, of course, Bim Skala Bim, among many others. Since my guy and I first met in a dingy Allston apartment, I think Ill put the Allstonians at the top of my to-do list. Ska is calling.  

My husband and I were having coffee with our most cultured friends recently, and I felt both ashamed and inspired as they casually shared their thoughts about recent performances at the Symphony, the Huntington Theater, Boston Ballet -- they actually mentioned Balanchine with real passion in their voices. They argued about choreography. Sensing that I was feeling vulnerable after this discussion, my husband gently asked, Do you need to go to the ballet now? I thought for a moment, then said, Nah. Forget it, Im no culture vulture. These may not be lofty resolutions, but dammit, theyre mine. Little Joe Cook, hold the door for me. Im on my way. Besides, I have to save some goals for 2005, right?