Monday, December 18, 2006

The circled building in the above photo opposite of the Eagle (a Mega Touch Photo Hunt looking shot in the mouth of the Thames River from the New London side) is where I worked almost immediately after graduating from college. It is located on the production side of the Pfizer campus in Groton, CT.

After graduating with a liberal arts degree in History and Political Science I had no immediate plans of going to grad school and I soon discovered that the only openings were with various temp agencies in the area. The job at Pfizer was called Fire Watch. Which basically meant watching other people work and making sure they didn't start any fires while welding or sneaking smokes in the port-a-john during the construction the aforementioned building, a new automated plant designed to replace one next to it and eventually eliminate about a hundred jobs.

It was supposed to be a 3 month position which lasted well over a year, averaging about 50-60 hours a week. I eventually quit or was asked not to return after balking over one too many "mandatory" voluntary OT weekends. One of the best jobs I had there was when I was assigned to drive the freight elevator and I was able to read during down times as surreptitiously as possible. I learned a lot about the world of construction or at least the politics of site management. I also learned not to bet a bundle on NFL games on Sunday to try and catch up for the college games you lost money on Saturday. Throwing good money after bad I think they call it.

We also witnessed several explosions emanating from neighboring buildings (apparently a fairly routine occurrence in Caffeine production there), some pigeons mysteriously dying after flying through what was termed a "harmless" vapor release, and the best was while eating lunch on a beautiful day on the river's edge when an abandoned "empty" pipe line that was being dismantled started spilling hundreds of gallons of unnaturally green liquid out into the river. There were pleasant things to look at too. Lots of sailboats and yachts but the best was watching the submarines on their way to and from the Naval base. Something about them made it compulsory to follow their silent trek no matter how many times we saw them. My dad had been a career submariner so that might have had something do with it but I noticed that many others stared at the undersea boats as much as I.

This past weekend we made a last minute decision to go and see Iris Dement at the Englert and I am very glad we did. I had forgotten how great her voice is and how much I enjoy her sense of humor and the subtle upbeat sadness of some her songs. I need to dig up and listen to In Spite of Ourselves soon if I can find it. I think it was during the final scene of the final episode of Northern Exposure when I first heard Our Town.

When Iris first came she was more than a little nervous and asked for someone to bring her a drink to calm the nerves. It was cute and throughout the show she was charmingly wry and self deprecating but not in the fake fishing for compliments manner. She even broke out some newer songs written for her and Greg's first wedding anniversary and one about his family farm where they spend time when not in Kansas City. Iris will be back in Iowa (Davenport) in Feb. and I am already planning on making a concerted effort to go.

Speaking of Greg, I forgot to mention that last week he was on WBUR's (Boston) On Point show broadcast locally on KUNI. I managed to get a question to Greg about the possibility of his ever playing with Iris. Here is the link to the whole show featuring many songs off his latest. My question came on about fifteen minutes into the show.


Churlita said...

I saw Iris when she played for free at Arts Fest that year she and Greg met. I really liked her.

Since then, I've only heard her when she sat in at Greg Brown shows. I've been to a party or two with her, but never had the guts to actually talk to her.

Dexter said...

She talked about the Arts fest where they met. Said they had about 4 or 5 dates and then got married.

Churlita said...

Usually, I think being that impetuous after a certain age is every unwise.