Let’s hear it for holidays that don’t require vast expenditures of money and time, and that honor the working people to boot. The standard ritual for this holiday is low key: bar-b-que and outdoor games like frisbee or baseball. There’s also a touch of melancholy about this weekend, being that it signifiees the end of summer and the start of school, and, for some people, a return to work.
When I lived in a tourist town—Woodstock, New York, where the concert was not held—I had another reason to love Labor Day: it was when the summer people got the hell out and we locals reclaimed our turf. On that Monday night we’d fill the bars and cafes, previously overrun with tourists, and after we got good and drunk we’d stroll up the main drag, less than a mile from the bottom of the hill to the center of town. The small triangular Village Green was where the Trailways bus deposited the younger pilgrims every Friday night; they’d tumble out, stoned and dressed in their best tie-dye, asking where the concert was held. My daughter and her friends would point to the flag and tell them it was where Jimi Hendrix played.
It was Labor Day weekend 1988—24 years ago—when I moved to San Francisco. Woodstock friends who happened to be here visiting the mutual friend with whom I lived for the first few months picked me up at the airport, easing my cultural shock. Instead of walking up Tinker Street that year, we drove down to Monterey.
A lot has happened since then. Today I’ll be watching baseball with my son, thinking about the work I’m not getting. I hope things change, and of course they will: everything does. I just hope the change goes in the right direction this time.
- Enjoy Your Labor Day Weekend! “Holiday” (mikeslayen.com)