Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Chesapeake Bay Journal III: Consorts
photograph by Hallie Cohen
Merriam-Webster defines “consort" as, ”A wife or husband
especially of a king or queen." When you walk through the graveyard in front of
the red brick Bond Chapel on the Quaker Neck Road in Chestertown, you discover not one but two
gravestones which employ this royal term in describing the nineteenth century matrons who were buried there. Of course these deceased wives were a little different than Queen Taisi (1099-1050BC) who was the consort to King Wen of Zhou. Drive further down Quaker Neck
Landing Road and you will come to a cul-de- sac facing a small harbor that’s a
reminder of life lived at a totally different pace and scale than most people are
capable of experiencing, even in rural areas today. The old graveyards, harbors
and churches which dot small villages like Chestertown and Rock Hall are vestiges of a way of an existence that's kept alive due to maritime traditions and an indigenous culture that, in some cases, hearkens back to Indian times.
You have ghost towns and deserted communities which have died due to the loss
of an economic base and where time has come to a halt. However, what's miraculous
here is the way that the past is kept alive, while the world of the future lurks only steps away. Neither
off the beaten track, nor in the mainstream of tourism, shipping or industry
these Chesapeake Bay villages on the Eastern Maryland Shore have managed to
maintain a fragile balance in which the manners, mores and traditions of a bygone era harmoniously co-exist with the modern world.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.