Right Here Right Now
If I could have been anywhere this past Sunday (March 8), money being no object of course, I need to assume I’d have wanted to be on Wardour Street, where a blue plaque was being unveiled for Keith Moon, courtesy of the Heritage Foundation. (No, no, no, not the American right wing think tank; this Heritage Foundation is entirely English.) The list of who’s-whos at the unveiling read, as you might have expected, like a Who reunion come tribute concert, including but far from limited to Roger Daltrey, Kenney Jones, Zak Starkey, Dougal Butler, Richard Barnes, Dougie Sandom, a couple of beloved Beachcombers, along with Ian Broudie, PJ Proby and other assorted misfits. Our Pub landlady Shona – nobody’s idea of a misfit – attended and has posted some photos and recollections at a thread you can find via the right-hand column; my UK editor Chris Charlesworth, without whom there might not have been a Dear Boy Keith Moon biography, also attended, and sent this magnificent picture of mod scooters lined up outside the former Marquee. (As with the Hacienda and no doubt many others, what was once a legendary club is now luxury apartments. Ah, the unstoppable progress of capitalism.)
But money is an object, travel time is a precious commodity, and so Sunday March 8 found me not in London but in what we can at least consider the appropriately named village of Rock Hill, Sullivan County, competing in the Celebrate Life Half Marathon. I’d never run this race before; in fact I’d never been to this corner of the Catskills before, even though it’s famous in its own right. (Rock Hill is just a few miles east of the villages of Livingston Manor and Monticello, heart of the old Resorts like the Concorde, which played host to summer residencies by many of New York City’s greatest orchestras and rock bands, from Tito Puente to Joey Dee….You know me, I can find connections in anything!)
Anyway, despite the clocks springing forward this weekend in the States, making an early start even earlier, it was a perfect running day – with cool temperatures buffeted alternately by wind and sun. I’ve been doing a lot of long-distance running this winter, and as a result, despite planning only the speed I’ll need at the Run Vermont Marathon in late May (8:00 minute miles, with which I can finally qualify for Boston), I found myself setting out much closer to a 7:00 minute pace. Even by purposefully slowing down, which can be hard to do in a race, I couldn’t get the far side of a 7:30 pace, and ended up with a highly satisfying, second-personal-best half-marathon time of 1 hour, 37 minutes.
It was a good time any which way you interpret that statement: The Celebrate Life Half Marathon was possibly the best organized, and certainly the best value-for-money of all the long-distance races I’ve entered. My $30 entry fee got me a free windbreaker (a $30 value of itself); coffee, bagels and bananas BEFORE the race (a first); and more coffee, bagels and bananas afterward, along with a full buffet lunch complete with pasta, rice, potatoes and, for those who like that kind of thing, something called meat. Random “door prizes” were given away en route; winners looked like they being rewarded with wine (damn, should have run faster!); and a schwag bag had the usual “keep this, dump that” assortment of promo goods. All of these services and goods must have been donated because, according to the race web site, “100% of the proceeds are directed to (cancer) patients in treatment in Sullivan and Orange Counties with no overhead or administrative expenses.” Given that there were over 500 finishers, that indicates more than $15,000 raised for cancer treatment. That’s wonderful news, and so I offer thanks to all the race organizers for pulling off the event. And the 120-mile round-trip journey was no big deal: I car-pooled with a couple of runner friends, and we talked politics, religion, music, running and adventuring the whole way down and back. Even allowing for post-race lunch, I was home shortly after 2pm, right around the (equivalent) time that many of those who’d attended the Keith Moon ceremony popped off to the Dorchester for a £70 lunch that I trust offered some value of its own.
…Which raises what you may have by this point intimated: that, money being no object, I’m not sure I would sooner have been anywhere else yesterday. Life takes us on a journey, and though we can steer the direction to some extent, fate plays its hand so frequently that we’re better off not believing that the grass may be greener on the other side of the hill, but rather rolling with its flow. After all, as a runner (speaking literally), and as a writer (speaking metaphorically), I can attest that the only thing you can guarantee to find on the other side of the hill is another hill. So, I’m happy to have my health, my family, my friends, my sanity, let alone satisfaction at peaking as an athlete as late in life as this. My Sunday morning was perfect. Equally, I’m happy that Keith Moon has been honored in a fashion that places him alongside many of the upper class icons he often imitated and frequently ridiculed. I hope his Sunday morning in rock’n’roll heaven was perfect too. I imagine we’d all be happier had Keith found a way to stay alive and keep playing drums, but this is where we find ourselves right here, right now. And so, for all those who attended the Keith Moon ceremony in London yesterday, all those who competed in the Celebrate Life half-marathon somewhere in Sullivan County, and for everyone everywhere else in this passage through life, I hope there’s no place you’d rather have been.