There will always be a recalling of an event when an immense upheaval creates a collective memory for all times. Hurricane Ian’s catastrophic landfall on places that I hold very dear to my fond memories of visits to southwest Florida. The estuaries, and mangrove wetlands of Punta Gorda, shells and sand dollars from Sanibel, mineral springs in North Port, and sunsets at Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island part of both Charlotte and Lee counties would cause a yearning for a visit during the long, dark winter months.
In 2014, Yuri and I took a road trip to escape a particularly battering Northeast winter visiting friends along the way. Our drive took us to Crystal Springs and manatee sightings, and sunsets on the beaches remained in my search for the places visited decades ago. I couldn’t find the marina where my friend Kathy and I had brewskis while watching a pelican inch his way to the bait box in a gentle afternoon rain. The overdevelopment was evident everywhere with malls and fast food chains. It was an effort to find a family-owned business just before traversing Alligator Alley to the east coast.
We made a special visit to Fort Myers as part of my research on Thomas Edison’s winter home and laboratory. His collection of movie cameras and lab experiments It’s still there. While the Caloosahatchee River flooded, the buildings eeked by without water damage because they are elevated. The banyan and Mysore fig trees planted by Edison and his staff in the late 1920s also survived Hurricane Ian unscathed.
It didn’t fare well for nearby Cape Coral however, a peninsula attached to another peninsula facing the Gulf of Mexico. It was devastated. At the time, I wanted to see the property at 320 NW 17th Place, Cape Coral because Yuri inherited two lots from his father who bought them in the 1960s. Would it be something we could build a winter getaway?
The photos in a tattered file folder depicted emptiness on a vast stretch of savannah, devoid of trees, blanched in the sun, part of development stretching without end. Back in the day, the Rosen brothers decided to develop the land and make it a ”Waterfront Wonderland.” They destroyed wetlands, drained freshwater aquifers, decimated once abundant wildlife habitat, all the pine trees logged, built over 400 feet of canals, and offered parcels to anyone who wanted to “live the dream.” Yuri’s father yearned for a chance at this dream, but greed and the destruction of a good thing made it impossible. We sold the property in 2018.
The same could be said for the music industry which was such a huge part of Yuri’s life and his early music career. At the end of a decade, the band Kinderhook which brought in thousands per night, six nights a week, headed into a vortex of changing events beyond their control that brought them to their last show. It happened forty years ago, the drinking age went back to 21, there’s an arena being built in the Meadowlands, the music industry was taken over by corporations, great and destruction for the countless bands and musicians’ livelihoods laying waste to a landscape of live performance just as a hurricane lays waste to an overdeveloped environment. On October 4th, 1982 it was the Last Tango in Aberdeen. Hoping it to be a farewell tribute to Kinderhook and their incredible ten-year run along the same lines as the Band’s Last Waltz. It didn’t turn out that way.
Similar to a weather pattern going out of control, the night went way past what a tribute night might have entailed. The other bands took up most of the stage time until the very end of the night when Kinderhook came on for the crowd that waited all night to see them. Instead, all they got was forty minutes before it was time to end the show. The club was closing for the night. Lights on. The End. Then Billy took the money.
It wasn’t a happy ending. Losing everything you worked for, everything you dreamed of, hanging on to the very end of the ride, it’s hard to make sense of it at the time. In the long run, it doesn’t matter anymore. What matters the most is surviving the worst and finding the best out of the wreckage that remains ready for renewal in a sustainable way. Life goes on. So does the music. Let it shine.
Let It Shine
music and lyrics by Yuri Turchyn