It’s a wet hot American summer, isn’t it? Wrong movie photo, I know, I just like the Wendy/Squints saga so Miss Peffercorn stole the cover for today’s letter.
I think the heat induces some nostalgia and I’ve been dredging up old summer stories recently. Do you have any family or personal stories that get told over and over again? Some you can’t bear to hear one more time, but it’s part of you so much that you just can’t turn the radio off. I come from a long line of storytellers, at least a couple generations of Foxes before me have had an air for gab and nonsense to fill the time around the campfire. The rule is, it doesn’t have to have a point, it just has to illustrate, someway, somehow, that I’m an idiot.
Ok, it has to illustrate that somebody around the circle is an idiot, but it’s not a bad thing to stand the fool in this space… I don’t know if others can relate to this, but this version of familial razing is a deep form of love, to see and show some flaws and then wrap your arms around someone like a toddler holds a favorite stuffed animal. There’s a full account of the plans for GREYT events through the fall listed below. I’m chippin’ away at the programs and meanwhile sharing the new video with potential partners (you’re welcome to pitch in if you see a way to help) But, for fun, since it’s the summer-time and Big Talk is on break for a few more months - I give to you a classic tale from my personal vault of yesterdays. For my dad, this story is the measuring stick for all other bad news I’ve ever delivered would be compared to in the past, and future. For me, it might have been a regular day. If I close my eyes and take a deep breath… I can feel my body coated in my teenage skin in these moments.
It’s the summer of 2002, and yours truly is where I ought to be, the pool. Houston-Fisher pool isn’t just any pool, it’s THE pool which all other pools should hope to be. I’d grown up here, spent 10 summers by this point swimming laps at no end, biking hundreds of miles to and from with my sister, getting splitting ripped muscles and an unreasonable ginger tan-burn. There was a deep cast of characters that included young pool rats, pool parents, apathetic maintenance workers, other lifeguards that were in different cliques during the school year but pool fam for summer, and my two best friends who’d un-coincidentally spent the last decade creating hi-jinx with me, claiming this particular swimming hole as ours. Regular pool hours were 1-5 and 6-10. I’d often teach swimming lessons before, and then “work” twirling a whistle and sitting in a chair for both shifts. It was a lot of time, and sometimes it still wasn’t enough. For reasons unknown to me, most of the staff had official permission to stay after hours, even invite guests. That's 16, 17, and 18-year-olds with access to a public swimming pool, acting as our own supervision. I was a pretty “good” kid but a lot of adult activities were engaged in by most of the staff at these after-hour gatherings. It was an unspoken agreement that nobody talked about it, like Vegas or something. So what I did one day may come as a shock. There was a competition between my friends, to see who could swim a kickball against the water pressure to touch the bottom of the 12ft diving well the fastest. A stupid game, I won a lot. I won enough that it wasn’t interesting and I devised a plan at an after-hours party to stick the ball against the filtration intake pipe at the bottom of the well and suspend it underwater for a moment - I would emerge and it would appear to be some kind of magic trick that I left the ball down there. What happened was not magic though - the ball collapsed from the additional pressure of a few more feet of depth it took to get the ball to the intake, and it slipped perfectly into the 5-inch hole - sucking it into the guts of the pool system from my fingertips. Ta-dah! I rose to the top so fast and frantically ran soaking wet to the boiler room to hopefully retrieve the lost item - no ball came through. Damn. Pipes everywhere, no idea what goes where, or where in the line the ball was stuck. Observing the filter system, with no water coming through the intake, it’s draining to nothing, fast. If this isn’t fixed pronto some damage could happen, and the pool could be shut down for public operation, maybe for days. To solve the problem I made a series of phone calls, the first was to my dad. “Hey Dad, I’m in trouble” Over the phone, there’s a deep sigh before he asks “how bad’s the car, Thomas” and I replied… “oh no, Dad, it’s way worse than that.” He told me to keep calling people who I thought could help, and I wound up calling in a city maintenance worker around midnight. This guy, when I told him what happened, he said nothing, he just walked away toward the boiler room in silent judgment. He ratcheted open a pipe, then another, then another till the ball was found - it was stuck on a valve and to get it out we used a knife to puncture it. Water rushed in a blast all over the room, but the problem was solved - sort of. I was suspended from work for a week. The sliced-open ball was hung as a memento in the office with a note from the management: “Thanks to Tom Fox, there will be no more after-hours privileges for any pool staff.” There’s also a permanent file with a recording of the incident in a manila folder at the City of Eastlake's department of parks and recreation. So I guess I learned to think about water pressure. If you think you know someone, a creative leader in our community who could be a good speaker for our program or a great place to host a conversation this fall - please send them on - I’m eager to learn about the latest and greatest things happening around the city.
Hope to see you at Golden Hour next week! Happy Heat Wave, Happy Summer, T. Fox
GREYT CULTURE // About the Greyt Culture Team Email. This monthly(ish) email goes to GREYT event participants and partners, and others I would like to be aware of the contents of upcoming programs. The Team Email is for Planning Purposes Only and treated as confidential/non-promotional/not to be distributed. Event details listed here are subject to change based on input back from recipients. Confirmed event details will always be listed through ThatsGreyt.com/BigTalk - recipients are added and removed periodically at my discretion. If you would like to be a permanent recipient or removed from GREYT emails, reply and I will comply with kindness. Thanks for reading.] GOLDEN HOUR Date. 6/24 Feat. Parker Louis Acoustic Open. (unconfirmed) Venue. Electric Gardens
GOLDEN HOUR Date. 7/22 Feat. Chayla Hope Acoustic Open. Post Saga Venue. The Shoreway GOLDEN HOUR Date. 8/26 Feat. Argonaut & Wasp Acoustic Open (unconfirmed) Venue. (unconfirmed) GOLDEN HOUR Date. 9/23 Feat. The Rosies Acoustic Open (unconfirmed) Venue. (unconfirmed) GREYT BIG TALK Date. 9/16 Feat. (unconfirmed) Venue. (unconfirmed) GREYT BIG TALK Date. 10/21 Feat. (Unconfirmed) Venue. Studio Popshell
GREYT BIG TALK Date. 11/18 Feat. Sam Skelton Venue. (Unconfirmed)
GREYT BIG TALK Date. 12/16 Feat. Justin Reynolds Venue. Cleveland Public Library (New Hough Branch)