Pragmatic View Should Trump Nostalgia
In my fight to stop the onrushing passenger train that is the Gahan Aquaplex, I do not question the good faith of the mayor or the other proponents of building a new outdoor swimming pool.
Trust me, on several other matters, I am perfectly willing to question the mayor’s good faith or lack thereof, but this is not one of them, absent any whiff of public corruption in the decision-making and contracting process.
As I do a head-count for votes on the council to proceed with what I think is a reckless plan, I see a representative body sitting around the hookah inhaling a cloud of nostalgia.
Adults of our generation (and I believe I am now older than all but 2 council members) recall with gladness many sunny days gathered with our friends around a public pool. The public pool provided socialization, relief from the heat, a place to try out personalities, and a place to plant a marker along the sexual spectrum. Oh, and it provided some jobs to the children of the well-connected.
I’m sure there’s an element of “if only” in the calculations of pool supporters. If only we had a public pool, our drug problems would be more manageable. The sheer escape from stress would promote happiness and decrease crime. If only we had a pool, people would again take pride in our city.
Pool as panacea won’t fly. I believe a public pool, if built, would serve as a monument to foolishness. I “close my eyes with holy dread.”
But here. Samuel Taylor Coleridge said it better than I ever could, though he tells the story that this poem, literally, was inspired by inhaling opium from a hookah.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ‘twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.