Saturday, June 19, 2010

Same Song and Dance

Arcades keep it greene in their own grimy, nostalgic way, and seaside arcades, rife with fearless seagulls and leather-skinned locals, are, of course, a notch above the rest. A recent spontaneous trip to Salisbury Beach to play Ms. Pac-Man brought an unexpected treat that had my friend and me transfixed for a good while.

We definitely had to place a second coin in the slot to "make it go" again, Sam. This was one of those eerie, fascinating, slightly repellent experiences during which I couldn’t tell if I should be charmed or spooked.

Note the smooth white patches where the dance floor has worn away under the puppet’s tireless twinkle toes. Note that the flaxen-haired lass in the front row has lost a leg, but not her painted, wooden smile. Look closely (or click the photo to enlarge): the tall woman behind her has rubbed off her own nose with the mild, relentless mechanical sweep of her arm back and forth in front of her face. 

As if the scene was at all lacking in curiosity points, after two peppy songs lip-synced by the Wicked Witch and a circus-ringleader-type (both hidden from view in the pic) the third track was not a song at all. It was a snippet of Big Bird addressing Mr. Snuffleupagus filched from an episode of Sesame Street. Incongruity alert! Yes, they are both puppets, but…no. Big Bird’s voice goes with Big Bird’s body, not with a pint-sized, wooden, broom-jabbing cackler. My friend felt sort of cheated by that, and I agree, it somehow cheapened the 25-cent show.

Still, greene is in the dust and the details, and the fact that this little box of eclectic characters in hand-sewn costumes remains, outdated, but consistent, in the corner, next to the Simpsons pinball machine and across from Big Buck Hunter shooting game.

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