John Seven: Global crises got you down? Find solace close to home

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NORTH ADAMS — So what do you do when you look at the world around you and what you see is testosterone on overdrive and creating the sort of posturing that's going on with North Korea and the show-off bombing in Afghanistan, as well as the biting the hand that feeds you stand-off against Putin in Syria, the installing of a family regime within the White House?

What do you do when you just watch as forces beyond your control act out the modern American tradition of creating problems to halt any sort of progress and cause diversions that demand we never solve our problems, we just let them continually spiral out of control until we resent the problems that demand a solution?

You turn inward, of course.

You may not be able to control any of those things beyond going out on a march and holding some signs — something I encourage wholeheartedly even though it sometimes troubles me whether this will solve our current problem — but you can control your life and the immediate life around you.

In Massachusetts, turning inward might involve appreciating what has been cultivated in the state. For me, it's the people, the parade of characters that graces everyday life here when you leave the halls of culture and step into some of the more disreputable corners.

I don't do that as much as I used to, and when I do, maybe it's more often through the arm's length of someone else's account than it used to, but one of the things that cheered me up immensely last week was the Boston Globe's remembrance of strip club owner and fruit vendor Louis DiBella, the pride of Peabody, or, as one of my friends commented, a real American hero (goo.gl/3zWIEB).

DiBella died at age 91, but the story of his ownership of the Golden Banana nightclub makes for good Massachusetts reading, including his battle with Gov. Edward J. King, and the testimonies of the people who worked with him, like Shelley Crescenzi, a.k.a. the Vampire Lady. Read it. It will make you feel proud to live in Massachusetts.

In North Adams, one way to divert yourself is giving some love to the Eagle Street Initiative (patronicity.com/project/eagle_street_initiative), a local effort to spruce up an area of downtown. The goal is to raise $25,000 with the intent of inserting five aspects to the street to bring it up-to-date and cement it as a destination for visitors and locals alike.

This includes creating a outdoor social space, gateways on both ends of the street, trash and recycling receptacles, and more functional signage to give directions and sit atop the businesses. Last week's NAMAzing Dog-A-Thon, a hot dog eating contest, raised $1,000 for the effort.

If $25,000 is reached by the deadline in May, Mass Development will match those funds. So this is a very nice thing, and even better for the knowledge that there are people within the city making such an effort.

And then there is personal space. For me, that's meant doing a lot of musical exploration, letting go of the outside world and diving into the universe of Italian soundtrack composers and European electronic musicians of the 1970s, names like Pascal Comelade, Charles Wilp, Basil Kirchin, Alain Gorageur, because music is an adventure that will never let you down unless you just try to play it safe and stay in your comfort zone.

These are the things you do to get by in the world. You don't pretend that it isn't awful, that it's not careening toward its own doom. But you can widen your concerns by limiting your range and hitting your own refresh button.

Contact John Seven at mister.j.seven@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @damnjohnseven. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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