More buttons, this time from an assortment of events:
The two buttons above were created to help promote a couple of stage productions put on by Harvard theatrical groups while I was an undergrad, between 1978 and 1982. RAISIN was either A Raisin in the Sun or the musical Raisin (I am guessing the former), and CURSE was probably endorsing Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class.
Boston’s First Night celebration was created in 1976 as an alternative to the traditional New Year’ Eve pointy hats and bar scene. I attended it in 1986. It was a pretty amazing event, spread out all over the city, with ice sculpturing in courtyards, musical performances in churches, dance tableaux performed in store windows, and general merriment and fellowship despite the freezing temperatures. Purchase of a First Night button admitted you to the enclosed events. The event still works in that way.
As a contrast, the City Stages Festival in Birmingham used the button initially as an admittance device, but not many years later issued the buttons only as souvenirs. Many people would attend wearing hats with each past year’s button attached to the hat brims. The first City Stages was held in 1989; the last was this summer nearly past, 2009.
Club 47 was a coffeehouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at or near the location of the current Passim, I have been told. From 1958 to 1968, it was active as a testing ground for folk singers (before they were called “singer-songwriters”), some of whom would move on to the New York scene and, from there, launch nationally. As part of Harvard College’s 350th anniversary in 1986, “folk singer” Tom Rush organized a Club 47 reunion concert that was held in Harvard Yard. Joan Baez, Livingston Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, duo Buskin & Batteau, Peter Kean, and Rush himself entertained a crowd – which included me – under the trees and stars.
Tom Rush was a guest lecturer for a Folklore & Mythology course I took my Freshman year. It wasn’t a lecture, per se, but a morning folk concert in Sanders Theatre (our classroom). Professor Albert Lord introduced Rush and they discussed the ballad origins of song. Tom Rush then serenaded us with folk songs from those historic eras, as well as some songs of his own. I don’t have a button from that class, but I do still have my notes.
The 1985 New England Patriots football team (based in Boston) went to Super Bowl XX, stirring up a frenzy in Beantown, only to lose to the Chicago Bears in a game that wasn’t very close. The spirits of the city’s sports fans were then buoyed by the 1985-86 Boston Celtics basketball team, who went all the way to #1 in the NBA finals. The winning streak seemed unbelievably unstoppable when the Boston Red Sox entered baseball’s World Series against the New York Mets. It was at about this time that someone made the button pictured above, appropriating a favorite Masshole phrase (right up there with “wicked,” as in, “That’s wicked cool” or “She’s wicked smart” or “It’s wicked hot out here”). Not much later, Bill Buckner, afflicted by the Curse of the Bambino, let a ground ball roll between his legs in Game 6, forcing a seventh game in the series, and the Red Sox team’s eventual loss to the Mets.