On the beating of Keytar Bear

There is a lot of news in our moment that makes me sad and angry. At the top of that list is the news that Keytar Bear was viciously beaten and robbed by three drunk dopes from New Hampshire.

For those of you who have not lived in Boston let me explain. Keytar Bear is a bear who cranks out funky jams over busy Boston thoroughfares. Alone, on a keytar with a synth drum track. Nobody knows what forest he walked out of, what he eats, or the evolutionary chain of events that allowed him to walk upright and rock a keytar.

He is a small bear, but the size of his funk is huge. I have not been formally trained, but I consider myself more than a casual observer of the funky arts. An amateur funk sommelier, perhaps. And for those of you who have not heard him, Keytar Bear’s vintage of funk is smooth and light, yet substantive. And in the best funk tradition, he works hard. He is out there in the streets on a hot summer day, churning out nonstop grooves with his gray paws for the rushing pedestrians of one of the more skeptical cities in the country. And, though wonderful, sightings are not rare. He is a working Keytar Bear. You don’t look for Keytar Bear. Keytar Bear finds you when you need him. It has been said that there are several Keytar Bears, though I don’t think that is true.

I left Boston a few years ago. The city and I never really bonded. But it has its moments of magic: the Fan Pier at dusk, Forest Hills cemetery in the snow, Wally’s on a weekday at midnight. And Keytar Bear. Locked in a groove on the plaza outside of South Station, handling the keytar as if it were part of his own bear body, doing Gods work as the morning masses spill out of the station.

In light of everything happening in the world, that some mouth breathers saw fit to pummel him, steal his head, and his hard earned money, is small. Reports are that the bear has recovered nicely and is back at his post, minding the joy button with his unlikely instrument. The people who did it were drunk and young and from New Hampshire. I won’t tie this to our current presidential administration — something like this could have happened under Obama or even Millard Fillmore (though the keytars were much heavier then). But the brazenness of this broad daylight attack and the idiocy of the perpetrators feels like a trend. Moreover, Keytar Bear’s mugging is a reminder that some percentage of us looks at the bizarre and beautiful and wants to stomp it out. And the uglier and duller people get, the more stomping they will do of the bizarre and the beautiful.

Friends, an attack on Keytar Bear is an attack on us all. I have no prescription for what to do next. God bless those who do. My only hope is that in a cave in a foggy wood somewhere, a den of young keytar cubs are taking their first hesitant steps, sniffing the air of a world that does not deserve them, and jamming on their first groove.