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Lumpers is a family story, or rather, it’s a story about what constitutes a family, a lot like what constitutes a rock-and-roll band: If it works, it’s worth it, all other expectations be damned. The principal lumpers, Steph Abrams and Tony Zimbarco, chance to meet in Tripoli, Pennsylvania, in 1979, and commence assembling their ad hoc family piece by piece. Before long they are a full fledged unit, with a matriarch, of sorts, a patriarch, certainly, a designated pet, habits, rituals, even their own holiday. But it is in no way a textbook family, would never be sanctioned. As such, it is open to questioning, criticism, ridicule, and judgment. They ignore it all.
The lumpers are just one portion of the legions of folks who work behind the scenes, the folks we rely on to keep the shelves stocked, the streets clean, the ports operating, and the systems we depend on so thoroughly functioning. They make no headlines, unless something goes wrong. They receive no accolades or attention, unless they deviate. When that happens, then they’re noticed.
For our Lumpers, though, deviation is the only option. In a life so otherwise proscribed, a life dictated by an indifferent and unforgiving time clock, deviation is survival. So they do, regularly, from the poolroom to the basketball court, the baseball stadium and the laundry mat. They ignore traffic rules and social mores equally. For that they are deemed unacceptable, irresponsible.
But those judgments reveal more about the adjudicators than the condemned. Because just as we are certainly glad that they do what they do, that is, that they perform their jobs, even if that appreciation is only expressed by the assumption that they will - or pathetic whining when they don’t - in the case of the Lumpers, life is clearly more fun when they’re around, and we’re definitely going to miss them when they’re gone.
"Because all lives start with a crash, don’t they?" (Joe Taylor, author of Pineapple, Ghostly Demarcations)