Monday, July 05, 2004

Stretched Fourth 


Ain't no better beer for a toast to independence!


Many towns round these rural parts don't hold with late Sunday night fireworks no matter when the 4th officially falls. Our third-floor french windows (arguably the best feature of the apartment, especially in the heat-and-humid attic summer) provided solid vantage of distant momentary moon-sized phenomena post-nightfall on the eve of both third and fourth, and in various directions, some known, some only guessed at: Greenfield, Turners Falls, and a myriad of other green hills both private and municipal.

Also a parade with Willow, wife, and in-laws watched from the shade of the old Unitarian Church in downtown Brattleboro, the very end of a long, staggering, steep route. Willow liked the crowds, the Shriners' tiny eighteen wheelers, and the bands, most especially the bagpipers, though perhaps as much for novelty as nuance. And a midafternoon barbecue and swim up in Newfane with the in-law's in-laws, through wife's brother Josh and his sig-o Clay, with yummy grilled whole local garlic cloves, spicy chicken, and Dogfish Head Beer, the best microbrew beer in the world, high-octane and sweet Raison D'Etre and a powerhouse 60 Minute IPA, now happily available at local supermarkets and package stores everywhere. We brought the five pound bag of shrimp.

No fireworks, though we did find a small cracker in the playground this morning before the rains came, and set it off for a dampened crack just to see if it would after all. One year I hope her tiny ears will be strong enough, and her heart brave and experienced enough to try. Until then, sparks in the distance from several towns all-at-once seem to bring wonder enough.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:28 PM | 0 comments

Saturday, July 03, 2004

"Did I say Iraq has weapons of mass destruction? I meant they have goats." 

Top 15 23 George W. Excuses For Not Finding Weapons of Mass Destruction. "Containers were found, but labeled in some crazy language" seems to be a favorite. Thanks, Anne.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:29 PM | 27 comments


Media Backblog 

Items on experiential backorder.

Movies: Napoleon Dynamite, Super Size Me, Saved!, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, the rest of the new Harry Potter. NOT Farenheit 911. Just missed, and now waiting for the video: Mean Girls. Coming soon: I, Robot.

Music: Everything on this list except Merchant and McKeown and Welch, which I've already got. Especially Taylor and Rodriguez, Josh Ritter, Dar, Donna the Buffalo, Fountains of Wayne. Also Lori McKenna, new (and final?) Phish, some Willie Nelson and some more Tony Trishka; anything recommended by the guys at About Music; live music half-drunk in the sunshine on a tarp in the middle of a big field -- only one more week until the festival season resumes with a vengance!

Books: Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. That Tobais Wolfe book we're all reading at work. Lord Darcy, since it's my wife's favorite cheesy novel, and Larry Niven reccommends it. More poetry. A Passage to India, which I bought in Alaska last summer and never ended up reading; it stares at me from the hallway bookshelf every time I make my Passage to Toilet.

All lists subject to change, and willingly -- feel free to leave recommendations in the comments; I'm sure to not get to those, either, but at least I'll know what I've been missing.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:09 AM | 0 comments

Friday, July 02, 2004

Skunked 

Last night just before midnight like a switch the heavy air began to blow foul and musky through our third floor apartment windows. By the time thunder from a close and exceptionally electrical storm turned to driving rain and ozone-cleaned air, it was already too late.

We made a valiant adrenalin-fueled effort, but in the end, it didn't matter that we'd unsuccessfully held the yowling cat down in the tub, alternating tomato paste with a showerhead set on "massage," until giving up and locking him in the bathroom overnight. The oils had crept in on the fog, and infiltrated our carpet, our walls, our dirty clothes piles -- the very air.

Today we woke up to a cat thick with unwashed tomato paste in his fur, still skunky and trapped in the bathroom, and a living room carpet-and-ecology residual -- untracable, yet steeped strong enough to chase us out, nauseous and burning-lunged, to Brattleboro for the day. Though I've scrubbed my cuticles like a psychiatric inpatient, with Lava soap and lemon juice, for a cumulative total of half an hour so far today, through Spiderman 2, a walk to the farm stand, an outside grilled kebab supper, and a homecoming armed with Skunk-Off and citron scents, the tips of my fingers still reek of skunk, making me sick again at odd moments.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:08 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Quote Of The Day 

"You should totally bite me. I could fight supervillains!"

- James Foreman, An Open Letter to the Radioactive Spider That Never Bit Me. Part of McSweeney's ongoing series Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely To Respond.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:46 PM | 0 comments


You're Like A Magnet 

When you've a toddler in the house, cleanliness really is next to impossible. Today amongst myriad child-rumpled strewn objects -- a puppet box of puppet mice, a decorative corn broom, several lined and torn pages scribbled with purple -- half a Dick lies face-up on the dining room carpet, cut off just above the knee but smiling, towheaded and pedagogically cherubic in his red wool sweater, miles from the refrigerator where Jane, Spot, and the rest of his magentic family await.

I've always been messy, and so has Darcie. If anything, it's the one shared habit we wish we'd married away from. Our tendencies, our limitations, our fated losses in the face of entropy, are strong enough on a cumulative level that one room in each home we've shared has become permanent unorganized storage, a tosspot disaster zone cordoned off from the "good" part of the house by heavy doors, and studiously avoided. Thank god there's an attic this round.

In this case, though, the mess is the natural result of toddlerhood in a messy-spouse house. We tidy more often, but she spreads her bookshelf's contents across the floor faster than we can clean up the living room popcorn spill. We could live the sterile life, I suppose -- not enough stuff to worry about; playspaces sparsely toy-ed; books far off the floor; cabinets childlocked -- but it's just not us to be so consistent about keeping the space that way in the first place.

I read -- half-recently, somewhere unrecollected -- that researchers have found no correlation between early nurture and tendencies towards cleanliness. Beating entropy appears to be innate in some, absent in others. Causal genetic indicators are too complex -- we all know neat-freak kids whose very vacuum-sealed bedspread is a rebellion against disorganized lives, both eco- and psychological. In our case, though, I look at our own parents, and the dirty clothes piles we've inherented from them; look back at my daughter tossing the contents of an entire basket of barrettes around like flower petals at a wedding, or chasing the dog around the house with crumbly dog biscuits -- and give up.

I've learned to live with the mess. We clean once a week or so, when company's coming; clean off surfaces and condense piles to eat at the table. Once every couple of months, when we run out of clothes, we bag up the big piles of clothes until the hardwood is once again, miraculously, visible, stuff the car, and take it all down to the school laundry. You couldn't say that we've embraced the mess, but we fight the easy fight; it works for us where nothing else has

But I worry about the magnets. If half a Dick can be left on the floor arbitrarily, it can just as easily be left on the laptop keyboard, obliterating data, scrambling sourcecode. Gone are the plastic days of big primarycolor letters and numbers. Ominously, Dick's pants remain missing.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:07 PM | 12 comments

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Godblog, Vicariously 

Though I really should stop being such a mensch and start going to temple already, secretly, I use The Velveteen Rabbi to keep in touch with my inner feminist Jew. Today's play-by-play of a week at Catskill spiritual retreat Elat Chayyim is a vicarious pleasure, full of moments, like this one, that make me wish I was making time/space for a retreat, too.
He told a beautiful story about a big wave and a little wave in the middle of the ocean. The big wave was crying, and the little wave asked why. "If you could see what I can see," the big wave said, "You'd know that ahead of us are rocks. We're going to crash on the rocks and die!" The little wave offered to teach the big wave something that would remove his fear, and first the big wave asked if it would cost anything, or if he would be required to chant a bunch of mantras and stand on his head, but the little wave said no and that in fact it was only six words. So the big wave said, "Sure, teach me." And the little wave said: you're not a wave, you're water.

This one's especially for Mom, who rightly pushes me to meditate more, too. Mom, click here to see more of this website I'm talking about.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:01 PM | 0 comments


Trickledown Popularity 

Getting a lot of hits from sushiesque and fuz's the "the terrorists have already won" randomizer over the past few days. A while ago, I dropped a link (okay, four links) to this here blog into the randomizer; now, with the total list of random things-that-mean-the-terrorists-have-won fast approaching the eight hundredth, a trackback (with reinvigorate) shows an evidentially causal, close temporal correlation between mega-A-lister Jason Kottke's mention of selfsame randomizer and the influx of hits I am now experiencing.

The numbers are neat. There are currently thousands of visitors to Kottke's site every day; of these, some surely smaller number actually move on through this single smalltext line, one of Kottke's magnificently integrated remaindered links (Kottke's favorite: "If a man can't attend a rock concert with a fried chicken bucket on his head, that means the terrorists have already won!"). Of those, figure one in 200 actually encounter my link at all.

Of those, about fifty a day have actually chosen to clink on the link, and show up.

Hi, folks. *waves*

Right place at the right time? Or successful (albeit accidental) marketing, using a "sleeper" link in a site sure to eventually be picked-up-and-promoted by a high-volume a-lister? Hmm.

[UPDATE 7/1/04 9:06 a.m. -- thanks to fuz for some more accurate numbers, via his own stats, left in the comments. I've made a few modifications accordingly.]

posted by boyhowdy | 7:38 PM | 0 comments


Top Ten CDs, Take Two 



What a difference a year makes! Last years top ten CD list, compiled a year ago this week, seems similar in genre, but the turnover in artistic personnel (or, in some cases, new artistic works) is significant. Guess I'm just a sucker for the next good thing, especially during the school year; running the radiowaves every Monday night keeps me up on things, as does local radiofave The River. Note, too, the gender imbalance -- not sure what to make of it, but there it is. Anyway, in no particular order, then, as before:

1. Nellie McKay, Stay Away From Me
2. Sarah Harmer, Almost
3. Lucy Kaplansky, The Red Thread
4. Nickel Creek, This Side
5. Erin McKeown, Grand
6. Various Artists, Just Because I'm a Woman: The Songs of Dolly Parton
7. Donna The Buffalo, Live from the American Ballroom
8. Various Artists, Roots Music: An American Journey
9. Various Artists, Sing Along with Putmayo
10. Various Artists, Into the Music: Jam Bands, Vol. 1

Okay, number nine is a kids' album, but until you've heard Keb' Mo' cover Love Train, you haven't heard nothin'. Also-rans include several other cover albums, including the recent NRBQ tribute; guess it's been a good year for compilations and covers. Or maybe my subjective fave-list is affected heavily by a purchasing strategy designed to net the broadest possible musicianship for the buck? Well, it would be nice to think my buying habits were so deliberate.

Incidentally, had we been a little less broke this year, most of The River's album of the year winners would surely be vying for a rosterspot; feel free to buy me any or all of these if you're feeling particlarly generous, and I will love you forever. Also, as before, list is subject to change once folkfestival season swings back into action.

posted by boyhowdy | 6:52 PM | 0 comments


Obviously Fake Attempts At Empathetic Credibility = Funny 

The Onion: What is funny?

Bill Burr: Michael Moore is funny. To watch him make a million dollars in film and still feel the need to dress like he just put a fender on a Ford Taurus, is hilarious...


Read more. Trust me. Also, for the next 48 hours, Chappelle's Show alum Bill Burr is my favorite comic.

Take that, Shaw. I'm still not going to see that Bradbury-titled rip-off.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:05 AM | 0 comments

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Backblogging Kinja 

Finally had some time today to catch up on Kinja digests both professional and personal; the best and most relevant pass-alongs are, as always, listed via RSSfeed in the tinyblog on the sidebar (also available at their del.icio.us origin). Check out what's new in the world of informatics, libraries, and jus' plain folks!

Also neat: flipping through other people's kinja digests. Today's featured otherdigest: Celainn.

posted by boyhowdy | 4:13 PM | 0 comments


Nectar of the Gods, Double Milk, No Sugar 



Behold the Oracle of Starbucks -- it knows all!


Ran out of coffee yesterday, and the single just-for-emergencies Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino way back behind the old milk in the fridge just wasn't cutting it this a.m. Usually, this would mean a short jaunt to the local general store for some preground Green Mountain-brand French Roast.

Unfortunately, however, we're kinda cash-shy until Friday, due to a bit of financial mis-management buying groceries in the face of a closed- for-the-summer school dining hall.

You just can't get good local-roast beans by the pound with three and a half bucks.

What you can get is 14 ounces of canned non-instant Folgers. Bleah. If I didn't need the caffeine so much, I'd be throwing out a full can o' grounds right about now.

As with beer, I'm a local micro-brew (microbean?) kind of guy -- believing, in both cases, that the difference in flavor makes enough difference to justify the cost. The care a local brewer or roaster puts into their product is easily worth it. Green Mountain, for example, is a socially conscious organization, promoting fair trade and ecologically-sound choices for all your caffeinated needs. And supporting local economies while getting your fix feels good, too. Why pay the corporate middleman for an inferior product?

In an ideal situation, of course, I'm a 20 ounce double-shot vanilla latte. According to buttafly.com host and presumably creator Jennifer, the aforementioned omnicient Oracle of Starbucks "can tell you everything about your personality by what you drink at Starbucks." Here's what it has to say about me:
Personality type: Ass-clown

You tell people that you're an executive at your company. You think that your repeated references to being "addicted" to caffeine make you seem intriguing and dangerous. People think you're a sucker because you spend 60% of your annual income at Starbucks. Everyone who drinks venti double shot vanilla latte ends up addicted to crack.

Also drinks: Zima
Can also be found at: Karaoke bars

Zima? Karaoke bars? Uh oh. Looks like they've got me pegged...NOT. How about you?

posted by boyhowdy | 2:19 PM | 0 comments

Monday, June 28, 2004

Strawberry Season 

The strawberries came early this year, and finished early; though iconographic pic-and-arrow signs still litter the byways, we arrived at the pick-your-own slathered up with sun lotion only to find the place deserted. A small boy trundling a tiller down a dusty road out of the fields, mumbly but ultimately informative, informed us of the season's close. We bought a decent quart at the local market on the way home, but it wasn't the same.

Later, after a grilled hot dog lunch by the newly set-up camper, Darcie turned the berries into a dipped-chocolate and nutflour biscuits caketwoer for her mother's birthday while Willow and I wandered off to a new playground down by the river in Turner's Falls. We spun and rode the metal merry go round until we were dizzy. Ah, summer. It's nice to have an activity just for us. And there's plenty more untried playgrounds out there.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:42 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, June 27, 2004

On Partiality 

Interesting conversation this afternoon with Mom, who's teaching a summer grad-level course at Smith on couples therapy. We got to talking about the curriculum -- what she had to start with from the previous teacher; what she added -- and hit upon the subject of the therapist's role in couples therapy, as one of the things she's added to the course is a modern reconsideration of the traditional role of the thrapist as impartial.

Certainly there are times when impartiality isn't ideal in couples therapy. If there's abuse, one wants to start by disavowing its legitimacy; if there are children and the couples have come with a major rift, considering divorce, children and other factors might affect the therapist's position on a possible separation. I also mentioned the NMH model of multipartiality for Peer Mediation; the idea that one can advocate for more than one side, and that such an approach has benefits far beyond that of the theoretical neutrality of the traditional mediator, is a neat premise, though our students ultimately have little to no use for all that training.

Mom seems happy to be teaching, and I'm happy, too. And it's interesting, to me, having invested my academic mindset thoroughly in the broad but, ultimatly, focused and exclusive prep school curriculum for so long, and I'm loving the discourse. Thanks, mom, for broadening my horizons; I'm glad you're enjoying your long-overdue return to teaching so much.

posted by boyhowdy | 9:25 PM | 0 comments


O Brother-In-Law, Where Art Thou 

Is it really Sunday already? Apologies for the long delay between entries; we were back far too late last night for blogging, and left in such a rush for the road-side Connecticut Best Western on Friday I plumb forgot to leave an away message. In the future, if it's been a day or so, check out the "coming soon" listings on the sidebar.

But I've got a good excuse: A helter-skelter rapidly-planned wedding early yesterday morning, where, on a beach pavilion down in New Haven, wherein Darcie's once-beauty-queen sister Alicia hitched herself formally to long-time boyfriend Matt in the presence of just under twenty family members and friends. Willow threw petals for the equally-glowing-in-white bride as she entered, was successfully coached to bring the rings up to the couple mid-ceremony on cue, and otherwise wandered off to chase seagulls with me in tow, but I hear the ceremony was broef and wonderful despite the Justice of the Peace's wild, garish, cartoony tie and giant hoop earring. I'll try to post a few pix later.

Later, after a long overcast but rainless day beach-wandering with Willow and a heavenly coffee shop discovered with Ginny, we had a rich and wonderful reception at some fancyfine place near Yale; for me, as the designated and trying-to-lose-weight driver, that meant jumbo shrimp, fried calamari, Tanqeray and tonics and a delicious bacon-wrapped shrimp caesar salad while others threw steak on their champagne and daquiris, and a great time bouncing and blowing soap bubbles at an Egyptian eight-month-old while her parents ate next to us.

All in all, not a bad set-up for a wedding announced less than two weeks ago. And they looked really happy together. Please join me in wishing Matt and Alicia the best on their Newport Beach honeymoon!

posted by boyhowdy | 3:01 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Daddy Domestic 

Once I wanted to be a househusband. I dreamed of a luxurious sleeplate life of a novelist and poet, writing while some vague and undefined child-or-so played quietly, safely, for hours in the near distance. I'd welcome my hardworking business-suit wife with a martini when she came home, and attend company picnics, making all the business cutthroats jealous of my calm, my clearly well-rested ease.

But I never learned to cook without burning toast. I fell in love years ago with an earth mother goddess type who doesn't like the businessman mindset any more than I do -- may have been one of the things I fell for, in fact. And I ended up with a job I love and a wife who's got me beat hands down in the domesticity game: balanced, tieless, and gentle when I ride the edges of maturity. And then we had Willow, and real flesh and young energy exhausted me like my visions never had. And, until now, I had never even tried to solo parent for more than three hours.

Today, though, I had no choice: Darcie started a new career in floral arrangement down the hill at Fairview Gardens; once we dropped her off at nine-thirty, Willow was mine until five.

To my surprise, it wasn't half bad, actually. Errands apres dogwalk, for starters: playing with the bongos and drum kits while dropping off the flute for new pads, now that Bob and Tom have asked me to play their wedding precessional, then a short stop to get new formal shoes for Alicia and Matt's wedding this weekend. Since she had been good (and since I cannot resist watching her overwhelmed in play), I let her run rampant in the toystore, where she picked up and dropped in rapid succession superballs, a rubber aligator, a pink plastic water gun in the shape of a dolphin, and several overpriced wooden Brio trainsets before settling upon a soft stuffed Big Bird doll.

[Speaking of Big Bird, a slight pause for metareflection: though it's summer vacation, the media teacher in me has to wonder at how best to interpret this choice. Willow's seen Sesame Street once or twice in her lifetime, but not enough to be more than hazily unaware of the semiotic/corporate iconography; she didn't know yellowbird's name until I mentioned it, and may indeed still think that "Big" an adjective rather than nomenclature-part -- kept telling me "this is a really big bird, daddy!" Anyway, back to the narrative.]

Afternoon was even easier. Leftover barbecue lunch; a short rest-but-not-nap with a bottle in bed; two episodes of the Muppets (guest starring Roger Moore and Danny Kaye, for Muppet fans). An hour of sweaty dance on the rug, Keb Mo's version of "Love Train" on repeat on the stereo, volume up as high as we could stand it. No breakdowns or tantrums, but plenty of good one-liners, including a reprive of yesterday's out-of-the-blue favorite ("Be careful, Daddy -- there's chocolate everywhere!" "Where, honey?" "Oh, everywhere."). Though Virginia never showed to help as she had thought she might, by the time Mommy called for us to pick her up, I still had another few hours in me, easy.

Just to make the role reversal comprehensive, I even made a spinach, salami, ham and asiago omelet supper, and did the dishes afterwards while Willow and Darcie soaked and splashed in the tub. Guess once I got into the groove, I didn't want to leave it.

Seems I may have been cut out for this after all. Now all we need to work on is making this an everyday occurance, barely worthy of blogmention -- for that, I think, is the real feminism, and the best role modeling of infinite possibility, that Willow's future self might pluck ripe adulthood from an infinite myriad of choice...isn't it?

posted by boyhowdy | 7:33 PM | 26 comments

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Also in this week's Onion: Celeblogs 

Hollyblog: a helpful guide to celebrity weblogs, and we're not talking about your usual celeb bloggers, either -- these are A-list celebs with C-list blogs, including Melanie Griffith, Billy Corgan, and that guy from Limp Bizkit. It's in the A/V Club, so it's not technically satire, but when a guide refers to itself as "helpful," you know it's going to be pretty darn hilarious.

As an added bonus for those few remaining post-Bloggercon religious bloggers who read this stuff -- hi, rachel! -- note that among the criteria noted for each celeblog, right after "Current Project" and "Overall Tone", is "Is God in the blog?" Happily (?), Corgan seems to find God everywhere, while Al Roker only pulls out the big guns when musing on his father's death, and then sweetly.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:02 PM | 0 comments


Timing 

The serendipitiousness of the universe continues to amaze me. After a trip to the mall yesterday for kitch-and-silver wedding guest giveaways, and while Darcie sews silk flowers onto hats for her sister's big event this Saturday, the everpresent Onion runs the following as this week's statshot:



I think our own top wedding cost was the Jazz quartet, though I know the hall wasn't cheap, either. But having not handled a cent, I can't be sure.

Incidentally, up in Brattleboro for tonight's celebratory barbecue (long-time music teacher Mitch is retiring, and the sibs and 'rents took him out to thank him), my mother-in-law pointed out that all these images are hell for the dial-up crowd. My apologies to those whom, like my in-laws, have no choice but to suffer through slow modem speed; here's hoping the world will figure out some tesla-like solution before rural living becomes inherently info-lite, thus demeaning the promise of the net.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:50 PM | 0 comments


A Clearwater Photojournal: Part Deux 

(If you've not yet read it, start with A Clearwater Photojournal, Part 1. It includes many cute pictures of Willow, as well as several good pix of Dar.)


Sunday

The problem with the graveyard shift is predominantly physical, not mental; in the midst of folk festivaling, the sundrenched mellowness one sinks into feels a lot like tired, so the distinction isn't felt. What doesn't recover after a cumulative six hours in two nights is the blisters and cranky calves from stompdancing to Entrain, but mostly from walking the grounds up and down, especially that foot-tired which stems from the tense walk of the unsurefooted going up dark dirtpath hills.

Which is to say, waking up at 3:30 am for my second and final shift in the communications tent was -- pardon the expression -- a bitch.

Happily, however, there was much to keep the mind occupied and off the feet.



Chelsea and Margot, cool college students running simultaneous shifts with us, albeit in Peacekeeping. They had little to patrol but skunks, so were happy to stop in occasionally, bringing me smiles and fresh coffee throughout the night as each was brewed. I was happy to offer my by-the-stage blanket both days for them and two friends, given how little Willow wanted to sit there; it was nice, after a while, to find familiar folk by the folk whenever I returned.



Joel and I at "work", circa sunrise Sunday. We sent the other two folks on our shift back to tentland when it became clear that, like the night previous, no calls were likely to come in, and stayed up all night talking C-changes, mediation, Tufte, Ong, and Postman until the morning light shone and the Java Hut began serving Chai (for Joel) and double-shot Lattes (for me).

Darcie showed up at eight for her own shift, and Willow and I drove offgrounds for a Father's Day diner breakfast, taking a chance on beating the festival traffic back into the gates. After eggs, bacon, orange juice and crayons, we headed back to the camper, trading car for wagon and cool morning clothes for matching dragonfly teeshirts bought yesterday as my Father's Day gift before heading back down the hill for more seed table and Family Stage area goodness.





Willow was especially struck by the juggling station, where once could try out and purchase trick-stick-and-ball games from devil's sticks to juggling balls. The Zucchini Brothers played kid-versions of pop tunes in the nearby tent, providing a rhythm for plaything pacekeeping. As you can see from the pictures, she didn't exactly know how to use most of them right, but she seemed happy so I let her go to it.



Darcie's shift ended at noon, and with it, our work for the weekend. Ellis Paul was playing on the main stage, but I've never really recovered from his ill-treatment that time he came and performed at our school, and my feet were killing me in socks and shoes. I stayed for a single song, and went up the hill after Willow and Darcie to switch over to sandals.

Darcie and Willow decided to stay up at the camper for a while and rest, giving me some solo time. I walked down the hill with Jay, a man-saying hippie from across the way, hit Alex up for some free uberstrong peppermint iced tea and bought a pulled pork sandwich, and we headed over to the stage to sit and eat in the veryhot sun.



Patty Larkin had already finished her set on the main stage, and Tommy Sands hadn't shown; onstage drummer Sam Zucchini and some woman who seemed a bit giddily surprised to be on the main stage played peaceful lunchtime music to an essentially empty hilltop, though Sam's bodhran playing was superb.

After our last swallows, Jay and I decided to head over to the riverfront stage to see where everyone was.





Found them! So many thousands teemed between us and the Hudson River stage, designed to be a secondary intimate venue, that we could barely see what was going on in the darkened tentshade, but can you blame them? The workshop performers for that hour included Holly Near, Toshi Reagon, Dar Williams, Guy Davis, and SONia, with Pete Seeger to boot, all singing whqat the program called Songs of Peace and Justice. Given the eco-political festival theme, it seems a wonder that the organizers didn't put this one on the main stage instead. I took my pix, sang along with Pete and Toshi for a quickie, and got out of there quick for the CD rack and the Dance stage for the Entrain set.



Passed one of the ubiquitous organic juice-and-water stands on my way. In addition to juice-maker Santa Cruz Organic, fest sponsors included organic dairy Stonyfield Farm, which gave away free milk and yogurt throughout the two-day event, Nature's Gate soaps and lotions, which gave out temporary henna-like tattoos, and several other thematically consistent companies and organizations.



Got to the Dance Tent early, so I checked out the green-energy solar/wind truck while waiting for the band to start. All power at the festival, from amps to lamps, was provided by alternative sources, mostly solar panels and truck/batteries like this one.







I've become a real fan of Martha's Vineyard-based Entrain, the band that played the two-hour volunteer party the previous night, and the sonic delight that brought Willow such dancing glee. This was their final festival set, so I took off my shoes again and stomped for a few. By the time I left, that horn section was the only thing funkier than my feet.



Then back to the main stage for Holly Near, who was better than I expected.







And back again to the family stage for a kids set by Dan Zanes, cool kiddie-musician who I'd been waiting to hear all weekend. He didn't play Wonderwheel like I had hoped, but his new stuff was fun and light, and it was great to be surounded by small people enjoying themselves -- kind of like an outdoor Raffi or Wiggles concert would be if all the kids were raised right. Zanes looks a bit like my brother, doesn't he?

The woman on the left in the second pic above is the stage interpreter for Zanes' set. As at Falcon Ridge, every musician's set is interpreted, actively and fluidly, by an ASL interpreter; the interpreters do beautiful work, and are treated as artists in their own right, as they should be. The kids in the last pic are Zanes' daughter and (I think) his nephew; the particlar style of family music Zanes advocates for and performs really does require, as he says, a family band, and I agree with him that everyone should have one. He recommends the Uke as a starter string, which seems like a good one for Willow in a few years, too.

Saw the Nields with kid and Patty Larkin with an adopted Chinese girl backstage, but decided to respect their privacy and leave off the lenswatching for a while.







Met up with Darcie and the kid after the Zanes set. Supper in the volunteer tent -- portabella wraps from Alex and some rice and beans from the volunteer stash -- and a walk by the beautiful cleaned-up Hudson...



...until Willow spotted the Dance Stage again and had to dance some more. 'twas her last legs, though; Darcie left tfor the tent again, and I went off to join the crowd for the big finale.



Arrived at the now packed mainstage area to catch the last few songs of Toshi Reagon's set. Big woman, powerful guitar, soprano sweetness -- rumor has it she was once in Sweet Honey in the Rock, and if she wasn't, she could have been. Worth checking her out at the next one, if she's there.



By the time Toshi finished, the crowd along the hill behind me had hit almost ten thousand strong. Suddenly, at some unseen signal, hundreds of teenagers surged forward, standing up against the mainstage, trampling our blankets and blocking our view. Luckily, us old fogies managed to convince them that you just don't stand at folk concerts! I even welcomed a few of them onto my own blanket as the crowd began to hush, swallowing my covetousness in the face of their tanned and lush youth.

And what was the big attraction, you ask?





Ani, of course. It was great to see her solo after chaperoning all those full-stage indoor concerts over the years. Nice, too, to see her up so close.





Back at the camper in the twilight, limp and limping, I sat for a while with Darcie in the cool evening, eating crackers and cheese until the exhaustion finally kicked in. Though I had planned to stay up for a proper goodbye with Alex, Jay, Chelley, Joel, and a myriad other new unnamed acquaintances, I passed out at 9:30, and slept for 12 hours to find Darcie and Willow almost, but not quite, ready to pack up the camper and car, hitch one to the other, and drive away into the sun.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:24 PM | 0 comments

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

A Clearwater Photojournal: Part 1 

Friday



Arrived on site by 2. Stepping out of four hours worth of air conditioning the world was hot and hazy, the kind of weather that kills your spirit, but we made it through.

After checking in at volunteer reception, set up camper, including -- bonus of bonuses -- electricity and water hookup, only to find that we'd put ourselves right across from the Night Owl Camping sign. No time to move, though; Darcie's shift in the Communications tent ran from 4 to 8. Willow and I explored the playground, had a beer back at the tentsite with a new friend and neighbor Chelley, and met Mommy for a chicken-and-bean supper at the volunteer food tent.

Later, Chelley and I toured the grounds, stealing leftover chicken from the walk-in before heading back up the already grueling hill in the darkness just before my own midnight to four a.m. shift. I brought books, but never opened them; though not one person called or radioed in all night, discursive and deep chitchat with covolunteer Paul and the other folks, and constant visits by the coffee goddesses Chelsea and Margot, kept me busy until the wee hours.

Walking home I startled two deer on my way up the hill -- the first silhouetted against the predawn sky on the dunes, the other jumping right out in front of me before diappearing into the darker underbrush -- and resolved to bring my camera with me on the morrow.




Saturday



On our way down the hill from campsite to festival site the next morning. Darcie had to work at noon, so we had some time to meander together. I was pretty groggy, having slept from 5 to 9, but I remembered to bring the camera.

The wagon was a bitch to pull, but easily worth it.





Alex, a friend and an ex-student long since graduated, now a shift manager for the best festival whole-foods veggie burrito stand around. We bumped into her while stopping in on Darren at festival fave Java Hut for a much-needed latte. Willow took a shine to her immediately. She's cool like that.

I went to put a blanket out by the main music stage before the crowds came in -- one of the perks of volunteering is that you're there first -- and when I returned, Willow and Darcie had found the playground again.






Willow was ecstatic to find a play structure where she could navigate every step. She later described "going round and round on the slide" as one of the highlights of the festival.

After a couple of trips up and down, we managed to pull Willow away, and wandered around a bit more, checking out the festival. The heavy rains the year before had cost the festival serious cash: that, and a concern that the focus on environment and alternative energy was being lost in the mud and music had caused a total redesign of stage areas and setting. It was nice to see the lay of the land, but the design wasn't a total success, I think, as we never made it back to the juggling area or the beachfront after that morning -- once the festival started, the whole area just seemed too far off the beaten path.



Before we left the juggling and beachfront, though, Willow found another playground.



While we played, Pete Seeger walked by, seemingly in the midst of an interview, and likely on his way to his sloop Clearwater, recently named America's Environmental Flagship. Pete's 85, but he doesn't look a day over seventy, does he?



Crossing back over the main stage and into the bulk of the festival grounds proper, some mellow bluegrass and a quiet crowd drew us down to the water for a spell.





The first few hours of a music festival, before the bulk of bodies has begun to crowd the air, are always the most mellow; Willow was happy to sit quietly and rock to the music. Little did we know this was the only time she'd be so willing throughout the festival.



Jabberwocky, the mellow bluegrass band. They all look so young, but I think I'm just getting old.



The crafts area next. Small, and filled with the usual stuff -- t-shirts, shea butter, ceramics and beaded jewelry, mostly.



Darcie tried on a dress, but the purple lines accented her bust funny, so I promised I'd dump the pictures. Sorry, honey -- couldn't resist.

Finally, Darcie went to work, and Willow and I were on our own for a while. I had high hoped for some blankets near stages, listening to music, but the set was too loud. We tried twice, but even with newly-retrieved earplugs the second time around, Willow could only lie on the ground and moan.





I did manage to sneak off and catch a few minutes of Kris Delmhorst, with special guest Mark Erelli, before her set was done. Thanks to Darcie for watching Willow while she worked.

The less said about the next three hours, though, the better. My feet were beginning to blister over, and Willow took some time getting used to the heat. The roasted corn we bought for lunch was too hot, and the crowds were growing fast. My apologies to Darcie for continuously asking her to watch Willow for a few minutes while I regained my sanity. It was really, really necessary.

Luckily, a substantive children's activity area had begun to sprout up around the main playground; Willow spent almost an hour playing happily with other kids in a table filled with birdseed and sand toys, and I got to catch a bit of the Zucchini Brothers at the kid's stage out of the corner of my ear.



Animals also helped fill the time. One of the exhibitors in the activists area had brought some rehabilitated birds, including the above barn own, to show kids and families how fragile our ecosystem was.

Willow and I also got a big kick out of the fishtanks in the Hudson River discovery area. They even let us touch a flounder-like beastie from the river. It was squishy.











Near the end of her mother's shift, desperate and cranky and sore from pulling the wagon, I brought Willow to the dance stage. She seemed happy dancing (well, running in circles) to Sonando on her own out in the nearby field, so I took some pix.

When Darcie's shift finally ended, I walked them up to the camper for a nap, and headed back out on my own.



Got back to the main stage for the last few minutes of the Nields, but I've seen them so many times before, so no great loss here. The big act, Dar herself, was yet to come.



Before Dar, though, the chair of the Clearwater Organization came on stage to state the obvious to an uncaring crowd. Duh-level infobytes from Bill included a) the festival was reorganized (duh), because b) the festival lost money last year when it rained so much the state park police made them cancel half their acts (double duh), but c) they decided to have a festival anyway (um...how else could we be here listening to you, Bill?).



Dar rocked. It was her first show in six months, but if the energy and vocal consistency of this show are any indication, the maternity leave did her a world of good.





Dar with two-and-a-half Nields; Katrina's daughter helping mommy fix her microphone.



On the way to meet Darcie and Willow at dinner just after Dar ended, I caught a few minutes of the Earthtones, an a capella group who roam the grounds throughout the two day event, surely blowing out their voices for weeks to come in the heat and amp-less setting. Note the heavy Dar crowds in the background.

Dinner was decent, though the same chicken from the day before popped up in the rice, and would later hit the grits and chick-pea mash the subsequent evening. Free food always rocks, but this stuff was way better than the overly vegan, overly recycled "gazpacho again?" falcon ridge food.



Went over to the main stage to see the Lee Boys after supper, sitting way in the back so as not to overwhelm the ear-sensitive kid and spouse.



Willow danced a little more, but got distracted trying to befriend some older girls who clearly weren't interested, so we packed up for the evening.



On the way out, we spotted Chelley, who'd managed to swing stage-gopher as a volunteer gig and had been running around on stage with famous people all day, kicking up her heels by stageside. I don't think she saw us, though.



On the way back Darcie wanted to check out the Chocolate cart, so Willow and I headed back to the dance stage. The crowd was dense and dancing to Entrain, but something about the funk and the drums got to her, and before we knew it she was up on my sunburned shoulders, laughing and scrambling my hair, waving her hands in the air, gleeful as can be by all reports. We danced 'til my neck couldn't take it any more, and then danced some more while a newly returned Darcie tried to take pictures.



Darcie danced a little, too.

Finally, it was time for Willow to hit the sack. I was up for a while with Alex and her friend Mary at the volunteer-only dance -- Entrain again. Hurt my feet up pretty bad dancing up a storm in bare feet, but it was way worth it. The moon was a sliver, clear and crisp over the solar cells in the field as I climbed the hill for bed earlier than usual, ready to try and cram in a few hours sleep before rising at 3:20 a.m. for my second graveyard shift with Paul and company.




And now it's getting late here, too. We spent all day at the mall and then out for supper with Mom in Northampton, a now-weekly event; got a wedding to plan for this weekend, and Darcie's working all day Thursday and Friday. Better get some rest, and finish this up tomorrow while I can.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:35 PM | 0 comments
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