Sunday, October 23, 2016

Performance art at its finest.

It has been a long couple of weeks. Work has been demanding, and at times trying. Mostly, it has been a combination of factors, kind of a wave effect, that crashes into our small warehouse occasionally. It should wash away soon.

Plus, I have been writing an article on suicide for the kind lady who publishes my work in her newspaper. It is called Street Speech, a homeless advocacy newspaper, and I think she is a kind soul who tries to help. Maybe it is all of her work trying to help the helpless, or maybe she is just a crusader, but I am not one to quibble, seeing my writing in print is thrilling. So, she said next months issue was on suicide, and asked if I could write something and I said sure.

But, researching suicide is a painful process, reading the numbers, the heartbreak of the survivors, the desperate straits of the victims can be very taxing. I love to write, and this was an experience not to be missed. I am a better person for the effort.

Additionally, I have been researching an article that I intend to sell about the repeated temptations to use atomic weapons that have gripped officials over the years. In places, at times and for reasons that seem ridiculous. It is terrifying how casual they were.

All of these factors weighed me down, and took a toll on me, more than I ever imagined. Thursday I went to lunch, tired, haggard, and feeling low. Low clouds made the whole area seem gray and deathly. A steady, light, uncomfortable, dreary rain made everything seem bleak, and mirrored my mood.

Our lunch room in on the fourth floor, and I stopped to look out the window. Along the edge of the

sidewalk a row of parking meters (conveniently shaped like a microphone) stood, ready to collect their fee. A lone man braved the weather, and potential shame. dancing up to and singing into one of the meters. Moving toward and away from the parking meter and singing an unheard song, his enthusiasm was delightful.

I watched for several minutes, I smiled, and felt better. Here was a man who entertaining the world, and nobody was watching except me, and he couldn't know I was watching, from a half block away, and four stories in the air. There was no way to know what he was singing, and it didn't matter, his talent and love for the material was obvious. Dancing in time to his own drummer made me believe the world still had some magic, if you looked.

Watching for several minutes the performance moved me, and for a few brief minutes there was a reason to believe in the future again. Whoever you are, thank you, don't ever stop performing. The world needs you.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Yellow Springs, even better with Street Fair

There is a small town in Southeastern Ohio called Yellow Springs. Last week my wife suggested we
make the hour drive, and walk around sampling the unique shops and food choices. We both thought it a great way to spend a fall Saturday.

In what can only be considered a stroke of great luck that has almost heavenly implications the Yellow Springs Street Fair was taking place. It was almost a perfect coincidence. Who could resist?

On a scale of Difference Yellow Springs is several standard deviations above the mean. During Street Fair it generates a chart wholly individual, and unexpected. It is a crowded, bustling, noisy, circus of people in everything from zebra print stretch pants to baggy, hanging camouflage. And everything in between.

With both main streets crammed with vendor's booths featuring a variety of jewelry, homemade soaps, tie dyed shirts, hooded jackets, and dresses, art, pottery, woodworking and bent and welded metal creations shaped like animals there was something for everyone.

Almost every corner had a musician. A steel Every corner had a musician. A steel drum player making so many different sounds it seemed impossible that it was one instrument. A saxophone player strolling through smooth jazz rhythms, an electric guitar player wearing a horses head jamming to a grunge, garage sound, a guy playing serious blues on a three string guitar made from a cigar box. It ran the gamut of instruments, and styles, and dress. It raised a joyous sound everywhere we walked.

Food was plentiful and varied. We had street tacos topped with radishes, and cucumbers. And egg noodles, cabbage and sausage with Sriracha sauce and crushed red peppers. There was kettle corn and cotton candy, funnel cakes, and fair food galore, we passed on those, though we did buy the kettle corn, and just haven't opened it yet.

But, the crowd, the milling, moving amoeba like masses of humanity stole the show. It requires years of experience strolling down streets in places like Estes Park, CO, Gatlinburg TN, countless festivals and fairs, to navigate a scene like that. Planning is everything. Finding that little gap that leads to the booth with the candles. Once you make your move the crowd flows freely around you, a river of humanity flowing around an obstacle. Nobody minds, everything is fluid.  The real secret is accepting your place in the universe, and remaining relaxed, tension destroys the peace required to navigate the maelstrom.

It was a fantastic day. Yellow Springs is a town with charm and character, a laid back little village, delightful, and fun. Street Fair is a crowded, bustling wrestling match. And both are delightful, and should be enjoyed for their own merits. We will be back to Street Fair, but we will make the trip to enjoy the unique, small town, too.