there’s only so many pictures i can take of essentially the same thing… except for meadow lights. i could take endless pictures of them, because they’re all different in some way or another. i suppose you could say the same thing about two pictures of anything else, taken a year apart, but i’ll ignore that, for now.
animated Maque, with Lindsay, backstage at the Morningwood Odditorium, OCF, 2011i left on tuesday with myron and marilyn, and stayed with marilyn’s daughter, son-in-law, and their two kids, in their HUGE house in portland. siri (marilyn’s daughter) is a cello player, and her husband (whose name i don’t remember) is a music professor at one of the colleges that is not Reed, in the area. their house has at least 3 floors (they may have a basement, i didn’t check) in a very nice area, in the eastern part of town, near a catholic school/convent (for monique, who doubtlessly knows where i am talking about). we had breakfast at the Cadillac Café, and hit the road around 10:00 or so, which meant that we arrived at the fair around noon on wednesday.
there was the standard, and expected “hippy ineptitude factor” in play at the gate, but they actually had me listed under the correct spelling of my name this year (which is a miracle!), and, apart from waiting in line for an hour or so, it was nothing out of the ordinary… and we didn’t even need a “full load teddy” to drive in to morningwood, even though, technically, we had to have one (reminder for next year: get a full load teddy after getting wrist-banded, and before heading back to the car. grumpy said so.). wednesday and thursday were somewhat of a blur, because there were the “traditional” things; getting my camp set up, making runs to various cars to get things that had been forgotten, building up the last bits of backstage that hadn’t been done yet, finding out which showers were open (the ritz was open, but very crowded because only the showers in the front half were accessible), and that kind of thing, along with the mental adjustments necessary to go from the “normal” world to the “fantasy” world, and having to figure out how to deal with the unexpected things, like the baby robins that were not quite fledged, and nesting in the tree right next to the bandstand that we didn’t want to scare. seriously, they were cheeping and flapping around more or less effectively in the tree on wednesday, and thursday, and we were not sure what was going to happen when thousands of people and an amplified sound system started working right next to their nest, but all three of them were out of the nest by the time the gates opened at 10:00 friday morning.
we had a final dress-rehearsal on thursday, which was more like a “run through”, that was about as raw and unfinished as anything i’ve ever seen from the group, and despite the fact that we had all the music, we ended up cutting one of the songs, because the actor who was supposed to sing it hadn’t learned the words (no names – you know who you are). but despite the fact that the dress rehearsal well and truly SUCKED, it had come together surprisingly well by noon on friday… so well, in fact, that several people in the group (including me) expressed their extreme relief that the “run through” on thursday hadn’t been an indication of what the show was really going to be like. and it just got better from there. i remember saying that last year’s show was the best we have done so far, and that is what i say about this year’s show as well. not that all of the parts were totally memorised, but those that weren’t were skillfully covered, and nobody noticed. the jokes were as funny, and as fresh as ever, and there was the expected, and the unexpected in the proper quantities to make it easy to riff off the stuff that we didn’t have quite down yet, and easy to learn the stuff that we didn’t have quite down yet.
of course there was also the standard “horseplay” or “messing with peoples’ minds” or what-have-you, which included the dozen whoopie-cushions that i brought and distributed, and the “hippy fishing” that i participated in — after sunset, take a glow-stick and tie it to some black rigging twine, and toss it out into the path. when some stoned hippy tries to pick it up, yank on the string. — as well as four days, one more than the actual fair, where i went out and “hid” somewhere along the path, at night, with my cape, so that people couldn’t immediately tell that i was a human being, and played my long flute… which, i have more or less decided, with the help of those people who noticed me, in spite of the fact that i was “hiding”, is called a “didjeri-flute”. i met a whole bunch of musicians, some of whom i have met before, but none of whose names i remember. there was the guy with the bright red sousaphone from the fighting instruments of karma, who is not the guy with the bright silver sousaphone from the fighting instruments of karma that i have run into in previous years. the bass player that i met at the ritz, and “fossil fool” the rock-the-bike rider/rapper were also memorable. and there were stories of famous people like steve weber from the holy modal rounders (stuart was out wandering around and he came across a band playing in the path, and a guy walked up to him and, forcefully, told him to take his guitar out of the case and play. it turned out that the guy was steve weber), and chris chandler, and bill kreuzmann, and a famous oud player being at the fair this year.
the ritz was kind of a trip this year. i was there on thursday evening when simon contacted lem, the guy in charge of booking acts for the ritz, and i told them that we wanted the saturday, 8:00 or 9:00 slot. lem took simon’s phone number and said he would call, because the staff at the ritz was really anxious to have the phil play there again this year. however, friday came and went without any word from lem. saturday, we were informed that we had been offered the midnight slot at the ritz, which was then changed to 6:00. we jumped on 6:00 and they said they’d get back to us, but when 4:30 came around and we hadn’t heard anything, we decided that we’d better go up to the ritz, just on the off chance that we actually had been scheduled for 6:00 and they’d forgotten to tell us (which would not be out of the question by any means). we got there and discovered that we were expected, which was a relief that was quickly dashed when another band showed up and it turned out that they were also “expected” to play at 6:00. after about a half-hour of people running around like chickens with their heads cut off, kim from the sauna, the person who is actually responsible for booking bands at the ritz, showed up, and it was decided that we would play at 6:00 saturday, and the other band would play at 6:00 sunday. the upshot is that i gave kim from the sauna my phone number, and talked with her extensively. she said that, primarily because of the fact that we played “Il Balon di Qua-qua” (otherwise known as “The Chicken Dance”) they were really anxious to have us back next year, and she actually said that we would be in the 7:30 saturday slot next year, and that she would call me to confirm that closer to the actual event. i got four ritz tokens this year: one that i bought, one that i found on the path(!), one that i got instead of “hat money”, and one from playing at the ritz. i now have 15 tokens. 8) yeah, i know that i could use them in the sauna, but i like keeping them as souvenirs instead.
saturday afternoon, i was sitting on stage next to my tuba, before a performance, and some guy came up and handed me a laminated card — similar to the “photo id” card that some people (including me) wear instead of a wrist-band — and said “i think you dropped this”. i took it and looked at it, and it was clearly not mine, so i said “no, i didn’t”, to which he replied “well, you have now…” and walked off into the crowd. the laminated card had the “Pre-Post Sideshow Circus” logo that i had seen on a number of the “security” peoples’ t-shirts prior to that time, and the other side had a picture of a sousaphone player. i subsequently learned that this was a souvenir as well, which would explain why the guy who gave it to me seemed to have about 50 laminated cards on the lanyard around his neck.
the fair ended on sunday, and we left on monday. sunday evening was full of whoopie-cushions, hippy fishing, playing my didjeri-flute, smoking a lot of cannabis, wandering and hanging out with my friends. monday morning i got up, broke camp and helped them take down the stage. we left the fair around noon, and i got home around 6:00. sasha and stuart showed up with my two “heavy” boxes yesterday. the weather clouded up on the way home, and it has been raining on and off since then… it’s probably a good thing i came home when i did.
there are more pictures for those who are interested.