i left home for OCF at 6:30 am on wednesday. my first stop was the fred meyer’s in puyallup, which i got to before they opened, so i had to wait outside for 10 minutes or so until they got around to unlocking the doors. i got water, but neglected to get bug spray, a fact which i would intensely regret later. the trip down was relatively uneventful, however when i got off the freeway south of portland for a food and pee stop, i noticed that as soon as i stopped moving forward, the temperature in Ganesha The Car shot up to the red zone. i put some water in the radiator (which was completely empty) the temperature went back down to the normal range almost immediately, but it was a little frisson of anticipation that made life interesting.
i was actually able to get through the H.I.F. (Hippie Ineptitude Factor) surrounding checking in with little difficulty, but i didn’t realise that there is a big difference between asking and informing when it comes to announcing that your plan is to drive in to chelamela with a full load to be delivered to morningwood odditorium. if i had informed them of what i was doing, i would have been able to drive in without any problem, but because i asked if it would be okay for me to drive in, i was told that i couldn’t drive in without a van or a pickup load of stuff. so i waited for a gator (gaiter?), which is a motorised utility vehicle with a long string of carts that it tows behind it, to ferry my load to the stage. i then found a camping spot behind the stage, in the middle of a huge swarm of voracious mosquitoes which proceded to cover my back with about 5000000000 mosquito bites (of course, they chose the only place on my body where i can’t kill them or shoo them away, and where i can’t scratch). so i got my tent set up as quickly as possible, which was a chore, because it was hot and sweaty, which made the mosquito infestation even worse, and there wasn’t quite enough room under the bushes, so i had to incorporate the undergrowth into the structure of the tent, and got my stuff loaded into it, inflated my (new) bed, and then went back to the outside where i left my car, and parked in scoff-lot. i got finished with all the essential stuff around 3:00 pm or thereabouts, but because of the fact that the ritz was only open for showers (no saunas until thursday 8/ ) i had to put up with an extremely itchy night.
thursday was spent finishing the stage and wandering around gawking and taking pictures of the places that i knew would be full of people within the next 24 hours. it’s really odd to see nobody there, when you know that when everyone else sees it, they’re going to see everyone else as well. it really makes me want to come back in the winter, to see what the fair site is like when there’s really nobody there. i’ve got some friends in eugene that might actually make it possible for me to do that, at some point…
i also got attacked by huge swarms of voracious, bloodthirsty insects – something that very rarely happens to me – so i decided to go into town to buy bug spray… and ice… and beer… well, okay, the ice and beer were for other people, but i was going into town anyway, so i made the run so they didn’t have to, and that meant that i had beer when i got back. i blocked off my parking space in scoff-lot and told the guy at the gate that i would be back in half an hour, which i was. however, when i came back in, another guy told me that blocked spaces in scoff-lot were taken immediately, and that i should head for outta site parking, which is about a mile further down the road. this is where i learned the difference between asking and informing the people of what i am going to do. the next guy i came to (there were three or four of them along the road) i told him that i was going to scoff-lot. he told me that scoff-lot was full, and i said that was okay, so he let me get through. i drove up to scoff-lot right behind the tow truck, but because of the fact that i not only was able to say that i blocked a spot, but because of the fact that i was able to say that it was in row J, the guy let me in anyway – much to the chagrin of the people who were being towed to the dead lot, which is all the way at the far end of the site. and when i got to row J, what do you know? my spot was there, right where i left it… i am certain that at least part of this is because of the fact that i invoke The Remover of Obstacles ON my car, especially because, all the way back in, everyone was telling me that scoff-lot was full and the fact that i had blocked off a parking space didn’t make any difference.
still, it’s a LONG way from scoff-lot to chelamela when you’re carrying four bags of ice. stuart and i went back for the beer with a black plastic garbage bag, so that i wouldn’t have to carry it in alone, and so that we wouldn’t be stopped and potentially asked to share, which is definitely a possibility.
we had a dress rehearsal thursday evening, immediately followed by a disco, which was an incarnation of the same un-namable evil that first manifested when disco was still popular, 30 years ago, so i took pictures of it from a distance, and then immediately left to go to the ritz, where i sweated out about half of the mosquito stingers in my back and got to feeling relatively clean again.
friday was the beginning of the fair for most “ordinary” people, which meant that it was the beginning of a working weekend for me. we did two shows a day, one at 12:00 noon, and one at 3:00 pm. on friday, we also did a 10:00 pm burlesque show. because of the fact that Big Bois With Poise were Short Dudes With Boobs this year, an act which doesn’t include fire, we opted out of the fire show. in spite of the fact that we didn’t use fire this year, they asked us to perform anyway, which gives you an idea of how intensely popular BBWP has become. the band really didn’t have much to do during the burlesque show (a fact which depressed stuart to the point where he said that if we do the show next year, we should ask for a specific slot to be an act, like everyone else, and then just vacate the stage rather than sitting there for the entire show), but because of the fact that i had BBWP duties, i also decided that it would be fun to be a part of the gazeeka box as well, so maque gave me a lizard costume and i was his ex-wife’s attorney, much to the amusement of everyone.
this year’s panto is the traditional tale of cinderella, with the expected panto gender-bending, marginally obscene innuendo and horrendous puns. we’re getting good enough at this that this year we didn’t even have as many problems with the feral children who see every single performance and screw things up by anticipating lines and heckling us. at one point simon called a girl up onstage who had been anticipating his lines, and taped her mouth closed with gaffer tape, much to the amusement of everyone. the audiences absolutely despised the ugly stepsisters, who were played by chris huson and dan “the body” goodman. i actually heard him introduce himself to a group of tourists as ‘dan “the body” goodman’, which i found to be really amusing. we did actually get three new pieces of music on thursday at the dress rehearsal, and there’s still more to come, but presumably we’ve got a while to rehearse now that OCF is over. it was all 100% original, 100% new music, including a couple of pieces by amy bob.
i was standing in the food line at hospitality camp when a person i didn’t know came up to me and said “you’re salamandir”… i didn’t know what to say, so i said “yeah…” it turned out to be the mother of a friend of ezra’s from bellingham, who ezra refers to as “jordan(e)”. it seems oddly coincidental that i would have to go to the oregon country fair to meet a person who i know from bellingham, but oddly coincidental is a very good way of describing the oregon country fair.
friday was also my birthday. i’m 48 now, an age which i, in my wildest dreams, never imagined that i would actually reach. whoopie. 8/
saturday night the fremont philharmonic played at the ritz. i took off right after our 3:00 performance was over, and got there about 5:00, so i was well and truly sauna-ed by the time the rest of the band showed up, which was around 8:00. when i walked up, tuba in hand, i was met by a woman who said “NO tubas!” in an authoritative voice that i recognised immediately to be a joke, and, later on, i talked to lem and david, who were part of the ritz crew responsible for music. i was very suprised to learn that they don’t allow bands with drum sets to play. “at all?” i inquired, and they responded yes, which concerned me a great deal. it turned out that the guy who i thought was responsible for us getting to play, peter toms, aka professor petrol von huffenfuel, isn’t actually a part of the ritz crew, but the fremont philharmonic is apparently grandfathered in, so we weren’t kicked out for having a drum kit. i finally got around to arranging “Rubber Duckie” for the phil, and, of course, we played that. we also played “Il Ballon di Quaqua”, with a great effect. i talked to david on sunday and he said that he had frequently seen bands that had the entire ritz singing along, but he had never before seen a band that could get the entire ritz dancing. we also were offered a gig at a nudist colony near portland.
the fair had to put up with an infestation of gnomes this year, which was amusing and frustrating at the same time: the gnomes were rowdy and rambunctious, and always getting into trouble. they broke in to our back stage area and drank all our tequila, and from there it went from bad to worse. they were ubiquitous. sunday, they were seen shaking down a vendor in the meadow, and when confronted, became belligerent… i think tricky bunny was a part of them, but i’m not sure, because they were wearing annoying gnome costumes, and avoiding my camera. also, i was walking up the eight saturday and i was accosted by a huge flock of people in flamingo costumes. they all gathered around me, honking and cooing and fanned me with their wings for about five minutes, and then flew off again. once again, it is my understanding that tricky bunny was a part of that as well, but i couldn’t tell. as i was walking away from the encounter, i wondered how one could take a picture of such an experience that would come anywhere close to reflecting what i actually experienced.
i met a whole bunch of people, including positively stephie, who had vibrating massage bugs that felt really good on my mosquito-bitten back, and a family of neon people, the father of which works at adobe and will probably be looking for the pictures i took of them.
i saw a sign, of which i was not able to take a picture, unfortunately, which said “The Oregon Country Fair – Psycho-Spiritual Rejuvanation For Everyone”. it’s kind of ironic that i would see that, because i was talking with ned a week ago, and he was saying, based on what i have told him, that things like OCF are like medication for me, which is absolutely true. it’s just too bad that OCF only happens once a year. it’s even more ironic because i realised even more this year that an observation i made about OCF last year is also absolutely true, and that is that OCF is basically a big, hippie-oriented mall without the mall. it’s strange that i should get so much benefit from something that, at it’s lowest common denominator, is specifically designed to extract money from unsuspecting tourists.
there are a whole bunch more pictures which are the only things left of OCF 08. so go look at them… you know you want to…