(Photo courtesy of Minnesota State Fair)
I woke up yesterday morning with my eyes crusted shut, snot dripping vigorously and took a ten minute trip into sneezing purgatory (my body’s attempt to purge the allergens). It happens like this every summer, the sneezing. The burning eyes and dripping nose. The cussing. I guess I’ve become resigned to the fact that my body is simply intolerant of whatever it is that runs amok in the air these days. I don’t know what it is. I don’t care either. All I know is that when August 15th rolls around Christopher takes a trip to the drug store, slaps down his ID and makes off with enough pseudo-ephedrine to cook up an Emmy (or simply get through it all).
But for as brutal as this time of year may be with the allergies, the swass-tastic humidity, the preseason football, it’s comforting to know that there’s something else. It arrives with the same punctuality of all the other nonsense that makes life in late-August not so fun. It’s diverse, it’s ridiculously gluttonous and it’ll (almost) never will crust your eyes shut*. It’s time my friends…to go to the Fair.
I’ve been going for as long as I can remember but it’s only in recent years that I’ve come to really appreciate it for it’s beauty (and I ain’t just talkin’ bout you jorts lady outside the K102 booth!), it’s simplicity and by God, it’s sheer genius!
I know folks who don’t like the Fair, some folks who hate it. Whatever, no big deal. I’m not a Fair bobo who defends the virtues of every booth and attraction. Look I get it, it’s hot and humid, and that kind of weather makes you sweat. And then you pile 100,000 of these sweaty people into a finite space and feed them massive amounts of food, drink and everything in between.
"Okay, okay it’s not that bad."
You’re right it’s not, if it was just that it wouldn’t be all that tough. You eat well, grab a cold pop or two, avoid the carnies and you’ve got yourself a decent time. Except that’s not it. There’s barns. And in those barns are animals. And those animals poop and whiz and give birth and lie there motionless while we ogle at their enormity. Their odors mix with the deep fat friers and cased meats and lubed up rubes to create a melange of aromas like no other.
I could go on and on. The politicians, machinery hill, the Grandstand merchants hawking their wares to comatosed suburbanites (you do need that Wurlitzer organ…you DO!). It is those things. It does smell like sh*t. There ARE thousands upon thousands of sweaty folks who seem to wander aimlessly about for hours and hours with no real destination. It is. But the thing is, in a way that’s what makes it great. That’s part of what keeps me going back and what I get so excited about every August.
For as much as it is all these things, as I return every year I’ve also come to look at it in a whole different light. I think it’s really easy to look at the Fair as a joke, a punchline. A once yearly pop-up Wal-Mart. A mullet magnet. Sure, fine. You wouldn’t be 100% wrong. But that’s a cop out. That’s just lazy cultural observation. It’s the “on-a-stick” of social commentary (it’s rampant and none of it is all that great). No, there’s more there. Fight the urge and take it in.
The arts and crafts, the baking. The horny 4-H kids. Marjorie Johnson. It’s all waiting for you to discover. The haunted house where I once punched a werewolf in the jibs. Ye Olde Mill, Heritage Square, the Skyride. The milk stand (which I remember as Rudy’s Super Duper Milk House…except you had to say “Rudy’s” like “Wooooo-dee’s”, just like Mr. Boschwitz did). Laughing at people’s caricatures, laughing at mesh tank tops, laughing at other people laughing at mesh tank tops. Seeing Rusty Gatenby.
It’s all part of the experience.
I guess for some time now I’ve been describing the Fair as the “The Best and the Worst” Minnesota has to offer. Yep, there’s all those things that stand out, but there’s a helluva lot more. The clash of culture’s urban and rural isn’t always pretty, but honestly most of the time it is.
*Unless you know the right places to look and people to ask for. Might I recommend the Peace tent near Machinery Hill. Such B.O. is often present that it may have from time to time sealed the eyes of unwitting passers-by.
I’m totally fascinated with the idea of redesigning things which we use and interact with on a regular basis.
I saw this the other day and I guess I’m still on the fence with it, but I thought it was a nice attempt to completely re-work this thing we use almost everyday.
On the one hand I like the vertical design and the varied bill length. Helpful for the visually impaired On the other, there’s the use of Helvetica (gotta think there’s a more creative option).
The imagery could be a bit better too. I appreciate the attempt and the concept, but a redesign like this provides the perfect opportunity to create iconographic images rather than a copy/paste execution. How great would it be to see an icon for each bill. Today we identify our currency by the Presidents alone, why not icons (and not photos) representing other pieces of our history? This is a step in the right direction, just think we could take it further.
Not to say this isn’t done well, it just feels a little safe (except for the inclusion of a certain President which would inevitably spur a partisan sh*t storm, the likes of which we haven’t seen since…oh never mind).
Cool stuff nonetheless. Gets the thinker goin’. Curious to know what you guys think? What other stuff would you guys like to see given the redesign treatment?
If you’re interested, here’s another great example of this type of thing: Tyler Thompson’s look at overhauling the boarding pass. Awesome stuff.
I was delighted to find out that everyone’s state-loving crooner, and recent National back-up singer hotness has a new EP out…today! It comes as a bit of a surprise in that most artists these days aren’t capable of releasing a new t-shirt without the darn thing leaking months in advance ("OMG…cannot wait for the new Duncan Sheik Winter tour ringer tees to drop! LOLZ!")
Anyhow, the EP entitled All Delighted People is on sale for $5 as a digital download with a physical EP/LP release to come later this year.
Swing on over to Sufan’s Bandcamp page and pick this one up.
So here it is…finally. Been thinking about dipping my toes into these here self-indulgent waters for some time. But like any hobby, passion project or time waster, things get in the way. Kids, home improvement projects, sleeping or perhaps a debilitating addiction to Angry Birds…you know, stuff.
But alas, the time has come (actually I just don’t have any house projects to do1 and, well I’ve now finished Angry Birds). So I guess for now, no more excuses. It was either this, or a shot for shot remake of the The Road to Wellville done entirely with Legos. I could also have begun my full series re-edit of Beverly Hills 90210 with a fart inserted into every scene (talk about passion project!2). I have no idea what’s going to end up on this thing. I’m trying to get back into the practice of writing more than 140 characters at a time. Pretty sure it’s doable, although I can’t guarantee it’s gonna be pretty.
I should probably tell you ahead time that there’s bound to be some things you won’t find me writing about too much. There will be no long rambling political dissertations here, I trust you can make do without me flapping my yap about hippies and teabaggers (plus I’d rather spend more time convincing you that when Donna Martin rips ass, it sends a shock wave through the Mise en scène). There are plenty of places to go to get this kind of thing. Some of it’s good, some of it is extraordinarily hurtful and divisive. Most of it though, does absolutely nothing for me. I’ll stick with what I do best and that ain’t it.
Sharing internet gold? Yep. Stories? Most certainly. Pictures of myself in general states of disrobement? Why not!3
Should be fun. Stay tuned.
1As I write this I realize I’m completely hosing myself here.
2Full disclosure: this is actually something I will do before I die. I have one helluva bucket list.