"To live outside the law, you must be honest." Well, OK, except that by a certain age, everyone including yourself is usually so heavily invested in your dishonesty, and those investments are so heavily leveraged. Nobody really intended it, it's just that getting to honesty is such an involved process that discovering it and then putting it into practice needs to be done in delicate increments to keep the whole thing from crumbling before you've got the new place built to move into. Too severe a change and the whole thing topples, much like the markets today.
Anyway, heard and felt a few honest things over the last week of travel. Country matters, mostly.
Pitchfork Ain't No Hoe
City of the Broad Shoulders for Pitchfork festival. I want to hate on hipsters, but damnit they ride bikes and care about music, so I'll forgive those too-tight pants and eccentric facial hair.
Pavement: If you get a chance to get a Virgin ticket, go for it for them; they're tight and kind judging from Chicago performance.
Major Lazer with Diplo and Switch: Chinese lion dancers, daggering from a ladder, beautiful dancers. Truly was a Band and Show. Even some hipsters got beyond doing their bend the knees a bit and head-bob dance.
St. Vincent: In love with the guy playing sax, flute, everything else.
Beach House: Took the heat off and that's OK.
Surfer Blood: If Brian Wilson really had been who he started out pretending to be. Plus, from West Palm Beach, got to love that.
Big Boi: Plays the hits, too much reliance on the big screens.
Behind the Music: Visited the 1913 Atwood Historic Planetarium, a big steel can with holes punched in it. You ride a platform with creaky wooden benches into it and it closes down over you and maybe three others, including a highly hilarious irreverent woman doing docent duty, and you see the night sky of Chicago 1913. Also, dinner at Publican, one of those trendy places where they use the whole animal and put you at communal tables, but corn/pistachio/peach salsa, OK? We ended up next to a Pitchfork writer and her paramour and they couldn't have been sweeter; were headed to the Surgical Museum the next day, which sounded interesting, but hell, when you're from DC and have Walter Reed AND the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, it's hard to get impressed. Then they left and on our other side we had a pair of insufferable foodie snobs who almost kept me from staying for the blueberry-lemon-lavender tart. I didn't eat any organ meats at the restaurant. And yes, I'm a medical-museum snob, so shoot me. (And I'll know how to extract the bullet, the old-fashioned way.) Oh, plus: Stayed in haunted hotel! Met three ghosts and took them to the Planetarium.
Life's a Garden, Dig It
No disrespect to Chicago, but loved, loved, loved Floydfest. Saw way, way, way too much to go into, but, in order of loveness:
Low Anthem: Acoustic set and on the big stage, ghostly songs and an eerie little antique organ.
Deer Tick: The big surprise, what rocking guys. First set sweltering and tight; second day drunk and attitudinal (but in a good way!) and reminding me of the 'Mats. Cover: Maybelline as it's meant to be.
Konono No. 1: 105 degrees and rising, danced my ass off. Could have been doing covers, how would I know.
American Aquarium: Just boys singing strong songs about heartbreak. Came back second day announcing to the crowd how they'd never camped before but they loved it and had done mushrooms the night before, although that was certainly dishonest because there was no such thing happening at that festival. Cover: Thunder Road, pretty dumbass sincere, except it was interesting to hear sax solo on pedal steel guitar.
Holy Ghost Tent Revival: So emotional! So horn-tastic! Was too busy dancing to hear if they did a cover.
Pimps of Joytime: Played a bedtime concert pretty much right outside my tent, while people danced and did hoop trapeze tricks on a giant fire-breathing metal dinosaur. Was too busy dancing to hear if they did a cover.
Big Daddy Love: Acoustic just standing around in the Garden section was the best; on the big stage later it got a little plain jam band.
Hackensaw Boys: Cover: Bluegrass jam on Another Brick in the Wall.
Behind the Music: Dance Afire did a real performance--not just the wow, how do they do that w/o setting themselves on fire wow look at that type fire dance and not that hokey Cirque stuff with a sort-of halfass newage storyline either. This was symbolic and unified and meaningful and the music and costumes--everything fit and worked for the place, and this is just seeing one 20-minute performance they did. It really opened my eyes.
But the very best things that happened were that two people said things that will give me sparks for some time. I was camped down by the late-night music, which also was where they had the agriculture booths, who were having some workshops and were also just up for talking and wandering. When I can sit and talk about dirt and nettles with a soft-spoken man, who then throws in the word "alchemical," well, that just about makes my weekend. Lots of talk about food, medicine and pleasure; my sense is that people have a hard time seeing food as medicine but no trouble seeing medicine as pleasure. I'm thinking making that into a functioning, flowing triangle, food-medicine-pleasure, might help a lot of people. Sorry about the non-exact quotes:
"Nothing can give you anything beyond what is put into it." That's from the biodynamic farming expert, talking about improving soil, but I'm going to make hay of it in some other ways. He also talked about feeling the travels and history of your food as you take it into yourself; feeling the needs and the wants of the earth in the air itself; and I'm feeling like, hey, maybe I'm not insane, and maybe I need to be reminded of that once in a while.
"I think Americans have these problems because we reject the bitter; we only want the sweet." That's from the guy with Backyard Revolution, a group that could use more support, I'm thinking. It was about greens, but again, I'll stretch it out like a single chicken into many meals to come. This is someone who found about 10 food and medicinal plants growing in the meadow border of the campsites alone; we didn't even have to get into the woods to find anything interesting. One more quote: "Take something wild into your body every day." That's worthy of needlepointing on a pillow, at least.
On the way home, stopped in Lexington in accordance with our policy not to eat in chain places off the highway but to actually go into the towns and see what's up; unfortunately a ghost hitched a ride and demanded that I play several Steely Dan songs before departing back south down I-81.
Photo: Mountain mint.