Tuesday, July 17, 2012

At Camp Bisco Nothing The Size Of A Quarter Fell On Our Heads But...

There’s a haze that covers the festival grounds.  This haze doesn’t settle from the sky but rises from the ground.  Stirred by the feet of 40,000 wandering, shuffling souls.  Dirt so fine a golf cart rolling at 2 mph can throw up a Pigpen cloud of dust that filters through your lungs, drifts upward and disappears like water vapor, absorbed only to return to earth piggybacking on raindrops that become mud before they even hit the ground.  Some new form of precipitation coming soon to a weatherman near you. 
“Clean me” fingerpainted on the windshield of a ’98 Subaru with a note underneath “Why bother?”. 
And heat.  Mississippi Delta heat.  The Ginzu knife couldn’t slice this air I’m trying to breathe heat.  Most days women would kill for bigger boobs.  Today is not one of those days.  The only relief comes in the form of a wimp of a breeze not big enough to be shared by more than 4 or 5 people at a time.  Teasing then moving along.  Leaving in its wake heat and sweat so thick tattoos are running like an Al Stewart watercolor.  White girls with skin perfectly-boiled Maine lobster red and perfectly-roasted Peking duck crispy.    
Like a student who although unassigned always returns to the same classroom seat, I continue to use the same port-a-potty (second on the left, third row from the gyro stand).  It’s the one with the Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer can bobbing for dear life in a sea of yuck.  As the festival-goers empty bladders the beer can makes its way to the surface only to fall each morning when the port-a potties get cleaned.  Veterans know the best time to go to the bathroom is right after the septic pumpers have been to town.  Toilet paper and clean seats last about as long as it takes a police dog to go on alert at a Phish show.
The people watching is as fascinating as ever and I overcook more than one order of French fries.  Do you want ketchup with your neon purple fur-lined boots?  Security tries valiantly to hold back swarms of desperate to get to the next show young’uns.  Bred somewhere between Barney Fife and an over-zealous campus security weekend extra they feel a need to protect people from errant golf carts making their way to the stage with very important cargo.  “You’ll cross this road when I say you’ll cross it.  Thanks for understanding.”  The septic pumpers seem to get the right of way and I’m ok with that rule.  
Best tee shirt so far?  A tie between a guy with a really big head wearing a shirt with his own face on it and “You’re grammar suck’s”.  Hey I think Jesus is buying a burrito.  Jesus or Frank Zappa.  Then I realize those 2 are dead and it’s probably a guy named Jack who works during the week at the co-op selling beans in bulk.  Magic beans that will turn your eyes inside out and turn your girlfriend into a beanstalk. 
Most of the people are very nice and it is fun to talk with folks and find out a little about anyone willing to share.  The genuine ones make our day as vendors a little more bearable.  Here are some folks I got a chance to talk with for awhile.  I told them I was going to post their picture so “Hi guys!”  

My Best Customers So Far

It’s interesting and everyone knows the odds of never seeing these people again are pretty good but it is fun to get to know people this way.  Sort of like speed-dating without any consequences.  
The music for the most part is god-awful.  We used to get the same sound when we failed to properly connect our stereo speakers.  I sincerely believe if you can play one really low bass note over and over and over and over again you can be a band.  Actually you only have to play the note once and then sit back and let your computer take over.  This can’t be what our parents heard when Elvis and Chubby sent them scurrying to their bomb shelters.  That was music. With lyrics that dripped with meaning.  Sha bittly boo wah wah wah!
For a break yesterday I got to go to the store to pick up replacement supplies.  120 bags of ice.  Can I ride in back on the way home?  We went to a store named BJ’s.  Really.  Who names their store BJ’s?  How many times have kids had to ask their father why he snickers every time he goes in the place?  And I swear I’m not making it up when I say the first thing I saw when we went in the store was a mechandising display of kneepads.  Okay I’m making that up.

So we drag home to hot showers and screened windows with fans and get ready for Gathering of the Vibes.  Where I do believe, me and the music will get along nicely thank you very much.

Love you all.  Peace.  Peter

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Stopping by a Rest Area with a Rest Area for your Dog

Falling asleep and waking to the slow realization you are lying in a field of dog poops.  It comes to you gradually because everyone of us thinks someone else is responsible for the off-odored air.  Then it occurs to us we are resting in a sacred dog poop battlefield.  Like a platoon of enlisted men trying to navigate their way out of a minefield we slowly make our way through dry and dusty almost decayed-back-to-soil past a pile of still-steaming my owner was a Great Dane the size of Denmark and ending up on pavement.  128 degrees hot but at least not smelly, pavement.
We’ve stopped because our driver is exhausted from 6 days of music festival food selling.  Six days with maybe 2 hours of sleep in any 24 hour period.  So we wait wondering if we are here forever or not.  Forever would be hard because none of us has more than one pair of clean socks left and the tan lines we are all so proud of are really 6 days of hot Lower Peninsula Michigan dirt.  Dirt so fine and dusty you could grow a 2 foot carrot in it.  Not really, I think the carrot would probably say “too dang hot, I’m staying inside this seed shell where it’s air-conditioned.”
Forever would be hard because we stink.  Not just stink.  Stink that stanks.  Stanky stink.  The dog poops would probably have left if we didn’t.     We’ve been camping with and selling food to a gazillion kids whose only purpose over the past 6 days was to get really stinky.  They got the good stinky we got the bad.  My head hurts, my feet stink and I don’t love Jesus.  Well whether or not I love Jesus will have to wait for another day but I’m here to tell you there is stink.  He who is without stink shall  inherit something righteous.  That ain’t going to be me.  I stink.
Tried on day 5 to shave and shower.  The shower had a mile long line so I settled for a shave.  Next time I’d like to try it with a sharp razor, hot water and not sharing a bathroom built for 6 if there was a 3:2 ratio of guys going No.1 to guys taking a good healthy No.2.  Wait, that would mean there was only room for 5 people.  Well I’m counting the guy at the sink shaving (which would be me) with 25 guys watching.  Shaving with a dull razor in front of 25 guys is like trying to start peeing in front of 25 guys.  (It really is an organ with a mind of its‘ own).  And it’s not like you can decide half through to say to hell with it and walk out.  This horror movie has to be completed.  Because let’s face it walking around with a half shaved face is really weird.  Lock ‘em up weird.  So I finish and make my way back to HQ dripping blood but relatively free of facial hair.
HQ is a combination of food trailer-concession stand-tent grove.  Surrounded by a fence that after 3 days suddenly has a multitude of bras hanging from its’ chain-links.  Shed as just one more layer of unneeded keep your body overheated clothing.  The first to go when the temperature gets to the point at which even bacteria aren’t feeling frisky.   
Saw my first painted boobie the evening of Day 2.  I sort of wish I hadn’t.  Things had started moving south for this woman and it wasn’t pretty.  And it makes it hard for a guy who hands out burritos for a living.  Maintaining eye contact is tough enough when there is a woman standing in front of you.  It becomes a workout when she is not wearing anything over her upper body other than a thin layer of Benjamin Moore.  A conversation between the brain and the eyes grows heated until one or the other wins out.  You don’t want to get caught copping a look.  I was good though, kept my eyes right where any decent gentleman keeps them.  On the bug crawling across the tent ceiling.
The morning of day 6 is fun.  It’s time to pack up and get the hell out.  It’s the final morning and you see 50 year old men walking across the festival grounds heads down totally dejected because they have come to the realization they just spent the last week not getting laid.  4000 women, most all of whom have enough drugs flowing through their bodies they couldn’t name the third planet from the sun and you didn’t get any.  Or the dazed look of the twenty-sumpin’s who did get lucky and now are wondering if it is okay to just drive away while what’s her name is in the Sunoco bathroom.  What is her name anyway?  Man I should have paid closer attention when that was being discussed.  Yeah, it’s time to go home.

Or at least to a rest area somewhere between Rothbury, Michigan and the Green Mountain State.  A rest area where we could walk our dog if we had one.
Love you all.  Peace.  Peter  

Where in the World is Rothbury, Michigan

This week found us at Electric Forest Music Festival.  Electric music as in it's not really music or it was at one point and I just fed it through a weird machine and this is what came out and you are on such a great combination of drugs you think it is wonderful and oh wow did you see the size of that moth and does this neon orange tutu make me look fat and all I have is a dollar can I have a burrito.

Main Stage
It's always best before the crowds get there because you get to walk around and check things out without the multitudes.  It was very dusty, so dusty we had to wear bandanas when we held up the bank.

Monica, Amanda, Dea and Sydney!

There was a lot of hanging around when we first got there.  For some reason we raced across New York and Ohio which are very big states as measured from right to left, only to arrive 2 days before we had to.  Luckily it was only 96 degrees during the day and there was no shade.

Yes sir Bob it's a glamorous life being on the road selling burritos

We finally found an oak tree to lie under but acorns the size of quarters kept falling on our heads.

Acorns the size of quarters

The folks running the show had duded everything up in pretty good fashion.  A lot of work went into making the forest electric.

Dea and Sydney.  Aren't they the cutest?  And some weird guy who wants to be friends with Dea and Sydney.  Run Dea and Sydney, run.

Oh I'm sorry was that your tent?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Down and Back

In one weekend we headed to Clearwater's Hudson River Revival Music and Environmental Festival.  Down the turnpike for Croton-On-Hudson for a 2 day spell of selling our fair fare.  The crowd was much different than the past festivals.  Much older and mellower.  Except for their causes.  People stumbling over each other to promote one thing or another.  Probably really nice people but there was an awful lot of pretentiousness floating around.  We were surrounded by do-gooders trying to out do-good the do-gooders next to them.
"I'm against nuclear power."
"Yeah well I'm really really really against nuclear power."
"Yeah well I triple dog dare you to sign my anti-fracking petition."

The venue was gorgeous.  The Hudson is definitely in that group of mighty rivers flowing down to the sea.  To stand on her banks is to easily imagine what it must have been like hundreds of years ago.  Before there were nuclear power plants.  And do-gooders.

Next to us was a space called Story Grove where they told stories about evil executives dropping nuclear power plants on little kids' heads.  They had a dragon soaring overhead that was pretty cool.
Pretty Cool Dragon

Over us we had a mulberry tree that kept dropping mulberries the size of quarters on our heads and landing in our coffee cups exploding coffee everywhere.  It blocked our sign and lowered our "visibility quotient" (I just made that up, pretty good 'eh?).  Donald wanted to cut down the tree but I convinced him that it probably wasn't the right crowd for that sort of thing.  So many hugs, so few trees.

Stupid Tree

Mulberries the size of quarters.

People watching is the thing to do at these festivals.  I must say the hippie population has not aged well.  There were a whole lot of tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping, co-existing pasty white toes twisting out of Birkenstocks. 

Arlo Guthrie?  Or maybe his mother.

Yea for our great crew!

It's always great to return to the sanctuary!

We get a week or so off and then head for Michigan and the Electric Forest Festival where we will hear music from bands such as Girl Talk, Ghostland Observatory, Datsik and 12th Planet.  Who are these guys?  Man, I'm not aging well.

Love you all.  Peace.  Peter.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Post Bonnaroo

It is raining.  After 6 days of fairly nice weather it is raining.  It is Monday morning after Bonaroo and the heavens have let loose over Manchester, Tennessee.  
We did a good amount of packing up late last night but everyone is so exhausted after 2 weeks on the road that we quit to get some sleep.  After all-night music coming at us from three stages, a night of silence meant an absolutely wonderful sleep.  Awake now and refreshed but it is raining.
The team, the crew, the guys and gals have been a joy to work with, maintaining wonderful senses of humor despite 18 hour days of dealing with grease and heat and impatient customers of varying degrees of sobriety and sanity.  Those of you who are on the road must have a code that you can live by.
So we wait.  Until the antsy kicks in and we decide to slog it out of here.  To the nearest hotel with hot showers, sharp razors and a laundry machine big enough to fit several tons of socks, a couple of tents and me.  Climb right in and take a spin on the wild side.  Tumble dry and roll on.  
The list of the first thing I’m going to do when I get home has grown from sleep in my own bed to wolf down a big-ass juicy cheeseburger to drink a couple of cold beers and back to sleep in my own bed.  Maybe watch a Red Sox game.  Read a newspaper.  Do a crossword puzzle.  
The road home is long.  The rain makes the driving hard and slow.  Everyone is sick of eating gas station food but no one wants to take the time to sit down for a real meal.  So we subsist on the jerky food group, the honey roasted peanut food group and the diesel fumes food group.  Try forming that into a frickin‘ pyramid that will satisfy the nutritionists.  Those amongst us who are health conscious drink orange juice.
The road home is long.  I like Bruce Springsteen.  I really do.  When Born To Run came out I was hooked.  Screamed and swayed when The Boss and Clarence dueted.  But I draw the line at the Sirius E Street radio station that plays Bruce 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The alternative is non-stop Jimmy Buffet.  Or non-stop Howard Stern.  Or non-stop reggae.  So we got 20 hours of Bruce.  I’m sure there’s a Geneva convention against this.  We get a break from Bruce by going into a gas station to get some honey roasted peanuts. 
It is raining.  And There’s A Darkness On The Edge of Town.  But we are making progress.  The familiarity of the New York Thruway make it seem almost like home.  We pass Kingston and realize how funny it is that we will be back here in three days to provide food for a folk festival.  Then we realize it is not funny at all.  And the trip odometer passes 4000 miles. 
We pull into the yard to disband for several days of alone.  It is raining.  But it is Vermont rain and feels wonderful.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day Two. On Route to Wakarusa

Closing in on Arkansas one state at a time.  We left a little rubber on roads in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri before settling in St. Louis for the night.

An early morning wake-up call because we wanted to get to Restaurant Depot and stock up up on food and equipment.  Well what do you know it looks as if the folks at Restaurant Depot get Memorial Day off.  Well that throws a bit of a kink in things but we quickly adapt.

Here's the initial gang of young thangs ready to hit the road first thing.  Just waiting for the Donald to finish his bagel.
Monica on the left. Isn't she pretty?  Sasha in the middle. Isn't she pretty?  Shawn on the right. Yes Shawn you're pretty too.

After a good solid hour in the car the young thangs were very tired.
Sasha and Monica still pretty.  Shawn? Not a good look.

Traveling through the midwest is strange.  They have billboards all along the highway.  The advertisers are very concerned about where I am spending my days after death.  Thus  we passed things like "Hell is an awful place to spend eternity because you made some poor choices."  And "do you know how you are spending the afterlife?  Jesus does".  And what I think is a little shot at the Jews, "Jesus IsReal".    

At the other end of the wackometer spectrum are billboards advertising adult stores and fireworks.  There must be more adult stores and fireworks shops per person in Indiana than any other state in the union.  I suppose this cvombination makes sense.  If the adult toys don't do it for her you set off a couple of Roman candles.  Oh baby baby.  You big cowboy stud.  I think I felt the earth move.  Let the church say, "Amen".

The Donald is great.  We get to Restaurant Depot.  It's Memorial Day.  We know they are closed.  There is not a car in the parking lot.  No answer when we call.  And yet he walks around peering in windows.  As if there is an entire crew inside waiting to open if someone happens to show up.  So we decide to head to St Louis and hit stores tomorrow.  We get to meet up with the crew that is on route from a festival in Illinois headed for Wakarusa.  Hugs all around.

The Gang of Young Thangs gets bigger.

Dinner tonight at a Mexican restaurant and then to bed.  Early try tomorrow at the St. Louis division of Restaurant Depot.

I'd like to introduce clockwise starting on the left: Scott, Sarah, Maddy, Sasha (you've already met), Orion and Dave.

We should be arriving on sight tomorrow afternoon.  No more Mexican restaurants.  No more hotel rooms with hot showers and toilets with doors on them.  No more internet.  Plenty of great food, music and fun people to watch.  Amen.

Love you all.  Peace.  Peter

Summer '12 Adventure Begins

I left Middlebury yesterday with my friend and landlord Donald, owner of a ragtag enterprise called Crescent Foods.  He travels to music festivals during the summer making burritos, quesadillas and other vegetarian fare for mostly very stoned young hippie wannabees.  The thing that's great from a food entrepeneur's point of view is that very stoned translates into a lot of hunger and a complete loss of what a $20 bill is worth. "$12 for a small flour tortilla, a piece of cheddar and 4 leaves of spinach?  No problem.  And you'll melt the cheese?  Oh wow man, cool."

Right now we're in Ashland, Ohio.  Traveling with Donald and three young thangs named Sasha, Sean and Monica.  The young thangs sit in the back seat of the pick-up and chatter constantly.  Mostly all at the same time.  Donald doesn't want to listen so he turns up the all Bruce Springsteen, all the time radio station.  The young thangs can't hear each other so they start talking louder...so Donald turns up the radio..."What did you say?"   I said, I WAS BORN IN THE USA!"

It's about 5:00 AM in Ashland.  By the way, Ashland was named by its early German settlers from the word ashelaxelschaftekberg which roughly translates as "because the wagon wheel broke and we don't feel like going any further".  Donald wants to be on the road by 5:30 at the latest so I won't dilly dally.  Hope to see you in Arkansas at Wakarusa.  Wakarusa. It will be interesting to discover where that name came from.

Love you all.  Peace.  Peter