Ugh - and how!

It’s been 16 years since I went to the fair just to stagger around and hoover up grease and sugar, sixteen years since the fair was anything but an Obligation. I like it that way. Otherwise I’d miss it. Not because I don’t like it, but because none of my friends go anymore. The fair just . . . passes by, something that happens to other people, like a disaster or a lottery winning. I’ve always loved it, but after several years of going Every Single Damn Day, the deep love of the place has been siphoned out and replaced by wan affection. I feel like a priest at a wedding, frankly. You kids go on and have a wonderful time, now.

Was a guest on the local MPR station today, John Birge’s drive-time classical show. I followed an owl. The owl drew quite a crowd, but that’s to be expected when you can turn your head all the way around and find shrews in the dark. Before and after the show I just walked and took pictures. Amused myself by calling people from the sheep barn and leaving the pissed-off bleats of shorn sheep on their machines. Sheep sound like damned souls; a barnful of the woolly bastards sounds like hell itself.

“Look, honey,” said one mother, pointing to a freshly shaved animal. “He doesn’t have any fur on anymore.”

Fur. Sheep fur. Idiot! It’s hair!

Then to the Chicken barn, where you get a really good sense why we eat chickens instead of vice versa. Looking into the eyes of a chicken makes a Beanie Baby look like the twinkle in Einstein’s retinas. But I do wish they’d move the chicken food stand; it’s right across the street from the chicken barn. They can see it! They can read the sign! No wonder they yell their wattled heads off. At least the owners of that stand should realize that the chicken barn explains why we eat chickens, but does not make one hungry for them. Unless they pecked you through the bars and you’re feeling really vindictive.

Wandered on to the Midway; I was shooting some video when the carny came over and inquired about the technical specifications of the camera. An incarnation of my column today, lamenting the end of the seedy, disreputable hey-maw lookee heere carny that haunted the midways of my youth. Up and down the Midway I went, looking for sin and tacky tawdry sights - but no. No freak shows. No strippers - what’s the point? The 15 year-old girls wear less than the strippers used to have on at the end of their show. Lots of funhouses - must have seen ten, each staffed by a bored & dead-eyed fellow staring out at the hot tarmac, counting the minutes until his cigarette break. (Carnies don’t seem to smoke anymore, either.) No sword swallowers. No hairy-faced women or guys who can lift cinderblocks with strings attached to their nipples. No dog-faced Borneo Boy, alive alive alive.

It’s a clean world. It’s all a very clean world. I repeat a proposition made elsewhere on this site: those of us in the post-Boomer demographic (defined by me as waking up to pop culture in the 70s, not the 60s) have seen, and will see, more change & social realignment than any generation since the 1920s. As they saw the nation quickly get wired with mass media and jazzy fads, and saw the self-image of the country switch from rural to urban, so we will see the end of the pre-PC culture, and the triumph of the Nanny Culture - no smoking! No drinking! No saying anything that hurts anyone’s feelings! And then this same culture beats the crap out of us when we least expect it. It’s the Nanny Culture, alright, and the nanny is Louise Woodward.

I expect them to put diapers on the hogs in the future, so no one’s offended by their watermelonesque testicles.

Food: ate a Corn Dog, and yea, it was good. Ate a small cup of Fresh French Fries, and yea, they were good. Ate an About A Foot Long hotdog, and man, I nearly heaved. I always nearly heave after one of those. Don’t know why. Rat hair? Roach feces? Mayhap, oui. I love them so, but they don’t repay the emotion, and seem to want to bolt in panic from my gorge as soon as I’ve finished. On the bus back to the parking lot, the gentle bobbing of the suspension UP and dowwwn and UP and dowwwwn nearly resulted in a blurt of spew, but everyone would have understood.

The Fair is the one place where you can throw up, and no one thinks you’re drunk or sick.

Anyway. I am now going to edit the footage while I still feel inspired, and I’m going to set it to “Summer Evening” by Delius. The wind is cooling down my studio; a storm is coming in. It has been an exceptional day, but why would I have expected anything else? I went to the Fair.

And here are some pictures, right here.