Fair! And nothing more to say about that, because I am tired and didn’t nap and have videos to do - two. I went back to the Fair tonight but couldn't even get close to the parking area. It was clear I was going to miss the sunset, so I went back and finished the vid, and now I have a column to write and then bed. These shortish Bleats will continue until next Tuesday, but then whooo boy! That door! Katie, bar it!
It's already barred? Good work, Katie. Smart thinking.
The picture above was taken, with difficulty, from this slide image:
But! Look what went live today.
Go enjoy. Make sure you listen to Peg’s welcome; it’s a hoot, and charming. And read her bio, written by her daughter, which is charming, and a hoot. No one else could have written that and I’m glad no one else did.
There’s also a TV episode, probably not seen since it aired in the 50s. Nice to know that the IRS made people nervous even then.
New Motels, so there's that - and of course the State Fair videos, which are short and hence not all that unendurable. See you at the Fair - I'll be doing a live broadcast tomorrow, where I will learn how to break dance. Should be mortifying.
A few points about this Fair and what I do there, so you may grasp the peculiarities of this week:
1. I have a stamp of a corn dog on my left hand, which I got in case I had to return to the Fair later. A corn dog. On my hand.This makes me happy.
2. I have to drive to a place to get a bus to go there. The driving requires going through the U of M, which means I am pitched back to college at its most intensely romantic and nostalgic time, when all is fresh and new, and you have the illusion of being a complete adult person who just happens to be living in a controlled environment that has no resemblance to the society it is supposedly training you to join. Nowadays this means driving past extraordinary examples of student housing that would have been the things to which we aspired after we graduated. Maybe.
3. A writer’s job is basically solitary, and the Fair is the opposite of that. There are people who come up and say nice things, which is just wonderful; love it. The strangest example of Being Recognized came two days ago when I was shooting the daily parade; the fellow towing an immense statue of an angry bull - a totem for the Minnesota Surly Beef Guild or something - shouted the following at me:
EVER HEAR FROM GEOFF CHARLES?
And I knew just who he meant; GC was a KSTP drive-time talk-show host in the mid-80s. Big guy, in the Arnold Schwartzenegger sense. We went to the same gym, and I listened to the show, and we got to talking, and he had me on the show, and when he left I took it over. That’s how I got into talk radio. I yelled back that I thought he was on the air in a hot-rockin’ station somewhere in the East.
I FRIENDED HIM ON FACEBOOK AND HE FRIENDED BACK, I shouted, yelling a phrase I had never even uttered before. He nodded and we gave each other the thumbs-up and he drove off with the enormous Fiberglas bull behind him.
4. All my sympathies are with the people who work the Fair, but they do not see me as one of them.
5. I know I will repeat myself; it is unavoidable. For example: Today when I approached Andy’s Diner I could hear the strains of “Greased Lightning,” the song they play every hour. The counter staff stops what they are doing and performs it. Two years ago - three? More? - I came across the same thing, and shot it all in one take. There’s no setting up, no planning, and you can’t just plant the sticks and shoot it straight on, because that would be BORING. So you have to make up your moves as you go along, and since I had the sticks extended by the time I got there I could hold up the camera for overhead tracking shots.
5. Now: a confession.
I CAN’T SEE what I’m shooting half the time. The sun is in the viewfinder. I can’t tell when the camera is up in the air. I’m trying to make eye contact with the subject while checking the viewfinder screen to make sure I have one of the Trademark Shots, which is the subject off to the side and a symbol of their job / hobby / whatever filling the rest of the screen. Yesterday I had to discard some State Trooper interviews for brevity’s sake, and probably for the best - I had the tripod cradled in my right arm, looking up, and the sun fell straight down and the brim ov their hats put their eyes in shadow. Great shot, but unfair.
6. I usually end up with six hours of video for every 30 minutes I show.
7. I am keenly aware that everything required to get an interesting shot probably makes me look ridiculous.
8. When editing, I have a 33-33-33 rule: Still camera with motion in the frame, moving camera, Still camera with no motion in the frame. Varies the vocabulary. I have no problem doing things I shouldn’t do, like whipping the camera around, because you get the sense of someone looking around and seizing on things, as opposed to a mannered, manicured selection of shots.
Anyway. In case you cared. I love doing these, and I think this year is my best crop ever. Certainly the largest. When I’m done I’ll probably have eleven, a personal record, and I intend to put up two tomorrow. I have the job I always wanted - I mean, I wanted to be the Columnist for the StarTribune when I was in college, but if you’d told me I’d be doing my own videos for a global computer network, I would have been astonished that it worked out so well.
No better way to end the summer. More Fair! I say. More!
Because when it goes, it takes everything with it, and we have to start all over again.