Enemy behind the gates

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There is danger at the fairgrounds.  It’s not from the expected.  It’s not bad equipment or poorly maintained rides.  It’s not thieves and pickpockets hiding among the crowds, looking for their mark.  And it’s not farm animals looking to terrorize that unknowing visitor who leans in too far.

It’s the food.

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No food in the fair can be considered healthy.  Even if they happen to start out that way, they are quickly corrupted by life on the road with the carnies.

Mothers try to avert their children’s eyes.  Doctors cry out dire warnings.  All to no avail.

The bright lights, blowing streamers, and bold graphics grab the attention of the hapless passerby and hook them in with their dangerous delicacies.

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Those tired of the non-trans fat foods available to them rebel like 12 year olds and gorge themselves on double battered corn dogs or gyros.  Married men get even with their wives and pick the deep fried cauliflower or fried corn on the cob expounding how there are indeed, “Eating their vegetables.”

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Only the truly shameless, though, will walk straight up to the concession stand and ask for the deep fried Oreo.

I thought that was the worst it could get, but I was proven wrong.  There, in the corner of the window, silent stood the sign of oblivion.  The one thing in the entire world that would bring every cardiologist to his or her knees.

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After seeing such horror, I found safety behind a standard corndog.  For after all, they’ve been around for generations.

For the love of music

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They roam from town to town across the nation or set in the local taverns as much a fixture as the bourbon bottles behind the bar.  They are the romantics of our time and are called musicians.

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These dedicated bards decided long ago to eschew the familiarity and financial safety of our average blue and white collar jobs, risking it all for the cheer of the crowd and the adrenaline of the stage.

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Deep inside the hope of making it big springs eternal, but the odds play against them.  Instead they produce some CDs, upload a rough cut video on You Tube, and post on Facebook about their next gig.

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Some might think them lazy but they would be wrong.  These modern bards sweat through their performance, smile with every thank you, pose for every picture, listen to every comment, pack their own equipment, drive to their next destination, and sleep in their car when there is no room to be found or afforded.

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CD sales, donations, and personal performances comprise the bulk of their earnings, but ebb and flow at the whim of the economy.

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Romances start with a dreamy look of a fan, but can soon fade under the harsh light of the spot and the long grind of the road.  True love is something tested and tested again.  Family and children are hard thought before acted upon.

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Age; age and retirement are ghosts of futures yet to come.  Sometimes cold and chilly, other times as calm and serene as a sunset over the ocean.

No matter.  The music and the memories are eternal.

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(Thanks to Albannach for inspiring this.)

Thoughts of: Optimism and the American Festival

I went to another festival over the weekend.  This time it was a Greek one.  Unlike the Highlands games and Celtic Festival held in Sarasota, the Greek Festival was held by a local church.  The size and scope of it was smaller but this one was catered more towards families with little children and fellow clergymen.

The carnival rides and bounce houses were set up for immediate viewing of the kids as you walked to the entrance.  This helped build up excitement for the little ones.  Once you got in though, you were guided into the newly built main hall where various vendors showed off their creations catching the eyes of the wives while the children tugged haredly at their father’s arms, begging to get to the rides.  The wise wives would take the initiative and suggest that the Father go on with the children, lest they break something.  They would find them later on.

All the father’s wanted to do was exit door right and get to the various food vendors where delectable meals of Saganaki and cold beer was to be had.  The father was usually the last to get his way.

What interested me was not the various games, rides, vendors, or food; but the general popularity of the festival itself.  Look around you.  I bet that somewhere, sometime over the weekend there is a festival going on that is in driving distance to you. It may be held indoors because of the weather, but it’s still going on.  There is a resilience to the festival.  The size and activity amount may change according to the local economy, but not matter how bad it gets, there’s always  one going on.  And why not?  People always want to have happiness in their lives.  The festival can be an inexpensive way of doing that.

Festivals even show up in our displays of culture.  In such dark movies like “The Postman” or television series such as “Jericho” there’s a scene where people go to a festival and celebrate life.

That’s what we do.  That’s what we’ve always done.  We celebrate life, family, friendship, community, and are optimistic of the future.  Sure things have been bad for a while.  Yes there’s always uncertainty during an election year.  But these events are not permanent and we do not let them control our entire lives.  The festival is a symbol of that optimism.  So what if the rides are bad and the calories high.  Life is meant to be enjoyed.  The festival gives us another excuse to enjoy it.

Ramblings of: An American Festival

Last weekend Sarasota held their annual Highlands Games and Celtic Festival.  It was fantastic!  A mini car show greeted you the moment you entered the gate offering the classics of Britain and Ireland. There were three stages set up showcasing different bands every hour until closing.  Tents were set up offering all the trappings of fashion, jewelry, and toys.  You could watch the athletes flip telephone poles or participate yourself in a little hatchet throwing.  When hunger distracted you from all the excitement, you had various forms of authentic style eats including Shepard’s pie and haggis.   A nice, cold Harps was available to wash it down.

Festivals like this are very popular here in America.  Whether Polish, Italian, German, French, or Spanish, you can usually find a festival representing your favorite heritage in a town close by.

It begs the question; Are there American Festivals over in Europe and if there are what are they like?

Would the car show consist of just 60’s era muscle cars and Cadillacs with tail fins or would they show modern vehicles of choice like Jeep Grand Cherokees, Ford Tauruses, and Chevy Silveradoes?

Would you be able to get more than just a hamburger or hotdog at the food vendors?  Would they offer both the New York Style and Chicago style of pizza?  What about ribs?

What music would be offered?  Would it be pop and rap?  Just country?  Rock and roll?  Would they thing to offer jazz and blues as well?

How would they dress up for the festival?  Would everyone be dressed like cowboys or would everyone be wearing basketball jerseys and oversized jeans hanging way past their hips?

Would your choice of drinks be limited to Coke, Budweiser, or Starbucks?

Would sunglasses and bubblegum be the main stay of all the vending tents?

Would they have toy gun fights featuring replicas by Airsoft?  Would that even be legal in the sponsoring country?

Would they play football and baseball while ignoring the other hobbies of hacky-sack, Frisbee toss, and volley ball?

It would be interesting to see what the other countries think should be in a proper American Festival.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think would be in an American Festival if held in another country.  The proper, the stereotypical, and the just plain silly.  What would be in the American Festival?