Western Rec: California State Fair
07/21/2014 | Sacramento, CA
Pork on a stick, snickers on a stick, churros on a stick, butter on a stick, fill-in-the-blank on a stick. Blue ribbons, red ribbons, white ribbons, yellow ribbons, green ribbons, orange ribbons, purple ribbons, brown ribbons.
I Western Recreation
Western Recreation is the study of the recreational habits and habitats of Americans in our Western states. It is an integral part of our greater research project, American Recreation. In order to gain insight into the recreational habits of our fellow Americans, we traveled the vast network of roads, campgrounds, State & National Parks, coastlines, beaches, rivers, mountains, lakes, forests, deserts, valleys, small towns, fairgrounds, trail systems, gas stations, parking lots and similar to survey and investigate the myriad forms, expressions, styles, modes, manifestations, permutations of American Recreation.
II The State Fair
It’s hot and humid, there’s sweat on your face and running down the back of your leg and the front of your t-shirt is wet and getting wetter and everyone is walking around with misters and miniature handheld fans in khaki cargo shorts and bikini tops and his-and-her airbrushed t-shirts and custom embroidered baseball caps and it’s loud because of the hawkers and millions of screaming kids and Top 40 hits and the PA system and the sound of tractors racing somewhere off in the distance and it’s generally an overload of all the senses; the opposite of deprivation, everything at once, an outdoor simulation park the purpose of which is to, at least originally, celebrate food. Not any or all foods, specific foods. Regional foods from a VERY specific state. And not just the corn dog or lettuce head or pork on a stick itself, but the whole culture around which and from which and through which these foods come to life. Including but not limited to the people who make and grow and sow and harvest and cook and prepare the foods, the animals out of which the foods come, the animals into which the foods are made, the land and trees and fields and rivers and lakes from which the food is harvested, the diners and restaurants and carts and stands and shacks and wagons from which the food is sold, and the machines and tools and techniques using which the food is prepared. A mountain man rendezvous, a renaissance fair, a smörgåsbord of fountain sodas, funnel cakes and butter statues. Everything, all of it, fried. 4-H Valhalla, open air stalls exhibiting the largest pig, a pig so big it can’t stand or move it just is, multi-generational farm owning and/or ranching families and stylist professionals blow drying and teasing and primping and coaxing and washing and and coloring and hoof trimming and shit collecting and feeding and watering the best-in-show edition of Noah’s Ark. The smell of shit, bedazzled rodeo jeans, supremely capable six year olds in tucked-in chambray denim shirts. Fortune tellers, camel rides, hypnotists, folk dancing, drag racing, dunk machines, stand-up comedians, overflowing trash cans, trans-fairground gondola rides and rides, so many rides: the Pirate Ship, the Ali Baba, the Double Shot, the Freefall, the Kamikaze, the Hurricane, the Helter Skelter, etc. Lost kids. A dude with a tropical rainforest bird on his shoulder. The lady wearing a living python. Strollers, golf carts, the smell of cigarette smoke, spilled Pepsi, a pile of melting ice cream on buckled pavement in the shade of the tree next to some grass, Segways and wheelchairs and slow moving rascals and golf carts leaning heavily to one side. Ancient ATMs featuring four dollar transaction fees. The promise of a real Philadelphia cheesesteak. Pork on a stick, snickers on a stick, churros on a stick, butter on a stick, fill-in-the-blank on a stick. Blue ribbons, red ribbons, white ribbons, yellow ribbons, green ribbons, orange ribbons, purple ribbons, brown ribbons. And awards. Some crowns. Gum stuck to your shoe. Disappointing slushies. Local art. A museum featuring wooden spoons and only wooden spoons. Turkey leg in your teeth. Sunburn, dead phone, lost sunglasses, long shadows. Every style of shoe, every tattoo, every hat, every tribe.
III California State Fair Visual Slideshow
MISSION MADE POSSIBLE: BTS CA STATE FAIR Featuring Mission Workshop
- 1. Every now and then I think about the days when I could walk into a Walgreens and buy a 20-pack of 600 Polaroid film for fifteen dollars. I loved that. That was in 1997. It’s not 1997 anymore. You can’t do that anymore. And the Impossible Project film sucks. So listen, I don’t like it anymore than you do but the reality is it’s time to hang-up your SX-70. Put it on a windowsill, think of it as art.
- 2. But still, instant lo-fi images, especially of ALL of humanity attending a midsummer food and ride fair, are an important part of Performance Journalis™, so buy this camera and use this camera to photograph a three year old with tears and ice cream and snot on his face.
- 1. They’re gold, they’re mirrored, they could be overbuilt 3-D glasses or high fashion or yes, from the future.
- 1. A FULLY-functional, office-capable-type bag that is basically waterproof, supremely durable and features the right amount of pockets and external fastening capacity for towels and tripods and whatnot.
- 2. BUT is actually just a perfectly-sized dead simple roll top duffle bag.
- 1. These shoes are made for the apocalypse in the future when all major diplomatic differences (international wars, tribal warfare, village-on-village violence, etc.) are solved through a non-lethal form of paintball battle fought in a Hunger Game-like arena and broadcast live in primetime around the world.
- 1. More than reliable transportation or a destination or extensive provisioning, any Explorer or Traveler (or Philosopher/Wanderer) worth his salt requires only a quality wool blanket.
- 2. Wool blankets can be fashioned into a jacket, as in a capote, or a cloak or cape. They can be used to wrap and therefore protect your valuables during travel as well as camouflage said valuables regrettably but necessarily left overnight in a car in a dimly lit motel parking lot. In place of an otherwise useless cotton towel pre-and-post hot spring, swim hole and river. As a bedroll, a napkin (albeit an oversized napkin), a pillow, a sack or makeshift bag, a brightly colored and nicely delineated picnic or lunch spot, for love-making, in defense against nearly feral or overly habituated animals, a lightweight saddle alternative, fire containment and for bivouacking and/or enhancing an otherwise primitive shelter. For wound care and poultices. Protection against the elements like dust, wind, direct sunlight, etc., as well as volatile and/or tempestuous weather. Insulation be it fixed, semi-permanent or temporary. To appear Period Correct if which period is the whole of the 1800s. A blanket and/or ad-hoc burrito-style mummy bag. And finally, if need be, they can be soaked in various nutrients, broths, herbs and tinctures for later oral or topical application.
- 3. This is a linen towel but same difference.
- 1. Technical fabric, technically fashionable, technically appropriate length, technically good colors, technically perfect (basically) shorts.
- 2. Stretch, durability, handfeel and sex appeal.