Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Carnivale, Empty Bowls, and Bagpipes

Whoops! I've been having such a good time I almost forgot to write. Early Friday evening before sunset the sounds of bagpipes pervaded the air downtown. The cacaphony could be heard but not seen. It was a real person with real pipes. The guy was down by Schultz's Drug and moving north on Main. Had a real kilt on too. I attempted to con a young lady into sneaking up behind him and finding out just what he was wearing under that kilt. Sorry, readers. She giggled and laughed and wouldn't take the bait so we will never know. The musicianship was excellent as he slowly marched up and down the street and disappeared, never to be seen again. You know why bagpipers usually march when they play? They're trying to get away from the noise.

As dusk approached a magician was plying his trade at the sundial. When the moon began to rise over the trees he got into some very fancy pyrotechnics that could be seen for blocks. Live magic is not common, and he was uncommonly good. I didn't get to watch the whole act but gave him all the encouragement I could. I told him how for years, in the Madison area, I would work as a musician by night, and magician by day. That caught his attention, he wanted to know more. I told him of the various clubs and the late nights, and how I would wake up in the morning, drive down to State Street about 10am, and turn into a bar.

(You know. You don't have to read this. You could be doing something productive.)

The magician was a warm-up for Carnivale. Darkness brought a beautiful windless October rustle-the-leaves eerie calm with an almost full moon. A Ray Bradbury "The October Country" "Something Wicked This Way Comes" type evening. Charlie Chaplin was coming up the street with that famous waddle, the cane, and the undersized derby. He was on his way to Carnivale.

Carnivale is a fundraiser for the art programs at North and West High Schools. The concept is this: Admission is $20. Admission is $5 if you are in costume, formal, or semi-formal dress. It was held at the Algoma Club on Algoma. The night started slow but by 11pm it was just a hummin'. Most were in costume. The party spilled into the street due to absolute smoking bans and that tended to bring in more $20-admissions from the curious. Smiles came to the people working the door, namely Doug Boone and I, when the 'take' went into the four-figure category. I have got to hand it to Doug, who was dressed as an air show tourist, for his hard work that night.

A jazz trio made some great music. I knew these guys were pro's when the drummer began the set with brushes. The acoustics are such that the brushes could be heard everywhere, but the percussion was not overbearing. The fellow on the electric stand-up bass was outrageously good and anyone could tell they were having a great time. The Oshkosh Rythm Institute also did some wonderful percussion things that helped set the mood. Belly dancers performed and were well received. Although I wasn't that close, I looked for finger-cymbals. I could hear them but never saw any. I liked what they did but get yourselves some finger cymbals. It's just not the same without them.

Costumes were simple, cute, and to the outer limits of taste towards the prurient, and them some. Medusa was there, green from head to toe with body paint and little else. There were many outfits of this type, elaborate and more than a bit cheeky. Sequins, feathers, and paint...lots of paint. Gilligan was there. About the third time he went out for a smoke I asked him what he was smoking. James Dean was there. I swear I saw Scarlet O'Hara. 'Liz has never looked so great. I mean, I've seen her on her bike heading towards the New Moon and she is always the picture of style, but she was jaw-dropping Friday night. I don't know if it was Scarlet O'Hara or not but that's what it was to me. I am not good at this so bear with me. She had big hair, I mean BIG HAIR! Long, with luscious curls cascading down her back. A floor length wine red gown, could've been crushed velvet, with all the accessories right down to the accordian style fan. There was a fashion show during the evening that was a riot. After the fashion show the models were auctioned off for dances. Someone bid $20 for a dance with 'Liz. She was worth a million. There were so many good costumes. The Master of Ceremonies was another favorite. This guy could've easily done lion taming or a circus. Way over 6-feet and thin, he became taller and thinner with a black top-hat and a brilliant red cut-away long-tailed mourning jacket and two-tone wing-tips. He did a great job announcing throughout the evening.

My personal favorite was the two G-men wearing gas masks. That's because they cheerfully 'jumped' my dead car at 1:45am so I could get home. Thanks again guys.

Carnivale is a real sleeper. This one is 'under the radar' and the whole city has yet to catch on. It was very busy and a lot of people will be ticked that they weren't aware of this avant-garde event. Plan now to be there next year.

EMPTY BOWLS 2005 took place Saturday night at the First Congregational Church. This is a fundraiser for our local Ecumenical Food Pantry which distributes from Trinity Episcopal Church. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds were served. The idea is simple. Local artists design, make, and contribute soup bowls. Folks pick out a bowl, have soup and bread, and get to keep the bowl and take it home. Beyond that, nothing is simple. The bowls are every conceivable color and shape. The decorations were fancy, and the lights were dimmed briefly for a quiet and meaningful candle lighting ceremony at each end of each table. There were about seven soups to pick from. I had chicken chile. Chunks of white meat with black beans and other goodies in a white sauce. Excellent! Home made bread of all sorts and sizes was served with the soup. These were the fancy thick heavy good-for-you breads. Desserts and more completed the meal. A String Trio performed and also a pianist. An auction of 'painted-chairs' followed the meal. Too many people to thank. I'll mention one: CHEF SUE HEFT! Go here:

The events of this past weekend had a common thread...ART. And heck, it ain't Art Walk until the beginning of next month. Think about it folks. The downtown is happening...


AngelAiken AKA Thee U.M.O.G said...

hmmm, I dont have to read this?
I did anyways!!

SwanBeeCh said...

Hah, I'm not sure if you'll get this or not. It's a rather old post. I stumbled across the link through carnivale's myspace blog. I was definitely one of the "G-Men wearing gas masks" that jumped your car.