The Death Throes of a Festival

Many hundreds of years ago (okay – a little over 25), we became involved in Freedom Weekend Aloft.  We were the souvenir vendors.  The first year, we created and printed tshirts for children.  We got asked (the whole week) for the same design on adult sizes.  The year after, we did all tshirts as well as souvenir items such as cups and Frisbees (those didn’t sell at all).  We were the souvenir vendor for many years.  The first few years were amazing.  We had over $50K in sales in the early 2 years.  Then things changed.

First, the festival moved from Donaldson Center to Anderson.  Many of the food vendors told us that when a festival moves, it becomes history.  We followed it there, where the event moved to Memorial Day Weekend from July 4th.  That was the first sign.  The people with whom we worked were easy and fun.  Then it became political. 

Then it moved again to the park in Simpsonville.  I think we were part of that for 2 years.  After that, a “friend” wanted to become the souvenir vendor.  We were pushed out.  That was okay, because it was such a guessing game, and the last few years were simply not profit making years.  The whole idea of the festival became an issue of who knew who, and who was greasing the palm of who.  There were too many who’s in the whole process.  We still have hundreds of pins – which we attempted to give to the committee – but no response.

We visited on Monday afternoon.  For twenty bucks a person (there were two of us), we could go in and see the 5-6 food vendors – there used to be well into the twenty-something vendors.  There were no souvenirs.  There were a number of trade show like vendor – Bath Fitters, Geico, Banks, Cabela’s.  What happened?

This went from being a celebrated event to a weekend carnival.  There were only a few rides for people to jump on.  It was rather sad to see the dilapidation.  I’m amazed that it is still there.  We were part of history in the early years.  I rode in a few balloons.  I worked for the vendor before us – I dated a balloon pilot (or two).  Perhaps there are simply too many of these kinds of events.  I don’t know.  But the window for this one has closed.  Got to a move theater, or a real concert.  Good bye, Freedom Weekend Aloft.

Unusual Vacation

This vacation was characterized by the focus on getting my mother-in-law installed in the assisted living home.  That was the most important thing we had to accomplish.  It is done.  We visited last evening.  She talked about how old they people there are (she’s 93).  She talked about the terrible movie they showed (Monument Men – I haven’t seen it).  She talked about how sick many were.  She did say that the young women who were working there went out of their way to be nice.

This is going to be an adjustment.  All new things are.  She will have to adjust to eating at different times than she is used to.  She will need to pay attention to the schedule.  She hasn’t had a schedule in many years.  She will have to put herself “out there” to meet new people.  So far, she’s only found irritable ones.  We sat outside next to four very nice people.  It is going to be a test for her to find a way to fit in her new life for as long as it lasts.  We will take her out to lunch before we head back to our lives.  I want the best for her.  I hope this works out well for bother her and my sister-in-law’s lives.  My SIL needs her life back, and she doesn’t need to carry guilt that she and her brother have made this difficult but necessary decision.  Life is such a convoluted mess of decisions.  

Now, I have to go home and get back into my life.  As always, when I get away, I make a bunch of decisions on my own.  Exercise more.  Write more.  Lose some weight.  Make some plans and stick to them.  I too hope I can do what I need to do to create a healthy, helpful, accomplished life.  I want that for me, and I need to do what I need to do.  

Memorial Day is tomorrow, and it is important that we remember those who have sacrificed for us.  That includes my father and my father-in-law, my husband, my uncle, and many friends.  Thank you for your sacrifice and your caring.  Thank you for keeping us safe.  

Time to pack up.  Image 

The Orwellian Ubiquitousness of Video Cameras

Orwell could not have predicted this.  Big Brother has quickly become Big Grandfather.  Have you looked up lately?  In the park?  At the mall?  At your grocery store? At your fitness location?  Have you looked at the corners of where you are – I mean the wall corners or the light pole corners, or even the line extending across I95 at Ridgeland, SC?  Have you looked?  Because, if you haven’t, they are looking at you,  This makes me highly uncomfortable.  How about your neighbor’s house?  The nanny cam?  The naturally suspicious person who wonders what you are doing at your house and aims a camera toward you?  There could be a telescoope on the deck next to you?  When did this happen?

What about the businesses you go into?  Do they get robbed so often they have to video every person who walks in?  And we jump up and down and scream “traitor” to Edward Snowden?!!  I don’t think even Orwell thought of emails.  Who’s reading all those crappy emails?  “Wassup.”  “Are you going out with Joe?”  “Wanna go shopping on Monday?”  “Mama is mad at you.”  Really?  We have nothing better to do with our tax dollars than have people read this crap?  I guess, somewhere hidden in there, is a gem that really means “terrorist.”  Perhaps the word, “mama.”  Or “mad.”  That makes more sense.  Additionally, who’s watching all those videos of me picking between organic sweet potatoes and regular ones?  Who has that amount of time?  Likely, more importantly, who has that amount of money?  Am I paying more for organic sweet potatoes because these jerks are videoing me picking sweet potatoes?  Let’s not even get started on the video taping going on through the eyes of mannequins.

This part is real.  If you’re driving down I95 through Ridgeland, SC, they can video tape you speeding, and then send you a ticket based on your license plate.  It happened to a friend of mine.  Slow down on I95.

Have we as a culture become so criminal that everything we do must be video’d?  Forget the IPhones and the proliferation of video capabilities that will establish where you are and what you are doing.  They aren’t necessarily video taping you – but their precious one year old who is about to fall headlong into the ocean.  And there you are – walking along with your girlfriend (or boyfriend) while your spouse is at home tending to the flock.  Or the business.  Or tending to their own relationships.  This is one odd world in which we have emerged.  

I teach history at a local community college.  Last semester (after the Boston Bombing), we discussed the fact that they wouldn’t have found the bomber as quickly without the video.  How did they (the students) feel about that?  The younger group (I had a diverse age group) said it was necessary to keep them safe.  The older students cried invasion of privacy.  I err on their side.  I don’t want people prying in places they don’t belong.  In my downtown area, they can focus in on you while you walk around town.  We have gang activity.  I guess the videos justify that.

The whole Clippers thing – with the owner and his supposed racist comments, hits me two ways.  One – he’s a shit but also a victim of his generation.  That happens.  Two – more importantly, wasn’t this a private conversation between him – and whoever she is?  Are our private conversations now part of the video insanity?  The legal side of my brain says she is the one who should be sued and lose everything.  The moralistic side (Yes, I cannot completely escape the Puritanical inheritance of America) says he should go down.

I suppose what I’m suggesting is that we pay attention to what we want to be happening in our world, and what we don’t.  When I ride my bike through a beautiful park, I don’t want to know that I’m being watched.  I think it sucks.  But, in 2014, what do we do?  Think carefully.  What do you want from your life?  What safety factors?  Was Snowden a traitor or a hero? Do you want everyone to know you shopped in Lowe’s today?  Think carefully about it.Image