|Went to the Fair today.
In other news, I’m glued to the hurricane coverage. TV news is annoyingly scant, as you can imagine; right now Fox – I’m sorry, FAUX, haw haw – is showing the same shot of a parking lot with one wind-blown tree and a radar map of this hideous boiling chancre rolling inland over and over and over again. It’s surreal to watch the WWL TV feed; it’s the New Orleans TV station, and you’re wondering if this studio will still exist tomorrow. Or tonight. Or Tuesday – I keep clicking around to find out when the storm is expected to hit, and this salient fact seems infrequently mentioned. So I keep hitting refresh on the Fark forum about the storm; early in the evening there were posts from a Farker who was located not far from New Orleans, and he has become the Salam Pax of Hurricane Katrina. Everyone’s wondering how he’s doing, whether he’ll live. Since it’s Fark, there are a few people calling him an idiot. Since it’s Fark, there are a lot more people calling the other people various names.
Ah – the TV guys are broadcasting from Baton Rouge. And they’re saying it’ll hit in the morning. Meanwhile, watch out for tornados! It’s like watching a feed from Pompeii describing how the shower of pumice should stop around two, and choking clouds of poison gas and lava flows will start around five.
This article seemed to provide a general lesson for life.
Tina and Bryan Steven, of Forest Lake, Minn., sat glumly on the sidewalk outside their hotel in the French Quarter.
"We're choosing the best of two evils," said Bryan Steven. "It's either be stuck in the hotel or stuck on the road. ... We'll make it through it."
His wife, wearing a Bourbon Street T-shirt with a lewd message, interjected: "I just don't want to die in this shirt."
Nor do any of us, but that’s usually how it works. We’re all wearing the lewd shirt, in a sense. Metaphorically. Or literally, if you’re at the Fair – the number of salacious slogans on T-shirts was remarkably small, but still made me wonder what these people were thinking. I will shock the world! I will present them with an insouciant epigram that will not only shock the gentle burghers to their core, but upend the norms of decency to which even the humble man subscribes! Dude! There were also a few guys who had plenty of fresh ink, and HAD to take off their shirts, because apparently those new jagged tattoos just eat right through cotton.
I wrote about the Fair for the last two Fence columns, so I’ve not much to add today. Went with Wife and Gnat, peeled off to do the NARN show at the 1280 booth – rockin’ good time, frankly; haven’t had that much fun on radio for a while – then returned to Kiddieland to watch Gnat wear herself out on the rides. Ran out of camera and camcorder batteries too soon, alas, -
Update; fox showing the same parking lot; tree still windblown, but the camera is jostling in the wind. The segment title: “Anxious in Alabama.” Really. If I may make a request: enough, please, and utter death to, the “Adjective in Place Name” cliché. Thanks. Also, as long as I’m dealing death to clichés, please do something about this radio commercial cliché: statement made in pukey FM voice; crashing sound FX, then the same voice fed through some tinny trebly speaker. You’d know what I mean if you heard it. The idea, I believe, goes back to a guy who did commercials in the 70s and 80s, a fellow whose work is almost completely forgotten now except by radio devotees. His specialty was the ruminating inner monologue. He’d state the case in a rich cask-aged velvety voice; then the same voice would appear with extra reverb, less bass and less volume, echoing the idea of the previous assertion while adding an assenting inflection that still had a top-note of inquisition.
Hmmm. Genuine Afghan heroin.
(voice: they say it’s good.)
Wonder how much it costs.
(voice: gotta cut back.)
But this is the season for fresh, field-raised heroin.
(voice: top of the crop.)
I think I’ll try some. After all, it’s Hanson’s Horse, the name you trust.
(voice: trusted for years.)
He had one gimmick, and it could be applied to any product. The style of those spots is still being used today, and I’d guess have the guys doing them don’t know where the idea began. Can’t blame them; after all, I don’t know his name either, anymore than I knew who wrote the music they ran in movie theaters in the 80s under the cards that told this theater is available for rental. But I can still hum the theme today. It's the people who appear in the New York Times Sunday arts section that end up in the reference books, but it's the anonymous toilers who do the things we never forget. We don't think about them often, but when we do, the memory is more potent than the first time you saw a Warhol in a gallery.
After the rides we ate – a Pronto Pup for me, half a pup for Gnat – who by now was exhausted and fell asleep face down on a grassy knoll by the Grandstand – and, for my wife, a raw bloody London Broil from the unfortunately named BUTCHER BOYS stand. Sounds like the name of a 1990s British Jamaican Splatter Posse gang. Sat next to a young couple – a date, probably, given the way the young man treated the young girl’s small daughter. The accumulated age of all three barely cracked 45 years. The fellow, for his date with the young girl and her younger daughter, and chosen le T-shirt juste for the outing:
“You’ve been a bad girl. Go up to my room.”
Sigh. Well, she can’t say she wasn’t warned. Although she probably will say she wasn’t.
We did the merry-go-round. Or rather they did, and I took pictures. I held my wife’s lemonade. A guy wandered up, waiting for his wife and kids.
“How’s the lemonade?”
“It’s pretty good. Of course, it cost 47 dollars.”
“Yep. Where’d you get it?”
I pointed to a nearby booth. “Easy credit for qualified applicants.”
“Prolly so.” And on my say-so, he went to get lemonade. That’s the State Fair: absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about a total stranger coming over and asking about your lemonade. More on the Fair later – I have to make a special columnist appearance Thursday at one at the Strib booth. And more tomorrow, or less; depends. I may have a Special Guest over to Jasperwood tomorrow evening for cigars, which means I have to get all three columns written in the afternoon. If nothing else, there will be an addition to the Institute. For now content yourself with another thrilling matchbook, rest content that a gigantic and Google-Map aided excursion into the Weekly Noir will be up tomorrow as well, and read the Fence if so inclined.
Pray for New Orleans, and check your own shirt.