The line for the bus was looooonnng.

X marks the pickup spot. Everyone bears it with good cheer, though. The folks behind me were certain we’d get on the third bus that came along, and they were right. I had the bus to myself on the way back and chatted with the driver, a cheerful lady who drove all over the country for the company. New York was a particular challenge. Boston was the worst. I learned a bit about the nomadic life of a bus driver, and no one on the crew liked their hotel. Why? No laundromat. Oh they’d take your clothes to clean but you’d pay through the nose.

Something I never think about.

When I arrive, it’s straight to the coffee stand. I like this shot, because my words are in that box.


No one orders a cup of coffee. It’s the same damned triple-shot vanilla infused mochachinolatte or something, and it looks like a half a cup of drink over a pound of ice. I get a big Americano, and baby, it’s allll coffee. Then I sit for a while and collect my thoughts, and maybe wander a little.

Hungry? Have a rat and some kraut!

Bratwurst, of course. That’s a venerable booth, with the home-made signage that used to characterize all the food booths.

So many benches:

You can sponsor one to memorialize someone who loved the Fair, and while I assume a lot of people buy them as a family thing while everyone’s still above the earth, it really is like seeing a cemetery with identical headstones. I said the other day on stage that most of them are actually markers for people who are buried here. Wonder if anyone believed me.

Then I head to the stage. Today I had a green stick.

Had a steady stream of contestants and well-wishers. Great fun! Now I’m done, and I hardly felt like I did the Fair at all. But I have a lot of Past Fairs banked away, and it’s not as if I can’t recall what it was like to walk around Machinery Hill on a broiling afternoon thinking “the bathrooms are a long ways away, unless I hit the 4-H Building. Ah, good old Mr. Four-Aitch himself, Harry Herbert Hoover Heever.”


(Decades later I still laugh at the announcer running to the live mike, having missed his cue)


I always think that. It is a particular thought I expect will expire with me and all the other PDQ Bach fans. Although he ought to be eternal; as long as there is classical music, there should be PDQ Bach to make people smile at all the inside references. I mean, that play-by-play of the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th, it’s just brilliant. And rousing! And so full of little asides to us in this part of the world.

The New York Mills Philharmonic, for example. There is New York Mills.

It does not have a Philharmonic.

Oh how do you know it’s not the New York New York Mills, huh?

Because PDQ Bach’s creator, Peter Schickele, spent part of his boyhood in Fargo and graduated from Central High, that’s why.

But New York Mills does have an annual philosophy contest, where people get together and hash out big issues. I don’t recall what this year’s topic was. Googling . . .

“Which is more important to protect: the environment or the economy?”

The economy, because without a thriving economy you cannot protect the environment! No, the environment, because without a livable world you cannot have a sustainable economy!

Thing is, the “environment” is a vague term and our ability to affect it is mostly micro, whereas the economy is a complex organism that can be instantaneously wrecked with any number of foolish moves. “Protect the environment” can mean “ban dumping raw poisonous chemicals into lakes and rivers,” or it can mean “ban single-serve ketchup packets.” The case for the first is usually extending to the second.

One of the winning entries:

Can we eat or drink money? Do we get nourishment from stocks, bonds, and mutual funds? While assets may sometimes be “liquid,” we surely cannot drink them.

This might be the least impressive thing I’ve read today. Can we eat cash? No. <Homer Simpson thought> cash can be exchanged for goods and services. Can we spend endangered toads to get medicine? It'ss about the same thing.

Anyway. Then the townsfolk vote, which I love. I’ve been to one; it’s fun. It’s a testament to life on the plains, and good on them for it. People streaming in an auditorium on a summer night to hear some thinking.







It’s 1976.

See, there was Rush, and then there was Mahogany Rush, because there was that other Rush. This one was Mahogany because . . . well, we didn’t know why.

Marino was supposed to be the second coming of Hendrix, if I recall.

Peaked at #175.

Here’s a woman who’d never date a guy who listened to this record:


They began living the rock-and-roll lifestyle to the hilt, indulging their already considerable appetite for drugs. However, their hedonistic lifestyle did not appear to hamper them creatively; Rocks was considered by many fans, critics, and fellow musicians to be one of the highlights of their career. Guitarist Joe Perry later recalled, "There's no doubt we were doing a lot of drugs by then, but whatever we were doing, it was still working for us.”

About those drugs:

The album's opening track, "Back in the Saddle" features the sound of a whip by whirling a thirty-foot cord in the middle of six Neumann mikes and adding a cap gun for the cracking sound effect. A real bullwhip was intended to be used for the whip effects and hours were spent trying to get it to crack. The band members ended up cut up and hurt without making any progress.

It has a lot of positive reviews these days, but I remember thinking at the time it was a dud.

Here’s some absolute giants! None of whom you know by name.

  This site says: “Karl "Slick" Rucker (bass), John Platania (guitar, slide guitar, vocals), Laurie Kaye Cohen (vocals), Bruce Gary (drums, percussion), Ron Elliott (guitar)”

How I hated these guys. Never heard anything they did, but I just hated them on general principle. It was like that then. Probably still is.

Named after the group’s leader, who was the son of an artist who founded the New York School, an avant-garde group of painters and writers and such.

The name was just so fargin’ pretentious.

Great art.

Another band we figured we could miss. No one was really talking about them. No one in the dorm had their records. You never heard them in the record store and thought hey, who’s that?

Proto-power-pop, it seems.

And we hated the Tubes, because they were weird and pretentious and also only weirdos liked them adn chicks didn't know about them and probably thought you were weird if you did.

Now Head East, that was different! We hated them because we were sick to death of “Never Been Any Reason,” a dorm-room staple.

Also because the lead singer sometimes madeGeddy Lee sound like Thurl Ravenscroft.

Prog guys kinda hated this guy too, because he was prog but also there was something just stupid about it, too showy. I mean, this starts cool but then it goes all King Arthur ’n’ crap on you and then what the hell is with this funk

  Prog guys hated this guy too, because he was prog but also there was something just stupid about it, too showy. I mean, this starts cool but then it goes all King Arthur ’n’ shit on you and then what the hell is with this funk

Gary’s trying to cash in with a compilation record, capitalizing on the previous year’s success of “Dreamweaver.”

Finally: the dreaded live album.

Oh, it could have some cool stuff, but we all knew it meant no new album for at least a year.

Now two ways to chip in!


That'll do! See you around.



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