The pushcart races, emceed by Dr. Chow's Frank Chandek, set the tone, with entries showcasing the wide spectrum humor and imagination of the neighborhood's residents, if not an object lesson in the value of considering function over form: the most interesting looking entries weren't necessarily the most efficient racing machines. A late rule change resulted in two separate lanes with the excitement coming at the turnaround point, where the entrants were almost guaranteed some exciting crash action. I should have put two and two together when I heard a member of the "Hell on Wheels" pit crew ask a friend of his (standing near me in the audience) to "hold this blanket, and if anything goes wrong, just drop this on it -- you know, like stop, drop and roll." Hmmmm. Stop, drop and roll. Isn't that what the firemen tell you do do when there's a fire? And fortunately, "Hell on Wheels"'s opponent in that (carefully selected word here) heat was "Rubber Duckie" -- a pushcart which features a tub of water (complete with bather in it!) so at least there was water available. I finally did the math and realized what was going on -- as Hell on Wheels sped off, I noticed some liquid being spilled in its wake -- three seconds before somebody lit a match and suddenly I grabbed hold of the kids and really enforced the "You stick by me behind this white line dammit" rule. Whispering Jeff clutched anxiously to the liability insurance documentation in his pocket, and I figured now wasn't a good time to give him a hard time about the lack of a posted band schedule.
Nevertheess, it was all good clean fun. The Polka Playing Pushcart showed up not only late, but didn't switch lanes and that brought on a Judges' conference, which resulted in the crowd voting to have three teams all at once in the finals. I don't even remember who won, and I'm not sure anybody cared. We all won, having cheered and laughed along with the teams, and scattered about for post-race festivities.
I missed Dr Chow's Love Medicine anyway, despite my relationship to the second guitar player. I had a kid to schlep to and from ballet, where I ran into another rock and roll parent who asked me to make sure her husband knew he needed to be home early. This message I passed on, while he was on stage.
Dave Rake on guitar and Vic Demechei on drums, inspiring the name The Fabulon Vootometer. Oh, if this wasn't a time for "spotted in the crowd" Boris and Doris-ness, no time was. There was pool shark Mary Ellen Freundl, powerding up her cue for the billiards tournament. There was Steve Whalen -- spotted in the crowd, pshaw! Spotted on STAGE! There was Rusty Berg, who heard "Crippled Mentals" from his apartment and thought to himself, "Hey, is that Voot?" and ventured out. And there was Russell "Rustle of Luv" Martocci, who I heard actually played on stage earlier. Damn you, people too lazy to put out a schedule, did I have to miss that? Rustle of Luv was a wonderful troubador-style busker whose choices of covers and terrific originals used to be such a fixture on the scene. He dropped out to attend to higher priorities, but it was great to see him back. Chatted with him briefly: he's painting now, incorporating semi-precious stones into his work ("that should give it some value" he jokes) and I'm looking forward to seeing what he puts forth. And clearly I wasn't the only one glad to see his face. All reports say his set sounded great, that despite it being a long time since he's played, its like he never left. Rustle -- let's see more of this!
Back west, we camped out on the lawn of House of Frank n' Stein for another set from favorites of this blog, Floor Model. This one had special guests on trumpet and poetry reading, across the street from an artist by the name of J. Bird (but he pronounced it "jaybird") beginning a mural paying tribute to businesses that are making Center Street a destination. Further across the street a renegade band played on the porch of a house, another ad hoc band formed to jam the blues at the Uptowner, Circle-A-Café bartender Sarah Wilson good-naturedly got herself dunk-tanked for charity, and Stella got to sit on a luxury motorized couch which zipped up and down the street shortly before the sun set and we headed over to the tiki-bar-extrordinaire The Foundation for an acoustic set with the Bikini Beachcombers.
I think I might have finally nailed the vibe of this band....
Originally uploaded by V'ron.