Monday, August 11, 2008

Chicks dig it


DSC_0038
Originally uploaded by V'ron
Ah State Fair. I've said this before, I love it because it's the anti-Summerfest. It doesn't try to be anything but what it is: a miasma of farm animals, husband calling contests, deep fried everything, cover bands, and of course, carnival rides. We arrived last Tuesday and the first thing we did was hit the skyglider where we said hi to Bernie Brewer (and forgot about whathisname, that guy who's going to play QB for the Jets) and took it all in. We heard Eric B Ebert from the skyglider doing a convincing Neil Diamond tribute.

Tuesday was "Crazy Grazin' Day" and frankly, that was a bit disappointing. Most of the offerings weren't anything special or that I didn't know how they tasted otherwise -- like a hot dog for a dollar. I *know* how a hot dog tastes. Or, the offering wasn't a deal. There were exceptions, of course. One place offered mini-bratwurst corndogs (they were good!) and there was some pizza that was good, too. But the stuff you just wanted a little of -- likedeep fried asparagus wasn't available as a small, "crazy grazin" dish. Oh well. And then there was the argument I had at this one gyros stand, I'm sorry, I know you have to pay fees, but for $7, a gyro needs to have more than 3 ounces of gyro meat on it. And I found the gyro stand that delivered, and Sammy happily helped me eat it.
The Florida Yard dogs were once again installed for the entire run at what is no longer Shakey's Pizza ("they're not as good as Shakey's, but they'll do," Brian said of the acceptable but ultimately forgettable replacement -- and this begs the question, whatever happened to Shakey's?) and just a couple of doors over were sixthstation favorites the Five Card Studs. And there was eric Ebert, sitting in with them. When I was younger, I admit I was pretty snobby about cover bands, but right now, I really do appreciate cover and tribute bands done with love an authenticity.

Which, frankly, is more than I can say for Bobby Way and the Wayouts, a tribute band that I just don't get. It's a tribute to blandness, I guess. They material they do is the top notch classic stuff from the late 50s and 60s rock and roll roots era, but they manage to strip every ounce of excitement and joy from it, while at the same time just barely doing it well. I mean, I'm no big fan of, say, the Love Monkeys, but they're at least nondescript. Bobby Way is just mediocre. How do they get those gigs? Do people not know there's at least 30 bands in Milwaukee County alone who are doing this exact same stuff so much better? But I can't bitch too much about the music, because that's not what State Fair is about, and I've already said this is why I love State Fair. Still -- just the day before you had the wonderful Pupy Costello and his Big City Honky Tonk in their place. Why not today as well?

aerial fun at the fair
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Anyway, Stella and Sam didn't care either way. They had a ball digging the chicks and other animals, and playing in bins of grain (the wheat was something I wouldn't mind taking a nap in -- that stuff's comfy!) and of course, the rides. Sammy is old enough this year to go on more of the big rides with me, and Stella was tall enough to attempt the Big Drop -- a ride she's been both fascinated and repelled by since she was three. It's a good thing neither of us knew about the tragedy on a similar ride at Kentucky Kingdom before we went on. But I'll tell ya, *I* was scared coming down, like this would be the one time the hydraulic brakes didn't work. They did, of course, and I actually finally got this one crack in my neck I've been trying to get for weeks.
All that walking left me exhausted, such that I didn't have much energy to even write this blog entry for a week. Friday night I enjoyed another movie with the kids at Pere Marquette Park (this time it was Seinfeld's Bee Movie), and didn't even make it to Center Street's Rockerbox street party on Saturday. I did, however, manage to check out more chicks -- namely three female fronted (and mostly comprised) bands at the supposedly new and improved Club Garibaldi. Pillowfight started things off -- lots of fun energy (good cover of the Cramps' "Human Fly"). However, they are just short of formidable: their lead singer's style is fun for about three songs, but after that, one realizes that she's not going to vary much in tone -- and sudeenly the epiphany kicks in: the monotone gets monoton-ous. Up next, a quick set from Guido's Racecar, with Roni Allwaise setting her tone by going Grace Slick and growling out "White Rabbit" before kicking the rest of their originals in. They were clearly caught off guard when given the two-song warning, but they left the crowd wanting, which is what bands should do. Then, finally, I got to see the Barrettes, a four-piece of women who both conventionally and unconventially rock. The cello doesn't replace the absent bass-- it is a cello in and of itself, and the electric mandolins/ukeleles aren't used as the celtic or folky instruments they are usually employed as. The best thing about this band is that they do vary their approach, so you can't pigeonhole them. One minute, they're dissonant and angry, the next they're joyous and anthemic. And as I've not seen them since well before drummer Joolz' hand surgery, I'm very impressed with her work -- she's elegant and powerful at the same time, and she's massively improved since last year (and she was pretty damn good to begin with.) You could say that about the whole band -- they're certainly not standing still or resting on their laurels. I dug it.
Like I said, this all went down at the "new and improved" Club Garibaldi, which, actually, didn't need a whole lot of improvement to begin with, but I wasn't blown away. When the Cactus Club was "new and improved," people went, "WOW!" At Garibaldi, as best as I can tell, they put a black curtain behind the stage and installed permanent lights. That's not "WOW!" That's "Oh." And in fact, they may have devolved. I ordered a weissbier in the stage room, and I probably should have ordered it upfront where it would be served in a weissbier glass. 'Nuff said.
Finally, family was in town Sunday, and they wanted to see the new Harley Davidson museum, so I finally got myself in there before the crowds really show up in a few weeks. Admittedly, my favorite part was the hall where the culturally significant rides were -- Elvis' bike (very tasteful, not like this thing the Easy Rider bikes, some monstrosities, and a video clip of famous biker moments in movies (not only Easy Rider, but the part in Pulp Fiction that ends with "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead."
I think the museum's nice, and I enjoyed it, (especially the wall of gas tanks) but as a local, I wasn't blown away. My out of town family liked it, but they've never been here when the bikers come, swarming in like cicadas in the year of the 17 year locust, parking everywhere, the buzz of the gear shift lullabying me to sleep every night, the thousands of variations on a basic theme of two wheels and a twin v motor. The museum is the official, historical document, but the upcoming homecoming is the blog, I dig it.

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