Tuesday, July 17, 2012

As Lunatics Descend...

You know how there are these REALLY COOL events you anticipate and are thrilled to attend... and then you move to the city where they happen and the novelty wears off really fast and you suddenly are ANNOYED at the existence of said event? Yeah, that.

It happened to me in Portland... about the 4th year of Rose Festival I began totally avoiding downtown when it was there. It was crowded and the grass got wrecked and smelled faintly of sewage (sometime strongly of sewage). I mean sure the ships were still cool. And there were sometimes great bands. But mostly it was the same old food and a LOT of extra people.

Self-identified 'stupid art' (though it amuses me)
That happened to me about our third year in Ann Arbor with Art Fair.

I mean I love Art almost as much as the next guy... I'd probably love it as much or MORE, had my own art skills not seized around kindergarten. And there is a LOT of art...

Admittedly, some of it is STUPID art. And MUCH of it is pretentious art (hello, please pay $500 for this lamp I made from this branch). But really, there is also a lot of COOL art. Seriously—wicked cool. My neighbor has a ton of it—tiki statues and bobbing birds by her pool. Fairies and other friendly creatures inside. I love the stuff. And I know her well enough to know she isn't paying the $500 per piece prices.

But what BUGS ME is the VOLUME of people and the interruption of life. Ann Arbor's city limits can hold about 100,000 people. A football game brings that many extra... art fair? 300,000 in attendance... our city QUADRUPLES its volume for five days.

And unlike those happy beer-drinking, cheering football folks, these people are a mixed bag... I mean SURE, a ton of them are cool artsy folks. But a lot of them are annoying rich people with too much time on their hands and way too many of them are even MORE annoying pretentious people with superiority complexes who think they know Ann Arbor because they descend on it for 36 hours each year.

You know how I like Ann Arbor? Free of Art Fair Patrons and free of college students. There. I said it. I like college towns with no college kids. You get all the joys of a college town with none of the annoyance.

True story. I've lived in four cities, three of them college towns, and other than my time in high school that I was trying to SOCIALIZE with college kids, I always prefer them student-free...

Maybe it's my anti-social tendencies. I'm not normally a person to get too worked up by a hassle. But honestly... I don't MIND football days. There is a fun contagion (and money to be made). This repulsion is art fair specific. I wish I could get into it, but mostly it just means I have to reroute all week to avoid the darned thing. Maybe though, I will look at it this way. What an excuse to stay home and write.

To give you a little perspective:

This map is downtown Ann Arbor and central camplus. ALL the colored lines are normally streets you can drive on and are completely blocked for artfair. Purple is 'downtown' and while I know a downtown that is functionally 3 blocks by 4 sounds small and lame... this is ALL of downtown. Red is campus. And then the 'trolley' (aka city and campus buses moving in an off route so THOSE streets go a lot slower, too) So seriously... there is only really ONE route north and south through town and the primary east west 'part of downtown' is blocked (though going east/west Huron is a bigger street—but MAIN STREET? Yup. Main Street.
Liberty--the red part near campus

<------  Liberty is part of my daily commute—ALL of it. I walk it from 7th, which is several blocks west of where the map starts all the way to the end every morning. Now Art Fair isn't open yet when I walk to work, so there IS a little fun with walking up the middle of the street and having several intersections blocked so there is no need to wait for a light. End of the day though... there are so many people I can't read while I walk (you ALL know how I hate THAT) but worse, I can't even walk at a pace I like. I'm a speedy walker and HATE going slow.

All this fun arrives tomorrow... *sigh*

Anything you know you should think is fun that annoys you? Do you have any local 'claims to fame'? How do you feel about swarms of sweaty bodies in 100 degree heat?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The art fair is in the middle of the week? How odd. Yeah, stuff like that just makes me want to hide.

Jan Morrison said...

And this is why I live twenty minutes out of town. Hey I used to live in Chester, NS. It is a VILLAGE but every year - Race Week - that is sailboats and yot doobies (I don't know why but that's what we called them) and the place is crammed with people who think they are 'special'. Ooooh ick and they drink their tiny brains out and yell all night and damn I hated it. I took to going camping by myself during Raceweek because everyone else LOVED it. Bah! We have lots of festivals - oh yeah, Halifax is a four university two college town - we have jazz, craft, etc... but you know in Montreal they have the Grand Prix - how would you like that? Frigging race car drivers mucking up your downtown. Don't get me started.
Love ya! re-posted my ten things with the muse in silver lame (no not lame just can't get that accent la gue in there).

Old Kitty said...

So long as the swarms are NAKED in the heat!!! Take care

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Good luck escaping the chaos! Yes, we've got the Democratic Ntl. Convention here in September. :) I won't be going to uptown Charlotte then!

Deb and Barbara said...

Okay, alternate universe time for me: I love our local art event (well, we have several, but the one I'm talking about is Nuit Blanche). Many central streets closed, art all night everywhere. I love the energy and the excitement. BUT it's only the one night, it's a Sat night, and it doesn't interfere with any of my usual routes or haunts. Our streets and major thoroughfares are routinely closed for marathons and such. Hmmm. I guess I like being surrounded by sweaty bodies from time to time. IF I'm in the mood and if I can get around it if I'm not in the mood. What "fun" thing do I hate? Probably any of these situations if I have to consciously socialize with the 100s of sweaty people (i.e. a party...)

KarenG said...

Reminds me of when we lived in Gilroy, CA and every July was the Gilroy Garlic Festival, one of the largest festivals in the world. Our house was on the street that people walked to get to the park.

Marjorie said...

Tucson is not only a college town, it's an arts town and there are a LOT of bicyclists. We have football games, the 4th avenue street fair, and El Tour De Tucson.

The Football games can cause a little congestion, but it's easy to avoid if you know when they are. The 4th Avenue street fair is almost JUST like the art fair you described in Ann Arbor. Only we have the benefit of it being only one street instead of several. 4th avenue gets blocked off and all the folksy cool artist go out and sell their stuff and the pretentious artist come out in DROVES. Including the rich artists with too much time on their hands who think the ordinary Tucson rabble should be able to afford their giant $1000 paintings. Yes there are those artists who try and charge $500 for a tree branch lamp or $50 for a large rock the painted to look like a coyote or a fox or a bunny rabbit. Yeah, I'm not paying $50, $25, or $15 for your painted rock, especially if the $15 dollar one is not even the size of my palm. Despite that there are some good bands and it is fun to look around and see what people are creating. Tucson has so many talented artists who may actually deserve to get paid good money for their work.

Then there is the Gem and Mineral show. NEVER try to visit Tucson in late January or early February. All the hotels will be booked. People come here from all over the world for the gem and mineral show. Jewelers come out from all over to try and get their hands on some good stones. You also have the people who make their own jewelery and come out to sell it during that time. For the most part it doesn't get in the way of normal Tucson traffic.

I saved the worst for last. El Tour De Tucson is like a bicycle marathon they do every year. My mom calls it Detour De Tucson. We have to go a half an hour out of our way to get around that colossal disaster of a bike marathon. It takes forever to get through the traffic, and often you find that you have gone around in a huge circle. It is THE most annoying thing! And it happens EVERY YEAR. Uugh! I think it make every driver in Tucson want to run over ten bicyclists just for spite. I'm kidding, but it's that bad.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

The art fair in Salem was never that bad. They held it at Bush Pasture Park and it really didn't mess up traffic.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Hart, I do know what you mean. I never got very upset about it ... The Eugene Celebration, the numerous Bend Festivals, etc. Sometimes I do get tired of going to them, as the seem all the same. I have heard complaints from neighbors near The Oregon Country Faire about the traffic and smell of patulie oil though.

Kathy M.

Hart Johnson said...

Alex-Wed-Saturday, I think, so mostly, yes...

Jan-Oh, you and I have MUCH in common, my friend. FLEE!

Kitty-it would help--definitely. But all mashed together, it is still too many people.

Elizabeth-you win! (Or lose, as the case may be)--politicians would be MUCH worse than arty folks!

Barbara-I think for one weekend day I'd be a lot more content with it. I loved Portlands art Thursdays--though there was wine involved, which ALWAYS helps.

Karen-Garlic festival sounds food oriented! I think I might like that better.

Marjorie *giggles* Yeah, you have a lot more of them than us! But that is EXACTLY my issue with the art stuff--the money people want to charge for STUPID stuff!

Diane-the arty stuff in Oregon never bugged me--it didn't have the level of pretention this stuff does.

Kathy-HA! I haven't heard about the Oregon Country Fair for ages! I think some love it and some hate it--that is more my level of thing... It is probably my reverse snob thing... I can take real hippies in droves, but poser rich hippies, not so much.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Hart, I'm going to go out on a limb and say I don't enjoy pressing against swarms of sweaty strangers in 100 degree heat. As a general rule of course

Gina Gao said...

I totally know what you mean. Nice post, I really enjoy reading your blog.


mshatch said...

And this is why I live in a small town whose population is somewhere around 2000 and doubles in the summer. I like visiting big cities, but I'm glad I don't live in one.

nutschell said...

Wow! Sounds like a great art fair. I'd definitely be interested in attending something like that.

Patti said...

So I'm just now catching up on your blog... oopsy!!!

Now, I can think of things that should be fun but that annoy me. However, I'll abstain from mentioning them in this forum, not that I'd expect the news to ever get back to the people that it involves.

Mardi Gras, however, definitely falls into that category. It's fun, don't get me wrong, but when you live in NOLA and have an entire MONTH of tourists coming and acting like drunken tourists... plus feeling less safe around town... not cool.

The husband shares your sentiment on college towns... the number of times he stated that Pullman was best around Christmas and Summer (and spring break to a lesser degree) because all the undergrads were gone... can't count that high. Oh, and he walked to campus thru frat row, so you can only imagine.