well now, kiddies. let's talk Amtrak. there's something i'm never going to do again! i spent more time coming and going than i did visiting. 30 hours down (6 hours worth of delays like snow on the tracks, broken switches, freight trains whose cargo was more important than me) and 27 hours back. 50 hours in the 'no. add to that the drunk sitting behind me on the way down whose breath was, shall we say, redolent (hard alcohol and ginger ale) and who spent the entire trip hitting on the 16 year old girl next to him; the old couple veteran travelling couple across from me who chose to act as tour guides to everything ("oh, look at those mobile homes", "no, those are, um, modular homes", "oh, well those modular homes are in a very odd place. still, they're quite nice" and "how many times is that girl going to walk up and down the aisle? no one can get any sleep" "oh, i know, this is her third time in 10 minutes", "no, it's her fourth", "what?", "her fourth!", "whatever. why isn't the conductor doing anything about this?") which never ended; the schizophrenic woman who told her entire relationship story at least 3 ("no, it's her fourth", "what?") or 4 times in a dry, cottonmouthed sort of way; and the entire train crew who decided they'd had enough of our complaining halfway through the first trip. yum.
on the way back, it was better except for the businessman who cussed in his sleep when he wasn't snoring loudly. at one point, a train crewperson tried to prod him awake, but left without success saying "at least we know he's still alive". i was chastised by the snack car guy for wandering around in my socks. where does it say that i have to wear shoes at all times? of course, one hour later there was an announcement that i had to. probably didn't help that i stared the guy down and ordered my coffee anyway. $2.50 for a cup of bad coffee. $7.50 for a half-heated sandwich and small bottle of water. i heard the "burgers" were $6. i guess this is what happens when the government keeps cutting your funding.
let's see, there was the overfilled trashbag that tipped and cascaded down a flight of stairs. then there was the occasional scent of really, really potent ganja (some smelling burnt, some not). many more smokers than usual were riding both ways, so the official smoking stops were a cause for universal celebration. at one point, we had been stuck inside the train for over 5 hours in oregon. when the track switch finally got fixed, the conductor announced that the next stop would become a smoking stop. i think he knew that mutiny was close at hand and wisely chose to avert it.
the chairs on amtrak are not as comfortable as i remembered. my ass was so sore within the first 5 hours that finding an easy position to sit in became impossible. sleeping was a series of 10 minute naps. i probably shouldv'e eaten the vicodin.
the weather was another factor. it snowed in washington. it dumped in oregon. it rained, hailed and thundered in california. i was blamed repeatedly for bringing the foul weather with me to the festival. fortunately, kamotion was there from new jersey and i made sure to point her out. every time.
but enough about that. what about the festival. i arrived in fresno at 6pm and cabbed it over to veni vidi vici's just in time to grab a beer and settle in for blake jones's "ill advised solo show". great stuff. a liberal christian talking (well, singing) smack back at the right wing fundies who are attempting to hijack our country's morality. and he did so in very charming, sweet, innocent, vodka swilling fashion. okay, so he wasn't drinking that night due to a cold. but he coulda been. great songs and set-up. whatta way to start the rogue (plus, he's one of my bestest friends, so i had one obligation show out of the way). the rest of the evening was spent traipsing around with lecram and kamotion, visiting venues, saying hi to everyone and drinking to stay awake. along the way, i was able to pay homage to mustang and surprise airplanejane and give a long awaited hug to jade ed gypsy and trade riffs with kien(none of whom know how to blog responsibly, i.e. with any regularity). eventually, the hard core (some of it anyway) wound up at VVV's for shoptalk, dirtdishing, egostrokes and tippling...just like old times.
the next morning was slow wakeup at lecram's pad. of course, the first stop was at javawava for some eye opener. then, the festival madness for me began. i met my son and we hit two shows. the first was "it's okay to like porn". and, it turns out, it is okay. this show had been touted as offensive. cool. i'm a tough sell on the offensive and the you'll-laugh-out-loud. i did laugh out loud. but i wasn't offended. if anything, i came away instructed. i didn't know you could buy a vibrating cockring. food for thought. a good show that is about 3 or 4 months of serious development away from being a great show. blow-up dolls, average-sized dildos (well, to me anyway), a hardcore movie playing in the background, a dirty little sock puppet, stories of finding his parents' toys and playing with them (and his parents came to one of the shows. i think they were in the front row at the one i saw, mom was in hysterics). a jesus joke that had me in stitches. a running joke about the taste of semen. a dead baby joke that i was sure would make someone get up and leave. but no one did. very fun and totally rogue.
after that came one of my other obligation shows (not that lecram would have cared one way or the other): "lies my father told me" by, of course, lecram. i have to say i was a bit let down. he didn't bother to memorize his script. but it was really good writing. no, seriously (he hates it when people tell him his writing is good after seeing one of his shows), his stories are wonderful. i had heard all but one before, but it was great to hear them again in a staged setting with 50 other patrons hanging on every word. his style is very low-key, but in your face at the same time. he compels you into the story and dares you to look away. and his last line is a challenge laced equally with arrogance and invitation. "these are my stories. what have you got?". all in all, very well done. a little loose, but that's what happens when you're running the whole damn show and trying to perform. trust me on this. it's why i started dropping lines and whole pages the last two years. it becomes one or the other at some point. unless, of course, you're jaguar bennett.
then, it was on to the 7 pm show for jade ed gypsy's "here and now". the third of my obligation shows. and i have to warn you: obligation doesn't necessarily mean "oh man, i don't wanna, but i hafta". what it can mean is "i wanna AND i hafta". this was jade's first show which she had written. she has directed a show in every rogue festival since way back in...aught'2 (that's 2002 to you young'uns). but this year she had taken the next step and written her first feature piece, which i was supposed to star in. i came away very gratified and satisfied. the two actors did a more than reasonable job and i found myself at times not gnashing my teeth over spots i knew i could have done better. you see, i don't go to see plays, because no one likes to sit with me. evidently, i mutter. and what i mutter tends to be less than supportive of what i see happening on stage. evidently, i think i'm the best goddam actor in the world...well, fresno. and i can't be impressed. hell, i've been known to want to school actresses on how to give their lines. sad, really. anyway, the actors did well with the material and i was pleasantly impressed with jade's writing abilities for her first time. perhaps, the arcs weren't as high as they could be and some of the jokes were in-jokes, but she did in her first attempt better than i will ever be able to. and my hat's off to her until next year when i expect to be impressed yet once again.
now, it's 8 pm and time for dinner with my son. we supped at livingstone's. he had the new orleans burger. i had the mushroom and jack. he had the curly fries. i had the steak fries. we used both ketchup and ranch dressing. he drank copious amounts of coffee. i never got a refill on my iced tea. the conversation was great and i learned a lot about his current life and i saw again how much i miss him. he's grown into an intelligent, thoughtful, conflicted young man. and he's too young for all of that crap. he should be testing his immortality and celebrating his immunity. maybe i moved from there too soon.
anyhoo, then it was time for the closing night party. which is part of the reason we started the rogue in the first place. one, as an excuse to have a big fucker of a party, and two, to get our own shit on stage for really cheap. who knew other people would want in? who knew they would accept lollipops for awards? who knew they would balk at the entry price and then wonder why they didn't get into the rogue before when they saw the money they'd made? who knew that canada could be so effing funny at our expense (okay, well i did)? who knew that last year and this year would mark a turning point in the rogue and establish it as THE party of the year? last year, no one left the party. it rocked and rocked and rocked all night long. all night. all night. all night long. lollipops really were handed out as awards and they were a hit. at any other festival it's certificates or whatnot that celebrate the eliteness of the event. not here. and this year we didn't bother to hand anything out. just the mention of your name and your award was enough (though i really think they should be given an excuse to approach the stage). and this year, lecram and jaguar got a bit sassy in their speeches to the masses. not just thank you and keep it up. no, this time it was we rock and the world had better take notice, because it ain't gonna stop and if everyone doesn't get on the love train then we're going to screw them prison-style. or something like that. i remember being invited up on stage as one of the has-beens and nodding like crazy until lecram mentioned his ass.
the party was insane. once again, no one left. once again, the band rocked and everyone danced and drank copious amounts of alcohol. everyone hugged and laughed and capered and reveled in the moment of an event so important to this town and to themselves. as for the core members who make this work each year, the party is the first and only chance to relax and celebrate another job well done. in a month next year's festival will get underway with meetings and chores. but the smiles on the performers' faces is almost better than getting paid for this crap.
oh, and being an alumnus has its benefits. i didn't pay for a single drink. if i didn't have a beer in my hand someone was buying me one. and i didn't have a damn thing to do with this year's gig. man, i have to quit shit more often.
i did, however, manage to spend almost $200 at the festival. some of it was on music cd's from the performers (my local music list is quite extensive), tickets to shows, dinner for me and the son, the cab, outrageous tips to the wonderful bartenders (katie and lief and hillary), a tee shirt that i should NOT have been required to pay for being the awesome support group that i am for lecram, coffee at javawava, and sundry. and this is the other thing that we have done for the community. 7000 tickets (give or take) get sold and a lot of money gets spent in the Tower District. people who want nothing to do with us make money. those who support us make lots of money, because we in turn push their services. it's a win-win situation. the performers walk off with all of the box office and the local restrauteurs and caffeine pushers make out as well. and we the poor roguesters continue to beg. that's anarchy at its finest, because it sleeps well at night nestled up against capitalism. knowing that its ends are being met and who knows what the next gig will hold in store for it.
sunday was the Brunch. food scarfing time and general relaxation and don't talk shop for two hours. the core meets and eats. the afterglow continues, but is not mentioned too often. food is the important focus. as is the thought that we all like each other still and are probably willing to continue working together. we ate at the Tang Dynasty, a chinese buffet place. lots of food, too many choices, and all you can eat. i made three trips myself. however, no matter how hard i looked i could find anything except...Tang. so, i had sprite, because izabella was drinking it. and i know not to differ too much from bella. she's my girlfriend, you see. and a very demanding one at that. what she wants to do or say or play i go along. it doesn't help that she's in kindergarten or something like that. you can't reason with a kindergartner. actually, you can't reason with any female. seriously, when's the last time you were able to use NASCAR as an arguing point? she was a trendsetter, though. she got soft ice cream in a very small cone. i saw that and followed. then came a few others in our party. it became a running theme. the, hugegargantuanmustang walked back with a cone cradled between one finger and it was on. even laaz got one and he doesn't like ice cream.
so, lunch ended. we all hugged and made promises of undying love and getting together and visiting and trading dna and leaving spouses. and it was just me and lecram and kien and kamotion and bella and APJ and jag and devon and nile seguin ("fear of a brown planet". didn't see it, because i'd seen it twice last year at the san francisco fringe festival and figured he'd earned all of the money he was going to get out of me and now was the encore i never got before) at javawava, drinking caffeinated beverages and riffing. kien got his rock star moment when another rogue musician bought a cd and asked him to autograph it. seguin got in a good riff on refusing to autograph and calling for security. seguin continued to make us laugh, because he is a master at riffing on the conversaqtion at hand. he never stepped out of it and he never tried to dominate. but when he had a chance he could shut us up for 5 minutes at a time. other than the laughter. we closed down javawava, a theme in keeping with the rest of the weekend and parted ways. i went with lecram and we hung at his pad until it was time to catch the train.
and the rest is misery.
and if you were expecting pictures from me from the wekend...call marcel. he downloaded them, my computer fucking fucked them. i downloaded them, too. then, i couldn't access them. now, they no longer exist. all i have left of the weekend is this:
my computer and blogspot not wanting to cooperate in any fashion whatsoever.