Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ideology and Art Fair (from the front lines)

Funny things happen when you squish all the ideologues in Ann Arbor into one block in ninety-degree heat and set the mood with an suave, amplified trilingual guitarist. Yes, friends, Art Fair may be a blast or, if you're a townie, a plague upon the city, but I contend that the real place to go for the action is the Walk of the Non-Profits. Stretching between Division and Fifth along Liberty, everybody from the Jesus Made Me Kosher to the Land A Space Rover On Mars to the Republicans/Democrats/ProLife/ProChoice/ProBanana/AntiBanana/ProHappiness/AntiFun - it's all there.

And I was all there, as much as the heat would allow me to be, myself one of these poor do-gooder souls who invested their hearts and sweat into a ten by ten plastic booth, hoping to lure passersby into my den of goodwill.
(On a serious note, I really do believe in my cause, straight from the soul in my belly button - Groundcover News). Armed with an oddly large bottle of fruit juice and a pack of trail mix, my fellow volunteer and I watched the world from the television screen-like opening of our booth.

We exchanged suspicious glances with the New Warrior Adventure Training table men for quite a while before my fellow volunteer decided to go over and have a talk with them (and since she's a sixteen year old feminist, by talk I mean discussion/argument over whether they are creating a safe space for all identities and whether reclamation of a hyper-macsculine term is a valid way to resolve the crisis in masculinity). We also discovered that one of them plays a mad ukelele. Meanwhile, the Salvation Army man came up to me and asked me how much the t-shirts cost. I told him $20 (which seems pretty pricey to me, but I didn't call the shots here). He shook his head and laughed. "We run on donations. Can't afford anything but Jesus."

My high school feminist friend then scratched at a mosquito bite and unleashed a stream of blood so intense it soon looked as though we'd murdered somebody in the booth. Which, you know, can't be so good for recruitment. Especially since one of our recent visitors had told us all about her prison term and parole. "Do you have a band aid?" "No. Do you?" "No. I have a pad though." "Hey, yeah, I've got some too." "Should I...?" "Yes. Go for it."

And so, smiling nicely at the Jesus Made Me Kosher folks passing by, this girl held a maxi pad to her calf and attempted to spray the blood off the concrete with her water bottle.

Did I mention that it was hot?

Yes, well, it's always hot for Art Fair, an adage old as time. Even in those years when you're still unsure about whether you can pack up your winter coat in the middle of May, weather gods get their act together long enough to fry the garden ornament-lined sidewalks.

There aren't many places to go to avoid the beating sun but a nice plastic non profit booth is one of them. So at any point in time we had maybe three or four extra people hanging about, mostly our newspaper vendors who know we're there with cold water and place to store their stuff for an hour. Also my boyfriend, who knew I was there with trail mix and hugs. The vendors talked about their plans for the future and how they want to improve the organization. My boyfriend tried to convince the high school feminist to like math. The high school feminist and I discussed whether I accidentally wrote a Manic Pixie Dream Girl into my last short story and how I could reverse this devastating error. And across the sea of people, the New Warriors advertised their Adventures and the Marxists got into fights with the Libertarians while the trilingual guitarist switched languages. And and the people who care about bunnies, well, they just kept really caring about bunnies.

And if it weren't so fucking hot, I'd say it was beautiful.

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