Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Camp

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We bring a whole new meaning to the phrase "camping out."

My daughter loves cheesy roadside attractions and wacky advertising. During a recent visit to Chicago, she took the El train, a bus, and a cab (plus walking) just to see a hot dog stand with neon wieners on top. When one thinks of what Chicago offers in the way of tourism, one can only conclude that Heir loves camp. Not "to camp," just "camp."

Enter the campy festivals.

My three regular readers are already familiar with the East Coast Vulture Festival, possibly the campiest of all campy fests in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. This is the only campy festival that I actually participate in. That's me, pictured.

But just this past weekend, the Philadelphia metro region offered not one but two campy festivals. Oh, the choices, the choices! Should we get pelted by Twinkies thrown off an abandoned prison parapet by a champagne-swilling Marie Antoinette? Or run screaming from the retro theater where they filmed "The Blob?"

Smackdown: Blobfest vs. Bastille Day.

I've already described Bastille Day to the best of my ability, below. The video is helpful. This year, the Johnsons chose Bastille Day -- and wisely, because Blobfest went all gooey in the rain.

Nonetheless, my daughter The Spare and I found ourselves in Phoenixville, PA yesterday, just a day in the wake of Blobfest. This meant that all the Blob art was still in the store windows and on the sides of the buildings. All the creative hats made of aluminum foil were still in the art gallery. I couldn't persuade The Spare to attend the final showing of "The Blob" at the Colonial Theater. (Campy as it is, "The Blob" can morph in one's dreams -- I'm living proof of that.)

Even without attending "The Blob," there was plenty of Blobilicious camp in Phoenixville. Next year, if the weather is fine, we'll go to Blobfest.

If you haven't seen "The Blob," it's a cheesy horror/sci fi movie starring a young Steve McQueen. It was filmed in the Phoenixville area, including at their vintage movie theater.

One of the things I admire about the human condition is the way we tend to latch onto any local irregularity and turn it into a reason to celebrate. You've got 75 vultures roosting in your back yard? Let's have a Vulture Festival, invite people to see them! A really, really dumb movie was filmed in your town? Party hardy! A matter of pride! Seven pubs within two blocks of an imposing, grim fortress that was once home to Al Capone? You can best bet those bartenders are going to hatch a festival of some sort -- and on a hot day, too. You sell more beer that way.

What people don't know about campy festivals is that many of them are inspired by the not-so-bored god Loki, who whispers into the brains of folks who are eager to organize something. Festivals require organization. The bigger the fest, the more whispering Loki has to do. Vulture Fest alone has more than a dozen dedicated volunteers who put in hours and hours and hours for an event that celebrates turkey buzzards. If there's no bored god behind that, I'll eat my hat.

I must say that Loki has found America fertile ground for weird and wacky local celebrations. Thank you, Loki, from the bottom of my heart.

I have two festivals in my future that are in the way of holy pilgrimages. One day, somehow, some way, I am going to attend the Moth Man Festival in Point Pleasant, West Virgina. The other festival (it falls on The Spare's birthday, alas) is Hillbilly Days in Pike County, Kentucky.

Once I have been to those two events, my life will be complete. Then I can die, and Snobville will finally get its campy festival, Annefest, in which people will dress as bored gods and have contests to see which pantheon is the most powerful.

These days, Snobville's only festival is an arts and crafts fair. It was held this past weekend too. I guess we also need some events for normal people to attend, however boring they may be.


Intense Guy said...

I've never "shuffled" over to the blobfest... or the diner (was it in Exton, Downingtown?) that was in the film too.

I might buy a ticket to the Moth Man festival... especially if it were held in conjuction with a Doctor Demento sing-a-long concert.

What I want to see is Harold and Maude in the Phoenixville Theater... or Rocky Horror Picture show (or even both!).

I saw Titantic there... last thing I saw there...

They had the AC set for about 50F... it was real sensoround.

THE Michael said...

I won't die in peace unless Arthur Dent shows up on my doorstep, ignores the "Go Away" doormat at my door, and hands me a towel. I really want to meet that pesimistic robot; we are such kindred spirits.......