again tomorrow ...
Kurt, tell me what you'd like to talk about this week."
of the Spokane World Exposition of 1974: fruits of a fair that
resurrected a town or the ghost of another failed utopian concept?
"Well, doc, I've been thinking a lot about my
attitude, my negative attitude. Sometimes I wonder if the negativity
doesn't breed negativity."
"Well, I think it's good that you're aware
of this, and you may even be right. Why don't you give me an example?"
"OK, for instance, we recently went north to
check out some summer-stock theater.
"Here, let me read some notes I took for my column:"
It's a long
way to go to get good crap these days. Regardless, the trek
is made to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, for some "Footloose"
thought twice before going to see the Carousel Players perform
an ill-advised stage musical version of the popular '80s movie.
Kevin Bacon wants to put a couple more degrees between himself
and this performance, which has plenty of room for improvement.
The director's inexperienced, the additional songs are weak.
Hell, the movie wasn't that good, either featuring
pop hits that would forever change the karaoke experience
(and not for the better) during egregiously long montage sequences.
like "Let's Hear it for the Boy" don't come up to
the knees of giantly weird original-to-the-stage-show songs
like "Learning to be Silent," wherein singing moms
end on a hummed duet through mouths full of cookies.
"Do you need me to go on?"
"No, that will do. As a therapist, I believe
in openness more than most folks, although maybe if you can't say
anything nice, you shouldn't say anything at all. But give me another
example. So far it just sounds like you have a keen sense of critical
"Thanks doc. You don't know how validated I feel
just to hear you say that. But how about this: I think my negative
attitude might even preempt me from enjoying things that, were I
to think a bit first, might be totally innocuous.
"For instance, after fleeing "Footloose,"
we stopped in the lovely town of Spokane to relive some formative
glory. This side trip turned out sad and a bit disturbing, as it
included a visit to the grounds of the Spokane World Exposition
of 1974, a site which now turns the remnants of the expo into a
large city park with some carnival rides and a profusion
of Hawaiian shaved-ice stands.
"I'd attended the fair at the tender age of four
and was traumatized by a short film called "Man Belongs to
the Earth." The theme of the exposition was the environment
and the movie laid out in sun-dappled blonde explicitness how we're
all in deep trouble if we don't take care of the Earth. If I could
go back and watch that film now it would likely seem quaint yet
"Anyway, over the years the expo grounds have
changed, trees grown tall, and this afternoon it seems like no one
gives a hoot about music, much less the environment.
a hoot: the eco-sculpture Garbage Goat.
"While kids feed the cute eco-sculpture Garbage
Goat, we park ourselves on a patch of sun-soaked lawn to watch the
Spokane Symphony Orchestra zestfully hammer home a rousing, happy
"It's about 80 degrees, with gorgeous skies and
geese across the way admiring the music. And there are about 10
other people listening on this wonderful day to this marvelous music.
"So I'm thinking: people of Spokane, are the
grounds of the fair that resurrected your town so freighted with
the ghost of another failed utopian concept that you won't come
near? On a beautiful day with great music to be heard for free?
"And here's the rub, doc: my evil vibe makes
me devalue the music, too. And so we rise quickly to check out the
remains of Canada Island and to get another one of those Hawaiian
shaved ices. The kicker is, it wasn't even the real performance
which started hours later. This was just a rehearsal!"
"Well, Kurt, you aren't the first person who
jumped to a conclusion, but you might consider 'checking yourself'
in the future, in case you might miss out on something enjoyable."
"I know, right?
"And how about when I recently ventured to Portland's
relatively newly minted Towne Lounge to support a friend's musical
endeavors? To my credit, I was thrust into a hateful space as we
walked toward the lounge because, on this night, Thirsty Thursday
at PGE Park was just letting out.
"Throngs of frat boys soaking with cheap beer
is one thing, but when such a night is combined with the idiotic
promotion of Free Loaves of Bread, it's like begging for the worst:
giving the most selfish slobs in America a chance to step to the
plate. We're talking about tens of thousands of slices of bread
violently strewn over dozens of city blocks. Don't they know that
people are starving?
"Doc, I was so ashamed that I was shaking with
rage as we entered the lounge and it made my feeble attempts at
an open attitude die quickly. So my buddy (whose nom-de-laptop is
Deep Sea Invasion) starts clicking the keys.
"I've said before (in my harsh, negative tone)
that I don't quite get the appeal of watching some dude sit in front
of a computer while too-loud music streams from the sound system.
Or do I just need to relax and accept that this sort of thing is
something other than a performance? Nonetheless, Deep Sea Invasion
reliably conjures up tasty down-tempo electronica, slinging quirky,
heavy beats and catchy melodies.
"So what if it ain't like watching Beck dance
in a stadium? But then, when the next group steps up, an actual
band called Bon Reve, they unknowingly generate a bit of downer-cow
synergy. By mercilessly slagging their missing singer (an Anton
Newcombe wannabe, if that matters) then gamely plugging through
some kind of generic psych-rock, their songs don't have much of
of the free: The Spokane Symphony plays, but where are the people?
"They try to liven things up by having Deep Sea
take the stage for a rollicking cover of Eno's 'Cindy Tells Me,'
but the novelty and overpowering quality of the song seem to just
further throw things out of balance.
"Doc, I can't face it. I think I'm sinking in
my own black attitude!"
"That might be true, Kurt ... might be true.
But chin up. Try again tomorrow. Besides, your hour's up."