Thursday, August 25, 2016

Country Thunder Calgary

I’m pleased to see, on Sunday morning, how the Saturday part of the weekend Country Thunder Calgary music festival got a two-page spread in the Calgary Sun. The photographs were by Mike Drew, the guy who does the excellent ‘drive Alberta farm roads-and-photograph-nature’ columns.

Our festival was like the festival in Arizona. Again the big stage with extended runway flanked by huge TV screens and a giant blow up drink can. Again that pair, the self-described “Indian and White Man,” who did the interstitial talking. This time the two did not ask us to sing the anthem, or share words of appreciation for our servicemen and first responders. I wonder if they just knew, or if someone warned them, that Canadians do not express their patriotism the same way. I saw no one wearing the sort of T-shirts I described in my essay American Country Patriots, archived April 2016, after the festival in Arizona. There are only a few Country Thunders in North America, and the pair spoke of being to them all.

What was the same at both festivals I attended was the love flowing among we rednecks, we trailer-trash, we excited lovers of music. In the V.I.P. section were brown folding chairs. Again we sat right at the stage fence, so my buddy Mathew in his wheelchair could see. I counted three different smiling people saying they would set aside a space next day for Mathew and I. (and two of his relatives) I also counted one person help me put my sweater on, one person help with the zipper to my buddy’s pack as I was reaching to it on the back of his chair, and, as I was digging into the Matt’s pack from standing behind him, two friendly pats on my bum.

The sister-in-law that drove our handi-van home observed with some heat how so many ladies dressed “scandalously,” as in “…cleavage, and you could see their bum.” I assured her, “It was the same in Arizona.” I don’t exactly know the psychology of those ladies, which means I guess I’ll never be a great writer. I remember a U.S. entertainment writer being mystified at how the (nearly) women-only crowd for the opening night of the movie (from the TV series) Sex and the City dressed so revealing, with no men to impress. I guess he won’t write the Great American Novel either.

Our Cowtown daily attendance was sold out at 17,500. The Sun said the bugs for lineups and things were noticeably fixed between Friday and Saturday.

Someday I’ll learn to shout “Whoo-hoo!” just like everybody else. For now, I will say that even a repressed Star Trek fan like me had a good time. As an even more repressed fellow from Austria said, “I’ll be back.”

Sean Crawford


~As I said back in April to a commenter, I was surprised that so few “Americans” (U.S. citizens) clicked on my American Country Patriots. But slowly the hits have added up: Going forward to now, late August, none have had as many cumulative hits, and going back in time, the first piece with more readers was in March, The Madness of Michael Moore, and then nothing greater until January.

~Come to think of it, all I saw were "persons of whiteness," as in "caucasians," just like you would see in a trailer court.  The only "foreigners" I met were a nice young couple from Blackburn Lancashire who used my camera to photograph Mathew and I. 

This could be partly because the Minister for immigration is no longer looking for the classic "farmers in sheepskin coats" but is encouraging new Canadians and refugees to come to the cities, not to the western countryside.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I Knew Abigail

I remember young Abigail Adams, circa 1975: thin before thin was in style, intense and very smart. Now attending community college, like me. No wonder Abigail and I found each other there—I was smart too. Abby had been to university, but then she had troubles. Now here she was, in another time zone. One day she told me she understood vandals, as that morning she had felt like taking a microscope and smashing along the shelves of the chemistry class.

Like Abby, I too had a troubled back trail; I surely wasn’t ready yet for university. But I could learn of life by listening to Abby, experienced beyond her years. And she would talk to me.

Years later, in my stable mid-thirties, I was to take an adult class for serious writers. There I learned that about half of these writers had left home early, just as I had… I wonder where the heck they were during my youth? Lacking such peers, after abruptly leaving home after eleventh grade, I had felt left out. When I was commuting to a college of unthinking frivolous students, many of them happily living at home with happy parents, who could I talk to? Abby, that’s who.

Abigail could say, “You’re on some sort of quest,” and she was just the person to give me answers. She knew about low self-esteem and bad relationships. She too was eager about life. And peace in Vietnam. And equality for all persons. Woman’s liberation was then considered too crazy, too far ahead of our time. But times were a-changing.

In our cafeteria talks Abby explained most theories about women were made by men, by men uninterested in going to the horse’s mouth. “Hey guys, we’re over here.” She once told me over coffee that most art was by men, most nudes were female. But there was no rule about this. I listened hard, as a wholesome member of an innocent society where “everybody knew” women had God-given lower hormone counts, higher morals and little interest in painting nudes.

Because she was finally liberated enough, Abby was posing nude for the college art classes. She once had her mother visit her place: Mama briefly lifted off the bookshelf a book about sexuality. Abby was glad her mother was getting liberated too. But what poor Abby couldn’t do was to be what her mother wanted: married, with a child, “and with a Ph.D. by now.” Abby could only give Mother her love.

In those exciting days, ideas of revolution and counterrevolution trickled down from intellectuals whom Abby would read with narrow eyes. Saigon fell. For the unthinking students around us, long hair was no longer political, merely cosmetic, even as young men were still wearing jockey style bathing suits. (Not speedos) None of my peers would be caught in public wearing the “older generation’s” loose long bathing trunks like frigid seaweed splaying against their legs. Nobody guessed the revolution would one day go backwards. Maybe Abby did.

I was so lucky to know her.

Sean Crawford

Calgary 2016