Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Love the Fair, Hate the Fair

I said it before and I'll say it again at the risk of all hipster credibility — I like the fair. I like fair food and fair rides and even fair noises. But more than anything, I enjoy how funny fairs can be. When you look at the small details, they're ridiculous. And I think there's something worth thinking about in the fact that something as stereotypically American as a county fair is essentially composed of these silly, funny details.

For example, something like this:

Never has the word "quilts" been shouted so triumphantly. "QUILTS! QUILTS!" And never has the a sign intended to draw people inside a room worked so well in driving them away. I would have gone inside to photograph the products of Hollister's 2005 quilting season, but I couldn't bring myself to walk into a room labeled as such. "QUILTS!"

In a similar vein, these:

These photos are part of a series I'm working on. I'm thinking of calling it "What are we? Why are we? God, why have you made us exist?" An entire division's agriculture show involved fruits and vegetables being pieced together in a vain attempt to represent animals. I initially expected religious extremists to be protesting the exhibit. These creations offended me, so I couldn't imagine why such crimes against nature — both the animal and vegetable worlds — would incur the wrath your average Bible thumper. I didn't see any, but that could likely have been because I caught the vegenimals on day three and the sweet smell of soft, rotten fruit was nearly overpowering. I don't think the pictures captured the gnats that were buzzing around, either, but trust me — they were there.

On the left, we have what would appear to be a gourd fashioned into some sort of dying bird. The dark leaves near the gourd's base are either wings or up-turned feet. I can't tell. One thing's for certain — this bird isn't getting very far. Also, it's neck has a gap about where the swallowing mechanism should be, which makes me feel like the artist tried to make the bird look like its neck was severed and left to hang by only its windpipe. Bleak. Very bleak.

On the right, we have Mr. Monkey Pineapple Man. Sure, he looks happy. But at some point, this tropical simian will realize that he has no feet, no tail, no lower digestive tract and no anus. (What? The kid who made him couldn't find a sliced olive?) Also, he has no hands, his right eye is rapidly disintegrating and his ears and nearly indistinguishable from his mouth. "Eek eek! Mercy kill me! I shouldn't be! Every moment I live is pain!"

Thank me for omitting the pictures of the bell pepper mutant. To look upon it may actually drive you insane in an effort to determine what animal the artist was trying to simulate.

On a similar note to the agricultural show, we have the art. The only selection from the art show I found worthy of posting is this:

I will express my thoughts on this piece — which I've titled "Piggy Brown I Have to Go Now" — in a letter to the artist, a young man named Kaleb.
Dear Kaleb,

Daring choice to paint your porcine friend brown, but I can't help wonder what the combination of your little brain and your clumsy, clumsy hands was trying to express. Did you want Mr. Piggy to have brown skin? In that case, I'd advise you to paint the entire piggy, not just the part you did before you got tired. What you've done now makes Mr. Piggy look like he is covered in mud — or, if you will, shit. And no one likes that. Also, painting the magenta background brown as well may have made sense at the time, but to the casual art observer, it's unclear whether this is another case of your hands being clumsy, clumsy or if the shit is actually flying off the pig's ass.

I can tell by the circular dark glue mark under Mr. Piggy's eye that you moved the googly eye up a bit. You're a perfectionist! I can identify with that, but the effect of this change is a sad bag under his eye, making the animal look tired. Was this intentional?

Finally, I noticed your artistic efforts netted your a third place ribbon. Congrats! And get used to it — the art world is cold and unforgiving. Success won't come as easily again, and unless you come to the fair next year with a bold, new idea, you'll be shunned by critics and former fans alike.

All the best,

P.S. Kaleb, tell your parents to learn to spell properly before they name another kid. QUILTS!
Little Kaleb's crime against the art world wasn't the only pig I saw at the fair. The sign for the kids' petting zoo also featured one in a pose that I just can't come to terms with.

Because it's entirely appropriate for an area swarming with human little ones, Mrs. Piggy decided to roll onto her fat sow ass and let the entire litter suckle at her bloated pig tits. Also, she's wearing whore make-up. If I ever met who designed this little display, I'd shake their hand and congratulate them for their wonderful sense of irony. Hey — wouldn't it be funny if some pudgy mom came by this sign with her own suckling babe? Oh, wait.

I'd like to thank both the fat mothers who ambled into the shot for wearing the perfect shade of pink. Of course, it wouldn't be a fair with just pigs in cut-out and human form. No, there were real ones as well, and I'd imagine they were oblivious to their imminent doom.

You may have to zoom in on the upper lefth corner in order to appreciate the irony of this situation. Unbeknownst to Petunia here, the chart stapled to her pen is a butcher's diagram. Of meat. That one would cut from a pig. Like Petunia. I don't know if it would be crueler to post this sign inside her pen, where she could see it.

Oh, and Petunia's dead now.

Eventually, I tired of the material exhibits and turned my camera to the less artful ones near the carnival. This decision proved fruitful.

It's everyone's favorite eighth-mile stretch of flat roller coaster track, the "Express." Yes, I know. There's word missing from this Asian-themed ride. I can only image the missing word results from a lawsuit filed against the Midway of Fun by the estate of Agatha Christie. Go get 'em, Agatha.

Oh, K! Maybe it's just me, but if I were in charge of an institution that must fight a redneck, white trash image — like a carnival, perhaps — I wouldn't go around putting multiple unnecessary Ks. Unless I was a part of the Kiddie Karvnival Klan, I suppose.

Hit the target, win a Pooh knock-off that may or may not be concealing an erection behind his pledge of love. As I stood before him trying to get a good picture of Crotch Bear, he swayed in the wind, slowly turned from one side to the other, flashing at any passers-by his dopey grin and his bland message of unconditional love. "I love you, little girl in green sweatshirt. Now I love you, man of ambiguous ethnic heritage." No standards, no real emotion. What a whore, that Crotch Bear.

But still, it's nice to know that he apparently loves you, right?

The aforementioned "grand" stand.

Being goth and really in touch with the melancholy of life doesn't mean you can't enjoy a ride on the Zipper. Or, at least, a good look at the ride of your little brother, whom you must baby-sit. But you're still goth.

These darkly dressed youths make the perfect transition into the final phase of my day the fair: the people. The awkward, odd, dopey, dumpy people at the fair. Not everyone in attendance was a walking slop bucket of hate. No, some of them were quite normal. I just didn't take any pictures of them.

Take this couple, for instance.

Either it was his idea or hers. But it couldn't have been both. No, half this couple forced the other half to dress in this manner. I know this because no two people could ever both make the mistake of thinking this was an appropriate way to dress. No, one of these people is dressing this way under duress.

Any judge would consider this grounds for a divorce.

Finally, we come to what you all have been waiting for: the carnies. Those cabbage-smelling circus folk make an easy target for the county fair photodocumentarian. They can't run away. However, I had to cut my photo shoot short when one of them starting gesturing a larger man with tattoos towards me. Then I got scared they'd catch me, beat me and I'd wake up in Bakersfield with missing teeth. And then I'd become one of them.


I really can't do these people justice, so I'll just let them speak for themselves.

"Hi there, toothful. They call me Mattie. Naw, it's not short fer Mer-tilda. Not short for nothin', really. I guess they just always callin' me Mattie cuz of my matted hair."

"Howdy! I'm Slack-Jaw Neil. You know, because of my slack jaw. I know it sounds goofy, but I've been working this here whirlygig since Carter was in office. And I've time I fire her up, I just can't help starin' in amazement. Look at me stare! Look at her go! I'm falling in love with her all over again."

"I'm Feechus. And that's all I got to say? You ridin' or what?"

"My name's Styrene. Naw, not cuz of the sty. Just a kwincy-dintz. Naw, my grandpappy invented stryofoam. Yeah, we had it pretty good. But then we gave the family fortune to Jim Baker. So it's gone now, all of it. The mansion, the catty-ma-ran. The world's largest pressure cooker. But I don't really work for the midway. I just go where the fun goes, then sit in my foldin' chair, looking disconcerted."

First rejected joke: "They call me Tiny. I'm starting to think the humor is at my expense."

Second rejected joke: "I wear these here seein' eye glasses cuz they make me look more innel-leck-chull."

What I decided on: "Naw, the glasses don't do much. Fact is, I put 'em up there back before I gained all the head fat. They're stuck now. What do they call me? Fred, cuz of the apparent resemblance of my head to "Flinstones" character of the same name. A-yuck."

"Don't give me lip. I'm wearing the sweater like that because I'm cold. No, there doesn't happen to be a portrait of my mother behind me. Why do you ask?"

"Hey, Frank. Go hassle that kid with the camera."

It's just like As I Lay Dying, only with the speakers spewing Cornut bits at you as they monologue. Don't you think?

And that, dear friends, is the San Benito County Fair — or at least the details I thought made the trip worth it. Sure, I had to spend twenty minutes in the shower before I smelled okay again, but you still can't tell me I can't have fun at a day at the fair.

Omitted final word: "suck."


  1. Anonymous8:56 AM

    funny man,

    we missed the cat show last weekend at earl warren (again)! how awesome would THOSE pictures have been?


  2. Anonymous1:43 PM


  3. Anonymous1:35 AM

    great post. bit verbose though.