Full and happy

Los Angeleno by birth, Northwesterner by choice, Second-hander by nature. Librarian, housebound chef, father, and lowly subject ruled over by the needs and whims of a very old house.
Partial to Mexican, Italian and Vietnamese cookery but will eat damn near anything. Collector of many strange things..the result is chaos and anarchy and a very pleasant place to live.
There is pleasure in accumulation, not just "collecting": music, books and film, in all their multi-formated glory. Outsider artists and those kinds of prints you would recognize if you took liberal studies classes in college. Cooking implements and gadgets for recipes still untried or those ventured. Glasses for most types of libations. Flowers in the garden, herbs in the pot.
It's a life of the senses and a good home life reflects that. Walking helps take in all the rest. Requires no special equipment, opens up the pores, brightens the taste buds, clears the decks for further adventures, puts on the miles, widens the eyes and helps fuel the imagination.

Live boldly, play graciously and love with all your heart knowing that true love comes only once or twice in this lifetime. Speaking of which..donde estas, Empress of my Heart?


"Lack imagination and miss the better story" Yann Martel

"Life is a great adventure and I want to say to you, accept it in such spirit. I want to see you face it ready to do the best that lies in you to win out. To go down without complaining and abiding by the result....the worst of all fears is the fear of living." Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

"Not I - not anyone else, can travel that road for you
You must travel it for yourself" Walt Whitman

And above all, friends should possess the rare gift of sitting. They should be able, no, eager, to sit for hours-three, four, six-over a meal of soup and wine and cheese, as well as one of twenty fabulous courses.

Then, with good friends of such attributes, and good food on the board, and good wine in the pitcher, we may well ask,

When shall we live if not now?

-From Serve it Forth,
M.F.K. Fisher

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Discarded finery

When spring comes around I'll always think of road trips up past the San Fernando Valley to the place where the Green Man and hobby horses once roamed. It's been years since the Faire played that region, and since then Renfairs have become big business. Somehow it's not quite the same thing, but maybe that's how things get to be as you get older. Things change and that's okay.

The Renaissance Faire Pleasure Faire seemed to be a natural fit for the region back in those days. Started by theater students, starving actors and hippies in the mid sixties as a way for them to practice their crafts and put on a show, it was first held out at the old Paramount Ranch in the hills above Agoura. In later years it turned into a heavily sponsored seasonal bachannal, an outlandish showpiece for artisans and costumers and LA daytrippers to disappear into. It was our local annual spring festival, one where folks bent on participating in ancient pagan revels were allowed to get wild and crazy, even if only for an afternoon.

The switch of faire from Agoura to the state park in San Bernadino took a bit of the shine off of the old thrills. The faire was transferred and then transformed in such a way that it was never quite the same faire again. Maybe that's the price of the corporate life. They took a grand pagan event and watered it down with Michelob values and in the end weighed it down with a boatload of rules and regulations that went contrary to the wild pagan event that they started out with. Bacchus doesn't really crave rules and regulations, you know?

Nevertheless, prepping for the spring Renfaire in Agoura was a pretty big deal for those of us who participated back in those days, something we took seriously all year long from the moment the spring fair closed. Sure, there were other obligations we had to attend to, things like marriages and jobs and finishing up pesky school degrees, but all those things seemed to be less important, just sidelights, distractions, food to fill the belly while we gathered goods, read books and watched movies to feed the collective Renfaire soul. Face it, there was a time when The Taming of the Shrew outweighed Casablanca in my eyes. That in itself says an awful lot about where we were coming from.

But still, I wasn't an artisan or an actor or even plugged into the Faire as a participant. I was just a paying man at the gate, but a man with an obsession. By the time I hit my third or fourth faire I couldn't stand the idea of going in street clothes anymore. I looked around casually in second hand and antique stores for costume pieces, but by 1983 I became fairly militant about it. I
started reading costume books, started accumulating fabric and friends who could sew. But there were big problems, though, living in the Big OC. We had actors and artists in abundance, sure, thinking in terms of the grand old Laguna pageant, but nothing that really supported the means and ways of folks who really wanted to upgrade their Faire personas. In other words if we wanted to play we had to hustle, and hustle I did.

I couldn't really find much in the way of used costumes in Orange County. I'm sure that if I had trolled the junk shops in Hollywood I would have struck gold, but the closest I ever got to finding anything worth a damn was finding an old velvet waistcoat and a pair of pantaloons in a junk shop in Orange. A label on the inside of the jacket said that it was an New York Metropolitan Opera piece. That in itself made it a totally pedigree piece, but it was at least two sizes too small. Try as I might I couldn't fit into it let alone had the cash to buy it on a starving student's salary. It would have taken too much reconstruction to make it work. So I left it behind and learned how to sew and built up costumes of my own. Wove and dyed and messed around. Learned to paper machie and make masks. Cut up wool blankets, cobbled together pieces and made stuff for my friends. Nothing elaborate, but workable. Much, much better than going in street clothes.

So when I saw the story below about the sale of costumes at the Rep in Seattle it made my mouth water and made my mind reel. I have to wonder what was there that could have transformed my wardrobe into something truly grand. Sure, I haven't been to a Renaissance Pleasure Faire in years and I have to admit that I haven't attended any of the local varieties of faire if only because I knew that they are not in league with the Faires of old. Back in those days I was in league with Bacchus. When I took those trips to Agoura I went up into the hills and cavorted about with satryrs, wenches, minor gods and all the great unwashed who wished to drink, sing bawdy songs, eat turkey legs and pasties and watch the plays of The Bard.

Yeah, times and bodies and tolerance levels change. Maybe I should approach this local summer fair thing with the temperate mind of an older man. Tip my flagon with the new breed and find a haybale where I can comfortably sit and sing the songs of the old times and tell tales of the days when the Renaissance Pleasure Faire really was all about partaking in pleasure, pleasures that have long escaped most of us in this heavily sponsored age.


The sale I missed!
Renaissance Fair page with tons of links: http://www.renfaire.com/
Beautiful site and store about one of the artists of the "old faire":http://www.baymoon.com/~ukulelebooks/RPF.htm
Wikipedia take on the fair, with numerous links:
Friends of the old Faire:

1 comment:

Thaydra said...

I love the Faire, and am hoping to be able to dress up this year. We'll see.