Variety show preparation continues. Physical skills practice is one piece of the puzzle. Another piece is adding new material. In this instance it is woven into the opener and closer.
Most of this material is now memorized, but the jokes require context, setup and then let the line go. If the lines were merely recited things would be infinitely less difficult but they are not. A street act has to fit the line into the moment. That is the unmistakable mark of showmanship.
I’ve got several edited musical pieces to physically improvise. Being visual is street performing.
Performing at the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival is an anxiety making prelude. Surrounded by the best of the best takes some steeling of nerves. All of us want to believe we belong. Performers take their material place it into the moment and proof their blueprint by testing its merit with an audience.
Then, there is a laugh, maybe an audience applauds and all of a sudden you’re over the worst of the thing and ready.
To meet the moment there is a madcap dash backstage when then all at once you hear the stage manager make that fateful call for all of us to take our places. The stage manager under the direction of the producer signals the start by wave of hand.
A thousand performers and more in the last 35 years have waited standing on their mark anticipating this Shakespearean surge of love, laughter and madcap playfulness. North America’s premier street performer’s festival comes to a roiling boil in the living, beating heart of North America’s most populous northernmost city this July as it has every July for the last 35 years.
Like the time of your life, there is no other better moment to make the most of than this one moment we have all been given.
From Meeker, Colorado it was another 30 miles out to Ute Lodge. The property borders White River National Forest with good access to Flat Top Wilderness Area.
To penetrate into the interior of this region most visitors hire an outfitter. They’ll ride one or two days then establish a base camp. Early June this year the higher country is still snow covered and travel is impractical.
Carl the proprietor of Ute Lodge is a rail thin father and husband. By my count he toils the day long running between 15 buildings plugging leaky roofs, fixing broken windows and plumbing fixtures that pick the moment to no longer cooperate.
Read some fiction, took off in three different directions for a few hours of hiking. Fixed a one cooking pan dinner off my portable stove. Thunderstorm shorted sunset chasing me inside my petite cabin sooner than I’d have liked.
Drifting the emptiest corners of the American West casts a mood over my day. Squirrels scrambling away for their lives, grazing elk spotted in meadows, brook babbling as I hike alongside tend to calm my modern world mind down to a workable pace.
I’m bound for Fort Collins. I arrive tonight. Tomorrow my first shows in Old Town.
Sixty-eight citizens call Baker, Nevada home. Five miles from the entrance to Great Basin National Park makes this unincorporated corner of the universe a park visitor must-do experience- like it or not.
Nearest grocery stores are 56 miles west in Ely, pronounced E-Lee. Nearest saloon once you depart the two saloons in Baker is 8 miles distant. This is why for safety in dog days of winter the barkeep will open up for the other 67 citizens stuck in Baker due to inclement weather. This is a Nevada nowhere public service, Lord knows it is not for profit.
In particular writers prefer as little distraction as Baker may provide. Due to the consumptive nature of writing 67 other stubborn desert dwellers is regarded to be a near maximum number when giving consideration to writer focusing dysfunction. Procrastinating writers if wired up to the grid could provide enough electricity to light São Paulo.
This thistle of tennis shoe torment begs my revisit. Parking my escape vehicle just yonder of my threshold, mere steps from my four cords of wood, where I may fend off the ice demons, where I may plunge my fingers into immortality, where I may give chase to time, where the Bristlecone pines on Wheelers Peak landmark their longest living thing on earth defiantly, where geology sneers, and the gods bait our convictions.
Getting packed and out of town without a hitch wasn’t likely to begin with. Because of the sailboat, home renovation and general spirit of upheaval there were things that would go missing. Forget the vest and 12 volt cool chest so you know. Bitter pills to swallow. Success in low budget showmanship demands a vest.
Near as I can tell I’m plenty far enough away from the maddening crowds. Wasn’t until I got 25 miles east of Carson City before I began to recognize the Nevada I know. Fallon, Nevada mixes things up
Ukulele is upstairs. Fantasize and sports franchise You might imagine how we can create a lyric about a sports franchise that doesn’t run off and leave Oakland for somebody else.
I’ll roll to Baker, Nevada and take a room. Between here and there I’ll juggle, recite my new lines and investigate a few roadside curiosities while Great Basin high desert drifting.
Like mustang near everything in Nevada makes being here a disrupting proposition. Early man was here hunting 12,000 years ago. The terrain was more verdant, herds were larger, the animals were bigger. Most of what counts for size here is imagination. There were too few here back in that era and too many now.
Nevada in the warmer months hiking among the pinyon and then up near the tree line among the Bishop pines proffers a chance to run deep. Ancient trees holding on for dear life provide a “arboristic” mirror to your own clinging here on this hard rock. Let’s move out. We’ve some east to make good
Running with the big dogs. Terrified, trembling, the healthy sign. cholesterol in the zone, handstands are ripping hot when you divide 67 by 2 then add or subtract wisdom.
Things I miss? My dogs. There were two. Sunshine-1977-1989 and Lacey 1998-2012… Steinbeck admired a man who could wear out 7 dogs in a life. I have fallen short, but trying counts.
They were the small dog-gods, keepers of the present moment peace. Sunshine and Lacey believed in parks, scent and national forests.
Then there are my mentors. Our soul inspiring sisters and brothers demand I keep stepping up. So there is this climbing into to the batters box. Still swinging for the fences.
Maybe it is that I also a father, a husband a friend… maybe it is that I novelist, sailor and global warming-climate change-the end of the world-let’s do something about the impending crisis enveloping our globe dude.
Perhaps the story is about becoming a vegan. You may not have seen my blood tests, my periodontal procedures, my dermatologists admonitions…. but the gentleman was on a highway to hell and that highway and hell had a very terse, short, to the point ending.
Let me give it to you straight. On June 10th I roll east from Emeryville. You don’t know Emeryville?
The fact of my moment is that after coffee with five or six good citizens this early morning, Sunday morning, I am braced, packed and ready to dance with the always there for the loving road. See you out among the summer breeze…
Luscious open empty miles on Nevada Highway 50 are planned. Busking buddy Sean Laughlin rules from the roost in Silver City. We go back to sidewalk show days. Sean’s pop was Bay Area icon radio broadcast personality Travis T Hip. Born and raised in Berkeley is its own geographical means of bending soul to place. I’ll twist a few yarns from his perch prior to more eastbound into the heart of nowhere.
Hot Spring Honeymoon, my third novel, a sexual farce takes place here. Long fiction uses uncountable hours of our imaginations bandwidth. Jerusalem crickets, pinyon pines and sagebrush become contemplative Great Basin life forms. Nonconformists are the entire Nevada population…. think imaginary prizefighters and hardrock miners. Easy if you try.
Best part of running east on Highway 50 is the caprice of starting and stopping. Yes, I will practice reciting new material. Delivery of a new line with nonchalant premeditated comic intent is a craft. You have to listen to your audience. Is there a reaction? Does the joke land or the following spontaneous line deployed hoping to save my belly laugh bacon save me from silence? Spontaneity is a gateway technique common to busking.
In the town of Ely I’ll juggle on a park lawn beneath
cottonwoods. Unless the wind is howling the workout will be once each day as I
cross to Ft. Collins.
Love, sex, booze and mustang are first order elements to living in Nevada. Perhaps you are married, maybe you twelve-step, given up on sex and have no affinity for horses there remains the great task of fitting your lack of conformity with what is regarded as sacrament here in the Silver State. If all else fails act cranky, but profess respect for lizards.
Hay growing, cattle ranching and gold mining thrive here. Natural resource extraction has not been easy on this delicate ecosystem. Adding to this is the sociologically bizarre gambling epithet called Las Vegas and this humanity that has gathered pressurizing the demand for the groundwater here to the north. Remember that water running east from the Sierra’s or west from the Rocky Mountains comes to Nevada where it forms ponds and sinks into the ground. Millions of years of accumulation can be extracted by well pumps and piped away in the wink of an eye.
As far as nowhere goes I’d recommend more nowhere for its healing spiritual qualities. Cheek to jowl in California is bumper to bumper soul stifling. Preserving some sizable portion of our western states where we may travel for the sake of soul rebalancing is a prescription for our personal psychological health-care.
If humankind has been building temples for the gods it is likely the gods have built the Great Basin Desert for all of creation. Nevada she is the emptiness jewel mounted upon a crown of forlorns…