I went to artcarfest AND I got a not-unattractive Tshirt!
This will be a chronicle of my trip to SF for ArtCarFest. About half of my reportage is of interest mainly to those in the artcar world, and half is more a personal typical LJ entry. Also, it will be in multiple parts. Now that you've been warned...
First, I should explain the concept of "ArtCar Time".
like many (most?) artists, artcar people are notoriously hard to direct. It's not necessarily that they're stubborn, it's that they're easily distractable and not very good at time management, especially when you get a bunch of them in one place. When you get 60-70 of them in one place and expect them to do things like meet for dinner at a specific time, wake up for caravans, or assemble for a parade---- the phrase "it's like trying to herd cats" comes to mind.
ArtCar Time plagued this trip.
To begin with, my caravan partner, RC, was the first victim/perpetrator of living on ArtCar Time. He'd wanted to avoid the Seattle to Portland Caravan because 1) he, like me, wanted to take the 101 rather than the I-5 (the intended route of the Seattle folk) and 2) they weren't to arrive in PDX until 12:30 or 1pm, and he wanted to get "an early start".
"RC and early start" is akin to "Marilyn Manson and subtlety". I knew this in my heart, but had no idea that we wouldn't be leaving until 11:30, even though he woke me up at 8:30. Folks on the Seattle caravan tried to warn me, but I thought it wouldn't be that bad. And it's not that it was THAT bad, it's just that you have to get into the Zen of ArtCar Time and be okay with the idea that, no matter what you've told other people, you'll get there When You Get There.
The trip was also complicated by The Interloper.
The Interloper (who will be called TI for the rest of this narrative) called RC's house the night before we were to leave, looking for a ride. She was a friends (so she said) of Weenie Kween, who (apparently) had given TI RC's phone number since Weenie Kween was heading down with the Seattle Caravan but "didn't have room in her truck".
Second, I should explain the concept of "didn't have room in her truck".
"I don't have room in my truck" apparently REALLY means: " I don't have room in my truck FOR YOU."
Given that TI called so late (it was 10 or 11pm, I think) and so last minute, we didn't have a chance to "check references" with Weenie Kween. RC pointed out that we were staying the first night at my friend Lori's house in Arcata, and that Lori didn't have room for another, and TI said "oh, that's okay, I used to live in Arcata, I have friends there I can stay with", so since I "had room in my car", we agreed to take her. We made it clear that we weren't sure when we were going back up north and that the offer was for a ride down ONLY, and it was up to her to find lodging/hosts once we were in the Bay area. She readily agreed and said no problem.
Next lesson learned the hard way: Be suspicious of anyone who "used to live in Arcata".
Arcata, for those not in the know, is a town in Humboldt Country, CA, and the location of Humboldt State University. It has a Pacific Northwest type climate, breathtakingly gorgeous terrain, and a terminal infestation of hippies. My friend Lori is in grad school there, and says of the place "It's so far left it makes me look like a moderate".
I've been to Arcata twice before, each time to see Lori. I don't "like it" except in a schadenfreude type of way. Making fun of Arcata residents and their beliefs is like shooting fish in a barrel, but sometimes, one craves that 98% accuracy marksmanship that the fish in the barrel provide.
So we have to stop along the way in Salem, OR to pick up TI.This is probably a 40 minute diversion, but not too terrible in the grand scheme of ArtCar Time.
Except that this chick is close to insufferable.
Like Lori, I've now been put in proximity to someone who makes my politics look conservative, or possibly reactionary. After 4 hours in the car with her, I'm ready to vote for Buchanan and cruise around town yelling inflammatory epithets at people with funny hair. The fact that I have funny hair has not escaped me as I retreat into this fantasy.
It would be maddening to chronicle all of TI's dumb viewpoints, but let's just say that there were many of them, and they combined an awful amalgam of hippy idealism and radical feminism. I tried to be polite and play "devil's advocate" instead of saying what I wanted to, which was, "How can a 31 year old still believe such crap? Where have you been living, Mars?", but then I remembered she'd spent a year in Arcata, where perhaps everyone believes that instituting a radical program of gender education in grade school would break down American Society's irrational embrace of monogamy and the concept of the marriage partnership. I dunno, maybe in Arcata, the above is as common a viewpoint as "smoking is bad for your lungs" is elsewhere.
So I had this chick in my car for two days. Even RC found her annoying, and he didn't have to deal with her except at meals, gas stops, and the 3 or 4 thrift stops we made on the way down. To have her in my car, engaging me in conversation on topics I'd ordinarily find interesting, but not when arguing them with someone who doesn't have a clue....sigh. I was really looking forward to dumping her off in SF with her friends.
After picking up TI, we weren't on the road long before I needed to stop for a bathroom break. Though RC was leading, I pulled ahead of him and exited, and he got the idea and followed. The town turned out to be called Creswell, and as soon as we stopped, RC wisecracked: "I predicted you'd want to stop in Creswell!"*
*If you don't understand why this is so funny,click here, or go watch Plan 9 from Outer Space.
The residents of Creswell seemed to have a disproportionate per capita amount of cameras and digital camera in their cars, judging from all the photographic attention we got while parked at a gas station for 10 minutes. One thing I'm no longer suprised by in my Art Car travels is that people in small towns will often think your car is "neat" or "cool" rather than freakish, weird, and/or a harbinger or trouble. What did surprise me, though, was that one of the biker-looking chicks with jailhouse tattoos at the gas station taking digital photos of our cars specifically mentioned showing them to the professor of her Digital Media class she was enrolled in. Hee hee. You gotta love America sometimes.
We traveled on, hitting a few thrifts on the way- I scored a High School Marching Band-type jacket that I got lots of complements on later in the week. We arrived in Arcata around 10pm, and after dumping TI at her friends house, I had a quick visit with Lori before it was time for bed.
The day after was more of the same--- delays, 6 hour drives that end up taking 9 hours, more naive chatter from TI, more destructive and reactionary fantasies rushing through my head, beautiful scenery and curvy roads. We called ahead to our hosts in SF to inform them of our arrival time, and since it was already after 9pm and I was ready to take the path of least resistance, we asked if TI might be allowed to crash on the floor at our hosts' (J&S) house (so I didn't have to drive her halfway across the city). They agreed, and upon our arrival, J&S give us the grand tour and show us to the guest bedroom. After RC puts his bag on the bed, TI says "Oh, are you taking this room?"
Well, let's see, we're registered attendees/guests of the event, whose organizers have arranged with J&S weeks in advance for our comfortable accommodation, and we want nothing more than to sleep in peace away from you, so, yeah, we're taking this room.
It became quickly apparent that, like a wart or a particularly awful STD, TI was something it would be difficult to get rid of easily, and that along the way, severe discomfort was likely for all who came in contact with it. The analogy ends with the somber realization that you don't get rid of an STD by foisting it off on someone else, but that was pretty much looking like the only way we might get rid of her.
In our next episode- lunch, camping, TI is thwarted, and the first incident of drunken shenanigans!!