Saturday, August 09, 2003

Hello bloggers, I see in the JC Press that it's almost time for the Appalachian Fair again. I have always loved the Fair, if only for one thing: the spectacle of dozens of ducklings marching up a ramp, trying to get some food, and falling back down a slide into a pond. When I was little it was funny, and when I got older it became allegorical, and when I got a little older than that it was just funny again (OK, and a little bit allegorical). I also especially enjoyed Ron England's Jail, where the glass display cases of homemade weaponry and dope paraphernalia seemed to be having the opposite of its intended effect, as kids and battled-scarred good ol' boys circled around going "Cool!" and "Man, I need me one of those!" as they looked at the spiked brass knuckles and hash pipes.

The other thing that makes me fondly recall those golden Fairs of yesteryear was that it used to be a pretty awesome place to see live music, back when the roster consisted almost entirely of just-over-the-hill, underappreciated country stars. I saw Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard there. I saw Charlie Daniels turn in a tremendous performance. He sang his new, awful, socially-conservative version of "Long Haired Country Boy" but you couldn't make out what the cleaned-up words were because the crowd screamed the old lyrics over the bowdlerized sections. I saw Ray Charles there a couple of years before Diet Pepsi repackaged him. Seems like just about everybody I saw there has since either died, retired, or been re-discovered by Rick Rubin or somebody and is now playing the Knitting Factory. The best thing about seeing music at the Fair, though, was being in this crowd of folks where most were just rank-and-file Tri-Citians who were there because it was free and they were killing time waiting for the pig races, but some of them had come down from Tolleytown or St. Charles or someplace for the great social outing of the year, and then there was a sprinkling of the local musicians, artists, and other assorted oddballs whose copy of Golden Hits of Ray Charles was sitting next to Bad Music for Bad People and Who's Next in the record rack because that's the kind of weird shit that happens when you grow up middle-class, smart, and bored in East Tennessee.

Here's a related question for discussion: what scenes from David Lynch movies most remind you of Johnson City? (I'm operating under the assumption that everyone from Johnson City who sees a David Lynch film--even Dune--is at some point reminded of home.)


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