Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Fare of The Fair

I inevitably equate sunshine and happiness with the warmer weather. I'm not sure if that's appropriate or if I need some introspection on the subject, but I suppose -- like most people who can be accurately described as a kid at heart -- I prefer warm, sunny weather to dreary, shitty winter dreariness.

Part of why I love New York is its inevitable plethora of things to do: no matter what time, what type of weather, or where you are, as long as you have a little bit o' cash there's something to keep you occupied. Even if it's crappy weather -- in which case the above remains true to a lesser extent -- there's never a dull moment, unless it's of your own volition.

To that end, part of my exposition into the City is the many street fairs that seem to populate the warmer weekends here. Like a lot of other New York experiences, it's pretty much the same thing, despite the varied locations. In the case of street fairs, it's unique foods -- corn on the cob, chicken kabobs, popcorn, juices, pretzels, hot dogs, sausage and peppers, and the inevitable cotton candy -- stretched over a ten-block run that also involves at least one snake-oil salesman -- a magic broom, ginsu knives, a new type of garden tool, or some sort of laundry assistant -- and the innocuous t-shirt booths, replete with the same old sayings: "Fuck You, You Fuckin' Fuck" is among the more memorable, although in recent years the Sopranos -- especially a t-shirt advertising the fictional "Bada Bing" club -- has, I believe, edged it out.

There's also, typically, a variety of housewares -- sheets and bedding-related stuff including blankets, pillows, mattress covers, etc. -- and there's jewelry. Typically it's cheap crap that pull women towards it with gravitational magneticism. Of course, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and other similar chazerai make their appearance as well, and inevitably women flock to these vendors with the aplomb of bees dancing through the sunlight to an open, unguarded pot of honey.

Each year -- or rather -- each warm-weather season -- street fairs seem to pop up without warning or cause. Of course there's an annual, pre-set schedule bearing locations and dates and times, and invariably if there's a sponsor the schedule indicates that as well. But overall, nothing really ever changes -- it always seems to be the same faces, the same schtick, the same gimmicks and the same stuff each time.

Now, lest I be accused of cantankerous stodginess, it's not that I don't enjoy walking around street fairs. To the contrary, I more than not like them a lot. But I wish someone would find a way to make each fair worthwhile on its own. Aside from San Genarro, nothing really changes -- and even the San Genarro festival can be a complete and utter waste of time. In fact, for the most part, it is. Drinking lukewarm beer out of plastic fraternity party cups and fighting throngs of people, strollers, dogs and odors previously inexperienced and barely human isn't the stuff of legend. More importantly, why would anyone travel more than a few blocks to experience it? Even more importantly, why would anyone experience it, period?

I suppose because with each year and each new annual arrival of nice, warm days -- as opposed to excessively hot, humid ones -- the itch to escape the four walls reinfects each one of us. Some people head to the Hamptons, others to the Jersey shore, and some of us are stuck within the confines of the City. Hence we accept the shenanigans that accompany games of "chance," the funnel cakes on paper plates, the screaming children, the semi-drunk, hung-over floaters, and the overly-salted roasted corn on the cob, for better or worse.

And with all those complaints fresh in my mind from last year and years past, I think it comes down to yearning for the summer weather. I don't need a handmade baja pullover, action figures from The Incredibles or Disney characters, and I definitely don't need a 40x60 black and white poster-print of Al Pacino in full Scarface guise with the words "Say Hello to My Little Friend" narrating the scene of the muzzle flare of his M-16A.

Inevitably, for the most part, I don't wonder whether I'll be excited to hit the first of the street festivals in the next six or so weeks. I will. What I do wonder is how long it will be before I begin wishing for October, for cooler weather that requires me to consider bringing a jacket once the sun goes down.

And whether it's in our nature as humans, or simply mine, to always look to that which isn't quite here but will, someday soon, be ready for my consideration and my predilection to want something else.

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