This is the third in a series of five pieces by Leau Phillips at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque.
You must be on the edge of your seats waiting to find out the scoop about angry hot glass lady. But before I give you the rundown of the third day of the glorious New Mexico State Fair booth saga, please indulge me while I rant.
These things ARE NOT art - in my humble but adequate opinion:
Pampered Chef or Tupperware;
Paintings done by machine and sold in every hotel lobby on any given Sunday;
Pressed jewelry imported from some place that probably uses child labor and is considered handmade
because you put on the fasteners;
Jars of honey, even if they put up their own fly strips!
Long straws of colored sugar or cotton candy that looks like a shawl but melts when it hits the kids
And most of all...
Anything that uses the words "canine" and "couture" together and really means it...
Not art, NOT art, not even crafts.
Location, location, location!
When you sit outside -in the sun across from a petting zoo and a pony ride, it should not be next to the exhibt hall that sells almost anything known to man most for less than a dollar. AND most importantly, grown adults who are willing to buy clothes for their dogs ARE NOT interested in buying anything that could remotely be considered art! Always ask who your neighbors will be at these events and if the words pet, tags, or doggy clothes are mentioned, just say NO people, just say no.
Whew, now I can tell you about today. I learn my lessons, I don't generally repeat my mistakes so preparation for Day 3 began like this:
Loose, baggy, light colored clothes? check
Seven water bottles frozen solid instead of the five from yesterday? check
Snacks prepared so I don't have to resort to fair food? check
Spray bottle to spray water into the fan as my own personal mister? check
So off I go and I learned a very valuable lesson right off the bat - do not put a rolling backpack on the chair you are planning to sit in wearing aforementioned light-colored clothes after rolling it through the street where they just cleaned out the stalls with power sprayers. Can you say manure tea butt?
I knew it was going to be hotter today- in the lower '90s but do they ever talk about the "concrete" factor like they do the wind chill factor? NOOOOOO, and so I am pretty sure we could have fried eggs on the sidewalks (and called it ART) most of the day. No wind, breeze, cloud cover of any kind. My dad used to talk about watching his clothes melt into polyester puddles when he came down to visit me and today, I think I actually witnessed that.
Second immediate lesson of the day: do not sharpen colored pencils with one of those crappy little uncovered pencil sharpeners that you get at 7-11 for a quarter (hey, I was desperate!) while sitting in front of a fan, in the aforementioned light-colored clothes. Learn from my mistakes. Please.
First event of this morning- and I blame this on the "concrete" factor - was an argument between the dog clothes vendors that ended with "I know marketing dude!" How much marketing do dog clothes need? 'Ya say doggie clothes and people knock each other out of the way to see what they can buy for their "babies." I wrote down the description on one of the tags so you see that I am not making this up. This is for the doggy smoking jacket from Canine Couture: "Sophisticated estate smoking jacket gives your dog a dashing look." Wouldn't just dashing around as dogs are known to do give them a dashing look? How many of them smoke? They need velvet and fur? And what kind of fur would that be?
Best quote of the day from the dog clothes booth: "Jay Leno hates it when people dress up their dogs, that's why I do it." Huh? Is he their close personal friend? Does Jay know they do this and if he does, does he really care? Oh and get this, the sizes range from Chihuahua to Terrier! Well, at least it's clever and fun to write about, eh?
There was another guy with that "strip of hair in the middle of the back of his bald head" haircut! Must be big in some part of the state; at the very least there is a gang of two. Maybe they were related? No "wife beater" teeshirt for this guy, he was fully dressed in a tee shirt that said "Old Guys Rule," with a skeleton on a motorcycle. Great shirt; weird hair.
Helping small children identify mystery popsicles
I really, really love those field trip blobs. I hesitate to take pictures of them for fear of being thought to be some kind of pervert but I wish you could see all those darling faces dripping with Popsicle juice and dirt and maybe even a little bit of what they just fed the animals. Popsicle du jour was this "bomb pop" that is shaped like a bullet and is red, then white and ends with blue. I asked several children covered in said juice what flavors the colors represented and most said "sweet." Freeze sugar, keep kids entertained. One mom did guess cherry for the red, but her kid said nope, not cherry just sweet! Out of the mouths of babes.
Outside the petting zoo are these "portable rest stops" - no, not bathrooms but places to wash up. They bring huge barrels of water in the morning and fill them. The sign on them says "Do not drink the water." So how is it that it's okay to wash your hands in it? What if you put your hands in your mouth by accident? Then where do you go to wash off what you just washed your hands in? Anyway, they are foot pump operated; you have to pump for a few seconds, then water starts to flow. But you must then keep pumping to get these little spurts of water to finish washing ONLY your hands.
Back to the field trip darlings, most of them don't have the height or body weight to keep this kind of a system going, so they spent a lot of time trying to pump and then jump up to get their tiny little very dirty sticky hand into the tiny little stream of water. Maybe that's why the field trip blobs are so entertaining to me, the side show!
Most interesting outfit today? A teenage girl in those low rider jeans that barely cover anything with a GIANT belt buckle that was too heavy for the belt and the jeans and kept falling forward so that the jeans were close to obscene. She had quite the following. I was worried she would be falling forward at any minute and experiencing that "concrete" factor up close and personally.
Unusual tattoo of the day: entire chest of crosses at odd angles (I first thought they were daggers) just above the top of a tank top and up to the middle of her neck. She also was wearing a gold lame "sweatshirt" or hoody thingy that came to her midriff. Are they still for warmth at that point or just looks? So are they "sweatless shirts?" I'm telling you, I am not so sure there are any mirrors in New Mexico.
Because of the heat, I spent a lot of time today observing flies at the fair; there are lots and lots of them across from the petting zoo and pony rides. There are three basic kinds of flies at the fair: Little tiny jumping/flying ones that I am hoping are flies and not fleas; regular ones that I have at home and then there are these enormous ones that a friend tells me are deer flies or horse flies. These babies could have their own zip code. You can hear them coming and I have this momentary panic - we are very close to an air force base - before I realize it is those flies. They are bigger than those giant bumblebees and not as leisurely about the flight pattern and I really think they must have a command headquarters somewhere on the fair grounds. I was gonna try to photograph them but that would have required walking into the "concrete" factor and I was not willing to do that. I just hope Popsicle juice isn't on their list of required targets.
Today was also memo day at the fair, one from the "arts & crafts" (and I use that term VERY lightly) organizer and an official one from THE State Fair. In part it said "The Fair does not condone the sale of products that may be deemed as objectionable, offensive, or in poor taste." I don't think THE State Fair folks have ever been inside their exhibit hall! While I know mops or brooms are not considered objectionable by anyone but me, I am pretty sure a teeshirt with (...I am trying to figure out how to say this tastefully...I got it!) a graphic depiction of Family Jewels, showing generous balls encrusted with genuine, imitation diamonettes isn't all that tasteful. And while it wasn't exactly life size (or maybe it was if you read all those ads in your spam box) it was unmistakable. I said to the kid wearing it, "I think that would be pretty painful...in real life." He looked at me like I had lost my mind and said "What are you talking about?" I couldn't answer, maybe it wasn't what it looked like to me? Nah, that's what it was, I would recognize them anywhere. This isn't my first state fair, people!
Angry Hot Glass Lady
Before I tell you about the other memo, you need to know about the angry hot glass lady (hereafter known as AHGL) in order for it to make sense. Just as I had finished setting up the booth the first day, a car comes screeching into the area, proudly proclaiming itself to be an "Art Car." It looked really cool, with stuff glued all over it (turned out to be toy soldiers and baby bottle nipples..huh?) and a vanity plate that read "Ht Glass Ldy." A woman jumps out, cursing and carrying on, to use a good Southern phrase, at the world and everyone else and the arts and crafts organizer in particular. Thus began the saga of the Angry Hot Glass Lady.
Apparently she didn't have her entry passes or parking pass (we didn't get ours either) and the gate people weren't going to let her in and she was late and blah blah blah. She starts slamming things out of her car because it is almost time to clear the street and open. She rants and raves and starts setting up her booth. Now her company isn't called Hot Glass Lady, but she does do glass mosaics and it is handmade and definitely art. Day one progresses and she rants and raves with colorful expletives off and on during the day. Then she does Tai Chi with a cigarette break in the afternoon. Day Two rolls around and she is getting angrier and angrier. It was kind of scary, but as she is a couple of booths down, it is more of an entertainment than a concern.
Evening falls and she is way over the top mad at everything and everyone and then Mister AHGL shows up! With friends! And she is a happy camper. So she closes up her booth and starts off with said company. Here comes the arts and crafts organizer, at a trot. "You can't close yet!" And boy oh boy does AHGL go wild and now we know (and so does the rest of the entire fair I'm guessing) that she is so upset that no one has bought anything from her and she is in a rotten location and the people around her are not artists and this ^&*^$*(@% fair sucks. She sends Mister AHGL and friends off and tells them, at the top of her lungs, she will join them..if she can. One of the other vendors told me "she expresses her emotions quicker than most of us." Nicely put, eh?
So today's memo from the organizer says: "...as we all know the fair attendance is down this year, but let's keep our positive attitudes going," and goes on to say: "what the fair expects from us... booths across from the petting zoo and horse rides do not close any earlier than 8 p.m." We all laugh that nervous kind of laugh when you see a train wreck about to happen and can't do anything about it. We are hoping that the Tai Chi will help. But what if the Tai Chi IS helping? Gulp.
To my surprise, AHGL comes up with a brilliant plan to draw people into her booth. Earlier in the day she drug a woman in and then drug her back out into the street so she could appreciate her glass pieces in the sun. That didn't work like she planned... But her new plan is brilliant. She started to make balloon hats/animals to draw in the kids who bring their parents with them. Organizer says sure, that's fine. AHGL makes and sells 15 or so hats/animals to small children. Organizer comes running over and tells her to stop, it is distracting from the sale of ART (see list at top of post for what she considers art). What sales? I had had one by then.
We wait for the explosion we know is bound to come. Nothing...nothing from AHGL at all! We wait, in the heat and concrete like we were at the Ok Corral. We wait, trying to get each other to go find out what is happening. Finally Ken goes and low and behold AHGL has sold her most expensive piece and isn't angry any more! Almost everything she said was right, but wowsers, there has got to be a better way to say it. We are across from the petting zoo and pony rides! So all's well that ends well? We'll see what tomorrow brings for AHGL and company.
In closing, on day three, I met some really wonderful artists and made some great connections. So short term, not so profitable; long term, good prospects. Had great conversations with like-minded people. I found this great quote by Edward deBono: "Humor is by far the most significant activity of the human brain."
And my tee shirt for the day would read:
Leau Phillips is a mixed media artist and photographer in New Mexico. She has been persuaded to create her own blog, so her hilarious observations of ordinary life will stop taking up so much space in Paris Parfait. Once Leau's blog is launched, it will be announced to much fanfare. So watch this space! If you missed parts one and two of Leau's series, read them here and here.