This is a reanimation of the Vicaribus blog as lived by Miro Kazakoff and Ehren Foss in 2004 and 2005.
The photos may be spotty.
Posted by Miro
We’re cruising down I-94 in Minnesota. I’m a little loopy from lack of sleep/intermittent sleep/terrible dreams. In a bid to fill out the last week and a bit of our trip with as much activity as possible, we decided to both attend the Tim McGraw concert (in North Dakota) on Friday night and a party in Minneapolis on Saturday. These two locations are 500 miles away from each other (about 14 hours away at our top speed). So we left after the concert last night. Ehren drove till 3 am while I slept, and then I got up at 6 am and drove while Ehren slept. Sleeping on the couch while the bus is in motion is a dicey affair. Pavement seams wake you up, and I had hellish dreams of fleeing something.
In lighter news, the Time McGraw concert was lots of fun. He puts on a smooth and professional show. All singing, no chit chat. I get the feeling that you get pretty much exactly the same level of performance from him no matter where you see him. The excitement was high in the crowd, but I didn’t get the sense from him this was a particularly good or bad show. Unlike the opening act, who seemed thrilled at the size and energy of the crowd. We also got the Tim McGraw bonus pack: Mrs. McGraw (Faith Hill) did a duet and two songs. Not only did this get the crowd on its tip toes (most of it was standing room tickets), it got half the girls on their boyfriend’s shoulders. I’m not a tall man. I heard more of Faith than I saw.
A quick note on country: I’ve discovered a real warmth for the genre. People make fun of the limited subject matter of the (pick-up trucks, drinking, fighting, Southern state pride, woe, and old-fashion honky-tonk partying), but that’s what genres are like. The fact that country songs are almost always ballads makes for some great, clever, story-telling. Take this gem the opening act played (they wrote it for Lynyrd Skynyrd). The song is called “Red, White and Blue.” The chorus goes, roughly, “My hair’s turning white, my neck’s still red and my collar’s always been blue.” I think that’s pretty clever. The one thing that bothers me is the reactionary tone. So many of the songs are about how the past used to be simpler, kinder, and better; how our world is getting worse everyday. I guess that’s the essential conservatism of country music and well, I’d like a little more optimism about the future.
The North Dakota state fair was big, but cozy. Towering farm equipment (the size of small barn) was on display, but the fair had a feeling of community that was entirely missing in Alberta. Most of the convention facility was devoted to 4H and FFA exhibits. I saw prize winning vegetables of breeds I’d never heard of. How does one even judge a prize winning crabapple? And there was some quilting and stunning intricacy and quality.
Personal favorite: The North Dakota Hunting and fishing agency set-up a firing range and fish pond. A man in the largest handlebar mustache I’ve seen, ran through a quick lesson on gun safety to a 4 year old and then set her up with an air rifle. They were also giving out small scraps of animal pelt. I got muskrat.
There was a small frontier village staffed by some of the most talented and articulate craftsman I’ve seen. I think I may now be able to use brains to tan an animal hide if need be. Sturbridge village it was not, though. When the blacksmith discovered the rods he bought weren’t long enough to make chain lengths, the kids around him were treated to a string a graphic swearing. One mother was needlessly narrating the experience to her young son in cutesey-voice:
Lady: “That’s a blacksmith. He heats up metal till it’s red hot and then bends it. He used to make everything.”
Lady: “Well, everything made of metal. Look he’s bending some metal with his hammer. He uses a fire to make it so hot it glows hot.”
Blacksmith looks at link and declares it not long enough.
Lady: “Now, he’s discovered that the metal isn’t long enough for what he wants to do.”
Blacksmith: “Shit. Mother-fucker. God Dammit. Shit.”
Lady: “Oh, he’s very angry.”
I think he actually started swearing to get rid of her.
I also saw the Amazing Flores’. The only circus performance where the performers looked truly terrified before each stunt. Their smiles afterward were of relief not performative excitement.
On the last stunt the announcer explained, in an incongruous, confident baritone, that no insurance company would cover their act. He then asked the audience to buy a $2 8x11 photo. All the proceeds would be reserved to cover future medical expense if one of them got injured.