Iowa State Fair Birthday Party

arrived to the Iowa State Fair

After a fun ride through all of Des Moines, my coworker Jess and I arrived to the East Side, and the Iowa State Fair, in cycling style. As our other coworker Dave drove around looking for parking, we cooled down and spoke to the few bikers that rode up to lock down. On the ride over (about 6 miles total), one driver cussed us for cutting through traffic to avoid hitting mirrors while riding in the gutter. Another local yelled “You’re crazy!” as we sped by. “I do crazy things on my birthday!” I yelled back.

deep fried Iowa State Fair

Living in Middle America now, I completely understand why our society is overweight, out of shape, and having major health problems. Here at the Iowa State Fair, you can eat unhealthy food to your heart’s content. The booth behind me serves up deep fried Twinkies and candy bars. Other booths served beef sundaes (mash potatoes as the ice cream), chicken/pork/beef on a stick, deep fried pickles, deep fried cheesecake… you get the picture! No wonder people were confused at my wanting to bike to this event.

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World War IV

Another day, another gig in Iowa. Tonight’s event was a Gin Blossoms concert by the Des Moines river. I spent most of the night tired from a late return from Madison, WI this morning. I also spent about 15 minutes debating our position to a young, naive Republican Limbaughist. She argued poorly so spent most of the talk changing the subject. I kept telling her “you aren’t convincing me to change my mind” and correcting her incorrect comments.

Most of yesterday was driving to and from Madison for another Ween concert. This show ended up being the rocker I wanted in Des Moines, and I banged my head on and off depending on which song they played (“Dr. Rock,” “It’s Gonna Be a Long Night,” and Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” stood out). I heard many songs that weren’t in the other show, this sold out, and the audience of mostly college kids roared and sang along to most of the songs.

At one point in the show, Gene Ween, the lead singer, told the crowd that they had a nice day in Madison. They caught a free classical show in the park near the capital and watched CNN in a sports bar. When he said this, I instantly wanted him to speak out against the growing violence that fills our media channels. The Madison crowd would’ve loved it and roared in approval. I sensed this because I saw many overtly anti-Bush shirts all night. One said “I’m an enemy combatant and I vote.” Another had Bush sucking the Statue of Liberty’s neck.
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Sweat-Drenched First Week in Iowa

Week one in Iowa and I finally get my second day off after nine days and 440 miles of setting up the games in five different towns and cities. I had a great trip west, driving 1600 miles from Glover, VT to Des Moines. I stopped off in Troy, NY and had lunch with two friends, and then spent the night at Niagara Falls, NY. While there, I only visited the falls, once at night and then again the next morning. Further west, I lunched in Cleveland, OH and spent a night in a dingy hotel room outside of Chicago, IL.

Niagara Falls

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Bread & Puppet: The Victory Circus

Sunday begins early after I wake up from a dream. My sister Karen teases and taunts me, and I end up crying on my great-grandmother’s antique, green sofa. “This is Nanny’s couch, isn’t it?” I sob. “It is!” my sister screams back at me.

Sitting up off the floor of my van, clearly awake after the dream, I instantly notice the quiet, Vermont solitude that surrounds me. I open the back doors to chirping birds and buzzing bugs. I do tai chi in the circus field where I camped and meditate in my van before I break down the sleeping set up. I then put the reworked spring on the high striker.

The barn’s bell finally rings for breakfast, so I head up to the house to grab some grub. I eat granola, cow milk (not fresh due to Bread & Puppet having to sell their dairy cow), and a banana slice. I also sip a cup of coffee made from their big machine (they also grind it with a huge grinder). Not to be greedy, I just try the homemade hot cereal with a small dab of honey. Oh, and there’s bread of course.

CarnyMobile at Bread & Puppet

The Carny Mobile games set up for a Sunday Bread & Puppet show in Glover, VT
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Sudden Puppet Theater in Irasburg, VT

As my final days in Concord begin to speed up, my gut tells me to call and check in with Linda Elbow at Bread & Puppet. Then, after the high striker breaks a spring in Keene two days before I leave the state, I have to trouble-shoot a way to mail the replacement. So I call Linda to get the OK to next day a spring to Glover if I have to.

She says that that’s fine, and also tells me that Bread & Puppet will perform in a parade in Irasburg, VT Saturday at 6PM. I have planned on leaving my Portsmouth gig at 2:30 to arrive at Glover by 6. Linda says to make it 5:30 and I’ll get to go to the parade. I make sure that I leave Portsmouth with enough time to get up there by 5:30.

Rain in Irasburg

Rain in Irasburg delays Bread & Puppet’s butcher assembly, as performers seek shelter under the roof’s overhang.

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dreams7/14 AM Dream: Part of the Prophecy

A person has proclaimed that he/she is the messiah, so thousands flock to the building where he/she stays. Something tells me that I am part of the prophecy while I watch the scene on TV, and my unidentified wife/girlfriend agrees. We ask a roommate to leave and discuss my gut feeling regarding what I should do. After the talk, I stand by a mini-fridge and spend a long time setting up a light fixture. I put part of the light in the fridge after changing the original bulb with a different style of bulb.

I know people who have gone to camp near the messiah – even Deborah has gone. I have gone to the messiah’s dwelling place in an earlier dream, because Dave Cutler introduced me to two close, Jewish relations to the messiah – Seth and Avi. I go back to the building, and amongst the crowds of people, I find Seth and Avi sitting at a picnic table with Avi’s father.
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Farewell, Granite State

This will most likely be my last post before I hop in the van and head across the Mississippi. Looking around my room, I’m not sure if all of my things will fit back into the two suitcases I started out with. No worries there, because the van has room to grow. Also, just how do I pack for this carny trip across the Rust Belt? Fortunately, I will only sleep in the van Saturday night before my Bread & Puppet performance.

As you can see, my mind is already on the road. I have two, maybe three, more gigs in New Hampshire before leaving the state, but I made the road trip official today. Today, I took my toys and put them on the dashboard in the van.
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poloticsAl Gore and the ELF

Earlier today I read an article in the June-July 2006 issue of’s Fault Lines that spoke with San Francisco Bay Area salmon fishers. Like the fish, and the rivers it lives in, the fishermen are dying off as well. In this article, “Damn the Dams,” Andre Attack quotes one of the fishermen, who stated “I’m all for that [blowing up the damns that are killing the Klamath River and the fish that live in it]. Blow the fuckers up!” Attack then quotes another fisherman that says “I honestly wish someone would recruit me for a job like that.”

This evening, I just got to watch Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, where the former US Vice President states that “we are witnessing a collision between our civilization and the Earth.” Using hard science, and flashy graphs and photos, Gore goes on to show that, according to his documentary’s Web site, “humanity is sitting on a ticking time bomb. If the vast majority of the world’s scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced.”

That’s right: ten years to fix the problem.

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Check out the Priorities Campaign’s “Piggie” Blog

Ah, the power of the blogosphere. Thanks to good ole’ WordPress, The Priorities Campaign has launched their own blog to cover fun, informative NH and IA events and goings on. In case you haven’t noticed, I currently drive the CarnyMobile around and perform for this campaign, spearheaded by True Majority and Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities.

Right now, about three other Priorities Campaign folks are posting to the new blog as well, so it’s worth checking out. Some of my posting energy for my travels will go to the Priorities Blog, but don’t fret. I’ll still drop posts here at Happy Feet! In three weeks, I’ll drive through the Rust Belt to Iowa for a new world of carny splendor.

Here’s our mission:
We aim to redirect 15% of the Pentagon’s discretionary budget towards education, healthcare, job training, and starting to repay the national debt. This 15% cut, or $60 billion dollars, on obsolete weapons systems and the further proliferation of nuclear weapons in no way impacts homeland security or our defense. We have the money; let’s spend it on sensible priorities!

Here’s a bit of inspiration (from a Republican!):
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are no clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists and the hopes of its children.” • Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower, 4/16/1953

Pulling Strings in NYC with Kevin White

I first met Kevin White about 12 years ago in Atlanta, GA. At the time, Kevin toured the Southeast performing marionette shows with his brother Brian. They worked for a company named Vagabond and had a boss that mismanaged the business. I moved away from Atlanta a few years after meeting them and they had both quit working for that company due to the fact that their boss didn’t run things too well.
Kevin White in the Puppet Mobile

Kevin White behind the wheel of Puppet in the Park’s Puppet Mobile, NYC.

I lost touch with Kevin and found my own path to puppetry after moving to San Francisco in 1997. As I became an active member of the CELLspace Puppet Cluster (David Morely, Jonathan Youtt, and Joelle LaPlume were the main members, with Whitney Combs, Sam Bower, myself, and others as supporting cast) in 1999, I thought of Kevin often and wondered why I never felt drawn to puppetry in Atlanta.
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Requiem for Billyburg

New York City, Last Week

Early in Rev. Billy’s Church of Stop Shopping’s service/performance, an elderly man gets up out of his front-row seat and is escorted down the aisle of St. Marks Church. “That looks like Mark Twain,” I think, observing this gentlemen’s crazy hair, bushy mustache, and seersucker suit. “Wait. That’s Kurt Vonnegut!” Rev. Billy sees the man leave and confirms my thought, saying “bless you Brother Kurt” into his mic.


Vonnegut couldn’t stay long enough to give the reading portion of Stop Shopping’s service/performance, so Rev. Billy reads the poem for him. With a four-camera shoot going on, and everyone’s acknowledgment that Vonnegut was old and not well, Rev. Billy reads a somber requiem for the war, it’s dead, and our country’s current state. Sober, respectful, the Rev. takes the poem’s message and calls on his flock to heed the words of our elder brother.

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Report from Soggy Concord

This afternoon, as I parked my van at the entrance to my house/apartment, a woman pulled up and called me to her car. “Do you know where I can find the shelter around here?” she frantically asked. I thought a bit, and wasn’t sure what she was talking about. “The people from the Department told me it’s a brick house that looks like a factory? Is that it (pointing to a brick building across from my house)?” “I have no idea, but I bet that that women’s clinic over there can tell you.” “OK, thanks,” she said, hurrying off. I watched her pull away from the women’s clinic and take a left down State Street. Guess she was going to see if that building was the shelter she was looking for.

I live in a “real” part of Concord, and I’m grateful that I ended up here and not in a Holiday Inn. My roommates and neighborhood shows me a slice of New Hampshire, and probably the United States, that I wouldn’t see if I stayed in hotels. Then again, maybe not. If you haven’t read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Nickel and Dimed, and if you don’t pay attention to the precarious working poor that live around you, then you might not appreciate where I’m living right now.

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