Sunday, August 03, 2008

Good Day Sunshine

Or: Farmer's Market Redux

Some days just start off with a bang, with everything going so swimmingly swell and positive that you think you're living in a dream. But then stark, cynical reality sets in (usually on Mondays, in the form of work). Sunday was one of those days.

Got up to go to the Farmer's Market under the Jones Falls Expressway, because it had been seven days since I'd had kettle korn and I was feeling weak.

Give us now our daily kettle korn, 'kay?

No, actually I've developed an addiction to the Thai stand's Pad Thai and steamed buns (called "bans"), so I had to go down there for my Thai Brunch.

Steamed Buns: The Thai That Binds

Now usually I never have any luck finding parking spots right away but today a couple was pulling out just as I passed. I waited patiently (something new for me) and not only did I get the space, but the driver walked up to me and gave me his parking meter voucher, good for two hours! "Thanks!" I said, astonished at such a nice act of charity. Then on my way to the market proper, I passed Erin, a hippie girl I knew from college days. She pointed me out to her friend as "This is the guy who shows all those good movies at the library! You have the best taste, I love it!" At first I was sure the compliment was aimed at the excellent film talk series my cineaste colleague Marc Sober presents, but Erin name-checked my screenings. Wow, I hadn't even had coffee yet and I was feeling energized.

Sax and the City

Crossing the street, the saxophonist who always busks on the corner across from the market pulled his hand away mid-solo to shoot me a wave. I waved back, making a mental note to drop a buck in his case on the way out. I always say hi to him because he's a regular down at the city library and, well, I love his Lisa Simpson-meets-Ornette Coleman free-form tooting. Then I ran into my library friends Cody and Dave (from that rival library system in the suburbs, BCPL), so I had company.

Librarian Cody improves her circulation at the Farmer's Market

Dave was wearing a cool vintage Enoch Pratt Free Library t-shirt that I liked a lot better than this year's new logo edition. Guess the grass is always greener as far as library t-shirts go, as Dave modeled his "exotic" and labyrinthine city library system tee for me:

BCPL's Dave shows his true EPFL colors!

Cody and I stopped at a vegetable stand the vendor was holding up a curious looking deformed 'tater that looked like some alien genetic mutation out of Dan Clowes' Like a Velvet Glove Cast In Iron or a National Enquirer headline - you know, like the ones that scream "Potato Has Face of Jesus."

Test Tuberous 'Tater

I was fascinated looking at this nature's oddity, because it reminded me so much of some of the inbred grits you see on Cops. Eventually the vendor, Joe, put down Mr. Potato Head and said, "You're the library guy right? I came to your screenings, that surrealism one, 'Who's Your Dada?' that was good." Wow, another compliment, and not only that but I got John the Farmer - a representative of the coveted agrarian film-goers demographic - to check out Dadaist experimental films!

And speaking of genetic mutations, some kid was selling watermelon-sized zucchini and squash for the bargain price of four-for-a-dollar. Sold! Those things were so oversized, they more closely resembled sex toys than vegetables. Indeed, they could easily have been used by post-porn feminist performance artist Annie Sprinkle as a "stop-gap resolution" in one of her women's sexuality workshops, if ya catch my drift (and I think you do).

Open enrollment at an Annie Sprinkle workshop

And speaking of farmers fighting against typecasting, consider Adam over at the organic dairy and cheese stand. He always has a laptop PC set up with a slideshow showing his farm and cows and such. Noticing that it was a Toshiba Satellite series laptop, one that I had considered buying, I begged off his offer of garlic and dill cheese samples and engaged him in conversation on laptops. Turns out Adam is quite tech-savvy. In fact, it turns out he used to work for Apple and was a techie back in the day. But the tech bubble creates many mid-life changes. Just look at me, a latter-day librarian thanks to the Tech Crash of 2000 at Aether Systems.

On the way out I passed by El Electric Mariachi, the young guitar busker who plays Neil Young tunes like "Rust Never Sleeps" (a song possibly inspired by my townhome's slate roof) and has a sign in his guitar case that says, "Pancho needs his bread." Don't we all? But I supported the arts and dropped a buck in for the cause.

El Electric Mariachi Pancho, busking

And give to Pancho our daily bread

I left the market jacked up on Zeke's coffee and a couple of Thai iced teas, ready for my next stop. In conjunction with my film program at the library, Death of a Cyclist, the graphic designer at work had asked me if I had any old bike parts he could use for his window display promoting the event. A nice patron named Stephanie had suggested the Velocipede Bike Project folks as a good resource for bicycle parts. So later that day I headed down to its location at 4 Lanvale Street, around the corner from the Metro Cafe and the Charles Theatre.

The Velocipede Bike Project
4 Lanvale St., Baltimore MD

Right as I parked my fossil fuel-burning eco-system-defiling Honda Accord engine-of-oppression outside the collective, the first person I saw was...Stephanie! "I found them," she exclaimed, referring to the Samuel Beckett DVDs she had tried to track down at my library and that I suggested she try locating at Johns Hopkins University's library. So each of our tips worked out, cool. Apparently, Stephanie was a volunteer at Velocipede and she introduced me to the most helpful head guy, Lars. Lars was more than happy to help with my window display project, so I scored some beat up wheels, spokes, gears and chains.

All was pleasant this day except for playing tennis later at Druid Hill Park. It was a beautiful day to hit the courts, but unfortunately not just for tennis players. For some reason, a pack of surly and obnoxiously daft 'Tweens on bicycles decided they were going to ride their bikes across the very tennis courts we were playing on (guess the bike paths and the immense acreage of Druid Hill Park didn't appeal to them), much to my aggravation. These kids were not at all like the good vibe bike people at Velocipede. When I asked them if they would desist, I was met with taunts of "dickhead", "bitch" and acts of stealing my partner's tennis balls. My friend wanted to keep playing, but the confrontational, antagonistic atmosphere reminded me too much of work and I called it quits. Ah, stark reality, the sun shines brightly for a while, but it never sets on the world's ignoramuses who pedal in darkness.

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