July 16, 2008

Hoboken Arts and Music Festival, Wicked Monkey, and May is So Over because of hasty June...

May is gone and June was hasty. School already ended for most students and as anticipated by many, summer is here. (The last time I checked, I was just watching the 4th of July fireworks dazedly; I need about another month to catch up with July which is a couple of weeks shy of being kaput as well, so I’ll put that subject off until then when I’m entirely there.) Apparently, time just zips by, leaving me utterly winded…there’s never enough of time to do anything much with and, much less, everything. So I’ll just have to make a minor adjustment and forget about all of my plans this summer. There. That should take care of this funny business of hyperventilating. And to think, I was even so ecstatic about this fiery season during the spring showers…

Blame it on May. It—my ludicrous perception of summer euphoria—all started with May, which I’ll return to shortly since this posting is supposed to be about my spring events, an account of which is already two months delayed, thanks to the flower power that is May and its onslaught of activities. May subliminally instigated my blasted, out-of-control summer notion that is almost uncanny and not funny at all. She (May) is the culprit that spawns events in an incredibly rapid succession, leaving one with hardly a break in between to heave a second wind, and spews them to an already swamped and robotic yet still very acquiescent society who knows naught but to mechanically nod through their overscheduled days and recite phrases like “What time does it start?” for confirmation—such confirmations are sure to satisfy man’s insatiable need for affirmation. (Wake us, George Carlin—such a loss to society, who shall continue your reason and your fight-less fight?—and those of you who are brave enough to act on your grumbles, Wake us!—us—mindless drones of mankind drifting listlessly, though fully functional like robots, in a world submerged in a mass hysteria for “filling”. Forget about doing—there is great and inexpressible spiritual sense in the doing of something that is united with the heart. Otherwise, it is only filling… gorging… hording. We have an enormous craving to fill a huge void—an immense, dark hole that is man’s unquenchable thirst for approval. Hence, the birth of palm pilots—aha! The power to connect, confirm, and ultimately organize—or control—is in our hands. Once again, we have achieved instant gratification for our immense need to belong, at least for the time being. And palm pilots are almost archaic due to the speed of our technological advancement. We have moved onto smarter, sleeker, more sophisticated technology that boasts more features and functions and buttons; buttons are easier to push, never mind the ancient levers as they require more physical work like playing with a stick that requires more mental exertion otherwise known as creativity. As Carlin clearly expressed his thoughts on society and its children, albeit abrasive his views are, children aren’t allowed to play with sticks nor stare at a tree anymore; they are far too busy to merely commune with nature and stare and think and wonder. These children are now a new breed, highly advanced and ambitious. They are a class of their own, a modern hybrid that needs to belong, attain, and win. They are serious and focused. And they mean business, or their parents do, at least. Hence, the emergence of after-school, weekend, and summer programs, because the normal schooling just isn’t sufficient to hone a child anymore, and the adults at home are crammed (their palm pilots say so) to engage with their kids with as little as a mere glimpse, never mind a conversation which requires too much mental effort. In fact, the standard school’s performance is now substandard, so there is only room for higher expectations and excellence by providing more school assignments and activities. And the adults are of course extremely concerned. They can’t take their invisible eyes off their kids as they wade through their pool of commitments. These children are going to be our future leaders, so there is no time to waste. There is only enough time for grooming these youths to perfection—we need future leaders like Bush and Clinton, and majority of the government officials that currently manage our society. Doing more is the only way to keep up. And make sure that you fix others and their backyards first before your own. Keeping up is the only way to prove something—to gain another human being’s admiration and approval to ultimately mean something. Because “God is never pleased”. A catholic church newsletter said so. Wait something feels awry. Eerie actually. Maybe it’s just my neurosis.

Okay, maybe I am just connecting dots and being totally neurotic. But listen, it is probably really April’s fault. Perhaps, she is the one liable for this sort of event obsession with her spring and Easter hype and, also, whoever it was responsible for making March cover Easter too, as if there were not enough leprechauns and clovers to manage its merrymaking all through another month of craze. And weren’t we still suffering from the hang-over that was valentine’s madness and its colossal stuffed teddies that lined up the store shelves?

Now back to May. What happened in May…hmm...oh, I remember now. It was my son’s interview for another school on the 5th, his birthday party on the 10th, his friends’ party on the 16th and the 25th, also the day of our friend’s get-together, Hoboken’s Art’s and Music Festival on the 4th, and oh, mother’s day on the 11th. The month was also stuffed with school activities such as field day, fun night, and early dismissals. And as if that weren’t enough to keep me panting on all fours and trying to hold on to dear sanity for the third grader living with me—forget about the roses on mother’s day, I definitely had no time to smell them…wait, I can’t even remember if I received any…I remember going to our friend’s get-together that afternoon…I had breakfast in bed, courtesy of my thoughtful son, assisted by my husband (check); cards (check); lunch at Houlihan’s and having on my dainty, chiffon, light pink dress (check); and Chip Kidd’s edition, Peanuts: the art of Charles M. Schulz, a treat from my husband which I absolutely enjoyed, because Sparky’s work is truly remarkable, and I consider him a genius like Theodore Giesel. So, I hope to write more about this special edition of the Peanuts in another posting.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, as if the excitement weren’t enough to last well into the summer and past it, both Indiana Jones and Narnia happened to emerge from their creators’ closets on the same month. So, we packed our weekends with events that included the movies, like we were packing for a long vacation overseas. (How I wish it was actually a vacation overseas in a tropical oasis, like last year’s in Guam.) Fortunately, Iron Man was released around the time of my son’s 9th birthday party, so we took care of seeing the movie and having the party simultaneously. Ahh, what joy!—one stone took care of a couple of birds…there really must be something to be got from aphorisms... My son was allowed to invite a few friends—a few meaning as much as the fingers on a set of normal hands, because the day of inviting the whole class, in my book at least, had culminated in 1st grade—to the movies which was immediately followed by a party at our house. What else could you do for a 9 year old boy? Clowns were creepy, and arts and crafts a little too cheesy for these slightly older children, most of which were boys. In previous years, we had been there and done a Veggietales’ pizza party, Star Wars with Darth Vader as a special guest, and Sam’s Green Eggs and Ham a year after Bob the Builder turned the cake into a nice yellow property with sugar grass. No way could we have snuck in time for cloud-watching or tree-communing for the kids. Sorry, George. Ah, but for us adults, my husband and I, at least, did I mention having squeezed in time at the park before sundown for our sanity’s sake and for planting on Memorial Day, the 26th , too? All these activities happened in one deep, long breath that is called May, which was also crammed with schoolwork and karate classes every week. And that’s just my son’s life which apparently overlaps my husband’s and mine.

And by the way, as those events transpired, I was also in the middle of unfinished paintings, shirt and bag designs, and unpublished writings. In fact, I’ve been in the middle of all these projects for a while now. It’ll be a great relief if I could complete a dozen paintings for a small showing at a bookstore, cafĂ©, or other similar venues, and definitely a huge treat to have prepared a good amount of shirts and bags to sell at future art fairs.

Before I cease babbling, I have to talk about the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival that took place on the 4th of May, Sunday. It was somewhat enjoyable. Detecting a hint of boredom in my tone, don’t you? Well, I don’t know if it’s just me and my self-detected ADD, but the event has become tiresome for one reason or another. Maybe because I was not given a chance to prove that, unlike most of the silly shirts that currently plague our malls, there is real art in my shirt designs to the snooty phone lady, who had rather tersely replied during my application inquiry that “they”—the mysterious and sacred festival committee—would just “ignore” my samples,. The festival air also reeked, not of art and music, but lifelessness and the unpleasant odor of mere business hullabaloo. This is not to disregard the market’s role in the creative sphere at all, otherwise the artist wouldn’t be able to cultivate his craft and carry on. But once commerce undermines the creative process, the very heart of creativity is lost, leaving only a creative mirage with the stench of commercialism at its core.
Okay, on the other hand, I did enjoy the Wicked booth, its lively staff, and promotional perks, which included sunscreens and a free snapshot of you and your group complete with props and backdrop. And my son enjoyed the foot long hotdog, as he always had since he started coming along and been able to consume a hotdog of that length. And since I began coming to this event twice a year in spring and in fall, my husband and I have started collecting a souvenir or two. So far, we’ve acquired jewelry, an African musical instrument, and toys such as a pirate marionette, a set of wooden bow and arrows, a wooden rubber-band gun, all unique, and absolutely hand-made. We even tried some delicious dips. This time I decided to pick up another musical instrument, which was some type of a Mexican recorder or flute, in addition to my son’s second marionette—a blue-eyed, lavender alien. That’s just the point of these festivities, to discover, celebrate, and support artists and local musicians, and sample a variety of international foods. If only the foods are a little less pricey and the music’s turned down a notch, these treats could be appreciated more, while the people get to enjoy their food and conversations with music in the background. The $5 tin cup of old fashioned soda poured out from wooden barrels was a real treat though. And other than wishing that I saw more people supporting the artists by buying their products, I actually am looking forward to the autumn event. Do I really wish business to pour over these artists, my counterparts? I do…I have to, as it is also one of my deepest desires for my art to be seen, appreciated, and ultimately purchased for my official validation…

Ay, humans…so simply complicated. Can’t live with or without…just like summer.