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Another successful Houston Free Press Summerfest

 

This past weekend was this year’s Free Press Summerfest. While not as fantastic as last year (who can compete with The Flaming Lips and Girl Talk?) it was still an overall fantastic time.

Intro

The night before, @gunsandtacos made the joke that if you want to bring alcohol into the concert, which was not allowed, then just smuggle it via your bloodstream instead of pay out the $5 for shitty beer. I made a lawyer joke that they could search your circulatory system, via Schmerber v. California.

Summer Law rules supreme in Summerfest, so sayeth the Lawgiver!

The first day I most staked out to the left of the main stage in front of the volleyball court. An actual game started up, which was pretty neat.

Music sucks, lets play volleyball

Also, I just got Hipstamatic...

People watching

The spot in front of the volleyball court was a rather fine choice. From there I got to see the main stage, but also a water balloon fight and some guy juggling. It was a whole song and dance show.

Whammy! Boffo! Water balloons!

Hey Mr. Juggler way to juggle, but the juggle-os are at the other music festival.

Also, the view of downtown was just fantastic, as usual…

That is where oil comes from.

Of course, the greatest sight from our wonderful spot was that of a woman in a bright pink dress with a Confederate Flag tattoo on her leg. I couldn’t get a picture, but you can use your imagination.

I also did spy Aang, who was apparently either music bending, earth bending, or on drugs. It was hard to get a good shot of him, because he was moving so much. I should have let out a yip-yip.

Secret tunnel! Secret tunnel! Secret secret secret secret tunnel!!!

There was also some guy with a Ron Paul 2012 sign. It looked exactly how you would expect.

Save it for the Rush concert...

There was some dudebro(?)hippy guy with a pink sign saying something about how there were too many fucking hipsters at summerfest. But what exactly was anyone expecting? Also, you say that like it is a bad thing.

There are Hipsters Everywhere (?)

Most preposterous of all the people watching, besides the ugmo pda cutsie high school couples who were taking far too great advantage of this hand holding opportunity, was the mom (?) with like a 2-4 year old kid at the Weezer show later Sunday night.

Best/worst mom ever?

But who am I to judge?

Bands

Summerfest had some surprise hits, I have to say. The first day was basically dominated by Big Boi and Bun B on the hot, hot stage. I don’t know which moment was better, when Bun B asked for pot from Rice students in the audience, or when they played Bombs over Baghdad.

Hey, remember when TV and radio stations put out guidelines discouraging playing certain songs during wartime? That was weird…

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings were not as good as I wanted them to be. I guess Doo Wop does not lend itself well  to music festival atmosphere and dynamics. However, I was thoroughly impressed by the Dap Kings ability to wear shark skin suits in weather that was hotter than a junebug’s asscrack in July.

Seriously, we were sweating more than a longtailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Over at the Super Happy Fun Land stage, the Protomen were dressed as robots and appropriately sang songs about/from Megaman. Having never really played Megaman, I imagined that all the songs were about Zelda instead.

To get on stage they had to fight a guy who could shoot tornados from his hands. We later saw this man in X-Men: First Class

Appropriately, Dan and I got comic/video game character popsicles after the Protomen show.

I had a Ninja Turtle but ate it all, including the gumball eyes, before we sat back down.

In the meantime, Limb was apparently booed off the main stage. However, Beirut came out of nowhere the first day to be the awesome, brassy relaxing show that everyone needed.

Ween closed up with a set that appropriately fulfilled their description as being “all over the place.” It is difficult to put a label on their cosmic sound, but I do wish I had been dancing closer to the stage.

However, the highlight of their cosmic performance was a cover of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance.

Day 2 saw a switch from hiphop to festival dance with Yeasayer (which I listened to from the shade of a tree). Yeasayer probably wished they could have been there too, considering comments like: “This is the hottest I’ve ever been in my life.”

Indeed, according to my twitter feed, I was having a heatstroke as well.

However, about 5 collective rains cooled the place down to the extent where one could join the masses of youth in front of the main stage to watch Chromeo. While some of my peers may denigrate Chromeo as a mere Daft Punk Lite, I have to say that sometimes you want whole milk, and sometimes you want skim. And dang if the Chromeo crowd wasn’t reveling in a sea of skim. Really, Chromeo looked like they were having the time of their life up there, which made it all the more fun for all of us watching.

However, I skipped out early on Chromeo, and missed Harry and the Potters entirely, to watch Neon Indian. My face melted and also we found a bag of pot that someone had dropped in the grass, which was one of the best parts of the Neon Indian show. Not the pot, the grass. Rather than the dirt and dust of the main stage, Neon Indian performed in front of a grassy field.

There is little in life more glorious than lying in grass recently cooled by a light rain and embracing the tectonic sounds of Texas chillwave band. Of course, I got up to dance.

However, once dancefest just led to another, as Cut Copy pasted a dance beat in our collective hearts.

Of course, the big shebang was Weezer, which caused a collective flashback among the thousands of attendees, screaming lyrics like they were driving home from high school on a Friday afternoon as if this alt-rock band was at one point a teenybopper 104 KRBE hit, which it somehow was.

Also, has anyone else noticed that the Weezer logo looks just like the Wonder Woman logo?

Weezer

Wonder Woman

And also the Whataburger logo?

Whataburger

And the whole thing ended with fireworks. Which was great because, first, fireworks are awesome. Secondly, during the Cut Copy show, we watched as guys in golf carts on the other side of the bayou were giving onlookers the ‘ol 23 skidoo. At first, we thought it was because they didn’t want people listening to the music without having paid for a ticket. In actuality, it was so they wouldn’t get blown up by the fireworks.

In an old movie, this would mean someone just did it. In Mulan, it is how Mulan defeated the Huns.

Overall, fantastic time.

Side Quests

There were two sidequests to Summerfest. First was seeing X-Men: First Class after the first day of summerfest. Did you know that Mutants prevented nuclear war at the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Adlai Stevenson was a mutant! I guess Wolverine was trying to do to Jean Grey what Eisenhower has been doing to this nation.

Second was the grandest of sidequests. We stopped at CVS on Holcomb and Greenbriar to get money from the Chase ATM. After making a few witty retorts about the ‘collectable’ kids sunglasses (Collect them all and save them for 10 years, when they’ll be worth millions. I don’t think that will work, remember Beanie Babies? No, not as collectables. Save them as plastic. After peak oil, the plastic in those glasses will be worth millions!) we headed out to get in the car. Suddenly, a rather cute young woman holding a clipboard tried to get our attention from across the sweltering parking lot.

She maybe kinda looked something like this? Except she had Princess Leia hair. Not the buns, the braids

Yeah, like that.

“Excuse me.”

I had no idea what she wanted, but I assumed it was some sort of political thing, or she wanted a signature, or needed money, or whatever.

Apparently, as she explained, she had missed her bus and was late to church, and wanted us to give her a ride.

Personally, due to a upbringing nourished on children’s television and PSAs, I am suspicious of all strangers. However, good deeds are important and it wasn’t like we were in a rush. Mentally communicating, I yielded the decision to Dan, considering it was his car.

She opened to back seat to the car, and moved some of the trash out of the way so she could have a place to sit. As she slid over a cardboard box and a bunch of papers, it was probably at that point at which she realized that if she was going to rob us, that we had nothing of value worth robbing. It was also at that point that if she was worried about us raping her or robbing from her, that we were far too awkward to attempt anything of the sort.

Anyways, we drove her down Holcomb to the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, or as I refer to it: Ghost Jesus!

Jesus can shoot lightning from his hands.

At night, the lighting upon the Jesus statue casts a shadow on the giant cross in front of the building, making it look like Ghost Jesus!

Anyways, as we approached, I made a comment that dear friend Andrew Brantley’s family used to belong there but they moved because of “the pastor or deacon or whatever it is called…. priest, right? Priest.”

My Christ-o-fumbling was instantly followed by mysterious woman whose name we never asked inquiring as to whether we were Christian.

[beat]

No, we’re Jewish.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “Shalom”

You know when people try to speak Spanish with way too much emphasis on the accent, so rather than sounding accurate it sounds like they’re trying way too hard?

Imagine that, except the person had never heard Hebrew before.

“Uh… yeah.”

So as we dropped her off outside the church, our passenger took the culture clash to its next level.

“Thank you! Wait, how do you say thank you in Hebrew?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know Hebrew.”

“Uh… toda raba, I think? Is that it?”

“Well toda raba. Again said with hilarious overemphasis on sounds that I don’t think actually exist in the words.

I suppose that ancient Greek and Roman myths are filled with stories of Gods and Goddesses dressing up as random travelers to test mortals. On the other hand, pornos often begin exactly in this manner, with a random girl walking up to two guys, asking for a “ride to church.”

Anyways, that was summerfest.

Next year at summerfest

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Brûle Complètement Bun B (and Rice University)

The Facebook posts were a twitter (a contradictory statement if I ever heard one) the other day upon news that Bun B would be teaching a class at Rice. Apparently, Bun B is some sort of hip-hop rapper guy, so this is a big deal.

I perused his discography a bit, and I’m not entirely sure how well it meshes with the Spring 2011 class on Hip Hop and Religion. But considering that this is the same religion department that has a tenured professor who spends his 3-hour seminars scrolling through Wikipedia articles while reading them out loud, and must plan his class schedule around his bi-weekly ingrown eyelash removal, I suppose its par for the course.

(Maybe he’ll be a better teacher if you buy his book)

But the real benefit of this class is not its educational merit within the Reli department, which is yet to be seen, though can be judged from the future professor’s discussion of the class’ “reading list, and that dumb shit.” Rather the benefit is two-fold.

1. PR

Hey, everyone is talking about Rice! Isn’t that awesome! We’re all the news and people are posting stuff about the university on Facebook. I bet the school may even get some feature pieces in national papers or magazines talking about this class. Huffington Post will probably write something about it. Or if the Thresher folks are on the ball and write about it first, the HuffPost will just include an article from the Daily Tresher in a slideshow of “The 10 Best College Courses that Also Look Like Boobies,” or something like that.

And then Rice will finally be good enough, well known across the nation, and lose its Napoleon Complex. And Hanszen will sweep Beer Bike.

2. Racism

Rice has had a problem with race relations in the past, for a variety of reasons. And certainly no one person is to blame. Sept. 15 2006 Rice Thresher Backpage

Ah, memories

But the problems at Rice go beyond spoiled douchebags who think that the name of their stupid party or O-Week group is more important than a history of institutionalized racism. (timeline of racism at Rice) It comes down to sheer demographics.

At least when I was at Rice, there were about 100 black men there. About half of them were varsity athletes, so they were largely focused on that rather than college social events. This leaves about 50 black men. Divide that by four, for the four years in college, and you have a little more than 12 non-athlete black men per class. Divide that by nine, for the nine colleges at the time, and you have one, maybe two, black men per year at each college. The same college system that supposedly unites students distinctly divides them in this case. This cannot be a comforting scene for black students during O-Week, let alone the rest of the year.

This is not to say that people only hang out with the same race, or that they should, or that race is a complete predetermination of life experience and preference. However, there is something distinctly off-putting about looking into the crowd of peers with whom you’re supposed to spend the next four years and seeing no one who looks like you.

I do not have a link, but in a 1990 issue of the Thresher, former Rice student and current professor Alex Byrd (Sid ’90) talked about how he spent a semester (I think) at the traditionally black Howard University (if I recall correctly), and just the sense of comfort of looking and feeling like you fit in. And from personal experience, I know that I felt somewhat lost at Rice until I moved into a room of three other cynical liberal Jews.

With this demographic basis, no matter how many diversity forums Rice has, no matter how many times ADVANCE meets to discuss racism, no matter how many people attend Soul Night (I’d link to the rtv5 video but the website is down), black men will be outsiders at Rice University.

However, by bringing in the prominent face of Bun B to the head of a class, Rice sends a message that black men belong and are welcomed.

So why do I not agree with this move?

I don’t necessarily disagree with it. However, I am somewhat distraught that we are spending money (I assume Rice is paying him some to some degree. And if not, at least expending effort) for a singer to teach a class on Religion when Rice JUST ELIMINATED ITS ENTIRE FRENCH STUDIES GRADUATE PROGRAM.

Hip-hop culture has an important role in contemporary society, with vast influences and meaning, and should be studied deeply. However, French Studies is the groundwork for study of the Enlightenment, the very basis for this contemporary society in which hip-hop exists. We must study the French Revolution. We must study Humanism. Our nation was founded by Humanists and Francophiles. We cannot and should not ignore the eruption, testing, and successes and failures of Enlightenment Ideology. Especially at a time when Enlightenment ideals, and the Enlightenment itself, are being stripped from and perverted in Texas children’s textbooks. This means something. This is important.

It’s great that Rice is getting Bun B. It will be good for PR and Race Relations. But it would be even better if Rice’s aims were what is best for the nation and humanity, and not simply its Princeton Review rankings.

To quote someone I am loath to quote: This nation was created by humanists, and it will be saved by humanists.