Hello. It’s August. When we know that, despite the fact that there is a large headline across the top of today’s New York Times, nothing ever happens.
This is a strange situation for a month with such a robust name. August! Named for a king, hinting of a strong wind, carrying portents of a heady future.
But no. There is not a strong wind. There is a hot, fetid calm. There are the doldrums.
True sailing is dead.
Ughh. True sailing is so totally dead. August passes sluggish and slow, weighed down by humidity and International Beer Day and too much goat cheese. Though, I guess, you know, there can be worse things. (Sometimes the month gets weighed down by nuclear warfare. Let’s hope not this year.)
Sometimes it’s as if August is actually moving backwards, creeping back in time to infect other months with its slack sails and unproductive laze. Certainly, the government has been dragging its feet. And getting nothing much done. Nothing much good, at least. For me, too, it’s felt like August for the past few weeks. I haven’t been able to get anything done except complain about the heat and the mosquitoes in Brooklyn and Massachusetts (where I went the weekend before this past one, and where the mosquitoes, I swear, are like fog.) And how they seem to be so much more attracted to me than to other people. And how much more their bites seem to itch me than they do other people. And how unsympathetic other people can be. And, while it’s maybe not as bad as nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is pretty bad, man’s inhumanity to me.
And now we’re actually in August, so things are bound to get worse.
Oh! But you know what does actually happen this month? And it’s kind of perfect for a month when nothing actually happens, being that it involves so much beer drinking and the revving of thousands of motorcycle engines in idle, and being that it takes place in South Dakota: the world-famous biker rally at the Buffalo Chip campground outside the town of Sturgis. Some 500,000 people will enjoy a week of machine gun shooting and midget bowling and pickle-licking contests. And rock music. This years marks the 30th anniversary of the event at Buffalo Chip. And the schedule is impressive:
Bachman Turner Overdrive
Def Leppard (Oh, and it’s Joe Elliot’s birthday today! He’s 52.)
I love that song.
And Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges, who has launched a music career in earnest and will be joined by John Fogerty and Stevie Nicks! Here is what the Buffalo Chip News says about Stevie:
“Nicks is sure to rev up the party for Chip goers. Embodying the characters of her songs, Nicks will take you on an arousing and enchanting escape into a world of white-winged doves, black widow spiders, and ‘sisters of the moon.’ Her captivating stage presence and powerful voice will rock the house.”
Concurrently, at Cooper’s Lake Campground in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, the Society for Creative Anachronism will be holding its 40th annual Pennsic War. This war, as you know, gathers committed Renn Faire types from all over the world, 10,000 of them some years, in pitting the Kingdom of the East against the Middle Kingdom in a test of “chivalric combat of the highest.” (You saw Role Models, right? If not, please do. It's a super-great movie.)
There some similarities between the two events. (The "nothing actually happens in August" thing being one such, which is not meant as slight. These are both worthy ways to spend time this month.) But there are some differences. For example, the Pennsic War website advises participants:
“If you don't know what something is or if someone won't tell you what something is, don't drink it. Don't drink anything that glows in the dark…”
But Stevie Nicks, being as magnificent as she is, and as universally appealing, could play both, I think. While an act like Molly Hatchet, say, could play Sturgis (in fact, I would think they'd be required to by law, absolutely each and every year), but just send their album covers over to the Pennsic War in tribute to the late, local, legend painter Frank Frazetta, who painted them. As the Pocono Record put it upon Frazetta's death last year:
"He lived among dragons, battlefields and medieval landscapes. And in the end, he was master of them all."