In Scribbles #17, I published a letter to the editor from Susan Lee:
Ottawa, July 11, 2005
I've been told I need to explain my Bluesfest schema clearly because it appears rude to those outside of it.
- I don't make any commitments.
- I don't meet people when and where I'm supposed to and I don't [care] about that.
- I just stay wherever I enjoy the music, completely disregarding needs and desires of others.
- I don't allow people to speak to me and shush them when they do.
- I'm opposed to chairs because they are too limiting.
- I may disappear without explanation.
- I never agree to spending any time with friends bringing small children.
There are more, but you get the idea.
This gave me plenty to think about, because it was almost the opposite of my Bluesfest Schema.
My Original Bluesfest Schema
My old schema involved lots of equipment, especially festival chairs. Over the years I've acquired possession of six of them. (For you law nerds, title to two of the chairs might still rest with the individuals who left them in my house. It's not clear whether they abandoned them or not.)
I have all these chairs because I am too inflexible to be comfortable sitting on the ground and I like to sit with friends when I watch a show. Because I have many friends who operate on a modified Susan Lee Schema, I have found that if I set up a bunch of chairs at a stage, I usually wind up with a bunch of these friends joining me, because they really are more comfortable than the ground and I'm good at getting close to the stage.
Having all these chairs was great when it worked, but horrible when it didn't. There I'd be all by myself with a little herd of chairs and suddenly I'd be in a crowd of dancing people. [This is not a problem at the Folk Festival because the Folk Festival is clear about where tall chairs, low chairs and dancing people belong. Many people take moral positions on this issue - "sitting people don't respect the spirit of the music" or "dancing people don't respect others who arrived early and have patiently waited so they could actually see the artists." I say we should stop dividing ourselves into arbitrary groups and judging each other and the Bluesfest should take responsibility for this problem instead of putting people into situations of inevitable conflict.]
This Year's Schema
I decided to go really light this year. Just me and my water bottle. This has worked out well because I've only been going in the evenings, and mostly to shows where dancing is not just encouraged but expected. I found the sense of freedom to be remarkable. The only problem is, the show really has to be dancable, otherwise the standing gets tiring.
This year's schema worked well until yesterday. I didn't sleep well, so I was tired, and was late getting my coffee, so I had a headache. I told people I'd be at the MBNA stage where they'd be playing alt-country, loaded four chairs onto my bike and headed out.
I have to say, the chairs were awfully comfortable and it was very nice to be sitting close to the stage. It made it easy to draw pictures.
After the Hackensaw Boys, I decided I didn't want to see the guy who used to be in the Allman Brothers so I locked my chairs to my bike and wandered the other stages.
None of the bands were really grabbing me and I thought about going home, but then I bumped into Dave T. We talked about how there'd be no way to get close to the main stage and we'd just wind up watching the big screen. "Why not sit on a couch inside?" he suggested.
"Hey, if we're going to be watching it on TV anyway, why not?" I replied. It was remarkably comfortable. I think from now on I'll do my main stage viewing from the red couch near the big TV in the City Hall lobby.