Monday, August 3, 2009

Be Happy and Gay- Market Days

The band (BMR4) played Market Days, yesterday.

Boystown, Chicago style.

What a good time! I gotta say, I can't recall a gig where the BMR4 Solid Gold Dancers actually showed up. (There's a reality show in there somewhere.)

The Halsted St. Market Days festival is one of the best in the city. Just like any of the various city festivals throughout the summer, there was a lot of food and music and vendors peddling their wares.

The difference between this particular festival and all of the others is that Market Days draws a truly diverse crowd. Usually, on the North Side, the "mighty whitey" reigns supreme at these summer fetes. Such was the case of an unnamed "retro fest" that was a mere block from the home of yours truly.

That really says something about Chicago. You see, we Chicagoans tend to think that our city is diverse and international.

Except we're not.

Sure, there are representatives from hundreds of other countries and cultures located in Chicago. There are many languages, a lot of interesting food, et al. But as I've pointed out in previous posts, Chicago is still very much a racist city.

At Market Days, though, you'd never know it. You get all kinds of people: gay (the dominating group, natch), straight, black, white, boys, girls, Latino, Asian, Democrats, "greenies", and even the usually-despicable Republicans.

Sure, they're welcome too.

And you know what? Everybody got along swimmingly (likely, the appearance of the Village People played a strong part in the harmonious vibes and good karma.) I didn't see any fights, I didn't notice any thick-necked frat boys being obnoxiously loud and, well, obnoxious. I didn't hear anybody complaining about activities that other festival-goers were indulging in (use your imaginations, you dirty dogs.)

I saw one guy sitting up against a street light and, um, napping. He was covered in dry puke; pretty sure it was his own. So he was obviously sitting there for quite a while.

Nobody hassled him, even (although we all had that, "Poor bastard," thought going through our collective heads, I'm sure.)

Even the police presence was minimal, it seemed (for Chicago standards, anyways.)

Isn't it ironic that the gay population (not only in Chicago, but all over,) an oftentimes persecuted group of people, throws the best parties (if you are of the gay population, I suppose you wouldn't call it ironic. Normal is probably a better word.) I mean, gay people party with reckless abandon. I don't think that any other group can claim that accolade any more. So long as blood is not drawn (unwillingly, anyways,) you can do what you want in the gay community. Nobody cares.

Everyone, seemingly, gets it.

I find it funny, for sure. After all, I'm in the biological white guy club, I just don't subscribe to a lot of "our" propaganda. Rules for having a good time? Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign? Stay within the barbed-wire fenced in area? No smoking here? No drinking there? God forbid there's a little weed floating around. And aren't you just a little too happy? Please, you're an embarrassment.

This has everything to do with my profession of choice. As a musician, I've seen the changes in attitude over the last decade in terms of the people coming out to have a "good time". As a result, I've seen the results of the change in attitudes. When I was a young pup coming up through the ranks, most people still knew how to have a good freak out. Music clubs were full all the time. People came out eagerly (yes, yes, I know that it's always been tough to get people to come to your show) and regularly.

Regularly is the key word, I think.

Do kids even have fake id's anymore, or has everyone become just completely addicted to Guitar Hero instead of actual guitar heroes (or are you just petrified of having "youthful indiscretions" on your "permanent record"?)

Since the regularity factor is taken out of the equation, and since there are so many rules to follow, attendance has taken a steady nose dive. Clubs that were hoppin' are now scaling back, whether it's the money the musicians make, or just the number of days the club has music. A lot of festivals have cut their budgets, cut the number of days (hmmm, the Chicago Blues and Jazz fests come to mind,) or just quit altogether.

Sure, the economy is bad, but the laissez faire attitude of so-called party people is worse.

This is a big and diverse world that we live in. Don't forget how to have fun and be happy and gay. People certainly haven't in Boystown.

So it goes...


  1. There was a kid from down the street where I grew up who danced on Solid Gold. I had been living in Chicago a couple years and one night my roommate who is from Chicago but lived in my hometown for a time, started yelling "It's Tony! Tony's on Solid Gold!" He'd been on a couple seasons by then and I'd never noticed (can't say I paid a whole lot of attention to the show) but that day they fetured him with an intro and a little snippet of bio: "Tony Fields, from Davis, California...". A year or so later Tony was gone and they had new guys who could break and stuff. I told my sister who was tight with his sister. "Man, I hope Tony saved some of that money he made on Solid Gold 'cause now they bumped him" She said I didn't have to worry about Tony-he was dancing with Michael Jackson now!