Jan 14, 2023Liked by Michael Garfield

Wow, what a Devasting critique of the current festival scene. Well written and penetrating into the deep cultural and economic factors that keep culture moldy and oldy while being pretentiously knew!

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Jan 24, 2023Liked by Michael Garfield

Will the last person to exodus, please turn off the lasers?

Excuse me while I spend my whole summer entertainment budget on the "Final" "Dead&Co" "tour". Or, in graphic designer versionation speak, I believe this would be Dead&Co.2023.Tour.Final.FinalFinal.mp4.

Nostalgia is, as I'm sure you've written about elsewhere, perhaps the last vestige of psychological comfort in an increasingly impossible quest of meaningmaking in a cultural commons designed to either make you feel Other or make you feel Safe. I couldn't help but watch all ten episodes of That 90's Show, despite knowing that Wilmer Valderamma is a piece of shit, that the writing and acting was garbage, and the opportunity to really kick ass on the soundtrack was squandered in favor of keeping costs at Netflix production low.

For those of us who have entered work into the Creative Commons for years, it's been disheartening to watch it fade into obscurity when it is needed most. Flickr shouldn't be charging me to keep photos within the commons, but here we are.

As far as the festival questions, I think maybe you buried the lede, or just did a classic Garfieldism and made this post about something much bigger than the question at hand, which I don't blame you for. Festivals are just one more example of events, of gatherings, of capitalistic endeavors, though they haven't always been.

I think if we look back into the history, to strip out the superfluous VIP experiences, the monetization of every aspect of the pilgrimage, we could get back to the actual core needs which festivals serve: honoring the seasons, gathering of likeminded revelry, expanding time and space into not-time and not-space, creating environments to challenge gender, power, and decency, being an outlet or steam-release of society...

These things do not require money, they just require sense. And in fact, the layering of commerce as they are have built walls around the most transformative aspects of transformation.

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Thanks for giving this so much thought! I'm especially on board with you about this eloquent statement:

"Nostalgia is, as I'm sure you've written about elsewhere, perhaps the last vestige of psychological comfort in an increasingly impossible quest of meaningmaking in a cultural commons designed to either make you feel Other or make you feel Safe."

And YES I absolutely DID bury the lede AND make this about something much bigger than the question at hand. File Michael Garfield under "I saw the universe in a grain of sand...and then was called into a disciplinary meeting for being high at work" I guess. Except this is me sober <crying>.

My favorite festivals have always been the ones closest to this question of what core needs festivals served in their premodern, non-commodified instantiations. Maybe this is why I always preferred to show up two days early, hang out with the land and the site crew, and wander around on terrain before security erects VIP fencing and starts forcibly relocating everyone's cars. New Mexico has fewer fences per square acre than Texas and it's palpable. My inner Celt will always revolt against the enclosure of the commons. And my inner Jew is ambivalent about, but deeply committed to, a good wander...I'm glad that's something we seem to have in common.

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Jan 25, 2023Liked by Michael Garfield

Not every pilgrimage must end in a festival and not every festival must require a pilgrimage.

The legacy of city-festivals are what I was steeped in during college: the legacies of the Olympic Arts Festival, Los Angeles Festivals, Ciclavia, Santa Monica Festival, etc. On the extreme of this would be an event like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco. These events are, ideally, hyperlocal, celebrate local cultures, are economically and transportationally accessible to wide swaths of local communities.

These aren't the behemoths which exclude the actual city they are celebrating, privatized events like Lollapalooza, Outside Lands, and the like, which at least have less environmental impact in terms of commutes to the festival, but unfortunately are so raucous as to attract those that fly in from around the world, thereby negating any environmental gains from holding events within walkable environs.

For a once-relevant take of mine on VIP experiences at festivals, you can read this blog post: http://wesleypinkham.com/2017/05/premium-guest-experiences-are-destroying-the-festival-scene/

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Nice! Thanks for making this distinction. Two of my all-time favorite festivals are the Whole Earth Festival in Davis, CA and the Llano Earth Arts Festival in Llano, TX, both of which fit into the category you describe. In follow-ups I'll be sure to make this distinction.

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