yo, yo, yo, who wants to die?

Linette, Clementine and I just got back from Ypsilantis annual Heritage Festival. For the most part, its a waste of time, just a lot of trailers pushing sugar-crusted almonds and deep-fried balls of dough, and the occasional stand with someone trying desperately to sell things theyve bought in bulk on Ebay, like bottles full of colored sand and (horribly dangerous) beer cans cut and twisted to look like airplanes. For the last few years the Flying Wallendas have set up in the park and done their high-wire act. Theyre not here this year though. Maybe Ypsi didnt have the money to bring them up from Florida, or maybe they just decided not to come, seeing as how their trailer caught fire the last time they were here, killing some of their favorite trained dogs. (The Wallendas that are either too young, too clumsy or too smart to earn their living on the wire have other acts, like juggling and working with trained animals. I believe they lost three dogs last year.)

We moved through the crowds pretty quickly until we got to the encampment, the area along the Huron river where, each year, some historic reenactment buffs put on their dirtiest old clothes, raise their tents, take out their false teeth and live as though theyd never showered. One tent had a little four-piece band playing and we kind of got sucked in Its hard for a boy from Kentucky like myself to just keep walking when theres a fiddle or a hammer dulcimer being played… So, we stopped to listen. And, before we knew it, we got dragged into an impromptu square dance. Clementine was happily gurgling and kicking her fat, little legs while strapped to my chest. Linette and I were spinning around and touching strangers. Every time I looked up from my feet, I was embracing another woman in a filthy burlap dress. (If someone from the national OCD group had seen me, I would have surely lost my card Several instance of skin to skin contact. Theres no way that Maynard boy has OCD.)

It was fun, but I kind of got too sweaty and was asked to leave Actually, I excused myself before it became an issue, but I was beginning to notice the other people, wrapped up in their linen and fox skins, looking at me with disapproval after grasping onto one of my cold, limp, damp hands So, we left the encampment and began to make our way back toward the more modern ugly people on the other side of the park. (Goodbye to the people with hats made of squirrels, and hello to the teenage girls with fat cascading over too-tight denim.)

As we stood between these two areas, we could begin to hear the deep thumping bass of rap music and I wondered if perhaps there was a modern encampment ahead, a camp like the one that we were leaving, but full of people in baggy pants reenacting 2003. It turns out, however, that the music wasnt coming from a family of reenacters, or even one of the parolee-staffed corndog stands, but from a tricked-out Humvee with a serious sound system. From where we were standing, we could see a group of about five young men looking at it, nodding their heads along to the music. It wasnt until we got closer that we could make out the Army recruiters approaching them. I didnt have my video camera with me, but maybe one of my fellow Ypsi bloggers will be down there tomorrow and capture some footage. It was creepy White guys in military fatigues blasting rap music in a slick black Humvee and then hopping out to approach groups of young black men as they stopped. (Who knows, if theyd been blasting dulcimer music, I might be on my way to Iraq right now.) They’ve got that shit down to a science.

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