festifools 2008

I went to Ann Arbor’s second annual Festifools puppet street festival today. It was interesting. There was a giant puppet Jesus with a Nike sweatband drinking coffee from Starbucks cup. At least that’s what I think it was. And there was a person dressed like a giant silver spatula. And my favorite was this big stuffed cat with a swollen pink rectum that shot out stuffed brown turds. I didn’t get footage of the turds being launched, or of his little mouse helper stuffing them back in, but I did get some film of that cat. You can see it below, in the clip I just sent off to YouTube.

The event was really good. There must have been about 2,500 people lined up along Main Street, watching, cheering and snapping photos. And the puppets were impressive. There was tons of energy. It was exciting to see. If I had to say something bad about it — like if someone held a gun to my head and made me – I’d say some of the stuff came across as a bit too hippyish and new age for me. And at least once I felt a dreaded “Renaissance Fair chill” going up and down my spine. Maybe it was all the people in jester hats beating on drums. But, be that as it may, it was still a great event. Every community, I think, should have its own loud, crazy Pagan festival to welcome the spring.

Over the years, I’ve had lots of conversations with friends about doing some kind large-scale public arts event here in Ypsilanti. We’ve talked about models like Baltimore’s Kinetic Sculpture Race and the parades that happen in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. There are lots of interesting things we could do as a community, but the question is how to do something uniquely Ypsilanti.

In the case of the Festifools event in Ann Arbor, it looks as though UM’s Mark Tucker, who teaches art through the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, was the guy who got it going. I’m not suggesting that we copy Ann Arbor and do the same kind of thing here, but maybe it’s worth talking to the art faculty at EMU to see if they have any ideas. As in the case of Festifools, it seems as though you need someone driving it with access to workspace, vats of papier-m

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  1. Andy C
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Oral Issue Kitty is created by Ypsi’s own Dirty Bros. I’m sure you’ve seen their stickers every where in town. They easily out number the “Severed Unicorns are for lovers” stickers. They should bring the kitty to the next SAF.

    You can see the cat here.

  2. mark
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    No shit. Pretty cool. Ypsi had the best thing there and I didn’t even know it.

  3. Melvin Barnapple
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    A flotilla down the river. If we could be assured that people wouldn’t die from exposure to feces or harmful chemicals. People could build rafts with things built on them, and then kind of push them through the water. It could be in the evening on the longest day of the year. Or maybe early spring, when the water is higher. There can be judging, and a trophy for the winning team. The police, for the day, would agree to look the other way on open containers.

  4. Meta
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Michigan State has better parties:


  5. Kathy
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    I loved that cat, man! And Mark, I think I saw you there.

  6. mark
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Someone else apparently saw us too. I just found this photo of my daughter on Flickr.

    As for the pooping cat. I want it to walk all the way from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti, pooping out unicorn heads.

  7. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    I am entirely serious in this. What I would love to see is A2’s bouyant “welcome thee spring” being burning manned in Ypsi in October as a “farewell summer, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out” event.

    If the paper machete could be stored (I volunteer my garage), wouldn’t it be nice to bid farewell to warm wishes of winter thaw with the hot glow of old papers?

    Really, how great to complete the cycle of seasons with a good-natured smirk on the relationship between two affixed communities? Both parties would grow.

    Spring needs/has a bookend. Every point has a counter point. Every sunbeam has a shadow. I think it could be beautiful. Let’s strike a match.

  8. egpenet
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    How’bout a re-enactment of the Tora Bora attack in Afghhanistan. We’ll hold it on the Water Street with everyone in town armed with paint balls. We’ll divide up into CoPac neighborhood teams. We’ll pull straws to see which neighborhood defends as Al Qaida and the Pashtun tribal army. Climax of the night is a controlled burn of the 555 buildings with fireworks.

  9. mark
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Fire, I think, is best left in the desert, where it can be somewhat controlled. I do like the idea of a “goodbye summer” party though.

  10. Paw
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    What about sacrificing a former employee of the Planning Department on the Water Street site? It could be cleansing.

  11. Paw
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Couldn’t the cat shit candy or muffins for kids? I’d love to see a parade of kids being led out of Ann Arbor by a candy-shitting feral cat from Ypsi.

    Best part? Once we get the kids here, we can put them to work laying train track, building a fortress on Water Street, any number of things.

  12. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Okay. If fire offends your risk management sensibilities, why not a giant, end of season pinata party. Your fecal cat could bleed jelly beans and gobstoppers at the hands of juvenile bats and broomsticks.

    All I’m really interested in is marching those beautiful creations to Ypsilanti where they can be ceremonially destroyed.

  13. Tara
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Ha…Love that part where you said the hippy “vibe” was a little too thick. I got that, too. I guess that’s what you get though…Ann Arbor and all…

  14. egpenet
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Very few … maybe three or four in town … we have given up on A2, and when Jake passed … it is all over for bomb craters, body shadows stencils and pot smoking. We have moved out of A2 and are infecting other out of the way places … of course, we’re all in our 60’s and 70’s … so we’re easy to spot. LOL.

  15. Paw
    Posted April 9, 2008 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    What about a “Point at the Hippy” day? We could do it in An Arbor and Ypsi. It’s just one day where everyone points at hippies.

  16. Ezalia Prostate Frog Magic
    Posted April 9, 2008 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    frog make magic in behind! do majics to your wiener.

  17. Robert
    Posted May 13, 2008 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Beautifully said, Ezalia.

    I was at Festifools also, Mark.

    The Jesus-looking character was holding an iPod in his other hand.

  18. Robert
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    I was insulted by the Starbucks-drinking, iPod-listening messiah. In fact, I felt several of the puppets were direct attacks on me personally.

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