Visitors

_C1_4935.JPGMore and more I wonder whether humans will survive themselves. Neo-Nazis, Puerto Rico, incomprehensible suffering in Myanmar and Syria, climate change and hunger, and then that nagging chance of nuclear war — it’s a damn matryoshka doll of global misery right now that is impossible to grasp. I’m fortunate to have a job where I can bring a little time and attention to some of these issues. It isn’t enough. Talking about the beauty and meaning in the world feels pretty trite and inadequate, and appreciating those things feels harder. I’m working at that appreciation and at my job. That’s what I got.

In that vein, last weekend brought a good dose of unabashed weirdness and occasional beauty from the annual Puppets in the Park at Fayetteville’s Wilson Park. The performance appeared on here once before. The show’s plot is always simple and wordless and political in some way. I was mostly there for the 20-foot white-cloth eagle and 10-foot sun getup, and the makeshift musical accompaniment.

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_C1_5025.JPGThanks for looking. Keep working.

Dan

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In the wind

IMG_2872.JPGHappy Hispanic Heritage Month from here in Fayetteville. The city’s Chamber of Commerce marked the occasion with a two-parter festival. The first part yesterday brought sunshine and Argentinian dance. The second part today was cut off by blustery winds and a strong afternoon downpour, but not before its parade had a chance to circle Fayetteville’s square.

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IMG_2924.JPGThe event was officially apolitical, but celebrating Hispanic heritage almost seems like a political statement in itself these days, given the intense focus on immigration and policy and our president. I wrote up an article for today’s paper about how deferred action for childhood arrivals, the Obama-era protection from deportation given to hundreds of thousands young immigrants, stands a decent chance of becoming a law in Congress now. We’ll see what comes of it.

IMG_2943.JPGA programming note — this blog now has a companion Facebook page. You can get to it by clicking here. Give it a like, if you like, and you’ll find some of the classics from this blog’s annals, a first look at some shots before they’re blogged, and an easy link to prints and cards, if any of these images ever strike your fancy. Only 99 days until Christmas and all that.

Thanks, as always, for looking.

Dan

One day, two cities

_C1_9596.JPGNorthwest Arkansas on Saturday hosted two very different displays of pride in identity and in community.

The bigger and flashier of the two, as you might’ve guessed, was the annual pride parade in Fayetteville, a rowdy celebration of the diversity of human sexuality and gender identity. You can always count on this march to be overloaded with cheers and hugs, and this year seemed particularly extravagant.

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_C1_9734.JPGMy favorite part of the occasion was probably when the column of participants and onlookers marched to the Fayetteville square at the end and flooded the simultaneous farmers market, taking some couples dancing to live music by surprise.

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_C1_9797.JPGAnother party was getting started around the same time on the other end of northwest Arkansas. Sulphur Springs, a town of a few hundred people just south of the Missouri border, celebrated Independence Day a week and a half early.

I wrote about Sulphur Springs back in April and how it has shrunk while the rest of the region explodes. The locals blame small-town politics and drug problems in recent years and an unlucky location for the loss, but they’re also trying to breathe new life into the place, and recent Census numbers show it might be working. This weekend was the fourth annual Sulphur Day, an all-day festival that brings in several hundred people for a parade and fireworks in the park that dominates the town’s center. I’d been looking forward to going since I first heard about it.

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_C1_0122.JPGNow, Pride and Sulphur Days clearly have a lot of space between them in more ways than one. The crowds at each probably didn’t overlap much. When I told one Sulphur Springs resident about Fayetteville’s parade, she said simply, “Well, it is what it is.” The distance shows some of itself in, among other things, a presidential administration that’s taken a very different approach gay and transgender issues than the last one.

The distance is complicated and serious, more so than I can adequately address here. But I hope it isn’t for nothing that the two cities are in the same metro in the same state in the same country, and they both found some reasons to be proud of it. I’m more of a city guy myself, but it was a lovely evening in Sulphur Springs with some nice people, alligator tacos and thousands of lightning bugs.

Thanks for looking,

Dan