July 31, 2007

No More False Dichotomies: Editor’s Note

Forecastle Festival: It came, it saw, it rolledLike a fleeting but major highway repair project, the sixth annual Forecastle Festival has come and gone. So, how was it?In a phrase, not bad. Not bad at all.After moving around constantly, this year Forecastle landed on the Belvedere, closer to where festival grand poobah J.K. McKnight always wanted it (his dream venue is Waterfront Park). The Belvedere is a worthy location and a significant improvement over prior venues. The main stage was set up in a grassy area that backs up to the Kentucky Center, quite a comfortable spot. The sound was superb, even if a smaller-than-usual crowd soldiered on for De La Soul’s headlining set on Friday night after a soaking spell of rain all afternoon and evening.The smaller East stage was set up on the Belvedere’s highest plateau, above the fountains and looking toward God’s country (aka Southern Indiana). There was no canopy over the stage, though, which shut things down when it rained Friday. Had the sun shone at all over the weekend, anyone playing that stage would have roasted like quick mart taters. Gotta give those folks some cover next year.The festival’s raison d’etre, its mantra, its very essence, is music, art and environmental activism. As several of my music geek friends noted, the music was distinctly better this year. Similarly, many stellar environmental groups were represented, offering real information, but the way they were arrayed was disjointed and made it difficult to get a handle on what all was there. The same goes for the art.And ditto for the food. It was local, tasty and more than fairly priced, but not visible enough. Better signage would help. The sprawling Belvedere has many entrance points, and I suspect some folks snuck in. That is weak, considering that tickets were CHEAP.Things wrapped up nicely on Saturday evening with a set from Girl Talk — basically one dude on stage DJing from a laptop as he snaked and pranced, joined by as many ebullient dancing crowd members as can fit on a stage that had been cleared of pretty much everything. The security guards played that mob scene just right — keeping people safe but with a light touch. They were even getting into the groove themselves. Nice.Other points: Starting at noon on Friday is counterproductive. Begin at 5, put four great acts on the main stage and leave the second stage for the second day. All of these things are easy fixes. Now, about that five-minute “Making of Forecastle” video that showed just before Girl Talk took the stage … WTF? It was nicely shot and nicely accompanied by Springsteen’s “Badlands,” but WTF? Cap’n, I think we are about to run aground on a reef of self-glorification. Steady as she goes.***After Wax Fang’s tremendous set late Saturday afternoon, I headed for the portable restroom. When I came out, I heard a familiar hum … cars. And trucks. On the highway. On I-64. Newly restored! Not construction vehicles but real, honest-to-goodness civilian traffic. They reopened I-64 softly, without a press release! Amazing.You might have seen my letter to the editor in Monday’s Courier-Journal, protesting against those who have conflated the Restore 64 project and 8664 by suggesting that the former proves the latter won’t work. I noted that under Restore 64, a major east/west thoroughfare was closed without anything taking its place, while under the 8664 model, a new east/west road would indeed come online.I urged us all to be intellectually honest when discussing issues, even when facts may run counter to our own worldview.I appreciate the C-J editors printing the letter. They could have legitimately claimed there were too many ahead of it in the queue. I also note that their Tuesday editorial about road issues had a more fair-minded tone. That is cool.***Finally, a word of acknowledgment about the passing of three men, giants in their respective fields. Filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, late-night TV personality Tom Snyder and football coach Bill Walsh all checked out in the same news cycle. They say things come in threes, so there you go.Each left a mark by finding and pursuing his own particular vision with verve and grace. We should all be so fortunate. Contact the writer at cstemle@leoweekly.com