All in all, it was a perfect day here in Suburbia Nervosa. I had friends who were going to be at the Pirate Fest in Port Washington, WI, so my husband David and I had decided to drive up for a few hours. Since getting an early start wasn’t all that necessary, we lolled around drinking coffee, listening to the Saturday lineup on WBEZ (naturally, we listened to WWDTM) and eventually gathered a few odds and ends that included cameras, hats, sunscreen…
and books. One of my friends is a writer and would be signing copies of his latest book (and also the previous one), and the other friend lives in the area, but we’ve never had such a good excuse to meet up before (what? Yeah, yeah, most of my friends these days are online friends).
David set up the nav thingy on the Grey Ghost and we set off after stopping for some portable food at the nearby Caribou. Soon enough, the signs we were nearing Cheeseland were clear: the gigantic roadside stands hawking dairy products start at the border. So do the fireworks stands, and the tacky tourist traps roadside attractions are set attractively close to the highway
so that minivanfulls of children can whine “Maaaze… they have a maze and a giant apple, and you can sit on a statue of a cow. Mooom? Can we stoooop?”
We avoided these booby-traps for the navigationally challenged and carried on toward Port Washington, north of Milwaukee, where the Pirate Fest was in full swing. It seems like they’re tearing town the entire infrastructure of downtown Milwaukee and rebuilding all the snaking, looping, flying buttress-like highway interchanges from scratch. Note to self: if the sign says “exit closed,” they really mean it, because there’s at least one very high ramp that has been completely removed. If you took it, you’d have
about a half-second to admire the few of the river through your windshield before you plunged into it, grille-first.
Edna, our not-very-bright onboard nav system, did well until we got very close to the site, and then she took us on a random tour of the area along the fringes of the Wisconsin Power station on the lakeside. Eventually, without Edna’s assistance, we arrived and found a place to park. We were meeting up with one friend who was at that moment established in one specific spot, signing books, and we were meeting up with a second
friend who was roving. Fortunately, both were easily found, because Pirate Fest just isn’t that big. We wandered into the first tent we saw, strolled past some vendor stalls, and then I spotted the stall for Bilgemunky.com, a site that I knew my writer friend had swapped links with. So in short order we found my writer friend, and then right there was my other online chum, Wendy. All met up!
We got acquainted, wandered off separately to look at pirate stuff while the writer did his thing at the booth, watched the pirate ship mess about offshore, watched people, and so on. We all met back at the book booth, and Keith, the writerly friend, walked us over to a little restaurant farther up on the lakeside. Before leaving the Pirate
Fest area, they were getting people together for the costume competition, but they had no raised stage for this, so it was impossible to see anyone.
I regret not getting closeup pictures of the very astounding costumes we saw, some of which were fantastically detailed and appeared to be as authentic as possible. There were some in costumes that were, charitably speaking, somewhat lower down on the evolutionary scale of piratical authenticity. And here and there, musical pirates were committing piracy music. Some of them weren’t bad.
There were also some people in costume who appeared to be merely marking time before the Bristol Ren Faire opens for the season in July.
We had a beer, enjoyed our time with friends, and then it was time to head back south. As luck would have it, we got on the road just as A Prairie Home Companion was starting, and also as luck would have it, it was a terrific show. Of couse, it was a tie-in with the upcoming Robert Altman movie, and so they had some of the film’s stars on the show, supposedly hoping to be made part of the permanent cast. It was pretty good fun, and then the musical
guests were outstanding; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and Shelby Lynne. Also, some extra singers ably performing great music with the “house” band. The music was all top-notch stuff. We got home just as the show was ending to find that the street next to the house had been blocked off with sawhorses… at first I thought it was because they were going to tear up and repave the asphalt, but
then we realized it was a neighborhood block part of some kind. It was odd to see all the tables and grills and things out there, but it looks like a good time was had by all here at home, too. However, it’s now a little after eleven PM, and the party sounds to have reached the point of loud drunken boastful lookitme ain’t-I-cool backslappery. I’m kind of wondering how long they’ll go on… especially ironic since the pirates up north seemed to be a fairly abstemious bunch, at least during the day; the beer tent
was almost completely empty when we were there. Go figure, the hearty debauch is taking place here in the boring suburban hinterlands, and not in the realm of leather-booted buccaneers up north.
There’s more photos in this Flickr set. And that’s about it for me, me hearties. Argh, and so on.
iTunes: William Shatner featuring Joe Jackson: Common People: Has Been [4:38]
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