April 26, 2007 – Coachella Artists’ Parking Lot
It’s 4pm. It’s hot. Our mechanic, Scruffy, showed up today.
He drove Jamie Viada’s carousel down in a truck whose tire wrapped around the axle in a blowout last night. The carousel is part of Kinetic Steam Works, or KSW, the group who built the steam engine.
The steam engine runs the carousel. It also runs the Dingus. The Dingus is an old widowmaker — an electric machine that would punch holes in metal, shear metal, bend metal. According to Scruffy, now it shreds fish, stuffed animals, and bottles of ketchup (catsup?) and mustard. That’s all we know about KSW for now. Surely we’ll meet them later tonight.
Scruffy and Laird have got the back of Jarico’s bus open, looking at its innards, conferring about its current state. The three of us are drinking water in the shade at camp right now while the rest of Cyclecide puts up the rides on the midway and shops in town.
We’re still — still — waiting on Chicken’s bus to arrive with the majority of our crew on board. They broke down last night sometime when the oil filter housing got scraped off and oil spilled everywhere. Or something.
Laird just suggested we climb up on the roof of Jarico’s bus to look for Chicken and company on the road outside. But Scruffy knows all about Chicken’s bus because he drove it for years as a Green Tortoise employee. He says he’ll be able to hear it coming down the road.
Coincidentally, Jarico and company lived at the old Green Tortoise headquarters in the Bayview for a decade before they / we were gentrified out by an overeager landlord who now still pays rent on his own house as it sits empty. The Bayview isn’t gentrified yet. White folks are still afraid of the place.
Anyhoo, it’s final-setup day here at Coachella. All 500 artists are scrambling with their creations, assembling rides and engines, checking audio and video equipment, building impossible geodesic domes, test-flying tiny remote-controlled helicopters, and rehearsing dance routines in the noonday sun on a stage with no wind or shade.
All the rides we know how to set up are at home, and none of the girl-clowns are here yet, so we’ve got no personal skills to offer but holding it down for the Ladies’ Auxiliary.
See, despite Cyclecide’s female half’s reputations — as strong women with few conventional “feminine” tendencies — the fact is, when we’re doing Cyclecide things, at least this writer for one always ends up cooking, cleaning, sewing, and watching the dogs instead of building things and playing with metal.
Whilst preparing sandwiches for the crew back at camp today — which takes quite a longer time to do than it seems it would — we were faced with the conundrum of how to deliver lunch and beers to 10 people on a Swing Bike with no basket or bicycle trailer. And we didn’t have any cold beers or coolers that weren’t full of food. So we came up with a great Junkyard Martha Stewart ™ beer cooler:
Take an empty, square 2.5-gallon plastic water jug and cut a 6-inch rectangular hole into the top front of the container. Layer the bottom with ice; place warm beer atop ice. Repeat until full. Win!
So yeah. Waiting on Chicken’s bus. They’re still — still — at Foodsco for just another minute longer, and should be here any second now for the past 2 hours. It’s been a motherscratcher of a time trying to hold this much space in a 500-strong artists’ campground for 23 more people when everybody’s pouring in to be ready for the 11am gates tomorrow.
In fact, the neighbor across the way from us is getting downright irate, and even threatened to run over one of our tents with his truck. But we just made friends with the ice guy today on the other side of us. He’s got ice aplenty and he’s willing to share. Things are good.
And so far all crews seem to be acclimating to the extreme heat in a mature fashion by not getting wasted and rendering themselves unable to work the next day.
It’s been 45 minutes since we started writing this post, and Laird and Scruffy are STILL talking about Jarico’s bus.
Chicken’s bus is here. Scruffy heard its familiar rumble and perked up his ears, like a dog whose master has just pulled into the driveway. We ’bout to have a rumble with the neighbors over how much space we’re going to take up.
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