The Juice Bar

My muses, thoughts, ideas, and whatever

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My trip to Cornerstone 2007 - Day 1: June 27, 2007

Funny thing is when I’m camping, I tend to wake up with the sunlight. Today the sun rose just after 6:00. I lay in my tent for a while, but when I didn’t fall back asleep, I got up and made it an early morning. I walked to the showers, but was greeted by several dry people milling around, holding towels, each of them with confused expressions on their faces. It turns out the showers were broken this morning, and word on the street was that they wouldn’t be fixed until this evening. So I wandered back to my tent and drenched myself with my water canteen, which provided a reasonable facsimile for a shower. At least as compared to the thousands of unwashed masses I would be sharing the Cornerstone grounds with that day.

After visiting a familiar morning tradition, the Alliance World Coffee tent, I set off to explore the grounds with a mocha mint frappucino in hand. I walked through the merch tent to see some more good old-fashioned American capitalism in action, as well as to visit a corner with a banner proclaiming “Old School Metal”. Ah, that brought back memories of growing up a Christian kid in the ‘80s with a taste for Christian metal bands like Stryper, Bloodgood, Saint, Bride, and Zion. It was almost like it was 1988 all over again, except nobody around me was wearing leather pants.

After that, I hiked to Camp 77s to hang out with that crowd for a while. We lounged in camp lounge chairs circling a campfire with one tiny thin plume of flame struggling to achieve the pyromaniac properties of one of those lighters sold at the merch tent with a band name imprinted upon it. Later I would find that even the Lost Dogs sold its own brand of lighters, which would come in handy if one got lost on the way to the Gallery Stage for their midnight show and stumble onto a reunion concert for one of the “Old School Metal Bands”. But more on that later. In the meantime, at the Camp 77s tent we jammed on a classic Resurrection Band cassette one of the guys started up in the cassette player in his van. Now that’s “old school” done right, with no lighters or mullets required.

At 11:00, I made my first visit to by the Flickerings barn, where I would be spending quite a bit of time perusing the film festival. This year’s theme is “J-POP”, which is not as I first suspected, the nickname of the New York Yankees new shortstop. Instead, this refers to Japanese popular culture and anime. I have a passing familiarity with anime, having watched Speed Racer and Battle of the Planets as a kid, and I have been watching a number of Miyazake films this month, including Princess Mononoke and Castle in the Sky. So I am looking forward to learning more about this genre of film. I watched a few minutes of the morning film, which is called Space Battleship Yamoto. It reminds me of the kind of sci-fi adventure cartoons I watched when I was a kid. I wish I could stay, but I had to head out to the Press Tent to catch another Cornerstone tradition, the RMC Barbeque. As I have noted on previous years’ Cornerstone reports, the RMC was a newsgroup from the early days of the Internet devoted to discussion of Christian music. It spawned email discussion lists and message boards devoted to various bands, of which I have spent much computer time perusing the files of the Daniel Amos Discussion List. That gets me invited to this affair every year where I see friends I have known from past Cornerstones. And this year we have some acutual BBQ, Barbequed pork, which was quite tasty. Also we were treated to cake for dessert and the opportunity to grab free cassettes from the kind of bands featured in the “Old School Metal” section of the merchandise tent. I grabbed a handful to keep me awake when driving home, and headed back to Flickerings and caught the end of Space Battleship Yamoto.

Then I caught a seminar by Jason, a guy I met on the Arts & Faith internet message board, about the whole anime and J-pop culture. The seminar was quite interesting and Jason and his wife are both are both pretty cool. After that was over, I hit the Cornerstone food court. The same vendors were here as usually are: the Pizza Hut, the Subway, the Gyros place, and one of several spots one can purchase an Elephant Ear with curly fries. While I was considering the health ramifications of consuming enough grease to power one of the generator stages, my eye caught a colorful banner I hadn't seen before advertising a vegetarian stir fry. Intrigued, I ordered up a bowl with some lettuce sprinkled with various exotic spices, tofu, and other mystery substances that turned out to be quite tasty. I never imagined tofu could resemble something edible, but you learn something new every day at Cornerstone.

Infused with a sufficient amount of vegetables to make me hum a Brian Wilson song, I set back toward my campsite. Actually, I would up wandering around some of the generator stages, and was disappointed to see a distinct lack of hair-flinging as compared to last year. However, at the Encore 2 tent I did catch a raucous show by Celtic-punk band Flatfoot 56. I had no inclination to squeeze into the sauna inside the packed tent. However, the people inside were entertaining to watch. They seemed to be practicing for an invasion of the Scottish army crossing Hadrian's Wall, as evidenced by the Pirate flags being waved in the air and the people running in a circle inside. Heck, the band even segued from a song featuring not one but two bagpipes, into a few bars of "Kung Fu Fighting". This is clearly above and beyond the call of Celtic-punk duty! After such stimulation, I decided I'd better take a nap so I didn't use all my energy. I had to pace myself for those midnight shows later on.

As the clouds darkened overhead, I anticipated a rain shower, which would be a relief, since I was sweating like a (insert your own cliché here). I did snap some photos, including a cool one of someone on the giant crane swing against the background of the dark clouds. I then walked to the Flickerings barn for the evening festivities. One item unique this year was the screening of a 13-episode Japanese anime series called Haibane Renmei. What this series seems to be about is shrouded
in mystery, except that it involves what looks like angels and the brief blurb stated on the Flickerings poster: "experience mysteries of birth, life and loss". The tiny picture on the poster features neither spaceships, swords, nor numchucks, so I'm a little skeptical going in. But after viewing the first three episodes, featuring the birth of an angel-type being, a friendship being developed in a group of other angels in a walled city, and the depth of emotion that comes through the angular animation, I think this series has potential.

I stayed for the evening film, a charming Japanese film called "Train_man: Densha Otoko”. Here a shy loner tentatively steps out of his isolated environment toward romance with a girl, all the while being cheered on by friends from the Internet, each of them sitting in their own isolated worlds. The film was enjoyable, while commenting on the nature of personal relationships in the age of the Internet, in a culture where many people have isolated themselves from everyone else, connected to the rest of humanity only via computer screens and data flowing through wires. Was this film a simple love story or a cry for help?

While contemplating that question, I stopped by the Gallery Tent where The Lee Boys, a group of Florida musicians who specialize in "sacred steel", were finishing their set. Man, their steel guitars were smoking. It reminded me of a very memorable set by Robert Randolph on that stage back in 2003. Then I had a late snack with a friend of mine from Camp 77s. I grabbed some French fries served in a cup filled with cheese. Not the most healthy snack, but quite yummy, especially with ketchup mixed in. It was just the thing to munch on while Glenn Kaiser and his band played some nice blues. He does it every year, and it never gets old.

After that, I stopped by the Imaginarium to see what was going on. They were screening the old James Dean movie "Rebel Without a Cause." I'd never seen a James Dean film, so I stepped in and had a seat. It was a little different from what I had been expecting. Dean's character was less the rebel of the title but more symbolic of a generation of bored youth in the 1950s who were desperate for something to do. An interesting Technicolor time capsule of the period, but not really a classic. After that, I walked back by the Gallery Stage and paused to see a couple songs by Cool Hand Luke. I've never been into them a whole lot, but they did have an intriguing moment stage-preaching at the end of the Cornerstone documentary "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music," which was shot by two non-Christians trying to make sense of the Christian rock scene. Tonight the singer admitted to a hoarse voice from a sore throat, but I'll give him an A for effort as he sang some quiet piano-based songs. I would have stayed longer, but the post-midnight hour was getting to me, and I was ready for some sleep. I knew I was going to need a lot of coffee if I was going to make it through another few days of midnight shows.


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