Pastoral Pitchfork

2022-08-03  hungry

I sat on the 8 bus earlier on Friday morning than I had prepared for to meet Paul and Sarah at union station, and felt familiarly annoyed when it idled for a few minutes in the inset of the orange line station. We took the metra to Naperville, passing the eager teens on the other side of the track waiting for their ride to lolla. not to brag, but I felt proud for identifying the hidden door in Paul’s parents’ house while we loaded up. The drive up was largely uneventful, save for a successful trip to goodwill where I bought two pairs of good sunglasses that I immediate sat on and broke. We passed squares and squares of corn as we zigzagged through the empty Wisconsin roads. The infinite clouds on Friday looked like a Magritte painting, puffy and evenly spaced with flat bottoms. Turning off county highway E at the sign for post farm felt like passing through a portal. Between the acres of corn and prairie we found ourselves in a tunnel of arching trees, shaded but bright. Emerging, we circled past the red brick house and faded barn before parking and setting up our tents. The farm itself was secluded and segmented; wooded strips separated barns from grassy fields from huge prairies full of tall grass, sunflowers, and clovers. Seemingly endless paths through the idylls felt like they could each lead to a new secret area more beautiful than the last. Walking up to see V.V. I was hit with a wave of insecurity because everyone there looked so cool (it was later revealed that a lot of these cool looking people were musicians, which was a mixed bag: on one hand, it feels apt for musicians to be cool-presenting; on the other hand, when someone who already looks cool turns out to also be a talented musician they attain a new, soul-crushing level of coolness). But unlike the anonymous peering eyes of New York, this ubiquitous coolness did not feel judgmental. No one looked out of place. And for maybe the first time I had a thought I probably should have had a long time ago: “if everyone here seems cool, and I am here, then I must seem cool too.” Running into Ivan and familiar faces from my brief stint in the Chicago music scene, I felt a bit like a ghost, and could not help but wonder what would have been if I had stayed—how many times would we have run into each other at schuba’s or cole’s or sleeping village? would I be playing this weekend?—But even ghosts can have fun, and as I watched trio after quartet after trio, all of whom consistently impressed me, I was immensely grateful to be there. Bouts of incel mode (real blog heads know) permeated Friday and Saturday, prompted by the feeling that everyone else there was friends with each other (they were; I heard the word “incestuous” to describe this corner of the chicago music scene multiple times) and by my position in our group tricycle (I love Paul and Sarah and I am so glad to have spent this time with them, even the time we spent wading in the muddy creek on the side of the highway that was probably the closest I will ever come to being stuck in quicksand, but i have done a bit too much third wheeling over the past two weeks). However they were easily defeated anytime I talked to a friendly stranger. Despite my probably 30 mosquito bites, by Saturday night, watching the last acts in the dim barn, I could no longer imagine myself returning to New York; as if someone else had plucked a dream out of my mind and into this place and I had only now found out about it, as if we would bounce back and forth between these two stages forever. Once the bands finished, I sat in the net in the barn watching those still awake dance to mr fingers before eventually joining them and eventually heading to sleep in my tent. On Sunday afternoon we said goodbye to Ivan, and I reminded him of the time he invited me here at belmont snack shop at 3:00 am some warm summer night in 2018. Back in reality we stopped at culver’s, which Paul and I tried to do but could not in august 2020 when we said goodbye to Chicago. The Butter Burger honestly did not meet expectations, I could not taste the butter at all, and instead just felt gross after eating half of it. We sat in palmisano, much more full and beautiful than I remembered, with Zach and talked before eating dinner at potsticker house For those who don’t know, the potsticker house eggplant with garlic sauce is legitimately one of the best dishes in all of Chicago (Steve Dolinsky the Hungry Hound agrees!!). We sat in the backyard of Maria’s, which had inexplicably been decorated with cheugy signs and tiki heads, before trying to get malort at Bernice’s which was closed and cvs which did not have it, so we eventually settled on vodka with arizona at Zach’s. The next day we went to the point. It was hot and sunny and the water was clear. As we walked up I thought about when I did acid for the first time on that first nice day of spring, when coming out of the tunnel felt like walking into a movie, where we saw that cat with a leash and a bow tie and where we all sat and stared, transfixed by the calm water. The water today was surprisingly cold and none of us could manage more than a few minutes of swim time. The feeling of water in my ear I thought I had gotten out in Sweden somehow returned after taking a dip. Someone had asked, “what’s your favorite place?” as an icebreaker at work recently and I, unable to come up with a more compelling answer, said the point. We sat on the sun-drenched rocks and I looked at the other people around us as if I would recognize them from class. It was hard not to remember the serenity of Chicago summer at its best, and the chaos of New York social life felt indecipherable in comparison. Afterwards we walked to the Japanese garden in Jackson park that I had never been able to get to in college (although to be fair I had never tried very hard). I met up with some friends from my old job at the concert in millennium park, only one of which still worked there. The rest were going off to school, and it even happened to be Rachael’s last night in the city. It felt kind of like the day after graduation, seeing everything one last time; a more substantial goodbye to Chicago even though I had already said it before and I had only just said hello again. On Tuesday morning we met Sam for breakfast. He and I sat for a while longer after Paul and Sarah left. He talked about wanting to go to the festival, and we talked about how much we've both wanted to organize something like it for a long time. That transitioned into logistics, and possible locations, and I left with confidence that Sam-and-Xander-stock 2023 would (will?) happen. The desire to buy a farm has never been stronger.