Kids, deer brains and Howard’s festival adventure

Bambi is sleeping, kids.

Bambi is sleeping, kids.

True story It’s finally quiet enough around Chico for me to tell you the pioneer-day story that I’ve been dying to share. No, this isn’t going to be a tale of couch fires in the street or downtown parades. This is a story about the true pioneer day. Things are about to get real.

The youngest of Arts DEVO’s three sisters lives in Shingletown, a very-rural foothill community in the eastern part of Shasta County. Over beers recently, my sister told us the story (with typical colorful and unedited flair) about the “pioneer day” field trip she chaperoned with eight kids, including two of her own, from the local elementary school. The idea was that the kids would go out into the woods and get a hands-on education in the kinds of survival skills utilized by our pioneering forefathers. Out in the field, there were different stations set up, and the kids rotated from one to the next.

Station one: sawing. Kids love playing with sharp things, especially the jagged teeth of a crosscut saw. With a kid on each handle, they pushed and pulled their way through a modest log under the watchful eye of a sawyer and a serious-looking old man in suspenders.

Station two: nails! “Here, little girl. Take this handful of nails and this hammer and go hammer your name (in nails!) into a hunk of wood, you adorable little pioneer.”

Station three: hell. (Before you read on, I just want to remind you that this all really happened and that I’ve labeled this station “hell.” You’ve been forewarned.) During the middle of the field trip, one of the modern-day pioneers, having arrived late, backed his pickup into his station and began to hastily set up his demo. He pulled the tarp off his truck bed to reveal one full-grown deer corpse.

Twelve hours to Sasquatch!

Having the children’s full attention, like a true showman he first chopped the head clean off the fuzzy forest creature. He then proceeded to take all of those in attendance back to a simpler and much darker olden time, when adults apparently peeled the faces of severed deer-heads in front of young children. Next, he pulled out his knife and yanked Bambi’s coat off and stretched it out over a makeshift frame.

Now, all you city slickers who take your pansy kids on boring tours of Bidwell Mansion might not know it, but the best way to tan a deer hide is to rub some sort of oil across its surface. And there’s no better oil than the emulsified goodness running through deer brains, and lucky for the kids there was a skull full of such treasure lying at their feet. So Ranger Hannibal Lecter then invited the youngsters to dip their hands right in and …

That’s enough, Arts DEVO! This is Calendar Editor Howard Hardee and I’ve taken AD’s keyboard away to tell you a much-less disgusting story, one about my Memorial Day weekend at the Sasquatch! Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre in southeastern Washington. Though the festival ran for four days, the grueling 12-hour drive limited my buddy and me to two days and nights of camping on the edge of the jaw-droppingly beautiful Colombia River Gorge.

Being a music festival in the Pacific Northwest, Sasquatch!’s lineup was indie-heavy, with acts like Vampire Weekend, Sigur Rós, Arctic Monkeys, The Postal Service, The xx, Mumford and Sons, etc. The xx, with their brooding, dramatic stage aesthetic, was a particularly good fit for the main stage, providing an awe-inspiring soundtrack to a spectacular canyon sunset.

But the main attraction for me was Tame Impala, a wicked-awesome rock band out of Australia that played the more modest Yeti Stage on Saturday night. Their sound—drawing heavily from ’60s psychedelic rock—is simply immense.

The most surreal act, however, was the invisible cyclone that ripped through our city of tents on Sunday afternoon as most festival-goers were idly lounging in the sun. The camping area was sent into chaos as several tents in our immediate proximity were violently ripped from their stakes and launched several hundred feet in the air. There were shrieks of terror and exhilaration as the cyclone made its way through the campsite, picking up tarps, garbage and a particularly eye-catching multi-colored wig as it passed.

Thanks to the goodness of humanity, strangers helped strangers track down wayward tents and return belongings. And thanks to the goodness of Sasquatch!, it was a kick-ass weekend.