Hip to be fair

Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes: Real soul men.

Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes: Real soul men.

Just to be fair
It seems like only yesterday I was waxing nostalgic on fair society: The carnies—powered only by corn dogs and speed—cobbling together traveling roller coasters for a few days of family fun; the fried food—Snickers, bananas, Twinkies, pickles—anything you can shove a stick through; throwing darts for stuffed animals and Iron Maiden posters; the musical acts that take time off the casino circuit to play to sun-baked fair-goers gulping Coors Light from plastic cups.

When I was a kid, the fair was the greatest thing on Earth … and I’m sure my parents loved taking my brothers and me there. And when I was 19 or 20, it was a place where I could hang out with my older friends who would hook me up with beer tickets.

Yes, fairs are the symbols of freedom.

Musical revivals
I don’t have children of my own dragging me through the gates, but I still recognize the fair as the bastion of summer fun from sea to shining sea.

The Butte County Fair is firing up Wednesday, Aug. 20, in Gridley, and running through the 24th. It’s a buffet of American summerness—livestock, beauty pageants, food and drink, music (including a tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Eagles, and a performance from Frankie Soul and No Control), monster trucks and the destruction derby.

I love the destruction derby.

If you’re feeling really bold, try it on the state level. The California State Fair rolls into Sacramento this weekend and will stick around through the end of the month. This is the Cadillac of fairs … which counts for extra freedom. Musical performances this year include Smash Mouth, The Fab Four (tribute to The Beatles), Air Supply, Jessica Simpson and Weird Al Yankovic.

Weird Al … I forgot how great he really was until I recently dusted off my Dare to Be Stupid record. It conjured up all kinds of childhood memories—his days on Dr. Demento, buying his cassettes, that song “Gotta Boogie,” which has nothing to do with dancing.

I believe Weird Al should be the next president … I also believe the water in the pool used for the bumper boats contains the cure for cancer.

Furry friends
I hadn’t heard of UK siren Natasha Khan until recently. The 28-year-old vocalist goes by Bat for Lashes and recently opened for Radiohead for the band’s European tour dates. With the release of her first record, Fur and Gold, Khan has drawn comparisons to Björk and PJ Harvey. Perhaps—all I know is that I can’t seem to shake the song or the visuals of the video for “What’s a Girl to Do,” which makes riding your bike at night seem like a really fun idea. Did David Lynch direct it?

Watch it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1wnOUH2jk8

A couple of classics
This wasn’t a good week. First comedian Bernie Mac passed away at the age of 50, then Isaac Hayes the next day at the age of 65. Those aren’t the ages men are supposed to die at.

Both were ridiculously talented. The soundtrack to Shaft is one of the finest funk records out there. Mac was a cussing, sweating fool onstage and, by all accounts, he was a much different man offstage—a sweetheart.

The two are actually slated to appear in the upcoming film Soul Men with Samuel L. Jackson in November.