3 themes at the DIY Street Fair and a day in the life of a middle-aged Ferndalien

All of DIYFerndale is partying up at the DIY Street Fest tonight and I’ve got some serious boots-and-pants jamz pulsing through my neighborhood. I thought it was originating from the DIY, but the sound is coming from the wrong direction and Mustard Plug, a ska band from Grand Rapids, is supposed to be tonight’s festival headliner. Is someone in the neighborhood having a big gay party? Have the state fairgrounds been resurrected? It brings back memories of hearing Alice Cooper rock the State Fair many years ago from my bathroom.

My wife and I spent last night wandering DIY with a friend, who kept cooing about how she wanted to move here, and we took the kids up this afternoon by bicycle. The annual festival, which combines DIY (Do-It-Yourself) arts and crafts vendors with food, craft beer and live music, is Ferndale distilled to a reliably gorgeous Indian summer weekend.

3 DIY themes

I discerned three themes to this year’s exhibitors:

  1. Beard culture (grooming, using as a key cog of one’s identity) as an end unto itself. I saw several examples of beard combs, for example, and creams and lotions and the like. Do I care that I will never experience this, due to my follicle deficiencies?
  2. Homemade, artisanal or organic dog treats or accessories. People really, really like their dogs.
  3. T-shirts, artworks or other products with the name, “Detroit” printed on them. The world doesn’t need more of these.

Music report

Ryan Dillaha is a solid songwriter and I would’ve liked to catch more of his set, but it’s tough when you have kids who are acting up and who don’t appreciate Americana music and have heard there are robot demos and Legos over at the library.

Last night we caught the Electric Six for the first time in years. They’re a well-polished unit after all this time, a throwback ‘80s guitar rock dynamo with a over-the-top frontman, Dick Valentine (real name Tyler Spencer, a guy I went to college with). They sound like Aldo Nova meets Tom Jones. (Sample lyric: “I used to dress in black every night / Now I dress primarily in white!”)

Anyway, thank God for the DIY and its free music. When else do I get to see shows these days?

Talkin’ bout my generation

My contribution to the community.
My contribution to the community at DIY.

Speaking of kids, we ran into half a dozen or so classmates of my oldest son, plus their parents. This is becoming the norm now that I have a school-age son. I saw one dad last night well into Electric Six’s set carrying his young daughter on his shoulders. She was wearing sound-deadening headphones.

The school my son goes to is made up largely of children of hip but aging Gen-X parents, lots of them artists or musicians, some underemployed, plus a few entrepreneurs who run well-known local businesses. Many I’d like to get to know better.

But it’s always jarring to me how many parents fall into the paranoid school-gossip rabbit hole. There are constantly conspiracies, and everyone is always one-bad-day-at-school away from transferring their children to Berkley, a well-regarded district a few miles up the road. There’s a surprising amount of pettiness and ignorance, even. School must be perfect for my child or the district is a failure and we’re going elsewhere, that sort of thing.

It’s disappointing to me that my generation morphed into such an overprotective helicopter parenting set, considering we’re known as the generation our parents forgot to pay attention to (not you, mom and dad). How did we get like this? I have no explanation for it, but it wears me out.

Anyway, God Bless the DIY, a local treasure. See you there!

Photo by Jeannette

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